Friday, May 18, 2018

You're Gonna Be Ok

I met my husband shortly after becoming a Christian. If you knew him, you would totally get that he had a required reading list for me. I had never heard of C.S. Lewis until then, but fell in love with him through Narnia and have been a firm believer in Narnia since.
I have read it countless times out loud to my kids watched all the versions of all the movies, read the rest of Jack's books, read books about Jack and referenced Narnia in my life as a touch point for the real things.

I would say it's been a hard season, but aren't all seasons hard, even the good ones? No, this season has been heart wrenching and heart breaking. We have lived in faith-doing hard things, sometimes crazy things. But, I have believed through it all that Narnia was more real than this world. My Narnian belief has been that money, success, accolades are simply temporary and if we pour into people, family, our children, you know, the REAL things, all would be right in our world.

But we have been betrayed. We have been betrayed by those we have loved and sacrificed for. Heart broken barely touches the surface of what that means. I have lost faith in Narnia. I have questioned why. I have been angry at the sacrifices and counted us as fools. Not fools for Christ. Just simply fools.

In the movie, Paul, Apostle of Christ, Luke is in the dungeon below the Circus with fellow believers. A small child, who knows he is about to be fed to the lions, asks him, "Will it hurt." Luke gently says, "Yes, my child. it will hurt, but only for a minute, and then it will be O.k."

My husband told me this morning that line came from a recent event in Iraq, where Christians were being martyred. The church tried valiantly to get as many believers to safety as possible, but when it came to the point that many would be slain, the Bishop went among them and said, "it will be painful, but only for a moment, and then it will be o.k."

This world. Oh. It is painful. The more kids you have, the more people you love, the more you invest and sacrifice and give, the more potential loss and pain and hurt. And I honestly don't know how people who don't believe in God- believe in Narnia -manage it without drugs or denial or a good bit of both.

I know that Narnia is real. Hope is never lost. Hold on. Don't let go. Just stay one step closer, one step in front of the other. You'll get through this, just follow the light in the darkness. You are going to be ok. Narnia is real. True North exists and the Lion of Narnia, and Judah, knows your name. He knows my name. He catches every tear and promises peace and everlasting joy for those who continue to stand.

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

True North Homeschool Academy
Hey Friends! I wanted to share some thing super exciting that has been happening around here (hence the neglect of this blog)! We have been working to develop
 (formerly Homeschool Works4U) for folks just like you!We deliver live on-line classes for 6th-12th graders wherever you are, Guidance Counseling to ensure success throughout High School, on-line Homeschool Coaching and more!
You want classes? We have some amazing classes! History, Lit & Comp, Science, Math, Latin, Hebrew, Spanish, Logic, Computer Coding! Ahhhmazing classes!

Our classes are taught by some amazing people! Our teachers are experienced homeschoolers, have been educating their own and others for years- between us we literally have decades worth of educational experience. Many of us have worked diligently to ensure our educational rights as parents, have homeschooled and have worked professionally as educators, farmers, programmers, musicians, writers, business owners, linguists and missionaries. We are your kind of people!

Need homeschool coaching? Winning teams have experienced, passionate coaches and this can be true in our personal and homeschooling lives as well. We commonly feel like we are failing our kids, not educating them well enough, dropping balls and wonder if they wouldn't be better off in school.  We are offering 1:1, Group and email coaching. You don't have to go it alone- our years of experience, successes AND failures and our passion to help other families succeed is what makes our Homeschool Coaching unique.
Guidance Counseling are you unsure what direction to go for with high school classes, what a credit really is or how to transcribe your students passions so that they can graduate? We've got you covered. We've worked with hundreds of High School students around the world over the years and helped them gain admittance to college, the military, vocational training and into vocational careers. We are here to help you juggle the demands of High School!

And lastly, just another thing I am super excited about - CLUBs! So far, we are offering a C.S. Lewis Club (be still my heart!), a Classics Club (so your kiddo can rock the next NLE level!) and a Writing Club (yep, my baby, Creative Writing - we are going to have a blast!). These courses are designed to count as a 1/4 credit a semester, with lots of fun stuff, opportunity for student interaction, and more!

And if you still need to get your standardized testing in, no fear! We are offering Scranton Peformance Series tests, that we can personalize for your students grade level AND offer you amazing feed-back on. Sound too good to be true? It's just part of the great service you'll find at True North Homeschool Academy! 

My dd is super excited about taking Biblical Hebrew, along with Hebrew History, Culture and Conversation with our new friend, Rabbi Fischer, from Israel! She's continuing on with Latin as well, and will be taking Latin II and jumping into our Classics Club.

I am most excited about teaching Christian Psychology (a CLEP prep course!) as well as World, Literature and leading the Writing Club. Because, you know, writing and literature. I'll also be heading up the Guidance Counseling and Homeschool Coaching programs. Things I do already and love, using my counseling degree, professional experience and years of homeschooling. Happy sigh!

I hope you'll take a look at our new endeavor. And if you have any questions, or want to know more, please reach out! We'll be hosting specials and give-aways throughout the summer, so stay tuned for that as well!

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@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Jim Caviezel "Paul, Apostle of Christ" | SLS18

A beautiful testimony by Jim Caviezel, who is playing Paul in the upcoming movie, "Paul, Apostle of Christ."
@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

High School Syllabus!

Welcome to the 2018 Virtual Homeschool Curriculum Fair!  This weeks topic is homeschool Curriculum.
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We have been using Classical Conversations Challenge program for the past 3 years. Each year we get a guide, purchase resources and get to work. One of the major criticisms that I've heard of Challenge is that it is so prescribed, and there is no room for creativity. In all honesty, the curriculum picks are not far off from what I would have chosen on my own with the added benefit of amazing group projects, weekly accountability and very cool classical tools used in the context of group discussion.
Down to brass tacks. At least one of my youngest two have now gone through Challenge A, B, 1, II and III.
The curriculum choices follow 6 Strands: Logic, Grammar, Research, Rhetoric, Debate, Expo & Comp.
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While CC recommends Saxon for Math (the Logic stage) every student is free to use whatever works best for them. My son uses Math U See, while my daughter is committed to Saxon. Weekly Math "discussions" at Community Day include a Math "Exordium" (using pictures from the book, "100 diagrams that changed the World, Perploxors, Critical Thinking, etc), presentation of a math concept, and then students sharing their own math problems, using the 5 Common Topics. We also enjoy games like Agricola, Risk Legacy, Ticket to Ride, etc. Definitely in the Critical Thinking, Strategic development camp.
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Grammar is all about Henle I and II. We also use Memoria Press' guides to Henle. Before Henle, we used First Form from MP. How to succeed with Henle? Memorize and power through. There is no substitute for memorizing. I recommend the MP Latin Form posters and doing them daily with your kids. We also do Latin National Exam and I highly recommend Memoria Press' LNE guide and on-line prep class.
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Expo and Comp is just that. Reading lots of great books and then writing essays, using Circe's Lost Tools of Writing. The kids are also delving into Shakespeare and writing and doing Recitations from Shakespeare plays. Great stuff. My son, especially, does a great amount of reading on his own, usually going through a book every week or two, outside of CC required reading. Of late, he's been reading Karac Tor and the Endor's Game series. He is also big into history, weaponry and Theology, and is often checking out reference books and reading Artifax and Biblical Archeology Review.
My daughter is a much slower reader but really puzzles over issues. For instance, her current read is To Kill a Mockingbird puzzling greatly over the times and situation of the book.
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Research is Science and CC uses Apologia- which has been our high school Science go-to for over 15 years. We do experiments during class day and the kids do Lab Report write-ups and reading, tests at home. The focus is on the Scientific Method and Lab Reports. This year, we have Physical Science and Chemistry going on 'round here;  my dd will be writing a formal research paper as well and last year she participated in a Science Fair (which she won, btw).
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Rhetoric is the art and science of speaking and writing well and has included Current Events, World View, Philosophy, Socratic Dialog and Music Theory. This is a rich, rewarding and at times difficult strand, but worth struggling through. What we have loved is that with community we have the courage to go beyond what we would do on our own. Additionally, the discussions that ensue from the reading and studying are always thought-provoking and at times, amazing!
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Debate- this strand has covered Physical Geography (drawing the world by heart), to Formal Logic, LD and Policy Debate, Mock Trial as well as History from the perspective of original source documents and recitations.Again, challenging, great stuff.
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Additionally, while it's not considered a "strand" per se, CC has Rhetorical events for the kids, including, essays, recitations, debates, stock market analysis, COLA analysis, Science Fairs and more! This year, in Challenge 3, the kids had 14 events first semester and 19 second. It's a rich, varied and very full curriculum. Parents are still the homeschooling parent and encouraged to scale as needed, both up and down.

CC recommends an hour a day per strand. Sometimes we hit that, sometimes we don't. We often do homework on the week-ends, especially when rhetorical events are due.

We host an in-depth Bible study in our home every week. Additionally, we've used Memoria Press's Christian Studies I -IV and High School studies. An excellent overview of Bible basics and church history that will give your students a firm foundation.
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Additionally, both kids spend hours drawing and creating; my dd is has been into clay creation for a couple of years and ds crafts weaponry and costumes. Both participate in Karate for a couple of hours two to three times a week and both take music lessons, piano and violin. and watch movies- often related to the history or composition that we are currently studying.
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Theater has been a big part of our curriculum for a long time and our kids have participated in a yearly One Act Play competition, Spring Drama Camp, and in the past a Shakespeare camp, where they perform a Shakespeare play in it's entirety. The Tantara program coming up soon will by my Senior's 15th performance, many delivered at a college campus theater or at a park.

We've also spent countless hours participating in TeenPact (state class as well as Alumni events). Three of my kids have interned at the State capital and we've all campaigned for various people and causes.

The Challenge program has allowed us to accomplish more than we ever could have on our own, especially some of the group events, such as Mock Trial, Science Fair and Debates.

Check out what my amazing VCF buddies have written this week:

Looking for more curriculum ideas? Visit my fellow homeschool bloggers! 

Note: all posts will be live after 8 am EST on Monday, Jan. 22nd.
Our Homeschool Plan for 3rd, 6th, 8th, & 12th Grades by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Our 10th Grade Plans by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
Planning Out Our Unschooling Studies by Jen @ A Helping Hand Homeschool
The Details of Curriculum by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays
Reflections of a Curriculum Junkie by Brittney @ Mom's Heart
Freedom through nature journaling. by Kim @ Good Sweet Love
How I pull together a homeschool curriculum without packaged curriculum by Dana @ Life Led Homeschool
Our Favorite Curriculum and Resources - An Annotated Bibliography by Sabrina @ Kids, Crunch, and Christ
Our 2018 Homeschool Curriculum Choices by Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool
Top Home Educating Resources by Sarah @ DeliveringGrace
Homeschooling Curriculum We Are Using This Year by Laura O @ Day by Day in Our World
Use the Force and Complete the Course by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
Choices, choices - how to choose your curriculum wisely by Lizzy @ Peaches@Home
Our Curriculum Needs - grade seven by Annette @ A Net in Time
The Heart of Our School by Laura @ Four Little Penguins
What I Use with 7th and 9th Grader - Virtual Homeschool Fair -Week 3 by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory
How to Avoid Gaps in Education by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset
Tricky Subjects and Starting the Decision Making Process by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens
High School Syllabus by TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy @ GoldenGrasses @Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Still Classically Educating After All These Years

I grew up reading. I grew up learning from books and to books I turned when we began homeschooling 27 years ago. Books have figured heavily into our family life, homeschool world and larger community. (I edited a book this summer, The Cup of Salvation, by Rabbi Pesach Wolicki and am currently reading a review copy of Nancy Pearcy’s book, Love Thy Body). Basically, everyone around here is either reading, writing, or listening to a book of some sort around here most of the time.
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We began homeschooling with a great books approach using a literature based curriculum and  pedagogy for years, despite seeing obvious holes and weaknesses in it. I loved the idea of Classical Ed and had a well-loved copy of The Well Trained Mind that I read yearly, but I just could not make it all come together.

In 2006 I discovered Classical Conversations as I was researching curriculum for the large local co-op that I had started and was running. Leigh Bortins just happened to be speaking a few hours away and I took the opportunity to go and listen to her. She changed my understanding of education and learning. We changed our curriculum, co-op, and focus and haven’t looked back. Leigh Bortiens talked practical application of the theory of classical ed. She was compelling and challenging. She told me that I could in fact learn grammar. This was a paradigm shift for me as I thought that you either had the grammar gene or you didn't. She said teach to your kids strengths (check) but also teach to their weaknesses (oh, we should shore up our kids academic weaknesses, too!). 
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Classical Education is a catch-phrase for a lot of things, but at its core it focuses on skill building through a series of stages, most commonly known as the Trivium (Grammar, Dialectic, Rhetoric) and the Quadrivium (Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy). The Trivium is what is mostly talked about in homeschooling circles, as it’s the foundation for higher level thinking.
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The Trivium is comprised of the Grammar, Dialectic and Rhetoric stage. The Grammar stage focuses on Memory work, the Dialectic stage focuses on the rules of Logic and argumentation and the Rhetoric focuses on presenting well through the written and spoken word. Classical Education is also word versus image focused (for a more in-depth analysis of the differences, check out Amusing Ourselves to Death, by Neil Postman).
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Utilizing the classical method has saved us enormous amounts of time and money. We are focused on developing skills and honing those skills so curriculum is often non-consumable. Also, being committed to a pedagogy, versus a curriculum, allows far more freedom in how and when materials are gathered. There is no longer the yearly confusion about whether our curriculum is “working” or not. We have either learned the skills we set out to or we need more work on those skills.
Teaching classically has built my confidence and ability to teach. Mainly because I am not “stuck” anymore. Classical Ed has gifted me the freedom to not know, to learn and to grow beyond self, or school, imposed limitations.
And more stuff I’ve learned educating classically. Important stuff:
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  •  You aren’t going to learn most things the first time you see it; that’s overview. You must become familiar with material in order to really learn it.
  •  Memory is the mother of learning. Memory works requires time on task and drill. And more drill.
  • Overlearning is underrated and misunderstood. Overlearning is taking a difficult and uncomfortable behavior or skill and turning it into an automatic skill.
  •  Learning something for long term memory is not the same as the short term memory required to cram for a test.
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  • When you memorize something, you own it. Memorizing material allows you to make connections and see relationships that don’t happen when you don’t own the material.
  • We should teach to our kid’s strength and allow them to go as fast and far as they can, while at the same time, shoring up their weaknesses and requiring them to push beyond comfort. Difficult things are often uncomfortable. It’s o.k. for our kids (and us!) to be uncomfortable.
  • Kids are capable of working much harder than we give them credit for or they often belive.
  • Fun is great but solid academics afford our kids the opportunity to push beyond their comfort level and gain the deep sense of satisfaction that comes from working hard and accomplishing much.
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  • Building copiousness goes way beyond a set curriculum. Scaffolding information is very helpful to mastering difficult material.
  • Using planners and breaking down long term projects does not come naturally to most kids.
  • Most people do better with a study buddy or drill partner.
  • -Envisioning what could be versus reacting against is a much more effective long term motivator.
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  • You are not going to know everything. You can learn more than you probably give yourself credit for. Even if you were terrible at grammar or science in elementary school, you have the tools and skills that you have learned as an adult. Things will come easier to you know. Be the lead learner in your home. Wrestle with concepts- it won’t hurt you or your kids to see you struggle to learn something or gain mastery over new concepts.

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Classical Eduacation has allowed us to go far beyond the simple surface of things, dive deeply, teach and learn efficiently and well.
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While we love the pedagogy of Classical Education, our goal is not to turn out little intelligensia robotrons. Our goal is to educate life-long learners who know and will continue to appreciate and discover Truth, Beauty and Goodness. 

Ad gloriam Dei! 

What do my fellow homeschool bloggers have to say about their Homeschool Method? Go visit them to find out!

Note: all posts will be live after 8 am EST on Monday, Jan. 15th.
How Our Academic Co-op Completes Our Eclectic Homeschool by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
A Method to Our Madness by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays
Finding Our Homeschool Method by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
How We Homeschool by Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool
Give Us.... by Annette @ A Net in Time
A day in our Home by Sarah@DeliveringGrace
Lit-Based Education: How We Homeschool by Debra @ Footprints in the Butter
Overhauling Our Homeschool - Adjusting our "How" to fit our "Why" by Sabrina Scheerer @ Kids, Crunch, and Christ
A Day in the Life of a Homeschooler: Expectation Vs. Reality by Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road
How Charlotte Mason Transformed Our Homeschool by Brittney @ Mom's Heart
Captain's Log, Supplemental - Our Homeschool Days by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
How we get it done. by Kim @ Good Sweet Love
How to Organize Daily Curriculum with the School Cart by Jeniffer @ Thou Shall Not Whine
Learning For LIfe by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens
Eclectic Homeschooling: When It All Comes Together by Jen @ A Helping Hand Homeschool
A Typical Day? by Lizzy @ Peaches@Home
This is the Way We Do Our School, So Early in the Morning by Laura @ Four Little Penguins
A Little of This and a Little of That: Eclectic Homeschooling by Laura O @ Day by Day in Our World
Still Classically Educating After All These Years by True North Homeschool Academy
So what exactly is Life Led Homeschooling? by Dana @ Life Led Homeschool
The way we learn ~ 2018 Virtual Homeschool Fair by Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning
Our Homeschool Routine by Joelle @Homeschooling For His Glory
Homeschool Methods – 8 Tips for the Journey by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Ravi Zacharias | Truth
@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Homeschooling: The Big WHY


We've homeschooled for a while now (27 years this year) and it has defined a large part of our family life. Why homeschool? I always knew that if I ever had kids I would seek out an alternative to public education for them. I moved every 2 years as a child and being shy (which I was, no lie), this was painfully difficult. I was always the new kid, always the outsider and I missed vast amounts of information. Plus, school just wasn't that interesting. Maybe it seemed that way because I spent so much time wondering what we were talking about (did I mention I missed out on a lot by moving?) I compensated by doing things I thought were interesting. I read. A lot. In high school I sang in choirs, played in bands, threw pottery, studied photography, played tennis, swam on teams, held jobs, and read thousands of words and hundreds of books. And worked. I learned a lot, but not necessarily in the traditional expected ways.

My family traveled a lot growing up and my Mom was always taking us camping and to factories and parks and points of interest on vacations. My dad was the best question asker on every docent-led walk. I remember sitting in the total pitch black of a cave as a child, listening to my Dad pepper the Guide with questions about bats, and guano. My Dad’s family could talk to anyone about anything and their inquisitiveness about people and places opened doors and opportunities to us to see, explore and understand in new ways. My Dad taught my sister and I both to read at young ages and books have been part of my life since. In many ways, my parents primed the pump for my own homeschooling adventure.

My husband and I started homeschooling in southern California when our oldest was 5. At that time, you didn't have to register your kids for school until they were 7 and we would have finished the part of grad school that required CA residency and moved somewhere else. Which is exactly what happened. The CA schools that we visited had issues. I won't bore you with the details but they covered the gamut from academic to social. We figured we could handle phonics instruction, which we did (thanks Samuel Blumenfeld- LOVE AlphaPhoncis!), and then reassess once we were re-settled.

From there we spent a year in Ohio, knowing that the military would move us again in a year. Which they did. We believed that homeschooling for the interim year would provide more consistency than enrolling and de-enrolling once we moved. We spent the year hanging out with friends from college, family and taking care of our very sick newborn. Dr. Dh's internship cooked his grits time and energy wise so we didn't see him as much as we would have liked but we had a lot of fun going on field trips, reading books and being close to the people we loved.

After that we landed in NM. Home of abysmal test scores and the drug corridor of the west. By the time we'd left Ohio I joked that we were in a rut, which is why we continued to homeschool. Sadly, folks failed to laugh at my droll and dry wit, so I quit joking about it. The fact of the matter is that homeschooling had become a life-style for us. My husband and I are committed to education and sharing our faith with our kids and believed that a private educational model, specifically tutoring, delivered by invested, caring adults was the way to go. Homeschooling was the way that we could do this affordably. 

It hasn't been all joyful educational pursuit. We've birthed strong-willed kids, changed locations and social support a couple of times and had our share of challenges. Yet we continue to homeschool. Why? For us, it boils down to a couple of simple things.

Education. Our kids are getting a solid education. Is it perfect? No. Are there gaps? Yes. Is that normal. I think so. Do we continue to hone and improve what we do? Yes. 
Faith. Our kids are committed to their faith and have years to refine, define and own it before the world and peers, and a whole host of other voices come along to batter and beat it into something almost Christan. Our kids leave our home with a solid understanding of the history of the church, the importance and personhood of Jesus and a glimpse at how imperfect people attempt to live a live of vibrant faith. Is it perfect? No. Do we fail? Yes. Is that normal. I know so.
Family. It's a busy world. We've had hours to spend together, playing, reading, learning, building, re-modeling, cooking, gardening, arguing and laughing together. The good side of that is that everybody really knows each other. The downside of this is that everybody really knows each other. Is it perfect? No. Do we get on each others nerves. You betcha'.

We’ll be graduating our fourth homeschooler this spring; with one to go. It’s been a sweet season and the best job in the world. We have learned, laughed, traveled, wrestled, struggled, grown, prayed, cooked, celebrated together over these past many years. We have had our share of heartache, struggles and failures, as well as our share of laughs and wins.

Is homeschooling the way to ensure picture perfect academically trained kids? Is homeschooling the way to raise people of character? Is homeschooling the way to ensure that no troubles or heartaches will come your way? None of these are true. Homeschooling is an option, with no guaranteed outcomes. Your kids will struggle, they will not be perfect, they will fail; as will you. They may turn their back on everything you hold dear. But if God is calling you to homeschool, your job is not figure that out. Your job is to be faithful to do what He is asking you to do. Outcomes are above your pay-grade.

Even with no guarantees, and after all these years, I am so grateful to have the opportunity to homeschool. It’s been a great joy and a blessed calling.

Find out more about the Virtual Curriculum Fair here

Visit the bloggers participating in the Virtual Homeschool Fair:

Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds Laura @ Four Little Penguins Dana @ Life Led Homeschool Jenn K. @ A Peace of Mind Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset Kim @ Good Sweet Love Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool Jen Duncan @ A Helping Hand Homeschool Lori @ At Home: where life happens Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning Amanda H @ Hopkins Homeschool Annette @ A Net In Time Lizzy @ Peaches@Home Sabrina @ Kids, Crunch, and Christ Michele Pleasants @ Family, Faith and Fridays Brittney @ Mom's Heart Sarah @ Delivering Grace

Lisa Nehring has 1 husband, 2 graduate degrees, 5 kids and a black-belt in homeschooling. She is the owner of True North Homeschool Academy, which delivers 6th-12th grade courses live, on-line. Check out TNHA FB page for up launch information and specials! @Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!