How do you deal with life’s unexpected surprises?

Teaching Tip:

How do you deal with life’s unexpected surprises?

Life is full of unexpected surprises! Some of these surprises are wonderful and others are not. There can be unexpected job changes, financial situations, moves, pregnancies, illnesses, issues with children, educational decisions, and relationship challenges. In our 20 years of homeschooling, we have dealt with every one of these surprises. So, how do you deal with life’s unexpected surprises? Today’s teaching tip will share a way to do just that!

What unexpected surprises are you facing today?

As we continue to be in and out of the hospital with our son Greyson, we never know what our day might hold. Will we be packing in a hurry to rush out the door? Will we be wondering how many days we will be gone? Will we be home but waiting on doctors to call? Will we be able to teach our boys for the day? Or, will we be calling on others to help as we make the 4 hour drive to the hospital? In the midst of these uncertain days, my sister gave me some wonderful advice from a devotional she’d read! She said, “Trust God with the future and plan for the day.”

Trust God with the future.

I must admit that I get overwhelmed when I try to look too far ahead these days. Yet, God is not overwhelmed! He knows what the future holds. So, when I trust God with the future, my burden is lighter. When I stop considering all of the possibilities ahead and just plan for the day, I do much better.

Plan for just one day.

Blessedly, the Heart of Dakota plans are written to show just one day. When I focus on doing one day at a time, I feel more able to do what the day holds. When someone else has to jump in and teach, it is easier for that person to focus on one day too. For the child who suddenly has a different teacher than expected, it is easier to think about only one day.

What can you do when you are facing an unexpected surprise?

So, when you are facing an unexpected surprise, just work on getting through that one day. Try to think of school as a series of single days. After all the Bible promises God will give us what we need for the day. So, the next time you feel overwhelmed by one of life’s unexpected surprises… remember to trust God with the future and plan for the day.

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, 

Because his compassions fail not.  

They are new every morning; 

Great is Your faithfulness. 

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul. 

“Therefore, I hope in Him!” – Lamentations 3:22-24




The knowledge of God is the principal knowledge

A Charlotte Mason Moment:

“The knowledge of God is the principal knowledge, and no teaching of the Bible which does not further that knowledge is of religious value. Therefore the children read, or if they are too young to read for themselves the teacher reads to them, a passage of varying length covering an incident or some definite teaching. If there are remarks to be made about local geography or local custom, the teacher makes them before the passage has been read, emphasizing briefly but reverently any spiritual or moral truth; the children narrate what has been read after the reading; they do this with curious accuracy and yet with some originality, conveying the spiritual teaching which the teacher has indicated. Now this is no parrot-exercise, but is the result of such an assimilation of the passage that is has become a part of the young scholar.”

(Home Education by Charlotte M. Vol. 6, p. 272-273)

Sometimes life is the lesson.

Teaching Tip:

Sometimes life is the lesson.

As I write this tip from our hospital room at Mayo, I am struck by the thought that sometimes… life is the lesson. Through the years, we have had a chance to talk with so many families struggling with health issues. Trying to school through seasons or years of illness can be such an effort. Yet, in times like these… life is the lesson.

Are you struggling with trying circumstances?

Many families like ours are struggling with trying circumstances. Our son Greyson has been in and out of the hospital since last September. We often are headed on the 4 hour drive to Rochester at a moment’s notice. We don’t return home for days and weeks at a time. Our longest hospital stay was 30 days in a row. We know many of you have weathered trying circumstances too. You give us hope that we are not alone.

It is easy to despair that very little school is getting done.

At times like this, it is easy to despair that very little school is getting done. Yet, during this time of illness… life is the lesson. Our son Greyson has had to practice patience, self-control, and selflessness. He has discovered that he can walk through hard things with Jesus at his side. Grey has learned his joy comes from within and that it’s not based on his circumstances. He’s learned the power of prayer and the importance of having a sense of humor. Grey has learned to deal with frustration, pain, hunger, and fatigue by resting in Jesus. These lessons will help him all through his life.

Our boys left at home have learned life lessons too.

Our boys left at home have learned life lessons as well. They have learned the importance of flexibility, cooperation, and diligence even when no one is watching. They have had to set aside their own interests and work together to get things done. Our older boys have practiced parenting, cleaning, cooking, laundry, and teaching skills. They have had to balance work, college classes, and running a household. Our youngest son has had to adapt to a variety of teachers, while the HOD guides keep the daily structure for him. And most importantly, the boys have all learned to pray more than ever before. These lessons will stay with our boys all through their lives.

I have learned life lessons too!

As a parent, I have learned life lessons too. I have learned that I am not in control, but God is! I have learned to face each day as it comes and that God is sufficient for that day. I still struggle with worry and overthinking things, but over and over I lay those worries at the Lord’s feet.

Out of times of hardship much teaching naturally occurs.

If you are facing health struggles, remember that out of hardship much teaching naturally occurs. Your children will watch and learn as you go through struggles. You don’t have to do it all perfectly as you struggle. Just point your children to the Lord. He is enough for whatever comes!


What did 2018 hold for you?

Teaching Tip:

What did 2018 hold for you?

As we turn our eyes toward the new year, it is also the time when we reflect back on the year that has passed. What did 2018 hold for you? Was it a year of joy, a year of struggle, a year of change, or a year of adjustment? Did you accomplish what you desired, or did you feel like you were falling short most days?

God was not taken by surprise by what your year held.

Whatever your year held, remember that God was not taken by surprise by anything that occurred. He knew what your year would hold before you ever ventured into 2018. He knows what 2019 will hold for you too! That means that whatever is ahead, you will not walk alone. For our family, this has been incredibly important to remember this past year.

Our year held joy and struggle, change and adjustment.

Our son Greyson was diagnosed with colitis in March. After difficult months culminating in a month-long stay in the hospital, he was taken to Mayo Clinic by ambulance and had his entire colon and appendix removed. More surgeries have followed and are still to come. After his most recent hospital stay, we were blessed to bring Grey home the day before Christmas Eve. He is being treated for an abscess that was a complication from the second surgery. Yet, through this all we have watched Grey grow in his faith and so have we!

The Lord has a plan for your good!

We take heart that the Lord has a plan, and His plan is for our good. My Dad’s favorite verse is one that I have had to cling to often this past year: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28. So, even when we can’t see the good in what is happening, we can rest in knowing that God is working behind the scenes for our good. Remember the story of Joseph in the Bible? That is our glimpse into how God works in times of great trial in ways we can’t imagine for His good and for ours.

Did we accomplish everything we desired this year?

We did not accomplish a lot of what we wanted to do this year. Yet, we have moved forward with life and with school as best we could. Our older boys have had to pitch in and be the teacher for our younger one. They delayed starting their college classes this fall, so they could be here and keep things running. Family watched over our boys when we couldn’t be here. Friends, and family, and churches, and people we’ve never met prayed without ceasing over Grey and continue to do so. Looking back on 2018, we can say our lives are richer for the united, loving body of Christ.

Faith is strengthened is times of struggle.

As we look back on 2018, we realize that the greatest gift we can give our boys is faith in the Lord. The academics are important too, but a deep and abiding faith is what matters for eternity. In times of struggle, we are teaching our boys to pull together as a family. They have learned to set aside their own wants to serve others. As a family, we have been driven to our knees to call upon our heavenly Father. Blessedly, He opens His arms and draws us to Him.

In 2019, reach for your Father in heaven.

So, as you look toward 2019, reach for your Father in heaven who loves you. Know that He will walk with you no matter what is ahead. Join with us in fervently praying that your children will come to know Him more deeply. If that is what you seek to accomplish this coming year, you will be doing what matters for eternity!



Teaching children to live under the authority of God

A Charlotte Mason Moment:

‘The teacher should always take the moral habit for granted. He should never give his pupils to understand that he and they are about to examine whether, for instance, it is wrong or not to lie. The commandment against lying is assumed, and its obligation acknowledged at the outset.’ This we heartily agree with, and especially we like the apparently inadvertent use of the word ‘commandment’, which concedes the whole question at issue – that is, that the idea of duty is a relative one depending on an Authority supreme and intimate, which embraces the thoughts of the heart and the issues of the life.”

(Home Education by Charlotte M. Mason Vol. 2, p. 114)