One Simple Lesson That Brought Joy Back to My Life

one simple lesson that brought joy back to my life

We look super happy in this photo, didn’t we? We were sort of happy. We were content, but we were stressed. Alan has enough school and family work to fill his plate, but he does well. I’ve already said a thousand times that the first year of home schooling has been a huge challenge for me.

I was surviving, really. There was more stress than joy in my days. I was living frustrated.

I ran into a mom that I sort of know at Daniel’s tee-ball game two weeks ago. We’ll call her Angel from Heaven. 😉 For short, we’ll just say Angel. Angel has invited me to different things, multiple times. She has made a concerted effort to be my friend. We have a lot in common. She has five kids. I have four. We both home school. We both have pre-teens as well as little ones. Her husband is a chaplain. Alan is not a chaplain, but we do love Jesus. 🙂

Despite all of Angel from Heaven’s best efforts, I stayed at home like a little hermit crab. There was one day that I really WAS going to go to the beach with her and all of our children, but that’s when I came down with bronchitis.

So when she ran into me at tee-ball, excitedly commenting about CC being over for the year, and I replied with, “Oh, we still have 3 weeks of it left, and I’m so ready to be done,” I think she knew I needed encouraging. She invited me to a marriage class that she and her husband are leading. I mentioned it on my post 13 Wonderful Things. 

It was a very successful first class for our whole family. I can’t tell you how much we needed this! Two hours of just Alan and me–eating out!

Here’s what they taught us that I think made the biggest difference (combined with two good hours to just have dinner with Alan).:

Pray together, sure you’ve all heard that. But pray together for each other, everyday. Ask each other, “What’s on your mind right now? How can I pray for you?” Then don’t jump in with a solution. Just listen and then pray for only each other. You can pray about everything and everybody else any other time. 

We’ve prayed together, occasionally, throughout our whole marriage, but we’ve never made a purposeful effort to simply pray for each other, together, every single day.

Now, you know I’m a big believer in prayer. It’s the number one reason my faith in God is unshaken. He’s answered too many of my prayers, in BIG ways, for me to ever doubt him.

I can’t explain it, ya’ll, but this week has not looked like any other week of our school year.

I’m happy! Like actually happy!!! I am not fussing at the children, unless they are fully deserving of it. Ha! 😉 I am not dreading getting out of bed. I have enjoyed my days! I let the kids jump a little longer on the trampoline today. I let them watch a movie in the morning. We still got through our planned lessons for the day. We even made cupcakes. 🙂

No, I know; every day won’t be perfect. God never promised a life of no trouble at all. However, you don’t have to be very old to figure out that all of life goes better for you when you make good choices, put your faith in the right places, and pray.

So even in a week when my computer didn’t want to work, Daniel drew on the walls, the boys played in Poison Oak Woods (without permission), Alan had to dig an under shirt out of the laundry basket, and my face exploded in acne, I am happy as a lark.

Now, I promised you beautiful photos from Carmel Valley. I’m throwing in a few Easter photos as well.

I love ya’ll. Thanks for reading my blog. 🙂

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”      James 5:16



Carmel Valley

Carmel Valley

cozy book time with Mommy

cozy book time with Mommy

A+ for excellent use of Legos. That's his mic.

A+ for excellent use of Legos. That’s his mic.




Poor snail. JD never saw him, and he never saw JD coming. He saw only the blue bottoms of the size 7 Spiderman shoes. Sometimes life ends suddenly…. 🙁

All 4!

All 4!


best friends: Buzz and Darth

best friends: Buzz and Darth

Daniel and his best friend. We’ll call him Darth. Darth and Dan are just alike, and they are inseparable. Darth is moving in a month, which just breaks my heart for little Dan.

Thankfully, Dan will still have this best friend. Brothers are forever.

Digging through the library book bag

Digging through the library book bag

love, love, love

love, love, love

spring in the valley

spring in the valley

Men that camp!

Men that camp!

spring at the ranch--Run, dog, run!

spring at the ranch–Run, dog, run!

Nothing like a good cup of joe.

Nothing like a good cup of joe.

“Let’s all go have a good cup of coffee,” says J.D. 😉



How in the world are you going to home school?

We have so much more fun when company comes!!! This was the train ride through the redwood forrest.

This past week had the potential to be a total nightmare. This is “Finals Week” of the 3rd quarter for Alan, and I’m the kind of person that can only handle all four of my own children, by myself, for so long.

Enter the in-laws. Their timing was perfect. Well, for me it was anyway. They probably would have liked to have spent more time with their son, sure, but I really just needed someone to take my mind off of the nights that Alan had to work late and the cabin fever.

Caleb, soaking in the sights and smells of the forests– and searching for banana slugs. We love banana slugs.

Big shout out to DaddyO and Nonna for helping out this week and for allowing us to drag you around northern California. We had a great time.

Oh! And best of all, Caleb has two whole front teeth again!!! That’s right! Alan and I both got to be there for the oral surgery. DaddyO and Nonna kept the preschoolers and the home schooler. Caleb handled it all really well, and as of today, he can’t even remember it. It’s amazing what good drugs can do.

As I mentioned before, my phone bit the dust, so I have no beautiful Caleb photo to share. 🙁

I don’t think Nonna and DaddyO were quite aware of just how stressed out Alan and I were when they arrived, just 8 days ago, but I think that by the time they left, they were thankful they never had to home school their children.


Okay, so really I’M the one that lives seriously stressed out. I think Alan is fine.

DaddyO and Nonna

Nonna gave me some great organizing tips for home schooling. She was a teacher for 20 years, so I’m always happy to get ideas from her. She also maintains an AWESOME Pinterest board for me, full of teaching tips and home schooling ideas. It’s called “Donna Recommends.” Check it out here:

Thank you, Donna! 🙂

We only have ONE QUARTER of our first year of home schooling left to get through. I remember when I first decided to home school. I didn’t want to tell any of my friends in Virginia. Why? Because I knew that as the people who see me everyday, they knew me well enough to know that it didn’t make much sense. I’m a social person with social children. I have four boys who like to wiggle about and have fun. I have a toddler in the mix that needs a lot of attention, so I was practically attempting the impossible.

And I knew my friends would let me know it, so I tried to keep my home schooling ambitions a secret.

You should have heard my friends at supper club.

“Are you SERIOUSLY going to home school? How in the world are you going to do that?”

*Insert feeling of sheepish embarrassment.* I knew they were right. They knew they were right. This would be hard. This would be a little crazy. This would be way out of my comfort zone.

Several people lately have asked me, “Why do you homeschool?”

I throw out this reason or that, mostly stuff about my children’s education and being a control freak. (Ha!) I wanted to help Caleb with reading and Joshua with math. I didn’t want my children to constantly change schools, creating insecurity. I wanted them to have a Christian education rather than a secular one. I wanted to pull them away from so much materialism and worldliness. I just wanted to try it, and Alan was in agreement with me about all of this.

But really there was one big reason. I prayed about it, and God said, “Home school your kids.”

I prayed that four years ago, when Joshua started Kindergarten, and God said, “Send them to school.” Different season, different circumstances. God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit, which he has given to all who have accepted Him. He lives in our hearts.

“Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant which I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them. And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”

Hebrews 10:15-17

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”             John 16:12-15

So sweet! Alan still found plenty of time to have fun with us. 🙂

Home schoolers do take the coolest field trips.

I’m just following where the Lord leads. Yes, He gave me more than I can handle. From that, I have learned to rely on Him more and to talk to Him more. I may not always home school, but I hope that I will always simply follow where the Lord leads our family.



Thank you!

For the “Home school is ruining my life” days


Tomorrow we have family arriving, and it makes me feel like “Ahhhh, peace.” I know things will be crazy around here, as the kids will be all excited, and there will be 8 people in the house, but the thing is that I am seriously in need of reinforcements!

Some days I’m all about the home schooling.

“Oh, sure. I think it’s great! I love it.”

So happy!!!


Then there are days like today, where I’m more like, “Home school is ruining my life…”

Can I be anywhere but here?  …Yeah, I know. I look a lot better when I’m smiling.


Is home school ruining my life?


But sometimes I definitely think that I am making things harder than they have to be.  People often ask me what it’s like.

It’s nuts; that’s what it is. I stay up late preparing school desks for my own children. I pour all of this teaching energy into just these four children. There is this constant strain on my heart. It’s a pressure strain.

There’s no one to blame but me. If they don’t learn what they are supposed to learn, I have failed. If they aren’t behaving, we have failed.

I compare them to other people’s kids. I compare myself to the other moms. I do every single thing in my head that one should not do.

Today was a particularly stressful school day. I finally really let Caleb have it. I wish I could have thought to say what I said in a calmer manner, but at least I did finally hit upon what needed to be said.

The subject was math. The section was the algebra-like addition/subtraction section. The particular question was 13-___=6, and he was putting forth zero effort to do his work.

All people are good at pulling this stunt, when faced with a task that we just don’t feel like doing, but Caleb is really good at this trick, and I was finished with it.

“Caleb, no. I will not let you pull this. You know how to do this work, and you are going to do it. You are going to do it by yourself, and I will not help you. You are smart, and I won’t allow you to pretend like you are not. I am fed up with it. Now you know the answer to this question, and if not, you are going to figure out this problem, and then you are going to answer all the rest. Now do it.”

This was all said in my true-April-telling-someone-off-voice, a voice that mostly only people that live with me ever have to hear. Sorry, family.

Tomorrow I will try again at being calm, but the words did get through. Caleb finished the entire rest of his math worksheet just as quick as a flash, and he was a very good worker for the rest of the day.

Hurray! I got through to him!

I wonder if God sometimes feels that way towards us, “Stop whining and concentrate! This is not hard! You can do it; now DO IT.”

Definitely. I am guilty, for sure.

Each kid here is different. Caleb is my sluggish starter, but once he gets going, he’s good.

So yes, there were victories today, but man, do I get tired of pushing for these victories!

Sometimes I push too hard, but mostly I’m just often pushing for the wrong things and getting my priorities all mixed up.

Life isn’t about being as brilliant and thin as the other moms. I wish I could find some less impressive people to compare myself to….  🙂  Kidding, I’m just kidding…Where was I?

Priorities! Life isn’t about how good we can make ourselves look to others. Life isn’t about how fast your children can multiply. These are not the things I should be judging myself and my boys by. These are not the things that I should allow to ruin my day.

What really matters? What really makes a difference?

It’s knowing at the end of the day that you put your best foot forward. It’s being at peace with God and knowing that something that you are doing is fulfilling his purpose for you. It’s instilling the character and love of God and fellow man in your children.

Am I doing my best to serve God by serving others? Am I showing love? Am I spreading joy and good will? Am I raising up children that will be a blessing to their communities?

I was going over a list of worries with my Mom one night, and she reminded me, “April, sometimes you just have to let things go and say,’we did what we thought was right at the time.” Thank you, Mom. That was a comfort.

If you read this blog much at all, you know that I am a firm believer in prayer. I pray about everything, and when I don’t, I regret it! I pray before my feet hit the floor in the morning. Over the last couple of years, my prayer has become, “Lord, help me to get through this day, to do what is right, and use our family to bless others.”

This is a fun phase. The children are still young and adorable and hilarious. Their problems are still fixable, but it’s a phase of HARD WORK. “The days are long, but the years are short,” they say, and that is so true.

I have to learn to trust in God more and more.

God answers prayer. He does it in such big and obvious ways, too. I don’t know how people go through life without God. I think they are usually either the most miserable people or the richest, happiest people. Do you know what I mean? They are either miserable because they need Him and don’t know him, OR they are so naturally happy and rich that they don’t need Him. They miss out on so much, though.

Such a wonderful feeling it is to comforted by the Holy Spirit. Yes, this was a rough day of school. Yes, the world situation looks abysmal. But no, it has not all gone to hell in a hand basket just yet. There are still so many wonderful blessings to be thankful for. There are still so many darling people out there. There are so many good works for us to accomplish.

What does matter?

God matters. People matter. What we do for God matters. Have I taught my children that? That’s the most important thing for them to know. I hope that we have. I hope their hearts are so full of love that it spills out onto other people.

a happy place

joy spilling over 🙂



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