Homeschooling and Mutant Orchids

Recently, my son was learning about how animals adapt and change based on their environment, and I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw how my small orchid has continued to put out roots despite my failure to figure out how to repot it into something bigger. And then I happened to see it in his science book–orchids can even grow on the sides of trees because they can take in water through the air. 

But that’s definitely not what I thought would happen as I took my pink blooms home from Walmart. Kind of like when I started homeschooling. A couple years earlier, I had ordered all the pieces to my carefully-researched curriculum and was preparing to thrive. The orchid didn’t have any mutant-looking roots. I watered it each week, even when the blossoms fell off, and I cut down the stems. 

Those first couple years, I did as much Kindergarten and first grade curriculum as I could with my son with my baby and toddler girls in tow. The girls soon grew into a toddler and preschooler who were not always happy with the amount of attention they got. They wanted it all. So we did as much life as we could all together, but whispers of “not good enough” kept washing over me, wave after wave, as things on the curriculum got skipped or didn’t go the way I had planned. The orchid was putting out roots that didn’t fit nicely in the pot. 

Then bouts of sickness came, some days and some months of not feeling well enough to incorporate any “fun” homeschool ideas the curriculum suggested. I barely got through the reading and math with my son, while also trying summon the brain power to put a grocery list together. And there was even a time when I needed help from sisters in our church to care for the kids in the afternoons so I could rest. 

The roots looked weird, and I wasn’t sure it was okay with God for my life to look so different from what I’d imagined. My husband and I questioned whether it was even a good idea to keep homeschooling. But I kept watering it, week by week with the incredible mercy, wisdom, and coaching from my friend Robin. She pointed me again and again to my need to keep depending on the Lord and encouraged me to write down our reasons for homeschooling. It helped, as I tried to keep discerning what to fit into my days with the kids. 

And the orchid kept sending out those crazy roots and eventually blooming again into way more flowers than I had walked away from the store with. But I still felt like what I was doing wasn’t quite what it was supposed to be because “what about all those other people who took orchids home? Surely they’re getting beautiful blooms without those unattractive roots splaying out the other side. The root of not getting to all they’d planned for. The root of not knowing exactly how to answer their children and make decisions in a timely, peaceful way. The root of not checking every subject-area box triumphantly at the end of the school day. 

The Lord in His kindness brought me two different books on homeschooling in the same month, and as I read (and listened on audio), these writer-moms put words to those whispers of “not good enough” and to the roots of comparison with others. They gave me a life-refreshing perspective of seeing homeschooling as a way to grow alongside my children. They encouraged me to write a “don’t do” list as I considered what the Lord has called me to for this season. They called me to really ask myself what would make me feel like I’ve done my job as a homeschool mom–if my children grow up to . . . 

As I wrote down what came to mind, I was surprised by how few of the roots in the pot (excellence in specific subject areas) made it on the list. These were roots that reached outside of standards and curriculum–like seeing my children grow up to:

  • Not just know the Bibe and about God, but love HIm and let Him be the Source from which everything in their lives flows. 
  • Treat each person they encounter with kindness and respect, be good listeners, ask good questions. 
  • Look to Jesus in their emotions and struggles, learning to accept the way they feel and go to His Word and godly mentors for truth and perspective.
  • Learn to work diligently in each role God has for them.
  • Be content with a quiet life, trusting God to lead them into what He has for them to put their hands to. 
  • Enjoy learning and exploring and trying things as a process, not an end result (success or failure). 
  • Figure things out for themselves as a process, not a success or failure.
  • Know how to prepare simple meals, shop for groceries, manage money, drive in the country or city.
  • Have a heart for overseas missions by praying, giving, encouraging missionaries, and learning a language.
  • Have a love for music, especially in worship through singing, playing an instrument, or participating in the congregation at church. 
  • Use their handwriting and written communication as a way to honor, respect, and help others.
  • Know how to do basic math and know basic math facts in order to solve real-life problems and make real-life calculations.
  • To see history as God’s story and look at historical events and current events from a biblical worldview.
  • To appreciate God’s handiwork and power and wisdom in all things related to science.

I saw that the roots were reaching for things much farther than checking boxes off a curriculum or seeing success through how one day or month or year went. They were reaching for the water in the air–the Living Water of the Good Shepherd, who guides orchids to adapt, making the roots grow how He wants. Orchids that would die without Him. 

My words for this year are: look back, trust and lead. The anxiety and struggle has been real these past few years. But as I look back, I can see that God was faithful to help, love, and bring me through every time. And as I look ahead to days and years that are unknown, I want to trust that He will keep leading me, never give up on me, and offer the grace and forgiveness He bought with His blood, so that I can experience life that is truly life forever with Him. 

But until that forever comes, my orchid will look exactly the way He intended all along. 

Homeschool Bravely by Jamie Erickson

The Four Hour School Day by Durenda Wilson

Bible Resources for Busy Moms

Between caring for and schooling my children, planning for our days together, caring for my home, and participating in church fellowship, there isn’t much time left to choose what I want to read and listen to. Here are resources and devotionals over the past 8 years of motherhood that have been especially encouraging to me. I hope they are to you as well as you fulfill God’s call for your life.


David Suchet Audio Bible

David Suchet has recorded the entire Bible in his rich voice, and it is all available in playlists on YouTube. For example, just search “David Suchet Ecclesiastes” and you’ll find the playlist you’re looking for. This has been an excellent resource as I do my stretches in the morning and has been helpful to re-listen to books of the Bible multiple times in a row to get a better understanding of the themes and principles.

The Bible Project videos

Their goal: To help people experience the Bible as a unified story that leads to Jesus.

I can’t recommend these short videos enough. There are videos giving the historical background, themes, and outline of each book of the Bible along with illustrations, and also videos about themes throughout Scripture. Just watch one. You’ll be hooked.

Devotionals and Prayer Guides:

New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional by Paul Tripp

“Forget “behavior modification” or feel-good aphorisms. Tripp knows that what we really need is an encounter with the living God. Then we’ll be prepared to trust in God’s goodness, rely on his grace, and live for his glory each and every day.”

This has been another way to celebrate God in my thoughts as I start the day.

The Valley of Vision–free

This is a collection of puritan prayers and devotions. Don’t let the cover turn you off. It is filled with scripturally and theologically rich prayers to worship and enjoy God. It’s often been a great starting place to help me worship God and then talk to Him about what’s on my mind and heart. 

“This book has been prepared not to ‘supply’ prayers but to prompt and encourage the Christian as he treads the path on which others have gone before.”

You can read the prayers for free here, but I’m grateful for my hardcopy to highlight and meditate on. 

Every Moment Holy

“EVERY MOMENT HOLY is a book of liturgies for the ordinary events of daily life–liturgies such as “A Liturgy for Feasting with Friends” or “A Liturgy for Laundering” or “A Liturgy for the First Hearthfire of the Season.” These are ways of reminding us that our lives are shot through with sacred purpose even when, especially when, we are too busy or too caught up in our busyness to notice.”

This is such a beautiful guide for learning how to see every part of our lives as a way to meet the Lord. (And McKelvey’s words are so well-chosen and biblical.)

Audio Resources:

Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves


“Why is God love? Because God is a Trinity.
Why can we be saved? Because God is a Trinity.
How are we able to live the Christian life? Through the Trinity.
In this lively book, we find an introduction to Christianity and the Christian life that is from start to finish rooted in our triune God―Father, Son and Spirit. Not only do we understand the person and work of Christ through the Trinity, but also prayer, the church and every aspect of our faith.”

Just imagine if we could begin each day (or wake up each night) remembering and delighting in our loving Father, salvation-giving Jesus, and empowering Spirit?

If you don’t have time to read the book, check out these audio talks and short videos related to the same topic.

Audio Resources by Michael Reeves about Delighting in the Trinity

Short Videos by Michael Reeves about Delighting in the Trinity

A powerful sermon by Michael Reeves on the resurrection of Christ

Women’s Conference Audio talks:

I’ve especially appreciated listening to these sessions and breakout sessions as it’s been harder for me to get away for an actual women’s conference.

The Women of Hope Conference is one I’ve been appreciating, coming right out of a church in Maryland.

The Gospel Coalition


This network of churches “encourages and educates believers advocating gospel-centered principles and practices that glorify the Savior and do good to those for whom he shed his life’s blood.”

I have been especially blessed listening to the audio sermons and workshops from the women’s conferences they organize each year.


He Is (Names of God)

This 10 minute video brought tears to my eyes as the names of God through the entire Bible are proclaimed.

Full of Eyes (youtube channel)

These are Written

Everlasting Arms

True Food

Chris Powers’ hope is to “fill this channel with videos that exalt Jesus Christ as the Joy, King, and Savior of the world. He is the One in whom we see and know God, and so I want all eyes fixed on Him. I’d love it if the Lord would use these videos to point you to Christ, and to empower you to point others to Him as well.”

These are beautifully illustrated animations that have helped me to remember my lostness without Christ, and many aspects of the gospel. 

Wiping His Feet

How can I respond to the love that put Christ on the cross? The love He shows me everyday as I picture my sins like dirt on my feet that He gently washes away?

I want to be the one kneeling on the floor, like the woman who washed His feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. She was perceived as shameful. What does the world see as shameful and ridiculous today? Admitting my wrongs through confession and repentance. Making meals, cleaning up, pouring out my time to discipline, train, instruct, and laugh with my children. Claiming no identity but being His daughter.

Lord, would you help me to picture each of these acts, each confession of my need for You as a way to wipe Your feet with my hair?

And it is precious to You. (Luke 7:36-50)

Grace in Motion

This year, I had the chance to share a testimony at our church’s Thanksgiving service, and I wanted to give praise to God by offering it here as well.

I want to give praise to the Lord for the grace of His presence and work in my life in the area of anxiety. I have been humbled and amazed by all the help He’s given me in the ongoing battle. 

I’m speaking not from a place of complete healing, but as someone who’s still plunking away at the piano with Him, knowing that Jesus already played a Mozart piano concerto on my behalf. My prayer is that as I share what He’s done in my life most recently, He would bring to mind all the ways His grace has been meeting you in your battles. 

He sent a text message from a friend, pointing me to Christ’s righteousness on my behalf right when I was tired and discouraged about my parenting. 

He’s graced me with Paul Tripp’s devotional New Morning Mercies (where I found the phrase for the title), drawing my thoughts back to the gospel each morning. 

He’s provided life-giving conversations with friends to share what God has been doing in my life and hear how He’s met them. 

He’s brought me a mentor to meet with me week after week and point me back to God’s sovereignty and love and the way He’s using everything in my life to make me more like Christ. He’s strengthened my heart as I’ve met many of you, and right away you shared your testimonies of how God drew you to Himself and how He’s continued to sustain you. 

He’s brought me a sliver of time almost every day right before dinner to go outside to see the sunset and remember again His greatness through listening to a worship song. 

He’s brought to mind picture after picture to help me see Him as my loving Father–picturing myself as a child sitting on His lap, a baby bird who can’t fly but has her mouth open for what He wants to fill it with, a tiny person sitting on the palm of His left hand as I watch His right hand control the universe, and a toddler who can keep taking tiny steps forward while His strong hand holds mine.

 And He has shown me the gift of repentance as a daughter, not an employee trying hard to be perfect and not mess up so my boss will be pleased. 

As I’ve offered him the measuring stick I’ve used on myself and others, He’s taken it and nailed it to the cross. In exchange, He’s shown me His Shepherd’s staff that he’s using to guide and comfort me. 

I’ve had to repent of the roles where I’ve tried to find my worth, imagining them as nametags stacked up on top of each other: Wife, Mother, Church member, Friend, Musician, Writer, Organized, and Disciplined. I’ve imagined myself ripping them off so that the only nametag that’s left on my shirt says, “Pleasing, Beloved Daughter of the Heavenly Father. 

It’s all because of Christ’s sacrifice and the righteous life He lived in my place that I’ve been able to really believe I can sit in this reality, to confess the lies that have kept me from believing that it’s safe to repent and receive the gifts He wants to give me in exchange. 

I’ve been so afraid of not being in His will, of not doing the right things, not believing that he can move me where He wants to, like a hot air balloon. 

He is showing me His will is for me to live in peace, not fear. Resting, not striving. Repentance, not condemnation. Humility, not pride. Faith, not unbelief. Love, not selfishness. Trust, not anxiety. A child, not a boss. Obedience, not self-righteousness. Hope, not discouragement. Righteousness covering me, not shame. Patience, not trying to control everything. 

His understanding and wisdom, not what the world says. His circumstances for me, not my own expectations. His daughter, not His employee. His friend, not a performer. Being carried, instead of always deciding. Justified, not trying to earn His favor. These are His priorities for me, His will for me, and are the gifts He delights in giving as my loving Father. The gifts He is teaching me to receive.

Lamentations 3:22-24 says, The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.”

He’s Holding the Dollies

I woke up recently, feeling burdened with the needs someone had shared with me, wanting to help. Not knowing how. Feeling my own limitations of weariness and caring for three little kids and whatever I do not being enough. Soon another friend came to mind, obviously still blind to the truth of the gospel. . . Then Daddy reminded me that I’m His little girl, and I don’t have to understand. Not right now. He holds out His hands for me to hand Him each dolly I’ve been so worried about. Because when I try to hold them all, they keep slipping out of my arms. I can’t fix any of their rips and stains. So, one by one, I place each dolly in His hands–the grown-up dollies, the dollies that are my children, the sister-dolly, my husband-dolly. He never drops one. And He still has room to lift me onto His lap and hold me. When I crawl down again, He offers the hand of one of the dollies He wants me to hold for the moment and shows me that He’s holding the dolly’s other hand. And then He leads us where we need to go. (See Psalm 68:19, Ps. 55:22)

He is Strong

In my weakness He is strong. My life motto has been, “Be perfect.” It’s a great way to feel like a failure most of the time. As I sat against the washing machine, crying because I couldn’t control my feelings of worry, couldn’t trust God, couldn’t remember who He is, He whispered, “I’m using this.” Later, He showed me how much more clearly I could see His amazing grace when I came face-to-face with my own failures. How unconditional His love is. How glad He is to offer mercy. Not because I’d proved my devotion to Him, but because He proved His love for me. (See 2 Corinthians 12:9-11)

New Resources!

Some are for free. Some are for purchase. All are resources I’ve enjoyed for myself, with other believers, and with my children. If you haven’t checked out my resource page in a while, you’ll be able to discover some new treasures (and get ideas for birthdays, weddings, and baby showers!)

New Resource

I recently had the chance to read with my five-year-old son the first book in a series being released in April, and because we enjoyed it so much, I wanted to tell you about it.

The series is called The Bible’s Big Ideas, and here’s a bit from the GospelGrown website:

The central message, or The Story, of the Bible is the Gospel, the Good News about Jesus Christ. However, the Bible is a Story made up of many stories, sub-plots to the Gospel Story, each with their own setting, characters, and plot. These stories highlight, develop, and illumine the various themes of the main plot, the Gospel Story. Therefore, knowing the parts well will deepen our understanding of the whole.

The first book in the series is called The Promise of Life: A Big Story about God’s Law:

God’s Law promised life for all who would obey. But instead of giving life, God’s Law brought death, imprisoning the whole world under its curse and revealing their slavery to Sin. But there’s more . . . God’s Law also pointed to a better way, the only way, to life with God. From the pages of this book, help children see their own slavery to Sin and point them to the One who can rescue from Sin and give the free gift of life to all who would trust Him.

You can also check out a short video about it here and find out more on their Facebook page.

I Will Return!

Dear friends,

I’m looking forward to what God has for me to share with you in this next season of life, but for now, I’ll give you a glimpse of how He is filling my time each day and night.

Faith Adeline Yoder, 9 1b, 6 oz.

And if you want something great to listen to, you can check out Ellie Holcomb’s new kids’ album Sing.

Two Questions to Help Pursue God’s Purposes

I don’t know Greek. I can’t read Hebrew. There are Bible study tools I learned about in college that I haven’t tried to fit into my toddler and preschool-filled schedule. Sometimes, my brain has had a hard enough time comprehending the English words stringing together into sentences if it’s early enough in the morning or late in the afternoon.

But something that’s helped me immensely in getting to know God and His purposes for me through His Word is by asking questions.

Questions help me start to figure out what a passage says, what it means, and how it applies to my life. And when I take time to ask my own questions about a passage, the Spirit often uses them to help me find some answers.

I recently put together a guide for our women’s Bible study through 1 Samuel, using some great resources like Jen Wilkin’s Women of the Word, Jack Klumpenhower’s Show Them Jesus, and David Helm’s One-to-One Bible Reading book. These questions could be used for any Old Testament narrative passage in the Bible, so you can check it out here (or get the whole books for more expansive tools to explore each part of the Bible).

As I’ve studied God’s Word, different seasons have allowed various degrees of study. But as He’s invited me to join Him, revealing His plan of redemption through His Word, I’ve realized that every day I need a constant perspective shift.

I need to zoom out, using God’s Word as a telescope, to remember His kingdom coming, power at work, plan to save, and hope of eternity with Him.

I also need to use His Word as a microscope, zooming in on the miracle of my salvation, adoption, and the righteousness He has given me through Jesus’ obedience and sacrifice. I need to zoom in on the good roles He’s placed me in and how they are lived out in His kingdom, asking His Spirit to lead me in my daily decisions.

And I need a panoramic camera, to see how the Spirit is using believers all across the globe to invite people from every nation to know Him.

If I don’t ask His Spirit to help me zoom in, out, and around, I often fall into depending on my own strength or ability to obey. I compare my pitiful abilities to others’ seemingly-less-pitiful abilities and feel discontent, rather than looking up to Christ, who is completely able to accomplish the Father’s will. I try to figure out a list of what God wants me to do, rather than asking the Spirit to lead me in His good purposes.

Like the stones of remembrance in the Old Testament, each passage I study helps me to remember God’s involvement in a specific place and time, reminding me of His unchanging character at work now and for all eternity.

Here are two questions I like to ask the Spirit to show me when I read a passage:

  1. How does this passage challenge your understanding about who God is and what He is like? How is this aspect of God revealed–most fully–in Jesus?
  2. How does this aspect of God’s character change my view of self? How does believing the good news change how I live in attitude or behavior?

What questions has God used in your life to show you more of Himself and lead you in His ways?