The Give Back Giveaway ~ Heavenly Treasures/HT Handicrafts

Today I'd like to introduce you to Heavenly Treasures.  Their mission is to "equip and assist people in developing countries to break the cycle of poverty through their handiwork and creativity."

The Heavenly Treasures Network consist of over 50 micro-enterprise livelihood projects in 13 countries around the world. At the Heavenly Treasures shop, HT Handicrafts, you can purchase a wonderful variety of arts and handicrafts, and know that 100% of the proceeds will go to the livelihood project selling the items.

From their website:

Since 1998, heavenly treasures has assisted refugees, single mothers, widows, the physically disabled, women & children rescued from human trafficking, orphans, the disenfranchised, and many others. Lives around the world are affected each day through the sale of handicrafts. Each product made reflects the heart and soul of one or more of our artisans around the world.  Assistance is provided to artisans in the areas of Business Development, International Marketing, Leadership Training, Product Development and Spiritual Guidance. We desire to see people fed physically, spiritually & emotionally.
Investing in people who have the desire to see their lives change is exciting “business”.  We are mission focused; Heavenly Treasures are people not products.  We network with those who can consistently build relationships with the participants of the livelihood projects and have their own network to build the kingdom of God.
Heavenly Treasures was founded based on Biblical scripture... Matthew 6: 19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven… for where your treasure is there your heart will be also.”

Look at these lovely paper creations from Thailand...

Yes, these you'll get some of ALL of these in this giveaway! The giveaway consists of

  • 6 small decorative paper boxes
  • 1 pressed flower and paper bookmark
  • 1 handcrafted pressed flower and paper journal with a wooden pencil  

 They are all sooo pretty, and I think they would make lovely gifts, don't you?

There are three ways to enter the HT Handicrafts paper gifts giveaway (please leave a separate comment for each... one comment = one chance to win):

  1. I just love journals and have filled many. What about you? Are you a writer? Would you use the journal for yourself or gift it?
  2. Browse HT Handicrafts and share one item you might want to give as a gift.
  3. Share the HT Handicrafts Give Back Giveaway with your friends by tweeting or facebooking about it (then leave a comment here). Feel free to use this: "Heavenly Treasures Handicraft giveaway at Joyful Mama! #GiveBackGiveaway"

Please include a way to contact you (via email, twitter or facebook) in one of your comments.

The Heavenly Treasures/HT Handicrafts giveaway will end on Monday Nov. 28, 2011 at 11:59 pm CST. Winner will be chosen using

UPDATE 11/29/11: This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations Darrell!

Disclosure: I am not affiliated with Heavenly Treasures or HT Handicrafts. The giveaway items were purchased for the purpose of this giveaway, with all funds going to Heavenly Treasures.

The Give Back Giveaway ~ Create Good Foundation

The Create Good Foundation was started by the founders of Pura Vida coffee to serve needy people in coffee growing regions around the world. Their focus is on providing access to safe water sources and establishing economic infrastructure projects.

Did you know...

  • One in eight people lacks access to clean water
  • Every 20 seconds a child dies from a water borne disease
  • Lack of sanitation is the world's biggest cause of infection
  • Over 200 million hours is consumed every day by women collecting water

In Nicaragua, projects sponsored by Create Good have built gravity fed water systems,  dug and rehabilitated wells, and improved sanitation by building latrines.

Water projects in Guatemala have included assisting families in getting individual water filters to clean their unsafe water sources, and building a gravity fed water system to bring water closer to residences and eliminate the need for physical hauling.

Create Good has also invested in projects that bring economic stability to poor areas, including grants for schools and loans for small businesses.

Create Good and Pura Vida sell coffee, tea, wine and chocolate to help raise money for these projects.

And oh am I excited about this giveaway.... chocolate!

The ingredients in Create Good's single origin chocolate are from Guatemala, and the chocolate is made in Guatemala.  This is really Guatemalan chocolate! The proceeds from sales of their chocolate go to their clean water projects.

How about this for yummy?

  • one bar of dark chocolate
  • one bar of dark chocolate with sea salt
  • one bar of milk chocolate
  • one bar of milk chocolate with almonds. 

That's right, four bars of chocolate for you or a friend!

There are three ways to enter the Create Good chocolate giveaway (please leave a separate comment for each... each comment = one chance to win):

  1. Tell us... what is your favorite kind of chocolate?
  2. Are you a tea or coffee drinker?
  3. Share the Create Good Chocolate Give Back Giveaway with your friends by tweeting or facebooking about it (then leave a comment here). Feel free to use this: "Create Good chocolate giveaway! #GiveBackGiveaway"

Please include a way to contact you (via email, twitter or facebook) in one of your comments.

The Create Good chocolate giveaway will end on Friday Nov. 25, 2011 at 11:59 pm CST. Winner will be chosen using

UPDATE 11/26/11: This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations Jennifer!

Disclosure: I am not affiliated with Create Good or Pura Vida. The chocolate is purchased for the purpose of this giveaway, with all funds going to Create Good.

The Give Back Giveaway ~ Haitian Creations

Last year as I was searching for gifts that give back, I came across Haitian Creations, an arm of Heartline Ministries.

Heartline has had a presence in Haiti for over a decade. During the devastating earthquake in January of 2010, Heartline set up an emergency clinic that saved many lives. They run a women's clinic now, as well as a ministry teaching women to do handwork to support themselves.

From their website:

Our dream was to create a place where women could learn valuable life-skills and eventually support their families out of the cycle of poverty. This dream is coming into reality every day as women learn to read and write, learn to sew, learn to make jewelry, learn to cook, and learn to run their own businesses. It is our ultimate desire to see women discover their God-given talents and abilities and to know they are treasured themselves!

We offer four different education classes: literacy, beading, sewing, and new this semester, cooking. Women who graduate from the six-month sewing class or the four-week beading class have the opportunity to work part-time for Heartline at the center. We provide materials, a machine, and a safe place to work. Their beautiful hand-crafted goods are available online at and through hosted Purse Parties around the US and Canada!

The Haitian Creations website sells purses and jewelry hand made by the women in the Heartline program. As of this writing, only the purses are up for sale, as the website is being revamped, but by the end of November you should be able to purchase jewelry from their website as well.

For this giveaway I'm delighted to be giving away a bag from Haitian Creations!

The bag is handmade and signed by its maker, Suzette. Think purse. Think knitting bag. Think library books. It's nice and roomy, with two pockets on the front and two inside. This would make a lovely Christmas gift!

There are three ways to enter the Haitian Creations purse giveaway (please leave a separate comment for each... each comment = one chance to win):

  1. Visit Haitian Creations' purse page. What style do you like?
  2. Spend some time reading one of the volunteers' blogs... John and Beth, The Hendrick Family, The Livesay Family
  3. Share the Haitian Creations Give Back Giveaway with your friends by tweeting or facebooking about it (then leave a comment here). Feel free to use this: "Haitian Creations handmade bag giveaway! #GiveBackGiveaway "

Please include a way to contact you (via email, twitter or facebook) in one of your comments.

The Haitian Creations purse giveaway will end on Sunday Nov. 20, 2011 at 11:59 pm CST. Winner will be chosen using

UPDATE 11/21/11: This giveaway has ended. Congratulations Melissa!

Disclosure: I am not affiliated with Haitian Creations or Heartline Ministries. The bag was purchased for the purpose of this giveaway and all funds went to Heartline Ministries.

When My Expectations Go Off the Deep End

I've been thinking about expectations the past few days.

About how I have a lot of them.

And how so many of them are unrealistic.

Kids? That I think I sorted out long ago. I figured out that if I expect my babies to sleep through the night I will be disappointed. If I lean into it, embrace reality, I can shape my life to deal with it.

Even now that they are all sleeping well through the night, I think I am pretty good at swatting away unrealistic kid expectations.

Fantasy: all children will be compliant on all school days and we will all happily learn together while keeping to a schedule

Reality: we all have good days and bad days, even Mama. The best approach is to take the long view. Not to think in days, but in weeks, even years. While it helps to have daily school plans, the real measure of how each child is doing comes as I look over the whole school year.

So yay, right? Realistic expectations.


Except when it comes to me. Or Me, Myself and I, as I seem to think I am capable of squeezing the work of three women into a day.

Did you know that it is {deep breath} unrealistic {I said it!} on a given day to cook all meals from scratch wholesomely on a budget, have no dust bunnies, educate the children with both breadth and depth, be an amazingly attentive and attractive wife, be a grace-filled yet firm mother, be caught up with the laundry, do church-based ministry work, do community-based ministry work, write and publish something of value, have clean floors, interact in a meaningful way with strangers via social media, keep up with all old friends and family via email/phone/facebook, write thank you letters, have an adorably tidy and productive homestead, have a rich personal prayer time, study the scriptures in depth, memorize chapters of the bible, and of course, be cheerful?

Did you know that?


Me too, kinda, especially when I read it all smooshed together in one run-on ludicrous sentence.

But Myself and I? Those ladies are clueless.

They seem to think that not only is it possible, but that not do so equals failure.

Like, failure as a human being. Seriously. {eyes roll}


Fantasy: it is possible for a human being to accomplish everything in that paragraph-of-ridiculousness in a day.

Reality: I will get a few of those things done each day. Some are non-negotiables. And hopefully more than few will get done. But not all.

So friends, reality means I will not post here for a month and then suddenly I will post almost daily.

Reality is I will tell you I will email you about something and I will completely forget because when I sit down at my computer my brain goes *!*!*!*!* with all the things I am supposed to do and instead I will follow some bunny trail of blog reading.

Reality is I will make homemade muffins for breakfast but they will be with white flour because I forgot to clean the grinder yesterday so that the kids could start grinding wheat again and now I am in a rush.

Reality is I will completely forget to study my scripture memorization passages one day then spend 20 minutes the next day listening to myself saying them on repeat on my iPhone while driving the kids to an activity.

Reality is this mama is a bumbling mess, who has a wonderful life that begs to be enjoyed. So Myself and I are just going to have to chill out, 'cause the kids want to go with Me to visit some piglets.


Since I hadn't hit publish yet after writing the above, I can't resist sharing some pictures from our walk down to the babies.

You see what I mean about the wonderful life?

Now how about you go enjoy yours too. :-)

"To do" photo by Courtney Dirks
All other photos by Patti Brown

The Give Back Giveaway ~ Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee

photo courtesy of Do Good Initiative

Four years ago I headed up the after-church coffee team at our then-church-home. We decided that we wanted to make our dollars count, so I began to hunt around for coffee that gave back, coffee that did good.

I stumbled upon Land of a Thousand Hills.

One spring morning I spent a sunny hour talking on the phone with Robert at Land of a Thousand Hills. He told me about the work they were doing in Rwanda. The wells and the cooperative coffee washing stations. The micro-loans to widows, and the intriguing theory behind loans instead of charity.

From their website...

In April 1994, Rwanda (an African country half the size of the state of Maryland) experienced one of history’s most atrocious genocides. In just 100 days, close to one million ethnic Tutsi and moderate Hutu sympathizers lost their lives to the hands of extremist Hutu militia.

The 1994 genocide that left so many innocent people either dead, orphaned, or widowed has now become a focal point of the global community. In the wake of civil war, Rwanda made a commitment to national restoration. The government called upon the church to lead the country in reconciliation and asked the outside world to support them as it looked to heal and eradicate poverty, disease, and illiteracy.

In 2001, Jonathan Golden, founder of Land of a Thousand Hills, recognized a simple and tangible opportunity to make a difference in the reconciliation of the Rwandan people. This realization led Golden to start a coffee company that pays a fair wage to the farmers of Rwanda, helps them with their basic needs, and brings a quality product to coffee lovers.

The introduction of specialty coffee to the healing fields of Rwanda proved to be an uncommon opportunity for once warring countrymen to not only rebuild their homesteads, but to work together toward lasting peace. A commitment to excellence in coffee has brought dignity and hope to a nation that history suggested would never recover.

Robert was passionate about the work being done in Rwanda. And equally passionate about the coffee itself. He gave me detailed instructions on storage and preparation, and how to assess the quality of coffee. He explained that the beans are freshly roasted in the U.S. just before selling to keep them at their peak flavor.

So I ordered several varieties, and oh. my. Freshly roasted coffee? Nothing like it.

Now Land of a Thousand Hills also works in Haiti, and has started the Do Good Initiative.

Do you know someone who loves coffee? I sure do... what a great Christmas gift!

Now how about a coffee giveaway?  The winner of this giveaway will receive a 12 oz bag of Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee.  Yummmm....

There are three ways to enter this giveaway (please leave a separate comment for each... each comment = one chance to win):

  1. Check out the Land of a Thousand Hills coffee beans. Which kind would you choose? Leave a comment here.
  2. You're sitting on my front porch in a rocking chair sipping a cup of freshly ground, freshly brewed Land of a Thousand Hills coffee. I'm in the kitchen taking muffins out of the oven. Who is drinking coffee in the rocking chair next to you?
  3. Share the Land of a Thousand Hills Give Back Giveaway with your friends by tweeting or facebooking about it (then leave a comment here). Feel free to use this: "Land of a Thousand Hills coffee giveaway! #GiveBackGiveaway"
Please include a way to contact you (via email, twitter or facebook) in one of your comments.

The Land of a Thousand Hills coffee giveaway will end on Thursday Nov. 18, 2011 at 11:59 pm CST. Winner will be chosen using

UPDATE 11/18/11: The Land of a Thousand Hills Giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Eclairre!

Disclosure: I am not affiliated with Land of a Thousand Hills or the Do Good Initiative. The coffee is being purchased for the purpose of this giveaway and all funds will go to Land of a Thousand Hills.

Convicted... But Not Condemned

I say it over and over again for a week.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
~ Romans 8:1

It soaks into me in the first week of my journey to memorize Romans 8. This verse... the beginning... this verse I will say the most.

No condemnation.

But how? How can this be?

I stand in the shower, rivulets running over my head, drops falling from the tip of my nose. And I ask.

How, Lord? How can it be that all our righteousness is as filthy rags and all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and no one does good, no not even one...

Yet there is now no condemnation? No guilt?

In the middle of the waterfall it comes.

A picture of a judge. And clarity.

No, my love, there is much guilt. I stand to determine guilt, and yes you are convicted. But precious child, I the Judge choose the punishment. And I do not condemn you.  

For you are in my Son and He has already borne the punishment.

Conviction, but not condemnation.

Found guilty, but upon sentencing let go. No bond required. But the bond of love ties me up in Him and I am entangled and free at once.

I daren't ever pretend I am not guilty. For if I say I do not sin truth is not in me.

If I were to believe it to be true that I am not guilty how could I fall with abandon into the saving arms of Jesus? For what purpose would He have died?

This mystery, this walking with sin heavy, yet free in Christ, it astonishes me. It ties the bonds of love ever tighter, makes me yearn to shed the striving, to rest in His mercy. To lay myself down in all my brokeness at His feet, and just love Him.

For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
Romans 8:2

The water washes away the dirt of the day. Drips it right down the drain.

For if I have been set free, then I am free indeed.

flickr photo by walknboston

The Give Back Giveaway ~ Eden Ministry

Today I'd like to introduce you to a remarkable ministry that goes into the streets of China to pray for and help women, men, and even children who are entangled in human trafficking.

The women missionaries of Eden Ministry literally walk the streets by day and night, praying for and meeting with the countless souls who are consumed by this darkness.

You must go and read Lisa's blog, Eden Street Outreach. It is devastating to read of the sheer magnitude of the problem. But at the same time I am overwhelmed with hope by the work God is doing through them.

Not only does Eden Ministry seek to bring the hope of Jesus to the streets, they also help women find a safe and legal means to support themselves. From their website:

To enable women to have a sustainable income during their journey of restoration, we created Eden Jewelry, an international jewelry company. Jewelry making has been one of the most effective alternative career options available through our program. All the proceeds from the jewelry sales go to salaries for the girls and food and shelter expenses, as well as providing new training opportunities.

I am so happy to support this fruitful ministry. This Give Back Giveaway is a bracelet of your choice from Eden Ministry.

These are just a few of your choices... aren't they pretty?

I encourage you to go look at the beautiful jewelry and bookmarks of Eden Ministry, and consider purchasing some of your Christmas gifts from them.

There are three ways to enter this giveaway (please leave a separate comment for each):

  1. Visit the Eden Ministry bracelet pages and leave a comment below with the bracelet you would choose if you win.
  2. Tell us someone who you think might enjoy an Eden Ministry bracelet for Christmas
  3. Share the Give Back Giveaway with your friends by tweeting or facebooking about it (then leave a comment here).
Please include a way to contact you (via email, twitter or facebook) in one of your comments.

The Eden Ministry bracelet giveaway will end on Sunday Nov. 13, 2011 at 11:59 pm CST. Winner will be chosen using

UPDATE: This giveaway has ended. Congratulations to Desiree, the winner of a bracelet of her choice from Eden Ministry!

Disclosure: I am not affiliated with Eden Ministry. The bracelet will be purchased for the purpose of this giveaway. All funds will go to Eden Ministry.

New babies on the homestead!

We were so excited to discover yesterday that one of our mama pigs had given birth!

Grey is a second-time mother. She was young when she had her first litter, and none of the babies survived. She was a changed pig after that. Calmer. Sad almost. Later, when her sisters had their babies, she was a doting aunt... when the piglets weren't nursing they would come and hang out with Aunt Grey.

Now she is big and strong and hearty and her five babies are running around like crazy.

The babies came a little earlier than expected so the mama was still in a pen with wide-holed fencing. One tiny piglet escaped... Farmer Boy named him Columbus.

Every new birth brings such joy around here.

We drop everything and just spend hours watching.

New life fills my heart with hope.

Have you heard about the Give Back Giveaway? In the month of November Joyful Mama will be featuring small ministries every Tuesday and Friday. Each ministry sells items to help support their work. These products make great Christmas gifts that give all around. Yesterday I shared about Hands of Hope. Come enter to win a handmade bible cover!

The Give Back Giveaway ~ Hands of Hope

Today's Give Back Giveaway comes from Hands of Hope, a sewing ministry to at-risk women in Cambodia.

From their website:

Hands of Hope is a sewing business that aims to provide former commercial sex workers and other at-risk individuals in Cambodia further opportunities to build new futures for themselves and their families. Hands of Hope began as an extension of House of Hope, a Christian rehabilitation center located in Kompong Cham Province. Hands of Hope is a part of the ministry of InnerCHANGE, a Christian order serving among the poor.

Hands of Hope has created sewing and handicraft jobs for graduates from the House of Hope program. The anticipated goal is that each seamstress will remain an independent contractor and will successfully run her own small business sewing and creating Hands of Hope products. Through this, each woman will achieve an improved quality of life for herself and her family.

And the giveaway? A hand made bible cover!

This bible cover is 9 1/2" x 7" x 2", made of royal blue traditional Cambodian fabric, and embroidered with gold and pink thread.

Please take some time to look at the other items that the ladies at Hands of Hope make, and consider purchasing some of your Christmas gifts from them.

There are three ways to enter this giveaway:

  1. Leave a comment on this post sharing someone in your life who might enjoy this bible cover
  2. Check out the Hands of Hope product page and leave another comment here about which items you like the most
  3. Share the Give Back Giveaway with your friends by tweeting or facebooking about it (then leave a comment here).

The Hands of Hope bible cover giveaway will end on Thursday Nov. 10, 2011 at 11:59 pm CST.

UPDATE: congratulations to Angie Wattie for winning the bible cover!

    Disclosure: I am not affiliated with Hands of Hope or innerCHANGE. This bible cover was purchased for the purpose of this giveaway. All funds went to Hands of Hope. 

    The Give Back Giveaway

    I am so happy to finally be introducing you to a handful of small ministries that I learned about last year!

    As part of the Joy Sprinkling challenge last fall, I had a brainstorm. Could I do a giveaway on my blog as a sprinkle? Could that giveaway somehow "sprinkle" not only the recipient but also a good cause?

    I thought of the many small ministries out there that do not get much publicity, and how their need is just as real as bigger, better known ministries. Then I got to thinking about Christmas, and how crazy-much money people spend on Christmas gifts.

    The storm in my brain exploded and the idea to hold a series of giveaways from charities was born! I have been sitting on this idea for lo these many months, and now with Christmas soon upon us, it is time to share these ministries with you.

    So, for the next few weeks, each Tuesday and Friday, I will be sharing a different ministry and giving away one of the items that they sell to raise support. Think Christmas gifts, folks!

    I hope that you will take the time to visit each of the ministries' websites, and prayerfully consider supporting them, either with a financial donation or by making some of your gift purchases from them.

    And of course, stop back tomorrow to enter the first giveaway!

    Memorizing Romans 8... Join Us?

    I am really excited to be joining the newest scripture memorization challenge at Do Not Depart.

    Romans 8 is one of my favorite chapters in the bible. One that I just want to read out loud, it gets me so stirred up. So sometimes I do, maybe with a splash of Romans 7 in there for a little build up. My Grandpa's preachin' blood sometimes shows.

    The amazing Katie Orr has pulled together some great resources to help us learn Romans 8, and designed a schedule that has a gentle pace. Just two verses a week... I can do that! Yes, even in the fog of sleep deprivation.

    Oh, and? There are recordings to help us practice, and guess who got to read four verses out loud for the recordings? Woohoo!

    So what do you say?

    Trust me, if I can memorize scripture you can!

    Won't you join us?

    Stop {deep breath} and Smell Those Flowers

    If Midnight can do it...

    ... so can I.

    Stopping this weekend to smell the flowers. Breathing deep.

    Surfing the Sea of Sleep Deprivation

    I'm sitting on my back steps as I write this today, enjoying a gentle breeze and a vibrant blue sky. The children are playing or finishing up their last whisps of school work for the week.

    Our first freeze of the season zipped through last night then left us just as quickly as it came. November in central Texas is very mild indeed.

    I am looking at green in my back yard and marvelling. Two months ago today the wildfire started, and since then we have had one day of rain. Blessedly it really was a whole day of rain, a steady soaking rain, from the middle of one night to the middle of the next .

    I can't get over how much grass has grown from just this one day of rain. It seemed like so little in the face of an exceptional drought, but it was enough to make grass grow, and keep growing.

    I am in a drought of sorts myself.

    A dearth of sleep. Sleep deprivation is funny... you'd think with less sleep you would be able to get more done, what with all those extra waking hours. Instead I find myself staring at walls, forgetting what I am supposed to be doing, drawing a blank when I try to think of what to say or write.

    My children are very patient with me. Little Warrior is especially good at keeping me on the meal schedule with his "I'm hungry" announcements. He's like my own personal meal-making alarm clock.

    We do a lot of reading together on the couch, and lately our sessions there pretty regularly end with me snoozing for five minutes. The kids are getting used to it.

    The Princess is a snuggler and she usually has a bony elbow ready to dig into my ribs when I start to slur the words as I drift off in the middle of a page. But when we are finished, one of them often grabs a blanket to tuck around me, or strokes my hair. Such tenderness.

    Sleep deprivation can be amusing too... yesterday I accidentally invented three new words: "homeschoolering" and, uh, well, two more brilliant words that I can no longer remember. Ha! Too bad my genius is inhibited by memory loss.

    Why sleep deprived? I suppose you could call it insomnia. I find I can't actually sleep longer than five hours many nights. I wake in the middle of the night and that is that.

    I know, "He gives sleep to those He loves." It will come around. Things will even back out. For now I ride the waves of fatigue and try to make wise mouth choices... tired mamas can be grumpy mamas with short fuses.

    And I look at our new grass and I am hopeful.

    A soaking sleep. Perhaps that's all it will take for this crispy, dry brain to green up again.

    {Saturday's note: It was with much amusement that I looked again at the title of this post and realized that I seem to feel I am simultaneously in a drought and surfing a sea. Mix metaphors much? Creaky ol' brain!}

    A Homeschooling Fear: What if We Miss Something?

    This school year our youngest is five, a big boy in kindergarten-at-home, and quite pleased with himself. No more preschool, now he has his own "school box" with his books and pencils.

    The Brown Family Preschool, which has now closed its doors perhaps forever (wah!), had one governing rule: pay attention to the student! If he wanted to learn to read, we read. If he wanted to "do math" we did something with numbers. There were no requirements, no lists, no workbooks that had to be finished. You might say we unschool for preschool.

    I am admittedly not a fan of early education in the sit-in-your-seat-and-write-stuff way. Being forced to sit still seems so counter to the design of a preschooler. If you have to use all of your resources to stay seated, what's left for learning new things?

    I am however a huge advocate of child-led education in the formative years. If they expressed an interest I jumped on it.

    This approach has worked well for us. Our daughter was reading fluently on her own at four. Our oldest was not really that interested in reading, and didn't read well independently until he was seven. At age twelve he read The Odyssey and Aeneid. Unabridged.

    When they are ready, they are ready.

    When I talk to new homeschoolers the number one anxious cry I hear is

    What if we miss something?!

    If this is your cry too, then let me set your mind at rest. You will miss something. Just like the public school down the road from you will, and the fancy private school in the nice part of town will.

    And I'm not just talking about you missing the opportunity for your child to be terrorized by a bully, or them missing the sweetness of snuggling on the couch reading (though these losses are pretty likely too).

    From a purely academic standpoint, in every environment, something will be missed. It's impossible to avoid. There just isn't enough time. I mean, you read Plato and you run out of time for Dante. It can happen! ;-) Seriously though, in God's amazing world we will never, never run out of things to learn. You will miss teaching your students something.

    This is true no matter how old they are, but before kindergarten, it just seems downright silly to worry about missing something academically. So take a deep breath and let them play!

    Here's the thing... God designed little brains to learn. To learn like crazy! The amount a child learns from birth to five boggles the mind. Just take language acquisition alone. No two year old goes to school to become proficient in their native language. They simply learn because that is what they were created to do.

    Young children have no stigma associated with learning. They are excited about their world and they absorb new information and experiences like sponges. Surround them with books and an engaging life, with a healthy dose of outside time, and you may just end up with a child eager to sit down and figure out how to spell words all on his own...

    Do you think he drew a violin or a viola? :-)

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