living on pb & j

Ordinary moms living on Prayer, the Bible, and Jesus!

Leave a comment

Tiny Home School Tips

We are in our third year of home schooling. It has been a crazy journey! I love home schooling. I look forward to sitting down with my kids, and seeing them “get” it. I love that my oldest is 8, and he’s reading his brand new little devotional in bed by himself before he goes to sleep. I love that my 6-year-old is getting excited to read Level 1 readers! It can be so much fun!

But then there are the days that aren’t so fun. Here are a few tiny tips that have helped me have a better home schooling day.

  • Spend time with the Lord FIRST. That should go without saying. But how oft20160301_080453en do I start out the day all wrong? When the day is begun, we start fighting a spiritual battle. It seems like we’re fighting the kids ;), but that’s not true. We wrestle against “…against principalities, against powers…” How do I think I can fight this battle
    without putting on the whole armor of God? This one thing has revolutionized my home school day, and my life. It’s one of those things you know, but don’t KNOW. Let the Lord begin your day.
  • Be prepared. My day never runs smoothly when I get up in the morning and wing it. If 20160301_080514copies aren’t made, lessons laid out, supplies ready… it always causes a delay. At the end of the school day, I do my best to check my lesson plans and make sure I have everything ready for the next day. I try to grade everything daily, as much as possible. And I check what we will be doing. I keep ongoing book lists on my library’s website, so I can order a week’s worth of books with just a few clicks. These things add up to a more orderly day.
  • Get TICONDEROGA pencils! As silly as this may sound, it’s SO important!20160301_080543
    Early on, before we started our first year, I openly asked on facebook for home schooling tips. One mom said she got so stressed out by pencils, and that getting a good pencil sharpener was ideal. I secretly thought, “Seriously?!” But oh my! Now that we are in our third year, I totally get it. I read a blog last year that recommended Ticonderoga pencils. They are worth the little bit of extra money. They don’t break like regular pencils! As your children get bigger, this probably won’t be an issue. But they press down so hard on their pencils. We wasted a lot of time sharpening the same pencil over and over. Now we buy Ticonderogas!
  • Nip discipline issues in the bud. When we have trouble in school, it’s usually a general family discipline problem. If I’m not making my children obey throughout the day, why should they do it during school? If they’re allowed to have bad attitudes throughout the day doing a chore, they will carry that same attitude over into their schoolwork. School is not separate from home, therefore, it has caused me to be more aware of their behavior. If we’re all sitting down at the table, I am made much more aware of their character flaws, and my own. Being with my children SO much is very revealing. They often mirror me. Ouch! In home schooling, home and school aren’t separated. Deal with discipline constantly and consistently.
  • Read a lot. Our curriculum (My Father’s World) recommends a lot of read-aloud 1456837717191991524129books. At first, it was difficult to transition from children’s picture books. The kids didn’t want to sit still. But over the summer, we read a lot of Boxcar Children books. Now, we read a variety that are fun, or historical, and they are better able to sit and listen. Such a great skill. And I love this time of cuddling on the couch late in the evening. It’s honestly my favorite! Sitting all together, going on an adventure.


These are just a few of the things I’ve learned. Home schooling is a challenge, but it’s a great blessing. Enjoy these years! I’d love to hear your best tips in the comments!


Joy B.


Leave a comment

A Glimpse of the Future

Today, I am home with only two children. My other two are visiting with my parents in Tennessee for a few days.

My big ones are home; my little ones are gone.

The first day of this quiet, I realized something. This is a glimpse of the future. I had school with my boys, cleaned, exercised, had some quiet time with the laptop planning next school year, and perusing Avon books. This is what my future looks like. No toddler messes. No diapers, no pulling entire bookshelves onto the floor. 😉 I don’t know what life with no little ones looks like. I know it will still be busy! But in the middle of the littles, it’s easy to feel lost and discouraged. Nothing stays clean, there is a lot of screaming. And even though we wouldn’t trade being a mommy of a little one for ANYTHING, there are those moments when you find nail polish everywhere, or realize 6 bath towels are stuffed into the toilet, or discover every tube of lipstick destroyed. And going on a little mommy-cation crosses your mind! Anyone relate?

But while my little ones were gone, I missed my 2-year-old’s snuggles, and my 4-year-old’s giggles. But I loved my 6-year-old’s reading practice, and my 8-year-old’s conversations. I felt happy, I felt torn. Weird, I know. But as I LOVED the quiet, I was MISSING a piece of my heart.

I know life will never be free from busy-ness, and chaos. But life without the toddler messes is a reality. That phase is passing.

We will trade diapers for real-life-problem conversations. We will give up board books for novels. We will lay down our bedtime stories, and replace those with deep discussions about life and God. We will stop going to library story time, and start soccer practice.

Life will change. There is an end to the toddler chaos. So, embrace it. Enjoy those tiny hands that make big messes!

There is no promise of tomorrow, only this moment!

I am purposing today to enjoy each stage of my kids’ lives. Join me!

Leave a comment

4 Things I Can Control in an Out-of-Control World

Lately, my heart has been so grieved. This world is so full of sin. Our nation is so full of sin. My own county is full of sin. My neighborhood and community are full of sin. I can hardly scroll through my newsfeed without feeling scared, anxious. So many personal conversations and phone calls are spent talking about current events, and how scary this world is getting.

Sometimes, my heart is pounding and I feel so completely scared. Scared for my kids.

bench 1

So many decisions our government makes don’t directly affect my family… yet. But I fear it is coming. The end times are near, and life is scary, just like the Bible says (II Timothy 3). People are lovers of themselves. They forget about God, then there seem to be no rules.

However, I cannot dwell on these events. I need to shut my laptop, put down my phone, and take care of the things I CAN control in an out-of-control world.

  1. I can control who my children come into contact with. We have chosen to home school our children. I do not believe it is for every family, but I know it is for ours. I know where they are all day. If your children attend school, know who their teachers are, know who their friends are. Know where they are!  Recently, I had a conversation with a mother whose youngest daughter just got married. Both her daughters are married now, and she was telling me how that she had always kept track of where they were, and who they were with. It makes a difference!
  2. I can control how much they learn about God. This is so sobering to me lately. Who knows what the future holds. Make the best use of the time you have to teach them about God! Take them to church. Get good entertainment for them. We love several audio series’ including Adventures in Odyssey, Patch the Pirate, Jonathan Park, The Brinkman Adventures, just to name a few. I can tell a difference immediately in my children’s behavior when I turn off the TV, and turn on something moral. And most importantly, teach them God’s Word directly. It’s always something we’re starting, stopping, and starting again. But we strive to teach them. Several simple tools are Great Stories of the Bible, Keys for Kids, and the Bible Songs for Kids (by Bible Truth Music – Scripture verses set to music).
  3. I can control the mood of my home. “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” is pretty much true in a normally-functioning home. When I am in a rotten mood, it’s almost inevitable that everyone else will be. Make it a happy place! I cannot emphasize how important it is to be awake before the children to get my bearings, spend a few minutes alone with God, and prepare for my day. I often exercise before the day gets going. Happy endorphins, anyone? So why is a happy home important in this list? All my efforts are pretty much fruitless if I don’t do it in the joy of the Lord. Reading God’s Word helps remind me that I am here to be the salt and light of this world, starting with my home. I have an important job, and I need to create a happy place while I’m doing that job.
  4. I can control how much I pray. The more I pray and focus on the things of God, the more peace I have. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). Prayer really works. It changes me, and it strengthens me. Pray, dear mom!

Every power on earth and in heaven

Is a shadow in His light,

No authority, law or government

Challenges His sovereign might.

His reign and rule have no boundary,

All that is, His hands have wrought.

Nothing ever can, nothing ever will

Overcome the Lord our God.

We are well aware we were orphans once,

Bent and broken in our shame,

Then He sought us out and adopted us,

Now we bear His royal name.

Every sin or crime we have ever done

Is no match for Jesus’ blood.

Nothing ever can, nothing ever will

Overcome the Lord, our God.

We are rescued out of darkest night,

Freed from Satan’s evil hold

And the kingdom of our Savior’s light

Is our soul’s eternal home.

Though the enemy tries to steal and kill

What the death of Christ has bought

Nothing ever can, nothing ever will

Overcome the Lord, our God.

Our God is victorious,

He always wins! He always wins!

In love He reigns over us,

He always wins! He always wins!

We, the Church, declare: Jesus Christ is King,

For He conquered death once for all.

We will live in light of His victory

Following His gospel call.

And when the story ends we know Jesus wins,

For His power cannot be stopped.

Nothing ever can, nothing ever will

Overcome the Lord, our God.

Nothing ever can, nothing ever will

Overcome the Lord, our God.

(Ross King)

Have a blessed day.

❤ Joy B.