Students At Home

For Everyone who Learns at Home

Murder Is No Accident – a Book Review

Murder is No Accident

I’m a sucker for a good mystery, especially if it’s clean – no cursing, sex or violence. And that’s why I eagerly snagged a copy of “Murder Is No Accident” by A. H. Gabhart.

Indeed, the first page of this book captured my attention, and I stayed engaged for several pages. I wanted to find out who Maggie Green heard murder the local real estate agent!

But then the author introduced the townspeople, and I grew confused and bored. I had a hard time keeping the characters straight and got the impression that I was missing important backstory that was essential to this book’s success.

It wasn’t until the second half that the plot managed to grab my attention again, and I appreciated the mystery that kept me guessing until the end!

Overall, this book is a sweet and easy read. While it’s a mystery, it’s not violent, and there is no cursing or sexual content. However, it contains several grammatical errors and not enough backstory. To really “get” it, you need to read the first two books in a series. It is possible to jump into the series on book 3, but I wouldn’t recommend it because the story is decent, and skipping the first two books will curb your enthusiasm for this book.

If you’re looking for a easy read and a mild mystery with a little romance on the side, I recommend this series – but start with number one rather than this book. You’ll appreciate this book even more if you start at the beginning of the series!

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Honesty Sets You Free

honesty-sets-you-free

As part of our family’s adventure in wellness, I attend a Celebrate Recovery 12-Step study. A small group of ladies meet weekly to discuss the steps, pray and find freedom from various hurts, habits and hangups.

One thing I notice as I work through the study is that recovery depends on honesty. After all, the first step is admitting you have a problem. To even work through the 12 steps, we must let go of denial and be honest!

But honesty is hard. It’s much easier to say that everything’s fine and cover up the shame, guilt, heartache and trauma in our lives. I know – I’ve done it for years!

And that’s why the devotional I read today (“When You Just Can’t Bring Cheerful”) resonated with me. We don’t have to be cheerful all the time and cover up what’s really going on in our hearts and lives. In fact, we find true healing only when we are honest, open and authentic. Think about it – God knows our hearts. We’re only lying to ourselves and hindering His healing work when we try to hide from Him.

I take comfort in the fact that even though honesty is challenging, painful, embarrassing and scary, it’s also the source of true freedom. I pray we can be honest with ourselves, Jesus and others today. May we take time to be authentic and real with our Father today.

Today’s prayer: “Thank You, God, for loving us, even the ugly parts, and for gently drawing us to Yourself as You give us freedom and joy! Give us courage to be real with You and trust Your gentleness, mercy and grace.”

Titus 3:4-5a, “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” (NIV)

Hosea 2:14, “Therefore, behold, I will allure her … and bring her into the wilderness, and I will speak tenderly and to her heart.” (AMPC)

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How a Sock Changed My Career

For over five years, I’ve made a living writing web content. When I started, I was homeschooling my children, and I needed a flexible career I could manage during independent work times or after school.

Three years ago, we finally enrolled both of them in public school, but my days were still busy caring for them. My son has autism with behavioral and anxiety challenges. I never knew when I’d need to pick him up from school early. I also had to be available for numerous therapy appointments, snow and vacation days, and other emergencies.

Thankfully, my son has finally turned a corner this year. He’s mainstreamed at our local middle school, and he rarely has a problem that requires me to pick him up early. I still have multiple therapy appointments each month for him, but overall I have more free time during the day.

That’s why I decided to branch out this year and try my hand at subbing for classroom/office aides in our local school district. I have a Christian Education degree and have worked with children of all ages in various educational settings. And of course, I did and continue to teach my own kids at home. Several friends sub, and they shared information about how to get started and their positive experiences.

I took the plunge and applied. I filled out all the required paperwork and clearances and attended job training. I even have an official badge! I also applied to sub for the IU-13 and Substitute Teacher Services. I can still write in my free time, but I can also begin a fulfilling career in a classroom.

My first job was supposed to be Monday morning at the elementary school my son attended last year. However, a sock changed everything.

socks

You see, because of his autism, he has sensory issues. If his clothes feel the least bit tight, scratchy or irritating, he feels anxious and won’t wear them. We haven’t had any clothing issues for months, but he sure did have an issue this morning before school!

For some reason, his socks didn’t feel right. He has successfully worn these same socks for months with no issue, but suddenly they feel weird. He complained about the crease and how it felt on his feet and in his shoes. In the past, he simply switched the uncomfortable sock to the other foot where the crease is not an issue, but today, no tricks he tried worked.

As he tried on sock after sock and realized it was uncomfortable, he simply tossed it across the room. And his anxiety grew as he realized he would be late for the bus if he didn’t find socks soon.

My son’s anxiety attack lasted about 15 minutes. He screamed, shouted, cursed and cried.  It wasn’t until the very last possible second that he finally choose a pair of socks to wear and rushed out the door to the bus.

Today’s sock incident used to happen every day. I’m incredibly grateful that it only happens rarely now! However, because he does still have anxiety challenges, I decided to reevaluate my career.

Most substitute jobs require me to leave for work around 7 AM so I arrive at the school by 7:10 and have time to find the classroom and get my duty assignments before the students arrive. My kids don’t leave on the bus until 7:06.

Those six minutes are short and long.

What happens if he has another sock incident? I won’t be home to coach him through it. And since my husband leaves for work at 6:30, he’s unavailable. I also committed not to give my daughter, who’s two years older than him, the responsibility of parenting him.

After my children successfully walked out the door today, I brewed a cup of coffee, took a few deep breaths and spent time in prayer and soul-searching. For the sake of my children, I decided to pass on any jobs that require me to leave in the morning before they do. I’m disappointed, but it simply doesn’t make good sense for me to put my career before my kids at this point.

Which brings me to how a sock changed my career.

Because of this incident, I have decided to branch out and find new writing clients. I even began outlining several ebooks (topics to be announced!). I’m exploring other options, too, that allow me to be home for my kids and earn a living.

I know that for me, this is the right decision. And I trust that God will bring me opportunities and courage to search for new opportunities.He has always been faithful and will continue to be faithful in providing all our needs!

And I’m thankful for socks, too.

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Teaching My Kids About Politics

y-and-recorded-message-from-donald-trumpGrowing up, politics was a big deal in my family. My dad never missed an opportunity to vote, even if he had to leave work early to make it to the polling place on time. Usually, he took me with him. I learned early that voting is our right and responsibility as American citizens.

That’s why turning 18 was a big deal for me! I could finally vote! What an honor and privilege! And when my study abroad semester found me living overseas during the 1996 election, I eagerly signed up to receive an absentee ballot (I still have the Egyptian newspaper that announced the winner!).

Fast forward to this year. I’m now a mom with two kids. They’re both in middle school and definitely opinionated about all kinds of topics like their favorite music, cars, food, beliefs and books, so it makes sense to include them in our political discussions.

Plus, hubby and I are both very into politics. Even though we don’t always agree, we do often watch political talk shows and the news together, and we regularly discuss current events. In fact, everyone knew well in advance that I would be taking over the remote when the conventions aired. They’re a highlight for me since I love the patriotic stories. (And I also hoped that this year’s conventions would help me decide who to vote for!)

We’re now less than two months away from the election. I’m still not totally convinced on which presidential candidate will get my vote, but my kids have their minds made up, and their arguments for their candidate are very logical and convincing. My son even likes to listen to the recorded political phone calls we receive.

I finally captured his joy tonight. He listened to the whole message from Donald Trump with a highly animated look on his face, and was so excited!

Because it was a big deal to him, I decided to post the picture on Facebook. Some of my friends shared his enthusiasm, others commented on how handsome he looks and one  lady blocked me.

I actually laughed when I saw that she blocked me, then I deleted her comment. And that led me to consider whether I was right to post something political on my page.

Generally, I avoid controversy. Life is hard enough without starting fights online! But I am proud of my kids for being interested in politics and for making their own political decisions. I believe I owe it to them to teach them how to weigh the candidate’s words and actions, consider all the facts and decide who they will support. That’s why I shared my son’s picture. I wanted to support his right to his own opinion and share with my friends that he has been listening and learning and knows who he wants to win. I’m proud that he is willing to stand up for what he believes in, and I won’t apologize for that!

So whether or not you agree with him or with me, know that I will not unfriend you (unless you get obnoxious, rude or mean about it!). I welcome conversation and support your freedom to vote, live and choose as you wish. Those are the same values I wish to teach my children as I equip them to participate in their democratic right and responsibility.

God Bless America!

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Has Your Router Been Hacked?

A few years ago, a Facebook friend started sharing posts by Kim Komando. She’s a tech guru with tips on how to do everything from how to choose a new phone to how to secure your online accounts. I became a fan and have used dozens of her tips over the year. Today, I found a new one that I want to share with you.

Use this tip to test your router and find out if it has been hacked. It only takes a few seconds, and if there are any problems with your router, you’ll receive clear steps on how to fix it.

Happy surfing!  TPLINKrouter

Good to do: Test your router to see if it’s been hacked – Here's how

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Looking for the Perfect Decision?

Celestine Chua (Flickr)

Celestine Chua (Flickr)

 

I’ve been thinking about decisions lately.

And I’ve been putting off quite a few decisions lately.

 

 

Should I buy a smartphone for work access on the go or stick with my plain phone?

Should I sell outgrown toys on eBay or donate them to charity?

Should I toss the clothes in my closet that don’t fit or save them for “some day”?

Should I make chicken or hamburgers for dinner?

 

On the surface, most of these decisions won’t affect me too much in the long run. But I’m afraid of making the wrong one, wasting money or failing. Those are the reasons for procrastinating the decisions I need to make.

I’m very grateful to know that I’m not the only one who struggles sometimes with decision making. Lysa Terkeurst’s blog made sense to me, and maybe her words will encourage you, too.

So, what decisions are you putting off and why? Is there something you can do today to get started making at least one of the decisions on your list?

 

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When Your Kid’s Not Normal and You Just Want To Quit

Some days, I just want to run away.

My youngest takes a toll on my emotions, strength, patience and self worth. It’s draining hearing him scream because of a shirt that doesn’t feel right (he was wearing it cheerfully a second ago) or moaning as he looks for the paper he misplaced (he had it in his hand when I saw him last). I feel helpless as I hear him complain about his hair as he tries to play with Legos or fight with the blanket at bed time.

I wonder why he can’t just deal with it.

But he can’t. He’s got wiring that prevents him from coping with certain things.

And I have to accept and love him. I get to accept and love him.

That’s where I have a lot to learn. I’m way too selfish and unkind. I don’t want to be inconvenienced or patient.

Instead of demanding my own way, I can learn to stop and exercise compassion.

We have a long road ahead. Our first psych eval is Monday. No matter what happens next, I have to put on my big girl panties, grow up and remember—

There is no such thing as normal. We are all different, unique and special.

And we are made in God’s image. He can’t make junk. And he knows what’s going on in my little guy’s mind and body. And he knows me. He has a plan, and I can trust him.

So for today, I’ll take an extra breath, thank God for my son and smile as I keep plugging away.

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Thoughts on Sports for Boys

An Olympic fan, I eagerly anticipate the games every two years and sit glued to the TV.  This year is no exception, and I’m hearing amazing stories of athletes and their families. 

Two male athletes give me hope for my energetic, challenging son.

At age 9, Kieran Behan started gymnastics to use up excess energy.  He is now only the second male gymnast from Ireland to compete in the Olympics. 

Michael Phelps started swimming at age 7.  His mother sent him to the pool with his older sisters because he was energetic and rambunctious. He competes this week to become the winningest Olympian of all time.

So many parents start their kids in sports at a young age.  The consensus almost insists that kids must start young in order to succeed in their sport.  These two young men disprove that theory.  Yes, 7 and 9 is young, but it’s not 3 and 4.

My son took gymnastics two years ago and loved it.  He grew tired of it after 18 months, though, so we stopped.  He’d like to start up again, and his occupational therapist insists that he would benefit from a sport where he’s active and moving.  I’m seriously considering re-enrolling him.  Sure, it’s a time and financial commitment, but the benefits are worth the sacrifices.

Just ask our Olympians.

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What Do Housekeeping and Education Have in Common?

While cleaning up the kitchen today, I thought of my pastor’s sermon from yesterday.  He shared how evangelism is a process rather than an event.  As I pulled dishes out of the dishwasher only to immediately refill it, I realized that housekeeping and education are also processes rather than events. 

Just like doing dishes, sweeping floors and washing clothes must happen over and over and over again, our children need to be taught educational concepts, character traits and manners over and over again.

We can’t expect them to learn new concepts from a single lesson.  Like they can’t learn spiritual lessons or character traits with one Sunday School lesson, they need repeated instruction for school subjects.

The process grows wearying.  It’s hard to persevere, especially if a child struggles to “get it.”   Perhaps the mentality that it’s a process rather than an event will give us the strength we need to keep going, the motivation we need to keep teaching and the hope we need that one day they will learn.  May the process rather than the event help us as we educate our students at home.

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“No Coffee” diet

As much as I hate to admit it, I’m an addict.  The thought of percolating coffee in the morning motivates me to leave my warm bed and race to the kitchen for my favorite mug.  After lunch, when school is over and my children are ready for their free time, I savor a mug of warm coffee mixed with plenty of milk.  Instead of pigging out on chocolate every night, I make myself a warm cup of decaf or herbal tea to prepare me for restful slumber.

So why in the world would I sign up to test a diet with a “no coffee” clause??

In short, $$$$, but cash does not accurately portray the entire motivation behind this seven-day venture.  I also struggle with my weight and thought that maybe this diet would give me the kick I need to eat better or eat less.  I did keep my new year’s resolutions to drink at least three glasses of water every day and dance for five minutes after lunch with my children, but my weight has not changed since last year when I started working as a freelance writer. 

Today, I finish day four of the diet trial.  I have eaten more vegetables in four days than I ate during the entire last week of February.  While I feel better and fuller after eat meal, I sometimes crave that warm cup in my hand. 

I don’t know if I will continue this diet after the week trial is over.  I hope I will continue to eat more veggies and exercise more, but I’m not sure my motivation will remain as high when I know I’m not getting paid.  

I know I definitely will not continue the coffee fast.  Face it, that warm mug of addiction wakes me up, calms me down and provides a comfort no vegetable can produce.

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