Thank you so much Merit! Here is the meta tag.
It’s a New Year: Let’s Do This!

It’s a New Year: Let’s Do This!

It’s a new year and time to dream big and envision what’s ahead! Are you struggling with setting goals for the New Year?  I love breaking out my new Bullet Journal and setting up the yearly and monthly calendar pages and thinking through hopes and dreams.

BUT, I break down a bit on the goal setting! For most years, I already have a rough schedule, with work related trips penciled in, along with house and business projects. Therefore, adding “goals” can feel daunting. I begin to feel like I’m already hemming myself in with stuff to get done and the year hasn’t even started yet!  Plus, if your year goes like mine often does, it’s important to leave flex room for the unexpected blessings and challenges which inevitably take place. 

That being said, I also recognize the power of writing things down. So, I have this tension between not wanting to get too specific, but also wanting to live fully in the coming year. What’s a girl to do? If you, like me, have followed the 4 Present Rule, this should look familiar 

The 4 Present Rule:

  • Something they Want
  • Something they Need
  • Something to Wear
  • Something to Read

It’s such a fun and simple way to organize gift giving!

Why not organize the New Year in a similar fashion? This new way of looking at the New Year will help you clarify where you’ll be intentional about, providing clarity as you invest  your time, money and resources!

Organize the New Year

Word of the YEAR! _________________________

  • Something I Want 
  • Something I Need 
  • Something I’ll Share 
  • Where I’ll Succeed 

This simple exercise can help us sort through what’s important and where we want to focus our time, money and energy. It can clarify our calling and vision, which is always helpful as both can be easy to lose sight of in the midst of daily responsibilities.

Planning using a “Word of the Year” can be so clarifying. What’s our focus? One year my word was “PRAY”. I purchased  a 1 x 4 foot piece of art that says, “Pray Big” (I get that it’s two words, not one,  but work with me here). I wrote down scripture verses about prayer, which I kept in my Bullet Journal, and kept a prayer jar. My word of the year offered focus, clarity and a constant adjustment as I headed True North.

Clarify & Simplify

We all have wants and desires.

Being clear about what I want allows less important wants to diminish, and allows me to brainstorm about how to get what we ultimately want. What do I need to sacrifice, invest in, double down on to really, truly attain what I want? 

We all have needs.

Identifying my needs allows me to put time and energy into an area that I might have neglected or pushed off. As a result, I can identify those areas that are simply wants, not needs, and then re-categorize and focus our priorities. 

We all have something to share.

We all have wisdom, strength and resources that will benefit others. Identifying where I’ll share keeps me from that easy path of good intentions and takes me down the road of generous giver. 

We all have areas in which, if we allow ourselves to dream, we hope to succeed!

Identifying where I’ll succeed this year allows me to believe in my own success, plan and work for it, and ultimately benefit from it.

Write the Vision

Habakkuk 2:2 says, Write the vision, make it plain. The simple act of writing can bring our hopes and dreams to fruition! As you can see, writing down our hopes for the future is simple, but powerful! I challenge each of you to take some time as we head into the New Year to write down your big, God-sized Dreams! 

Resources for a Successful New Year

Not sure what direction to head with homeschooling? Our Academic Advising is just what you are looking for! Our experienced Advisors save you time and money and take your student farther, faster! Homeschooling success is in YOUR future!  

True North Homeschool Academy specializes in education. To us that includes equipping and encouraging parents as they learn with their children. We support families not just students.

Check out the free printables and links below and find out more about our True North Navigators. It’s a membership group for parents with fellowship, mentoring, an online book club, and monthly learning sessions that focus on encouraging and equipping you to be the best Christian home educator you can!

Holiday Fun for Everyone!

Holiday Fun for Everyone!

Christmas is such an important faith-based holiday and we love it at our house. We decorate our 100  year old house, inside and out, with lights, trees and joyful holiday sounds and scents. Our family saves favorite movies and books for the season, storing them with Christmas decorations – and have a long-standing rule that no Christmas videos or music gets played in the house until after Thanksgiving. Because we all have our favorites, we look forward to sharing them together, once the Holiday Season begins! Below we’ve gathered Scripture, books, movies and more, to encourage, inspire and share the love and joy of this season of light! 

Scripture 

On Christmas Eve we read the Biblical account of Jesus’ birth, either before or after a Candlelight Church service

Advent 

Advent is such a sweet time of anticipation and sharing your love for the Lord and the anticipation that we share in His return! Advent is also a special time of gathering in the weeks before Christmas to share important scriptures and songs together, to light candles and to share our living faith with our family!

How are Christmas and Channakah related? For those of us who are curious about how the Old Testament continues to inform our faith, this is the perfect season to look at how Channakuh and Christmas are related, and how Channakuh might inform our faith. 

Books 

Y’all know that we are bibliophiles around here, and what better time to delve into some great books? We love to put some of our favorites in baskets around the house, and often find ourselves curled up on a couch with a cozy blanket, hot chocolate and a good read.. Now is definitely the time to start a family read-aloud, and depending on your schedule, you might want to read a book a week, as part of your Advent celebration. Below is a great list, compiled from our friends at our FaceBook Group True North Homeschool Tribe. 

Movies

I love a good movie, as much as I love a good book! Some of our family favorites. 

TNHA Blog Posts 

To get you in the Holiday Spirits, we have several blog posts from years past that will encourage and inspire you this Christmas season! 

MUSIC

We have music lovers in our house and they know the artists, titles and lyrics from music across the decades! 

  • The Messiah by Handel  if you don’t listen to anything else this holiday, find a rendition you love! 
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas– so much fun!
  • It’s Called Christmas by Go Fish
  • Silent Night other hymns are always appropriate! 

Crafts and Activities

  • Decorate Gingerbread houses- the pre-made kits make it so easy
  • Drive around and look at Christmas lights
  • Bake and cook together. We love using family recipes
  • Decide on a service or charity that your family will contribute to and think of ways to bless it with your time and creativity
  • Make Paper Snowflakes and decorate your windows 
  • Have a Holiday Open House and invite friends 
  • Make orange/ clove pomanders.
  • Go Christmas Caroling
  • Have a cookie exchange and share the cookies with your co-workers and neighbors

The Christmas Holiday is a beautiful one, as we remember the birth of our Savior. It can also be a tough one, as we remember and miss loved ones who have passed away, or deal with difficult family relationships. Determining how we’ll celebrate- perhaps simply, or maybe all out, can give this season a sense of purpose and joy. And serving others always reminds us that we have many blessings, despite hardships and trials, which we know we’ll face. 

Regardless of our circumstances, we can rest assured that the Living Christ came into the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it. Alleluia! Come Lord Jesus! 


Lisa Nehring

Lisa’s most memorable gifts were an engagement ring tied into a church Christmas ornament and a month-long backpacking trip to the High Uinta’s Wilderness areas – two grand adventures that changed her life. Along with gathering gifts (and gratefully receiving them) she owns, blogs, and teaches here at True North Homeschool Academy, which offers live online and self-paced classes, clubs, transcripts, testing, Special Needs resources, a vibrant active support community and more! Working at a job she loves and is passionate about, along with homeschooling, is one of her most favorite gifts of all!  You can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest, and hanging out in her Facebook group; True North Homeschool Tribe.

The Penny Challenge – An Easy Way to Stay Thankful This Season

The Penny Challenge – An Easy Way to Stay Thankful This Season

As Thanksgiving approaches followed closely by Christmas, life can get a bit… hectic! This week’s life skill tip is all about simply being thankful! Haven’t heard of The Penny Challenge? Stay tuned for this fun and simple way to instill thankfulness!

Ralph Waldo Emerson said,

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

As my household, we could use this reminder as well.

A pile of bright pennies.

So, we are doing a penny challenge.

Each of us are being given some pennies to hide around the house. Over the next week or two, as we find them, we are to think of something we are thankful for that has happened on that day. Then the finder of the penny gets to keep the penny. It might be simple, but sometimes a simple token; like a penny, can remind us to pause and be thankful for our many blessings!

Raising Thankful Kids

We want to create teens that are thankful in season and out of season. It might be the key to helping them push through that hard time. And look, we know hard times will come; it’s the nature of life! Counting his blessings made all the difference for Willie Nelson,

“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.”

Even better the BIBLE says it!

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

A homeschool mom holds lemons to her eyes with a smile.

Sure, life is going to throw you lemons, but if you can see that those lemons are helping you become who you were meant to be not only will you be more pleasant to be around as you go through that season, you will also be on the lookout for ways to make that lemon work in your favor.

If your kids love gamifying learning -and which one doesn’t, be sure to check out Classical Memory classes as well as Personal Finance. Both classes, along with many others at True North Homeschool Academy are specifically designed to make learning FUN, with interactive, dynamic games, challenges and great discussions!

Your Family Can Change History

Your Family Can Change History

Can your family make a difference in the confusing times we are living in?

Let’s meet Corrie and her family who lived during some significant changes. This Dutch family loved the Lord and lived a simple life going to church and running their own business. Their home was filled with love and laughter. Guests frequented the little home behind the watch shop.

Almost a century earlier, in 1844, Corrie’s grandfather, Willem was approached by a Messianic Jewish pastor who asked Willem to start a weekly prayer meeting for the Jewish people. That was strange because back then there was no nation of Israel, and the Jews were scattered throughout the world. Nonetheless, Willem began weekly prayer meetings for the Jewish people that continued for exactly 100 years.

Corrie’s parents, Casper and Cor had moved to a Jewish neighborhood in Amsterdam for a short while early in their marriage made good friends and enjoyed joining in many Jewish festivities. Casper also spend lots of time sharing passages of Scripture in the Old Testament such as Isaiah 53 that Casper believed were fulfilled in Christ. 

When Corrie’s grandfather died, her father Casper brought his family back to Haarlem and took the helm of the weekly prayer meeting.

Corrie and her sister Betsy never married and remained at home with their widowed father Casper. Corrie started clubs for girls where she taught them crafts and shared the Gospel.

War Breaks Out!

Abruptly, everything changed when invaders from nearby Germany conquered and began to rule the peaceful nation. The goose-step marching sent shivers down their spines when they saw the Nazis marching down the street. People began to disappear; never to be seen again. Their Jewish friends were taken away to concentration camps. It felt like darkness had descended on the land.

When Germany invaded Holland during World War II, Corrie, Betsy, Casper, and the rest of the ten Boom clan, joined the resistance. They housed Jewish people who were fleeing for their lives, until they could find another place to hide out in the country nearby.

Even so, love and laughter continued to fill the little home. Their Jewish visitors might tell stories or play the family piano. When there was danger, the guests had to escape quickly to the hiding place. They worked hard to get the drill down to 70 seconds. They also had to get rid of any evidence of their presence such as a teacup or extra hand of cards.

The hiding place was a tiny secret room. The thick walls of the hiding place were built below the floor so the Nazis wouldn’t find it with a secret entrance through a linen closet. This little family saved the lives of many Jewish people.

When Casper was warned of the danger of hiding Jewish people, imprisonment and death, Casper declared that he felt it a great privilege to give his life to save God’s Chosen People.” Corrie and Betsy shared his heart. 

Clash of World Views

The ten Booms faced a collision of worldviews. Hitler led Germany with a wicked philosophy doing everything in his power to make the Jewish people and every other “undesirable” feel debased, humiliated, and hopeless. But he could not overcome love, forgiveness, and mercy, that flow from the heart of God. Corrie and her family recognized the value and dignity of every life, especially the lives of those so precious to our Father God. When worldviews collide, God’s love always wins.

The night of the final raid came on an evening when Corrie was very sick. Betsy answered the door. Though suspicious of the Dutch traitor, she gave him help anyway. He brought back the Gestapo, who arrested all three ten Booms, but those in the hiding place were not found. The soldiers chopped, hacked, and destroyed, but the little hiding place worked! Two days later, members of the resistance were able to get the five people out of the cramped little space and they all escaped to freedom.

The final raid came 100 years to the day that the Willem ten Boom held his first prayer meeting. Coincidence? I don’t think so. This family was in the center of God’s will, though it was not an easy place.

Lone Survivor

Corrie alone survived the concentration camp, being let out due to an administrative error. She and her family made a conscious decision to forgive. Even the traitors that reported them were both written a letter from the family expressing forgiveness and the love of Christ. Corrie spent the rest of her life sharing her testimony and helping people learn to forgive.

The ten Boom family paid a huge price to resist evil. Yet, because of their heart to obey God rather than man, they saved lives. After the war, Corrie ministered to thousands of bitter souls who learned to forgive from her example.

Glamorous? No. They were just a normal Christian family. Just an ordinary family who trusted God. A family that obeys God can change history. Because of families like the ten Boom, enough Jews survived to make it to the Holy Land and usher in the birth of Israel in 1948.

Don’t underestimate what God can do with your family.

Your family can speak wisdom into the lives of those who are confused and frightened. Your family can teach timeless truths that many Americans have forgotten.

Even if your family is just a place where visitors find love and laughter, think how many lives can be changed by that! You may think you don’t have a perfect family, but your family may be the best example of Christ that anyone has ever seen.

True North Homeschool Academy Family learning together

Resources that Help Your Kids Make a Difference

All our online classes and other resources are designed to support your family and help your kids strengthen their faith. Our podcast, Softskills 101: Life Skills for a Digital Age, provides encouragement and information that will help you homeschool. High school students can learn more about how to defend their faith with our Introduction to Apologetics Course. This is a class students can join for a full year, or for just one semester- we hope you check out the other courses and resources on the website for parents and K-12 homeschooled students.

Meredith Curtis

Meredith Curtis is a writer, speaker, and curriculum creator with Powerline Productions and teaches courses like Who Dun It, at True North Homeschool Academy. A veteran homeschooler, she is mom to five and “Grandy-Merey” to five so far. As a pastor’s wife, worship leader, and teacher she loves to give young people the gift of classic books and a Christian education to see lives changed for the glory of God.

The Horacio “The Best is Yet to Come” 2022 Dream Planner Review

The Horacio “The Best is Yet to Come” 2022 Dream Planner Review

I’m a planner. And a paper and pen kind of planner at that. I’m a sucker for a great planner and have tried many with Bullet Journals being the clear winner for several years.

I’m a minimalist BuJu Gal, so my journals are practical, well-loved and USED. I usually double side them- calendar on one side, and notes, goals and ideas on the other. I have Bullet Journals from years ago that I often refer back to. So, think practical and hard-working BuJu’s, but not so pretty. By the end of the year they are beat to death moleskins that I got every ounce of life out of!

More Than Just A Pretty Planner

I do like pretty, but I am also busy, so beautifying my Bullet Journals just doesn’t happen. Any decoration is purely accidental and usually involves spills of some sort. So, when the opportunity to review the Horacio 2022 Dream Planner came along, I was all in, with the distant hope of practical AND pretty.

Also, have I mentioned I’m a sucker for subscription boxes and generally just love personal mail! The Horacio 2022 Dream Planner “The Best is Yet to Come” box did not disappoint.

This planner arrived like a gift, with tissue paper and plenty of goodies inside:

  • beautiful gold pen
  • printed canvas draw string bag to store the planner in – or goodies you collect along life’s way as you are living your plan
  • a small printed journal, perfect for your bed stand and filled with inspiring scripture verse, beautifully done in calligraphy
  • a couple of super cool postcards
  • and finally, the Journal

Y’all. I’m kind of smitten. The Horacio Journal is a hard back, blush leather journal. It’s pretty and practical. It’s the high quality every hard working momma needs from a practical point of view, but also beautiful, to both touch and look at. That’s a “winner, winner, chicken dinner” in my world!

What’s Inside the Journal?

Did I mention that this is a hard working journal? Pretty inside and out and chock full of goodness, including my favorite calendar features!  

In the front of the journal is a “Welcome” letter which states, “our goal is to support you, encourage you and challenge you to DREAM BIG with God. At the bottom of the Welcome letter is a scan-able code, to take you to an online community to dream with.

Next, “Dream Planning,” – a page dedicated to reminding you to seek the Lord as you “Dream, Listen, Plan and Pray.” Following that is 4 pages of “Personal Growth” – assessing where you are at, where you want to go, and a page to declare your hopes and dreams for the future.

Next are pages to guide you as you assess where you are at right now, which I love. It’s so important to look back so that you know where to invest, to reach your goals!

Two of my favorite pages are “Generosity Planning” pages. They focus on who you are praying for, making time for and giving to and then “Heart Check” which focuses on letting go, forgiving and taking inventory of fears that are holding you back.

The following pages focus on letting the Love of God conquer specific fears in your life, with a short list of how to take each fear captive and turn it over to God for His refining purpose! This is a planner that encourages and inspires you to live your faith in a purposeful and intentional way.

Did I mention I LOVE this planner?

And Now, The Planner Pages

Finally, the scheduling portion; beginning with a year at a glance. Then, there is a short section on “Seasons” focusing on the New Season of Winter. And then, drum-roll, please there is a Month Overview and THEN- a two page spread per week.

The left hand side has bullets to personalize, dot grids on the bottom, scripture verses, and month in review. The planner’s right-hand side sections are subtly color-coordinated with dot grids. A monthly page lets you add “Praise Reports” and “Notes.”

I LOVE this layout- the calendar view month at a glance, followed by a 2 page spread per week. I’ve been looking for this spread for years, to no avail, which is why I end up making my own each year.

At the end of every quarter are several pages dedicated to a prayer; what you are believing for and then Generosity Planning and Heart Checks, Personal Growth and 90 day goals. Scripture verses, written calligraphy style, are tastefully sprinkled throughout the pages of this delightful, beautiful journal.

It’s the Bullet Journal I want to create each year, but don’t, sans the coffee stains and hastily scribbled notes and scripture verses, brilliant quotes and dreams casting. It’s the Bullet Journal I’ve now found and love.  

It’s a Keeper – And A Wonderful Gift Idea!

So, true story, I rarely write reviews anymore; though I really love writing reviews- its’ a time thing. When I choose to review a product, I often gift it when I am done. That is what I intended to do with the Horacio 2022 The Best is Yet to Come Planner. But this one, I’m keeping.

And I’m buying more for a few family members for Christmas gifts. I love it that much. It’s a keeper. It’s a winner. It’s what I’ve been looking for. Go check it out. It’s the Planner you’ve probably been looking for, too!  

Our readers can get 10% off with the code: 2022ISMYYEAR

Oh, and the postcards? A beautiful welcome letter from the creator, with a discount coupon, an invite to the Dream Planning Podcast, and finally an invite and coupon to the Virtual Dream Planners Summit.

Win a White Marble Planner!

The Horacio Printing Christian Dream Planner is your fresh blank canvas to design your life in 2022. They created it to help you build margin, reduce distractions and build a God-focused schedule. This is not just about what you have to do, it is about who you want to become. Horacio Printing has guided tutorials to help you set up every section of the planner. The best is yet to come!

Sign up to WIN a White Marble Planner at their website. The contest ends November 1st, 2021 so enter right away!

Homeschooling is Figureoutable!

Homeschooling is Figureoutable!

I read a book in parts and pieces at a book store and liked it so much that I later purchased it. The main premise of the book is that Everything is Figureoutable; the ultimate growth mindset. It is a perfect phrase to be continually testifying to yourself. I say it to myself all the time. Cause, true confessions, life makes it easy to get stuck.

We get stuck with people and circumstances. All.the.time.

And Homeschooling, by its very nature, gives us many, many opportunities to get stuck. Stuck, but good.

Homeschooling is Figureoutable!

Most of us have little-to-no training about child-rearing, education, or even the basics of homemaking or bill paying. Many of us can’t cook in early adulthood, don’t like to clean, and avoid paying bills. But adulthood requires that we figure stuff out. That, or we stay stuck and feel frustrated. Sometimes we stay stuck for a very long time. We think we aren’t good with money. Or we missed the grammar gene. Or we are not creative. We keep ourselves stuck because we don’t believe we have what it takes. Can I get a witness?

The good news about homeschooling and home management is that it is figureoutable. And honestly, once we’ve figured it out, it can be gratifying work: soul-filling and world-changing work.

Don’t Get Stuck

However, if you’ve been thrust into homeschooling, or are trying to do it while working, or brought your kids with an undiagnosed learning difficulty home, getting things figured out can be overwhelming. So, let me help with some basic lists of things you might want to figure out. It’s not exhaustive or personalized; it’s just a starting place. A place to take a stand and feel successful once you’ve figured out a few things so that you can continue gaining skills and so that the next success seems even more attainable.

Things you will need to figure out to homeschool well:

  • What is your teaching style?
  • How much time do you have to teach, given your other responsibilities?
  • What are your kids’ learning styles (to shore up your students’ areas of challenge and to utilize their areas of nature ability)
  • What educational pedagogies produce the results you are looking for?
  • Is your student gifted, 2E, LD, or at a traditional grade level? The greater the disparity between your student’s ability and areas of challenge, the more easily frustrated they might feel –and that goes back to the figureoutability –  but that’s a whole different conversation.
  • What is your minimum and maximum budget for books and curriculum?
  • What resources do you have for travel and experience-based learning?
  • What will you give up to homeschool? Time, money, resources, a career, advancement, etc.?
  • Where in your house (or out of it) will you homeschool?
  • What storage areas do you have available to house homeschooling supplies such as books, curriculum, writing utensils, computers, printers, etc.?
  • What will be your basic schedule?
  • What is your goal for homeschooling?
  • What is your strategy for accomplishing your homeschooling goal?
  • Which parent will be primarily responsible for homeschooling?
  • Who will you homeschool with? A co-op, in-person classes, online programs, a hybrid, or UMS?
  • What unique resources do you bring to the table as you homeschool? Are you an RV family? Do you own your own business, travel extensively, or is Grandma available to take one or more of the kids regularly?
  • What will free time look like for your kids?
  • What will your morning and evening routines consist of?
  • How will the homeschooling day begin?
  • How will the homeschooling day end?
  • How will you manage electronics in your home?
  • How will you know if homeschooling is a success?
  • Will you homeschool all of your kids?
  • Will you homeschool them using the same pedagogy and curriculum?

Related things to figure out:

  • How will meal planning, shopping, prep, and clean-up be managed?
  • How will clothes and laundry be managed- gathering, sorting, washing, drying, folding, and putting clothes away?
  • How will schedules be managed? This becomes more important to figure out as the parent(s) have more outside responsibilities like jobs or caring for an elderly relative?
  • Who will pay the bills and set the budget for homeschooling expenses, activities, experiences, and travel?
  • Who will transport kids to activities, programs, therapies, and the like?

Figuring it All Out

Homeschooling does not have to be complicated. But homeschooling is work. We dedicate time and resources towards it, and like all work, the more we can adequately do the prep work and plan the execution, the more successful we’ll be at meeting our goals and launching our kids.

But don’t worry. What you don’t know currently is figureoutable. And every success you have will lead to another success. Every obstacle overcome is one step closer to your goal. You’ve got this, Momma!

More Resources

If you’re looking for a community of like-minded homeschoolers headed True North, we’d love to have you join our community! Let us help each other “figure it ALL out”  with encouragement and support – plus free training, advice, and resources to help you figure out the challenges you face!

And if you want to read more about homeschool organization and planning, take a look at our resources for Homeschooling 101- Where to Begin and tips for how to Manage My Home & Time or encouragement and resources for families of children with special needs.

Homeschooling and working mom