Going beyond ‘I love you’ to build up a soul


Written by Rachel Macy Stafford of Hands Free Mama

When I began my Hands Free journey five years ago, I did it to free myself from the external distractions, internal pressures, and unrealistic societal standards that prevented me from truly living.

But there was an unexpected result: As my distracted ways lessened, my loving ways increased—tenfold.

For the first time in my life I saw a direct correlation between my undivided presence and my ability to love my people in ways that most nurtured them. When I was in their presence, I studied them. I listened to them. I watched their faces when I used certain words and tones.

I noted what words brought sighs of relief … surges of confidence … and glows of acceptance.

I vowed to say those words more.

I also noted what words brought shame … disconnection … pain … and silence. I vowed to say those words less. Over time, I collected quite a powerful list of words that helped me love my people in ways that helped them thrive.

Like sunlight and water to a plant, these words nourished the deepest parts of their human hearts and fostered growth in all areas of their lives. Hence, I called them Soul-Building Words.

[Read more…]

Choosing the right path: The hardest part of Anne’s homeschooling year

Written by Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy

This month, we’re beginning our sixth year of homeschooling.

We’re more or less ready to begin: we have our plan in place, our curriculum ordered, our daily rhythm mostly mapped out. We’re all ready to hit the ground running, kids and parents.

That’s because the big decisions are already made.

The hardest part of my homeschool year

I’m serene about our school plans now, but a few months ago I was a mess, thinking so hard about all our mix and match options for the coming year you could practically see my angsty thoughts swirling above my head. [Read more…]

Homeschooling & homesteading: The hardest part of Rachel’s homeschool year


Written by Rachel Wolf of Clean.

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to live on a small homestead, tucked away in the hills in some quiet corner of Wisconsin. I longed for an old red barn when I lived in an apartment in the city; dreamed of sheep when I was a non-knitting vegetarian.

Why? I can’t explain it. I grew up in the suburbs for goodness’ sake.

When I was ten my only life goal was to live on a farm with my best friend, raise pigs for show, and have a house filled with pets. Fast-forward thirty-some years and most of that dream has come true.

I live with my best friend (my husband) on a small farm in Wisconsin. While we don’t raise pigs, we do have forty-some animals in our care. Or maybe it’s fifty. Frankly I’ve lost count.


Aside from our two homeschooled children, in our charge are six quail, nine ducks, dozens of laying hens, and (until last weekend) eighty (that’s 8-0) meat birds. Add to this our fifteen sheep, five goats, a fledgling fruit orchard, a gaggle of house pets, and a big vegetable garden and there are days when I question my sanity.

The hardest part of my homeschool year

There are days I can’t seem to locate anything that even resembles my sanity.

With milking and fencing and weeding and canning and mucking and tending – time is often thin.

And I wonder, “I’m supposed to ‘do school’ when?”

[Read more…]

Homeschooling a child with Asperger’s: The hardest part of Kari’s homeschool year


Written by Kari Patterson of Sacred Mundane.

I held my breath as I looked at the list. Every single item. It described him to the T. How had I never known? Wordlessly, I slid the laptop over to my husband. His eyes widened as he scrolled down, just as amazed.

You mean, this is a thing? 

There’s a name for this? And it’s legit?

Relief and grief often go hand-in-hand. On the one hand, I was overwhelmed with relief, finally freed from the crippling belief that all my son’s challenges were the result of my own inadequacies.

Terrible handwriting? Clearly my fault. Can’t tie shoes? My failure. Strange social behavior? My mess-up.

Lack of eye-contact, emotional maturity, empathy and a dozen other “typical” behavioral benchmarks?

All mommy-fails.

The hardest part of my homeschool year

But now, here, with one word I was freed from this Mommy-guilt prison.

His challenges weren’t my fault. This … was a thing.

[Read more…]

Homeschooling with depression: The hardest part of Shawna’s homeschool year

Homeschooling with depression: The hardest part of Shawna's homeschool year

Written by Shawna Wingert of Not the Former Things

As I woke, I felt a familiar dread spread throughout my body. I had barely opened my eyes, but already felt anxious and sad about what the day would bring. I wanted to turn over, pull the covers over my head, and just go back to sleep.

I wish I could say that my boys don’t have a mom that sometimes struggles just to get out of bed, and face the day.

I wish I could say that our homeschooling hasn’t suffered on days like this.

I wish I could say that once I get up and have a cup of coffee, it all seems better.

But I can’t.

What I can say is that I am a mom of two boys. We homeschool. And I have struggled with depression.

[Read more…]