Lessons Learned from my Graduate

lessons learned from my graduate

This whole graduating and leaving home thing is really wearing me slick out! I don’t want my babies to leave! And yes, even at 6’5″, he’s still and will always be my baby.

On the night he was born, my #2 son was immediately whisked away due to issues with blood incompatibility. Hours went by that seemed like days. I couldn’t stand the separation any longer so in the middle of the night, sporting my new fluffy leopard slippers, I scooted to the nursery to try find him. I had to get my hands on him! Looking through the window, I spotted my dark haired, chubby little guy. They were poking him with needles and wires were hooked to his chunky chest. I couldn’t watch from the other side of the glass any longer.

As I found my way into the room, the nurse turned her head and piped, “I can’t believe you were able to walk all the way down here so soon.” Eighteen hours of labor and a few stitches couldn’t keep me away from him.

That’s just what moms do … we do hard things for our kids. While physically challenging to walk the length of a hospital to be with my newborn son, it’s recess compared to the challenge of watching him drive away and letting him go. I’ve spent the last 18 yrs. adjusting my grip but letting go makes me a little crazy. OK, a lot crazy!

That same irrational, unimaginable, instinctual, instantaneous depth of love that propelled me to walk through physical pain to get to the other side of the glass, now calls me to leave him.

To let him fly.

I’ve never liked good-byes …  Well-meaning friends tell me, “It’s not goodbye, it’s only see you later.”

Not true.

I’m saying goodbye to many things: daily doses of silliness and laughter, a willing helper, a best friend to his siblings, my administrator and daily reminder of things like what we’re having for dinner, an amazing finder of where I put my glasses, nightly “good night, mom,” late night chocolate milk marathons with his brothers, the daily interaction and silly conversations between a 6 yr. old and the 18 yr. old brother he strives to be like, and a positive role model for my younger kids – to name a few….

lessons learned from my graduate2

Yes, I’ll absolutely see him again…much sooner than planned most likely 🙂 However, I know that when he zooms out of the driveway in a few days in a loaded down vehicle headed to college, it means “good-bye.”

He’s been an easy one to love … And although I’m the mom, this guy has taught me much over the last 18 years:

~ When the quiet one speaks, his message is eagerly received.

~ Discipline is a lifestyle that brings great reward.

~ Humility is very attractive when lived out through the life of a youth.

~ A forgiving heart speaks volumes to those watching, especially when all agree forgiveness isn’t deserved.

~ Minds can be beautiful.

~ It takes courage to admit you have questions and to wrestle out answers to the tough ones.

~ The positive role model of an older brother is invaluable.

~ Humility is attractive.

~ Thinking before speaking is always a good idea.

~ You can be your fiercest competitor.

My sweet, Noah:

  • You are a gift from God.
  •  I will miss you severely.
  •  I will love you forever.
  • I will love you always.
  • As long as I’m living
  • My baby you’ll be.

And I promise I’ll try to be ok watching from the other side of the glass …


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How to Make Your Child’s Education Meaningful

How to make your child's education meaningful

When I signed up to homeschool my kids, I had 5 yrs. of teaching middle school on my resume. From my experience in the classroom, I felt a huge disconnect between textbook and student and was VERY determined that I wouldn’t bore the brains out of my own kids with dull textbooks. My goal was to make their learning meaningful. Period. While there have definitely been years with “life happening” and our school took a more textbooky route, my heart has always been to create a meaningful, customized learning experience for all of my kids.


As soon as the final 4th of July boom has made us collectively “Ooooh!” and the smell of sulphur has drifted away in the Oklahoma breeze, my mind shifts to school planning for the new year. My goal is to make education meaningful for my children … each one of them.  While this is absolutely the most difficult thing to pull off for 7 kids – I try. Some years have been extremely challenging and I’ve failed, but I keep pushing ahead.


Mid-summer, I sit down with each of my school-age kids and discuss the past (previous year), present, and future. We discuss the subjects they did well in as well as the ones that were a struggle. We talk about what they wish they never had to study again as well as their favorites they’d like to study more. The goal is for them to play an active role in the process by seeking their input. “Owning” their education as much as possible even when they’re young is my desire for them.


So, this is the key – we look outside of “school” – trying to unearth opportunities to connect what they love with what they must learn. What do they enjoy? What are their passions? The goal is to customize their learning to make it meaningful to them as much as possible. In order for this to happen I look outside of “school” for opportunities for enrichment, mentorship, and other opportunities to grow in a knowledge area or skill.

carson campaign passion

For my older son, we used most of his elective credits in high school for his passion for political activism and leadership. He attended local, weekly PAC meetings, volunteered for political campaigns, founded and led a student civic activist club, and organized and led student groups to visit state legislators regarding pending legislation. I was able to combine these experiences along with reading, writing and even debating on these topics to give elective credits.

For another son, I’m in the process of trying to customize his love of nature/wildlife into courses that will allow him to take a deep dive into his area of interest. I’ve looked for clubs/organizations within this area where he could learn from more seasoned folks with the same passion. Whenever I can integrate a content area/skill that he dislikes or is weak into the broad field of his passion, SCORE!

For example, I found a wildlife club that holds weekly meetings which are led by the student club members. This leadership role is something that doesn’t come natural to him and he would never seek out a class on public speaking/leadership. However, if he gets to talk about his first-hand knowledge of how he’s experimented with particular types of lures to catch the big kahunas, he’ll be all about it!

fish passion


Especially with my older kids, we look beyond the next school year. College? Employment after high school? Gap year? As parents, we probably know our kids better than they know themselves which plays a huge role in how we help guide/steer our kids down a path that prepares them for what lies ahead.

However, listening to my kids is absolutely essential – how they perceive their trajectory taking shape and where it’s leading. How do they feel God is wanting to use their natural passions/abilities and interests? Additionally, I encourage them to take aptitude and career assessment tests online to give them even  more insight. Even though I think he’s good at math, he may not want to study art. I have to let go of my own agenda at times –  I have to get ME out of the picture and listen to THEM.

You can download a printable that I use when talking with my kids as I try to assess opportunities to connect passions to learning. I hope it can be helpful to you as you walk through helping your student connect with his passions in a meaningful way.







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What I Learned During My Son’s First Semester at College

What I learned during my son's first semester in college

My oldest son finished his first semester away at college. He’s been challenged in ways that make my mom heart sad. Ways that were initially our reasons – reasons for ever starting this crazy journey we call homeschool. He’s learned many things this semester, but much of his education took place outside the classroom.

I’m pretty sure I learned even more…

1. I can trust God with him.
I know this now more than ever before. When our kids live under our roof, it’s a little easier to help God out with this. 🙂 News flash! God really doesn’t need me to help Him figure things out. If He knows the stars by name, I know that He hasn’t forgotten my boy and will take care of him.
Nothing will catch Him by surprise. He will even help him find his keys again. And again. And trust me … that is something that only God can do! Above all else, my mom heart just wants to know that he’s ok.
I can trust God with that.

2. “Letting go” allows our relationship to grow.
Prior to my son leaving for college, I cried at the thought of having to drop him off … and leave him there. While it was very difficult to drive away, leaving him behind alone with no friends in a room that his roommate had tastefully decorated with a skull head and a buddha was crazy hard. I knew I had to “let go” but my mom heart hurt so bad that I gripped tighter.
Over the next few days/weeks, I texted. I called. Too much.
He needed space.
He needed room … to breathe.
Finally, I let days go by without attempts to reach him and it got a little easier. Then days turned to (gasp) a week! I have 6 other kiddos at home which helped the time zoom – God have mercy on my youngest son!
Amazingly, I’ve found that he’s much more free to share his life when I’m not strangling it right out of him 🙂 The more I let go, the stronger our relationship grows. So counter-intuitive to my mom heart….

3. I must put my big girl panties on and deal with it.
It’s just kind of a saying we have in our home. Dinner isn’t your favorite? Deal with it. You’re tired of your chores? Deal with it. Your house was hit by a tornado requiring 4 moves? Deal with it. And so on. There’s times when we just have to deal with it.
Yes, I’ve cried many tears. My feelings have been hurt. My expectations went unmet and I’ve questioned the seemingly rude and unthoughtful human being that just flew out of my nest.
While I’m throwing a pity party and wondering why he hasn’t answered my text from 3 days ago, he’s trying to figure out how to survive multiple professors, where to find food, how to get to class, where to find food, make friends, figure out how to maneuver a 25,000-person campus, where to find more food as well as hold down a part-time job as well!

Unthoughtful and rude? No. He’s trying to figure it out. He’s moved on. We all do it. We fly out of the nest. We’re all transitioning. It’s a normal, natural progression of life.
While I miss his late-night, daily download of life, his frequent hugs, his piles, his funny laugh, his political rants, his hair and his 10-egg omelets and deep philosophical conversations post-midnight … I must deal with it, even when sometimes I’d rather clip his wings.
And I’m certain that he is too …

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An Open Letter to My College-Bound Son

An Open Letter to my College-


First, let me say that I love you more than you know and always will. Before you were born, I prayed for you…mostly that I wouldn’t mess you up!

That I wouldn’t mess up God’s plan for you….

When you were born, you made me a mom and I’ve never been the same person since. Let’s just say, that as any new mom can relate, my world totally and completely revolved around you. Your schedule was my schedule. Period…..

And I loved EVERY second of our days together…

It’s been an amazing journey to be a part of your life – watching you grow and develop passions that drive you to make our world a better place. One thing about you that I cherish … your unwavering commitment to your passions which come from a deep, personal faith.

Even when others around you don’t understand…

or laugh at your ideas
or discredit your dreams
or passions

                                                                  You. Stay. Strong.

Perfect? Not even close.

Without detours? Of course not.

But, you stubbornly hold fast to those matters that mean much to you. That makes me proud.

As you step into a new chapter, I’d like to share a few bits of motherly advice … because I’m good like that 🙂
1. Seek few, deep friendships…the life-long type that will weather storms with you and sharpen you.

It’s a great status symbol to be known by many or have thousands of friends or followers on social media but when you’re alone in your dorm room, they’re nowhere to be found … Be selective of who you let into your personal space – who you share your dreams and passions – not everyone can handle them.

2. Be teachable.

It’s ok to not know everything and you’ll learn quickly how little you know …. It’s ok.

3. Be a leader.

It’s a part of you – that first-born thing – to lead. So, continue to be the kind of leader that’s worth following and lead by example.

4. Help others.

You won’t have to look far. Use the eyes God gave you to see the needs of others around you, even when you feel needy yourself. Reach out to them….you may be the life preserver they need. And you quite possibly may need them too.

5. Don’t let opinions of others derail you.

You won’t be liked by everyone. In fact, you won’t be truly accepted by many at all. You can’t please everyone. Consistently seeking approval of others is a trap. Keep your Bible open and seek advisors, but always know when truth trumps culture, opinion or preference.

6. Eat to nourish your body.

I know you’re laughing now…but truly, your body needs more than carbs and caffeine 🙂 Eat the rainbow and you’ll be good!

7. Come home as little as possible. (Did I really just say that?!)

In those early days of motherhood, I couldn’t wrap my mind around how my older friend moms could let their sons like…leave! It killed me to leave you in the nursery during church. I don’t think I was or ever will truly be ready for that baby/nurturing part of my life to end. But, babies grow up – some of them cowboys (sorry, I couldn’t resist…go Pokes!)

I couldn’t imagine then what I’m saying to you now … You’re always welcome to come home as often as you can but as little as possible to allow you to forge ahead in your new season of life. Letting go is the hardest part of being a parent but I’m looking forward to the next chapter of our story.

College-bound son

I’ve prayed for you since before you were born. My prayer for you now…..Go rally the troops and be the leader God made you to be!

College needs you….


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20 More Ways to Find Free Money for College

20 more ways to find free money for college

If you saw the first post in this series, you know I told you I’d be sharing more this week. So, here it is! I continue to find amazing scholarship opportunities to share with you.

The first group is the general essay scholarship based on given topic.

1. ChameleonJohn.com scholarship
2. Digital Responsibility scholarship
3. Abbott and Fenner Scholarship
4. JASNA Scholarship
5. Civil Rights Defense Fund Scholarship

Yes….there are scholarships that DO NOT require the essay!
6. Dave Ramsey’s Financial Literacy Scholarship
7. Common Knowledge Scholarship Foundation
8. Oratorical Contest
9. Optimist International Oratorical Contest

These scholarships target those who have special interest, experience or a number of hours logged in community volunteer/activism.

10. Grasshopper Entrepreneur Scholarship

Medical Field
11.AAMN Scholarship
12. Nursing Scholarships

13. Jesse Brown Scholarship
14. Davis-Putter Scholarship
15. Bonner Program

These opportunities are a little different than the standard essay. They ask you to apply your knowledge to target readers on a financial blog or solve a water problem.
16. FPSPI Scholarship
17. IAPMO Scholarship

These scholarships are awarded to targeted minority groups.
18. Minority Nurse Scholarship
19. American Indian College Fund
20. Latino Arts Scholarship

Be sure to check on the application deadlines for these now, as most of these are coming up very soon. The good news….if you miss it this year, many of these are awarded every year. Use your bookmarks to keep track of them for next year.
I will continue to post what I find as we are currently guiding our college-bound student along the way as well. Let me know if this information helps you…I’m hoping that the knowledge I’m gaining can benefit you too!

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16 Ways to Find Free Money for College

16 ways to find free money for college

So, you’re sitting at the breakfast table with your soon-to-be-graduate while he ingests the high-protein breakfast you prepared for him. It’s Saturday morning but no sleeping in – it’s test day. This is the last shot to raise his score for scholarship eligibility. You both know his college future depends on the number he’s able to attain but choose not to rehash the seriousness of the day.
You both also know that he’s more than just a number.
                                                                 MUCH more….
Sound familiar? Sadly, many bright students aren’t good test-takers yet test scores continue to be THE criteria used to measure scholarship worthiness. The unfortunate result is gifted students being denied scholarships because their test scores aren’t high enough.

                                                            For some, it means no college.

 For others, it means extreme student debt load.

There has to be another way!
There are other options to getting money for college that many people simply don’t know about. As we’ve approached this stage in our family, I had to think outside the box. So, I took to the internet and dove in.

Fortunately, I found there is hope! There are many scholarships and contests available for those who are willing to invest their time.
1. US Senate Youth Program
2. AXA Achievement Scholarship
3. DAR Scholarship
4. KFC Foundation
5. Young Entrepreneur Awards
6. Bickel & Brewer Foundation
7. Jaycee Foundation of OK – this is for Oklahoma residents…contact the Jaycee Foundation of your state 🙂
8. Prudential Scholarship
9. AFSA Scholarship

Writing contests:
10. FIRE Essay Contest
11. JFK Profile in Courage
12. Society of Professional Journalists
13. FRA Essay Contest
14. Abbott & Fenner Scholarship
15. GPACAC Scholarship
16. VFW Scholarship

Stay tuned for the next post where I will provide even more potential money sources.

If you think this information could be helpful to your friends, use the share buttons 🙂

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