What Motivates You?

Lacking motivation?

I currently feel very unmotivated. I am banging my head against so many metaphorical walls … and I’m not even making a dent. I’m juggling too many things, being pulled in too many directions, and not feeling any level of success in anything that I am setting out to do. Only failure, or what feels like failure.

What keeps you going? Why do you get out of bed in the mornings?

Or do you not?

I’m still moving. Pressing on. (Maybe running on the treadmill—or the hamster wheel—is a better analogy, but I am still moving.)

But I’m having to really stop and think about why. What is my motivation.

To be honest, partly it’s money. I need to earn money to buy the things our family needs. I need to pay off debts. I would love to make money to save for things we want, or want to do. That is certainly part of my daily motivation.

But that, in itself, is hollow, empty.

I love my family. I love to do things with and for them. That motivates me, but much of my day is spent doing things to earn money for our family, so I don’t get to spend as much time with my family as I’d like. (That’s certainly not my own private lament—I’d say most parents who work feel that lacking in their lives.) My love for them is certainly one of my motivations in life.

And definitely obligation, or a sense of duty will push me through when I’d just rather not. When I know my kids are counting on me, or my wife, or maybe even someone else, I will eke out the physical or emotional will power needed to accomplish whatever needs to be done.

Those are some of the things that can move me when I need moving. There are certainly a few more.

Personal comfort is a big one for me. I am VERY motivated to get those air conditioners cleaned up and locked in place when the first hot weather begins to roll in on us. I do not do well in heat and humidity! And… let me tell you, if there’s an offensive odor somewhere nearby, it doesn’t matter how tired I am, I will eliminate it!

Speaking of eliminating… what about when you really, really have to “go”, and there’s not a bathroom within 10 miles? When “nature calls” we can be pretty good at finding our motivation!

Jen knows a kind of personal comfort motivation, too. She doesn’t like pain; any physical discomfort will cause her to seek any way possible to remedy her situation. This includes hunger. She knows that the well-being of everyone around her depends on her not being hungry! Our physical appetites can certainly motivate us—food, drink, sex, even our pride, and desire for acceptance. These motivations can grow so strong that they become addictions.

Personal comfort is certainly a strong motivator.

Another one for me, somewhat related to personal comfort—in an oxymoronic, paradoxical kind of way—is healthiness. I have been walking most of this calendar year, and eating fresh, good food (and less of it) as many meals as I am able. It was something I really wanted to do for my body, and for my family (so I could be more “here”). There is some part that is “duty”-oriented to this motivation, but also, I do enjoy the quiet time alone, and I feel lighter, more alert—less heavy—and just much better, overall.

And of course, the law is another powerful motivation. Not sure if I’d wear seat belts, or restrain myself from using the cell phone while driving, or give the government-funded school system a detailed report of what we are teaching our kids unless I was compelled to by the laws and codes of our various governments.

But the apostle Paul said:

“For the love of Christ controls and urges and impels us…”—2 Cor. 5:14 (AMP)

And also:

“And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”—Colossians 3:17

So then, love is our motivator. God’s love for us, and for everyone. And being a representative of Jesus—always, gratefully.

I think King Solomon, wisest man to ever live, asked these same questions, pondered these same thoughts. You may already be familiar with his conclusion, even if you don’t attribute it to him:

“Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!” —Ecclesiastes 1:2

Really. Read Ecclesiastes when you’re feeling aimless, directionless, lacking motivation—it’ll pick ya right up!

So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me. Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.

(The entire book is this repeating theme of the meaninglessness of everything in life, good and bad. Truly a fascinating read!)

I have no answers. I still feel mostly unmotivated in life. It’s like much of my effort is not worth the effort—it will not have its desired effect, if I am even sure of what that is. I hope God will illuminate me, personally, in that regard. But perhaps he won’t. I know my ultimate motivation—reason for moving—is him. That’s it. Keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. Stay connected to him, the Vine.

That, I know.

But what motivates you? Where do you find reason for your efforts? Impetus for your actions? Why try when our world is so, SO messed up? What does it matter?

Everything is meaningless.

I’d so love to hear your response. Please comment below and let’s do encourage one another with the things that move each of us—great or small—to get out of bed, and carry out a day… and even to do things that move the planet.

What motivates you?

Lemonade Stand, 2013

The cookies have been made. The stand has been repainted. The signs are all freshly drawn…

The Lemonade Stand is back!

If you haven’t read the story yet of the beginnings of this particular entrepreneurial endeavor headed up by our oldest son, it’s one of my favorite posts. (Even just for the photos, actually, but also the story is really great!)

Go ahead. I’ll wait.

The Lemonade Stand

Pretty great, huh? It’s so fun seeing a project like that take shape, and even more fun when it’s becomes a reality. And let me tell you, it was a huge success last year, too! The kids all made plenty of money and had a great, great time doing it.

(You wouldn’t necessarily think a lemonade stand could be “lucrative”, but due to many factors—cuteness of these Tinies definitely near the top of that list—the Lemonade Stand will probably be a regular, annual ordeal here at the Campbell home.)

There are a few changes this year. Many of them are intentional, some of them are just the way life goes—it changes! All of them are good learning experiences for our fourteen-year-old Big Thinker.


First among the differences (that matter) is Ian’s desire to leverage this high yield income opportunity to not only his own advantage—paying for his hockey this year, and some equipment—he also wanted to be generous with his Lemonade bounty.

After reading the book Do Hard Things, Ian decided he wanted to purchase one thousand custom rubber bracelets and sell them for a dollar, giving half of the sales to a charity. He considered a few options (among them Mercury One, a charity group that assists in disaster relief, begun by Glenn Beck, whom is at least a partial inspiration to Ian for this Lemonade Stand business) and eventually landed on supporting a family he knows who does mission work with people in Africa.

I just love watching Ian formulate these ideas and carry them out. Yes, he’ll hopefully gain more money that he can use towards things he wants to do, but at the same time, he’s using his creativity, energy and time (and money) to help other people, too. That is great!

When originally researching to whom he’d donate the charitable funds, Ian first was honing in on water projects in Africa, specifically Uganda. This gave him the idea to create a little lemonade-related slogan for his yellow bracelets:

Lemonade < Water | Water = Life

If you know Ian well, first you know he’s creative, and so it makes sense he’d come up with something cleverly creative, but, you’d also know that he is not a fan of math. So the fact that his bracelets sport a mathematically-themed “equation” … well, you see the humor there, I’m sure. 🙂

Lemonade < Water, Water = Life Bracelets for Charity


The other big difference (that doesn’t matter, too much?) is the location.

One of Ian's cute helpers!Last year the Stand was located right on the corner of Temple Road and Route 21. It’s the place where anyone in town for the Hill Cumorah Pageant would turn to visit the other Mormon historical sites in our town. So plenty of traffic, slowing to turn, saw cute kids peddling lemonade (on very hot, sunny days!) and would stop at the corner—where there was ample parking space, too—and purchase a little (or a lot of) lemonade. And cookies. And brownies. 🙂

This year the Lemonade Stand will be right on Main Street, just east of Route 21. The “Four Churches Corner”, as it is sometimes called here1.

There is still plenty of traffic on Main Street, so it shouldn’t “hurt business” all that much, but it will be interesting to see the difference it might make.

In an effort to compensate, Ian made, printed, and posted flyers and posters (and large signs, too) at various business and key locations around Palmyra.

Business Planning

The other neat piece of this whole thing is watching Ian learn about running a business. He’s been working for a few months on calculating his costs, and projecting sales and profits. Factors include not only the Cost of Goods Sold (ingredients, the bracelets, etc) but also paying his “workers” (also known as siblings…) and even advertising costs, being mostly those posters and flyers.

He’s got it down to a science. Or, more accurately, a business.

I really feel like this is one of the strengths of home schooling: real-world, experiential learning.

Now, it’s summer time, and it’s not necessary that one be home schooled in order to plan and execute such an endeavor. But, the general enviornment that home educating fosters is one of practical, real-world learning, used in real-life applications. Again, not exclusively, but it sure does flow naturally (methinks) from the daily thought processes around these parts.

Hours of Operation

three-kids-signsLast year Ian and Company split the days with friends of ours, each taking four-hour shifts. This year, those friends are participating in the Pageant, and so will not be participating in the Lemonade Stand.

Thinking about what hours worked best last year, and probably not wanting to do full eight-hour days in the sun, Ian has chosen to run his Lemonade Stand from 10:00am to 6:00pm every remaining day this week, including Saturday.

So if you’d like to support a young entrepreneur, as well as a family who does mission work in Tanzania—through the purchase of a bracelet, or several—come on out this week to Palmyra. The cookies are delicious, the lemonade will quench your thirst on these very hot days of summer…

And you’ll smile at the good going on all around.

When life gives you lemons, just enjoy the lemonade!

  1. According to a Palmyra, NY Website: “The four corner churches include the First Methodist Church on the northeast corner, the First Baptist Church on the southwest corner, the Palmyra Zion Episcopal Church on the southeast corner, and the Western Presbyterian Church on the northwestern corner.

    The four corner churches are located on the corners of Main Street and Canandaigua Road right in the center of Palmyra, New York.” Note: It’s not Canandaigua Road, it’s Canandaigua Street… for what it’s worth.

Question With Boldness

Thomas JeffersonThough most people nowadays can conceive of no better poster child for agnosticism (or, at the very least, deism), Jefferson himself may have had a bone to pick with such people.

In a letter to his nephew, on the topic of forming his own views on religion (a topic which he labeled “important”), Thomas Jefferson wrote the following, now reasonably well-known words:

Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.

(Somewhat of an aside: My favorite quote from Thomas Jefferson’s autobiography regarding his own faith, “…I am a REAL CHRISTIAN…”. Well that about says it.) 🙂

There are (many) times when I think my being appropriately labeled a “Christian” might be questioned by those who determine such things. I believe I’ve written about my borderline-heretical thinking at least once or twice.

In fact, just the other day I was reading through the Old Testament book of Ezekiel and wondering things like, “Wow, this voice of God does not seem to be the same as even the book of Jeremiah, one book before—and he seemed pretty peeved in that book, too! I wonder if some of the books in what we call the Bible are even supposed to be in there? Who says that council got it right?”

Now, proceed with caution here. I am NOT SAYING that I unequivocally, irrevocably believe and hold to be fact that such questions even might be “true” (in the black-and-white sense of “true”) …

But perhaps my reason for such an emphasized statement above is that, in dealing with things of God, it’s sometimes considered heresy merely to question.

And, folks, that is plain wrong. Really, really wrong.

So, I may be a heretic, but I’m going to keep questioning.

Turns out, by the end of Ezekiel there was some really neat stuff in there kinda flipping the “rules and regulations” voice of God (being interpreted through Ezekiel) on its head. Chapter forty-seven has a really neat image of God abiding in a temple from which living water flows, giving life to everything it touches, including dead things. Hmm… the Living Water… giving Life… where have I heard those things before…?

I believe Thomas Jefferson had it right when he urged his nephew to throw away all bias and personal opinion and really dig into the facts, evidences, truths, and his own reason. Think. Don’t be afraid of the truth (or that it might not be the truth). Find, and know what is true. This is important! To know and understand the Creator is much more important than anything else.

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. —John 10:10

I am the way, the truth, and the life. —John 14:6

And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. —John 17:3

We believe in education in this home. Not school, or curriculum—although those can have their place.

Real education. Seek out original sources; find people who are not only knowledgeable but passionate about a subject and learn from them (whether in person, or through recorded words); then, find someone else and hear other voices. Putting all of these pieces together, along with your God-given intellect (reason), and asking the Spirit to guide the entire process. (He is the one who teaches us, after all.)

Question with boldness, even the very existence of God.

And the world—starting with you—will be better for it.

If you wondered about that “I am a REAL CHRISTIAN” quote from Thomas Jefferson, here’s the full text of his introduction to what some call the “Jefferson Bible” (but he titled otherwise). It should give an even more convincing context to that quote!

I have made a wee little book from the Gospels which I call the Philosophy of Jesus. It is a paradigma of his doctrines, made by cutting the texts out of the book and arranging them on the pages of a blank book, in a certain order of time or subject. A more beautiful or precious morsel of ethics I have never seen. It is a document in proof that I am a REAL CHRISTIAN, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus, very different from the Platonists, who call ME the infidel and THEMSELVES Christians and preachers of the Gospel, while they draw all of their characteristic dogmas from what its author never said nor saw. They have compounded from the heathen mysteries a system beyond the comprehension of man, of which the great reformer of the vicious ethics and deism of the Jews, were he to return on earth, would not recognize one feature. (Thomas Jefferson: In His Own Words, Maureen Harrison & Steve Gilbert, editors. ©1993 Excellent Books, New York, NY.)

Maple Sugarin’!

maple-sugarinWe’re trying something new this spring: we’re sugarin’ our maple trees!

It’s fun to see how things are made, and in my opinion the best way to see is to do.

The process began a while ago, when we talked about doing it. We live on a small, quarter-acre lot in a somewhat urban-ish setting. It’s entirely possible that our tiny plot of land has the most trees of any other parcel on our block. (Or several blocks.) Appropriately enough for the task of making our own maple syrup, many of them are maples!

After initially assessing the plausibility of our task, we decided to do it! Part of my encouragement towards this particular backyard project comes from college friends of ours (one of whom I work closely with on many web projects) who have been “sugarin'” for years. (They strangely took a break this particular winter… the first winter we are giving it a go…) A couple seasons ago they sent us a sample of their work; it was delicious!

We knew that we would need to put taps/spouts in our trees—later we would learn that they are called spiles—and some containers to collect the sap, and then finally some way of cooking down the sap.

And that’s about what we knew.

Thankfully, the friends mentioned above recently used an episode of their weekly podcast to explain in great detail the wonders (and the challenges) of maple sugaring. (You can listen to it here.) They also recommended a few good resources, including a book called Backyard Sugarin’, which I promptly placed on hold at our local library. All of that came together nicely to help build my confidence towards giving this a try.


And so, on one chilly, late-winter afternoon… I bought six spiles.

It’s a meager, humble beginning; but it’s a beginning.

(A two week adventure through hockey tournaments, three separate family birthdays, and LOTS of really hefty sickness delayed the implementing of this project. That, however, is for a different post. Or… perhaps none at all.)

Early this morning, just after the sun fully brightened the March sky, I decided to tap my maple trees. The book had suggested using empty plastic milk containers to collect the sap (rather than the more expensive option of tin buckets with cool lids) and since we are always happy to find an equal-but-less-costly option, I gladly rummaged through our recycling bin. To my chagrin, there were only a couple containers that did not have that lovely milk-not-quite-completely-rinsed-out aroma, so I emptied the 1/3 of a gallon (or so) of milk in the open container in our fridge into a different container, and was thus able to score two sap collection containers to get us started.

Our property is quite long. It’s a walk of a couple hundred feet from the road to the back property line. The healthiest maple tree on the premises is about five short feet from the back of this long plot of dirt. Now, I say all of this because I was going to need to drill holes. And my only drill is not cordless.

So I needed extension cord. And plenty of it!

I unburied and unwound both hundred-foot, bright orange extension cords sitting in our basement and—sap collectors, spiles, hammer and drill in hands—I headed straight for the nearest maple!

drip2It was mighty chilly this morning still, and with only two containers, and having no idea if this would even work, I decided to stick to the two maples closest to our house. (Half of that extension cord for now naught. At least, temporarily.) I plugged in my drill, tightened the bit, and looked for a good spot to drill.

I knew that it was good to drill on the south or southwest side, as that would receive the most sun. Sun gets the sap flowing. I also knew that sap flows best toward a large root. Figuring that our giant maple would be a good candidate for more than one tap (eventually) I chose that tree first, and found a good south-side, root-below spot to drill my hole.

It felt pretty weird to take a drill to my living tree, I’ll have you know…

I drilled at a slight upward angle, and out came the fresh tree shavings. My bit actually got stuck and came out of the drill! I wiggled it free and made sure to keep the drill speed up a bit higher, and was able to make the appropriate 1 1/2″-deep hole. No sap was flowing early in the morning, so I took my time and gently tapped in the perfectly-fitting spile. It all seemed to be going great! (Aside from the no sap, part…) I hooked the first milk container onto the spile, and headed toward the second maple.

Having gained some confidence from the first tap, I quickly found the perfect spot, drilled (more successfully this time) and hung the second sap collection unit. (A better sounding name, don’t you think?)

I had no idea if this was going to work. Really. I quietly collected my tools and put everything back where it belongs, and went on with my day. There was still more sick care to be given to many members of the family. There was a good deal more parenting to do as the Mom is one of the sicker family members at the moment. There was work to be done as well. A normal, full day of life.

As the day was coming to a close, I remembered the taps.

collecting-sapAbout 4:30pm or so, I checked on the second tap, which is near the front of our property, visible from our front porch.


OK, not full… but it held enough clear liquid for me to use ALL CAPS to relay to you the excitement I felt when my eyes first beheld that sight!

I ran inside to get shoes on and to get as many kids as could amble to see the start of this latest backyard adventure! They quickly finished up a task I requested that they complete, shoed and coated up, and we headed out our front door, camera in hand!

There were gasps of excitement, joyful, exuberant jumping, clapping, and lots of rapid-fire questions. I snapped some photos, and explained the whole process I had gone through early that morning, and we decided to do one more tap following our apparent success!

Kirsten was perhaps the most excited of all four kiddos. (Cam joined us later, unwilling to miss the backyard project party, though he was not conscious for much of today thanks to his current battle with sickness…) Kirstie wore the biggest smile, asked the most questions, and hung on every word of my stories and instruction.

sugarin-campbellsFollowing a very successful third tap—we decided to tap the healthiest maple, the one at the back of our property, and the sap was flowing within a second of the drill first penetrating the tree!—Kirsten discovered the book I had gotten from the library, and began flipping through the pages, yearning to learn more. I saw this and said, “Kirstie, you can read that if you’d like. That’d be great.” At this, she quickly headed for the living room couch, a visible bounce in her gait!

Learning is fun. Doing is also fun. Combined, they are really fun! And learning by doing together… you can’t beat it.

Now hopefully we’ll get the boiling down the sap part right, and have a super-tasty final product!

But even if we don’t… I can unabashedly say this backyard project has already been a wonderful success!

Rick Boyer on Government Schools

Take Back The Land - Rick BoyerI am currently reading a book along with my son, Ian, called Take Back The Land, by Rick Boyer. Mr. Boyer is a home schooling superstar. If you home school, chances are you are already familiar with him. (If you’re not familiar with the book, I highly recommend it—and I’m only a few chapters in!)

The Boyers have 14 kids, they were home schooling when it was definitely only questionably “legal”, and they have spent 30 years not only educating their own family, but helping thousands of other families do the same.

(By the way… can you believe there was a time in the United States of America when it was potentially illegal to choose to educate your own kids rather than put them into the government education system?)

The book is aimed at young people (primarily home schooled young people 12-ish to 20-ish) and is a longer version of a speech he gave to a “graduating class” at a home school conference not long ago. His basic premise/challenge to the young reader: Grow up! Our culture has been steadily expecting less and less from young people, and so they play video games and don’t really do much of anything until much later in life than they could. He’s spot on so far in nearly everything he’s saying (and Ian thinks so, too).

I look forward to finishing the book (hopefully today) and probably discussing it more here, but for today, there was a section about Government Schools I wanted to highlight. I’ve offered my thoughts on this site a time or two. Mr. Boyer also described these institutions well:

One reason I believe home education is the key to revival in our culture is that it is a rejection of the system that I blame in large part for our present apostasy, the “public” school system. That’s a misnomer, of course. The schools are government schools. They’re not public at all, except in the sense that the public pays the taxes that support them and suffers the consequence of their existence. The government controls what is taught in those schools, and the parents who are rearing the students and paying the taxes for the schools have almost no input. Their values are not respected and in fact are often undermined.

The quote continues, but I just wanted to stop there and point out that this is really true… it’s not like a public library, or a public park where you can go and use it at any time you’d like, in any way that suits you. In many (most? all?) ways you’re either all in, or not in at all. And regarding taxes … do you remember this post?

Let’s keep going with the quote. This is the good part:

There was a time, early on in our history, when everybody would have laughed at the idea of compulsory school attendance. In the first place, it wasn’t needed. There was homeschooling, tutoring, and lots of affordable private schools. Literacy was much higher at the time of the American Revolution than it is now (see John Taylor Gatto, Dumbing Us Down). [editor’s note: Gatto’s books on education are on my to-read list…] Schooling wasn’t worshipped as the answer to all problems because people had been educating themselves for generations with little time spent in school.

Sorry for the long quote. I felt it was a necessary context for this:

More importantly, the compulsory nature of today’s schooling would have seemed both weird and offensive. In the early days, when Americans could remember the struggle to become a free country, the idea of a law confining innocent people to government institutions for most of each day, five days a week, nine months of the year would not have been tolerated. It would have been seen for what it is: imprisonment of the innocent. Promoters of compulsory attendance pointed to the very small percentage of American children who were not being educated and used them as an argument for their agenda. Once again, the needs of a very few were used as leverage to infringe on the freedom of all.

Emphasis mine. Almost done. (This one is not fully quoted… just a few key phrases):

Once compulsory attendance had become the law of the land (around the early 1900s), the public school system gave the government and those who had influence in government the opportunity to effectively brainwash a large percentage of the population. That’s partly why public attitudes toward moral, economic, and political issues changed so radically over the last hundred years.

…I blame government education for a lot of the problems we have today, especially the erosion of our freedom. Our public schools provide just the kind of young people one would expect a government to want: passive, uncritical thinkers who are unlikely to start any revolutions; conditioned by long practice to do what they’re told, moving in groups, with weak family loyalties and strong peer dependency.

There are many reasons we home school. He listed some of them. We can’t really imagine not home schooling our children. Again, for all of the reasons he mentions here. We want our kids to be fully who they are. To learn about the world in whole, not the world with God—who planned, and made, and holds it all together—wholly removed from the picture.

There really is a lot more, but… you might want to just buy the book. 🙂

Now, time to stop writing, and get back to reading!


Starting Early :)

I’ve had education on my mind again recently. There are certainly many ideas that word conjures up… some good, some bad. But I think we might have a skewed—or even wrong—understanding of it.

As you may have read in yesterday’s post (and noticed from the time of day of today’s post), I am focusing on some other stuff at the moment, which is limiting my writing time. That doesn’t mean that the mental gears are not still cranking. They are. But, unfortunately, I can not develop “on paper” the thoughts which seem to continue to churn out, despite the need for focus elsewhere. (Many “elsewheres”, actually…)

So for now, have a look with me at an article I wrote way back in 2009. It’s titled Different View of Education. Here’s a snippet from that post:

Academic learning is great, and has a place. But it is not education. I still feel that is the bonus. Get the other stuff right, and then the academic stuff is icing on the cake. Build character and integrity into your kids, and even just the confidence of knowing they are loved and accepted, and the rest of the stuff will come as it needs to. And, ultimately, we don’t want our kids to just learn facts and details they can parrot back to us, we want them to learn how to learn. That will serve them much better.

There are lots of ways to see it, and none are necessarily right, or wrong. (Though they are almost certainly all incomplete.) I’m definitely not locked into one way of helping our kids get an education, nor my own, for that matter. But I definitely am convinced that education is much more than academic learning. So much is much more important than that, it seems.

More thoughts to come on all this, but for now, please read (and respond to, if you are so inclined) Different View of Education.

American Values

At the ReValue America lecture we hosted last weekend, one of the themes was of course, “Values”.

During the presentation, the speaker—Dr. Shanon Brooks—took a moment to ask everyone there what some “American values” were. Various words were quickly offered: Honor. Courage. Bravery. Love. Friendship. Hard work/work ethic. Faith. Charity/Generosity. Probably about 20 or 30 were mentioned within a 30 second span. It was a fairly easy exercise for the 130 or so in attendance.

After a good number had been spoken, Dr. Brooks said, “Those are all great, and I think we’re all in agreement that those are all values that we hold as Americans. But—and this never fails, anywhere I ask this—there were a few that we did not mention. Why didn’t anyone mention mathematics, or grammar, or physics, or anything like that? We focus so much of our attention in our education systems to such things, but they aren’t mentioned as our core values?”

It was a fantastic illustration (in my opinion) of our educational focus being quite askew. We have an enormous system in place to train up generations of Americans in the “fundamentals”, but we are not passing along our values. Values are, well, what we value. So according to our education system, we value skills rather than the things we say are our “values” (as above).

Don’t get me wrong… I don’t think the public education system really can pass along values very well, so I don’t think we should all of a sudden change to a more character-based education system in the government schools. It won’t work. (Simply because of the setting, the environment.) Character and values should be passed along to children by their parents. Clearly there are problems with that in our society as there are so many homes without parents in the plural … it gets very confused and confusing.

I guess that’s why Dr. Brooks feels we really need to “ReValue” America.

At the very least, we need to figure out what it means to get an education, and what sort of education we want. Do we just want to learn skills (that we don’t even consider American values) or do we want a more well-rounded, full education, including the “why” of what we learn. And what to do with what we’ve learned. Based on our values.

Which is it?

That was one of the questions/challenges presented in the ReValue America lecture … if you can get out to any of the remaining ones here in NY State this week, please do. It will be well worth your time. If not, visit their website for information on other opportunities across the US.


Have you noticed how compartmentalized we tend to view life? While there certainly is truth to the “time and a place for everything” there is also the truth to “in everything moderation.” But for whatever reason (honestly, I would like to investigate this further and discover the root cause or causes) there is a very strong tendency to separate, categorize, and otherwise segment our lives.

Think about it. The “separation of church and state” immediately comes to mind. It is proclaimed frequently as the bedrock of our society in political circles, the two shall never cross. (It’s really misinterpreted as well, but that’s for another day.)

As a home schooling family, we’ve seen many families who adhere to a more strict schooling schedule: a certain time of day, certain days of the week, and certain months of the year, like the public school system.

We also keep our spiritual life nicely bottled up for our more spiritual moments. Sunday mornings, Wednesday evenings, small groups, youth groups, mens groups, ladies groups, personal devotion times, and all sorts of “spiritual times.” (Check out this super-old post for more thoughts on this.)

What I’m noticing lately is that when we do compartmentalize and segment our lives so, we tend to imagine that we are somehow able to be different things at different times. That when we are in a spiritual place or time, then we are a spiritual being. When it is time for school, then we are learning.

To a degree, that is most certainly understandable. We do have different roles within our day. Just by our birth, we have different relationships with some people. But does that translate well to other times? When I am with my wife, I am married. When I am with my kids, I am a dad. Not really. We wouldn’t ever say those relationships cease when we are not in a physical time and space where they are evident. We may focus our energy at times on something else (for instance, a job) but we are still a spouse, and a parent, and a child of God.

Life with God is not about a time and place. I’ve said that for so many years here, so I won’t expound there. (If you want to read more, get my book … it’s a good read.) 😉 In our segmented way of thinking, there is a danger of compartmentalizing God that way; putting him in a box.

Same goes with parenting. Whether I am actively caring for and leading my children, or not, I am still a parent. And really, everything I do is part of that. When I am working, I am helping earn money to keep us under a roof and fed. When I am reading or writing, I am thinking about life and processing those thoughts and attempting to understand more of life that I can later pass along to them.

This can also be better applied to our education. As mentioned previously, we’ve been thinking about education a lot lately. One thing that I have always felt that we home schoolers miss out on is the complete integration of our education with our whole lives. Most of us get it on some level, but I’d say not many really live it out. Rather than setting aside a time for “school” there can be such freedom—and perhaps even more learning?—in seeing all of the opportunities to learn (and teach) in the course of “everyday life.” Everywhere we go, everything we do often has teachable moments, whether merely practical (preparing meals, maintaining a home, etc) or moral lessons stemming from interaction with siblings, parents, and friends.

The “lessons” also integrate with what a more structured school might categorize as math, science, english, or any of the other subjects. We use all of those things every day in so many ways, when we are thinking about it, and looking for teachable moments, they are easy to spot and pass along. And in the regular course of life, they are very readily accepted. Then, when there is a spark in the mind and eyes of your child for some particular topic, delve further into it. The library is your friend!

It’s fun to learn. All the time. From waking up, to bedding down. There is so much to learn, and I think from the moment we are born we are keen to it. It’s fun to see our 9-month-old learning about his world. He is so curious about everything! It’s just in us. We want to know more, and yet, when we’re forced to sit and learn at a specific time… it often forces the love of learning right out of us.

How sad.

So we here at the GregsHead.net world headquarters are trying to live a more integrated life. We never turn anything “off” (except, I suppose I do intentionally take breaks from my work … though somewhat difficult being the owner of (at least) two businesses…) instead we are always learning, loving, and listening. We don’t limit our life in God to spiritual events and times. We don’t limit our learning and education to “school” times. We are all of who we are at all times in all ways.

Said that way, it seems a monumental task. But there is such freedom in just being. Give it a try, if you are able… Just be.


Greatness isn’t the work of a few geniuses, it is the purpose of each of us. It is why we were born. Every person you have ever met is a genius. Every one. Some of us have chosen not to develop it, but it’s there. It is in us. All of us. It is in your spouse. It is in all of your children. You live in a world of geniuses. How can we settle for anything less than the best education? How can we tell our children that mediocre education will do, when greatness is available?

The above quote (with my emphases added) is from A Thomas Jefferson Education, by Oliver DeMille. Jen has read through it, and some companion books, and I have become familiar with it via an audio CD we have that presents some of the principles from this “leadership education” philosophy.

We really like it, and I really liked that paragraph you just read above.

I think this all the time, and it’s why we home school. That doesn’t mean we school at home. We don’t. It means that born into everyone—which includes all of my children—is the unbounded potential for greatness. All we have to do is love, observe, and help steer toward that greatness. Some think that approach to be idealistic, and perhaps too simplistic. But it seems to be working so far.

My goal as Ian, Alex, Kirsten, Julia, Emma and Cameron’s Dad is to help them see their greatness (AND the greatness of everyone else around them) and to help them know the foundational truths of life, the most important things which will be their character, their anchor… then the rest is up to them realizing the greatness that God has built into each of them. The “sky” is truly the limit.

(Although, that may be too limiting…)

Looking forward to finishing this book, and sharing more thoughts from Mr. DeMille.

Three Ways To Homeschool

Watch at CBSNews Online

I’d say there are more than three ways to “home school”, but found this CBS news video to be fairly interesting as we are currently listening to and reading about a “method” called “A Thomas Jefferson Education.” A friend of ours got us a two-hour CD with the ideas behind the book, and then we just ordered the book this week. (You’ll notice it’s in the “currently reading” column to the right…) Will undoubtedly have more to say on that here later this month.

Stay tuned…