My Stint with Comfort Services

My Stint with Comfort Services

My hus­band and I help a tiny bit with our state’s home­school­ing con­fer­ence. We used to be on the con­fer­ence com­mit­tee, but when Mike took over as the Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, we stepped down from our Vol­un­teer Chair­per­sons posi­tion. It just seemed like the right thing to do.

This year, the Black For­est Fire hap­pened the same week as the con­fer­ence. The sweet woman who runs the Com­fort Ser­vices posi­tion had to evac­u­ate her home because of the fire. So, since I had noth­ing offi­cial to do, I offered to step in and help out.

I ought to men­tion that a dar­ling 14 year old home­school­ing girl was already on the mis­sion, and was shin­ing ever so brightly in the role. But, it was decided that per­haps I might be of some help.

What impressed me about this par­tic­u­lar posi­tion on our con­fer­ence com­mit­tee is that it is all bonus stuff. It is the fluff, the extra spe­cial things that are intended to make peo­ple feel wel­come and spe­cial. It’s all about hospitality.

Com­fort Ser­vices is respon­si­ble for the Speak­ers’ Lounge, the Ven­dors’ Lounge, the Infant Care room, and the Com­mit­tee Lounge. Each of these rooms has a focus of pro­vid­ing a sort of haven away from the crowds, the noise, the hus­tle and bus­tle of the conference.

So much thought and con­sid­er­a­tion goes into the decor of each room. We have lamps so that our guests {speak­ers, ven­dors, and nurs­ing mamas} don’t have to rest under the harsh flu­o­res­cent light­ing that is every­where else in the con­fer­ence hall. We have real fur­ni­ture, to include soft chairs, rock­ing chairs, and tables that have style.

And we even include cots with blan­kets in the speaker and ven­dor lounges, in small dimly lit rooms off of the main lounges. Con­fer­ences can really take a toll on a per­son, so we like to pro­vide a place where they can rest comfortably.

So, why am I telling you all of this? I’m sure other con­fer­ences do the exact same thing. Surely the ideas didn’t orig­i­nate in Colorado.

I’m men­tion­ing it because it really struck me that these lit­tle things really mat­ter when you are try­ing to con­vey love and care to peo­ple. The money that we spend on these lit­tle niceties could be saved in our pock­ets for some other lofty use. But, then we’d all be labor­ing under flu­o­res­cent light­ing with­out a place to be revived and encour­aged. When peo­ple come to work with our orga­ni­za­tion, we want them to know we appre­ci­ate them, care for them, and will go that extra mile to com­mu­ni­cate this to them.

The same thing goes on in our homes, I would guess. We may not set up cots in a lit­tle dark room {that sounds a bit creepy in this con­text}, but we try to make them com­fort­able, cared for, with their needs met.

I don’t know about you, but when some­one goes out of their way to show that I am appre­ci­ated and loved, even in a very small way, I get all mushy inside and just glow with appre­ci­a­tion. Don’t you?

The folks who run Com­fort Ser­vices sel­dom get a chance to rest. Seems like the cof­fee runs out, the sugar and creamer run out, the cups run out…all day long but never at the same time. The lit­tle snacks must be refreshed and swapped out con­tin­u­ally through­out the day to keep them fresh. It’s a busy job, but one that makes a great impact. My hope, and I am sure the hope of that vision­ary so many years ago, is that those who are blessed by the tiny ges­ture of hos­pi­tal­ity that we showed them will see it as Christ’s grace being extended to them in just a tiny way. I hope that they were refreshed and encour­aged. Not for any glory for our con­fer­ence com­mit­tee, but com­pletely for the glory of God.

As I checked on the var­i­ous rooms that were our respon­si­bil­ity last week­end, I loved walk­ing into the lit­tle infant care rooms. The room always had a cou­ple of moth­ers with their babies, car­ry­ing on con­ver­sa­tions as they met the needs of their babies. Oh, how pre­cious that sight was to me every time I went in. As we were min­is­ter­ing to them, they were min­is­ter­ing to their pre­cious chil­dren. Makes me smile to think about it.

I’m so glad dar­ling 14 year old home­school­ing girls have a lot of energy. And lots of friends. They made such a beau­ti­ful impact on so many lives that weekend.

Poetry by Anne Bradstreet

Poetry by Anne Bradstreet

We have spent a lit­tle bit of time study­ing Anne Brad­street. She was a remark­able woman who lived in Amer­ica dur­ing its early days. She suf­fered hard­ships such as the loss of chil­dren and her house burn­ing down in the night.

I’ve copied one of her poems below, since the thought of fires is fresh on my mind, as a way to per­haps intro­duce you to her writings.

Her son, at one point, asked her for her col­lec­tion of her poetry. Unknown to her, he sent them to be pub­lished. They arrived back to her bound and printed. It was such a beau­ti­ful gift for a mother. And it was a gift to all of us as we are now able to enjoy the poetry of a woman who served her fam­ily and loved the Lord.

I hope you enjoy her poem.

Upon the Burn­ing of Our House — July 10th, 1666

by Anne Brad­street


In silent night when rest I took,
For sor­row neer I did not look,
I waken’d was with thun­dring nois
And Piteous shreiks of dread­full voice.
That fear­full sound of fire and fire,
Let no man know is my Desire.
I, start­ing up, the light did spye,
And to my God my heart did cry
To strengthen me in my Dis­tresse
And not to leave me suc­cour­lesse.
Then com­ing out beheld a space,
The flame con­sume my dwelling place.

And, when I could no longer look,
I blest his Name that gave and took,
That layd my goods now in the dust:
Yea so it was, and so ’twas just.
It was his own: it was not mine;
Far be it that I should repine.

He might of All justly bereft,
But yet suf­fi­cient for us left.
When by the Ruines oft I past,
My sor­row­ing eyes aside did cast,
And here and there the places spye
Where oft I sate, and long did lye.

Here stood that Trunk, and there that chest;
There lay that store I counted best:
My pleas­ant things in ashes lye,
And them behold no more shall I.
Under thy roof no guest shall sitt,
Nor at thy Table eat a bitt.

No pleas­ant tale shall ‘ere be told,
Nor things recounted done of old.
No Can­dle ‘ere shall shine in Thee,
Nor bridegroom’s voice ere heard shall bee.
In silence ever shalt thou lye;
Adieu, Adeiu; All’s vanity.

Then streight I gin my heart to chide,
And didst thy wealth on earth abide?
Didst fix thy hope on mouldring dust,
The arm of flesh didst make thy trust?
Raise up thy thoughts above the skye
That dunghill mists away may flie.

Thou hast an house on high erect
Fram’d by that mighty Archi­tect,
With glory richly fur­nished,
Stands per­ma­nent tho’ this bee fled.
It’s pur­chased, and paid for too
By him who hath enough to doe.

A Prise so vast as is unknown,
Yet, by his Gift, is made thine own.
Ther’s wealth enough, I need no more;
Farewell my Pelf, farewell my Store.
The world no longer let me Love,
My hope and Trea­sure lyes Above.



One of my favorite things about our home­school is the journaling.

A few years ago, I started hav­ing my chil­dren jour­nal daily. They are free to write about what­ever they want.

They can draw pic­tures, write just a cou­ple of sen­tences, or an entire story. I don’t grade them for con­tent or gram­mar. Or spelling. I want them to be free to write with­out aban­don. {Is that the right phrase?}

And they love it.

Some­times they com­plain about not know­ing what to write about. I can under­stand that! They always fig­ure it out though.

Other times, they are all writ­ing about some great adven­ture we either just did or they are look­ing for­ward to doing.

The jour­nals cap­ture a snap­shot of their lives, and my desire is that one day they will look back and remem­ber some major and minor events that they thought wor­thy of writ­ing about.

Like trips. And birth­days. And sick­ness and health…Oh, wait.

And fires, or other tri­als that drew them closer to God.

Oh, how I love the pic­tures that accom­pany their entries. I love it how they change and mature and morph from stick peo­ple with crazy hair, to more sophis­ti­cated peo­ple or ani­mals. And their thoughts mature, their writ­ing struc­ture becomes more in depth and com­plex, their per­son­al­i­ties com­ing through more and more.

I do love how skinny she makes me.

I do love how skinny she makes me.


She really does like to go to the den­tist, even though it looks like he is throw­ing up.

At the Dentist

At the Dentist

I do sup­pose some­times the pic­tures are a bit graphic. What can I say. It’s life on a farm.


Look at the guy in the window yelling. So true to life...

Look at the guy in the win­dow yelling. So true to life…

I pray that I am cre­at­ing a way for my chil­dren to look back and remem­ber what was impor­tant to them on any given day in their young lives. How their wor­ries were sim­ple, and their dreams were big. How mommy and daddy were safe and big. Well, not “big”, but you know what I mean.

My chil­dren love jour­nal­ing. Emma just gave me a gift this past week. She thought of it and bought it all on her own with her own money. It was a jour­nal. How spe­cial that was to me.

Are you cap­tur­ing your children’s thoughts? Have you thought about this idea? My boys may not have been so thrilled about the jour­nal, but my girls sure do love it. I do wish I had started this idea when my boys were small. I feel like I’ve missed out on the oppor­tu­nity to cre­ate a love of writ­ing for them. But, we can’t live in regret. I cher­ish what we have, and will con­tinue to do so. Some days my hus­band and I pull out the jour­nals and just roar with laugh­ter. And some­times we tear up at what they find impor­tant or has made an impact on their lives. Trips, joys, ani­mals, loss. All cap­tured by the heart of a child, in their per­spec­tive. Priceless.



It’s that time of year again! Home­school con­fer­ence sea­son is upon us. Are you going to one this year? What do you like best about the con­fer­ence you attend? Do you like to get inspired by the var­i­ous work­shops and speak­ers? Do you love to thumb through all the cur­ricu­lum (cur­ric­ula?)? Or do you sim­ply enjoy the oppor­tu­nity to visit with friends that you know or meet there?

For so many peo­ple, their home­school con­fer­ence means cur­ricu­lum. They love to touch it, put eyes on it, pour over the var­i­ous options. I, too, love to see it in per­son before I make a final deci­sion. It’s great!

In the vendor hall with Peyton

In the ven­dor hall with Peyton

I often have peo­ple ask me what cur­ricu­lum we choose. To be hon­est, when we finally landed on our cho­sen cur­ricu­lum, I was so excited about what we had found that I wanted every­one who was home­school­ing or con­sid­er­ing home­school­ing to know what we were using. I thought it was the PERFECT choice! It had every­thing that I thought we’d need to home­school suc­cess­fully. {I shud­der at how obnox­ious I likely was!} And, mostly, I have been very happy with my choice. I haven’t felt a need to change much of what we have been doing for these last 15 years or so. But my per­spec­tive has changed sub­stan­tially over the years. I’m not quite as quick to share what we use. I actu­ally hes­i­tate to tell any­one what we use. I have learned that it isn’t the be all and end all for me or any­one else. Cur­ricu­lum never is, no mat­ter what the shiny brochures tell you.

I have learned that cur­ricu­lum is just a tool. It makes no guar­an­tees. Well, if it does, I’d be seri­ously con­cerned. A par­tic­u­lar cur­ricu­lum can­not promise that your child will be a doc­tor, a lawyer, or a can­dle­stick maker.  What I have dis­cov­ered, and maybe I am way slower than every­one else out there, is that what really mat­ters is that we spend those impor­tant years teach­ing our chil­dren about Jesus, about doc­trine, about for­give­ness, and about lov­ing our neigh­bors. With­out this very basic empha­sis, we are wast­ing our time.

I have also learned that char­ac­ter far out­weighs find­ing the solu­tion to a math prob­lem. Some­times that char­ac­ter is found in the pain of find­ing the answer to that math prob­lem, to be sure. But the true prize is the char­ac­ter, not the value of x. All the books and courses in the world won’t be worth much of any­thing if your chil­dren lack char­ac­ter. You can put the best math books in front of your son, but if is too lazy to work the prob­lems, he will never learn it, much less apply it! We tend to spend so much time and effort find­ing the per­fect cur­ricu­lum, but for­get to think about how impor­tant it is to develop char­ac­ter. We don’t need char­ac­ter train­ing books for this. We need the Bible. And we just need to live with our chil­dren and pay a lit­tle bit of atten­tion to them. We also need to look in the mir­ror and teach them about humil­ity and repen­tance by being an exam­ple to them by our actions and words when we are wrong and sin against the peo­ple in our home. I find that this can be a daunt­ing task, but it is a must for every Chris­t­ian home.

Also, the cur­ricu­lum needs to be thor­oughly Chris­t­ian. World­view really does mat­ter. If your child is tak­ing in the philos­phy of the pagans all day, at the expressed or non-expressed approval of the experts (you and your hus­band), he or she is going to believe what it teaches. If it teaches that Cre­ation is a myth or just one of sev­eral optional beliefs, then they are likely going to pick up on that and believe it. If you put books in front of your chil­dren that teach that his­tory is ran­dom, with chance being the only con­stant, then they likely won’t see God’s hand through­out all of his­tory. Alter­na­tively, if you emerse your chil­dren in God-honoring and God-fearing cur­ricu­lum, they will learn that see­ing the world from God’s per­spec­tive is the obvi­ous way to look at things. While it can be very time con­sum­ming, and we won’t get it right all the time, we must make every effort to place before our chil­dren books and infor­ma­tion that will build a strong foun­da­tion before we try to place the antithe­sis before them to ana­lyze. Some chil­dren can han­dle the antithe­sis more read­ily and eas­ily than other chil­dren. So, what we choose to expose them to and when to do so will be some­thing we need to care­fully weigh for each child. Unlike a pub­lic or pri­vate school set­ting, home­school­ers get to man­age the infor­ma­tion that goes into the stu­dents based on each indi­vid­ual stu­dent. What a great priv­i­lege we have!

How­ever, my favorite part of the con­fer­ence is hear­ing the var­i­ous speak­ers share their wis­dom and heart to those in atten­dance. We have learned so much from many con­fer­ence speak­ers. One such speaker, 13 years ago in Cal­i­for­nia, opened our eyes to a vision for our fam­ily that we never imag­ined or even con­sid­ered pos­si­ble. He asked the men in the room, “Men, do you have a vision for your fam­ily?” My hus­band relates that he felt like he had been hit by a 2x4. Vision? A man can have one of those for his FAMILY? I mean, my hard work­ing, devoted hus­band had great vision for his job. He had huge plans. And he was liv­ing them. But, for his fam­ily? He has a say in that? And it mat­ters? Appar­ently so. And our fam­ily has never been the same since. Sure, we still strug­gle. We have issues. We are human, and we are sin­ners. But, we have a plan, more or less. My husband’s focus changed from one of self-serving, career build­ing, man pleas­ing pur­suits to look­ing at his fam­ily, serv­ing us, lead­ing us, teach­ing us, invest­ing in me and our chil­dren. And God has led my hus­band in a beau­ti­ful way as he relies on Him. My hus­band was once a reluc­tant home­school­ing dad. He allowed me to home­school as long as I did every­thing right. Send­ing the kids back to pub­lic school was a threat that always hung over my head. As long as I didn’t mess up (what­ever that meant), and my hus­band was “allowed” to con­tinue to pur­sue his career, all was well. But now, thanks to God open­ing his eyes at that con­fer­ence all those years ago, he is a strong advo­cate of parent-led edu­ca­tion, of fathers lead­ing their fam­i­lies in right­eous­ness to the cross daily for their encour­age­ment and growth and for­give­ness. He’s a dif­fer­ent man. I didn’t shove it down his throat. I didn’t lead him to this. I didn’t “force” him to lead his fam­ily. {I find that con­cept odd.} God, in His per­fect tim­ing, showed my hus­band a bet­ter way to lead his fam­ily than what he was doing.

All from a talk at a home­school conference.

I want to encour­age you not to get bogged down by all the choices and flash of cur­ricu­lum. I find that it can make me feel so inad­e­quate about our lit­tle school. Are we doing art? What about sci­ence projects? Sports? For­eign lan­guages? Music? What are we miss­ing? Oh, what’s down this aisle? Geog­ra­phy, geol­ogy, geometry…Oh, my! Spend some time before your con­fer­ence, fig­ure out what your goals are for this next year. Dis­cuss them with your hus­band and chil­dren, and don’t be afraid to tweak some things. Make a list of what you need. If you can get ahold of the list of ven­dor hall booths before you go, take a look and see where you can shop for what you need. Get what you came for, put them in your car, and then go soak up some encour­age­ment from the speak­ers. You can look at cur­ricu­lum all year long online. But, that won­der­ful oppor­tu­nity to be fed some encour­age­ment by moth­ers and fathers who have been doing this for years is price­less. Please, don’t defeat your­self before you even start the new year. You can­not do it all. I know you know it. But, it is so easy to lose that focus. And it is so easy to get frus­trated. Soak up the godly coun­sel, the hope­ful words spo­ken. And the hard words. We all need some hard words, too. But they are for our good, and the good of our chil­dren, to help wake us up from our slumber.

So, what cur­ricu­lum do I use? Who cares? It’s just a tool. It’s so much more impor­tant that I love God, honor my hus­band, love my chil­dren, and teach them to love the Lord with all their strength, heart, mind, and soul. The rest will fall in place as the Lord ordains.


Photo credit: jim­miehome­school­mom / / CC BY



I have been at the Fam­ily Eco­nom­ics Con­fer­ence this past week soak­ing in the words and wis­dom of many godly and gifted speak­ers. As I was lis­ten­ing, I was think­ing, con­nect­ing dots, exam­in­ing our life and the way we do things as a family.

Inte­grate: to bring together or incor­po­rate (parts) into a whole; to unite or com­bine. from the Latin inte­gra­tus to renew, restore

We are a fam­ily of home­school­ers, but more than that. We inte­grate our chil­dren into our daily lives. We inte­grate them into the wor­ship on the Lord’s Day. They sit with us in church, they wor­ship our Lord with us. We don’t farm them off to nurs­eries or children’s church. The thought of them not being right with us dur­ing the wor­ship is hard to even com­pre­hend, much less bear. We also inte­grate our chil­dren into our daily lives. They help run the home, they help keep us orga­nized. After lis­ten­ing to many of the speak­ers, my hus­band has encour­aged me that we really need to inte­grate them more into the fam­ily econ­omy. I have to admit that I have been slow to adopt this vision for our chil­dren. I am very pro­tec­tive of my lit­tle busi­ness. I am “par­tic­u­lar” about the way things need to be done. I desire excel­lence in it, from start to fin­ish. I fear that it may not be as much so with the chil­dren because, well, let’s face it, I don’t see it in their bed­rooms or the dishes just yet. But, is the prob­lem totally with them, or am I to blame some­how in this? I do think I share in this more than I’d like to admit. So, when we get home, our plan is to inte­grate them more into the busi­ness. Pray for me please. That I will be filled with grace and patience, that I will be able to teach them effec­tively, and that we will take great joy in the process of learn­ing together how to make this work.

But, why do we do all of this inte­gra­tion? It really is a lot of work to get there. Yes, there is much joy and grace from the Lord towards our fam­ily in doing it. We really like being together. When I con­sider the thought of them going off to a school, pub­lic or pri­vate, I get teary-eyed think­ing of them being away from me and each other all day. I can’t stand the idea of some­one else get­ting their best all day. But, is there more to it than that?

Then it hit me. The oppo­site of inte­gra­tion is disintegration.

Dis­in­te­grate:  to sep­a­rate into parts or lose intact­ness or solid­ness; break up; dete­ri­o­rate; to decay; to reduce to par­ti­cles, frag­ments, or parts; break up or destroy the cohe­sion of.

Um. No thanks. THAT is what we are try­ing to avoid. We love the cohe­sion of our fam­ily. We believe with all we have that it is what God desires for our fam­ily, for your fam­ily, for all fam­i­lies. It isn’t about con­trol or fear or any­thing else neg­a­tive. It is about glo­ri­fy­ing God, rais­ing our chil­dren in hope, teach­ing them about the One who cre­ated them for His glory and purposes.

We’ve seen dis­in­te­gra­tion long enough in the world. Let’s start build­ing up, breath­ing life into our chil­dren, giv­ing hope. Let’s show them a bet­ter way to live: together, in Christ, for His glory.

What areas can you re-integrate your chil­dren into your life? Surely all of us have an area that we have neglected. None of us have arrived yet, have we? Per­haps some have done a much bet­ter job at see­ing this than we have. Let’s learn from them and stand on their shoul­ders. Let’s redeem the time together. And remem­ber the promise from Joel 2:25, “So I will restore to you the years that the swarm­ing locust has eaten, the crawl­ing locust, the con­sum­ing locust, and the chew­ing locust…” Walk together, inte­grated, in hope and joy, know­ing that it is never too late to reclaim your fam­ily for the Lord’s delight. Embrace these bless­ings that the Lord has given you. Let’s repent where we have failed due to lazi­ness, igno­rance, stiff-neckedness (is that a word?). And embrace our call­ings as moth­ers who carry much respon­si­bil­ity and priv­i­lege. Who’s with me?

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