All posts by Heather Walton

Kentucky Homeschool Rights in Jeopardy: Let Your Voice Be Heard

HB574, an act relating to homeschool, was submitted to the House on February 27 by Representative Chris Harris, and is currently awaiting discussion in the House Education Committee. We have not seen a bill that so aggressively attacks our freedom to home educate in more than eight years. If this bill became law, it would…

via Legislative Alert: HB 574 Aggressive Encroachment on Private Home Education — Christian Home Educators of KY Blog

Consultation/Coaching Services help maximize your homeschool potential

561284_511132125589882_1418835041_nHomeschooling is often challenging, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes a helping hand is all you need to go from frazzled to thriving.  A+ Education Solutions offers homeschool consultation/coaching services, working together with you to troubleshoot and create an individualized plan for your family. You may benefit from checking in biweekly, monthly, or just every once in awhile. You might just need a one-time consultation. Having someone to consult with can give you the boost that you need to get a solid start in homeschooling or to stay the course. Coaching takes place in person and online to accommodate your needs. Whatever your need, A+ Education Solutions is here to help. Call 502-438-4680 for details.

How Can A+ Help Me Homeschool?

I’m done! I guess God doesn’t intend me to homeschool anymore. 

These were my thoughts in 2009, when I just didn’t know how to do it. I had loved homeschooling my daughters for six years, but with two babies, and with the girls getting older and pushing back on me, I decided that season of our lives was over.

I loved teaching, though, so I went back to school and got my Master’s Degree in elementary and special education, and then I taught for the next eight years. I learned many skills and strategies that I wished I would have had when I was homeschooling. Now I am back to homeschooling, this time with my boys and a baby girl.

By no means am I saying that you should have a teaching credential if you’re going to homeschool. However, if you are struggling because you’re overwhelmed with curriculum choices, or because you have a child with learning or behavior issues, it can be helpful to work with someone who has some expertise in strategies and research-based learning.

Over the past eight years, I’ve worked with hundreds of students and families in schools and in private tutoring. Many of those parents struggled to find and educational fit for their children, and many of those children struggled academically, socially, or behaviorally. I have been able to assist those families and students in formulating plans to see academic growth and to increase positive social and behavioral interactions.

Sometimes we just need some informed encouragement. I am able to come alongside you and encourage you to stay the course, and to collaborate with you to formulate a plan for success. Whether you need to evaluate your curriculum options or to have a tutor for a few hours a week (in person or online), I can work with you to meet your family’s individualized needs.

I understand a good deal of what homeschoolers struggle with, because I’ve lived it. And I have children with special needs and academic challenges. So as a fellow traveler, I can relate and help you form a workable action plan. If this sounds like the thing you need, contact me at heatherpwalton@gmail.com or 502-438-4680.

A+ Education Solutions offers a range of educational services

I started A+ Education Solutions in 2013 because I had a strong desire to help students who need a little extra help to reach their goals. In the process, I started a cottage school that morphed into a more traditional model of a school, partnered with my husband as he pastors our church, moved, had a baby, had a couple of children leave the nest, taught at another wonderful Christian school, and most recently, realized that I need to return home and center myself there. Through all of it, my mission for a vocation has not changed: I believe God has called me to creatively facilitate Christian education for a diverse population of students.20170612_074936

Though I no longer run Jubilee Academy, the model I began there still lives in my heart. What is that model? Well, for starters, it’s a kinder, gentler model of education — an individualized model, where students are seen as real people who have struggles, but who also have much to offer the world. God created each of us with unique gifts, and those gifts are meant to be shared with the world. However, some people buy into the cultural lie that academics and athletics are the prized intelligences, and that others are inferior. Can you imagine a world without artists, mechanics, electricians, fast food servers, and on and on? Two of the most important jobs in the world are plumbers and trash collectors. Think about that for a moment.

But we all have to get through the academics, at least for 13 years. Some of us really struggle, though. And we just need a helping hand, maybe just for a season, and maybe all the way through. Sometimes the student needs direct help, in the form of tutoring and assessment. Other times, the student needs indirect assistance, such as an IEP advocate at school or homeschool support for his parents. A+ Education Solutions is here to help with these needs. Rates are reasonable and assistance is personalized to your family’s needs. Because I’m focusing on health and family, slots are limited, but there are a few left and I am happy to put others on my waiting list. For more information, email heatherpwalton@gmail.com or text/call 502-438-4680. I look forward to hearing from you!

 

God is good ALL the time

Psalm 23

Have you ever heard someone say, after something goes right, “God is good!”? If you’re like me, you’ve heard that phrase countless times. But how many times have you heard someone say, “God is good!” after something goes wrong, or when they’re going through a tough time? Here’s a more challenging question: How many times have you said, “God is good!” when something has gone wrong in your own life?

Is God good all the time? Of course He is. If you’re a Christian, you probably think that’s a ridiculous question. But since we seldom celebrate our sorrows by stating that, “God is good!”, I believe it’s a fair question.

Yes, God is good all the time. He’s good when you get the promotion and when you lose the job. He’s good when you find out you’re pregnant and when you miscarry. He’s good when your kids make you proud and when they devastate you. He’s good on your wedding day and on the day you find out your spouse has had an affair. He’s good when the tests come back negative and when you find out you’ve got six weeks to live. He’s good when your name is clear and when you finally have to admit the ugly truth of what you’ve done. God is good ALL the time. Not just when things go right.

In my own life, the past couple of years have taught me more about this concept than the rest of my life put together. I have been a Christian for 20 years this month, and God’s grace has carried me through many small and medium difficulties. But I’m convinced that, the longer we live, the larger the difficulties we have to face. At least that’s been my experience.

Right now, I’m seeing God do amazing work at Jubilee Academy, and that is so encouraging! It’s exciting! It’s something to celebrate! It’s a feel-good kind of thing. God is good!

But I’m also seeing God do extraordinary work in other areas of my life, but it’s a struggle. It’s not enjoyable. It’s painful. It’s definitely not feel-good. At times it’s discouraging–even devastating. But, because God is at work, it is exciting and it is something to celebrate. God is good!

So, the next time you hear that phrase, “God is good!”, remember, God is always good, no matter what we’re going through or how our circumstances appear. I challenge you to say and to believe that “God is good!” all the time, no matter what’s going on.

Can we admit we’re not “close to perfect?”

Maskerade-0

I would love to present myself as a close-to-perfect person with a close-to-perfect family. I know I can’t present myself, or my family, as completely perfect, because there was only one perfect person who ever lived. However, I can try to make you think that we’re close to perfect. Think about our Facebook pages and our blogs. We can make our lives look ideal, despite struggling through great difficulties (or just through the day-to-day challenges).

I’m not going to chronicle all of the adversity in my life, but I want to be clear when I say that I’m far from perfect and so is my family. I realize that you probably already know that, especially if you know us personally. Even if you don’t know us, you know we’re not close to perfect, because you and your family aren’t either.

Why, though, is it so difficult for us to admit this? Why do we put on masks for each other, pretending that everything is fabulous and that our families have it all together, even when we’re really struggling? (Isn’t this hypocrisy?)

We argue with our spouses and children in the car on the way to church, then step out with our Sunday smiles and tell everyone we’re fine. If our kids won’t behave or we have marital strife, we keep it all to ourselves, giving the impression that things are great in our homes. Why?

For many of us, it’s because we don’t want to be judged, and we suspect we would be. Maybe we have been in the past. Perhaps we’ve known of others who were open and who suffered for it. Our fear and our pride keep us from intimacy with other believers. I’ve heard it said that the Church is the only army that shoots its own wounded. Unfortunately, I’ve seen evidence that this is sometimes a true statement.

But …

What if we really viewed the church as a place for sinners and those redeemed by grace to gather and to authentically worship our great Savior?

What if we accepted everyone exactly as they are, acknowledging that we all need to grow to become more Christlike?

What if we didn’t judge by appearances, but took the time to examine the heart?

What if we didn’t judge by circumstances, but understood that there always are factors we don’t know about?

What if we openly accepted people who struggle, and helped them grow or recover?

What if we supported people who are victims of other people’s sin?

What if I could really tell you my struggles and my family’s struggles?

If so, then …

Couldn’t we help each other out?

Wouldn’t it be refreshing not to have to pretend?

Might our worship be more authentic?

Couldn’t we comfort each other?

Might others benefit from hearing of our own life experiences?

Might we benefit from hearing of their life experiences?

Couldn’t we hold each other accountable in a loving manner?

Wouldn’t we feel freer, lighter, more joyful?

And, most of all …

Wouldn’t we look a lot more like Jesus?

How should we respond to the consequences of other people’s choices?

Ripple effect on water.
Ripple effect on water. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes life is just hard. Much of the difficulty comes from the fact that we can’t control other people. As hard as we may try or as sincere as we may be, we simply aren’t capable of making anyone do anything. Sometimes it may even seem that we can’t make ourselves do what we know we must do. Old patterns are extremely difficult to change.

There are times when we’re at fault for the difficulties in our lives. Other times, though, we’ve done nothing to deserve suffering.

People’s actions often have a ripple effect. Picture yourself tapping your finger on water. What happens? You make a ripple—a series of circles that generates from the spot where you touched the water. The circles continue until they reach the water’s edge or until they’re intercepted by other objects or patterns. The same is true in our lives. The ripples we begin often have far-reaching effects as they intercept other people’s ripples and obstacles. They continue on for so much longer than just that tiny finger tap that started it all.

Just as our ripples affect others, theirs affect us. Oftentimes the ripples bring good things. Sometimes, however, they bring pain. Heartbreak. Even life change.

So what do we do when this happens? When the ripples bring a tide of tears and torment? It depends. Sometimes there’s nothing we can do but cling to our great God, our Abba (Daddy). Other times, we can add personal action to our faith.

In times of distress, I recall the Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity 
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can;
 and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time; 
Enjoying one moment at a time; 
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 
Taking, as He did, this sinful world 
as it is, not as I would have it; 
Trusting that He will make all things right 
if I surrender to His Will;
 That I may be reasonably happy in this life 
and supremely happy with Him 
Forever in the next.
 Amen.

Reinhold Niebuhr

There’s so much wisdom in this beloved prayer. First of all, I’ve wasted countless hours and energy trying to change things over which I have no control. I’m getting better at letting go of these things. But the next couple of lines are the main challenge for me–“the courage to change the things I can.” Now that, coupled with “the wisdom to know the difference,” can be difficult. It can be easy to fall into a victim mentality, thinking I just have to endure my circumstances. Or I can find myself thinking of good solutions, but not carrying them out. Or debating with myself over a solution and neglecting to take action.

As an adult child of an alcoholic, I’m more prone to bear these kinds of burdens. But I know I’m not alone. Many people struggle with how to deal with the consequences of other people’s actions.

So, as I find myself being affected by the ripples of another person’s choices, I have some decisions of my own to make. I need to sort out “the things I cannot change,” and “the things I can.” Then I need to have serenity and courage to deal with the things in each category. That requires that God grant me “the wisdom to know the difference.”

This path isn’t easy. It isn’t pretty. It isn’t comfortable. But it is freeing. And it brings peace.

Mental illness shouldn’t be a secret battle

sad girl with teddy bearToday I want to talk about a touchy subject–one that most people want to deny exists, especially if it’s going on in their own family. If this goes on in a family, it generally is a well-kept secret. It’s a secret because other people don’t understand. They fear, judge, or simply don’t know how to respond.

The subject: mental illness. Though this subject is avoided, or even covered up, this should not be. Especially among Christians. The Church should be a support system. We should be able to reach out to our brothers and sisters in Christ and they should empathize and offer support. Instead, we live our lives in silence. Sometimes we endure the judgment of the very people who should be supporting us.

I am pondering this for a couple of reasons. One is that Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church is returning to the pulpit this weekend, following the loss of his son to suicide. His son had a mental illness. He is in my prayers. The other reason is more personal.

Why do you think it’s so hard for families to reach out for support? How do you think Christians should respond to families who are dealing with mental illness? How do you think Christian families should deal with mental illness? If you have this issue in your family, what has been helpful to you? What has not been helpful?

Patriots Secured our Freedom and Ensure it Continues

Basic Training, Ft. Dix, NJ, 1989
Basic Training, Ft. Dix, NJ, 1989

Today we celebrate the birth of our great nation and the freedoms we have as Americans. Praise the Lord for His blessings upon us!

I always have been a patriot. When I was 17 years old, I made a decision that put patriotism into action. Halfway through my senior year in high school, I visited an Army recruiter, told him I wanted to join up, and signed six years of my life away. I began weekend drills at the 100th Division, in Louisville, Ky., while I was still in school.

As soon as I graduated, I got on a plane headed for Ft. Dix, NJ. Nothing–and I mean nothing-could have prepared me for what I would experience there. In fact, if I’d have known what to expect, I never would have enlisted. I guess that’s why recruiters are known for lying! I’m glad I didn’t know, though, because I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. In basic training, I accomplished things I didn’t know were possible for me–physically and mentally.

After eight grueling weeks, I headed for Ft. Benjamin Harrison, Ind. to attend the Defense Information School. There I learned how to be a top-notch journalist. This was an amazing experience that opened doors for me even after I was discharged from the Army Reserves.

In January 1990, I received a call that would change my life–the call to active duty during Operation Desert Storm. Though my unit was not slated to go oversees–at least not yet–it still was full-time service. I was thrilled to be able to serve my country at Ft. Knox, Ky. Our unit trained new recruits to operate tanks. Once they completed training these soldiers, we were to go to Kuwait with them. That didn’t become necessary, however, because the war was over so quickly. I was completely prepared to go oversees, but I also didn’t mind not having to experience combat. After that, I returned to the 100th Division in Louisville as a reservist until 1995, when my enlistment was up.

Promotion ceremony at 100th Division, 1990
Promotion ceremony at 100th Division, 1990

I share this because I believe in serving our country. A little over two centuries ago, bold patriots fought and shed blood to secure the freedoms we still enjoy. This country is far from perfect, and I am deeply concerned about where we are headed, but I appreciate the many blessings of being an American. I am grateful I had the opportunity to serve, and would gladly do it again.

Thank you to all who serve or who have served our great nation on our soil or oversees, and thank you to their families, who sacrifice as well!

Teaching Children to Think

The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris
The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In today’s world, where ideas fly around at speeds too fast to catch, much less verify, it’s imperative that we raise our children to think. You may think I’m stating the obvious. I wish I were.

 

 

There is a difference between knowing a good deal of information and knowing how to think. It’s important for our kids to learn a variety of concepts and to memorize facts and formulas. But that’s not enough, especially not in today’s culture.

 

 

Children raised in Christian homes are abandoning the church, their faith, and Biblical values at alarming rates. These aren’t just public school kids. These also are kids who attended Christian school or who were homeschooled. I’m sure there are myriad reasons for this trend. I want to focus on one that I’m passionate about–a lack of thinking.

 

 

Many well meaning homeschool parents (and Christian schools) employ traditional methods of teaching and learning. They require their children to memorize facts and to diagram sentences. They require daily Bible reading and Scripture memorization. They teach them all of the required subjects and their children get high scores on college entrance exams.  This is all excellent, but is it enough?

 

 

What about thinking? Do these children grow up to be able to think for themselves? When a college professor or a work colleague challenges them about their faith, will they be prepared to stand strong? If they are taught to think from an early age, they probably will be.

 

 

Public schools are far from perfect, but at least in the schools where I’ve taught, this is one thing they’re doing right. They’re teaching kids to understand the why behind the how. They’re teaching them to examine their own thinking and be able to give an explanation that supports it. This reminds me of 1 Peter 3:15, which says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” We’re prepared only if we can articulate our thinking and support it with evidence.

 

 

It’s been my passion to empower Christian children and youth with an understanding of what they believe and why. This is of utmost importance if they are going to keep the faith as they go out into the world. I believe our children must first understand the truth of the Bible and what evidence there is to support a Biblical worldview. They need to apply Scripture to situations in their own lives and to consider how they will respond to situations they may encounter in the world. While they do need to be sheltered to an extent, especially early on, they also need a gradual release into responsibility for their own decisions and learning about contrasting points of view. If they’re able to do this under our authority, we can talk and work through those things with them. In contrast, if we over-shelter, we run the risk of releasing them into the world all at once, with substandard preparation. If we under-educate, by not teaching them to think, someone else will end up telling them what to think. If their argument seems logical enough, our children, whom we raised to know better, just might abandon the faith–maybe all at once, or perhaps little by little. Either way is devastating and tragic.

 

 

How do we practically educate our children to be thinkers? One of the most effective ways is to ask them lots of questions, like Socrates did with his students. Ask them questions that will require them to justify their thinking. For example, if you are studying the origin of humans, ask them questions like, “How do you know we didn’t evolve from lower life forms?” You want them to be able to give both Biblical and scientific support. If you are discussing the government’s role in healthcare, they should be able to articulate and defend what they believe. Ask them questions that will get them to think deeply about their position, to clarify it, and to defend it. Be flexible. They may be able to support a different point of view than yours on some positions, and they may have Biblical justification.

 

 

One thing is apparent: Children who don’t learn to understand and articulate their faith are not likely to stand strong in that faith as adults. We owe it to our children to teach them to think.

 

 

“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” Ephesians 4:14