Discipleship, Identity, and Homeschool Priorities (with Kristi Stephens)

Kristi Stephens homeschooling priorities homeschool conversations podcast discipleship identity

Are you weary or worried, homeschool mama? Then this is the episode you need to hear today. Kristi Stephens is a Jesus-loving homeschool mom of 4. She shares encouragement for finding our identity in Christ, homeschooling in the midst of foster care and adoption, resting in the season to which God has called us, the joy of Morning Time, and more. You’ll leave this episode reminded that God is faithful and will equip you to accomplish that which He’s called you to do.

Be sure to check out all the other interviews in our Homeschool Conversations series!

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Kristi Stephens discipleship identity homeschooling priorities homeschool conversations podcast

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Who is Kristi Stephens

Kristi Stephens and her husband have been married for 20 years and live with their four children in North Canton, Ohio. Kristi homeschools her high school, middle school, and preschool students with Ambleside Online and loves Morning Time, nature hikes, and visits to the Cleveland Museum of Art. Kristi has been privileged to serve as the women’s ministry director for her local church as part-time staff for the past decade, occasionally speaks for other churches, and infrequently writes on her blog. Most days she’s just trying not to spill her coffee or forget an appointment, and is constantly learning afresh that the only thing that’s good in her is Jesus.

Watch my Homeschool Conversation with Kristi Stephens

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Amy: Hello friends. Today I am joined by Kristi Stephens. Kristi and her husband have been married for 20 years and live with their four children in North Canton, Ohio. Kristi homeschools her high school, middle school, and preschool students with AmblesideOnline and loves Morning Time, nature hikes, and visits to the Cleveland Museum of Art. She has been privileged to serve as the women’s ministry director for her local church as part-time staff for the past decade, occasionally speaks for other churches, and infrequently writes on her blog.

Most days, Kristi’s just trying not to spill her coffee or forget an appointment, I can relate to that, and is constantly learning afresh that the only thing that’s good in her is Jesus. I was first introduced to Kristi, actually, through your Facebook page. I think our mutual friend Dawn Garrett had shared it, or somehow I just started following you, and have been very encouraged by your Christ-focused posts over the past year or so. I’m just really excited to get to chat with you.

Kristi: Yes. I’m excited to meet you. It is just a privilege that we get to talk today, so thanks for inviting me.

Amy: Of course. Well, I gave the official bio, but this is the time you get to tell us a little bit about yourself and your family and how you got started homeschooling.

Kristi: Yes. Like my bio said, we live in northeast Ohio. We have four kids. Our daughter is 16. We have two boys who are 14 and 11, and then we have our 5-year-old bringing up the rear and adding some spice. She came to us through adoption, through foster care. We were licensed foster parents for about seven years total and had five newborn baby boys in between, so I always resonate with moms who are struggling with homeschooling with little babies along because we did that for many years. Now, homeschooling with toddlers is a different ballgame. We didn’t usually get to that point.

We have been homeschooling since the beginning. My husband and I didn’t plan to homeschool. We actually both had very positive experiences growing up in public school and private school. We like to joke about all the things we said we would never do. Homeschooling was on our list of things that we said we wouldn’t do, and as was foster care, as was women’s ministry. We like to joke about how God has led us into a life that we said we couldn’t handle, but he’s been so faithful along the way. I do work part-time for our church doing women’s ministry. Been here for about a decade. Just juggling lots of things but truly have loved the privilege of homeschooling our kids. Now I can’t imagine any other way.

Amy: I think so often those things that we say, “Oh, I could never do that,” or, “I would never want to do that,” the Lord is faithful to use those things to say, “You actually can’t do that, so I’m going to call you to it anyways, that you learn to rely on me.”

Kristi: That is so true. We’ve just felt that over and over of how he leads us to things that we know are beyond our capacity. That’s where we get to experience his goodness and his sufficiency when we know that we are not sufficient, we cannot do it. He’s very good to take us past our limitations and let us experience his presence in that way.

Growing into Charlotte Mason homeschooling

Amy: Over these years as you’ve been homeschooling and learning and growing, what are some of the ways your perspective or approach to homeschooling has grown or changed?

Kristi: When we first started homeschooling, it originally started for us– Like I said, we said we would never do this. For us, we just hadn’t really heard a good articulation of a philosophy of homeschooling, I think, that resonated with us. When I was pregnant with our first, I actually was listening to folks on the family probably as I was doing data entry for work. It was the first time I’d really heard a interview with a family that articulated homeschooling as discipleship, and as not just shielding their kids from the world but preparing their kids to stand firm and make an impact in the culture for Christ because they’ve been equipped.

At the same time, we had been listening through a sermon series about I Timothy, and it actually focused a lot on Paul’s relationship with Timothy and how Timothy had been prepared and equipped to pastor in Ephesus, which was just incredibly pagan Roman city, and that we know he was there as a young man, and that God had used his mother, his grandmother to lay this groundwork of an understanding of who God was, that then Paul picked up and discipled him to the point that as a very young man, he was ready for this. The Lord just, as in his good, way worked in both my husband and I to really come to the point of submission of, “Lord, if this is what you’re calling us to do to equip our kids, we’ll do that.”

We really entered into homeschooling without knowing a lot of people who homeschooled. We don’t have a good network of homeschoolers really in our area. There are some, but we weren’t closely attached to them at that point. We were winging it. We knew School at Home and I knew that we wanted to be very discipleship driven. I wanted our kids to love God and see beauty. We fell into a lot of things. We had started off. I’d read The Well-Trained Mind. We were bringing in a neoclassical eclectic assortment of things that I would just stumble upon because, again, we didn’t have a ton of people that were helping us at the time.

I was just piecing it together as we went. We fell into a rhythm of Morning Time without knowing that’s what it was called just out of necessity since our oldest were two years apart and then three years apart. We had started the process toward foster care when our third was two years old. Around that same time, I had come on staff with our church. Out of survival, we had just started building in a Morning Time structure to get first things first. We were years into it. It was probably around 2016, and a friend of mine that I had met through a homeschool event of some kind had said to me as we were talking, she said, “You’re a Charlotte Mason educator. You know that, right?” I was like, “No.”

I didn’t know a lot about Charlotte Mason. I was one of those people that had been misinformed about Charlotte Mason. I had lumped Charlotte Mason together with unschooling and just an approach that did not appeal to us. I hadn’t ever really looked into it. I’m very grateful that she pointed out to me that lo and behold, Charlotte Mason was my jam. The more I learned about Charlotte Mason, I was completely hooked. I started dabbling in everything I could read from Cindy Rollins. Started pulling in more and more AmblesideOnline into our Morning Time. Started reading Karen Glass. At that point, I was like, “Well, we’re all in.”

In 2018, we did the full jump into Ambleside. We had dabbled here and there adding the riches in, adding some different free reads and things like that from Ambleside. The more I saw from Ambleside, the more impressed I was. Karen Glass’ Consider This just clinched it for me. We were full in. We have done a range of things over the years but really, I’m so grateful for how the Lord has just guided us every step of the way and really brought us to this point in the last few years.

JoAnn Hallum Charlotte Mason Homeschooling

Amy: I think it’s encouraging to hear that. Past season of the podcast, I interviewed JoAnn Hallum. She also talked about a similar experience where she came to AmblesideOnline later with some older children. I think it’s encouraging for moms to just hear whatever educational approach our family follows, you’re not married to your homeschool plan. This is not marriage. You are allowed to change later on and it’s okay. Sometimes just having that ability to pivot or follow things as we learn more. When we start, some of us don’t even know what we don’t know. It’s good to learn and be willing to grow and change this time.

Kristi: Absolutely. Moms are born persons too, right? As we are growing and learning, yes, we need to be able to pivot. Actually, it was Dawn Garett. I had heard her on a podcast episode. I can’t remember if it was Schole Sisters. It was around the time I was considering switching to Ambleside and I was like, “I don’t know if I can do it with older kids.” Then I heard a interview with Dawn Garrett. I’ve always looked at that of just again how God leads, and guides, and connects us all, and give us those little nudges when we need them.

Amy: Yes. I will go ahead and just mention here. If you’re listening, to check the show notes. I will put in links. I have interviewed Karen Glass, Cindy Rollins, the Schole Sisters, Dawn Garrett. All of these people whose names you’re hearing, I’m going to put all those things in the show notes. You should just go back and listen to all these interviews if you want to learn more about that topic. What have been some of your favorite parts of homeschooling over the years?

Some of Kristi’s favorite parts of homeschooling

Kristi: I would definitely say, obviously, I’ve mentioned Morning Time multiple times. That really has grown over the years to be something we all really love, and it’s given us a lot of stability through a lot of different changing seasons to have that routine that is consistent, even if it’s not consistent with time of day because we have switched it all around depending on what works. Just having that time of shared learning and collaborating has been really sweet.

I will say, I love homeschooling more and more as our kids get older because they’re learning so much and their narrations are so fun.

My 16-year-old is in year 11 with Ambleside, and there’s just so many times that she is narrating to me like, “I have never heard about this before. Tell me more about this. I don’t know.” We have just really neat discussions as we get to walk into really being co-learners, where they get to teach me and they are helping me make connections. I often joke with people that when I read Plutarch to them, often I get to the end of not exactly sure what happened here. Then I ask them to narrate and they just narrate it beautifully like, “Oh. Okay. Thank you for clearing that up for me.”

That’s been really just enjoyable to watch them come into their own as people, and as thinkers, and seeing them tie all of these different things together that they’re learning about, so that’s been really sweet.

Dawn Duran Plutarch for the Charlotte Mason Homeschool Family podcast

Like I said, just the discipleship aspect is really important to us. I really loved being able to see our time in scripture develop as they get older, and really teaching them to study, teaching them to think about the Bible. Helping them make some connections has been just truly a joy because I love doing that with adults, but doing that with my own children is just a sweet, sweet gift. I love that.

Truly, homeschooling has been like me learning, and I know many of us say that often. It really is rebuilding my own education, and I had a good education. I really did and yet, I didn’t realize all that I was missing as far as history, and literature, and all these things that I have absolutely loved digging into with my kids. I was much more of a science, math student in high school. It’s been surprising to me that now I’m the homeschooling mom who absolutely loves history and literature, and we love art, and we love all these things that I just didn’t have a good basis in myself. Again, being co-learners has been a real gift.

Amy: Homeschooling really is in so many ways this sanctifying process not just for the kids, but for mom and then for all of us in community as we’re learning, and we’re rejoicing together, we’re repenting together. Even on the hard days, it’s still a joy.

Kristi: Yes, indeed.

Homeschooling in the midst of foster care and adoption

Amy: Well, over these years, I know you mentioned that you guys went through the process of being certified for foster care. You fostered several children, and now have a wonderful adopted daughter. I’m sure through that whole process of foster care and adoption there were some challenging days both as a family but then specifically, as you were homeschooling in the midst of this. I wanted to ask just some of the things that God taught you or challenged you in over those years. If you have any wisdom or perspective to share with families who maybe listening who are either in that situation now or are considering a call to foster care or adoption.

Kristi: It is hard and it is hard to manage all of these things simultaneously. Obviously, as a homeschooling family, we have a lot of plates that we’re spinning all the time as we’re trying to be with all of our kids individually and together and make sure our homes are somewhat not falling apart. When we added in me working part-time, that was another stretching point. Then when we went through foster care and adoption, it was very challenging. I would say one of the biggest things that grew me was learning to be disciplined with my time and advocate for our family.

I’m a people pleaser by nature, and so I am usually very quick to just bend to whatever works for everybody else, whether it is for work, or our social workers, or whatever they needed. It was really stretching for me to have to advocate for our family and say– Again, that Morning Time piece was critical to say, “Our mornings are sacred and so I can’t do things in the mornings, so here is when I am available, here is when I can do things,” and really recognizing my limitations and being willing to verbalize those to other people. I would love to do that, but we just can’t.

Kristi Stephens discipleship identity homeschooling priorities homeschool conversations podcast

The same with as the kids got older, there were opportunities for– Homeschoolers could have a million things scheduled every week. That was a real challenge to decide what we could and could not do, and to free myself from the mom guilt of we can’t do everything and that is okay, that we’re going to give ourselves the gift of boundaries and balance because we can’t be all things to all people.

Foster care really pushed us to see our limitations of what types of things we could step into, what types of things we could manage. I had to really advocate with our county and our workers of when I could transport, and when I could go to meetings, and when I was available, and when I was not, and that other people wouldn’t treat our homeschool as something worthy of respect. I needed to treat it as this is untouchable time. Just like if I was at work and not reachable, this is how it is when we’re in the midst of especially morning time. That really became more and more critical to us to just protect that time.

I think even with working of having to really communicate that as well of I want to be as flexible and available as I can be, but these hours are off-limits. I’m going to keep those sacred. That’s added a lot of balance for my sanity as well as for our kids, and for them to know that this is important. It has to take precedence over everything else, so that was a big thing for me.

I think personally things that the Lord grew me in was where I was finding my identity, and I think we’ll talk about this probably more going forward. If I’m finding my identity in being homeschool mom of the year, I will find myself overextending and taking on things I can’t manage. If I’m finding my identity in being super foster parent who can do all the things, I will overextend and I will take things on that I cannot manage, and I will burn myself out. I will burn my family out. Whatever season that I’m in, if I take that as my primary identity instead of I’m a disciple of Christ, and these are the things he’s entrusted to me today.

What will I do today with this time and be faithful in that, and recognize that my limits are gifts from him. I can’t say yes to everybody, and that’s kind of hard. I mean, it’s a hard lesson for people pleasers to not say yes to everybody.

Amy: Yes, and just acknowledging being a finite creature, that is hard for me. You would think that, especially as I’ve been a finite creature my whole life, it would be easier for me to acknowledge by now, but I still just push against that. I don’t want to accept my limitations as a creature. I want to be the Holy Spirit in my family’s life. That’s a pretty disappointing thing to try to be.

Kristi: It’s so true that the job of Savior and Holy Spirit is taken. We don’t need to take that on, but we do try.

Finding our identity in Christ

Amy: Yes. Well, this segues right into what I wanted to talk to you next because as Christian women, I was joking there a little bit, but we do know what’s true. We know we’re supposed to place our identity in Christ, but it can be so easy to be distracted. We want to achieve more, do more, look better. As homeschool moms, we need to educate better. There’s this constant stress that we place on ourselves, but then even the lies that come in of that we’re not enough or we’re failing our children or whatnot. That is just a burden that is too much to bear.

What truth ought we to be remembering instead and how can we truly rest in the work of Jesus while we’re also living our lives, our callings, and faithfulness, living lives of holiness that he’s called us to?

Kristi: Man, isn’t that just the walk of the Christian life of coming to deeper belief of, Lord, I do believe, help my unbelief because we do wrestle with that of all the things that we take on and our finiteness. Like you said, of just being okay with the fact that we are finite and God is infinite. I do think so much of it comes back to where we are finding our identity if I am resting in the fact that I am fully known and fully loved and fully seen.

Over the years with women’s ministry, it is interesting how every season of life, whether we’re talking about young moms, early in your college and career age, whether we’re talking about women who’ve been retired with grandkids and great grandkids, we all have this tendency to really wrestle with identity and what we are holding onto as this is what makes me valuable both to the Lord and to other people instead of really resting in that’s done, Jesus sees us. We are seen. There is nothing we can do to try to make ourselves more valuable.

Missy Andrews Center for Lit My Divine Comedy interview

It doesn’t matter how fantastic of a homeschooling mom I am, I’m still just a delighted daughter of Christ and there’s nothing we can do to earn more of that. It sounds very simple, but it is something that I think we have to deeply wrestle with of what am I trying to earn my value from and am I comparing myself to other people in order to decide my value in comparison to these other people of, “Well, I’m choosing to homeschool my children and so obviously I am a better Christian.” I’m choosing to do these things and we start putting so much emphasis on this is what makes me loved by God instead of we are fully loved, fully known, and he knows that we’re limited.

He knows that we can’t do everything and to cease striving and know that he is God, to truly rest in that that it’s already done. It becomes less of what can I achieve and more of, Lord, what have you given me?

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One of the things I’ve been talking a lot with women about lately is the idea of time in the New Testament in that in Greek there’s Chronos time and there’s Kairos time.

That Chronos time, that’s the basis of chronological and chronic. In chronology, that’s calendar time, clock time. In our Western mindset, we are really, really locked into Chronos time. We could pull up our calendar on our phone. We could have our agenda of all these things we have to get done and Chronos time will just devour us. Actually in Greek mythology, the God Chronos devours his own children. Chronos time will consume us versus Kairos time, which is the idea of time as a purpose and a gift, that there’s a season and a fulfillment.

When Jesus says all through the book of John, I’ve been studying John this term with my ladies, and how many times it comes up in John of my time has not yet come. My time has not yet come. The hour has not yet come. That’s the word Kairos of the fulfillment that he’s not talking about a specific day but that the purposes have been fulfilled. You even see that contrast with John the Baptist when Zacharia is talking with Gabriel and he doesn’t believe, and Gabriel says, “Okay, you’re going to be unable to speak until this time is fulfilled.” That’s kairos versus when Elizabeth’s time has come to give birth, that’s Chronos because that’s a fulfillment of that time.

Anyway, sorry, I’m getting off in my teaching soapbox, but I’ve just been thinking about this so much of how God has given us seasons of life that are Kairos time. What is the purpose of this time that he’s given me? If I will accept that as gift with an open hand, Lord, how do you want me to use these days and this season? I have it with an open hand before him of what do you want me to fill my days with? What do you see as priority? It relieves so much of this burden I put on myself versus Chronos of– Even now with a junior in high school, there’s all of this pressure of like, “Oh, we have less than two years. We have this many days.”

We’re on this timeline of college applications and all these things and we can easily switch into how much time do we have left and what do we have to squeeze in? That becomes suffocating. That’s when we’re consumed by Chronos of I have to ring out all this stuff from these days and make sure we jam it all in. You have to read all these books. You have to make sure you are fluent in Latin. We got to get it in instead of Kairos, Lord, what is this season for in her life? What are you preparing her for? How can I be faithful in that?

It doesn’t relieve me of responsibility, but it relieves me of the pressure of trying to jam in all these things that I can’t possibly do versus just living in that space as a gift with her and seeing it as a time of purpose and preparation of what God has for her. That it is not on me. Like we said before, to be the Savior and the Holy Spirit. It is on me to be faithful in the work that he’s put before me. I do need to be faithful with what I have today. I do need to be faithful to do the work with her. It relieves me of that like suffocating, I have to jam this all in or else we’re not going to get to it.

That’s been something I’ve been mulling over a lot because I think the more we can embrace that, that this is a gift this time, this season is a gift and it has a purpose and the purpose of this season is not the same as my purpose 10 years from now. Even giving each other some grace of if you are a mom in the season of all the little kids, you can’t live in the same clock time as somebody who has three teenagers. You are just surviving day-to-day and trying to keep going. That season is a gift of its own. You also don’t have to feel like hold on to every moment, love every moment because it’s going to go fast.

There are a lot of moments you’re not going to love. You have marker on the wall and diaper explosions and you’re just trying to survive, and that’s okay. There’s a time and a purpose for everything and there will be another season where you can read more books and you can enjoyably visit an art museum, but that’s not always every season. Receiving those things as gifts from God where we don’t have to make it all happen is very freeing. Even when we were in the throes of foster care of knowing that there were things that I just had to say no to, that there will be seasons where we can do more things, but this is not the season.

Being able to accept that, where I knew that my kids in some ways were missing out on co-ops and different things because we just did not have the hours in the day to do it without sacrificing our sanity, but also knowing if that’s a place where God has led us to, he will be faithful and he will provide. He gives each family what we need for that season when we’re being faithful in what he’s given us. He was faithful time after time to provide what our kids needed and what we needed as we were faithful. Now we do have more time. We have more time to do these other things, but it wasn’t the season then and now we’re in a different season. I have found that to be helpful.

Amy: Yes. We just finished reading through the book of Ecclesiastes in our family devotions and same themes that were coming up every week. Some of those chapters can feel so dark and gloomy, but it’s really hopeful when you see that this is all being described as what’s under the sun. There’s always this undercurrent, this isn’t all there is, there’s something outside the sun, but there’s this clear communication of there are seasons to life and seasons of things.

There is great hope and rest to be found knowing that we don’t have to live in a different season right now. We live in contentments in the season God has us in right now. That’s where he has called us. He will be faithful to meet us there and to equip us for what we’re called to today, not for what we’re called to tomorrow. That’s tomorrow. Right? Tomorrow has enough trouble of its own

Kristi: Exactly. He’s going to be faithful then too. He’s been faithful in the past. He is faithful now. We can trust him with that, whatever is coming.

Kristi Stephens discipleship identity homeschooling priorities homeschool conversations podcast

Prioritizing well in homeschool life

Amy: Yes. Well, related to this idea of seasons and time and what God has called us to in this moment, it feels like no matter what season we’re in, there really is always more good things to do than we have time to do. I often say it’s not choosing between the good thing and the bad thing. You have so many good things and then you can’t do them all. Do you have any wisdom to share when it comes to prioritizing what’s best for our particular unique families at any given time and then being okay with dropping the other potentially good things that we just can’t do?

Kristi: Yes, that is such a struggle because there’s so many good opportunities. I was thinking about, I was in college and you’ve probably seen this illustration that someone used for us where they had a glass jar with all these rocks and they tried to put all those small rocks in first and put the big rocks in last and it wouldn’t fit. If they put their big rocks in first and then the small, and then they could pour water in and it all could fit. I’ve thought about that often through the years of just what are those essential, what are the big rocks that must go into our daily life?

I think as we think through even Charlotte Mason’s atmosphere, discipline, and life is really helpful of just what are the things that absolutely must be part of this that will form sanity and perspective for our days?

Like I said, Morning Time was really helpful for us because it enabled us to get our big things in first. I think every family has to wrestle through that of what are the essentials that have to get done? If we’re filling our to-do lists from looking at each other, we will get suffocated because I can’t be all the people in the highlight reel of my friends on Facebook because we’re just seeing the highlights and you’re like, “Oh, this person went on this beautiful nature hike and this person’s house looks like a magazine and we’ve tried to become this composite person that we can’t possibly be.”

Again, that Kairos of what has God given us in this season to be faithful for? For us, those big rocks looked like the essentials of our schooling of we’re going to get through our major reads. We’re going to get through math. We’re going to do Bible study every day. We are going to get Plutarch and Shakespeare and those bedrock things I want them to have. Then what are all the good things that it’s okay if we run out of time for? Like I said, every family has to sort through what’s going to look like. I play the piano and so a lot of our people will often ask me like, “Oh, do your kids play?” For us, and some will disagree, but for us, that has been non-essential.

Our kids have not wanted to and that’s just been a hill I will not die on. For some families, that’s a big rock. You just have to wrestle through what is it that the Lord has given us that is absolutely essential and what are the things you have to let go? There will be times and seasons for different things. We have boys who are athletic and they love sports. For our family, that has been a small rock, even though they love it so much. We’ve always had boundaries in place of we’ll have one kid in sports at a time. If this is the season when you play on this league, you can’t do this.

We’ve just had family meetings about it, of when are we going to calendarize this stuff out because that’s not a big rock for us? Again, it is for different people. I think just being willing to ask those hard questions of what are the priorities? It’s okay if your big things are different from the people around you. You can’t do all the big things. You cannot be all things for all people. Just together making some hard choices of what you’re going to do. For me, that atmosphere, discipline, and life has helped for me to think through, that starts with my life and then trickles out to my kids.

That I have to do the hard work of having discipline in my days and ways that run for me. I’m not a morning person, but I’ve just had to learn to get up early and get these things done and have some routine to our day. I don’t particularly like a structured schedule, but we’ve learned to have a flexible routine where we just, these are the things we have to get done whenever they get done. These have to happen preferably in this order, even if the order is slightly different from day to day.

I think we just need to give ourselves permission to figure out again, what is this season for? Two years from now our life might be much more focused on something else and there’s a season for that, but that means we can’t be focused on all the things that we’re doing right now. We’ve been able to take more on as we’re not actively in the trenches of foster care. My ministry schedule has switched around as the kids have gotten older. Just being willing to say, all right, what are our limitations and abilities in this season? There are some things we’re just going to have to put on hold.

I used to be that person that made my own bread and ground my own grain and made yogurt and I did all the things. I can’t. I just can’t. Good for you if you’re making your sourdough and, good job, it’s so good for you. I just don’t have the mental time, the mental space, and time to do it. Someday I will again. Just being willing to say store-bought bread is not going to kill my kids right now, and if it keeps me sane, praise Lord, that’s a good gift. It’s okay to have limits. They’re good gifts.

Amy: Yes. I think what I hear you saying is just being purposeful is a big part of it. Being purposeful to make the choice of what your big rocks are and then to be okay with sticking with that choice and to communicate as a family so everyone understands we’re not just spoiling your fun by not letting you do X, Y, Z. These are our family’s big rocks. Then also, even joking around about this sourdough bread or whatever, you were even saying this isn’t saying no to a big rock today. It doesn’t mean you’ll never ever pick that rock back up again. It just means it’s not the right fit right now. Being willing to say not now or not yet, or just being purposeful, I think, makes such a difference.

Kristi: As the kids have gotten older, we’ve had great discussions of all of that together, of why is this a value for our family? Exactly, that these are good things and it’s okay that other families are making a different choice about what their big rocks are. We can support them in that and also be like, “That’s not for us right now.” We’re not saying everyone who does that is terrible. Even just to me again, that’s an aspect of discipleship, of how do we learn to live graciously together as the church as the body of Christ who we’re all different and we can appreciate and applaud one another for taking steps of faithfulness in the different paths that God has given us, and then also intentionally discuss what has God given us right now?

How do we be faithful in these things? Because that’s not our identity, we can celebrate that other people are being faithful in the things God has given them to do and it doesn’t have to be a threat to us that we’re not doing those things. We don’t have to look down on other people for not doing the things God’s called us to do. We can celebrate faithfulness in whatever it is that he’s given us to do.

Amy: That Christian walk, homeschool, family life. These are not competitions. I think about that verse. I can never remember if it’s First Thessalonians or Second Thessalonians, but it’s like, “Work with your hands. Live a quiet life. Mind your own business.” I think that’s a pretty good life verse to have right there.

Kristi: Man, that’s hard to do, isn’t it?

Amy: It is.

Kristi: We fall back into it so fast, and even put that on ourselves of, I’m failing because I can’t do the things that I did three years ago. Well, three years ago I didn’t have these things that God put on my plate and so being faithful to what he’s given us today, that’s the Kairos. I’m just going to keep coming back to that. What is the purpose of this season?

Kristi Stephens discipleship identity homeschooling priorities homeschool conversations podcast

What Kristi Stephens is reading lately

Amy: Oh, that is so encouraging and very encouraging, particularly for me to hear this year as I have a senior, and I have been feeling this weight of the time slipping away so just to be able to rest in this day that God has given me is a good encouragement for my afternoon as well. Well, Kristi, here at the end, I’m going to ask you the questions I ask all of my guests and the first one is just, what are you reading lately?

Kristi: Oh, I just finished The Pickwick Papers. It took me nine months to do it and I just finished it yesterday, so I’m coming off of my high of that. I’ve really enjoyed, like I said, learning to have a literary life for myself as my kids have gotten older, as we’ve continued on in our homeschool journey. One thing that we’re reading together that I’m really enjoying is The Man Born to Be King by Dorothy Sayers. It’s her play cycle about the life of Christ.

We’ve been reading that pretty slowly through our Morning Time for the last nine months or so. We’ve just really enjoyed that. The way that she paints the disciples makes them so human and relatable and we’re coming to the end of that and we’ve just found it pretty compelling. All of us are really savoring that one.

Amy: Well, I love Dorothy Sayers and I think I might even own that book, but I think that is one I have not yet read, so it’ll have to move up towards the top of my ever-growing to-be-read stack.

Kristi: Oh, I know. We’ll never finish it, right? It’s just–

Amy: Never. It’s part of the fun though.

Kristi: Yes. The more I read, the more things get added to the to-be-read list.

Amy: Yes. It’s like my emotional support stack of books.

Kristi: Good friends that will be there.

Kristi’s best tip for helping the homeschool day run smoothly

Amy: Yes, exactly. The final question is just what is your best tip for helping the homeschool day run more smoothly?

Kristi: Oh. Well, obviously I’m a big fan of Morning Time. I think that having a routine that isn’t necessarily a rigid schedule has been a real gift to us. That’s just a routine of these are the things that generally happen in the morning, generally in this order. Especially as we live in these seasons of lots of appointments and lots of meetings that come up and different things of– The stability of every morning, you need to get up and you need to do these particular things.

These are the things we will do together and these are the things we absolutely will get done no matter what has really given us some stability because that discipline and atmosphere, and life all work together. The more we are disciplined about that with our routine, the more it enables us to relax and just truly have an atmosphere that we enjoy together. We don’t have to be so stressed out about when we’re going to get it done and nagging each other that we can just be like, “Okay. These are the expectations that are always there. They never change. We don’t have to argue about it.”

It’s just a question of when we’re going to do it today, not if. It’s never if. It’s just when.

Amy: It takes off that decision part. We just know we’re going to do it. If you have to decide will we or won’t we have Morning Time today, you’ve already lost because it’s often no, but if it’s just what we do, makes it easier for it to just be a natural part of the day.

Kristi: Decision fatigue is real and it will just– Yes.

Find Kristi Stephens online

Amy: Kristi, where can people find you all around the internet?

Kristi: I’m on Instagram @woven_written_days, with underscores woven underscore written underscore, just to make it confusing. Then my blog is www.krististephens.one. I very infrequently write there. In a Kairos season, I will write there more. Then on Facebook, I have a Facebook page for my blog that’s just KristiStephensblog, and I do update there more than I do on my actual blog.

Amy: I will have links to all of those things in the show notes with the transcript for this episode over at www.humilityanddoxology.com. Thank you so much for chatting with me today. It was nice to get to meet you in person.

Kristi: It was a delight. Thanks for having me.

Check out all the other interviews in my Homeschool Conversations series!

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