Introducing Civics In Your Homeschool

What a crazy year!

That statement is the understatement of the decade, isn’t it?

I hope that this blog post finds you doing well in the midst of what may be one of the craziest seasons of our generation.

With so much going on politically right now, you may be wondering how to begin to broach the topic of Civics with your kids or how to approach it with kids of various ages. Have faith (and a pen😉). I think I’ve found the answer- or at least a great launching point to not only help you not only incorporate American politics into your homeschooling plans but how to make it really come alive.

If you’ve never heard of it- there is a fantastic (and when I say fantastic- I mean yeah- it’s pretty incredible) cartoon series called Liberty’s Kids. And it’s all about the American Revolution.

I was so impressed by this series- I found myself secretly wishing my American history classes had consisted of weekly viewing parties instead of the dusty, dry textbooks I sat through as a kid- I might have liked history more instead if of trudging my way through it. But I digress. . .

My kids loved this series! They begged to watch it – I promise! And might I add, that the creators approached the American Revolution from multiple viewpoints (sometimes opposing) to help viewers appreciate the complexity of what the people of the day may have experienced. They definitely didn’t shy away from the tough issues.

But this series was just the jumping off point for our kids-from here we expanded into reading Who Was George Washington and the Rush Revere series by Rush Limbaugh

And now we’ve created something resembling a political monster, which I was slightly proud to witness at 3:45 this morning as I drove my 11 year old up north to go deer hunting with his grandpa. The two of us spent the entire 45 minute drive discussing politics- no lie. And he initiated the entire conversation.

If I’m going into an intellectual debate in socio-political issues before dawn and without coffee in hand- it won’t be by choice – um no thank you. But this morning left me proud albeit a bit groggy and wishing Caribou Coffee would adjust their wee morning hours during hunting season.

The beauty is- it wasn’t difficult to get our kids interested and more importantly aware of what is happening in the political world. My eight and nine year old daughters, although it doesn’t appear that they are following in the footsteps of their Ben Shapiroesque brother are fully capable of naming the candidates in the 2020 presidential race, what their stances are and the vast importance of our right to vote.

As for our soon to be 1 year old, he also has expressed an interest in politics. Mostly in the form of patriotism😉

Teaching Civics doesn’t have to be complicated – there is a lot to learn, don’t get me wrong, but if you start by cultivating the interest and emphasizing the importance there isn’t far to go for learning to become natural. Couple some of the fun resources listed above with deep conversations on the subject and you might find that you too have a budding political commentator on your hands as well.

Be Blessed,


The Grace To Be Human

When we reduce ourselves and others to merely "what need can be met", then we have failed to understand what it is to be human.

The overwhelming needs of other people can cause us to just live on auto-pilot where the highlight of our day is checking every one else’s needs off of our list.

Because that is what successful people do.

They git ‘er done.


But that is not and has never been the picture of life that God has had for us.

Paul said it this way:

Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.

Galatians 5:1

(The Message)


I guess what I’m trying to say is that what you do is important, whether it’s a career, or it’s a title like mom, or maybe you have this burning desire to do something great – it’s your destiny, your calling.

These are so critical.

But only if you are free to be you – no strings attached.


Even in the best of situations, positions and titles can easily become something they were never meant to be.

Things like our “vision” and our “purpose”, our “calling” and our “destiny” can easily slip in and replace the core of who we are.

Our identity.

And vision, purpose, calling, and destiny should always come secondary to our identity.


Keep vigilant watch over your heart;
that’s where life starts.

Proverbs 4:23

(The Message)


You and I see it all the time.

We can find a false identity in our careers and feel completely lost when we no longer have the 9-5 grind due to an illness or a company downsizing.

Those crazy stay at home, homeschooling moms who no longer have any identity outside of what they do for their children and husbands.  You know the ones, they spend hours either posting or trolling for new ideas on Pinterest.

It can even be as simple as identifying with a group or organization rather than seeing ourselves and others as human first.


And it’s a temptation, lets be honest.

We end up selling out our relationships with ourselves and others on the altar of our false identities.


For the overly responsible ones, relationships sour into a place of quiet resentment as they continue to quietly pick up the slack for those who were ambivalent or who failed to see their responsibility.

For others, life can become a place of broken and shallow relationships, as they never understood what it meant to be accountable to others and to willingly ask for feedback so that a true connection might occur.

Because when we reduce ourselves and others to merely “what need can be met”, then we have failed to understand what it is to be human.

We fail to understand that as God is, we are.

We just are.

He loves us just as we are.

Without performance.

Any changes He may ever ask of you are only out of three reasons:

  1. to benefit yourself
  2. to strengthen your relationship with someone in your life
  3. to deepen your connection with Him


The life He desires for us is so much more than the cheap quality of life that comes just from fulfilling a purpose or meeting a need.


Keep vigilant watch over your heart;
that’s where life starts.

Proverbs 4:23

(The Message)


And so every once and awhile, God allows life to shake us up a bit.

Please understand me, God is not orchestrating horrible things so that he can get your attention.  But like any good parent, he does step back sometimes to allow us to experience the consequence of our poor choices.

So that we can see how self-destructive our patterns have become.


Several years ago, my husband and I both lost our jobs and I was pregnant with our oldest son.  We also had just bought our first home.  We were rocked.  We had no idea how we would make it. And we were both wondering why God had left us up creek without a paddle.

But you know what.

We survived.

More than that.

We grew and thrived and learned the hard lessons that God was teaching us about ourselves.

And as brutal as that season was.

I don’t regret it.

Don’t misunderstand me, I wouldn’t be the first to raise my hand to do it again, but I definitely don’t regret it.

Our lives had become so efficient.

We were successful.

We had plenty of money.

We both worked hard.

But the truth is, that we weren’t really living.

We were just really efficient at getting things done.


But what kind of life is that.

And what had all of our efficiency reduced us to?


Human vending machines.


I can honestly say that I am more alive today than I was back then.


My house is messier, because I have shifted from focus from just having a clean house to teaching my kids how to pick up after themselves.

Our financial state is still considerably less than when I was also working (now, I’m one of those crazy stay-at-home, Pinterest-trolling, homeschool moms), but I wouldn’t trade the freedom of being able to be with my kids during the day as they are learning and growing. (just as long as I don’t lose my identity in it!)

It also gives me the freedom to hang at Starbucks and write.  The other amazing gift that has come from having less disposable income is learning how to do things for myself.  I just reupholstered my dining room chairs for $60 instead of shelling out $1000.00 for the drool worthy Pottery Barn version.


My Pinterest stalking habit paid off.  I reupholstered our dining room chairs.  This picture is before the nailhead trim was finished.

I have more peace.  And that, my friends, is maybe worth more than anything else.  I am not running around trying to meet everyone’s needs all the time anymore.  I still slip up and fall back into old patterns but far more often I can just chill and let the unimportant things go.

I could keep going.

The list of all of the things we took out of that season is long.

But it can be summed up in this:

When we reduce ourselves and others to merely what need can be met, then we have failed to understand what it means to be human.


And it’s so easy to do, whether it’s in a career, a church position, a praying mama pulling for her kids, a public speaker, a role that we have put on ourselves, I mean really you can lose your identity in just about anything.

Because of the needs of other people.

And the false expectations we have of ourselves.

Whether they are real or perceived.


So today, I hope that you’ll give yourself some grace.


Grace to be patient in the learning process.

It will occur whether we want it to or not.  Our choice is will we allow God to teach us something new about ourselves or not.

I hope that you’ll accept the gift of grace he’s giving.

It’s his grace to be human.







A Few Gumdrops Short Of A Gingerbread Train. . .

A Few Gumdrops Short Of A Gingerbread Train. . .

I’m not a control freak about everything, just the stuff that matters – oh, lets say for example, like if my kids and my niece made a very cool gingerbread train.


Ok, I’m a control freak.

I admit it.

But I can change if I have to, I guess.

I’m not a control freak about everything, just the stuff that matters – oh, lets say for example, like if my kids and my niece made a very cool gingerbread train.


Let me back it up – – this very cool gingerbread train I’m talking about.


I – I mean, we, we actually did pretty well during the construction phase.


We even got the dumb thing to stay standing, which is like a first ever in the Ackermann household.

It was like Olympic Gold.


And we managed to decorate our train so that it pretty well resembled the box, yeah, that’s right Wilton, we nailed it!

I even got the quintessential cute picture with the kids standing with the train.


So what’s the problem?


My four year old ate the candies right off the train when no one was looking.


Even the gumdrop buttons.


Not the gumdrop buttons!


Yes, even the gumdrop buttons!


I kept my cool.  I didn’t freak out – there was a minimal amount of nail biting and pacing, but all in all I held it together.  I made a plan and relocated the gingerbread train to the higher altitude of the kitchen counter.


And it was right about this point when my hubby started raising his eyebrow at me, silently questioning my internal distress about gumdrops and a cookie train.  I realized, I was being a teensy weensy bit of a control freak.


She’s four, I tell myself.

Breathe in.  Breathe out.

Okay, fine – she’s a kid, but if this happens when she comes home from college for visits, there will be words.


The hubby says, the point of making these things is to eat them.

I thought the point was to get it standing.


Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life

Philippians 4:6-7

(The Message)


I think that’s God’s way of telling us to chill out.

Enjoy the ride on the train of life – even if someone ate all your gumdrop buttons.


So here’s to you and your brood this holiday season!

May it be restful and fun!


(In full disclosure, I’m not the only one with issues in my house.  The hubby hates that our kids catch snow and eat it – he says it’s full of pollutants.  But seriously – what kid doesn’t eat snow?!  Yeah, that’s right, who’s not the only weirdo in our house now?)


“Cookies” by  kaboompics licensed by Creative Commons by C.C. 2.0

The Struggle Is Real

My mom is a teacher and she says profound things that I don’t understand.

Again, I swear, I was an A student in school.


. .  . I’m just a little, you know, one twist short of a slinky.


This time it happened to be about teaching.

See, the Human Calculator and I homeschool our kids.

Confession: I swear I never thought I’d homeschool my kids.


I was like “Huh?”

I felt like God was like. “Yeah, you should homeschool.”

And then I was like, “Okay”


I’m still not sure what happened.


But here we are – we are those people your parents warned you about.

Come to think of it, I think my parents warned me about those people too.

And now I are one.




So I’m asking my mom something about teaching and she nods her head very knowingly, like the best teachers do, and she says, “Well, learning doesn’t take place until the student reaches the threshold just beyond what he is capable of.”


Say whaaaaaat?

No, I’m serious.  I’m gonna need you to repeat that.


Learning doesn’t take place until the student reaches the threshold just beyond what he is capable of.


Yeah, write that down.

That’s free mom advice.

You don’t want that to go to waste.


Life is supposed to be a just a little bit difficult.


Check this out:

My troubles turned out all for the best—
    they forced me to learn from your textbook.

Psalm 119:71 (The Message)


We have some friends that moved recently but our recurring joke was “God Loves the Struggle”.  We had a few others, ongoing jokes that is, but instead of ratting out my friends, I’ll just say that what happens in home group stays in home group.


But God does love the struggle, because it means we’re learning.



It’s kinda cool, right?

God actually knows what he’s doing.


When life is hard – his intent isn’t to torture us.

It’s to teach us something.


And the Holy Spirit loves to teach all kinds of subjects.

Health, Business, Interpersonal Skills, the list goes on and on.

How ever the trouble ended up on your doorstep isn’t necessarily the point.  It’s “How is what you’re learning going to get it to go away?”


It looks a little like this:

Maybe your health issues have caused you to learn a better way to deal with stress and worry.

Maybe the struggles in starting your business have been the Holy Spirit showing you a strength you posses that you didn’t realize was there.

Maybe the arguments in your marriage have shown you that you want to learn how to communicate better.

Maybe your codependency habits have exhausted you to the point of needing to learn boundaries and how to value yourself. (I’m not going to point any elbows on this one – ahem)


God loves the struggle, because it’s an open invitation to learn something new.


Something about who he is.

Something about who you are.

Something about what he’s wanting to do for you.

Something about what you’re capable of accomplishing.

And always about how much you are loved.


Sharpen your #2’s, because school’s in session.



Photo Credit: “Pencil” by monoar permission through C.C. by 2.0