Spring 2020/ Amy Sloan

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The New Year is often the time we make big plans and goals. We decide this is the year we’ll read aloud every day to the kids. We’ll cut out caffeine completely. We’ll read quality literature after the kids are asleep instead of binge-watching Parks and Rec episodes. We’ll run a marathon. We’ll make every homeschool moment one to remember, and we’ll never yell at our kids. It’s going to be epic.

Only, is it just me? I don’t find much success with setting crazy-big-important goals in January. They usually make me cry before we even get to February. And no homeschool mom needs something else to feel dejected about in February. Shame, fear, and discouragement are not really the way we want to start fresh in a new year.

What if there are some simple ways to bring joy to the new year instead? What if we don’t try to change the whole world or the whole year or our whole homeschool this time? What if we choose to do one simple thing each day that brings joy to our own lives and the lives of our friends and family?

Maybe 2020 can be a year of humble choices, simple decisions, and “little drops of water and little grains of sand” that (by the grace of God alone) nurture love, peace, and joy in our hearts and homes!

Here are 20 simple suggestions for bringing joy to 2020:

1. Save at least one strand of Christmas lights when you’re packing up the holiday decorations, and hang them somewhere in your bedroom. Turn them on at night while you’re reading or getting ready for bed to add coziness to your day.

2. Send an actual snail mail letter to a friend. It doesn’t have to be long or profound. Bonus: include a pre-stamped and addressed envelope in this snail mail letter, and you might get a letter back!

3. Speak to the manager. The next time you’re at a restaurant or store and have good service, tell the manager how much you appreciated the kindness of their employee. Everyone likes to complain to the manager. Be the person who gives an encouraging word.

4. Read an unread book from your own collection. Is there a book sitting on your bookshelf that you’ve always intended to read?

5. Go outside on a sunny day. Stand still in the sunlight with your eyes closed for five minutes, breathing deeply. Five minutes will suddenly feel really long. Go on. Keep breathing and soaking in the sun. Be still.

6. Memorize all the stanzas of a favorite hymn. Sing it during your quiet time, in the shower, during morning time with the children, at the dinner table, or while driving in the car! You might be surprised how quickly you can learn it!

7. Set the timer for fifteen minutes. Fill a garbage bag with as many things as you can to declutter in fifteen minutes. Set it in your vehicle immediately and drop it off at your local thrift store next time you’re out.

8. Slip a note under your child’s door or under your spouse’s pillow listing the things you’re thankful for about them.

9. Gather your journal (or a piece of scrap paper) and your favorite writing implement. Set the timer for ten minutes. Write whatever comes to mind. This might be things you need to do, feelings, ideas, or even “this feels really hard and dumb” comments. Some people call this a “brain dump” or “freewriting.” Notice the parts that make you feel uncomfortable. Why do you think you feel that way?

10. Write a favorite Bible verse in pencil on your bathroom wall beside the mirror or above your kitchen sink. If that seems too scandalous, write it on a 3×5 card and tape it to the wall instead. I have written Philippians 4:8 (in very normal, imperfect handwriting) on the wall above my pantry door and the phrase “sanctification happens here” on the wall above my kitchen sink!

11. Learn something new and outside of your comfort zone. You can read a book, listen to a podcast, watch a documentary, or attend a lecture—but stretch your mind and your interests! We say we homeschool to encourage our children to be life-long learners, but are we modeling that for them in our own lives?

12. Go to the produce section of your grocery store. Buy at least one item you’ve never tried. Learn how to prepare it, and then eat it! Maybe each family member can take turns choosing as you try something new each week!

13. Bake chocolate chip cookies. Take half to a neighbor.

14. Walk briskly, breathing deeply, for fifteen minutes. If at all possible, walk outside. If weather or small children do not permit, walk up and down the stairs. If even this is not possible, walk in place. You can do this.

15. Spend quality time praying for another homeschool mom you know who is struggling, and then send her a text or email to let them know you love them and are praying for them. We all need to know we’re not alone.

16. Crank up and belt out some of your favorite songs from high school! Host a family dance party in the living room. (Embarrassing your children is good for them.)

17. Fill eight glasses full of water in the morning. Drink them all before you go to bed.

18. Practice exhortation (or positive gossiping.) The next time you’re with your homeschool mom friends, speak kindness and truth about others. We all know how destructive backbiting can be. But what if we were the people sharing words that built others up, even behind their backs? Talk about how great other people are, even if they aren’t around! (Never participate in negative gossip that tears others down!)

19. Set a repeating alarm right now on your phone. For example, it might be every Tuesday at 9 am. When that alarm goes off, go find all your children and give them a big smile and a huge hug!

20. Write a short email to your pastor thanking him for his service. Share something from last week’s sermon that especially encouraged or challenged you. Let him know you appreciate him and are praying for him.

I hope you are inspired to try some of these simple, humble, joy-filled goals this new year. They’re one-time goals, but you may find you want to keep repeating them. Head to HumilityandDoxology.com/greenhouse and let me know how it goes! May God bless you abundantly in 2020. Standfast!

Amy Sloan is a second-generation homeschooler by grace alone to five children ages four to fourteen. The Sloan family adventures in Holly Springs, NC. Follow @HumilityandDoxology on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and at HumilityandDoxology.com.
Amy Sloan
Amy Sloan is a second-generation homeschooler by grace alone to five children ages four to fourteen. The Sloan family adventures in Holly Springs, NC. Follow @HumilityandDoxology on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and at HumilityandDoxology.com.
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Spring2020 Encouragement GREENHOUSE