HS 193: Troubles in the Homeschool, with Wendy Speake

HS 193: Troubles in the Homeschool, with Wendy Speake

Links and Resources:

Show Notes:

We are thrilled to re-launch the Homeschool Solutions Podcast with its brand new host, Wendy Speake. Today we will be setting the stage by acknowledging that we each have a few homeschooling challenges, Wendy calls them “Triggers”. It’s important for us to pinpoint not only the struggles we’re having, but where we go when we need strength, wisdom, and help.

While we will offer practical solutions along the way, there is one overarching “solution” to every homeschooling problem. Spoiler alert: We’re talking about Jesus! Running to another cup of coffee when you feel weak, hiding behind your phone because you need a break, yelling louder, sending them to their rooms earlier, grabbing a left-over brownie when the kids go outside to play because you need a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, doesn’t get the job done when little hearts need correcting and your big heart needs a fresh supply of love. That’s why we are going to focus in on some of our most common Homeschool Triggers in this episode and talk about how Jesus may be the solution to every problem we face. This isn’t just a lofty Christian notion, we’re going to get practical today.


As a trained actress and heartfelt Bible teacher, Wendy Speake ministers to women’s hearts through storytelling and Biblical life application. During her career in Hollywood, Wendy found herself longing to tell stories that edify and encourage women. Today she does just that, writing and speaking, always pointing her audiences to Jesus. Co-author of the popular parenting books Triggers, Parenting Scripts, and Life Creative, and host of the annual 40 Day Sugar Fast. Wendy resides in Southern California with her husband, Matt, and their 3 ruddy boys. She also ministers to women on a regular basis at Wendyspeake.com


The 40 Day Sugar Fast starts January 6, 2020. Sign up now at 40daysugarfast.com

The Triggers: Exchanging Parents Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses

The Triggers Study Guide

Parenting Scripts: When What You’re Saying Isn’t Working, Say Something New


  • Figure out what you mean to say before you say something mean. (Wendy Speake)
  • I know it’s an overwhelming job some days, goodness do I know it. But the privilege of being their mom; the privilege of partnering with the Lord in what He’s doing in their lives (what He plans to do through their lives)… what a thrill.


  • “For we are God's masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)
  • 1 Kings 3:1-15





Show Transcript:

WENDY - Welcome to the homeschool solutions podcast, brought to you by Sonlight curriculum and Homeschooling.mom. I’m your host, Wendy Speake.

Here on the show every week you’ll get to listen in on some great conversations, with wonderful guests, all designed to equip us as homeschooling moms. And then once a month, we’ll be opening up the Bible together, applying God’s Word to our long, blessed, but often challenging days. It is my hope as we gather together in this space, we will encourage one another with some practical, biblical solutions. I’m so glad you’re here. Before we start the show, I’d like to thank our Sponsor, Sonlight curriculum. Complete homeschool curriculum, you’re guaranteed to love. And now, enjoy the show.

Hello. Today we are relaunching the Homeschool Solutions podcast. Pam Barnhill has done a wonderful job laying the foundation and getting us started and slapping a name on the show. Homeschool solutions, I love that name. And today we’re going to talk about why that name, Homeschool Solutions.

As you heard in the introduction, my name is Wendy Speake. It is my privilege to take us into the New Year here on the podcast. I’d love to take just a moment to tell you a little bit about myself. I am a wife, I call my husband Maddy B, and together we have three sons.

Caleb just turned 16. While he doesn’t yet have his driver’s license, He does have his permit and he will be driving solo soon. Caleb is also a musician; he helps to lead worship at a couple of our local churches. He loves to attend a music camp called Camp Electric in Nashville, TN every summer. He loves reading, he loves to read the same books that he’s read a hundred times before, especially ones that come in a long series like The Chronicles of Narnia. As a matter of fact, he just finished that one again. While he’s still my boy, he towers over me and he is built like an ox and is quick to lift heavy things for his mom. He’s a sweetheart that one.

My middle boy is Brody. Brody is 14 years old. He’s our builder, he’s always building something on the floor of his room. His imagination knows no bounds. As a young child he loved to dress up, he loved storytelling, and playing with any little toy made out of plastic. He still loves Legos and is determined to work for Lego as a designer one day, and since we live in San Diego just 15 minutes away from Lego Land, I imagine that that’s probably where his first job is going to be. We shall see.

And isn’t that so much of what parenting is about? That phrase? It sums it up: we shall see. When we homeschool our kiddos, I think there’s a lot of seeing the plan as it comes together. We’re privy to the unfolding of their passions, of their pleasures, of their giftings, of their interests. We see it all start to play out as they grow up. Hmm, I wonder what’s this going to look like as they become a young adult. What’s this gonna look like in their job, what’s this gonna look like in their hobbies? In the way that they serve in the local church? This stuff that is so much about what they look like and what we delight watching them excel at as young children, what’s it gonna look like as they continue to grow up. We shall see.

So, our youngest son, Asher is nearly 12. His first full sentence was, I’m the biggest, I joke you not. He still puffs up his chest and walks around the place as though he’s the boss and while there is still help that I get to give him learning to honor and respect authority and be a servant and not the boss over all of us. His gumption and his passion and his drive is electric, it’s exciting. I remember when he was just four years old, I woke up on a Sat. morning having slept in just a little bit. And I looked out the window and there was Asher, down the property with his dad, past the morning glory vine, hauling tree branches up to the top of the driveway. He was wearing his brother’s oversized hand me down boots, and he had a branch in his arms and a grimace in his squishy little face. And he’s always been determined, he’s always been the first one to wake up and jump into a job. He’s driven and again, and again, and again, we shall see. What is this gonna look like in the years to come.

Today on Instagram and Facebook, if you find me under the name Wendy Speake, you’ll see I have a graphic posted there that simply says, “We Shall See”. If you’d like to hop over and tell me in the comment thread, What is it that is especially unique about one of your kids, that you’re either eager to see what this is gonna be all about when they grow up. Or maybe you’re already seeing those passions and talents and personality traits shaping them up right now into something specific. I mean that’s pretty cool and I love to hear from parents. So, hop on over and engage with me there, that would be a lot of fun. I

I know that this is an overwhelming job most days, goodness, I do know it. But the privilege of being there, Mom, the privilege of partnering with the Lord and what He’s doing in their lives, what He had planned to do in their lives from the very beginning, it’s such a thrill to me. So often I think of the scripture Ephesians 2 verse 10, for we are God’s masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do. So, I’m wondering today even as I introduce myself by introducing who my kids are, what good works God has for them and therefore, we can turn the question on us. What good works does God have for us to do today in the foundation laying of what good works He has prepared for them. What are we doing, how are we helping them find their uniqueness, and prepare their giftedness, to march out, walk out, into those good works that he has for them? That’s a pretty good question. This homeschooling mothering life is a direct partnership with the One who stitched our kids together, but He didn’t just fashion them for random good works, He fashioned them for specific good works, each one of them, to find long the way. Good works that fit their skills, their passions, their pleasures, their abilities, their personalities. Just thinking about it makes me want to recommit to intentionally seeking God for His vision for their little lives.

And we’re going to talk more about this very thing later on in the episode today. But first I want to wrap up telling you a bit about myself as your new host. It’s funny to me that in this season of raising children that whenever I try to introduce ME, I always end up talking about THEM and that’s ok. There will be plenty of time to get to know one another as we gather here for the weekly podcasts.

I will however tell you just a little bit about me, how I came to take over this podcast as your new host. I’m an author, I’m the co-author of the parenting book “Triggers: Exchanging Parent’s Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses”. I wrote that book four years ago with a dear friend of mine, and a ministry partner, Amber Lia.

We were serving together in a Facebook group for moms who were specifically struggling with angry reactions and great thoughts of shame and exhaustion. And one day we asked them what their triggers were. And they responded in masse, so many reasons why they lose their temper and their patience, each day. Well, the next day Amber addressed the very first comment. And she didn’t try to teach our readers how to get their children how to behave better so that we wouldn’t have to get mad. Instead Amber focused on our hearts. She applied God’s word to OUR behavior, not theirs. And the day after that, I jumped in and addressed the next trigger on the list, and then the next and the next. You get the point. We opened up the word of God, we took a look at his parenting style. We examined what the fruit of God’s spirit in our lives should look like in those triggered moments. And we started making better plans, more biblical plans, about how we want to respond to our kids when they do wrong. Because Amber and I believed that when our kids do wrong, we can still do right.

And so, we published that collection of triggers into a book that has been a popular resource for overwhelmed moms these past few years, along with a trigger study guide. Then we wrote a follow-up book called Parenting Scripts to offer more practical help. After that, I had the great homeschool convention reach out to me to ask if I would be one of their featured speakers, because they recognized that there are plenty of homeschool triggers too. And from there I was invited to be the host of this show.

So. That’s the simple introduction, that’s what brought me to you today. So, throughout the episodes to come, we will be having guests like Sally Clarkson next week, followed by Jamie C Martin the week after that. Two of my favorite gracious homeschooling examples. These guests will offer us help as we struggle with various aspects of homeschooling. However, I’ll also be doing some solo podcasts along the way, where we dive deep into some of our most common homeschooling triggers. Those things that our kids do, or things about us, that make us respond in anger. Or simply make us wanna throw our hands up and give up.

Today we will be setting the stage by talking about why it’s important for us to pinpoint some of our most challenging challenges. Some of our most challenging struggles. There’s a quote in “Triggers”, that says, “Figure out what you mean to say before you say something mean.” I love the simple challenge because so often the things that set us off and cause us to meltdown alongside our children, they’re the same things that set us off and causes us to meltdown with them yesterday and the day before. Instead of being surprised by our struggles, what if we started considering what those struggles are, so that we can make a better plan the next time those same old challenges challenge us and threaten to undo us.

I remember for a long season, a long season, I confess, my oldest son’s ADHD, intersecting math was an absolute, hands down trigger for me. Though I knew he was struggling, and he wasn’t trying to do anything to me personally, I responded to him as though he was. And maybe if he’d tried harder, if he’d tried to focus his brain, then he could get through this without us both being in tears. I think that was how I was feeling and how I was responding to him.

This was years ago and looking back now I can see how clearly I was wrong. And I can also see how the story played out. While an answer to the problem didn’t come quickly, I was able to see that the way I was addressing Caleb was obviously wrong, it was plain and simple wrong, and I can pinpoint the problem, no doubt. But I needed a solution. I needed a homeschool solution. I needed to figure out what I meant to say to him before I said something mean. Again. And it’s not just what we say, sometimes it’s, we need to make a better plan for what we’re going to do to help them. We need to make a better plan to stay calm, yes, but we also need to make a practical plan to help them. Maybe we need the help of a specialist. Maybe we need to read a good book. Maybe we need to tune into a podcast about a specific issue.

Practically speaking, I needed some help. So, my first plan of action was to put math at the very start of the morning. I took my child off anything in his diet, this was the other thing I did, anything out of his diet that may have been intensifying his lack of focus. So, I started by taking out all artificial colors and flavors and refined sugars, and high fructose corn syrup. I started there. So again, I was looking for a solution, some help. So those were two plans: adjusting our schedule and then adjusting his diet. And I’ll tell you that second thing helped in a lot of ways. We’re not going to camp out here today, but you may want to try looking into something similar if you have children who are struggling with an inability to stay focused or to stay calm. A whole foods approach has helped behavior in our home. However, those two solutions, they weren’t enough.

So, I decided to get my sweet Caleb’s brain working better by… and okay, please wait for it, this did not work, so just know, my next plan was an absolute failure. But I tried getting my voice louder and having him do five pushups between every math problem. I felt as though maybe, uneducated as I was, maybe his brain was actually asleep, and perhaps the mixture of my loud voice, though not angry, my loud voice, and physical exercise, maybe that would work to get the synapses in his brain firing.

But, lo and behold, that did not work. It only increased the stress. So that was another, okay, good try Wendy, but that’s not it. You’ve got to keep trying. So, I called my friend Angie about this, and she suggested, why don’t you try a tutor. Just find someone who can help you if you can’t stay calm in math and he can’t learn it with you, you know, maybe have someone come in and he’ll learn from that person. But also, you eavesdrop, you figure out a teaching style that’s gonna work better for him for his challenges so that you’re not challenged.

So, my response, of course, was silly, because I was homeschooling, and I was new to homeschooling, I said, but can I do that, am I allowed to do that? As though we’re not supposed to outsource any help if we’re committed to homeschooling. Oh, sweet Wendy, I look back on myself and I just wanna give myself a pat on the head and say, keep going, you’re gonna figure this out.

But Angie responded. She did that for me. She said, just because you’re homeschooling doesn’t mean you can’t get help. Of course. Then she suggested, a friend of hers had a son, he was a homeschooled senior in high school and his name was Aaron. I remember the day that we invited Aaron over, and he came over for the first time. I watched him from the window of the house as he unfolded his long, lanky body from his car, and he shuffled to the front door and I greeted him. And when he said, Hello, he had the softest voice you’ve ever heard. And I kid you not, I thought, there’s no way this is gonna work. His voice isn’t loud enough to wake up Caleb’s brain.

But in he shuffled with a deck of card in his pocket, as an incentive for my son to get the work done within 45 minutes so that they could use the last 15 minutes to play a quick game of cards. Little did I know that this calm, kind, tall, lanky, soft-spoken, incentivising 17-year-old was exactly the teacher my son needed. And I don’t mean that he was just the teacher that Caleb needs. Caleb needed him so that he could become my teacher, modeling for me a better solution to the problem I was having with Caleb. It wasn’t just Caleb’s problem with math, it was my problem with Caleb when Caleb had a problem with math. Sure, Caleb had a problem, but the real problem was that I didn’t know what to do to help him. I needed some practical help. And this sweet kid offered some practical help just by laying an example for me to follow. But at the same time, the Lord was teaching me a thing or two as well, as He always does, when we invite him into our hearts and homes and our homeschool.

I’m reminded of the story of King Solomon. Now before I read this passage, I want you to know what we will be doing here on the Homeschool Solutions podcast. About once a month we’re going to open up the word together. We’re going to read a substantial portion of scripture, and then we’re going to apply it directly to our homeschooling days. Or maybe sometimes it will be a broader topic of parenting or marriage, or simply our faith lives. So today we are opening up our Bibles to first Kings chapter 3, starting at the very beginning and reading through verse fifteen. Hang in there with me because this is where we are going to find the real solution to every one of our problems. God’s word is alive and active, yes, but it is so applicable.

But before we dive in, I’d like to take a moment to thank another one of our sponsors, Medi-Share. Medi-Share is an affordable and Biblical healthcare alternative. You can find out more at mychristiancare.org for their ongoing support of homeschooling families, just like ours.

Okay, now back to our Bible reading today. We are in first Kings chapter three, starting in verse one. This whole passage is about King Solomon’s prayer for wisdom. And I quote: Solomon made a marriage alliance with Pharaoh, King of Egypt. He took Pharaoh’s daughter and brought her into the City of David, until he had finished building his own house and the House of the Lord, and the wall around Jerusalem. The people were sacrificing at the high places, however, because no house had yet been built for the Name of the Lord. Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David, his father, only he sacrificed and made offerings at the high places. And the King went to Gibeon, to sacrifice there, for that was the Great High Place. Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. At Gibeon, the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, Ask what I shall give you. And Solomon said, you have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David, my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, and righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward You. And You have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne this day. And now, O Lord my God, You have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in, and Your servant is in the midst of your people, whom you have chosen, a great people. Too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. Give Your servant, therefore, an understanding mind to govern Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to govern this great people? It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this, and God said to him, Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life, or riches, or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding, to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind so that none like you has been before you, and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked. Both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you all your days. And if you walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days. And Solomon awoke and behold it was a dream. Then he came to Jerusalem and stood before the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord and offered up burnt offerings and peace offerings and made a feast for all his servants.

End quote.

There are a few points that I’d like to make here and apply, once again, to our homeschooling days. First, we’re told that Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father, only he sacrificed and made offerings at the high places. That was in verse three.

Friends, no matter how sincerely you love the Lord and walk in his law and his love, we’re going to make some mistakes. Solomon went the way of his culture. Though he was sacrificing to the Lord, he was doing it where the pagans went to worship. Big mistake, yes? Still, the Lord honored his commitment to Solomon’s dad, King David, who I might add, made a mistake or two of his own, am I right? He then offered to Solomon to give him anything, anything at all, and Solomon asked for wisdom. Specifically, quote, give me wisdom as I lead this great people of yours. Of course, he was referring to the children of Israel, and now I’m applying that prayer request to our parenting because we need wisdom too. We need the Lord’s wisdom as we lead this great people of his.

Of all the prayers we could pray, the Lord loves this one. And how do we know that he’ loved it? Because he answered it. He answered Solomon’s request for wisdom that day. In verse fifteen we read……

Before this, Solomon was making his offerings at Gibeon, the highest of the high places. But once he received wisdom from above, he brought his offerings directly to the Lord at the ark of the covenant. Solomon, with the help of wisdom, changed his behavior.

Sisters, many of us need to change our behavior. When we can pinpoint our specific struggles, we need some practical help. Yes, we need to make better plans. But we also need some help from on high, wisdom from the Lord, and from his word, that can help us to change our behavior. While there may be some practical advice that you get here on this podcast, there is going to be one overarching solution to every homeschooling problem. Spoiler alert, we are talking about Jesus. Running to another cup of coffee, when you feel weak, hiding behind your phone because you need a break, yelling louder because you hope to get their attention for goodness sake, grabbing a leftover a brownie when you send the kids outside to play because you need a midafternoon pick me up, it doesn’t get the job done. When little hearts need correcting, and big hearts need a fresh supply of wisdom. That’s why we’re going to focus in on some of our most common homeschool triggers in the days to come. During my solo episodes ahead, we’re going to talk about how God’s word and about how God’s son, may be the solution to every problem that we face. This isn’t just a lofty Christian notion. This is practical. Yes, Jesus is the eternal solution. But he’s also the help we need moment, by moment, by moment, day by day by day, by long wonderful, challenging, blessed day.

I hope that my story with Caleb illustrates, humbly and embarrassingly at parts, that there are things that I needed to learn. And I learned to do them. I stopped yelling, he started learning, and sometimes we need a tutor to help us. Whatever your challenges are today, let me encourage you to pinpoint them. What are your homeschool triggers? What are the problems that need a solution? And how might you find practical solutions today?

But before we wrap things up, I have one more confession to make. Here goes. I have found over the years that instead of turning to the Lord or practical help to get me through long days, I was running to the pantry at three o’clock in the afternoon. It was as if sugar and snack, and coffee full of sugary creamers would give me the energy and the love and the patience that I needed for the job of mothering and homeschooling. What I found, however, was that a handful of chocolate chips from the back of the third shelf in the pantry, you know the one behind the olive oil and the coconut oil and the balsamic vinegar? yeah, those chocolate chips. They didn’t help me get the job done. The creamer in my coffee and tea, it didn’t help either. Leftover sweets and sweet tea from Chick filet, they were never the solution to any of my troubles each day. Sure, they made me feel better for a hot minute, but most of the time, they made a hot mess out of me. And so, at the start of the year, each year, I now host a forty-day sugar fast, for all of my friends to join me. All of my friends who also tend to run to something, in this case, something sweet. When they could be, when they should be, running to Jesus. He is our strength. He is our love. He is the only solution to every homeschooling struggle, and every life struggle. The 40-day sugar fast isn’t simply a physical detox. It really is a spiritual fast. It’s a time when we fast from sugar in order to feast on the sweetness of Christ and His sustaining and satisfying word.

As we start to get to know one another here on the Homeschool Solutions podcast, this would be a wonderful way for us to draw nearer to the Lord together. The 40-day sugar fast begins on January 6, 2020. There is still time to get signed up and join the online community. Last year we had fifteen thousand of us fasting and praying together. It is a powerful, transformative, bondage breaking, faith building time. You can find out more at fortydaysugarfast.com There’s a direct link in the show notes today, along with many other links to the Scriptures we referenced, the quotes I shared, and the resources I mentioned. I look forward to the year ahead. Please don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss next week’s interview with my dear friend and mentor of many years, Sally Clarkson.

What a privilege it is to have these conversations with you each week. You are so busy, and I don’t take it lightly that you tuned in with me here for a weekly shot of encouragement. As a reminder, you can subscribe to the Homeschool Solutions podcast through Apple or Google Play. And your positive reviews always help other homeschool families find us online.

Before we say goodbye, I’d like to thank Sonlight curriculum, one more time. Not only do they support homeschool families, they are also big supporters of the Homeschool Solutions podcast. Another supporter is the great Homeschool conventions. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to one, but I heartily endorse that you find one near you. Every year they host multiple conventions in various regions throughout the US. Find a location at greathomeschoolconventions.com. With dozens of incredible speakers, hundreds of curriculum exhibits, you will leave blessed, refreshed, helped, and encouraged.

I will be in Texas, SC, Ohio, and of course, my home state, CA, this year. I hope to see some of you there. Until next week, visit Homeschooling.mom for blog posts to encourage and support you along the way. Remember Galatians 6 verse 9, Let us not grow weary of doing good. For in due season we will reap if we do not give up. That’s a promise that I take to the bank every day and I hope you do too.

This is Wendy Speake, and I look forward to chatting with you again next week.

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