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Discovering the Artist Within

Lori Headshot

I hope you can join me as I chat with The Social Homeschooler and share with her my thoughts on Discovering the Artist Within.

I’ll be chatting with her on Friday, August 1st at 12 noon CT but you can also tune in via podcast just by clicking here.

Discovering the Artist Within

Can’t figure out your child’s areas of strengths and creativity?  Don’t feel like you’re creative, or perhaps you have let your creativity lie dormant? We were all created in God’s image and that means each of us have creativity that needs to be nurtured and developed in order for us, and our children, to be whole hearted individuals. During this interview, Lori will not only remind you of that creativity in you and your children, but also give you practical ways to make that creativity grow within your own life and the life of your family.

Empty Nest Reveals an Empty Tank


One thing that I have noticed over the past week or so is that I’m running on empty and I’m pretty much out of gas.  Now that the dust has settled from the school year and I’ve taken a deep breath, I’m realizing just how out of gas I am.  I knew my tank was pretty low but when there are deadlines and people counting on you, somehow you find a way to tunnel through.

Over the course of the last two years, it has become evident to me that I have been running dangerously low in my personal “gas tank.”  Once I recognized that I began taking steps to take better care of myself, to slow down and to quit feeling responsible for the entire world.  I’ve made some great progress in these areas.  However, I’ve also had an obligation to complete responsibilities that I had previously agreed to and to continue to “run the race” so to speak.  You can’t just resign from life!  However, since starting this empty nest preview summer, I’ve realized that this empty tank I’ve been feeling goes a bit deeper than I thought.  No, my life is not coming to an end and the sky if not falling…but I’m tired…BONE tired!

So, I have some words of advice for those of you who are not quite as far along on this life journey as I am right now.  I have some advice for those of you who think an “empty nest” is so far away it is just a dream. I have some counsel for those of you who are chronic over achievers….those that are chronic over-schedulers…those that are constantly running.  Here it is!

You may be a person that thrives on activity…and that’s not a bad thing.

You may be a mother at the start or right smack dab in the middle of your child rearing years….that’s a wonderful thing.


You may be someone that over-schedules and overachieves because of past experiences and fears….that could be a bad thing.

But I would suggest one thing

Take the time to take care of yourself….spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally, relationally….

Take the time to nurture you.

Take the time to rest, refresh and renew!

An empty tank won’t get you or your “passengers” anywhere!

A starving mother can’t feed her children!

Life goes in stages.  Some times are busier than others.  Some periods require more mental energy, others require more physical energy….and still others require emotional energy and stamina.  The key is making each of those periods a stage, not necessarily a permanent way of life.  If you don’t make it a stage, you’ll end up with an empty tank.

I’m really striving to use this time of “empty nest” to do just that.  My tank is running on empty and I have to stop and get gas…and I know just where to do that.

“Come to me all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”  

BUT, it takes time and it takes diligence to make myself stop and “gas up.” It takes patience to see the results and the renewal.

But I trust it will come! 

What about you?  Running on empty?

Faith and Courage,


Happy Father’s Day, Mr. Janke

Originally published June 17, 2012

It used to be that I dreaded Father’s Day!  I hated going to church on that day and being surrounded by all the picture perfect families, their picture perfect clothes, picture perfect smiles and what appeared to be their picture perfect lives.  Picture perfect was not something I had experienced in the area of a father-daughter relationship.  I was in the minority there…a child from a broken home. My mom was wonderful and made so many sacrifices for me.  However, I’m sure you’ll agree…fathers are important.

Lori Grad asst crpd

That dread of father’s day continued into adulthood.  It didn’t seem to matter that people told me that God was my father…a champion of the fatherless.  For a time, it didn’t seem to help seeing our own family and the wonderful example that John was as a father to our children.  Then, one day…through a multitude of circumstances and events, God reminded me that I had experienced a father-daughter relationship with an “adopted father”…someone who chose to care about me, to take an interest in me, to take time to listen and advise, and to do all of that even though I wasn’t his “real” daughter.

I will be forever grateful for Mr. Dan Janke.  I played the piano for the Junior Church program that he oversaw and each Sunday he would drive to my house, pick me up early and take me in so that we could be there on time when the children began to arrive.  Those rides were jam packed with conversations regarding boys, challenges, Biblical principles, God, and my plans and hopes for the future.  He listened…he cared…he took the time to invest in me…to see potential that others seemed to overlook.  He warned me and cautioned me in areas that needed to be spoken into at various points in my life. He came to my games (and his son’s games) and sat in the stands and cheered for us.  He was there…always there.

What really amazes me is that he did this because he wanted to.  He had no obligation to me.  He had no responsibility for me.  He had a family of his own…a wife and three boys…and he was a brilliant man that worked for Martin Marietta.  He was a deacon in the church.  He had a full plate and yet, he unofficially adopted me.  He showed his family and he showed me…unconditional love.  He was a picture of God’s unconditional love towards me.

I haven’t seen him for years.  But now, each year on Father’s Day, it is Dan Janke that comes to my mind…and I rejoice in the picture that he reflected to me of God’s unconditional love.  Truth be known….I married someone that exemplifies alot of those same qualities.  And over the years, as I’ve had the opportunity to work with and around hundreds of young people, it is the example of Mr. Dan Janke, that set the stage for me to look for the potential in my own children and in other students that others might miss, to spend time listening, to speak into situations where caution is needed and not ignore those opportunities, and to foster leadership in young people. These are things that I learned from my “adopted” father.

And for that, and many other things, I will be forever grateful.

Happy Father’s Day…Mr. Janke!

Simplifying for Less Stress is STRESSFUL!

Every week I get this very peaceful blog post in my inbox.  Every week this post gives me a glimpse into a more simple and streamlined lifestyle where “stuff” and packed schedules are a thing of the past.  Where clutter of both mind and matter is a thing of the past.  Inspired by this blog, I’ve been counting down the days until the 1st of June so that I could get a handle on some mental and physical clutter that has had me bogged down.  I have been dreaming of an idyllic scenario of a totally decluttered, streamlined and simplified household.

Alas, that does not happen overnight.

Simplifying for less stress is STRESSFUL!

Currently, our master bathroom downstairs is a disaster.  The sink is in our bedroom, the toilet is on the back porch, my bathroom dresser and all its contents are in our bedroom.  Heaven forbid that you have to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.  If you do, you must feel your way across the room so as not to run into the storage bins and boxes that are waiting to be taken to a garage sale site or consignment store.

In order to make the best use of our time, we thought that while the tile grout and sealant were taking their 48 hours to dry, cure..or WHATEVER, that we would start on some things in the kitchen area that needed to be ridded out and rearranged.  We have had a fridge that has been leaking for years…and when I say YEARS…I mean at least four.  Being the “frugal” person that I am, since it was leaking on the INSIDE and not on the floor, I thought I could deal with it.  But about a week ago, we ran into a fridge sale that well, was better than anything I could have imagined.  So, we got a fridge that does not leak on the inside or the outside.  Hallelujah!  The problem is…it mean we had to rearrange some cabinets because it was bigger than we planned AND it sticks out a bit from the cabinets.  Well, this means that the island must be moved.  (Can I have another HALLELUJAH…I HATE THAT ISLAND!)  But that also means, that I had to empty out the cupboards and the island and store that stuff somewhere else temporarily.  Now, the old fridge is on my deck waiting to go to fridge heaven, the contents of my cupboards and island are in boxes in the living room and the rearranged cupboards cannot be permanently reattached until we finish the repair of the squeaky kitchen floor that has driven me crazy for years…and by years I mean EIGHT!

The only room in the house that currently looks simplified and clean is the laundry room…THE LAUNDRY ROOM of all things!

All of this stress in the name of simplification!  

  • I can’t find ingredients to cook.
  • I can’t find my clothes.
  • I can’t use my bathroom.
  • I can’t find my books for research.
  • I can’t find all the stuff I brought home from classes at the end of the year so that I can put it away.
  • I can’t find this year’s homeschool “stuff” so that I can put it away and get ready for next year’s homeschool “stuff.”
  • I can’t think!
  • In some places in the house, I can’t even move! :)

That’s it!  I’m going to the office!

Have a great day!

Faith and Courage, Lori

P.S.  YES…I know that it will be worth it in the end…and that this stage is only temporary!  But today, I’m not really ready to hear that! :)

P.P.S  NO…I’m not posting pictures!



Community, Stability, and an Empty Nest



I wish I was more eloquent…more succinct, and more able to communicate my thoughts and feelings on this topic.  I think it is a topic that needs to discussed more often and in more settings.  Alas, I’m going to do my best to share my heart with you on this very important topic.  I hope you will stick with me to the end of the article, so that you can join in the discussion on…


I grew up with it and never realized what it was.  I am a private school graduate so I didn’t attend our local public school growing up.  My community revolved around church and school and many of the same people were involved in each.  (that does have some “problems” to it…but I digress…)  Some of these people saw me grow up since I started to school there in the fifth grade.  They saw me grow, change, make good AND bad decisions, succeed and fail.  They saw me happy, sad, single and “in a relationship.” They saw me perform in the band, in the choir, and on the piano.  They saw me graduate, go off to college, come home, get married and move away.  It was not a perfect community.  But for me, it was an important community.  In many ways, it gave me a sense of home, a sense of stability, a sense of security.

Yesterday, I attended the graduation ceremony of the Class of 2014 at what I consider to be our local high school.  (25 miles away)  The graduating class contained some special young men that John has coached on the high school baseball team throughout their high school careers.  There were 24 graduates in all…about the same number of graduates as Artios of Gwinnett had for 2014.  Throughout the ceremony, I was reminded time and time again of the importance and significance of community…not just for students but for parents and families.  

We moved to Colorado 8 years ago now.  We moved for many reasons but one of the most significant reasons was to find a simpler and slower pace of life.  You’ve heard me talk about that before.  Not everyone has the choice to choose where they live, but at that time, God had opened the doors for us to be able to do just that.  John worked for a corporation that allowed him to work from home and we had structured Artios in such a way that I could also move to a different role and work from anywhere.  Door after door opened, and we walked through them joyfully.  So, we moved to what many would consider the middle of nowhere and began a search for a new community.

Community can happen anywhere.  It doesn’t have to be a specific small town.  It doesn’t always happen within a church.  It doesn’t always happen at a school or a particular program that you are involved in. But it does need to happen.  For me, growing up, it happened at our church and school, not within the neighborhood where I lived.  For my two older boys, it happened within Artios.  There was a group of kids that had grown up together there.  They had been involved in the program for years and when it was time, they all graduated together.  To this day, MANY of them still stay in touch and some still get together. It became a lasting type of community and association.  For our third and fourth sons, it happened in a completely different way…and when it wasn’t there, we all felt it.

What am I getting at?

Yesterday, at this small town graduation, I was once again reminded of the importance of community. The speech given by the salutatorian really hit on this point.  60% of that graduating class had been in that school system since preschool.  That means that some of the teachers there had seen those kids grow from preschool through high school.  That means that some of the families had known each other that long and had encouraged each other along the way.  That means that in attendance at this graduation, were “empty nesters” who were still a part of that community even though they no longer had their own children enrolled.  They knew that it was important to stay involved in these kids lives.  The salutatorian mentioned how all of those things had given her security…that being in a small school had never bothered her…that she didn’t feel the need to get away from small town living.  Community had given her roots and lasting relationships.  It gave her a place to come home to.

And, I thought of homeschooling.  Now, you know I am an advocate of homeschooling!  For pete sake, I’ve been doing it for 20 years, I better believe in it.  Although, I don’t believe it is the answer for everyone, we believe it has been the right answer for us.  But I also know that there is a bit of a speed bump that homeschoolers often get stuck on because they don’t see it and they don’t recognize it…and that’s the need for community for their children.  Yes, I know that family is EXTREMELY important.  If you have read my writing, you know I believe that with all my heart.  But children also benefit from a sense of community.


The problem that I see is that we have a very transient society which makes finding true community difficult.  This is even more true with homeschoolers as they feel more free to make their own choices, as they make themselves transient and jump from program to program, teacher to teacher, church to church and never allow true community to form.  I understand the need to find community that “fits”, that has positive influences on our children.  I get it!  I do it!  But, I also am concerned because I see homeschoolers without a sense of community…anywhere…not at church, not in homeschooling, not in outside activities…no where.  They won’t stay put long enough to develop it.  They see a problem or an issue and instead of being part of the solution…they run.


Now, there is a difference between “socialization” and community.  The whole “socialization” issue is pretty ludicrous for most homeschoolers.  Most homeschoolers are socialized out the whazoo!  But that’s not what I’m talking about…I’m talking about roots and relationships.

We’ve made some mistakes in this area with all the boys along the way.  But one of the things we did right, was to find a group that were “our people” (do you know what I mean) and stick with them. That group developed into Artios of Gwinnett over the years.  When we moved, we started over and that community looked differently in Colorado than it had in Georgia.  In the case of our last son, we actually had to make that group by starting Artios of Littleton, knowing that we would find “our people” by doing so.  We had to stick with Scouts and baseball even when it was difficult…because we knew we would find “our people” by doing so. And, we did! We had to cultivate our own community…and I believe it has made a difference…to our family, to us as parents, and to our boys.

Yesterday, I saw a local community who within their public school had 24 graduating seniors.  I also saw a community that had come together and created community related scholarships for those seniors that totaled over $64,000.  (not counting scholarships given by colleges themselves) I had never, NEVER seen anything like it.  That may not sound like much to you…but we live in a very, VERY rural county. In our ENTIRE county there are approximately 16,000 people with a per capita annual income of approximately $25,000.  Instead of focusing on the problems inherent with living in a rural setting and the smaller amounts of money available per household, they created solutions.  There were local scholarships given for as little as $250 and local scholarships given totaling $12,000.  There were about fifty local scholarships in all.  Why?  Because this community loved these kids…they KNEW these kids…and they cared about these kids.  They are committed to their community.

Community doesn’t always look or develop exactly the same.  This year I also attended the graduation ceremony of the Class of 2014 at Artios of Gwinnett this year.  I was privileged to have been asked to be their graduation speaker. The same cheering for individual graduates that I saw yesterday at the local public high school was the same type of individual celebration that I had seen at Artios of Gwinnett. There was a sense of community at both graduations.  There were families and students that had started at Artios of Gwinnett in kindergarten and had been together all the way through. I saw families who had given countless hours in order to help to build a program in Gwinnett that would both meet their families educational needs but also their need for community.  Both communities, our local high school and Artios of Gwinnett, had experienced triumph together and had also experienced loss and grief. There was the same sense of celebration for the individual student.  There was the same sense of “home”….a sense that although they were leaving that community, at least for a time, that there would be hundreds of people “back home” that would be cheering them on. I know this community also exists at other Artios campuses, in other programs and at other local schools. However, I’m afraid that across the country, a true sense of community is the exception and not the rule because community necessitates commitment to one another…and people are afraid of long-term commitment.

You are probably still wondering what I’m getting at.  

  • Because of our propensity to independent thinking, homeschoolers often forget about the importance of long-term community for them and for their kids.
  • If you aren’t a homeschooler, this applies to you too!  How often do we sit and criticize what is wrong with our local communities, schools, churches and more, but NEVER get involved in finding a solution.  Let’s be part of the solution.
  • Community gives roots and relationships.
  • Community doesn’t mean there aren’t problems and issues.  It does mean that there is a core group that are committed to each other to find solutions to those problems and issues.
  • If you can’t find community, you can create it!
  • True community looks different for different individuals.
  • Understanding the importance of community means you realize that it isn’t about YOU.


Again, I wish I was more eloquent…more succinct, and more able to communicate my thoughts and feelings on this topic.  I think it is a topic that needs to discussed more often and in more settings.  I think we must realize the importance of community both for us and for our children…both now, and during the empty nest years.

Where do you find your community?

Faith and Courage,