Avoid the Comparison Trap

This post was originally published at The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, April 2016. 


Avoid the Comparison Trap

Young Student Looks At Books Flying

Homeschool Conference season is quickly approaching. I can get pretty flustered this time of year. Usually, I begin by doubting my approach altogether.

Am I focusing too much on the school routine? Should I lean more toward Charlotte Mason? Are my expectations too high? I’m not doing enough. I need to add copywork. We should study French. What about PhysEd?

Then, I start questioning our resources. I’ll ask other parents about their favorite curriculum, read online reviews like a madwoman and generally drive myself crazy thinking about the overwhelming rooms filled with shiny new books. By the time I get to a conference, I’m ready to melt down into a puddle on the resource room floor. And that’s before thinking about the dollar value of our purchases. Cha-ching!

When you first start homeschooling, it’s natural to look to what others are doing, to see what is available and what is possible. As time goes on though, we should pay more attention to what is and what isn’t working in our own homes. Thinking this way has helped lower my level of stress around our approach and the resources we use. Now I can enjoy the fellowship and speakers at a conference rather than being bogged down by thoughts new curriculum. I can listen to struggles and successes of friends without thinking I need to change direction myself. Here are some questions you can ask yourself before making changes in your homeschool:


  • Are our days consistent with our purpose for home education? Are you trying to meet state or provincial requirements? Are character and developing a love for Jesus a priority? What is your family’s vision for the future?
  • Is Mom (or Dad) happy? Do you like specific, daily routines or are you more of a free spirit? Do you feel like a strict teacher all the time or is your teaching style consistent with your personality?
  • Are the kids happy? Can you follow their interests, at least some of the time? Are lessons presented in ways they can best understand and retain content? It can be tough to match parent teaching styles with child learning needs, especially with a larger number of children, so compromise may be necessary.
  • Have you pinpointed areas of need? If your child is really struggling or everyone dreads a particular subject, a change may be in order.
  • Have you pinpointed areas of strength? When things are working well in one area, it might be worth trying the same strategies or resources in other areas too.
  • Who’s idea is this purchase? It can be so easy to get caught up in the excitement of something new or useful. Before following a recommendation, take time to evaluate whether it’s the right choice for your family.

Looking through net pages

Of course my ears still perk up when a friend talks about something she loves. I still read reviews and want to try new things. I even make changes now and then, but because I’m following our needs and interests, I can feel peaceful about the way our homeschool is running.

How to Stop Questioning Yourself


Why is it that we are always questioning ourselves and our abilities? And not just in one area either. As busy wives and mothers we tend to run in so many different directions. I don’t know about you, but there are times when I am wondering about my choices in every area at the same time. Here are some examples of the questions I struggle with:


  • Family – Am I being supportive and loving to my husband and children? Do I spend enough time with them? Am I disciplining enough? Too much?
  • Homeschool – Am I doing the right thing, keeping my children home? Am I being selfish? Are we using the right curriculum? Are my expectations too high? Too low?
  • Faith – Am I spending enough time with God each day? Is it okay to focus on this specific topic? I should be praying more. Which devotions are best for the children? What do I know? What do I need to know? How should I defend my faith to others?
  • Meal planning/Diets- Fat-free? Gluten-free? Sugar-free? Affordable? Restrictive? Permissive? Holy cow, this topic is scary!!!
  • Ministry- Is this where I belong? Am I serving enough? When should I say yes? Is it okay to say no?
  • Working – Should I work? Should I stay home with the kids? Is it okay to work part-time?

Of course, these are only a few examples. Maybe your list is longer. Some of these questions may be valid. At times, it can be important to re-evaluate our situations. On the other hand, sometimes we question ourselves because we have access to too much information about what others are doing. We constantly compare ourselves even though our circumstances may be entirely different.  I’m learning to do that less often. I am also learning to be more confident in my choices, by letting God guide me in my decision-making. Here are some strategies I use.

Be calm.  Just breathe. Some of these things will work themselves out on their own, in their own time.

Wait. If I wait patiently instead of trying to analyze and figure everything out on my own, it’s possible that I will just know what to do.

Trust God. He has given me the gifts and talents He knows I need to fulfill His purpose in my life. I can be confident in my choices and abilities when I recognize these things.

Turn off some of the outside influences. Honestly, I get so overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information that is available just by pressing a few buttons on my laptop. Often, I am so bogged down by blogs, books, sermons, podcasts, etc., that I wouldn’t be able to hear Him if he was shouting in my ear.

Listen. How many times have I asked God questions but haven’t taken the time to listen to his answers? Right now, I am practicing just a few minutes of silence a day. And it is hard! But I am expecting that God will speak to me in these very special times.

Spend time in the Word. If we are focused on the Truth, we can more easily block out the voices that try to tell us we aren’t good enough.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.”

Proverbs 3: 5-6

Are you constantly questioning? What is the toughest area for you? I would love to hear ways you have found to be more confident.

Cool Resource that Combines Faith & Fitness

Faithful Workouts Logo


Hey Moms, how are you doing with those New Years Resolutions?

It’s that time of year where fitness plans and promises of healthy eating have started to go by the wayside. Thankfully, I’ve just found a little motivation to get back on track. A few weeks ago, I stumbled across Faithful Workouts.  Michelle Spadafora is a fitness instructor and has decided to apply her faith to what she knows about nutrition and exercise and share it with the world. FOR FREE.

If you sign up for Michelle’s Free F3 (Food, Fitness & Faith) plan, you’ll have access to weekly newsletters, meal plans, recipes, cooking videos and over 40 fitness videos that are set to inspiring Christian music. You can also visit the Faithful Workouts online store to purchase DVDs, clothing, equipment and Michelle’s book, ReIgnite, a 12 week bible study focusing on physical and spiritual fitness.ReIgnite Book She even sells a homeschool PE/Health curriculum and a workout DVD for youth.

I have tried several of the free workouts which are set to contemporary Christian music. Michelle is a great leader with an upbeat personality and takes a few minutes in each video to chat about how God and our faith can be a part of our plans for health and fitness.  If you are looking for friends and accountability, you can visit the site’s Forums too.

Just so you know, I haven’t received any compensation for linking to Faithful Workouts. I simply think this is a resource that many will enjoy.

What I’ve Loved About Being Home With My Kids

FontCandy (2)It wasn’t always going to be like this, you know. I didn’t plan to live in yoga pants with my hair tied back. I definitely wasn’t going to have time to chat with other mommies while the kids played on the floor beside us. Nope. I was going to be the super-career-mom, living it up in a dual income family, maybe even wearing high heels. I was going to teach other people’s kids, I guess while my own were in daycare.

Then I had a problem. I had kids. Beautiful angels, sweet cherubs. I suppose I made the mistake of holding them, looking into their eyes. Suddenly, I no longer wanted the career I had put myself through university on credit cards for. I’m not sure how it happened. I know many moms itch for adult interaction while they are home with their infants. They can’t wait to get out of the house and back to work. I thought I would be that mom. Not so. In fact, I left my daughter once, for four hours, in the entire year of maternity leave (Yes, I am an eternally grateful Canadian mom). After returning to work, I counted down the minutes for the next 9 months, until my son was born. I still worked for a year after that, but had moved into a remote position where working from home was often possible.

I’m a bit of a control freak, so missing the important milestones likely would have driven me crazy. Thankfully, my babies seemed to take first steps, say first words and eat new foods in the evenings and on weekends. When I was finally able to make the move to S-A-H-M, I was ecstatic! I was so ready for it. Finally, I knew what they were eating, drinking, watching and discovering. I got to kiss their boo-boos and snuggle when they were sad. I was in awe as their goos and gaas turned into words and sentences and conversations. I have loved watching them grow and develop. Since we eventually decided to homeschool, I’ve also been able to enjoy learning alongside them and following their interests.

I love having the flexibility of taking a weekend vacation mid-week, the ability to drop everything to help out a family member, the time to put healthy meals on the table and the freedom to stay home when we are sick. I can’t forget the stay-at-home-wife part of this equation either. My husband has a flexible schedule which means lots of evenings out but lots of daytime hours in. The kids and I love being able to greet him and often get to spend short bursts of time with him throughout the day. I’ve been able to support him and be his computer nerd as his business has grown. I appreciate that we can share our faith and watch it grow in everyday situations. I love being there when any of them need me. Our family shares a bond that would be much harder to cultivate if only evenings were available.

I’ve known many working moms who have been able to build these relationships successfully and I know not everyone shares my feelings here. For some families, staying home with kids is an unattainable luxury. For others, it might be seen as a prison sentence. Me? I’m thankful for the opportunity. This is just where I want to be.

Do you stay at home? Do you work? Either way, I’d love to hear where you find your joy.

Happy New Year 2016!

new-year_110006542-011314intChristmas Season Chaos

I’ve done it again. I’ve eaten too much, my exercise program has dropped off almost completely and household routines are way out of whack. This happens to me every year, during the Christmas season. and every year, come January 1st, I start pulling things back together. I thrive on regular routine, I know what I need to do and I am confident that I will get to where I need to be.

This year, as schedules come back on track, I have a different kind of resolution! I’ve set my goals. I’ve laid out my plans. Now I need to press forward and STOP COMPARING MYSELF TO OTHERS.


Motivation or Discouragement?

Comparison is, in fact, one of my biggest progress killers. While comparison, for some, can lead to healthy competition and motivation, for others, it inevitably leads to discouragement. I’ve always thought I was in the first group and maybe in some situations, I am. At other times though, seeing what other busy woman in similar situations can accomplish only serves to invoke my perfection and procrastination genes. Fear of failure or inadequacy can stop me in my tracks faster than Perfect Pinterest Mom can bake her Christmas cookies.

Realistically speaking, when we compare ourselves to others, we only see the tip of the iceberg. We have no idea what is going on behind the scenes, how hard people are working or what they may be sacrificing or going through to get to where they are.


We are Individuals

Stop Comparing YourselfLast fall, I came across this photo on fitness guru, Brett Hoebel’s Facebook page. Obviously, the above photo was specifically related to weight loss and fitness but for the last several months, I’ve been pondering how it applies to so many areas of life. It actually helped me move through this season with less stress than usual. I am different than other people. We each have unique life circumstances, different body types, diverse family needs and dissimilar priorities. Some of us are more creative. Others are more efficient. We don’t necessarily accomplish the same goals. We have different dreams and aspirations and our rate of progress will not be the same. And that’s okay!

Whether we are thinking of our roles as wives and mothers, our responsibilities as homeschool teachers, our ability to serve in Christian ministry, our careers outside of the home or any other area of potential comparison with others, it is important to keep things in perspective. We can always work hard and do our best in all situations. That doesn’t mean doing better than someone else. God created you and me for a special and unique purpose. He gives us the gifts, talents and resources we need to meet His needs. Honour your individuality!

Collossians 3:23

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.


Have a very Safe & Happy New Year! All the best and may you reach your goals in 2016.

Remembering the Reason . . .


What’s on your Christmas list this year? Are you going to get everything you asked for? Are you going to be too stressed out to enjoy the items that fill your stocking anyway? This year, I’m not.

When Nanny recently asked my son what would happen if he didn’t get everything he wanted for Christmas, he quickly responded, “I’ll be happy with what I do get.” My daughter often states, “It’s not about the presents but about celebrating Jesus’ birth and spending time with family.” Am I proud of their answers? Yes. Is it possible they are just telling us what we want to hear? Maybe. But their responses this year have made me check my motives and ask how I’m doing with remembering why Christmas is important.

This month has felt calmer and less stressful than other years, despite sadness and concern for several special people in my life.

Here are a few things I’m focusing on, to keep my attitude on track during this holiday season:

1. Continually counting my blessings

2. Enjoying friends and family more often

3. Worrying less about perfection

4. Giving or serving in my church and community

5. Saying yes to my kids more often

6. Remembering Jesus, not just as the infant in the manger, but as the man who died so you and I could have eternal life

I always feel like there is so much more I could do differently but this year, I’ve made steps in the right direction.

Merry Christmas to you all! All the best to you and yours in 2016.

How do you keep the Spirit of Christmas alive? Are you doing anything different this year?


Man Walking on Crutches

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV


Last week, I broke a bone in my foot. Again! For the third time actually. Yes, apparently, I inherited some clumsy genes. Thankfully, no surgery is required and the bone is already beginning to heal.

The last several days have been tough in so many ways. If you’ve ever spent time on crutches, you know the first few days can be very painful as every muscle in your body gets used to carrying your weight in a different way. Then there is the balancing act that you need to do for the most basic tasks. If I had good balance at the best of times, I probably wouldn’t have broken three bones in the last 7 years, but now I need to hop on one foot to dress, shower and use the washroom.

When my daughter was three, she often said, “I do it myself, Mommy”. Ironically, we heard “I can’t do it!” just as often. That is exactly the way I feel right now. Unable to walk easily and navigate the stairs in my home, there is so much that I want and need to be able to do that I find myself melting down in the middle of the kitchen just like that tiny three-year-old.

I don’t know what it is, but asking for help has always been incredibly difficult for me. These broken bones have been humbling experiences for me. Slowly, over the last few years, I have had to admit that I cannot do everything on my own. God has been showing me that pride is an obstacle in my life, not just when I am walking on crutches, but in other areas of my life as well. Learning to rely on others and especially on Him has been an important part in my growth as a Christian woman. In fact, I’m finding that letting others do things for me is very freeing. It doesn’t mean I’m weak, a bad mother or an unsupportive wife. Instead, it allows me to focus on the things I can do well. God has given us friends and family for a reason.


Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV


My dependence on others, this week, has made me think about how often we act the same way in our relationship with the Lord. We often try to take the reins, attempting to do it our own way, unwilling to admit that He is in full control of every situation. Of course, this means we often end up in situations we didn’t expect, sometimes dealing with undesirable consequences. The good news is, we can rely on His strength to get us through those too.

What are you trying to do on your own? Can you ask for help? Can you lean on the Lord and allow Him to take you through in His strength?

Just Do It!

Decide Commit Succeed

David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished. (1 Chron 28:20)



A very wise friend of mine recently shared some advice she received from a very wise friend of hers. At the time, we were talking about tackling our personal health and fitness goals, yet again. For some reason, this statement struck a chord: DECIDE – COMMIT – SUCCEED.

Maybe it is because this advice came on the heels of reading the ebook “Commit: How to Blast Through Problems & Reach Your Goals Through Massive Action” by Linda Formicelli.

The author scoffs at the idea of taking baby steps and instead tells us to commit fully and get it done already! She suggests using every strategy you can think of to attack a problem until you overcome it. This made so much sense to me. Obviously, some strategies we brainstorm won’t be doable but it’s important to really think through our excuses before throwing those ideas away. If inconvenience is the only reason, do it anyway!

I’ve tried the bits-and-pieces approach to getting healthy but I never seem to be able to stick with it for long. I’ve been on and off for a long time so my progress has been stalled for a long time. I needed to DECIDE. Now, I am applying a blast-through-it philosophy and starting to see results. COMMITted to moving forward, I’m attacking the problem from every direction; learning about nutrition and exercise, tracking meals, moving as much as possible, enlisting the support of my family, being accountable to (and inspired by) a friend and seeking spiritual guidance to stay on track.

Am I going to fall? Yep. Last weekend, for example, was a bust. There will always be bumps in the road so forgiveness is part of my plan too. Am I going to see SUCCESS? Hey, my 7-year-old just told me my calves are really hard! From a kid who’s never been afraid to comment on my jiggly arms, that’s a serious compliment! This is a long-term plan. If I’m looking at the trend, rather than the daily ups and downs, progress is definitely visible. I’m also much less focused on the number on the scale than in the past. I’m feeling stronger, have fewer minor health complaints and can keep up to my kiddos (most days anyway). Those things are motivating in themselves.

I’m excited to see where this goes and I can’t wait to use this approach in other areas of my life too.

What problem would you like to blast through? How many strategies to do it can you think of? How many of those can you use?


Happy Mother’s Day!


“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

Exodus 20:12


This morning, I heard a wonderful, hope-filled message on Mother’s Day, from a woman who wasn’t even a Mom. Then I spent the afternoon with my family. It was a special day but then, every day is when I’m with them. Cliché? Maybe, but as the days pass by faster and faster all the time, these moments as mommy become more and more precious.

Today, my husband and kids honoured me and I’m grateful for that. Of course we honour mothers, mothers-in-law and grandmothers today too. For me, it goes beyond that.

Mother’s Day is a time to reflect on all of the women in my life who have contributed to making me the person I am today. Not all of these women are mothers themselves but each has played a very special role in my life. They say it takes a community to raise a child and the role of mother can be played by many. Maybe you’ve been nurtured by other relatives, sisters, teachers, youth leaders, pastors, close friends or others. Take a minute to let them know how much you have appreciated their influence in your life. If that’s not possible, think about how you can pay it forward to a young person you know now.

I’ve also been reminded lately that Mother’s Day can be tough for many women. Maybe they grieve the loss or estrangement of a mother or child, or were never able to experience the joy of becoming a mother. Maybe their own years of motherhood are or were not a happy time. Whatever the reason, remember them today too. Give those ladies a special hug or prayer today to let them know they are not forgotten.

No matter who you are celebrating or are celebrated by, I hope you have a wonderful day!

Who do you honour on Mother’s Day?

Always Moving Forward

Footprints in sandCharm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;

but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Proverbs 31:30


Over the last couple of months, my situation has changed. My main roles as teacher of our children and manager of our home remain but other responsibilities are fluidly evolving. Some stressors have disappeared, having been taken on by another wonderful, appreciated person. New responsibilities and exciting opportunities have come in their place. Now it is time to re-evaluate, reprioritize and decide which weight to assign to which activities.

Productivity has always been an issue for me. I need to feel like I am accomplishing something. Obviously the Proverbs 31 woman was productive. She encouraged her husband, took care of her family, helped to provide for her household, kept her body strong, and willingly served those in need. She was hardworking, wise, well known & respected.

It is easy to get discouraged looking at her characteristics and behaviours (or those of your Facebook peers). Meeting all of these criteria seems like an impossible task, probably because most of us are trying to be that person as the world sees us or as we have convinced ourselves we need to be . . . trying to be everything, to everyone, all at once.

Instead, I want to be that person as God sees me. The thing is, He has saved me from needing to be everything, to everyone, all at once. He has thrown my sin into a deep pit, never to be seen again. He has forgotten about the times where laziness took hold or when I lost my focus. He blocked out my tendency to look the other way when I am busy and the harsh words that sometimes fly out of my mouth toward my family. He doesn’t care about our weaknesses and our inability to please others. He cares about our stewardship and what we do with what we are given. This doesn’t excuse my wrong behaviour but it does give me the grace to keep moving forward.

I love that every moment is new and I can try again. I don’t need to get caught up in my failures, self-criticism or worries about judgement from others. It’s in my moments of failure, when I am at my weakest, that He gives me the strength to get up and try again . . . to work on that one little thing that He is trying to teach me today or this week or this month. Thank you Lord, for helping me to grasp this single moment and feel balanced in the here and now.

Are you trying to do it all? We all have moments of failure. How do you pick yourself up and begin moving forward?