Life is Still Messy

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Let’s be real … homeschooling is not a cure for all that ails our families. Life is still messy. In fact, sometimes all that one-on-one time can really magnify shortcomings in our relationships with our children as well as with our spouses.

Some of the most heartbreaking consulting calls I get are those from parents who have lost hope for their marriages or their relationships with their kids. I listen; I cry; I share thoughts; I pray with thembut ultimately, God alone is the healer of hearts and restorer of relationships.

praying with a friend

I was recently reminded of the Valley of Dry Bones in Ezekiel 37. You may remember the story: God took Ezekiel to a valley filled with dry, disjointed bones. He instructed Ezekiel to speak His Word to the bones, and they became not just rattling bones, but flesh-covered skeletons. Then God breathed life into the bones and they rose up – restored – as a living, mighty army!

Maybe you (or someone you know) have a child who seems to have lost her way, or a spouse whose heart has grown cold. Perhaps you are afraid you began too late to train your children or to appreciate your marriage. The relationship appears to be a “valley of dry bones.” Or maybe it’s just a hard season right now in your parenting journey or another relationship.

I want to encourage you: God is the author of life and restoration and familythe God of hope.

May you know His hope today.  **

PC: Rebekah McBride,

Hugs to you,

~ Vicki


We Pray for You

You may know that my “day job” is as an educational consultant for HSLDA. Did you know that the HSLDA staff gathers twice a week to pray for you? While protecting your rights as a homeschooling parent is the primary mission of our organization, the heart of our staff is to serve your family.

And remember: You Aren’t In This Alone

Resources for Healthy Relationships

I asked some friends and colleagues to recommend resources they have found helpful in growing healthy relationshipshere are some of their suggestions.* (Some links are affiliate links; if you purchase through the link, your price stays the same and I may make a few cents on each item.)

American Association of Christian Counselors

The Birth Order Book by Dr. Kevin Lemangreat for parents and siblings!

The Biology of Behavior by Dianne Craft

Blame It on the Brain: Distinguishing Chemical Imbalances, Brain Disorders, and Disobedience by Edward T. Welch

Boundaries and Safe People by Henry Cloud and John Townsend (Both books discuss how to be loving and honest in relationships, but not allow people to control or use us in damaging ways.)

Cherish the First Six Weeks by Helen Moonon mothering

Clifton Strengths assessment   Updated here; an interesting tool for understanding how differences in strengths and passions can affect family dynamics

The Connected Parent by Karen Purvis and Lisa Qualls (also check out The Connected Child)

Depression: Looking Up from the Stubborn Darkness by Edward T. Welch (This book is also great for caregivers, friends, and family members of those who struggle with depression.)

The Explosive Child by Ross Greene

Fit to Burst by Rachel Jankovicon mothering

The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman  (Also available: Five Love Languages of Children, Teens, etc.)

The One Year Love Language Minute Devotional by Dr. Gary Chapman

For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men by Shaunti Feldhahn (Considered to be a great complement to Love and Respect by Eggerichs)

Full-Time Parenting: A Guide to Family-Based Discipleship by Israel Wayne

Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrickon parenting

The Heart of Anger: Practical Help for Prevention and Cure of Anger in Children by Lou Priolo & John MacArthur (There is also one specifically for teens)

Hedges (Loving Your Marriage Enough to Protect It) by Jerry Jenkins, Tim LaHaye, & John Perrodin

How People Change by Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp

HSLDA also offers some suggestions for those seeking counseling: Looking for a Counselor?

I’m Outnumbered! (One Mom’s Lessons in the Lively Art of Raising Boys) by Laura Lee Groves

It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way by Lysa TerKeurst

Life Outside the Frame by Rebekah McBride (a short reminder to avoid the comparison trap)

Lost in the Middle: Midlife and the Grace of God by Paul David Tripp

Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

Also: The Language of Love and Respect: Cracking the Communication Code by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

Love and Respect in the Family (The Respect Parents Desire; The Love Children Need) by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

The Love Dare by Stephen Kendrick and Alex Kendrick

Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovicon mothering

Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti by

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray

My Beloved and My Friend (How to Be Married to Your Best Friend Without Changing Spouses) by Hal and Melanie Young

Myers-Briggs personality testing/website

Parenting on Purpose by Jason Free

Parenting Teens with Love and Logic by Jim Fay and Foster Cline

Peacemaking for Families by Ken Sande and Tom Raabe

Praying for Boys by Brooke McGlothlin

Prodigals and Those Who Love Them by Ruth Bell GrahamFor those with teens who may be walking away

The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Dr. Laura Schlessinger

Relationships: A Mess Worth Making by Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp

The Respect Dare by Nina Roesner (anything by John Rosemond)

Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas

Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes … in You and Your Kids by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller – In this practical book from the National Center for Biblical Parenting, the authors give practical suggestions for teaching our children not only to obey, but to honor others, targeting the heart issues behind behavioral challenges.

Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Trippon parenting

Tell God How You Feel: Helping Children with Hard Emotions by Christina Fox

Tender Warrior by Stu Weberfor husbands/men

Therapy & Theology – This podcast series by Lysa TerKeurst of Proverbs 31 Ministries

War of Words: Getting to the Heart of Your Communication Struggles by Paul David Tripp

What a Daughter Needs from her Dad by Dr. Michael Farris

What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage by Paul David Tripp

When People Are Big and God Is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Man by Edward T. Welch

You Can’t Make Me (But I Can Be Persuaded) by Cynthia Tobias – Subtitle: Strategies for bringing out the best in your strong-willed child


And literally as I was publishing this post–pressing the button–this article hit my mailbox:  To the Wife in Over Her Head. It was a good read.

*Note: As with any book or resource recommendations, some materials on the list may not be written from your family’s worldview or may include resource suggestions inconsistent with your worldview so, as always, you are encouraged to use discernment in selecting materials appropriate for your family’s needs.

** If you would like to know more about a relationship with the God who gives me peace and joy, and to whom I turn for wisdom and guidance that I so desperately need….drop me a line.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”  (John 3:16, ESV Bible)

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)


Some links are affiliate links. For more about affiliate links, see my disclosure policy.

Some content is adapted from a newsletter by this author, previously published at

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