A New Chapter

Diary of a Work in Progress • René

Parenting Fears to Overcome with Tweens & Teens

When our children are young, danger is obvious. The guidance we provide is very tangible, and saying “no” is part of daily life. However, as our children enter the tween and teen years and begin to develop their own judgement, setting rules and guidelines for them gets more complicated.

We have three daughters, and my eldest just turned 13 this year. My natural tendency is to shield her from the many pitfalls of youth, however that instinct to protect can become easily clouded by my own fear. Some concerns are appropriate; however, many fears are the result of lack of faith about God’s role in the lives of our children.


MYB-ContributorJoin me over at Managing Your Blessings, where I’m sharing what I’ve learned about four common parenting fears that hold us back as Christians when parenting tweens & teens. Overcoming these fears and developing a deeper trust in the Lord and His plans for our children will help us not only survive, but thrive during this new stage of parenting!

Click here for the full post.

 Are you in the midst of parenting tweens & teens? What are you most excited about? What are your greatest fears? What changes (if any) have you made in your parenting strategy as your children mature? 


Seeking God’s Direction: What I Learned From Jennie Allen’s Book “Restless”

When you are faced with major decisions regarding your homeschooling, your family, your own personal role and relationships, seeking God’s direction can be challenging. Even daily decisions can get bogged down with the opinions and advice of others, self doubt, and conflicting messages from our culture.

As I shared in Part One and Part Two of this series, I discovered that my desire for “confirmation” was really just about me wanting to feel secure that it was OK to make the choices that felt right to me, forgetting that what feels right to an imperfect believer isn’t likely to be right in God’s eyes. Since then, I’ve been working intentionally on renewing my mind with God’s Word (Romans 12:2) so that my thoughts and responses to life situations are more aligned with His Word and wisdom. I have also found that starting with five Biblical directives brings God’s will for most situations into clearer focus.


Today I’m sharing a third post in this series at Managing Your Blessings, a community of Christian women building encouraging one another and loving one another as we seek to honor God in all of our ways. In Part Three, I’m sharing what I’ve been learning through a book study of Jennie Allen’s “Restless: Because You Were Made For More” about how the people in our lives and the places we live play a major role in seeking God’s direction for us. Find out how people and places point us toward God’s purposes for us: Join me at Managing Your Blessings.

Have you ever found yourself “stuck” in search of God’s direction, wishing God would drop you a personal note or clearly defined road map so you could stop wondering what to do next? What role does the Bible play in your search for direction? What about prayer and seeking the wisdom of others?

Five Places to Find Spiritual Refreshment

Every journey requires times of rest to regroup and restore physically and mentally. As homeschoolers, we know this all to well: It’s easy to burn out when we don’t pace ourselves and take necessary breaks.

It’s no different with our spiritual journey. If we’re running full steam ahead ourselves and constantly pouring out to others without being refilled, we can quickly run out of gas and find ourselves depleted and empty. Sometimes daily refreshment is enough, and other times I’m so drained that I need a more deliberate break for spiritual restoration.


MYB-ContributorI’m sharing five ways that I reconnect with the Lord for spiritual refreshment over at Managing Your Blessings, where I am a monthly contributor.

My complete post, “Five Ways to Find Spiritual Refreshment,” includes scriptures that point out places to seek spiritual refreshment, as well as ideas for daily refreshment and those occasions when you need an intentional retreat for restoration.


What are your greatest struggles with finding time for spiritual refreshment? How do you seek refreshment on a daily basis? Do you make time to rejuvenate with friends or take an occasional retreat?

Considering Homeschooling? Trust Your Calling

Recently a good friend of mine surprised me by asking if we could get together to talk about homeschooling. I wasn’t surprised that she might consider it, but I was surprised by the timing and eagerness to get it all figured out right now — months before the school year’s end.

My friend summed up her sense of urgency about homeschooling this way:

It must be God. I can’t explain it any other way.”


We all have “gut” instincts, and most people would tell you to trust them. But what about your “God instincts,” aka His specific calling to you? Do you trust your Holy Spirit-led instincts as completely as you trust your gut? Do you believe that He’s calling you to homeschool, and if so, what do you do about the butterflies in your stomach or the detractors that are already causing you to doubt?

MYB-ContributorI’m sharing my post “Considering Homeschooling? Trust Your Calling” at Managing Your Blessings, the new home of the Christian homeschooler’s blog “So You Call Yourself a Homeschooler.” Managing Your Blessings is a blog that encourages & teaches women how to cultivate their giftings & be faithful stewards of God’s blessings, and homeschooling is one of those gifts.

In my complete post, I share scriptures to stand on when you feel called to homeschool, as well as five ways to boost your confidence in your calling to homeschool. Click here for the full post.

Are you considering homeschooling, but anxious about the long list of questions and concerns in your head or shared by others? Are you a new homeschooler who is feeling overwhelmed and full of self doubt? The good news is you’re not alone: We’ve all been there! What concerns do you struggle with about homeschooling? What would strengthen your confidence?

My New Year’s Resolution: Seek Him First in 2014

Have you ever anxiously awaited the arrival of a New Year — hoping for that all-important fresh start — only to be sorely disappointed when your resolutions go nowhere? Or have you ever achieved a major milestone, only to find that the pure bliss you expected to experience upon its completion was short-lived? Are we setting the right resolutions? And even if they’re “good” things to do, why are we still unfulfilled?

New Year Resolutions: Resolve to Seek & Serve Him in 2014Before you start yet another New Year resolutions checklist this year, join me at Managing Your Blessings, where I’m sharing what I learned about making resolutions that matter. Jesus gave us a very different point of view about setting priorities, and I’ll give you a hint: Most of the typical New Year resolutions are not on that list.

Making Resolutions? Resolve to Seek & Serve Him in 2014. Click here to read the full post at Managing Your Blessings.

Are you making any New Year resolutions? How will you resolve to seek and serve God in 2014?

Family Highlights 2013: The Extended Version

This year’s Christmas card did not contain the traditional Year in Review newsletter — sorry all, there are just not enough hours in my day! Instead, our card had the following highlights list on the back:


For those of you who miss our annual newsletter, here is the “extended version” of this year’s family highlights:

It’s hard to believe another year is almost done! The girls are growing up so fast in this fourth year of homeschooling. Elise is a witty 1st grader, and Audrey’s in 7th grade — already taller than mom! Claire is in 5th grade & loves creative arts. All three girls take worship dance classes, with Audrey continuing ballet, with Celebration Ministry of the Arts.

LucyCollageAdding our new dog Lucy to the family brought new joy & personality to the household! Kenny continues to work for Toray and travel a lot — mostly in the Western USA & Canada, but this month he’s in Japan and China! I have continued to grow my writing business, expanding our family blog NextGen Homeschool into an HSBA-nominated top homeschooling blog, and adding my fitness studio Hot Fitness as a new monthly client for WriteWords Ink since July. In a nutshell, it’s been a busy, productive, and adventurous year!

January: Audrey turns 12! We mourn the loss of husky Pinge. When Audrey turned 12, my first thought was that I can’t believe I’ll have a teenager exactly one year from now. Of course, she’s already taller than me and has even outgrown my shoe size, but it’s the idea of having a teen that… well, I just can’t believe the time has flown so fast! Time caught up with us this month in a more difficult way as well: After almost 13 years as our only family dog, our Siberian husky Pinge took a turn for the worse not long after ringing in the New Year with us. It was really heart-breaking to see her losing her health and know that her time with us was about to end. The girls and I wrote this tribute to her, Twelve Years With Our Furry First Daughter, to help us focus on the blessings and fun we enjoyed the many years she was a part of our family.


February: Lots of snow in CO! Elise moves up in ski school. After a fairly dry start to our winter, we had more than enough snow in February and did our best to get up to the slopes as much as possible. Elise took ski lessons and quickly moved up to the group that actually skis the bunny runs and rides the chairlift! It was great to have lots of snow in our neighborhood too: The girls have missed it since we moved from Durango to Castle Rock.


March: Avs hockey with Durango friends. Warmest Easter day! We continued to have some snow in early March, but things really turned around before Easter. Our former Durango neighbors came to visit us while their children participated in the period break show with their youth hockey team at a Colorado Avalanche game. We had a beautiful Easter, and we started seedlings indoors for our upcoming backyard garden.


April: Snow returns! Trip to Jackson Hole & Grand Tetons. Turns out winter had not released its grip on Colorado, and we had several pretty significant snowstorms pass through in April. We took a roadtrip with Kenny to Jackson Hole, WY, so that he could visit his clients there. It gave us a chance to do some homeschooling on the road, which is something I’d love to do more of this coming year. Again, it snowed quite a bit before we got one perfectly clear, beautiful bluebird day to take in the breathtaking views of the Grand Tetons.



May: Elise turns 6! Audrey earns Awana Timothy Award. Spring finally took over in May, and we had a very busy month. Most of our homeschool enrichment programs wrapped up, including a dance performance for all three girls with CMA. Audrey completed her last year in the Truth & Training program of AWANA, earning a Timothy Award for completing all the scripture memorization through the last T&T book. We got to take a quick trip to Aspen with Kenny while he visited a client. At the end of the month, we celebrated Elise’s birthday with Kenny’s parents in Kansas, and I took a train to Omaha, NE, to attend my first Teach Them Diligently homeschooling conference. While there, I got to spend time with my sister-in-law Rosanna and her daughter Virginia. I learned so much and was deeply encouraged & inspired in our homeschooling journey: It was definitely one of the highlights of the year for me!


June: Durango friends visit. Worship Dance & Track camp fun! Our good friends the McKinnis family came to visit us in June, and we had an “official” birthday party for Elise while they were here. Audrey performed in her final ballet with Danza Dance Academy, Beauty & The Beast. We finally got our backyard garden planted, although we kept a cover handy for the expected hailstorms that quickly pass through in early summer. Audrey & Claire also participated in two summer camps: One week in track camp, and another week in Worship Dance camp, where they got to perform at a local nursing home and at the church.



July: Fireworks with family in Eagle. Sweet Lucy dog adopted! We spent the 4th of July with my sister Carol & her husband Chris in Eagle and Vail, CO. It’s the first time we’ve seen the famous Vail 4th of July parade, and the Eagle fireworks show was pretty impressive! A week later, we met our newest member of the family at a pet adoption event in Denver: Our Lab-Border Collie mix Lucy. The girls couldn’t wait to find a new dog to complete our family, and Lucy was a perfect fit! She’s a great camping dog, loves riding in the car, enjoys playing with the girls, and wants to be a part of everything we do. We are very blessed to have her!


August: Aspen camping with McKinnises. Watch pro cycling. This one was hard to fit on one line for the Christmas card! Because Kenny & his friend Darren weren’t going to run the Imogene Pass in September, we decided to make our annual family camping trip in August and camped in Aspen for the first time. It was beautiful — and rainy! We still had a blast. We hiked near the Maroon Bells, saw “The Grotto” ice caves, and rode our bikes into town (8 miles) TWICE. Kenny & Darren rode up to the famous Independence Pass, where the USA Pro Cycling Challenge race would start just two days after we were there. Because the race had stages in Beaver Creek & Vail this year, we also got front-row seats to see some of the best cyclists in the world tackle the elevation of Colorado.

Aspen Camping Collage

Pro Cycling Collage

September: Claire turns 11! 4th year homeschooling starts. A lot has changed since we began homeschooling in the fall of 2010. Elise was only three back then, and now I have first, fifth and seventh graders in the house. It’s definitely more challenging working with their different stages of learning, but we’ve found some great curriculum (Trail Guide to Learning) that allows us to work together about half the time. The girls love it, and I’m enjoying the fact that we can do read-alouds, history, art, and science together. We also have a busy enrichment program schedule this year: Worship Dance, co-op art & girls book club, PE Plus, and Presentation Day. Who says homeschoolers don’t get out much?!?


October: Kenny turns almost-40! Fall getaway with my sisters. Yes, Kenny is finally catching up with me… until I’m back to two years older in December! Now you know how old I am. My sis Carol hosted a sisters’ getaway in Beaver Creek that my sis Cristina was able to fly out for early in the month, when the Aspens were in their full golden glory. It was stunning, to say the least! Then our fall school photo shoot for the girls got a fresh dusting of snow the night before, making for some of the most beautiful photos we’ve ever had taken (thanks to Brooke Kinabrew of Living Reflection Photography)! If you received our print Christmas card, you may recognize some of these smiles. Needless to say, October was the month of many beautiful photos. Thank you for the great backdrop, Colorado!



November: We’re 19 years married! Thanksgiving in Durango. November snuck up on me faster than I can remember any other time. Maybe I am getting old?!? Before I knew it, we were making plans to visit our dear friends, the McKinnis family, in Durango for Thanksgiving, and I realized that we would be driving there on the day of our 19th wedding anniversary. But that’s just how “we roll” — we go with the flow — and we’ve been loving life together along many, many amazing adventures. It was actually quite awesome to toast a glass of champagne with the couple whom we became friends with just two months after being married and moving to Chicago for grad school. We serve an awesome God! One fun note: We spontaneously decided to cut down our Christmas tree while helping our friends cut down theirs and drove home 6.5 hours with a 15-foot tree tied to our Honda Pilot’s roof. Good times!

2013-12-01 19.31.55

December: Celebrating the Greatest Gift & His blessings! Now you’ve caught up with us. We are here in December, doing our best to avoid the commercial craziness of the American Christmas and turn our eyes to Jesus, the ONE and ONLY gift that can transform our hearts and give us new life — everlasting life! The ONLY gift that brings hope, joy, peace, and love. The reason that we can sing, the reason that we can rejoice for the many blessed heavenly gifts opened throughout this year. Will you join us in giving honor and thanks to the Creator God, the Heavenly Father, who sent His son to be the Savior of this world?

Receive His Gifts This Christmas!
With Our Love, The Gotcher Family


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