Filling Your Cup

 by Loretta Lambert

From birth to approximately 6th grade, my goal was to advertise the joy of wonderful books by reading aloud each day. If the book bored us in the early years, it was tossed aside. I knew there would be plenty of time to enforce assigned reading in the late middle school and high school years.

But the early years are meant for falling in love with reading aloud. And why not fall in love with reading aloud in the early years? All of education involves or begins with reading. By the time our children reached late middle school, my goals were that they are motivated to take on a complete education and know that all I required was for each child to do their very best. I was well aware that some of my children had academic weaknesses but, the goal always remained:  do your best!

At this point, I need to ask all of you the same question I asked myself every new school year for twenty-three years: How am I doing in living the best I can live? This question is so broad that it is almost overwhelming to even begin to answer. So let’s focus on the most important aspect of our lives: our personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

As the mom and teacher, you are the one person your kids will witness day in and day out. I am sixty years old and, I have learned that none of us can consistently pour into anyone’s life from an empty cup. Our children will know if we are faking it. It’s funny how our children can see right through us. On a horrible morning of homeschooling, my then twelve-year-old son blurted out, “Mom! Have you had your quiet time today? You haven’t been very kind this morning!” He called it! He was right. I had not stopped to give the day over to the Lord and, it showed!

So, as you walk into September, I extend to you the same challenge I carried with me over the decades of homeschooling! C.S. Lewis once wrote: “The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come.” How true is that statement for a mom! There will never be an easy time to make time to meet with our Savior. It will never be smooth sailing. Our daily lives have a way of screaming at us, “get to work!”

But I can absolutely say that our lives in Christ are more “caught than taught!”. What I mean is that a godly life lived before your children, because He has empowered you for the day, will be the greatest gift you can ever give to your children. Some of the notes I most treasure from my children are ones that have reminded me of this great truth. With tears in my eyes, I have opened notes from my four children thanking me for my growing relationship with God. My kids fully know how desperately I need my Savior and my time with Him each day. But they know I have a Savior that I pursue daily who saves me from all I need to be protected from!


“None of us can consistently pour into anyone’s life from an empty cup” Loretta Lambert

Welcome to Your New Family!

Dear Parents,

When I decided to start homeschooling our son Jack in 2001, there was little to no support for me in our area.  I had contacted several so-called support groups in the valley and was repeatedly told that I wasn’t able to join because I was a first-year homeschooler; I would take up too much of their time.  I’d most likely be too needy.  They didn’t have time for me, and so on.  Although I recognized the need to have a legal covering and knew there were homeschool groups in our area, it was impossible to find one to accept our family.  To be honest, I was livid; I thought this was ridiculous and I felt labeled like I now belonged to an elite group of high-maintenance outcasts that wasn’t worth anyone’s time.  Undeterred from the mission the Lord put before me, I pulled my son from 2nd grade private school and started schooling him.  It took two years until I found Revival Christian Academy, and when I did, I knew I was home!  I flung myself into the ministry and got involved.  I belonged to a small group of moms, and I forced myself to push beyond my comfort zone and reach out to others.  I somehow knew that to succeed at this, I needed a family to belong to that was doing the same thing.  So I made friends and immersed myself in homeschooling.

You see, I’ve been where you are.  I’ve been unsure, overwhelmed, ill-equipped and just straight up scared!  Scared that I was going to mess my kid up, scared I wasn’t going to be able to teach the concepts he needed to know, and scared that I wasn’t going to teach him enough.  There may be nothing we can say that can remove those feelings for you, but my hope is that by being here with fellow homeschool parents, both experienced and newly baptized into our family, you will find the support and comfort you need to successfully educate your kids as God has called you to do.  You are now part of a family.  A family that has been set apart and a family on a mission.  So welcome  to your school, to your new family and God bless you as you start your homeschool year!

In Christ,


Read Aloud Mini Unit Study

This month let’s visit a mom and her young children getting ready to read-aloud from The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White. First let’s settle one thing about this young mom. She has set aside time to read aloud to her children each day. She has done her homework and understands the power and influence of a beautifully written novel. This particular mom has strengthened her educational convictions about how best to inspire a love for learning in her children. She often rereads portions of Jim Trelease’s Read Aloud Handbook to stay encouraged to keep reading aloud to her children every day. In its eighth edition, Jim Trelease refers to the 1985 report by the U.S. Department of Education that states “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children and it is a practice that should continue throughout the grades” (Trelease 4).

Before she calls the children for read aloud time, she cuts up a few apples for the children to enjoy at the coffee table during read aloud time. She also drags in the blocks for the little one who can play with them during this precious time. If she can, she grabs a few colored pencils and paper and invites the children to draw while listening to the novel. She does not make them draw; she suggests it. She knows full well in the years ahead, particularly in high school, there will be plenty of time to enforce more stringent educational requirements. But that’s the beautiful part of this homeschool journey. By the time her children reach high school she will have read wonderful books to her children and she knows that they will be inspired and motivated in the later years to set their own educational goals.

She is ready to read aloud now! Each time she sits down to read, she shares with her children that there may be new ideas that will spring up in her mind as well as her children’s minds and they will create the projects together! Perhaps, the whole creation of the project will be half of the enjoyment of this special book.

As the mom opens to the first chapter of The Trumpet of the Swan, the children are swept up into a creative story about a trumpeter swan that is born without a voice and a young boy who assists the swan to overcome his disability. But wait, there is so much more in this novel! I reread this book a week ago and began to jot down all the ideas that a young family can participate in while reading this book. I think it is best to list a few and my guess is that if I get to meet you someday, you will add on to this list with your own ideas that will be so inspiring to my heart. A well written book has this effect on all of us. We start getting jumpy over the creativity that a well written story will percolate in us! Here is my list, but again it is not exhaustive! Please understand that there are times a read aloud book is merely just listened to and enjoyed by everyone. However, my intent is to show all of you that a well written novel can create fun projects that are way more effective than workbooks.


  1. Pull out your map of the United States and track where the swan lives and travels to!
  2. Look up the capitols and states that are mentioned in this book.
  3. Watch a video about a trumpeter swan and its large nest.
  4. Take a nature walk like Sam.
  5. Go to the zoo and take photos of birds.
  6. Buy a compass and learn about how to use it.
  7. Study the composers mentioned in this book
  8. Learn about jazz or trumpets
  9. Make a short video of each child sharing about his favorite part of the book. Don’t overdo it. Affirm each child and show the videos after dinner. (You might want to film them away from the other children so it’s more fun to watch each other’s videos.)
  10. Finally, suggest…yes suggest … one of the children keep a daybook about his life. This idea comes right from pages 6 and 7 in the novel. I love this idea and may need to do it myself just for fun!
  11. Finally, throughout the novel, Sam the young boy ponders what he will be when he grows up. Gently share with your children that they were blessed with gifts and talents by God and how wonderful it will be to see how God unfolds His plan for their lives. This conversation will be shared over and over again throughout the short eighteen years they are under your roof. It is an exciting part of parenting!

Happy Reading,

Loretta Lambert


Works Cited

Trelease, Jim. Jim Trelease’s Read-Aloud Handbook. eighth ed., Penguin Books, 2019.

White, E. B. The Trumpet of the Swan. HarperCollins Publishers, 1970.

Summer Reading Goals

Hi Friends,

Let me first introduce myself!

My name is Loretta Lambert and I homeschooled my four children for twenty -three years. I began when I was pregnant with our third child and I can honestly say that the day I began back in September 1993, I had absolutely no idea how much it would change my life as well as my husband’s and our four children. It is always difficult for me to be brief but hopefully, over the next few months, I can share more of my homeschooling journey with you. I think it is important to say up front that by the grace of God my four children walk with the Lord Jesus Christ and wound up receiving many college scholarships from reputable universities in the United States. Why include the part about the college scholarships, you might ask? Well, it’s because I believe it was my goal as their teacher to help them along the way to discover what they were gifted to do.

Since I have only so much space each month, let me share about our eldest son. We learned early on that he was going to be a very late reader. In fact, he did not read well until the age of eleven years old. Did that worry me? Absolutely. Did I cry a lot that he didn’t fit the mold for those early years? Absolutely. But his story didn’t end in elementary school. It had only just begun. It caused me to do a great deal of research on how I could pass on a love for learning to my very late reader and what I learned was so incredible I found myself crying over something new. A 1985 report by the National Commission on Reading stated that reading aloud is the single most important contribution that parents can make toward their child’s success in school. When I came across this research I started to cry. I began to gather the information that would shape my philosophy of education forever. I decided that unless an earthquake hit our home, we would read aloud every day and it wound up coming close to four hours a day in the elementary school years. We couldn’t stop!

Let me race to the end of our son’s story. When he was fifteen years old he began to dream of attending the United States Military Academy at West Point. He knew it would be an uphill battle! He needed a nomination from Congressman Darrell Issa and then an appointment from the United States President. I believe that the stories we read to him in the earlier years kept him going when the dream looked pretty shaky on all accounts. Well, he received his appointment to West Point on a sunny, very happy day in April 2007 and graduated and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army in May 2011. Presently, he is about to be promoted from Captain to Major. Today you will find him jumping out of airplanes with his men as an Airborne Army Ranger either in Afghanistan or Ft. Benning, Georgia in the 75th Ranger Regiment. I say all of this to let you know that when he was in the sixth grade and seventh grade he was still struggling to read and many tears were shed. Our family took it very seriously and I began to stay up nights searching for books to read aloud to him and my three daughters. I also rented books on tape that he would listen to for close to fifteen hours a week. He knew he was waiting for the day he could read on his own and it was a heavy trial for him. After he was embarrassed in a Sunday School class in the fourth grade when the teacher asked him to read, he begged me to never have that happen again.

Let me close with a final story that I smile about every time God calls it to mind. It would be thirteen years before he would read aloud in front of any person besides our family. Two days before he graduated from West Point the Chaplain’s office asked him to read aloud Joshua 1:1-9 at the Convocation Service that evening. My mouth just dropped open and I began to run to the Chapel on campus. He ran after me and asked me where I was going. I said, “Joseph, I have been waiting to hear you read aloud for thirteen years and I am going to sneak into the chapel and just sit there and wait.” He laughed and let me go. I sat there for almost three hours, just waiting and praying for our son. That night in front of a thousand people in Cadet Chapel at West Point with three Generals in the front row staring right at him, he did it! He read aloud perfectly. Of course, tears ran down my cheeks like a faucet since I kept calling to mind the many times he had been made fun of. After the service, I saw people walk up to him and thank him for his reading that night. As I headed to bed I couldn’t stop thanking God for giving me this great blessing. I knew that in those tough elementary school years where the academic checklists could not be met, I knew that we would not give up. I knew that no matter what the outcome I would grab onto the research (and there is a great deal of it!) and keep reading aloud to capture my children’s hearts. My original goal for homeschooling was to pass on a love for learning to my children. Step by step, year after year, I gathered information that made it very thrilling to educate my children at home all the way till they graduated high school. I sure hope and pray in some way this story motivates you as the parent to keep on going and keep on reading aloud!

In his seventh edition of The Read-Aloud Handbook, author Jim Trelease passes the baton onto those who strongly desire to “advertise well” the unique and life-changing results of the tradition of reading aloud. There are many of us who can testify about the results of reading aloud.

Coupled with the educational research that is so stunning are the bridges that are built between the reader and the listeners. The growing relationship of the ‘shared story’ with each book read aloud is immeasurable.

Stop and think back to a book or even a quote from a book that captured your own imagination and caused you to dream a new dream, to think a new thought, and, ultimately, to change your life in some new way.

My deep desire is to carry this baton and pass it onto many others—to begin a new long race, not a sprint of sorts.  As a competitive runner both in high school as well as in college, I learned that the longer races are where you need to be taught how to pace yourself, how to take breaks in between hard workouts, how to get out of bed and run even when you felt neither physically ready or mentally ready. That is the kind of baton I hope and pray to pass on.

Any of you who begin to read aloud may feel uncomfortable.  You will want to quit very quickly.  How can this simple act of sitting on a couch reading aloud a book change a life?  It doesn’t cover enough material.  What about all the other subjects in school that go unaddressed while you just merely sit and read aloud to your child?

By the grace of God, my passion is to use this page to motivate, inspire and give you hope to keep on keeping on.

By Loretta Lambert

Sweet Memories

Since my son, George, graduated high school last year, I could finally clear out all the homeschool papers, books, and records that I have held on to for 13 years.  But, rather than just throwing them all away in one big heap, I decided to go through them to reminisce about our homeschooling days.  I’m very glad I kept those samples of school work and that I decided to look through them before throwing them away.  By looking back, I could see the big picture (or bigger picture because I don’t know that I can fully see the complete picture just yet) for our homeschooling journey.

George had so many learning disabilities that I felt overwhelmed and helpless many times.  Thoughts like, “he will always be behind” plagued my mind.  Those are the exact types of thoughts we as homeschooling moms have to guard against.  They are lies from the enemy.  In Jeremiah 29:11, God declares, “For I know the plans I have for you … plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”   God has a plan for you, your homeschooling journey, and for your children.  Psalms 33:4 says, “For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does.”  Whatever plan He has, He will be faithful to fulfill it.  We just have to be obedient.

In going through George’s work (I’ve only gone through K- 2nd grade), I could see where he used to be and how far he has come.  And, he has come a long long way!  Since he had trouble with his vision and reading, teaching him writing seemed a moot point.  But, not wanting to neglect the writing process in his education, I taught him the basics of how to put together a paper.  In his early grade school years, I would give him a writing prompt and we would talk it out.  Using the web writing organization method to arrange his topics, he talked and I wrote down his words for him.  This allowed him to learn to brainstorm and organize his writing, while letting his creativity shine through.  One of the papers he had to write was on what he thought heaven would be like.  Here are just a few lines from his paper:  “It’s like a square jewel.”   “It’s like a huge castle.”   “I’m talking big!  Huger than a human!”. The rest of his paper is filled with the sweet imaginings of a six year old.  After reading through some of his work, I don’t know that I will be getting rid of all of it.  I will probably end up hanging on to some of them, storing them away, and pulling them out again several years down the road to reminisce again.  He can write his own papers now, by the way.  He is in college and doing just fine, my fears having never come to fruition.  I’m so thankful that I have all these wonderful samplings to look back on all those homeschool days!

by Jennifer Barankovich