real encouragement for real homeschool moms

“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions do not fail. They are new every morning. Lord, great is your faithfulness.” ~ Lamentations 3:22-23

Hello and welcome to my blog. I am Karen Campbell and I have been married to my husband, Clay, for 39 years. We have six children, whom we have homeschooled, and 14 grandchildren some of whom are, to my delight, already being homeschooled!  We live in the Midwest and are part of a church family where grace is taught both in word and in deed.

When I was a young stay-at-home mom with three preschoolers, we lived in an old farmhouse out in the country. Since we had only one car, which my husband drove to work, I often had days when I longed for a conversation and a nice cup of hot tea with someone over 4 feet tall! Don’t get me wrong, those days were glorious and I have thoroughly enjoyed being a mom and all that comes with it. But at that time, I had no real Titus 2 woman who came alongside me and helped me keep the vision for being a wife and mother.

One day, I came across a book where the author lamented the fact that so many older women with grown children are involved in their own lives and have little time for younger women. Rather than dwelling on that truth, she encouraged each of us who read her book to become an older woman for someone else. That one thought gave me a vision for just such a ministry as thatmom.

I also know that, often, those who do step forward to encourage moms end up being a tremendous discouragement to them because they approach exhortation with a list of rules and regulations, formulas that are man-made rather than God-inspired. I hold to the truth that God’s word, the Bible, rather than the agendas of man, is our standard for life and practice.

My goal for this nook and cranny of cyberspace is to become that older woman for anyone who might need one, especially if you are a homeschooling mother or are considering home education for your children. I also hope to encourage other older moms to reach out and exhort those younger women who are raising children for God’s glory. I welcome comments and suggestions as well as questions and I enjoy introducing you to my various podcast guests who long to be an encouragement to you as well!

I am the author of the book  The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling ~ when the one anothers come home which is currently available on and will also be sold in the amazing 2014 Rainbow Resource catalog.

My articles have been published in Searching Together, Midwest Christian Outreach Journal, Breakpoint, Crosswalk, and Home Educating Family’s blog.  I am also a regular contributor to the Home Educating Family Magazine.

Again, welcome, and may the Lord richly bless you as you stop by and have virtual tea and chocolate with….thatmom!

As far as a doctrinal statement is concerned, I am a Baptist who holds to the Doctrines of Grace and I am in complete agreement with the Apostle’s Creed.  For a basic overview of my philosophy of homeschooling,  be sure to read my article called The Basic Tenets of Relationship Homeschooling.

You can learn about my thoughts on developing your own philosophy of education as well as finding the methods of homeschooling that work best for you and your children by visiting Home Educating Family’s media site.


Clay and me on our wedding day, 1975!

We are celebrating 38 years of being deliriously in love! God has been so good to us.


This was taken at Ben and Julie’s wedding in June, 2010. We have joyously added 4 new grandbabies since this picture was taken!


Just for fun, here is my response when I was tagged and asked to share 7 questions about me:

1. Clay and I met during a college class on the Puritan and Transcendentalist writers. (I found out later that he registered for the class after finding out that I would be taking it!) The professor, Dr. Ryder, was also the pastor who married us and who officiated at our vow renewal ceremony on our 25th wedding anniversary. He still comes to see us once or twice a year and loves to tell the story that Clay had no black socks when he was getting ready for the wedding. So they rummaged around in the back of the closet in my dead grandfather’s bedroom until they found an old, worn pair. Creepy but true.

2. My favorite color is red. Not only do I wear a lot of red, but most of our vehicles have been red, including both of the current ones. My living room is painted red, my Kitchen-Aid mixer is red, and sometimes my hair is even red!

3. I don’t read much fiction but I love to read non-fiction, especially books on history and biographies. My favorite series of children’s books is the Little House series and I read them for the first time when I was pregnant with my first child. We still read The Long Winter as a lunch time read-aloud every January and my grown boys at home still enjoy it.

4. We lived for 3 1/2 years in southern Germany when Clay was in the army. Our two oldest sons were born in Bad Tolz. We had frequent visitors from the States and I became quite good at giving my own personal tour of Bavaria and Salzburg, Austria.

5. Had I not chosen to be a wife, mommy, and homeschooling mom, I might have become a professional bread chef, an interior decorator, a high school teacher, a journalist, a Biblical counselor, a story teller, an anthropologist, or a motivational speaker. I still haven’t decided which path I will choose once this one is completed. Traveling grandmother is high in the running.

6. Besides the Bible, the writings that have most influenced my spiritual life are those by Francis Schaeffer. My favorite books on relating to each other as family members and Christians are Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel,  Children Are Wet Cement by Anne Ortlund, Heartfelt Discipline by Clay Clarkson, and Families Where Grace is in Place by Jeff Van Vonderan.

7. Things I enjoy include: chocolate, Mexican food with lots of cilantro, tulips, zinnias, finding treasures in trash, watching Clay build even more bookshelves (hey, Thomas Jefferson owned 7000 books and I am more than half way there!) Toastmasters, encouraging moms, listening to Motown, Mozart, movie soundtracks, some White Stripes videos, cheesy romantic movies and history documentaries, my cat, baking, and sewing when the machine works properly. Things I dislike but must do anyway are cleaning up vomit, scrubbing the bathroom, balancing the checkbook and exercising.

To contact me, drop me a note at

7 Responses to who is thatmom?

  • Kristina Miles says:

    Have been listening to your video clips on HEDUA website, starting with ‘before you choose’, and I wanted to thank you for taking the time to be a part of making them. Great information for those of us just starting out. My daughter is in kindergarten at my church this year, and I will be teaching her at home starting in 1st grade next year. That it is daunting is an understatement. :) That I’m overwhelmed is also an understatement. However, after much prayer God has led us to do it. I am also really excited for it to begin.

    There are a lot of my friends who are also looking at homeschooling, so I’ve shared the link on my facebook page so they can also benefit from your experience.

    Once again, thank you. :)

  • thatmom says:

    Kristina, thanks for your kind words. Rebecca and I had a great time comparing notes and sharing our thoughts about preparing to homeschool and the various methods from which to choose. I look forward to hearing how this next year goes for you. I LOVED 1st grade with my kids and am enjoying seeing my grandchildren at this age as well! They are like little cute freckle faced sponges, dying to learn it all!!!!! Have fun!!!

  • Joy says:

    Hello, Karen,
    I am a homeschooling mom of 16 years, and have 7 children ages 20-6. I am in a place where I desperately need some “older mom” mentoring. The Lord led me to your blog, and it has brought me to tears several times. It gets harder after homeschooling so long to remember the “whys” and the real reason for homeschooling… relationship. The Lord has been breaking me and working on my heart. I wish I could sit at your table and visit with you! Thank you for “being there”.
    With much gratitude,

  • Kathryn says:

    Dearest Karen,

    Thank you for the work that you do! I have left Mormonism because of you and have been influenced by you so much. You have made a difference! I homeschool four young girls. I enjoy following your blog and your relationship homeschool style makes a lot of sense. Thanks!

    Yours Very Truly,,

  • thatmom says:

    Kathryn, this is one of the most wonderful comments ever left here! I am so thankful for what is happening in your life. I would love to hear your testimony if you would be willing to share, either here or privately in email. Have a blessed day!

  • Granddad says:

    May I encourage you to find some Christian ladies to help support you (perhaps you already have). Your departure from Mormonism was a courageous move, but it will likely not be an easy journey for a while. I’ve spent nearly 40 years studying and teaching about groups such as the LDSs and know well the struggle many faced when confronted with the truth of Jesus Christ. If there is anything I can help you with, please contact me through Karen.

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now available!!!

"In today's homeschooling world, you can find all sorts of formulas and prescriptions. If you just follow the correct method, your children will grow up to live godly lives, and they will always make family (including you) their priority. In this book, Karen Campbell gives you the real story. Homeschooling and parenting are not about formulas and prescriptions. They are about relationships. Weaving together Scripture, her own successes and failures, and her observations of the homeschooling world, Karen provides a wealth of wisdom for the homeschooling parent. If you want a formula, this book is not for you. If you want honest wisdom that will aid you in your homeschooling journey, this book is exactly what you are looking for!" – Dr. Jay Wile, PhD, speaker and author of the popular "Exploring Creation with" series of textbooks.
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Be sure to visit Relationship Homeschooling on Facebook!

thatmom’s podcasts on iTunes
Family Integrated Church podcasts
The Family Integrated Church ~ Are you frustrated in your search for a church home? Are you considering a family integrated church? The podcast series on the FIC movement is just for you! This series includes Pastor Shawn Mathis who explains the "theological basis" for the movement, Pastor Steve Doyle, who was once an FIC pastor and left the movement, and Bible scholar and author, Jon Zens, who looks at the underlying doctrines that permeate many FIC churches. The series concludes with thatmom's encouragement to homeschooling families as they seek to be part of the entire body of Christ. You will also want to read the series of articles on the pros and cons of the FIC and my exhortation to homeschooling families who are looking for a church home!
thatmom’s thoughts on curriculum

And you can learn about my thoughts on developing your own philosophy of education as well as finding the methods of homeschooling that work best for you and your children by

looking for my presentations on the Home Educating Family media site!
Three Cheers……..
truth from the Word
"Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73: 25-26
Phillip E. Johnson says:
“When pressed in interviews to name my heroes, I have spontaneously responded that they are homeschooling mothers! To me, the heroic mothers who nurture the next generation of faithful Christians are among the leaders of the church.” ~ Phillip E. Johnson
John Stonestreet says:
“C.S. Lewis said that for every new book we read, we ought to read three old ones. But I think for every latest, greatest new homeschooling book you read, go find three old homeschooling moms and ask them what happened and what worked.” ~ John Stonestreet
Oswald Chambers says:
"If we simply preach the effects of redemption in the human life instead of the revealed, divine truth regarding Jesus Himself, the result is not new birth in those who listen. The result is a refined religious lifestyle, and the Spirit of God cannot witness to it because such preaching is in a realm other than His." ~ Oswald Chambers
Carolyn Custis James says:
“The power of our theology comes alive when we take the truth personally. Holding God at arm’s length—no matter how much theology we think we know—will never make us great theologians. We have to learn to write our own names into the plot. God will always be the subject of our theological sentences but our sentences are incomplete until we make ourselves the direct objects of his attributes…..Simply knowing a lot of theological ideas, no matter how orthodox and sound they are, will never turn us into great theologians. Theology isn’t really theology for us until we live it. Not until we learn to make explicit connections between what we know about God and the race we are running will we taste the transforming power of our theology. Fixing our eyes on Jesus means reminding ourselves of all that He is to us now. He brings meaning to our routines and energizes us to tackle the difficult tasks at hand. Fixing our eyes on Jesus gives us hope to offer disheartened husbands and hurting friends, and the wisdom we need to raise children who will fix their eyes on Him, too.” ~ from Carolyn Custis James in When Life and Beliefs Collide
William Carey says:
"Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter."
Tim Keller says:
"God’s love and forgiveness can pardon and restore any and every kind of sin or wrongdoing. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. It doesn’t matter if you’ve deliberately oppressed or even murdered people, or how much you’ve abused yourself… There is no evil that the Father’s love cannot pardon and cover, there is no sin that is a match for his grace." ~ Tim Keller
Tim Keller also says:
“The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself nor less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less.” ! Tim Keller in The Reason for God.
Anne Ortlund says:
“So what do we do to encourage them to grow inwardly, to become resourceful and creative, to think, to meditate, to lay the foundation for growing up well? Don’t push, but affirm them! Give them the sense that all is well, that their rate of progress is acceptable to you, that you like them just the way they are…..Guide them but be delighted in them. Let them know that life is to be reached for and drunk of deeply…..Enthusiastic, that’s how you want them to grow up! The word comes from “en Theo,” or “in God.” Support them with words of faith, hope, and love, and in that framework “in God,” they’ll be ready to tackle everything. Fears and cautions are built in at an early age but so is courage! Tomorrow’s world will be different if your child has been released to experiment, to risk, to lead others, to pursue righteousness, to be an affecter for good in society, to go courageously after God.” ~ Anne Ortlund in Children Are Wet Cement
J.C Ryle says:
"Kindness, gentleness, long-suffering, forbearance, patience, sympathy, a willingness to enter into childish troubles, a readiness to take part in childish joys, these are the cords by which a child may be led most easily, these are the clues you must follow if you would find the way to his heart." ~ J. C. Ryle in The Upper Room
Kathy Thile says:
"I say this gently, as the parent of grown kids, knowing *insert parenting guru* is also the parent of grown kids: we have wonderful children — he does, I’m sure — and so do I. But without even knowing his children I can know this about them: they are not perfect. They hurt. They make mistakes. They struggle. They are prideful and overly simplistic at times; and crippled by shame and hesitancy at others. Yes — they are beautiful examples of human beings, his children (I assume), and mine (I know.) But they are not perfect. If they were, they would not be human. If it were possible to raise children to perfection, then God would have sent a parenting method, not Jesus. Our marching orders are not to raise our children by a method to be like *insert parenting guru* children. Our marching orders are to be Christians to and with our children." ~ Kathy Thile
Clay Clarkson says:
“Many Christian parents, myself included, tend to speak to children as though they were Pharisees. We can speak harshly and with judgment, implying by our manner that their hearts are hard and resistant. But this attitude is not justified by Scripture. There is no record of Jesus ever speaking to a a child in a harsh tone. When the Gospels record Him speaking to a child, it is always with gentleness. Our children are not our adversaries. Though our children’s hearts are corrupted by sin, they are not hardened sinners who have made conscious choices to reject the Savior. Our children are simply immature and childish. That’s why children need love and compassion, not harshness and guilt.” ~ Clay Clarkson in Heartfelt Discipline
Tim Kimmel says:
“Grace can’t be some abstract concept that you talk about in your home. It has to be a real-time action that ultimately imprints itself in your children’s hearts. To talk about grace, sing about grace, and have our children memorize verses about grace – but not give them specific gifts of grace – is to undermine God’s words of grace in their hearts. Grace means that God not only loves them but that He loves them uniquely and specially. The primary way to give our children grace is to offer it in place of our selfish preferences.” ~ Tim Kimmel in Grace-Based Parenting
Chuck Swindoll says:
"You want to mess up the minds of your children? Here's how - guaranteed! Rear them in a legalistic, tight context of external religion, where performance is more important than reality. Fake your faith. Sneak around and pretend your spirituality. Train your children to do the same. Embrace a long list of do's and don'ts publicly but hypocritically practice them privately...yet never own up to the fact that its hypocrisy. Act one way but live another. And you can count on it - emotional and spiritual damage will occur. "
Anna Quindlen says:
“The biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less." ~ Anna Quindlen
Winston Churchill says:
“My education was interrupted only by my schooling." ~ Winston Churchill
John Taylor Gatto says:
"The shocking possibility that dumb people don’t exist in sufficient numbers to warrant the millions of careers devoted to tending them will seem incredible to you. Yet that is my central proposition: the mass dumbness which justifies official schooling first had to be dreamed of; it isn’t real." ~ John Taylor Gatto
Fred Rogers say:
“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” ~ Fred Rogers
thatmom says
"The truth is that the way a marriage becomes truly heavenly is for each husband and each wife to pursue, really pursue, a relationship with Jesus Christ, to commit to obey the Word of God, to set aside each of their own agendas and paradigms, and then as they walk in the Holy Spirit, as they are sanctified, a little at a time each day, they will grow closer to one another. Godly wisdom will manifest itself in purity, peace, gentleness, mercy, a willingness to submit to one another, the fruits of the spirit, and no role-playing (the true meaning of hypocrisy). (James 3:17)" ~ thatmom
thatmom says:
"We need to approach our children not as character projects, but rather, we must see them with hearts of sympathy, with compassion and understanding, and with ears that listen. You see, homeschooling is not about lesson plans and research papers and standardized tests. Homeschooling is about building a relationship with our children, friendships that will last our entire lives on earth and clear into eternity. Homeschooling is merely the tool whereby we build those relationships." ~ thatmom
thatmom knows:
As a homeschooling mom, I have realized that everything, ultimately, is outside of my own control. I have learned that the unique circumstances that happen in my family have occurred because God’s plan is so much bigger than my own. It is knowing this truth about God and in experiencing that truth with those in my home that has enabled us to face past challenges and that will prepare us for all those difficulties that still lie before us.
thatmom says:
"Real books from the library, a tub of art supplies, being read stories rich in vocabulary, a variety of good music, the daily discussion of God’s Word and how it relates to the world around him, and the attention of a loving parent who includes him in all the activities of real life are the secrets to a great learning experience for children." ~ thatmom
thatmom realizes:
If I think about nearly 40 years of marriage, times the number of loads of laundry I have done for 2 parents, 6 children and 1 grandma, I am amazed to know that I have washed, dried, folded, (sometimes ironed) and put away roughly 27,526 loads of laundry. That is over 215,000 socks! Or, in that same amount of time, provided 38,324 meals for a family and sometimes guests. Or that I have overseen nearly 21,500 hours of education of one sort or another during that time. Just thinking of these numbers takes my breath away. ~ thatmom
thatmom says:
"Being a mom is sort of like being all the people who crowd into a basketball arena all at once. Sometimes we are the players, the ones who are responsible for everything that is going on and our presence is front and center. Sometimes we are the coaches, giving comfort and encouragement, instructing with a clipboard in hand. Other times we are the referees, no striped shirts required but whistles are a must to break up the disputes when the game isn’t played as per the rules. Still other times we are the fans, cheering wildly from the stands, shouting from a distance but not from the floor. And then there are the days when we are the cheerleaders, the ones who scream 'Yeah, you can do it.' " ~ thatmom
thatmom says:
“The beauty of homeschooling is building relationships within our families and inspiring our children to become lifelong learners, gently leading them into the truth of Scripture and trusting that the work we have begun will be brought to completion by a sovereign God who has a plan for building His heavenly kingdom.” ~ thatmom
thatmom also says:
“After parenting for 36 years, I have come to realize that all paradigms are basically a list of do’s and don’ts that someone has created. Instead of embracing a list, I have discovered that it is best for me to run all ideas, philosophies, and paradigms through my “one-anothering hopper.” I ask myself if the suggestions or ideas I am hearing will serve to build my relationships or will serve to tear them down; will they reflect the one-anothering commands of Scripture? I ask if they are a picture of Christ and His relationship with me as His needy daughter. If not, I am not interested, no matter how much appeal they might have for any number of reasons.” ~ thatmom
thatmom says this, too:
“The word wisdom is used in Exodus to describe the knowledge that the Lord gave to the skilled artisans so they could make Aaron’s garments for worship. We are told that these workers “were given wisdom and understanding in knowledge and all manner of workmanship.” I have never had to sew any garments for a priest to wear for worship. I have not had to sew any draperies or build any walls or prepare any inner sanctuary as per the Lord’s instructions. But I have been called to give all I can toward the goal of building up children in the faith, preparing children for life outside my home, children whose bodies, we are told, are called the very temple of the Holy Spirit, children whose job it is to worship in spirit and in truth." ~ thatmom
what does thatmom believe?
" What is thy only comfort in life and death? "That I, with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who, with His precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him." ~ Heidelberg Catechism
What does it mean to be a Christian?

1.We must acknowledge that we are all sinners. “For we are all become as one that is unclean, and all our righteousnesses are as a polluted garment: and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. (Isaiah 64:6) and “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

2.We are all accountable for our own sins before God. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)

3.There is only one way to be forgiven of these sins and that is through the blood of Jesus Christ. “Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

4.If we confess our sin to the Lord and repent of it (not allow it to rule in our lives) we can be forgiven and be in right standing with God. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousenss.” (1 John 1:9)

5.Genuine salvation will result in living lives of good works but none of those works contribute in any way to our standing before God which is based solely and completely on the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God. (Hebrews 10:12) and “Not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to His mercy He saved us by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:5) and “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)

6.We all, men and women, boys and girls, have direct access to the throne of grace because everyone who is a born-again believer in Jesus Christ is called a “priest and king” in God’s economy. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (I Peter 2:9)

I believe that many of the false teachings within the patriocentric movement are in direct contrast to these Scriptures and I would encourage each of us to first examine what we believe about Jesus and His work on the cross, its implications and its marvelous power.

Secondly, I would challenge anyone reading here to examine your own heart and ask yourself whether you have been trusting in good works….baptism, homeschooling, church attendance, modest dress, the list goes on and on, or if you have placed ALL your faith and hope in Jesus’ blood and righteousness alone.

And finally, I would challenge you to examine the teachings within your own church system, whether it is Protestant, Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, etc. Ask yourself what your church teaches about ecclesiastical authority and family authority. Does it line up with the Word of God? It is a top down system that requires certain works in exchange for a relationship with Jesus Christ or do you have the assurance that you are saved for eternity by His death on the cross in your stead? Does it teach that the fruits of the spirit and obedience to all the one anothers is what our lives will demonstrate or is there a list of man made rules?

If you desire to talk with me about this, please send me a note to My desire is that no one who visits this website will leave without knowing the glorious truth that we can have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and can enjoy a life filled with His goodness and grace!

Adoration of the Home was painted by regional artist, Grant Wood. The original hangs in the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. Ben Campbell and Lon Eldridge deserve extra cookies for writing, performing, recording, and mixing Mom’s Prairie Song for the podcast intro and outro. Great job, guys. Garrison Keillor would be proud.

Copyright © 2014 ~ ~ Karen Campbell ~ All Rights Reserved.