I wanted to share bits and pieces of a couple conversations I’ve had lately… I’m hoping it will be encouraging.
Some veteran homeschool mamas and I were chatting online and we have talked previously about the cycles homeschoolers go through.
August / September – I’m so excited! I just KNOW a new schedule and X curriculum is going to solve the problem I had last year.
October – Keeping on.
December – Thank goodness for Christmas break. School is still enjoyable, but just ready to take a break.
February – YOU WILL BE DISCOURAGED IN FEBRUARY. And, strangely, it seems to NOT just be a PNW thing…. Many mothers switch curricula in February, convinced that the problem they are facing is definitely whatever they are using.
March – Spring Break – you were planning on working through it in the Fall, but all of a sudden a little break seems like a good idea.
May – You work longer than expected in hope of finishing up something… Even the school system is guilty of not finishing the textbook you know. Just sayin’.
July/August – The urge to start again is overwhelming. J
We’ve also noticed:
- You’ll know that one other homeschooler who always has it together at all times. BTW, she doesn’t.
- You’ll know that homeschooler whose kids NEVER cause any issues, debate whether something is necessary, and her kids never dawdle. First, she probably has been doing this for a while and has some tips to share, sincerely ask her to share and then listen to her. Second, trust me, at some point in time her kids did dawdle, or debate something, or cause some kind of hub-bub. J
- You know the homeschooler who does it all and does a million outside activities as well. It’s AMAZING! She only has 24 hours in her day too. Everyone has priorities. Some of us do a lot in the home, some outside the home, but everyone has only been gifted with 24 hours. Pray about what YOU should do with YOURS. Our God is not a “one size fits all” God.
- Cover your decision to homeschool, or to public school, or to private school, or to co-op, or whatever YOUR family needs in prayer. God can answer, “What should we do?” Anxiety can’t answer that. Worry can’t answer that. Fear can’t answer that question. God can. And whatever HE says, obey. His is not a spirit of fear or anxiety. If you do not feel equipped or a friend is “advising” you, that is NOT relevant. Only obedience is relevant. Simply because God called a friend to do one thing does not mean He is calling you to the same. See #3.
Finally, in a conversation with Kara the other day she mentioned Nehemiah and his task of building a wall. She talked about how the people came to bother him, to keep him from his task. But he had a task for God in front of him to complete.
This piqued my interest. So this morning I looked it up. I am sadly deficient in the OT. I love Proverbs for teaching and Psalms for encouragement but I always find myself in the NT. But this morning, I found myself in Nehemiah (thanks Kara) and loving it!
Nehemiah is finding himself heartbroken because the wall around Jerusalem is broken down. He asks permission from the king to rebuild it.
Then as you read through Nehemiah, you find that as Nehemiah is working on building this wall, the people are angry and they want to stop the work.
They come to him four times and ask him to come to the village to meet with him so that he will stop working on the wall. And yet he keeps building. Then they come to him, charging him with revolting. Another distraction! No, no, it’s a rumor; he keeps building.
Then Chapter 6 v9 – I LOVED this!
“9 They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.”
But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.”
How could he not be growing weary? Discouraged? He is facing much discouragement and opposition, many distractions, and everything is threatening to tear him away from this wall! His answer? He prays for strength.
In v15 the wall is completed. The work is done.
And then is verse 16:
“16 When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.”
In almost all things that are obedience to our beloved and living God, we will face opposition and hardship.
I hold tight to two verses:
~ James 1 ~
Consider it pure joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
The second verse is a gift to me from when we lost our daughter Hannah. I learned that we can be comforted and that God absolutely used the comfort we have received to later comfort others. I know this is absolutely true.
~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 ~
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are in distress, it is for your comfort and salvation.”
I know a few other truths:
- Homeschooling can be very challenging. It is never, ever continuously easy.
- Parenting can be very challenging. See #1
- Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean stop IF God has called you to it. This is why the decision to homeschool should be BATHED in prayer. Have you heard the rule? If He brings you to it, He’ll bring you through it.
- Never do anything just because everyone else seems to… Be it curriculum, outside activities, or anything else. Pray.
- You’ll hit a wall. Make cookies. Take a break. Breathe. Pray.
I don’t believe all Christian families are called to school in the same way. Nor do I believe all Christian families should look the same. Our God must like differences; the sheer number of different butterflies is astounding! ;) But I do know, that as Beleivers, we are called to three things:
Seek Him and His will
Give Him the glory for the wall so that others know He is God and He is mighty.
Hold tight to the truths. There are days when you can’t see your path for the clouds and the fog. (Also true in places other the PNW, lol.) Those days you’ll desperately need to know those basic truths of why you are doing a particular task. Because, had I been Daniel in the lion’s den I am certain I’d have been eaten. After all, what lion doesn’t find a snack running around screaming, “This isn’t right? This CANNOT be God’s will for me! I QUIT!” enticing? Yum.
You’re going into a new school year. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Rest in the task God has given YOU. Seek Him daily. Pray. Recognize that anxiety is NOT from God. Recognize fear is not from God. When you have a question, it is good to seek wise counsel. Seek it, however, “season” that counsel with the knowledge that we are not all called to the same journey and, again, pray. Moreover, when seeking counsel, seek it from the older woman, seek it from someone who has older children, and you’d want to emulate the wall they have been building. Do not ask your closest friend, she may not be the best counsel. See 1 Timothy 3 in what an elder should be like and Titus 2 in what an older woman should be like to decide whether this is a good person to seek counsel from. You’re seeking wisdom, not just advice or empathy.
There… My .02 and a few bucks might get you a decent cup of coffee.
There were so many hard days when we started homeschooling! Some days are still hard, but I know now they will pass. I do wish someone had told me these things though, admittedly I don’t know if I would have listened. Now, it is easier. Instead of asking, “What am I doing wrong that this curriculum doesn’t work for me?” I am okay with the “best” curriculum not working. The best curriculum isn’t the “best” when it sits on the shelf, unused and unloved. Moreover, what is “best” is fickle. Curricula changes as often as fashion.
A nap can sometimes be time well spent. Staying home does give you more time. Nobody can do everything and be everything. You will fail. It’s okay. Tell yourself what you tell your kids, “Get up. Brush off your knees. It will happen again but you will be OKAY!” Then what do you do? You love on ‘em and send them off stronger and more capable and willing to try again. Extend yourself the same grace you would extend a beloved friend if she called you on the phone after a hard day. Love covers an awful lot of shortcomings. If you find yourself crabby and impatient, make hot cocoa, turn on praise music and dance with your kids. Kiss your husband. Be grateful. Be thankful. Pray. These days often don’t feel like a gift, but they are.