Being Rooted in Our Homeschool

Being Rooted in Our Homeschool
In my last post, I was recounting the story of how I nearly quit homeschooling. The trauma our family had undergone just about did me in.

In the time since those moments of absolute, utter desperation, I’ve been asking the Lord not only what He wants me to do, but also who He wants me to be. I’ve taken time for personal growth and deliberately put myself under godly mentors who have helped me see my blind spots–and also my passions and strengths–so I can move forward into the next season of life with bold and godly confidence.

The burning question was this: What exactly should our homeschool look like when I deal with seemingly endless constraints, weaknesses, and limitations?

During this time of seeking God's guidance, I kept coming back to tree imagery. I see it all through Scripture. I see it in my wooded backyard. Nowadays, even my screen saver keeps popping up beautiful photos of trees!

As a visual learner, I’ve matched some phrases to tree parts to help me wrap my brain around what I believe is my calling as a homeschool mama. This helps me see the big picture of what we're doing in our homeschool much more clearly. Perhaps it will help you as well, or maybe it will inspire you to create your own visual based on what God is pressing on your heart.

Deeply Rooted
I, my marriage, our family, and our homeschool are all deeply rooted in Christ. We hold His Word in highest regard, believing it to be the description of His great rescue plan for sinners. We stand strong on His foundation of truth.

Faithfully Focused
In a world of distractions that target our fleshly desires and weaknesses, we choose to pursue purposeful, meaningful activities to help us live out God’s principles in our specific circumstances. This helps us continually grow spiritually.

Intentionally Connected
We believe our relationships with Christ and the people He has put in our lives are our highest priority. We choose, therefore, to live in authentic community, encouraging and being encouraged by others. 

Boldly Courageous
In this cultural moment, where “truth has stumbled in the streets” (Isaiah 59:14), we commit to speaking truth in love. With our priority being to seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness, we know living for the eternal rather than the temporal is a must.

Mama, I pray this is helpful to you! If you are not feeling rooted...focused...connected...courageous...might I suggest something? I believe it would be so valuable to get some objective input. I know it was for me! Let's set up a chat and see what God will do in our short time together!

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Your Homeschool Matters

Your Homeschool Matters
As we’ve studied over the last few weeks, this idea of being rooted starts with our relationship with Jesus, spills out into our marriage, and affects our whole family. It makes sense, then, that for Christian homeschooling families, we should also be intentional about nurturing our homeschool from the perspective of being deeply rooted in Jesus.

After going through multiple transitions and unexpected trauma as a family, the Lord had me in a “wilderness” season for a while. It was hard to look up or outward since we were in survival mode. But in God’s kindness, He used that time of drawing inward to help me reexamine my foundation and recommit to the truth. And in a sense, I almost feel as if the Lord also allowed me to experience a kind of rebirth. It was a time to dig deep, crying out to the Lord as raw roots were exposed. 

It was painful. It seemed to go on forever. And yet…ultimately, it was healing. It was freeing!

I had cried out to the Lord, telling him there was no way I was going to be able to continue homeschooling when it took all my strength and energy to care for our medically fragile baby who wasn’t expected to live very long. I was searching for educational options for our children, feeling entirely inadequate to even care for the basic needs of our family, let alone oversee our offspring’s academic instruction. What do you do when homeschooling is hard?!

Well, OF COURSE God provided. I’ll save the specific story for another time, perhaps, but the point of this story is that we continued homeschooling. (ONLY by His provision and grace!)

But it really didn’t look anything at all like I wanted it to look…the way it “used to” look.

And that, my friends, is the BEAUTY of a deeply rooted homeschool! God had brought me to the utter end of myself. 

I was broken. 
Completely undone. 

In other words, I was exactly where I needed to be: on my face at the feet of Jesus!

I'll continue this story next week...meanwhile...

Have you been there? Or maybe you're there now? Mama, I feel you! Don't do this alone...reach out. Let's hop on a "Burnout Buster" zoom call and help you get to the other side of whatever is burdening you regarding your homeschool.

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Family Matters

Family Matters
In this “Be Rooted” series, we’ve already delved into the ideas of being rooted in our individual relationships with Jesus as well as being rooted in our marriages. This week let’s “branch out” (pun intended! 😉) to see how this concept of growing deep roots affects our families.

No doubt, family matters can be complicated these days. The family unit itself is under attack like never before. I believe this is so in part because of God’s intention for families from the very beginning, so of course Satan seeks to steal, kill, and destroy God’s good purposes (John 10:10).

So how can we overcome today’s tendency toward busy-ness? The pull away from spiritual matters and toward earthly pursuits? The constant push from culture to divide generations?

It’s been said that the way kids spell LOVE is T-I-M-E. Just as we must intentionally nurture our marriage relationship by devoting time to our spouses, so also we must work hard to direct our family time so that it bears fruit and points our hearts and minds to things that will last.

There is so much we could discuss on this topic! I’ll just put a few thoughts about TIME with our kids here, and I’d love to hear your thoughts as well.

Everything builds on our foundation of Jesus Christ! As we spend time with the Lord ourselves (and ideally as a couple), more and more of our lives will be consumed by our desire to worship him and live out his purposes. Our children need to see what this all-important relationship looks like in daily life. Do we act as if our worship of God and service to him is something to be checked off our calendars? Do we view attending church or saying prayers just something we need to do? Or do we truly love Jesus, abide in him, seek him earnestly? Our kids can tell whether our actions match our words! (Have you ever found the Holy Spirit speaking directly to you through your own offspring?!) Parents are given the deep responsibility of teaching our children about the Lord (which is a good incentive to make sure we are deeply rooted ourselves). We’ll delve more deeply into Deuteronomy 6 in the next post when we talk about homeschooling, but regardless of how your children are educated, if you are a Christian parent, ultimately YOU are the one commanded to keep God’s words in your hearts and impress them on your children.

Our family time with God will look different during different seasons of our lives. I’ve had to wrestle with that over the years. Our family devotions are not always what I’d want them to be–and yet, as chaotic as life can be with kids of various ages, it is still Ted’s and my responsibility to raise these precious children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. And so we press on, using whatever tools and time we have available!

I remember hearing once that parents should listen to their children when they talk about “small stuff” (such as their latest LEGO creation or what happened on the playground), because if we don’t listen to the “small things,” our kids won’t come to us with the “big things” as they get older. In a child’s mind, EVERYTHING is a “big thing!” While it can get tedious to listen to a 23-minute recount of the thrilling Minecraft world my son has been building, it’s important to him…and therefore worthy of at least some of my time and energy!

If you’ve parented teenagers, you probably know this already: their time to talk is usually when adults are dead exhausted! But I wouldn’t trade those late-night conversations for anything. And now that we have young adults who have left the nest, I will literally drop everything I’m doing when they call so I can give them my full attention. Our kids need us, even as they sprout their own wings and take off! It looks different in each stage, of course, but the common thread is making time to talk with our kids. This includes one-on-one time as well as family discussions.

In my early years of parenting, I wanted to be a “fun mom.” I had visions of all kinds of activities I’d do with my kids as they grew older. But the reality is, I’ve learned I’m not naturally a “fun” person! Efficient and organized, YES. Spontaneous and fun, NOT SO MUCH! While I love to laugh, I find that I can often be too serious, so I’ve had to be intentional about finding ways to incorporate more joy and fun into my life. Kids are SO great at this! Over the years I’ve learned to let go of a lot of things (like housecleaning, lol) in order to embrace the loud, messy chaos of living and interacting with these little people God has given us. I’m having a lot more fun in these later years of parenting because I’ve learned to not take life–or myself–so seriously.

Along with fun, I would encourage parents to make time to intentionally shape your family dynamics. What do you want your family to be characterized by? What are some little habits or rituals you can incorporate into your life together that can not only be fun, but also meaningful? “Fun” doesn’t always mean unimportant silliness!

Regardless of how you choose to spend time with your family, one thing is certain: you will look back one day and realize just how true it is that “the days are long, but the years are short.” Praise God for giving us this precious time with our children!

What are some ways your family enjoys spending time together? How do you make time for God as a family? Share your ideas and tips with us!

Would you like to dive more deeply into the idea of being rooted? Check out my free 7-day mini "Be Rooted" Bible study!

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Marriage Matters

Marriage Matters
On December 29, 2022, John and Irene Keist, my parents, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary! And last summer my husband and I celebrated our 25th anniversary. In today’s world, those are certainly remarkable milestones. 

Last week I started this “Be Rooted” series on my blog, with the first focusing on the importance of being rooted in Christ. We took a deep dive into Colossians 2:6-7, with some folks choosing to dive even deeper by joining my 7-day mini challenge. (You can still do this if you like! It’s a free Bible study straight to your in-box.)

This week I’d like to encourage us to consider how we can be rooted in our marriages. After our relationship with Jesus, if we’re married, the most important person in our lives should be our spouse! Reaching 25 or 50 years of marriage doesn’t happen automatically. And do you see those smiling faces, absolutely glowing and radiating love for one another? As we all know, the wedding day and honeymoon vibes don’t last forever! My parents have weathered some storms over the years, let me tell you. Their love for and patience with one another is an example of agapē love, that sacrificial love such as was demonstrated by our Savior on the cross for us.

My own marriage has weathered some significant storms as well. Ted and I have faced:
  • 13 moves/transitions
  • 5 deployments
  • 2 miscarriages
  • 9 live births (2 while he was on deployment)
  • A devastating prenatal diagnosis
  • Anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and PTSD
And that’s not even mentioning the everyday “little” things we all deal with: health issues, interacting with extended family, chasing toddlers, agonizing over teens’ choices and more.

A married couple who homeschool their kids will find even more…opportunities (!!!)...for challenge and growth! Because the responsibility of teaching and training the children lies solely with the parents, they are far more consumed by additional activities and planning than they might otherwise be. Their whole lifestyle is one of sacrificial living and giving, and let me tell you, that takes a toll!

So how can we make sure our marriages are firmly rooted? That they can withstand life’s storms and seasons of drought and even fire?

First and foremost, as you have probably already guessed, is to make sure each of us is firmly rooted in Christ. When the husband and wife both “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” then “all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). 

Beyond that, we intentionally nurture our relationship with one another. This obviously will look different for each couple, but here are some things Ted and I have done over the years to grow our relational roots deeper so our marriage can grow stronger and healthier with time. Each one has to do with a choice about how we spend our time. 

We’ve already discussed being rooted in Christ on our own, but it’s so important as a couple to have this spiritual connection, too. Each couple and schedule is different, so don’t compare your activities to what others are doing. Ted’s and my devotional time has looked different at different seasons in our lives, but we’ve always sought to pray together as a couple in the mornings and right before going to sleep. Currently we have the luxury of doing a Bible study together with our morning coffee, and I LOVE this opportunity to read and discuss God’s Word with my husband!

Date nights don’t happen nearly as often as I feel they should…my love language is spending quality time together. But even if we don’t get “out,” we’ve been deliberate to plan “date nights in.” When the kids were young, this meant putting them in bed and then having a candlelight dinner at home (and talking about something besides the kids!). It might be a quick coffee date or even running errands together, but we do try to be intentional about this. And we work to teach our kids that OUR relationship is priority–kids shouldn’t interrupt Mom and Dad when we are in our room talking, for example. And included in this “time for us” aspect is definitely time for sex! As the woman, I try to take ownership of this aspect of our marriage as well, making sure we can connect intimately on a fairly regular basis. It absolutely affects every other aspect of our relationship.

Communication is HARD. (And I’d like to think I’m fairly good at this!) Even 25 years into our marriage, we still unintentionally hurt one another because of miscommunications. But we’ve learned we HAVE to address the elephant in the room. One thing we don’t necessarily do, though, is figure everything out before we go to sleep. That whole “do not let the sun go down while you’re angry” thing can be taken to an extreme. We don’t think or speak well when we’re exhausted, and emotions can only add to the feeling of exhaustion. Sometimes it’s best to agree to discuss an issue later, get some sleep, pray some more, and then come together to work it out. Stuffing it? NOT talking about it? Not an option! Not if you want your marriage to grow and thrive. Usually one person is more ready and able to initiate a conversation than the other–whether this is you or not, just do it. Bring it up. Begin to put words to it. Pray together about it and be honest about your feelings. God already knows what they are, and your spouse needs to know, too!

If you’re married, what are some ways you and your spouse seek to be rooted together? Share in the comments!

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How to Stand Strong in 2023

How to Stand Strong in 2023
As I prayed about how the Lord would have me direct my focus this year, I kept coming back to the image of a tree. Some of my favorite Scripture memory passages talk about trees. (I’ll share more about those in posts to come!) And recently, as I looked at some bracelets hanging on my jewelry board, I remembered a theme we discussed in a women’s Bible study some years back.

Be Rooted.

These are the words on a bracelet I purchased partly to support a friend’s fundraiser and partly to remind myself of what we were learning as we took a deep dive into Colossians 2:6-7. 

“So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

Let’s break it down…

First of all, have you received Christ Jesus as Lord? This means you’ve recognized that your sins have separated you from our holy Creator God; that you’ve accepted the death of Jesus on the cross in your place; and that in believing in his death and resurrection, you’ve received forgiveness for your sins and have a relationship with God that will last for all eternity! Oh, sister, I hope this is true for you! Whether or not it is, I invite you to meditate for at least a few minutes on some words just a few verses down, Colossians 2:13-15.

So for those who have received Christ as Lord, we are instructed to:
  • Continue to live in him…
  • Rooted and built up in him…
  • Strengthened in the faith as we were taught…
  • And overflowing with thankfulness. (Notice how each part builds on the previous phrase?)
If you’re an English nerd like me, you may find it interesting that only the first and last parts of the instruction are active on our parts. The rest is passive. Being rooted and built up in Christ, being strengthened in the faith, even the teaching of that faith–all of those things are done FOR us! A seed doesn’t actively decide to send down roots as it grows. It just happens–provided, of course, that the conditions are right for that seed to grow! Likewise, our “rootedness” comes about as a work of grace on our behalf. We certainly have choices when it comes to the conditions surrounding our seed, though, don’t we?

To foster conditions that would yield strong spiritual roots, I would suggest…
  • Watering our seed daily with the Word (Colossians 3:16, Isaiah 55:10-11)
  • Prayerfully spending time with the Son (see what I did there?! Son…sun…get it?!) (Colossians 4:2-4, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
  • Guarding our hearts and minds, choosing to meditate on that which is true, pure, lovely, admirable… (Colossians 3:1-3, Philippians 4:8)
Dear homeschool mama, as this new year begins, are you rooted? I pray you are and that you know what to do to keep from being tossed by the storms of life! When YOU are rooted in your own relationship with Jesus, your children will learn to be rooted as well (just like the verse says, “strengthened in the faith as you were taught”). And helping our children be rooted in their own relationship with Christ will prepare them to fulfill God’s purposes in their own generation!

If you're not already in our supportive community for homeschool moms, I invite you to join us so you can receive encouragement as you grow your roots and help your children do the same!

And if these verses and thoughts resonate with you, I invite you to dig a little deeper with me in this 7-day "Be Rooted" challenge. No sales, no spam, just short, daily emails with a more in-depth look at Colossians 2:6-7. If you don't already have a Bible study going, this might be a way to get back into the Word. And if you do, perhaps the daily opportunity to meditate on this portion of Scripture will encourage you to BE ROOTED!

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