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. 
Weak. 
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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Homeschooling Through the Busy + Hard Times

Homeschooling Through the Busy + Hard Times
Last week we explored what it can look like to homeschool through the holidays. This week I'm pondering some rhyming words and how they can help us seek God's heart for our homeschool when life feels too busy or just plain hard. I pray these thoughts can be an encouragement to you if you are feeling overwhelmed or discouraged...whether during the holiday season or any time of year.

GRACE
Mama, when life is difficult, do you lean on God's grace? Are you rooted in the truth of who he is and who you are in Christ? In case you need a gentle reminder, we don't have to do it all. We don't have to BE all. God IS our all in all, and his grace covers us and brings us into an eternal relationship with him. If you're feeling stretched thin, take some deep breaths with your eyes closed and ask the Lord to show you the many ways he showers grace on you and your family. Then allow yourself to wallow in that wonderful, amazing grace! If our almighty, holy God can lavish us with grace...shouldn't we at least sprinkle a little on ourselves?! Yet we are often so hard on ourselves, berating our weaknesses and failures. And sadly, this mindset spills over onto our children, whether or not we intend for it to happen. 

Certainly, we must model for our children what to do when we sin. We should teach them to confess sin to God and the people we've hurt and ask for forgiveness. But we also need to model for them what to do when we simply bump up against our human limitations. Being weary or leaving a to-do list unfinished is not a sin! We must differentiate between fleshly failures that require forgiveness and healthy human limitations that simply require...rest. Grace. The ability to laugh at ourselves and start over.

SPACE
In the guidebook I wrote for mamas expecting a baby with a life-limiting diagnosis, I encouraged them during the difficult journey to give themselves "lots of grace and lots of space." I actually think that's an appropriate bit of advice for ALL mothers! We all need margin in our lives for the many times we need to rearrange plans and schedules because of unexpected events. Do you leave space in your day or week for this? Or are you so booked up that any change in circumstances will throw everything off? 

How about mental space? Does your brain have time to rest and be bored (important aspects for cultivating creativity!), or are you scrolling social media or navigating the internet, jumping from one distraction to another so much that your brain is constantly buzzing from all the input?

Sometimes we need emotional space. Perhaps we recognize the need for space to grieve. To process a transition. To evaluate a complex relationship.

And finally, spiritual space is crucial to everything else discussed here. If you don't yet have a habit of DAILY being in the Word and praying often (on your own and with your husband and children), I encourage you to do whatever it takes to carve out the space in your daily routine to make this a priority. That leads to our next word...

PLACE
Colossians 1:17-18 tell us that Christ "is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy." When Jesus has first place in your life and you are seeking to follow and glorify him, life truly does go so much better! That's not to say we can escape difficulties, but Jesus helps us order our lives in such a way that we can navigate busy and hard times with grace and ease, being confident that "he who began a good work in [us] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 1:6).

When we follow Jesus first, our marriage takes the next place of priority, and then our children. Every family has different dynamics, of course, but these relationships are divinely ordered for our benefit and for God's glory. If we change up the order, we cause ourselves and our loved ones grief and difficulty. It's worth a quick assessment from time to time to ask ourselves: am I placing Christ first in my life? Do I put my children before my husband? Do I place activities (even good ones, such as ministry) as a higher priority than the primary relationships God has given me?


RACE
I'll close this post with the thought that we all have our own race to run. We cannot compare ourselves to anyone else. And...as I've been learning...I cannot even compare myself to myself! I often lament that I can't do [insert activity] the way I used to 10 years ago. (Multitasking, for example, is something I used to be much better at than I am now!) I can't compare our homeschool life in 2022 to what our homeschooling looked like in 2012 or 2005. The race I'm running now looks much different from the race I ran as a young bride, a new mother, a mom of 3, or a mom of 6 holding down the fort while her husband was deployed.

And let's not allow the word "race" to make us anxious...because our individual race might involve at any given time walking, sprinting, crawling, or even heaving on the side of the path for awhile. "Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Grace. 
Space.
Place.
Race.

Which one of these resonates with you today? Share a word of encouragement you've received so others can be blessed on their journey as well!

*****

P.S. Mama, if you're feeling overwhelmed, let's make some space on our calendars for a clarity call. I have a limited number of spots, but I'd be honored to walk alongside you and encourage you on your own race. 
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3 More Reasons I'm Thankful for Homeschooling

3 More Reasons I'm Thankful for Homeschooling
Recently I shared 3 reasons I'm grateful for homeschooling. This post gives 3 more reasons I love our home educating lifestyle! 

Friendships - 
The idea of the weird homeschool kid who "isn't socialized" is so far from the truth, it doesn't even warrant being called a "stereotype." Our kids socialize GREAT, thankyouverymuch! We cherish the bonds we form with others in the homeschool community...and that includes the friends we parents find as well! Sometimes we meet with others in a field trip setting (such as depicted in this photo, from a group event to the ProRodeo Hall of Fame & Museum of the American Cowboy). Other times it's developing deeper relationships with those we see in our homeschool enrichment classes on a weekly basis. Regardless of how or when we find those "kindred spirits," it's a blessing to find fellowship, community, and encouragement as we interact with like-minded families.

Fostering a love for learning - 
My school experience was so different from my kids' education. I was an A student, but I mostly studied to pass the test, not because I had some deep hunger for knowledge. My children's perspective on learning is much different because of the way we are able to engage in the learning process. I'm so thankful for their curiosity and the ability to dig more deeply into the things that interest them.

Forming lasting bonds - 
I know my children and teens and young adults much better because of our homeschool journey. Homeschooling requires intentionality with our personal relationships, because schooling is so much more than checking a box. I cherish the time I spend with my kids, knowing our family bonds are so much closer for being forced to figure out how to use our time and space to accommodate everyone's needs. And in addition to the relationships our kids have with their dad and myself, they are forming bonds with their siblings that are much deeper than they would have if they were separated into different grades at a local school. Yes...there are many times they drive each other (and me!) absolutely crazy. But the truth is, they love each other fiercely, and as they grow and mature, they naturally seek each other's advice and input. These relationships are so important! As we tell them, they will likely have each other much longer than they'll have us here on earth!
This photo is from Good Friday 2022. My oldest son was home from college on spring break, and my married daughter came over with her baby girl so we could have a special, symbolic lunch, with time to read from the gospels about Christ's death and resurrection. It's not always possible to have all 9 of my children (plus my grandbaby!!) together, so it's extra special when we can make it happen!

How are your relationships thriving because of homeschooling? Or perhaps they aren't at the moment...if that's true for you, I'd love to pray with you and walk alongside you as you seek God's wisdom for where you're at in  your journey. Let's hop on a call together and see where God leads us!
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3 Reasons I'm Thankful for Homeschooling

3 Reasons I'm Thankful for Homeschooling
I love homeschooling for so many reasons! I've put 3 of them together in this post and will share a few more later.

Freedom - 
I am very grateful for the freedom and opportunity to teach and talk to our kids about the things that matter most to us. As parents, we take Deuteronomy 6:4-9 seriously, and for us, homeschooling is the best way to carry our our God-given responsibilities for raising the next generation. In a world that is increasingly hostile to truth, we cherish the freedom we have to use the Word of God as our primary teaching tool. Parents, we must freely speak of the foundational truths God has laid out in Scripture AND in the universe He created. 

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse." Romans 1:18-20

Flexibility - 
Especially on a week like this one has been, with sickness running through the house, I'm grateful for the flexibility homeschooling brings. Not only can we set our own schedule, but also we can pick up and GO! Nothing like doing school by a lake, in a park, at the library, in the car, or on a mountain! And certainly in many, MANY times of transition over the years, the flexibility of homeschooling has served us well. Whether it was uprooting our family for yet another military move...or adding yet another baby to the household...the flexibility of our home educating lifestyle allowed us to make important adjustments at an appropriate pace.

FUN - 
If you're not already homeschooling, you may not believe this, but honestly, homeschooling is FUN. Perhaps not all day every day, but I truly have fun with my kids as we learn and discuss life together. It's a joy to watch them learn and grow. And we get to go on some stinkin' cool field trips! We've gone to the zoo on the first day of public school, taken school books to the lake, and even skipped "school" so we could take advantage of an opportunity taking place during typical school hours. We've made some incredible memories together, with a whole lot of laughter and silliness along the way.

If you're a homeschooler, what are some reasons you're thankful for homeschooling?

If you're not a homeschooler, what is something you're thankful for this year?

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Veteran Homeschoolers

Veteran Homeschoolers
This Veterans Day marks 3 years since my active-duty Air Force husband hung up his uniform and quit shaving. Although doing military life for over 22 years wasn't always easy, I'm grateful for the opportunities our family had to meet new people, join different church fellowships, and visit other parts of the world we may not otherwise have seen. And I'm extremely proud of my husband and all his accomplishments. Not many people know this, but he chose to retire as a Lt. Col even though he had earned the rank of colonel. The reason? Retiring as a full colonel meant he would need to uproot our family of 11 and relocate two time zones away. While we were certainly no strangers to military transitions, in 2019 we had 3 teenagers plus a daughter with significant physical and developmental issues. Prayerfully seeking the Lord's will, Ted announced he would do what was best for our family: it was time to retire.

I believe God has abundantly blessed that decision! Our children, now ranging in age from 5 - 22, have thrived in a place they have been able to call "home" for more than 5 years, which is much longer than we ever lived in one location during our military tenure. It reminds me that "there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens" (Ecc. 3:1). 

Not to take anything away from my husband's Air Force career, but as I ponder what it means to be a veteran, I realize that I, too, can claim this role! Of course, I've never been a member of the armed forces. But I'm certainly a veteran homeschool mom after educating my own children since 2005! And there are similarities in my husband's and my callings that I think are worth considering. In hopes that this will encourage YOU, dear one, I offer a few observations here.


CALLING
While my husband made a career of military service, his choice to do so stemmed from the feeling that God was calling him TO that service. Likewise, I believe homeschooling is indeed a calling. It will, of course, look different in every family. But Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is clear that parents are ultimately responsible to teach the next generation about God, His character, and His commands. I believe strongly that homeschooling is the BEST way to carry out this mission, but whether or not you choose to home educate your children, if you are a follower of Christ, you must take this calling seriously.

TRAINING & PREPARATION
It would have been absurd for my husband to play video games and eat junk food in the weeks and months leading up to entering the U.S. Air Force Academy as a cadet (waaay back in the summer of 1993!). And he certainly could not have sustained a 22+ year career if he had not taken seriously the need for ongoing training as he rose in ranks and assumed more responsibilities. The task of homeschooling is multi-faceted and warrants serious thought and preparation. This doesn't mean you can't pivot in the middle of a school year and pursue a different course (especially if something just is not working). However, the training I'm thinking of most here is for US as homeschool moms! Curriculum, schedules, and extracurricular activities are all tools, and we can and should put down a tool that isn't working anymore and pick up a new one. 

What is VITAL in this homeschooling-for-the-long-haul journey is our humble recognition that we constantly need to be in the presence of Jesus, asking daily for wisdom and grace to BE the moms He has called us to be as we teach our children to follow hard after Him. We need to be in the Word, soaking our minds in the truth of Who God is and who He created us to be. This leads to our last point.

DISCIPLINE
If you know anything about the military lifestyle, you know it involves a level of discipline not typically seen in other circles! The homeschool mom knows that discipline is essential for her lifestyle as well. First and foremost, she must choose to discipline herself: daily Bible study and prayer should be a given. And I'm sure I'm not the only one who is constantly asking the Holy Spirit for patience and self-control as I interact with my children on an hourly basis. Disciplining my own tongue is much harder than getting up early to exercise and have my quiet time...and let me tell you, I am really not fond of rising before the sun is up! 

And as we continue to practice discipline in our own lives according to the Spirit's gentle leading, we then must teach and discipline our children as they grow physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Remember the word "disciple" as the heart of the concept of discipline, and you'll be able to better navigate those battles with the flesh (both yours and your children's!).

NEWBIE OR VETERAN?
Are you a new homeschool mom or a veteran? Regardless of where you are on this journey, it's often helpful to talk things over with someone else in the trenches, someone who can help you see past the weeds or obstacles in your path. I'd love to help you find some clarity on your journey, whether you're dealing with toddlers interfering with school time or wondering how to handle difficulties with a teen. If you'd like a veteran mom to prayerfully meet you where you're at and lend a listening ear, I'd love to chat!

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