School, Schedules, and Grace

When I began my homeschool journey, I didn’t know anyone who homeschooled. I was alone and frantic. I wasn’t sure what I should or shouldn’t do when it came to doing school at home.

Should we have a schoolroom?

Should we sit at desks? Where those important parts of education?

Was it okay to accomplish everything one day and not the next?

Pressure

I met a few families during the first year and that just seemed to put more pressure on me. These families were clean and well-coordinated. The kids wore khakis and polos. My youngest son wore the same shirt with a hippo on it, all the time. My eldest daughter preferred boy’s tennis shoes and liked her hair kept short. My middle daughter wore dresses all the time and thought she lived in a musical production. She had breakdowns if her hair-bows and socks didn’t coordinate.   When these other moms talked about the schedule, the importance of this textbook, that curriculum, I just wanted to hide under a table. Most of the time I had no idea what they were talking about. I didn’t know who Charlotte Mason was or Kathy Duffy, Sally Clarkson, or fill in the blank.

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I put my schedule and my schooling on a pedestal.

I came home from events with other homeschooling moms determined to schedule better, to get it all done, and find out who they were talking about. I began a round of re-educating myself. Most of the process was great, except for one thing. I put my schedule and my schooling on a pedestal. I thought if I did all the right things, at all the right times and read the right books, my kids would be well educated. I could pat myself on the back.   It backfired. When I had my schedule on the altar, when I worshiped it, checking the time, plowing through when the kids were frustrated, when I was tired and no one was learning anything, my sticky-noted schedule became my frenemy. It could have been my friend, but I let it push me around, just like those feelings of inferiority I got when I listened to those more seasoned homeschoolers talk. They weren’t trying to make me feel bad, I did that all by myself.  

You think that in two decades I would make exponential progress in the area of giving myself grace when it comes to schedules and school. You’d think I would have pushed those ideals off of their pedestal.  Some days I would leapfrog forward and sail through with God’s peace and joy as my companions. Other days, I woke up in a panic. And why? After all these years?  Do my baseboards have to be clean to start school? Once,  I was working on my schedule and I told myself –if I can do it all two days, three days, a week…isn’t that better than not doing it at all? When I say “it all” I mean everything on my schedule, all the school subjects, perfectly completed by joyful, compliant children. All the chores accomplished. Baseboards sparkling. Kitchen shiny. Errands run. Pantry full. Doctors’ appointments, meetings, and practiced attended with nary a whine by child or parent. Check. Check. Check. Check.   In my dreams.

Reality Check

Reality is more like chores somewhat finished most days. A load of towels in the washer too long. Run it again. Clean up the kitchen most of the time. School subjects worked through completely some days. Other days we’d chuck it and go for a real-life field trip.   I’ve studied many of the works of the names mentioned above. I’ve changed my philosophy of education. It’s been tweaked, but I am the same person who wants to do everything, every day, perfectly.   So, give yourself some grace. You may hit some weeks where you do all the stuff every day and then you have that under your belt for when you can only hit two good days one week.

but He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me.2 Corinthians 12: 9

It’s not about perfection, it’s about persistence to keep going. It’s about what you have under your belt, not what you don’t. It’s about grace in the journey, educating your child, and enjoying the trip.

How will you grieve the quarantine?

How will you grieve the quarantine?

Yesterday, with the sky blue, sun shining, I set out for a walk down to the lake. I’d been outside spray painting a coat rack to repurpose as a purse rack – pink it’s the color I had on hand. I quickly decided my yoga pants weren’t going to be warm enough. The wind up here on the mountain is razor-sharp, it slices through pretty much anything. I changed into jeans (which I seem to wear more now instead of less) and added a few more layers. Then I took off on my walk. Away from our windbreak pines, the wind bit me down to bone. I thought about turning around and heading inside but I didn’t.

What I can control

My thoughts – 

  • Walking outside is something I CAN DO.
  •  It’s something I can control. 
  • I’m a bit uncomfortable but just think how wonderful it will feel to go into a warm house!
  •  My legs are moving. My arms are pumping. I’m listening to one of my favorite podcasts.

I love comfort

Yesterday, I talked about how we have become a society who seeks personal peace and comfort. I am totally raising my hand here. I love comfort. I’m like Goldilocks. I like things just right. Not too hot. Not too cold. Just right. 

It’s just not realistic. Take it from a mama of seven kiddos. Life is not comfortable all the time. Plus we appreciate comfort so much after uncomfortable circumstances. For instance, after my walk, a hot cup of tea, a bowl of chili, and fresh hot cornbread were the ticket.  

The Real Discomfort

Let’s talk about the real discomfort we’re feeling – not just being cold on a walk. The discomfort of putting some projects on the shelf, canceled birthday parties and celebrations, coffee at the local coffee shop, not hugging people, changing the patterns of our days. It’s just darn-right uncomfortable. It’s okay to grieve what we thought our lives would look like at this moment. Or what we thought it would look like in a few months and probably won’t.

Right now I’m sitting in an orange camping chair on the banks of the Blackwater river while my son and husband fish. It’s chilly but the sun is shining. I’m wearing a winter hat, a coat, sweater, flannel shirt, and a tee underneath. I’m pretty comfortable. It’s the first time I’ve been out of my compound, I mean neighborhood, in a few weeks. It’s a fishing trip for the guys and a mental health day for us all.

Confession

Want to know what I did this morning? I sat in my bathroom and cried at the helplessness and lack of control I feel.

  • Not being able to go to Target with my daughter and grandkids.
  • Not being able to “work” at Joe n Throw with my other daughter (our coffee office).
  • Not being able to host family dinners.

I won’t give you the whole list of things I’m grieving. I’m sure you have your own list. Even when we have a list of items and comforts to be grateful for, it’s okay to grieve the loss of things we miss. It’s a season of light and darkness at the same time. 

We should grieve the loss of human connection. It’s what we are created for!

What are you grieving today? What comforts are you looking forward to?

Everyone has Limitations

We sat on comfy overstuffed furniture in the cafe and sipped hot drinks at the Mom’s Tea last Friday. The topic was escaping. When I had previewed the lesson, I thought, this doesn’t really apply to my ladies. I know them. They struggle more with not taking a break then escaping into alternate realities through the internet and other avenues, like drugs and alcohol. It is a relevant topic for today’s culture. Are we living in the moment with our children in the real world or are we too busy posting seemingly perfect pics on social media? I’m not against posting an occasional update for friends and family. I do that myself. What we were discussing was much more serious in nature, having to do with addictions and not living in real life in real time.

Through our discussion, I gleaned some information that I find are reoccurring themes with Moms. See if you relate to any of these.

  1. Moms feel guilty taking time for themselves.
  2. Moms work themselves hard and expect more from themselves than they do from others.
  3. Those Moms who work themselves like pack horses are often too exhausted to ever do anything fun or  reward themselves.
  4. Moms who work themselves too hard, having unrealistic expectations, are prone to not only physical exhaustion, but sickness
  5. Moms feel as if they need to be the best ALL  the time (Perfectionism)

As you can see, our conversation quickly too a turn from escapism to guilt. Do you find yourself in any of these statements? Can I let you in on a secret?  I see myself in every one of them at one time or another. Maybe one or two a day.

Why?

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I’m speaking from the experience of a homeschool Mom, it’s almost as if there is some invisible edict floating around our culture that says if you choose to stay home, you had better do it perfectly. My house should be sparkling because I am home. My children should be clean, respectful, well-mannered, because I am teaching them. I should prepare organic meals that take me hours to prepare and my kids love to eat them. Or maybe you work part time, or full time and you believe that lie that you can have it all and do it all.

Guess what? I can’t do it all and neither can you. We are human. We have limitations. We might be bossed around by cultural edicts, but we can ignore them. Guilt might rear its ugly head if we don’t do everything all the time, but we can tell it to be quiet.(Tweet that)

We try to balance our bank account and not spend all the money so that we don’t have overage fees, yet we over spend our mental and physical accounts. When we do, everyone pays the overage fees. Our bodies shut down. We yell at our kids. We are cranky.  Instead of keeping up our standard of perfection, we crash.

It's not about

Back to the list. Guilt is a scary beast. Moms don’t like guilt. Don’t let it boss you around. Take some time for yourself. Jesus did.He wanted to get away from his public (Mark 7:24). I’m not saying run around town every day and ignore your kids and home. Schedule time to do something you like. Coffee with a friend. Writing. Crafting. Something you like. It’s important for your kids to see you doing something of value apart from them. Your children will eventually treat themselves the way you treat yourself. (Tweet this) 

As far as work goes, we Moms quote scriptures like ‘whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all of your might.’ That is a great scripture. Notice, it doesn’t say, do everything. How about one thing?  How about whatever is before you? Not the panoramic view. The one thing. (More on this in another post).

You are not a work horse. You don’t have to do everything all the time.

“Each day, ask God what god wants us to do today; then ask God to help. A simple request, but so profound and far reaching it can take us anywhere we need to go.

Listen: all that we want, all that we need, all the answers, all the help, all the good, all the love, all the healing, all the wisdom, all the fulfillment of desire is emodied in this simple request. We need say no more than Thank You.

This plan has been made for us and it is not one of deprivation. It is one of fullness, joy and abundance. Walk into it. See for yourself.”- Melody Beattie

Last, but not least, listen to your body. Don’t ignore the signs of stress. Don’t ignore that sore throat or exhaustion. God gave you indicators for a reason. Just as you wouldn’t ignore the oil light in your car, don’t ignore the physical and emotional signals that you need a break.

Ladies, we have physical limitations. We are humans. We hunger. We thirst. We need breaks and times of refreshing. It is profitable to take them. We reap a fresh outlook when we sow seeds of the proper sort of escape.

Linking up with Kristin Hill Taylor for Three Wednesday! Join us!

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Schedules, School and Grace

 When I began my homeschool journey, I didn’t know anyone who homeschooled. I was alone and frantic. I wasn’t sure what I should or shouldn’t do when it came to doing school at home. Should we have a schoolroom? Should we sit at desks? Where those important parts of education? Was it okay to accomplish everything one day and not the next?
I met a few families during the first year and that just seemed to put more pressure on me. These families were clean and well coordinated. The kids wore khakis and polos. My youngest son wore the same shirt with a _____ on it, all the time. My eldest daughter preferred boy’s tennis shoes to girls and liked her hair kept short. My middle daughter wore dresses all the time and thought she lived in a musical production, all the time. She had breakdowns if her hair-bows and socks didn’t coordinate.
When these other moms talked about schedule, the importance of this textbook, that curriculum, I just wanted to hide under a table. Most of the time I had no idea what they were talking about. I didn’t know who Charlotte Mason was or Kathy Duffy, Sally Clarkson or fill in the blank.
Sunflower- honey-flavored
I went home from events with other homeschooling moms determined to schedule better, to get it all done and find out who they were talking about. I began a round of re-educating myself. Most of the process was great, except for one thing. I put my schedule, my schooling on a pedestal. I thought if I did all the right things, at all the right times and read the right books, my kids would be well educated. I could pat myself on the back.
It backfired. When I had my schedule on the altar, when I worshiped it, checking the time, plowing through when the kids were frustrated, when I was tired and no one was learning anything, my sticky-noted schedule became my frenemy. It could have been my friend, but I let it push me around, just like those feelings of inferiority I got when I listened to those more seasoned homeschoolers talk. They weren’t trying to make me feel badly, I did that all by myself.

You think that in two decades I would make exponential progress in the area of giving myself grace when it comes to schedules and school. You’d think I would have pushed those ideals off of their pedestal.  Some days I leapfrog forward and sail through with God’s peace and joy as my companions. Other days,

I am waking up in a panic.
And why?
After all these years?  My baseboards have to be clean to start school?
I was working on my schedule for school today and I told myself, after I started getting worried about whether I could do it every day or not, if I can do it all two days, three days, a week…isn’t that better than not doing it at all? When I say “it all” I mean everything on my schedule, all the school subjects, perfectly completed by joyful, compliant children. All the chores accomplished. Baseboards sparkling. Kitchen shiny. Errands run. Pantry full. Doctors appointments, meetings and practiced attended with nary a whine by child or parent. Check. Check. Check. Check.
In my dreams. Reality is more like chores somewhat finished most days. Load of towels in the washer too long. Run it again. Clean up the kitchen most of the time. School subjects worked through completely some days, other days we chuck it and go for a real life field trip.
I’ve studied some of the works of the names mentioned above. I’ve changed my philosophy of education. It’s been tweaked, but I am the same person who wants to do everything, every day, perfectly.
So, give yourself some grace. You may hit some weeks where you do all the stuff every day and then you have that under your belt for when you can only hit two good days one week.
It's not about
It’s not about perfection, it’s about persistence to keep going. It’s about what you have under your belt, not what you don’t. It’s about grace in the journey, educating your child and enjoying the trip.

GRACE

I woke up late yesterday which usually starts a domino effect.  Breakfast is late.  School starts late.  I am cranky.  The kids are cranky.  But, yesterday was different.  I was tired from a restless night, one of the kids had a rough start.  Then, GRACE.

My prayer time was shortened, so it wasn’t because of putting my time in with God.  My breakfast plan was altered- toasted bagels replaced pancakes and sausage – so it wasn’t my gourmet cooking that impressed God.  I didn’t do anything great or good.

I just asked for help.  GRACE-God’s unmerited favor.

Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming first when we need it].  Hebrews 4:16 

I didn’t do anything to deserve to receive grace.  I failed.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Easter

This week, I have been praying for a deeper revelation of the cross.  Not the actual wooden cross.  The Romans crucified the masses on a daily basis.  I put too much emphasis on the two sticks.  I wear them around my neck- a symbol of a barbaric death, a reminder of Christ’s suffering.   Shouldn’t I wear an empty tomb?  Isn’t that the real meaning of Easter?  Christ is risen?  He conquered death hell, and the grave.  He rose again.   He suffered an agonizing death, taking my sins upon Himself, and by His stripes, His wounds, I am healed.

Back to GRACE.  The kids and I watched Ben Hur, a Tale of the Christ, I was impressed by how intensely personal Judah Ben Hur’s relationship with Jesus was.  When Judah, enslaved by the Roman Empire and taken away in chains for a crime he did not commit, Jesus gives him a drink of water in answer to a desperate prayer.  Jesus, God incarnate,  gave the prisoner-slave a drink of water.

Our relationship with Jesus can be as intensely personal.  That is message of the film, the message of the gospel and my message today.  Isn’t it amazing?  Easter is for every human the face of the planet.  The heavy veil of the temple has been ripped in two.  We no longer have to wait for a priest to enter the holy of holies.  We can each boldly approach the throne of grace.  The Word made flesh who dwelt among us wants to have a personal relationship with each one us.  Intensely personal.  Get- you- a- drink- of -water- personal.

Later in the film, Judah follows Jesus as he carries the cross and when Jesus falls, he rushes towards him with a drink.  Man gives flesh-wearing Word a drink. The Holy God humbled himself and took on the form of a servant.  WE are to do the same.  Rush towards the throne of grace,  find what we need just in time.  Grace gives us the power to do what He has called to do.  That’s what I needed.  Grace to overcome my weakness and do what God has called me to do.  Love cranky children.  Read history.  Give a spelling test.  Check math.  Prepare food.  Fold laundry.

Two thousand years has not watered down the power of the gospel.  It is not an old message.  It is new every morning, just like His mercies.  Are you weary?  Heavy laden?  Struggling?  Do your days fall over like dominoes?  Each one as frustrating and meaningless as the one before?  Come unto Jesus.  Just cry out to him.  He will hear.

Photos taken by Super-camera-girl, Ania Guire