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.

When the Photo Shoot (and life) are not Perfect, There is Still Joy!

Ever browse through social media for a few minutes and walk away feeling depleted? Less than perfect? As if everyone is having a great time? Your life doesn’t measure up?

When I scroll through social media posts, I sometimes get infected with the “woe is me” bug. Or I physically feel as if all the anger and unrest settles on my shoulders. I put the phone down and burdened.  How about you?

The Whole House had a photo shoot a few weeks ago. Here’s what you see on our cover and on social media posts:

untitled-17Yep, we’re pretty excited about a book release, 25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas, An Advent Devotional for Adoptive/Foster Parents coming out November 1! Also, we are releasing The Whole House Podcast on January 1rst!

Looks at cool and perfect-ish, right?

Here’s a behind the scenes look at what really happened…..

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The photo shoot wasn’t all it seemed on social media. The kids took the frame, the photographer and finally, needed to go in for a snack and nap. The grown-ups wanted a nap too, but we persevered and after getting kiddos to bed (Judah fell asleep sitting up), we recorded a podcast. We recorded with a Mic in the middle of a round table in Amerey’s kitchen, surrounded by lunch and snack remains. We don’t have a professional studio or a picture perfect life.

How do you find joy in an imperfect life?

When the kids don’t cooperate with your plans?

When you have more chores and meltdowns than hours in the day?

When it seems as if everyone else has it all together and you’re not sure what it is?

We long to belong. We yearn for acceptance. What we end up with when we pursue the pseudo perfect life is shame. Shame is a painful emotion that tells us we have fallen short, we are not enough. When we live our lives peering through the lens of shame, we feel depressed, angry and isolated.

How do we avoid the shame based lifestyle?

We acknowledge that OUR now is enough. Where we are and who we are is enough. The circumstances and gifts God has bestowed upon us may be different than our neighbors’. That’s okay. Uniqueness is gift. Accept your now and embrace it.

Comb through the tangle of your day with an eye for joy. No one has perfect circumstances. Maybe your house is full of toddlers or teens. Maybe there is sickness in your family and you spend days sitting in a hospital. Maybe you finally got the baby you longed for and don’t know how you can physically cope with night time feedings and the constant exhaustion. The only way to be thankful is to look for things to be thankful for. Chase joy down. Write them down if you need to.

  • A cup of coffee.
  • A giggle.
  • A sunrise.
  • A backyard photo shoot.

Last, but not least, be vulnerable.

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”- Brene Brown

One way to overcome shame is tell your your story. The non fiction version. Not the social media fiction version. The greatest words of empathy are, “me too!”

I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!- Emily Dickinson