Thursday, June 3, 2010


YAY!! We have officially ended our first year of homeschooling (and I think I lived to tell about it!). What an adventure it has been. I had no idea going into this what it was going to look like for our family, or how it was going to work, or IF it was going to work, I just knew that God was telling us loud and clear that it was what we were supposed to do. But what I have discovered, was MY FAMILY. Of all the things that stand out the most, through all the trials, tribulations, failures, fun, frustrations - when I look back over the year I feel like above everything else, I have discovered who my kids are, and what our family life is supposed to be. I don't feel like we just "did school at home", it seems like we have changed our lifestyle. And I love it. After so many years of running the rat race, and speeding through our days, constantly rushing the kids out the door to school, or to this or to that, well, we just don't do that anymore. They each have some extracurricular thing that they do, but it no longer rules our lives.

One thing that a mom cannot do very effectively if she is hurried and busy and frazzled and stretched too thin, she cannot be the mother that God created her to be. We are in year 15 of parenting, and it's been a learning process for sure, and we are certainly still learning. But one thing that the Lord has revealed to me VERY clearly lately, is that these days are so fleeting. Having a teenager and a preschooler in the house at the same time will do that to you. We are to store up and treasure each day we are given with our children. And when I stopped being so busy with other things, and starting doing the things I should (like putting my photography business on the back burner for a while) - and focused on the job I have been given for THIS time in my life, being a mommy, suddenly my children were so much better behaved and our days flowed much more smoothly. God has charged us women, wives and mothers to create our home and family life for our husbands and children. It's up to us. Only women have that special gift He has given us to create beauty and gentleness. Men just don't have that gift. We set the tone for how our days will run, and how peaceful our homes will be. Much of that begins in our own hearts. Where is your heart? Is it at home with your husband and children? There was a time that mine wasn't. Even women who choose to work full-time, our hearts can still center around our home. Isn't it funny - how we KNOW what the Bible tells us to do, and yet we choose to do things our own way, and it never works, at least not very well. But when we finally surrender and obey - that is when we find true joy. There are such blessings when we just do as we are TOLD!! (How many times do we tell our kids that???!!!) I don't mean that my kids have become the center of my world - to the contrary - our priorities are now clearly defined. In our family, God is first (not to be confused with serving within the church), our marriage is second, and our children are third - things we all know, but are we living that out?? Kids actually crave that in their lives, that is the way God wired them. When that is out of whack, then our kids tend to be out of whack. Is our family life revolving around our kids' busy schedule or is our family life first, and then our schedule will follow? When we are functioning the way God designed us to - then everything will flow the way it is supposed to. I have experienced this from both sides. I prefer it God's way.
When family life gets rough, and the kids aren't behaving, I remember a time thinking that if we just stay busy, it's so much easier. We just don't have to stop and deal with the sibling bickering, the bad attitudes, just keep going, keep the kids involved in outside activities, and going here or there, and then we don't have to deal with the yucky stuff that happens in between. When God made it clear to us that we were to homeschool, I knew that big changes were on the way. For about six months, we all drew inward, cancelled activities, vacations, everything, and focused on being a family - that in itself was a very hard thing to do! We intentionally worked on relationships within our family unit, we identifed weak areas in ourselves and each other, and purposefully worked on those areas. We stopped and worked on heart issues. We allowed ourselves to actually be bored (oh the horrors!!), but it is those times when we can hear the still small voice of the Lord. I have a plaque on my wall (and so does my sister, cause we think so much alike!) that says "Take time for the quiet moments, as God whispers and the world is loud". Even our high-schooler was home for that time, having a half-year at home, and working on family relationships. I wouldn't trade that time that she was home for anything!! I feel like I can take one look at my kids now and know exactly where their hearts are. When we are in tune to their hearts, we are so much better equipped to help them through the things they are struggling with. It's not such a guessing game anymore as to what is going on in their minds. (HA! I'm in no way claiming to have the teenage brain figured out, but I'm a tiny bit closer to my own teen anyway!). Blessings flow when we are intentional about spending time together reading the Bible, and praying as a family, and Daddy truly being the head of our home, and hiding God's word in their little hearts (if I play the CDs 'Hide em In your Heart' one more time, the kids might hide the CDs!!). But they know scripture now, and a whole lot of it. What better thing for them to be able to turn to in times of trouble?? There is none better. The result has been a much more peaceful home life. Not that it was terrible to begin with, but now home is where my children prefer to be over anywhere else. Home is their safe place, their haven from the world. They certainly have their time to go out and "be a light" to others, but our home has become closer to what God intended it to be. And I feel so blessed. We certainly still have our days where life doesn't go as expected, but we are able to handle it a little better now. So - that is what I have learned from our first year of homeschooling - it wasn't about curriculums, or spelling problems, or study guides or field trips - it was about being together, loving each other, and gaining wisdom in every area of our lives. I know that God has given us this oasis of peace and refreshing for this time in our lives, and He is equipping us for things yet to come. Though we know not what they may be, I feel we are better prepared to handle it (scary as it may be at the same time!!).
"Mommy, show me how to write 'I love homeschool'?"
We are on day three of summer, and she still wants to do school. Oh to be four years old again and everything is exciting and new!! To her, "doing school" means Mommy is here with me and spending time with me and investing in my little heart and mind. Isn't that what God wants us to do?
Run and be free little one!! (cause after all that, mommy's brain needs a rest)


Karen said...

I remember way back when you were first pondering homeschooling and your heart was being prompted toward it. Isn't it amazing to see where the journey has taken you and your family? The word "obedience" gets a bad rap. It's such a beautiful thing, not a noose or stealer of good times as the world would want it portrayed to us. When we obey, or surrender, to where God is calling us, our lives are enriched and we are filled with a deeper understanding of His love for us. As mothers, it flows to our children and our home.

Side note: LOVE E's hair and dress in the last pic - can't wait to see her!

Nana said...

Such an inspiring blog. I have seen (and I have told you this) I have seen a change in your family and your lives for the good. I noticed it a few month before you started homeschooling and saw a big change the last time I was there. I think it is great and I love that you guys are so close as a family and that my precious grand-children are benefiting from it. I also love E's hair and dress. She is such a cutie. Can't wait to see all of you. Look forward to what next school year is going to bring. One thing is for sure time is fleeting and it waits for no one.

Wendy said...

Beautiful and encouraging sentiments! Thank you for encouraging a wanna be homeschooler!