Tag Archive for family

Homeschooling Mom, You Are in Charge of Your Happiness.

I spoke to a younger homeschooling mom this week who was clearly exhausted and suffering from burn-out.

After telling me why she was dreading the next two months of “school” , I asked her if she’d ever considered this:

“You are completely in charge of your own happiness. You don’t need permission to make changes for your own sanity. If you are discouraged, change something or nothing will change.”

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She needed to look for creative ways to make room for things that bring her joy. She was suffocating and needed some soul-oxygen.

I have been in her shoes too many times to count. We don’t have time so we don’t take time. It’s a vicious cycle.

Sometimes we get so stuck in the same old rut, that we don’t even know we are spinning our tires and headed nowhere. Spinning our tires requires movement and energy, so we equate that with productivity. Fast paced, multi-tasking, non-stop activity does not guaranteed progress. In fact, I’ve found that it almost guarantees burnout.

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The great amount of work that is truly on the shoulders of a homeschooling mom can scare us into a life of hurry and worry.

We begin pushing our kids to perform with a “standardized expectation” where kids can’t be themselves or excel in their own strengths. No, come end of the year, we must all perform for the test. Proficiency in every subject. Just call me Drill Sargent Mom.

Maybe we forget that education is not simply about gaining knowledge to pass tests.

It’s about relationships, training, direction, discipleship, character, and the atmosphere of home.

Charlotte Mason was a huge proponent of the “The Atmosphere” of education, that sense of well-being, connection, and joy that you share with your child that assures them that you are glad that you are together today!

We are training for real life situations.

Grandma is sick. We’re packing it up to get her some ginger ale and make some soup.

Mrs. Jones lost her baby. We’re headed there to watch her kids so she can rest.

Mrs. Smith is really struggling this week. She’s coming here for coffee and we’re going to cheer up her kids. 

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Homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s real life training. And we have to plan time for small things that will yield big results in our happiness. (This will be different for every person, depending on your interests!)

If you are dreading the end of your school year and you find yourself less than enthusiastic about it, evaluate why.

  • What has zapped all your energy?
  • Where are you stretched too thin?
  • Have you become the “do everything” mom, so that the kids aren’t carrying their weight?
  • Have you let behavior slide so that your days are filled with a constant chorus of whining?
  • Have you taken time to refresh your own soul?
  • Have you purposely pursued time away from the kids/classroom to nurture life-giving friendships?
  • What inspiring friend can you plan to spend time with this week?
  • Are you looking for ways to serve others outside of your own home?
  • How can you provide moments of beauty in your daily routine?
  • Are you over-committed somewhere? What can you cut?
  • Have you under-nourished your own interests? What can you add?

Being a homeschool mom should not mean that you are now cloistered into your locked house, only to emerge for necessities like groceries and doctor’s appointments. You don’t stop being a sister, daughter, friend, neighbor when you teach at home. In fact, this role almost requires you that intentionally pursue a connected lifestyle to spark imagination and inspiration.

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If you are suffering from burnout, and you still have a way to go in the semester, it’s time to change something. Write down two things you can do this week to plan for moments of beauty and inspiration.

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Oh, I know. It’ll slow down your pace. You may only finish 130 lessons, rather than 140, but I think your kids’ experiences will be richer. (Don’t worry. The traditionally schooled kids rarely finish all their textbooks either.)

  • Make tea time a daily thing.
  • Take an afternoon to shut off all electronic devices and spend some serious time in the sun and fresh air.
  • Take a nature walk.
  • Arrange a small display of flowers for the table.
  • Notice the beauty around you in nature.
  • Notice the negative self talk in your own mind. Maybe your own words rolling round and round in your head–words or failure, or bitterness, regret, or disappointment–are the reason you are so sour and drained. Dwelling on the negatives will always do that to you.
  • Take a walk.
  • Get some exercise.
  • Head to the library and find books that inspire you to learn something new.
  • Paint outside with the kids.
  • Laugh with a friend.
  • Make a bon fire.
  • Read aloud to the kids.
  • Enjoy a treat together.
  • Invite people over. Connect in meaningful ways. Live. Enjoy your life and the people in it.

If you are dreading the homestretch, change it up. You’re on your own schedule. And you don’t need anyone’s permission to care for your self. You are in charge of your own happiness!

What are you going to do this week to plan for happy and inspiring moments? Share in the comments!

 

Are You Accomplishing Anything For God?

Maybe you’re discouraged today, dear friend.

Maybe you’re wondering if what you’re doing matters in the long run.

Last week I wondered, too.

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I was reading over a list of New Year’s questions (meant for personal reflection and growth) from a sweet friend in a writing group. It was a wonderfully thorough list, meant to prompt confession, repentance, acceptance.  Questions like:

  • “If the last year could be summed up in a word, what would it be?”
  • “What are the two or three themes that kept occurring.”
  • “What are some major life lessons I learned this year.”
  • “What’s one thing I can do this year to increase my enjoyment of God?”

I breezed through them until I came to this one:

What did I accomplish this year that I am most proud of?”

I sat and thought. What one thing did I accomplish that I was most proud of?

Honestly, I couldn’t think of one. I sat on this for a few days, thinking about it. Still nothing. This really bothered me.

It wasn’t that I hadn’t done anything. We live a busy life. But to not be able to think of one thing? This bothered me enough to write a dear friend to see if she could think it through with me. (THIS is the benefit of having iron-sharpening-iron friends.) We hashed it out a little and she helped me gain perspective.

Some seasons of life cannot be measured by accomplishments.

There are times when life happens so fast and people need you so intensely that what you accomplished hardly makes the highlight reel. (Think sickness, death, new baby, foster child, new adoption, moving, etc…)

This Christmas I planted a lovely amaryllis bulb that a sweet reader, Becky, gave to me. I’ve been watching it grow and bloom against the backdrop of the grey bare trees outside my window. It started as a brown bulb, a stump really, not very pretty but full of potential. I planted it, put it on the windowsill, and gave it water. Things must have happened underground, because now it’s in full crimson bloom. The flower was alive and accomplishing its task underground before any of us had any clue it was accomplishing anything. The growing season was an accomplishment that allowed the flower to blossom.

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I believe our mundane days are the same–underground work, unseen, undetected, un-celebrated, but vital.

Maybe you are in a mundane season right now. Maybe all your hard work is unseen because it’s undone the very next day– the clean house dirtied, the once shiny sink now full of grimy water.

Moms, we feed hungry bellies. We wash clothes and remove stains. We wipe tears and console hurt feelings. We listen to little hearts. We make meals for others and host people in our home. We bake cakes to mark milestones for family parties and church fellowships. We bathe dirty bodies and change messy diapers. We stir stew and kneed bread. We watch our neighbor’s kids. We calm irrational fears and keep toddlers on our hip when they are whiny. We make sure our kids do their homework, get to their appointments, and make their beds. We sit with hurting women. We stay behind so that our husband can minister to others.

It’s not hollywood stuff and it may not be memorable, but it’s important. This is the stuff of life and it’s where God has called us to bloom. It may not feel like an accomplishment. Nobody’s going to celebrate that you made your bed and got tangles out of the two year old’s hair.

But it’s our sacred work. It’s our reasonable service.

My friend sent me this wonderful verse:

Ps. 37:3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.

God doesn’t require accomplishments. God just wants us to be faithful right where we are. He wants us to take joy as we serve others in hidden ways that no one will ever know about except God.

My friend also sent me these lovely lines from Robert Louis Stevenson that I hope encourage you as much as they encouraged me!

“The best things are nearest: breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of God just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain common work as it comes certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things of life.”

and

“Everyday courage has few witnesses. But yours is no less noble because no drum beats for you and no crowds shout your name.”

And from Elisabeth Elliot:

This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.”

Your God-ordained Job for Today

“What does God want me to do?” or “What is God’s will for my life?”

These are two common questions women ask. They flounder: “I feel like I should be doing more…maybe I’m missing the boat somewhere.”

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Have you ever felt this way?

I’ve come to believe that most women struggle with “God’s will” because they are comparing their life to others.

This mindset is especially tempting when we forget that God values what He calls us to do, whether we think it’s significant or not. 

Cleaning the house, changing diapers, making meals, running errands, caring for the sick–these unimpressive, mundane tasks bring glory to God when we do them with a heart towards Him.

We look around and compare our life to that woman over there who is thin, beautiful, rich, has a doting husband, cooperative kids, never-ending energy, and always has it all together.

We believe that we need to be remarkable and the comparison begins:

  • The younger mother whose days are full of caring for young children feels guilty for not getting out and visiting the sick more.
  • The daughter who is caring for an elderly parent and barely gets out of the house longs to start a ministry of encouragement to younger moms.
  • The financially struggling woman wonders if she should be entertaining more.
  • The single mom feels guilty that she can’t cart her kids around to every activity because of her hectic work schedule.
  • The older woman feels guilty that her arthritis won’t allow her to be out and about serving others like she once did.

Here’s the thing: Wherever you are today, the most remarkable thing you can do is to do good and serve the people right in front of you now, because the truth is that there are not many who are willing to embrace the mundane and obscure for the glory of God. So if this is where you find yourself, take heart and jump in:

  • If you find yourself with kids today, serve them.
  • If you are with your husband all day, encourage him.
  • If you are caring for the sick, do it with cheerfulness.
  • If you come face to face with a cashier, bless her.
  • If you have any human interaction, represent Christ well.

Be the hands and feet of Christ right where you are.

Don’t wish you were doing something “more”–more important, more visible, more life-changing. The lie of “more” is a trap that keeps you from joyfully serving what you believe to be “less.”

The most remarkable women I know are the ones who don’t care who sees or applauds or appreciates—they just live a faithful life every step of the way, no matter where the path leads.

Where do you find yourself today? Do you believe that God ordains all of your days? What’s on your agenda today? No matter how un-glamorous, be faithful and diligent to God right there.

What resources do you have? Are they meager? Use them anyway. If you have a teapot, use it. If you only have the gift of gab, use your words to bless someone else. If you have social media, make it a blessing.

Be so busy doing the will of God and serving others that you don’t have time to notice what others are doing.

 

Traditions Are Memories You Choose To Create

Spring Table Setting

Easter is just around the corner. Do you have any special family traditions?

If not, I would encourage you to start some!

When you choose a family tradition, you are making a memory through consistency and ritual.  It takes a little planning (and of course work on the part of the mother) but it is worth the effort.

There is something about saying, ‘We always do this,’ which helps keep the years together. Time is such an elusive thing that if we keep meaning to do something, but never do it, year would follow year with no special thoughtfulness being expressed in making gifts, surprises, charming table settings, and familiar food. Tradition is a good gift intended to guard the best gifts.

-Edith Schaeffer

In our home for Easter, I love finding pretty spring dresses and white shoes for my little girls, and scouring the Talbot’s Outlet for my teenage girls. (I loved, past tense, dressing my son in plaid shorts and a light blue vest but my husband informs me that he is too old for that now. Okay, he is 13.)

Early Easter morning, I make a huge breakfast with the same menu every year: biscuits and sausage gravy, strawberry crepes, fresh fruit, O.J, and coffee. I decorate the table with hyacinth and tulips. I use my antique china. I put a piece of Peter Rabbit chocolate on each plate along with a piece of jewelry for the girls and a doodad for Matthew. I am up at the crack of dawn and I think of my sisters in Christ who were THERE  at the tomb so early that first Easter morning!

We are big on traditions in our family. I don’t know if it is our deep New England roots or an aversion to change that makes us this way, but we love having a rhythm to life.

So why traditions? They give a child a sense of belonging, security and history.

  • Traditions connect your child to your individual family. My own children love knowing that  “WE do it this way and you are part of US.”  
  • Traditions connect your child to previous generations.  “This was great grandmothers china and she used it on Thanksgiving.” or “Grandmother always made homemade cranberry relish, so we will too.”
  • And if you have the luxury of having a godly heritage, your traditions can remind your children of God’s faithfulness to them and to past generations. “Grandpa always supported missionaries, and we will too.” “Opening our home to other Christians is what early Christians did and we are called to do the same.” “God took care of us through this situation and He will care for you, too.”

As we age, traditions brings back memories of time spent with loved ones now gone.

Each family should have some old traditions and some that are unique to just their immediate household. They can be elaborate or simple. But they must be intentional.

Some simple examples:

  • “Each year we plant pansies on the first day spring. Let’s go get some!”
  • “We stop for ice cream on the way home from church if the temperature hits 90 degrees.”
  • “The birthday child always goes out for breakfast with daddy while the other kids decorate the house with surprises.”

Grandparents have their traditions with their grandchildren, and husbands and wives have their own little traditions.

Think ahead to when you have an empty house someday and ask yourself “What are things I want my children to remember?” or “What do I want my grandchildren to value some day?” Then write them down, and slowly start implementing them into your life, being vocal about the fact that you are purposefully going this each year as a family.

You can impact generations for Christ by intentionally choosing your special family times and traditions. It takes forethought, planning and work, but the memories you’ll make and the impact you’ll have are WELL worth it.

You may enjoy this free pdf:  Treasuring God In Our Traditions available free here.

Honoring God With My Priorities (plus a Printable Weekly Planner)

Life gets busy and before you know it, if I am not careful, I can be swept away in its tide.

So, in order to live intentionally  I sit down on the weekend and plan my entire week. I know that God has given me things that only I can accomplish, for instance, caring for my husband, children and home.  It is God’s will that I do these things (Titus 2) and they  have to be top priority.

Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior. Titus 2: 3–6

So my weekly list looks something like this:

  • Devotional Life
  • Peter
  • Children
  • Home
  • Extended Family/Friends
  • Outside ministries

My lone planning session usually only takes a few minutes, but I schedule in the things that I know are the most important in my life right now. Here is my printable planning worksheet.Weekly Priorities

Devotional Life– I jot down what I will study from God’s word, what commentary to use, verses to memorize, etc.

My husband, Peter– How can I build that  relationship this week?  Maybe by planning a special coffee/dessert time for just the two of us. Maybe it will be a lunch date. What is it that he is trying to get done this week and how can I help him to  accomplish that goal.

The kids–  What special thing can we do this week together?  Maybe an afternoon tea or walk in the woods. Maybe Christmas crafts. What is it that I want to teach them this week from God’s word? What are they struggling with individually, and how can I address each little need?

The Home– this would include organizing, seasonal decorating or any small improvement that I would like to make.

Extended Family/Friends– This includes our parents, siblings, and nieces and nephews and friends. Who has a special need this week? Have I been in touch by phone or email?  Who needs encouragement this week? Are there any special birthdays or anniversaries that we need to honor?

Outside Ministries– These are opportunities to do good unto all men. They may include entertaining in our home, serving at our local church, volunteering or visiting the sick or elderly.

When I stand before Christ someday, I know that I will be responsible for the people who lived under my roof first and foremost. I am responsible for my husband and children ,as they are for me.  When God gave me a husband and children, my priorities became them. By caring for them “as unto the Lord” I can make the gospel of Jesus Christ look attractive to the world. And by taking care of my children’s souls well, I am nurturing the soil of their hearts as I gently plant the seeds of God’s word into their little minds.

So here are some photos of some of our special times this week.

Late night tea party and movie with Mom and Dad

Daddy bought special desserts.

The youngest girls set a special fall table for dinner.

Gingerbread House Decorating

Mint Hot Chocolate, anyone?

Need some help with time management? Consider this 30 page ebook, Tell Your Time that gets rave reviews, and is written by one of my bloggers, Amy.