Monday, December 29, 2014

Homeschool filled with grace

My homeschool filled with grace is not me walking around gracefully schooling my children. My homeschool filled with grace is God's grace.  His grace and His promises and His faithfulness is what is going to get me through this journey. Holding to the promise that He who began a good work in me (and my children) will carry it to completion.  

The one PERFECT thing in my homeschool is Christ and the one thing that I would NOT change about my homeschool is having a Christ centered homeschool. And some days, that means not doing school at all.  Some days it is about showing my children grace and forgiveness. Some days it is more about character building and less about fractions.  Is every day like this? No, of course not. I still have academics that I have to get done but I rely on God to show me what is most important each day.  I also rely on God to convict me of my sinful ways that so easily trap me and whisper to me that it would be better to watch Netflix.  I rely on God to help me recognize when the Enemy is deceiving me and telling me that I can't do this. That I am a failure. That my kids are better off in school. I don't believe everyone should homeschool but I do believe that God has called me to homeschool. And through His strength and power, I am able to make it through the journey as I trust Him to guide me through it. I could not do it without Him. I know that other people do it without Him but I know that I could not. 

So here are the top things I have learned in my homeschool journey in the last 4.5 years.  And I know that I don't have it all figured it out. And I know I have a lot more to learn. 

1. It is not going to look like school.   While some people succeed in making their homeschool look like school, I found so much freedom when I freed myself that not only was my homeshool not going to look like school but that it wasn't supposed to look like school. Sometimes it looks all crazy but as long as I don't stress and just let it flows its natural path, the kids and I are quite happy with our system. And amazingly our system is somehow getting them educated. Yea! 

2. My role is Mom first, Teacher second.  And one of the reasons why it can't look like school is because you can't separate out those roles. I can't start school at 9 AM and have my children call me Mrs. Teacher and expect everything to go well. It won't.  Being the mom is going to look different than having a different teacher. But what a tremendous opportunity it is as well to influence them and guide them in their education, life choices, walk with God. The opportunities and therefore the responsibility is huge. But so worth it. 

3. My deepest desires for my children have nothing to do with education.  I would not even say that I want them to go to college. I would honestly say that I don't have any clear cut aspirations for them after my short time with them. My deepest desires for children are for them to develop their own relationship with Jesus Christ and have their own desire to passionately follow Him. I want them to seek His will for their life. If after all my homeschool endeavors, they come to me and they have prayed about it and they feel like the Lord is leading them to become a garbage man, then they will have my blessing.  For our identity is not in the career or the job that we do, our identity is in Christ. And I want my children to be so attuned with Him that they desire to follow where He leads them whether it be college or missions or a garbage man.  Would life be easier for them if they went to a great school and got a great job? Maybe. Maybe not. Would it make them more happy? Maybe.. Maybe not.  God didn't it call us to a happy easy life with a 6 figure salary. God called us to holiness. And it is my desire that my children pursue that with all their heart. 

I take each year at a time but right now, I can say that I am not opposed to the idea of homeschooling them all the way through high school. Could that change? Sure.  But I don't really have a desire to put them in school unless some amazing opportunity comes up that I just couldn't pass up.  And while we have good schools in our area, none of them are screaming "amazing opportunity" to me right now. But you know what IS an amazing opportunity that I don't want to trade for anything right now... having them right here in my home, teaching them about God's love and how they can become followers of Christ and men after God's own heart.  And that is why I love homeschooling and love spending each and every day with them.  

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A day in the life of an imperfect homeschool

You probably have heard it, said it or thought it... How do you do it? You must have a lot of patience. What about socialization?  I could never homeschool.  Don't you have to be qualified?  Some of these questions and statements come from the truly curious and some come from people with a true disdain for homeschool.

Here are my truths about my homeschool
1.  It's crazy hard (and overwhelming)
2.  It gets harder with each kid I add
3.  I don't worry about socialization a single bit
4. But I do worry about their education
5. Patience would be nice but not a requirement
6. I could never do this alone and thank goodness I don't have to

So I have read blog post after blog post of people posting their homeschool schedules with their 8 kids.  Usually they begin at 5 AM with a cup of coffee, time with God and a run. And breakfast starting  at 7:30 with dressed kids and beds made and then they outline their cute school schedule promptly ending at 1:00 pm.  Not all homeschools look like that and since I am a master of open and honest.. Let's check out a typical day of mine.

Disclaimer:  Kid#1 and Kid #2 and Kid #3 are not an indication of birth order.

Insomnia the night before so I don't roll out of bed until 9 am. Thank goodness the kids have been playing quietly.  Where's my coffee?

 10 AM rolls around. I assume the kids have eaten. I call the first kid to do his math. He yells "Noooo. I don't want to do school today!"  I guide him to the breakfast room table anyway and attempt to get him started even though the breakfast room table looks like this..

Get Kid #2 started on Math. Kid #1 is still screaming.    Kid#2 starts screaming because he has to have complete silence in order to do his math.  Move Kid#1 to a different room and beg him to please be more quiet. Dash back to breakfast room to save Kid#2 from Kid#3 who is singing "lalalalala" as annoyingly as he can because he discovered that Kid #2 is trying to do his math. Lock Kid#3  in his room. Ever play the game Diner Dash? It feels sort of like that.

Okay all kids doing math.  Drink more coffee. Check email. Check Facebook. An hour and half goes back. Wait? What? How did that happen? Oh yeah I clicked on 3 articles on Facebook and responded to 5 emails. Sigh.  Text message comes in from best friend "Lunch?"   Lunch already? Well the kids got Math done.. so why not?

3 hours later... We eat slow.  Or err umm..yeah who we are kidding..we pick places with playgrounds and drink several refills of tea.

3 PM Quick history lesson and then a You Tube video on Henry Hudson.  Mom falls asleep "like she always does" - quote from the 10 year old. What can I say? Insomnia is a killer.  

4 PM .. School work not done. Send the older ones off to do something educational on the computer while I try to teach the younger one how to read.  Now where did I put his phonics book? Oh yeah I last saw it in the school room.   Oh hmm.  Humm.. Oh dear.. okay skip phonics.. maybe I should clean up and start again tomorrow?

6 PM rolls in. Husband comes home. Kids and I are busy doing some spelling tests.  He thinks "Oh wow. What a great wife! She's been schooling all day"   "Night school again? I bet she went out to lunch, took a nap and got distracted with email and Facebook"  (note: while he may think this because he knows me well, he is my #1 cheerleader in my homeschooling endeavors).  Yep.. that pretty much sums it up.  Bedtime is not until 9PM so I still have 3 hours left of good solid school time!  

This is NOT AT ALL what I thought homeschooling would look like when I started. But it's a reality. Not for all days but a lot of days. Add in sick kids, sick mom, errands, extracurricular activities.. homeschooling can look crazy!

Now before you judge me or call the truancy officer or quiz my kids to see if they really do know how to read, let me tell you that there is a PART TWO of this homeschooling journey.  There is a lot that I have learned about homeschooling in the last 4 years. There is one part of my homeschool that is absolutely PERFECT.   There are things in my homeschool that I wouldn't change or trade for the world.  There is beauty in this mess!   So if you are curious.. stay tuned!!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Jehovah Rapha.. The Lord who heals

I won't be blogging as much as in 2015 but I didn't want to leave the year with my last blog post because it was just a crazy mess.  But there is beauty and purposes in messes.  I never really had a clear purpose on why I kept blogging so openly but the last post ended up being an unexpected blessing. I was going through a hard time and I have lots of friends and family members that I could have talked to but instead I just told everyone what I was going through. And through that, the Lord sent the right person to say exactly the right things that I need to hear.  And I am very grateful for my friend, Brandie, for making me see things in a different way that helped me tremendously.

So many of you encouraged me to not lose hope and to continue to pray for healing for my depression and to seek God.  I did ask God for healing but I asked him for a different healing. I asked him for healing of my insomnia. And the very first day that I did that, I fell asleep and did not wake up again for 7 hours.  It was amazing..  Next night 6 hours.. Since that day, I have had nights where I have woken up but not for the endless hours at a time. When I wake up in the night, I started reciting Scripture until I fall back asleep. I usually don't make it to 10.  Getting sleep is HUGE towards finding strength to deal with depression so I am SO GRATEFUL for this answered prayer.

God also knows how it has been a daily prayer and struggle for me to find my identity in Him and to truly believe that He loves me and cares for me. So while I did not need the Lord to answer my prayer for insomnia, I would have loved Him just the same,  it did open my eyes to a "wow" moment of remembering that God really does care about me.

I also started a booked called Who I am In Christ by Neil T. Anderson. It is a daily reminder to me. "I am not a product of the past. I am a child of God."  It goes through our identity of Christ through acceptance, security and significance.  It has blessed me in many ways.

And I am continuing to seek the Lord.  I have a hunger for the Word that requires patience.  Even though I am able to stop and read it and mediate on it several times a day, it's not enough for me.  Patience... read some today, read some tomorrow. There is time.   Praise the Lord for this hunger. If you don't have a hunger for the Word, I encourage you to ask Him for it. Ask him every single day. it will change your life.

I don't see my depression going away. There will be times of sadness still.  But when walking with the Lord, I know that most of my days can be filled with joy and peace and hope.  For my hope is in the Lord. And I know that He loves me. And I know that He cares about me. And as I keep my eyes set on Jesus, I will run the race before me with His strength holding me up the whole way.

Love to you all. Merry Christmas.

Psalms 36:5  Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My faith and a huge brick wall

Okay if you follow my blog, then you know that the middle of the night produces nothing but brutal honesty from me. So I have my insomnia and my glass of egg nog, let's get this party started.

So I re-booted and started faith in Jesus all over again. And it's been awesome.

Faith - meet brick wall.

I needed about this much faith [    ] to believe in Jesus but when our pastor started a sermon series on dealing with depression with God and Christian faith, I lost it.  The amount of faith I need to include God in on my's big.   It was super more than I can handle and it's been painful. And I looked back over my sermon notes trying to figure out what in the world has been going on with me and my sermon notes are just filled with raw pain and I could feel the pain of Sunday all over again and I could barely read it again. And there are doodles all over the page and there are side notes. One of my side notes "Are you willing to believe this?"  and another side note in bigger letters is "This is beyond me"  and then there are notes in between on the actual sermon half of them smudged with tears.  The words I most appreciated hearing was when my pastor said that he knew this wasn't going to be easy.   This is impossible.   That's how I feel right now.

I was talking to Chris about how I don't believe in healing. And he asked if I didn't believe in healing for anyone with depression or just myself. And the answer is just myself.  I have had depression for the last 27 years and 23 of them have been with medication. I won't listen to anyone who suggests that I go off medicine because the most likely situation that would occur would be me six feet under. That's not pessimism.. it's realism. And don't you dare tell me that I just need more trust in God or I will go crazy on you. I came to grips a long time ago with God that I was not going to see healing on this side of Heaven. That doesn't mean that I don't sometimes get comfort from God when I am going through dark times. I do.

So why am I so upset?  I am not sure. Maybe because I am not willing to let God in on this. Not yet.  Maybe because when I am depressed and I cry out to God, I just feel more alone. Maybe because I am scared.  I don't really know.

One part of the sermon touched on the enemy's lies.  And I heard a new voice in my head.. it told me.. what if what I am hearing aren't lies but are actually the truth.  It might be the enemy feeding me the lie right now that I am a failure. But there is an element of truth in that.. I am actually failing!  And I have decided that the only way that I can stop being a failure is to stop failing and bam.. meet another brick wall.  When the weight of everything is on top of you and you feel alone and you can't feel God's strength and you can barely get out of bed in the morning, it's hard not to fail.  Life is a huge fail for me right now.

So I am filling my days with activities and just trying to make it through the day. I have officially declared Christmas vacation so I don't have to worry about homeschooling for awhile. I am going to church in the morning because it's my happy place. I don't even know if it's open. I don't even care. It's got that big open field I love so much. I have plans on Thursday. A coffee date with a friend on Friday.   With the help of my family and friends, I can get through each day.  And that's all I am hoping for right now.  I am not hoping for anything regarding that brick wall. It's just going to have to sit there for now.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Transformation

Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

It's been a little over a month since I decided to re-commit my life to Christ and a lot has changed. I knew that things were going to change but I didn't really know how. I have given my life to Christ before but I think there is a difference between that time and this time but I would expect that because there is a difference between 19 year old me and 37 year old me.

So here are some changes that I have noticed

1) Trusting God  -  I mentioned in my faith journey story that I had to leave a lot of religious baggage on the side of the road.  Well wouldn't you know that Enemy likes to continue to bring that back up? But being open and honest about it has helped other people work through some of the issues with me. A lot of my religious baggage revolves the concept of becoming a Christian and staying a Christian.  And there are two thoughts that waged war with me. The old adage "once saved always saved" and if you walked away from the faith, then you were never a Christian to begin with. And from that, I had people and pastors from my past who greatly discouraged the idea of "re-committing" your life to Christ.  That was not something that should be done.  And then I have the Presbyterian background of people in my past believing that we are God's chosen people and you can't really know whether or not you are a Christian.  I also had major trust issues with God loving me and that's a whole story all on its own.  All of this was a great hindrance to me while I was trying to find my way back to a relationship with God.

And here is my Scripture that wipes away my baggage.. Matthew 16:24  Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me"   It's not that God doesn't care about my past. And my past is part of my life story. But God cares more about my present. God has instructed me to love Him and trust Him at this very moment and I am not going to allow my past experiences to change that reality.  And I am not going to question whether I am among the "chosen" and I don't even know what to say about the fact that I re-committed my life to Christ.. I am sticking by that statement too and if you don't believe in "re-commitment" well I don't know what to say about that.

2)  The desires of my heart - Psalm 37:4 - Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of the heart.  Matthew 7:7  Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.     I was in a Beth Moore study this fall and as a struggling lost person, a lot of it didn't meet me where I was. But there was one thing that I took out of context to make my prayer. Beth did a whole week just on the phrase "when the Lord Jesus is revealed" from 2 Thessalonians 1:7 and it's talking about the 2nd coming but I remember crying out to the Lord that I didn't want to wait for the 2nd coming, I wanted Him to reveal Himself to me NOW.   And He did in His timing which was less than a week from when I prayed that prayer.   The desires of my heart have shifted from worldly things to Christ-like things.  And the Lord has answered my prayers.  I have a desire to read my Bible daily. I have a desire to share my faith in Christ.  I have a desire to meet with other believers. And most of all, I have a desire to know God and follow Him.   And he has given me the desires of my heart and it's the most awesome answered prayer ever. :)

3) Love -  John 13:35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.  I am experiencing and giving love in a new way. The trusting God that He loves me.. that distrust extended to other people too.  It's not that I think that I am unlovable but I just didn't understand why people care sometimes. So being brand new to a church and seeing people care about me was honestly a little frightening to me. These people don't even know me and they have loved and cared about me from the very beginning and now I get it.. They love Jesus!  and their love for other people.. any other people.. just is an overflow of that and I am so thankful to have been the recipient of it from so many people.  And the love and support that I have gotten from my old friends as well has been equally wonderful.  It would have been more difficult had it not been for my fellow believers coming up beside me and supporting me.  And through everyone, I have been given an example of how to love others and I have found my love for others..any others.. to have grown. I care more deeply about the people I know and I am more saddened when I see heart wrenching stories of people I don't know. And I am offended by more things when they are not uplifting to people even if the person is a stranger.

This post is getting too long and my insomnia is wearing off. No offense blog but yea!! So maybe I will have a transformation part 2 coming or maybe I will blog about something else.  Who knows where the middle of the night will ever take me? :)

So whether you are active friend in my life or just someone who comes and reads my blog, thanks for being a part of my journey with me.  You mean so much to me.