It was the fall of 2005. I had been homeschooling my kids for 15 years, mostly loving the busy, rollercoaster life we shared as a homeschooling family. Yet, I felt a little sad that our formal academic time took up a huge chunk of each day, leaving little time for extra-curricular and outside activities. I missed being able to just pack up my kids and head to the aquarium, art museum, or Smithsonian.
By this time, caring for my late husband with his MS was very much woven into our day—from making all of our food from scratch, to maintaining a vegetable garden, to ministering bee sting therapy, and most recently, to helping Chris in and out of his therapy pool (the newest addition to the family that year).
I don’t know if it was the increase of activities and responsibilities we all shared in order to care for Chris, or simply that my kids were getting older and school was busier and more intense than before, or if I was just getting older and feeling it…the bottom line is, homeschooling was REALLY challenging!
I remember feeling quite tossed about, like a little daysailer sail boat in a heavy gust front. I was trying our best not to capsize our homeschool! I soon realized determination alone wasn’t going to keep us afloat, however. I needed to ask some hard questions about where I saw problems. What’s not working? Were we missing something? What kind of changes, if any, did I need to make?
Here’s what I observed after praying and taking stock:
- I had shifted much of the weight of my children’s academic performance, spiritual growth, and moral character onto my shoulders, instead of on the Lord. I was putting leaning on my resolve and my faithfulness as the guarantor of their success.
- We seemed to be having less fun together with each passing year. As the kids got older and life got harder, I focused more and more on the “Must Dos,” and put less time into laughing and playing together.
- I discovered that my kids were really different from me in many ways, and I was finding it awkward to acknowledge those differences graciously and with faith that their uniqueness was actually a very good thing!
- The desire to have children who walked with the Lord and in obedience had led me to direct a disproportionate amount of energy towards their outward performance.
- In my efforts to give my kids all the academics they needed, I found I had diminished the authority, power, and importance of God’s Word in their hearts and lives.
I don’t mean to give you a misleading picture of my family. My children were pretty good. They did their studies well. They generally loved each other, helped out at home, and served their dad well. But like a conversation you have with an old friend you’ve bumped into unexpectedly, where, as you talk everything seems okay, yet you have this nagging sense that something isn’t right, that’s how I felt about our family.
So I took my observations and laid them before my Father, asking Him to show me what needed to be different. Here’s what I felt He was saying. He wanted me to keep the H.E.A.R.T. in my homeschooling.
For the sake of time, I’ll share the first two points in this post, and next week, I’ll share some additional thoughts and the other three points, A., R. and T.
1. H – My HOPE needs to be in God. Not in the curriculum I’m using, or my performance as a wife, mother, or teacher. Not in my children’s success—academic, spiritual, or extra-curricular. And not in my husband, friends, or family. I am to dedicate my heart and life to raising my children as unto the Lord, doing all things with excellence and love. It is not my responsibility ultimately, however, to guarantee my kids do academically, spiritually, or morally. God is the One who accomplishes all things for us (Psalm 57:2).
II Corinthians 3:5 reminds me,
“Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider ANYTHING as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.”
2. E. – God wants me to ENJOY my children. Living in survival mode or perfection mode results in intensity 24/7! I’ve gotta fix every problem, correct every fault, finish every math problem, and clean every square inch of my home. Whatever happened to tea parties with my girls, nature study and journaling in our backyard, or just putting on some gospel music and dancing around with my kids?
These words from Psalm 127 helped me to keep a proper perspective,
“Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, To eat the bread of painful labors; For the Lord gives to His beloved EVEN in his sleep.”
You are going to have a great year, mom! God is with you, will help you, and will show you what is best for you and your kids … just look to Him!
Photo Credit: Oliver Rossi, Getty Images.