Day 28: First Things and A Recipe for Rest #B2S #31Days

Photo credit, words added

Photo credit, words added

My family attended our “Meet the Teachers” night last night at the private school where my daughter and son will attend the homeschool program.

The simple surge of excitement to see friends, find desks and lockers, try out the recess equipment, and check off a list to earn a popsicle was enough to rattle me. I’m not ready for this, I said.

I like to take things slowly. This is why I’ve been preparing for almost a whole month to go Back to School, tackling items on my list that seemed more intimating this year than ever before.

Learning how to break tasks down into bite sized chunks has totally changed my life.

And it has changed my attitude too.

When I feel rattled in more than one area of my life, I lose my place of rest – and I don’t always know how to get it back.

I’ve lived entire years rattled. Constantly over stimulated by my surroundings and unable to steady my feet on solid ground.

So this little rattling, while uncomfortable for me last night, carried with it a renewed passion to stand firm on the things that I know must come first. I’ve banked my life on these first things. These are the things that are far to valuable to let go of just because the energy of a bunch of people together threatens to make me feel undone.

My first things:

Inner spiritual strength: raising my children and committing to the path of home education is admittedly hard. Sometimes when meeting someone new, they will comment, “Oh, I could never do that.” And I say, I can’t either. It isn’t in me to patiently train my children day-in-and-day-out. If left to myself, I would’ve thrown my hands up years ago and said “I can’t do this.” But He equips the called, and He strengthens the weary.

Home comes first: I’ve finally accepted that I cannot be a Yes Woman. My first few years of home education were compromised by saying yes to every good thing. If there was something at church, Yes! If a friend wanted to meet for coffee, Yes! If a child needed babysitting, Yes! Being home on purpose for the priority of education, training, and doing life together was not prized – and so being home came in second. Like knowing I should buy organic produce – it was always what I knew I should do, but couldn’t because of all the other good things I thought we needed.

Personal discipline: nothing replaces the hard work of personal discipline. I have not found a single thing on earth that can replace or mask a lack of it. When I lacked personal discipline – I felt thin, transparent, and guilty all the time. Like for all my worth, talent, gifts, and value (from just being, not from doing) wasn’t truly enough. I constantly felt like I was trying to fool everyone into thinking I was a respectable person. Instead of focusing on being a respectable person and then not caring if others thought so or not. Hard work, integrity, strength, and healthy thoughts have guarded my mind from even caring what people think of me – this is the worth of personal discipline. So when I feel tempted to slack or compare, I quickly correct my sights to my current goals and priorities remembering that my first things are what matter most to me – not whether my first things are like your first things.

It’s a real battle for me to overcome the temptation to seek after fitting in or the easy life, and a real test of faith in the Way of Jesus and the upside down logic that the way up is down.

I’ve learned that when I feel like fighting against the rattling of my soul, it’s really time to rest. True rest helps me not only prioritize my first things, but it also enables me to recognize my rattled feelings for what they are and stand firm from a position of peace.

A Recipe for Rest

Recipe for Rest for the Home School Mom:

For every activity, decide in advance when you’ll stop. This may seem a little overkill on the planning side, but it helps me budget my time well. {Here’s more on how I use a time budget.}

Know your limits. I get overwhelmed easily, and if I start to feel overspent on an activity then I want to give up. But when I know how long a task will take me, or I know how much energy it will cost me – I can plan for how to better accomplish the task. And if I need to I can choose to break the task up into smaller parts.

Take notes so that you can pick up where you left off. This goes hand and glove with #2. When I need to take a break from writing, but I’ve just gotten to the good part – I jot the idea down quickly. Or when accomplishing the “to-do” list that is my life, I’ll write down progress on a task that’s started but not yet finished. (Using my Bullet Journal for this has been very helpful to keep everything in one place and in context.)

Develop self-control. No one can do it all. No one can be in two places at once (and yelling down the stairs to answer a child’s question doesn’t count). Everyday we make thousands of choices with our time. The “no’s” are just as powerful as the “yes’s.”

Identity. No one else can rest for you. Know your needs and commitments. Untangle what you do from who you are and make peace with rest.

Keep your heart and mind focused on the truth. Rest is commanded for the believer, and we find our rest in Christ. True rest must originate from a relationship not simply relaxation. Meditating on scripture has allowed me to rest even in the middle of chaotic circumstances. I have known the deepest rest when my trust has been in the Right Person and not in myself or my circumstances.

Set goals for the future wisely. One sure fire way to burn out is to fail to factor rest into your routine. So make sure to have anchors in place that allow for consistency without having to reinvent the wheel each week.

Rest is a sacred and wonderful blessing to be enjoyed, but as a busy mom I’ve missed out on it for the sake of “getting more done.”

It wasn’t until I listened to a message on rest and work that my heart began to change. I realized I wasn’t honoring God with all my “gotta work harders” and my “no rest for the wearies.” I couldn’t find rest in my own strength (I was believing these  7 lies that keep me from rest) and I wasn’t enjoying my work to the fullest either because my efforts were out of balance.

If you’re feeling out of balance, may I recommend Crystal Paine’s Make Over Your Mornings course? You may be delightfully surprised to find out that the first area she makes over is rest. It’s so important to living a purposeful life, and it comes before setting goals and getting the To-Dos done.

Read my post detailing the 5 things I needed most from the course, and how this course was the catalyst to some really great changes in my life.

This is Day 28 (only 2 more posts!) in the #31Days to #Back2School series; check out Day 1 and the Index by clicking here.

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You (and your kids) are homeschooled. 

The battle lines have been drawn. Once committed to a side, there is no changing for fear of being called a traitor. Even lines within the same side are drawn with questions like Are you a lifer? Or caveats are given like Well, she was so interested in…that we felt it best to enroll her at…

Isn’t there more to a child than where they are (or are not) enrolled? 

Everyone is homeschooled 1

While I was studying the Charlotte Mason theory of education, I was struck by the blurred line between the home education environment and the brick and mortar school. I know a lot of homeschool families who value her work and apply her philosophy in the home, but Home Education was not written primarily to/for home educators. Not in the way that we define home education today.

It became clear that there was something more fundamental than education in the philosophy, and it is the home.

Everyone is homeschooled.

Learning is a mysterious process. Researchers examine and describe it, scholars attempt to understand and explain it, and teachers try to stimulate and influence it, yet no one except God knows exactly how we learn. He has created us with an innate ability to learn, yet we know very little about such an essential quality of our being. – Clay and Sally Clarkson Educating the WholeHearted Child 

Human beings learn. 

It isn’t a matter of whether you stay home full time, or go to a brick and mortar for 37 hours a week. Home is foundational for all of us. It is the environment where we learn the most important things in life.

I had this thought months ago, and the idea was set on my mental back burner. I want to make sure that through my writing I intentionally include those who choose to be involved at whatever level with the educational system. Parents, children, teachers, volunteers – their identity is not that they equal their educational system, neither is my identity that I home educate. It is a fact, but it is not my truest foundation.

Our family. Together we build values, standards, priorities, and activities. And together we practice what we have been taught or have learned on our own. We succeed or fail in everything at home.

Your family does too. I want to cross the battle lines, take down my shields, and respect the humanity in your choices. Because there is something far more important than enrollment and environment – it’s the soul of the learner. The little, unseen person within the body of all people who was given the gift of learning, not by their parents but by their Creator.

I want to promote a view where we see each individual family as a miracle, an un-replaceable, never-to-be-seen-again combination of unique individuals all joined by blood and/or name for such a time as this.

May we all promote this view and shake off the fears that our choices won’t be good enough

The beauty of recognizing that home and family is the foundation underneath education should inspire us to embrace the freedom to each work out our discipleship with respect and honor.

I long to see a development in community where the home educating family and the public educating family can collaborate to encourage the continued work of home discipleship.

Even within the homeschooling community, there exists the need to collectively encourage the fundamentals.  Curricula, routines, sports, and the like all come after discipleship. Each of these things may mark and define our family in specific ways, but they do not add or subtract from the worth of the eternal soul within each person.

What a sacred thing to consider: every family is unique.

Everyone is homeschooled 2

Homeschooling should not be a means of reforming the home and to make all participants look the same, rather the philosophy of home education is in part to honor the God-given miracles of family and learning.

Different children within one family may need different decisions as to what educational system is best for them. And it is important to apply Jesus’ teaching that we must not judge other peoples’ choices. – Susan Schaeffer Macaulay For the Children’s Sake

I aim to extend this view of the home as a sacred place for the family to those who choose not to formally educate their children at home, if they will accept it. If families who don’t home educate and families who do, can join together in mutual understanding that the home is the best environment for the child’s mind, body, and spirit to be shaped then we can all better obey Jesus and love our neighbors as ourselves.

As fall approaches like Walmart’s “Back to School” display boldly announces, let us not fall prey to making decisions based on feeling – fear, envy, and discontent hide in the pockets of new backpacks.

Rather, let us search for ways to support one another in getting back to honoring the fundamental of home and family.

Because everyone is homeschooled. 

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how organizing held me back from my calling

{Today I’m writing over at Simple Homeschool, and I wanted to offer you a little peek into more of the story. Thank you Kara and Jamie!}

As a little girl, I liked going to a brick and mortar school. When I think about the things that I liked best it wasn’t the teachers or the subjects, it was not the hallways or the friends – it was the desks. The stuff that was mine that made it feel right. My desk and my personal items inside. I liked having a different pen for every occasion. These things made me feel ready to learn. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my whole mindset for learning was interrupted by wanting these little things to be just so. I can remember whole lessons going by without even looking up at the instructor simply because I couldn’t find the pen I wanted, or I had a new set of colored pencils that had to have just the right spot.

To be transparent: I’m still this way. My favorite grocery list is color coded and organized by aisle, and when I try to shop without my nice and neat list I fall apart.

Grocery Day

Don’t write me off as obsessive just yet though, there’s a story behind my little quirks. And sadly, this gathering mode was a coping mechanism I developed early on to make me feel protected. Safe. All the gathering and organizing made me feel like I had a piece of home with me at all times. My stuff. Nice and neat. That’s what makes me feel secure, nice and neat.

Fast forward to when I began the process of getting my ducks in a row to start educating my own children, and I reverted back to the same gathering mode I was stuck in back when I was a professional student. I thought I was doing what was best for my children, until I realized that I was actually creating self serving space. I was setting up my home unconsciously prioritizing nice and neat over growth and discovery. My internal security was being dismantled every time we used our craft supplies and things weren’t put away just right. And that’s when I realized that things had to change. I had to change.

Click here to read the rest of the story.