Homeschooling & Adult ADD: Building a Stronger Brain

Homeschooling & Adult ADD Building a Stronger Brain

Most moms agree, the work within the home is never finished. Even on our best days when everything has been clean, cleared, and decluttered – just wait until the next meal or snack time and there are more dishes, dirty clothes, and tasks that require more work.

The cycle of this work isn’t worth resisting. I’ve personally tried, and I can testify that the attitude of acceptance is the better mental path. Because I know from experience that even on a good day, I may have at least 6 things going on all at once:

  • Unloading and loading the dishwasher
  • Starting or switching a load of laundry
  • Supervising math lessons
  • Writing plans in my Bullet Journal
  • Listening to a podcast
  • Reading a recipe for dinner and/or baking a snack

There’s nothing wrong with this on days when I’m fired up and bouncing from one thing to another – productive, producing, and purposeful.

But then there are days when it feels like everything is wrong with this.

Those days when all the unfinished projects make me feel like I’m working in a dozen different directions all while getting nothing accomplished. Good intentions, starts in all directions, distractions, and burn out can make my home and my heart look and feel like a mess. 

Most times, even though I had checked a dozen boxes and started a lot of great projects, I still felt like a failure at the end of the day. Somehow starting a lot of good things didn’t feel good enough. I wasn’t satisfied with my work. I didn’t feel accomplished. I wasn’t satisfied with myself – who I was or who I was becoming. I felt stuck in action mode, constantly starting things and rarely being allowed to finish them in one setting.

Feeling torn by distractions, demands, and disasters made my brain feel over stimulated and under rewarded. 

Adult ADD is a powerful thing, and I’ve learned that it is impossible to harness this power by ignoring the urges or by giving into each impulse. Instead I learned a way of life that both harnesses my impulse and embraces the way my brain works by making little good decisions in the same direction over long periods of time.

In building a stronger brain and embracing my ADD moments, the following 7 things make all the difference:

Learning to plan. Does it really matter if I leave the dishes half loaded into the dishwasher to run downstairs to throw a load of towels into the dryer from the washer? Nope. There are no “universal household chores laws” stating clearly that all household chores must be started and completed in singular focus and without any distraction. (If that law existed, then I would all be guilty of breaking it every day. I have a toddler. The end.) I know this to be true, yet I have lost my mind over too many things started (by me, I take the blame) at one time. I’ve beat myself into a shame-crushed-pulp for my lack of ability to get things done by the end of the day.

Have you ever started so many tasks in the day that you’ve stayed busy and even productive all day long but by the time you’re ready to go to bed – nothing is completed? I get so angry with myself when I live like this. I don’t want to lack self-control. I don’t want to bounce from one thing to the next – constantly pulled, distracted, demanded, or tempted to change course. So I have to physically write out a plan. I budget my time and choose only the things that I can reasonably finish while factoring in all the real life stuff that has to happen. Learning to plan well has been a life saver for me – not because I never planned my days before – because I have learned how to feel time by using a time budget and therefore I can set myself up for success. This success allows me vision and patience. The ability to see where everything fits and the understanding that I can’t get to everything in one day.

Exercising self-control in noticing the things around me. I wish I could turn off my brain for how much the things around me stimulate me, but since I can’t I have to learn how to talk to myself above the stimulation. When the little things around the house, clutter, dirt, kids toys, books, papers, etc. all scream for my attention, I have to choose to take control of the outcome of the thought before I become overwhelmed. Self-control is calm and allows me to think reasonably about the one thing I should stay focused on. It helps me to not spiral out of control because that’s how I feel when it seems like everything is coming at me.

Allowing interruptions to have a small place in my plan without spending too much time recovering from starting another task. Interruptions come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes I’m the one to blame for interrupting myself by noticing everything around me and deciding at random that now is the time to take action. A couple Saturdays ago, I was in the bathroom when I looked at my glass shower doors and thought today’s the day those things are getting clean. Cleaning the shower doors was not on my agenda, and I was in the middle of several other things. But even though starting a task like cleaning glass shower doors interrupted my plan, I allowed it only because I was committed to getting right back at my original task.

Learning how to enjoy real rest. This has been a long work in progress. I don’t think I would have been able to learn as much about hard work over the past few years if I hadn’t first learned to discern truth from lie with regards to rest. The ADD brain is a tired brain for all the distractions, demands, and decisions constantly coming at it, and a tired mind doesn’t make wise decisions. Without truth and wisdom, my mind is an unhealthy, unhappy place to be. Learning to rest from ADD is a discipline because rest isn’t just sleep. To be able to cease from work and just enjoy the company of my family or the leisure of a good book without my brain firing in all directions is another layer of self-control. One that brings great reward for my tired brain.

Trusting my inner creative to be able to accomplish what I want to without having to follow the set of “rules” that I normally try to follow. Often I feel like my ADD brain wants to attempt a task from a weird angle and my fear of failure also fires and tries to correct this attempt which causes me to feel at odds with myself. I’m learning that if I trust my gut in how I want to approach a task then the fruit will be not only productivity but also a greater sense of self within the task. And if I do indeed fail at my attempt because of the way I went about it, then I’m learning to own it and quickly start over without allowing for regret.

Seeing the bigger picture. Before I started to harness my ADD, I couldn’t see the big picture in my life at all. I thought that was just a personality limitation; I could see the details very well and assumed that not seeing the big picture was just a weakness of mine. But as I mentioned that making little good decisions in the same direction had a profound effect on my ability to make wiser choices and balance my ADD, it also allowed me to see real progress and gave me hope for more and more finishing in my life. I look back now and see that my lack of ability in seeing the big picture was mostly due to my lack of ability to finish anything. I couldn’t step back and get a view for where anything was going because I didn’t understand what follow through in anything really looked like. But when I began to practice follow through in the little things, over a long period of time, I eventually began to see how I could incorporate that same self-control in other areas and eventually over my ADD.

Staying off social media when my ADD is at its worst. When I start to feel like I’m losing my grip on the order and purpose of my actions, I need to avoid social media because I get lost in it. This “getting lost” feels like a break; it can feel like relief in the moment, but it isn’t. Social media is a tool not a replacement for rest. When I’m feeling overwhelmed by all the starts, projects, chores, and demands in my life I want relief but I need vision. And I’ve seen that when I have the other 6 helps for my ADD in check then I can enjoy social media in healthy ways and at appropriate times.

As a homeschool mom, I’ve desperately need to intentionally do what I can to strengthen my brain and harness the power of my ADD. My hope in sharing these helps today is to encourage other moms who are feeling lost in their starts, attempts, and tasks that you can make progress too. Homeschooling can exasperate my ADD and make my parenting purpose feel muddled, but homeschooling isn’t to blame. I can testify that all things in life are benefitted once I help my brain in these ways.

This post is not intended to diagnose or treat any mental conditions. Reading this post does not equate to seeing your doctor, counselor, or pastor if you believe you have the same struggle with ADD that I have. 

More Helps:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Weekends can be for…

What is the weekend for?

If I had answered this question 2 weeks ago, I would have said work and managing unmet expectations.

But I’ve been focusing a lot this past week on Making Over My Mornings (more like making over my thinking). It has been proven true that having a before bed routine will set up my next day for success.

This morning I was thinking about my next week and writing out my goals, and it occurred to me that the weekend is sort of similar to an evening routine in that I can use it to set up my next week for success.

Weekends can be for 1

In the past, I had viewed the weekend as a chance to make up for all that my week had lacked. 

Scrambling to finish housework, cramming in extra outings and activities that didn’t fit into our week, and stretching the hours in Saturday well past my bedtime in order to include some special relaxation.

Because what’s the weekend without rest?

Operating this way, I was so unhappy on Sundays. I had piled up weeks of unmet expectations for how I thought the weekend should have gone. Frustrated from mentally holding my breath all week just waiting for the weekend for the work, demands, and messes to pause so that I could actually sit and take a break – during the day. That’s what I thought Saturday should look like for me.

Over the first 5 years of marriage, my unmet expectations of the weekend revealed my attitude toward my husband. I didn’t realize that what I needed from the weekend, I was unconsciously expecting him to fulfill for me. How is that even fair? It was my choice to work non-stop Monday through Friday – dawn to dusk – pushing and punishing myself that the work of managing a home was never complete.

I dishonored myself by disregarding my natural limits, and I harbored bitterness toward my husband for taking time to rest when I wanted him to work for me so that I could rest.

Then God allowed a season of intense trials in my life to teach me self-control and break me of self-centered efforts.

I was a single parent for 7 months, and I had no idea how it was going to change me – being the only adult in the home, caring for children.

This most difficult season in my life bore the most rewarding fruit because it was ordained by God to teach me the deep and enduring lessons of self-control. I understood on a daily basis what it was to come to the end of my strength.

I had never before felt so inadequate.

Yet because of the limits, I was free to stop trying to perform. I could embrace that I was only human – full of flaws, shortcomings, and unmet expectations of myself. Once I accepted this the new birth happened almost instantly – I was filled with grace, forgiveness, and acceptance of who I was because of who I belonged to.

Recognizing my limits brought me face to face with my true identity.

I saw that it was perfectly OK for me to not be able to do it all. I also saw how much pride I allowed to run me ragged and nearly cost me my relationships for the way I constantly pushed myself and expected others to do the same. I had a lot of unmet expectations to repent of because they were simply selfish to begin with. I repented of my bitterness for regarding myself as more important than the needs of others.

Bitterness was such a sneaky foe. It began as pride – “I’m so important” and continued into “my husband should notice all the things I do” then turned into entitlement “I deserve a break from all that I do” which doubled back to pride “but he should recognize that I need a break before I take one or he’ll think I’m weak” and when he didn’t perform according to my secret-selfish-script that’s the moment bitterness’ roots grew deep.

And designing an evening routine reminded me of all this because I’m still battling my pride, entitlement, and bitterness by actively learning self-control through limiting myself.

Setting up a healthy routine for how I will spend the last 30 minutes of every day has taught me that I had been working aimlessly with a complaining spirit. A healthy routine revealed that I had an attitude of laziness – I was masking with non-stop movement, and it was leaving me feeling exhausted and unaccomplished.

30 minutes has had the power to change my whole outlook on the day behind and the day ahead. 

I listened to the advice of a woman I consider a mentor, and she told me to take time to intentionally order my days so that I live from a place of peace, purpose, and order. Not only so I can simply get more done in a day, but so I may also live well within my limits.

So that I can bless my family not only by my efforts but also by my attitude.

So that I can repent of the sin in my life and live to share the rewards of faithfulness with others.

I almost didn’t accept the challenge to learn again. I mentioned that my pride wanted me to believe I was doing all right on my own in the post I wrote Wednesday. I realize this morning that sometimes intense seasons of trial makes me very vulnerable – the lesson learned goes very deep.

Taking this time to commit to relearning and remembering the season of intense self-control training has together made an impact on my heart and life.

I want to see the weekends as a time of both reflection on the work I committed myself to and as a time to give thanks for all that lies ahead. It requires faith to rest. It tests my self-control to know when to say stop. It realigns me to my husband in our partnership and support of one another.

And it reminds me again that I can’t rely on my husband or anyone else to limit me – I must be actively engaged in redeeming the time, in stewarding my talents, and in submitting to the Spirit.

Weekends can be for learning to say no, gracefully. Weekends can be for learning to say yes to owning my life.

Join me on the journey of learning to live with intention by checking out these 2 resources that have greatly impacted my life:

Own Your Life: Living with deep intention, bold faith, and generous love by Sally Clarkson

Make Over Your Mornings: A 14-day Online Course by Crystal Paine - The Money Saving Mom.

Affiliate links are used in this post and set apart by underlining. Read more about the use of affiliate links here, and for any questions feel free to contact me here. Thanks for reading!

For more encouragement from The Home Learner, click here.

#MakeOverYourMornings: The #5Things I Needed Most.

I’ve been circling. Imagine toilet bowl with me. Yes, it’s felt that bad.

Stress mounting to the point of spiraling out of control, and no matter the amount of know-betters and best-intentions I’ve truly been in constant conflict with myself.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that at no additional cost to you - I may get a small commission. However, this post is NOT a paid advertisement; you will have to read through to the end to see my #1 and #2 reasons why this was written - neither of which are to make money.

Let me explain.

I was going through one of the roughest days I’ve had in a very long time. And no matter how much I could pray through and ask for more faith to trust, at the bottom of everything I was feeling was this demand to know the source – was this a test to make me stronger? Or a temptation to see me fail? Should I beg for mercy, wait, and endure? Or should I fight back, get tough, and push through?

I felt like I was at the fever pitch of what my self-control could handle and yet there was more coming at me than I felt like I could bear. I couldn’t see clearly to the end of the day, let alone the end of the problems.

Enter #MakeOverYourMornings.

Like I said in this status update, I initially put the thought of signing up for the course out of my mind because – I’m a generally organized person. I get up very early, I have a good morning routine, and I’m generally satisfied with how I spend my personal time.

But…

Then I took a good look at myself, and I was still in my pajamas and it was nearly 10am. I had no clue what I was going to do next, eat next, or how we were going to just-make-it-to-lunchtime.

Oh, how my pride is sneaky.

Sure, my personal time was in good order, but my homemaking and scheduling for the kids needed some direction.

I was operating under good intentions, but not goals and plans. Pride, and the fear of change, had me believing everything was going well. I was making it to the end of every day getting some things accomplished but I didn’t have anything to measure it against. How does the saying go? The path to failure is paved with good intentions?

Facing my pajama-clad-self, I realized again that in order to grow in discipline and self-control I would have to accept this help. The right time feeling dawned. I wanted to get perspective – to take an inventory of my responsibilities, habits, routines, schedules, and goals.

So on June 2nd, I jumped into #MakeOverYourMornings with both feet, and here are my 5 favorite things about the course:

  1. Goals – I have grown in baby steps by following Crystal Paine of the MoneySavingMom.com (MSM) for years now. The fact that this course was created by her was a big motivator for me to try it. Her journey with goal setting and follow through has been encouraging and transparent on her blog. When I have tried what she has recommended I have experienced growth and rewards. In the course, she goes in depth to explain the in’s and out’s of goal setting and keeping. She’s written a 64-page handbook to go along with this course including 6 unique printables.
  2. Accountability – The course itself is an accountability. I have to do something every day, and before charting the next day’s task – I need to truly implement today’s. Day #7 is dedicated to accountability, and for the first time in my life I understand accountability in a good way. Before (subconsciously) I understood accountability as a consequence. It was something I needed in order to pull myself back up from falling. In my mind, it had the face of punishment and condescension. It was someone superior pointing down to me. And who wants that? That all changed today because of the way Crystal explained her need for and gaining of accountability for herself. She cast a whole new light on the subject. She built confidence into my heart to change my understanding, to open up to someone, and to believe in growth again. And I came up with a plan to make accountability personal – here’s part of my comment from the #MakeOverYourMornings discussion board: “[How about] a shopping accountability? Just a quick text to someone to say, “hey I’m at (name of store) and I just need to buy (item) – I just want someone to know that I only can spend (dollar amount).” For me, I can’t stand it when I’ve overspent and then I have to tell my husband and ask for forgiveness. It’s-the-worst. I’d rather not shop at all than risk overspending. So I think I’m going to ask a friend to be my text-to-shop accountability partner.” 

    Goal Sheet: written out, pictured, and set as lock screen (so I can't forget about them).

    Goal Sheet: written out, pictured, and set as lock screen (so I can’t forget about them).

  3. Personal – The video portion (which is professionally done) of this course is so personal. Crystal does such a great job at creating a warm and welcoming feel to each day’s video – and her true passion for helping others is communicated beautifully through her friendly words and attitude. I’ve read MSM for years like I mentioned in #1, and I’ve watched her live out the tips and principles that are detailed in this course. So can you just read her blog and find the same practical helps? Not really. The value of this course is Crystal’s voice – her telling in detail how she has lived these lessons one-by-one. Her advise is personal but the take-away is unique to me. She leaves the application both specific enough to know what to do, but the advise allows me to apply my own how to do it.
  4. Approachable – For each area of my life, this course speaks into both my strengths and weaknesses. My weak and lazy areas feel changeable. I’m inspired to make drastic change while also fine tuning areas where I thought I was put together. There is so much in the course – applying to every level of personal discipline – that I plan to go through the course again on a bi-yearly basis (or maybe more) when the seasons of life change and a new approach to accomplishing goals is necessary.
  5. Balance – One of my weaknesses with balancing all of life’s responsibilities with appropriate goals is actually a strength – my passion. When I love something or I am filled with a drive to get something done, I take large chunks of time to devote all my efforts to doing it with all my heart. This is great and I have benefitted time and again from the large strokes of change and accomplishment. The down side is that it is unbalanced. The other areas under my management take a backseat until they get unmanageable (coasting only lasts so long in any one direction) and I must change my focus to the next area. If you can relate, then you know how it feels to try to hold back or stop short of the finish line just because of other demands. But such is life. I’ve learned that no matter if I’m on a roll with writing in the morning, my kids still must have breakfast and we all must get dressed and start the day. Some daily demands cannot go on hold just because inspiration or passion strike. So my #5 reason why I’m enjoying the #MakeOverYourMornings course is a big one because it’s helping me learn how to balance not just how to hold back.

So why would I take the time and effort to share this with you if I’m not looking to make a fortune off of it?

First, this course has inspired me to embrace the confidence of knowing that I have authority over my own life and choices. I needed to consciously choose to put my anchors back in something, and this course has helped me take significant steps in goal setting again. Now, please don’t jump into this course if you want Crystal (or me) to change your life for you! It’s easy to fall into criticizing someone who is doing well with their goals when I’ve tried and failed – if I had been in that attitude then this course wouldn’t have helped me at all. Attitude and anchors mean so much to me in having a positive life.

Second, I love being apart of this big community where together we can make a significant difference. As I shared on #2, the accountability of going through the course and choosing to engage with others has been very helpful and encouraging to me. Plus, on the launch day for this course Crystal gave 25% of profits to a great cause. Read her post to find out more about behind the scenes of the course and the cause.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading a little bit about what’s helping me change, and I also hope you’ll consider taking this course to see for yourself. Also, I hope you’ll take a minute to read my latest post: Teaching Money Management to Kids.

And as always – thanks for reading.

For more encouragement from The Home Learner and a free PDF guide to writing your own Parenting Purpose Statement, click here.

My Week of Unfortunate, Painful Events

It all happened before I realized I had created a problem.

I had pulled up my anchors and was just waiting for the change to take place. Summer schedules, a move, and a whole new way of life was just on the horizon – so I stopped relying on the routine without even realizing it. Leaving myself exposed to all manner of pain. 

Mommy, she said just as I was rinsing my hand in the sink. I didn’t realize I had just put it under scalding hot water.

I burned my hand. It was the last straw. Like a camel, my back was broken.

I stomped my foot and burst into tears. 

I’ve been hurt too much today. This is the hardest day I’ve had in a long time. I said, and I stood with my back to her and sobbed.

I’m not a crier. 

Even though I get choked up often over worship songs, Little House on the Prairie, and the word “newborn.” I don’t cry over my own pain very often.

I was embarrassed to be so vulnerable with my kids, but if there is one thing kids understand – it’s pain. 

So, I let my kids see me in pain. I’m honest when things hurt me, and I make sure to tell them the difference between emotional pain and physical pain. 

Pain doesn’t have to be justified in order to hurt.

All day I had been working to fix a technical problem with my internet. I could write a whole rant on ISPs, but I’ll save you from having to read that. 

In the quiet moments of the day, my mental dialog was demanding that I figure out whether what I was going through was heaven-sent in order to test me or hell-bound in order to tempt me.

I felt obligated to remain neutral in my thoughts or behaviors until I traced what was happening to me to the source.

But if it was from God to test me, then being “good” doesn’t prove that I was worthy of the test. Or if it was from the devil, then my being “bad” isn’t justified. 2 wrongs don’t make a right. I was stuck not knowing how to respond. 

Either way, I was suffering under the weight of fresh pain. Not only from the website stress, but also the move, the lack of anchors, the scalded hand, etc. I told myself I don’t have to know the source in every situation before I act – because whatever the source of this painful situation, I don’t want to give pain the power to control me.

In everything, I need to be able to acknowledge that God is indeed sovereign. I want to give my daughter a visual of what to do when the hurts feel like too much. I want her to hear me giving thanks, even when something is hurting me to the point of complete humiliation. I want her to know that it is possible to suffer from pain and still endure.

And sometimes, sobbing at the kitchen sink is enduring. 

Because enduring is honest. It isn’t white knuckles.

Enduring is telling my daughter that I just scalded my hand, and I’m in a lot of pain – I can’t talk right now. 

Enduring is praying in every moment that feels like it is more than I can bear. 

Enduring is steady; it is more than skin deep. It isn’t harsh or angry when tested. 

Enduring is getting over hurts quickly because on days when it’s really painful – the next thing to go wrong is coming up fast – I won’t have relief any time soon. It’s better to let the first hurt roll off.

Hurts aren’t worth collecting anyway.

And even though it is true that hurt people, hurt people – I don’t have to be doomed to hurt my kids in the way that I talk to them and treat them. I don’t have to be defined by my pain and heap shame into the mix. I don’t have to slump into the bad-mom-mentality and lose ground for good in my soul and theirs. 

Pain reveals what’s underneath my efforts. It exposes my weak spots. It calls either calm or clamor to the forefront. 

How I respond when a weak spot is under attack teaches my kids. Sometimes it teaches them loudly even if I don’t say a word.

Through every season of deep pain in my life, I have come to recognize a more intimate demand on my heart. It’s the part of self-control that I struggle with the most – what do I do when I’m in conflict with myself. Pain is the truest test of self-control, just like waiting is the trust test of patience

And just like scalding my hand isn’t that big of a deal – it isn’t the size of the test of self-control that matters as much as the passing of it. I want my kids to see me living and thriving, not just surviving. Sometimes stomping or sobbing – hopefully more calm than not – always admitting what I’m learning so that they can see there’s a much bigger Teacher behind it all.

Whole30, Essential Oils, and Buying a House – How I’m really doing.

Whole30 Essential Oils Buying a House Box Pic

I don’t do well off my routine. I’m not a driven person. I do not come by self-control naturally.  If left to myself – I would flounder all day long.

All life long.

I found a way to help me keep steady, calm, productive, and optimistic – create an autopilot.

I’ve been working for years on adding slowly to my autopilot cue. No rushing, pushing, or measuring up to others. Just add one layer at a time. Good routines are formed in layers.

Morning routines, work and writing routines, homeschool routines, housecleaning routines, getting ready routines, leaving the house routines – you get my point. It’s all about critically discerning what I do, in what order, and for what benefit. Then writing it down and doing it again – in the same way – taking note of the effects and repeat until a habit is formed.

Good habits are satisfying. Seeing progress, goals accomplished, and happiness in the family are so fulfilling. I have been so encouraged by others who are farther ahead in the discipline journey than I am, but I’ve learned that routines and discipline are intimately personal. The what I do comes from the why I do it – and that looks different for each of us.

So I was happily plugging away at my routines until I went on a cleanse and started researching essential oils, all while knee deep in the process of buying a house (no small thing). Who knew 3 perfectly neutral things in and of themselves could humble me so much.

I have said I’m sorry more times in the past 2 weeks than I have in the past 10 months.

Making multiple decisions at the same time stresses me out. Wanting to do the best thing has cost more than I’ve wanted to sacrifice.

Whole30 Essential Oils Buying a House Food Pic

It’s breaking me that I need to constantly remember – don’t eat that, rub this oil on feet, this one has to have a carrier oil, and scan one more document to email the underwriter ASAP. All this thinking, deciding and choosing is constantly stretching my brain. It’s exercising my mental muscles and forcing me to own who is behind the routine. Who I am when I don’t have to think about decisions and who I am when I’m faced with 100 decisions at once can be 2 different people.

I had gained a certain amount of confidence from all my routines functioning well, but now that I’ve been crushed multiple times from the weight of circumstances and too many decisions that I’ve called my confidence into question.

So I went on a walk today and asked myself: what’s the big deal that I’m disappointed with what I chose to do? Did I mean to hurt anyone? Does anyone really care anyway? Am I just being hard on myself for the sake of punishing myself for having a stupid moment? And am I willing to submit to this circumstance and accept that it happened – and it’s over? Am I allowed to move on?

My answers:

  • It shows people around me that I have flaws. I don’t like my weaknesses and failures exposed.
  • No, I didn’t mean to hurt or offend anyone.
  • No one cares or even remembers. If they do then it’s their issue not mine.
  • Yes, I think I’m being too hard on myself and I’m not very good at correcting my behavior with negativity. Punishing myself will not push me to better behavior next time.
  • Yes, I can accept that it’s done. I can’t erase it. It’s history.
  • (Deep breath) I’m ready to move on. No one benefits from me staying in this hypersensitive state of disappointment.

Whole30 Essential Oils Buying a House Oil Pic

This was me working through one of the keys to self-control: the self-critique. In order to submit to life’s circumstances and serve my family with love and respect, I must revisit the lessons of self-control often. It isn’t a one and done test. And failing one test doesn’t disqualify me from my role in life. My kids still need a mother, my husband still needs a companion, and my God still graciously calls me His daughter.

Dr. John Piper once said in a Q&A session at the THINK conference that 95% (he said “I’ll just pick a number” so that isn’t a hard statistic) of behavior is unpremeditated. Most of the time I don’t have time to think about how to respond – so the 95% of my behavior that I don’t think about must be governed by a transformed mind. The 5% of my decisions are going to be the big ones, he said, “like where you’re going to work, who you’re going to marry, and a few other things. But most of what you do, you do not have time to think about it.” (See the video of this Q&A here – the portion referenced here starts at 33:00)

So I need to be prepared. I need to know what I’m studying. I need to guard my mind, and actively renew it.  Life does just happen. At the end of an hour, a day, or my life I want to have worked hardest on renewing my mind and not just on forming routines. Because at the end of it all whether on or off routine, my mind and heart will prove me right or wrong. Good or evil.

The past couple of weeks and days have revealed to me that I have been able to cover up some of my poor thinking. I have had to face that I still have a long way to go. There is a lot more for me to learn about myself and how I behave. For me, being a life long learner means that these seasons, days, and moments – the breaking and remaking parts – are used to grow deeper roots. Bigger storms always come, more significant tests will take me off guard, and in those future times – it will be what I learned about myself now that will inform the decisions I make.

Facing a hard season of decisions or simply a change in routine that throws everything off isn’t bad. I love the quote: “Hard isn’t bad. It’s just hard.” Accepting that something is hard and requires work is sometimes the most difficult step for me.

In the end, all of my hard work has paid off.

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Changed from a freak : My story of becoming free.

Self-control happened to me all backwards by the world’s standard. It didn’t come out of a season of strength of will or power of mind. I didn’t wake up one day and think, gosh, it’s time to master this in order to better accomplish my goals.

No, self-control was forced on me because of circumstances.

I was living as a single parent for a temporary time, and if I hadn’t been rescued by self-control I would have made a complete mess of myself and my kids. I was crushed and alone. My situation made me understandably angry. I didn’t want to rise to the daily challenges of being the only parent in the home. I wanted “me time” like I had been able to have before. I wanted security in one form or another – money or man. That was how my heart defined security.

I didn’t know from experience that self-control could provide me with a greater sense of security and with a greater sense of satisfaction with my life than I had ever known before.

Taking control of my life made me fruitful – almost immediately. In conversation, self-control helped me stay gentle. In response to a need, it helped me stay calm. Slowly, by reigning my desires, thoughts, feelings, and impulses in I started to see more clearly who I really was, and in that seeing I was able to know more deeply my identity.

A true understanding of my identity has changed everything about me. 

If I don’t know who I am, then it doesn’t matter what I do in a single day – I won’t have any feelings of worth. But when I know who I am – I can lay my head to rest each night satisfied.

Knowing my own identity does not change my circumstances. Self-control doesn’t rely on a scale to prove identity and worth.

Self-control is necessary while alone and with others. It’s impossible to live with self-control without it having an effect on others. They know if you have it, and if you don’t. The tests of life make it clear to everyone around you. Passing the tests does not include projecting self-control onto them.

Self-control doesn’t attempt to change others.

If I attempt to take control of your life that makes me a control freak. 

As a mother, I face the challenge of choosing to take control of myself and guiding (not controlling) my kids. And because this challenge is so difficult and daily, some moms give up. They either don’t control themselves because they don’t know how OR they have a wrong view of what true self-control is OR they continue asserting their control onto their kids (and husband) to greater and greater degrees all while not learning how to control the one person that they can control. To the frustration of all in the home.

I’m here to say, I’ve been there – I’ve done that. It isn’t path to fruitfulness.

Self-control leads to freedom. It leads to satisfaction. It’s by product is contentment. My self-control ministers to those around me in a quiet, unseen way that blesses them without their even knowing it. Self-control made me safe. Having it and growing it in my life, made my kids safe too.

So how do you get self-control? 

The irony is that you can’t do it by yourself. Sure, you can make goals, commit to try harder in areas of weakness, and you can even try to model your behavior after someone who has good control of themselves. But self-control is not born out of grit and determination. It is by the Spirit and His leading to say no.

The best no. The no to sin, selfishness, and self-centeredness.

No one else around you knows your thoughts, desires, and feelings. We keep our selfishness hidden well. Learning to say no to self isn’t something that can be modeled after someone else’s list of no’s.

Also, someone else cannot say no for you. And isn’t that a relief? I don’t know about you, but when anyone says no for me there used to be a great sense of rebellion that would rise for being controlled. (Not everyone who makes choices for others is a control freak, but it can feel that way every time for the one being controlled.)

Self-control is a taming of inner rebellion. True, intimate self-knowledge knows what thoughts and actions are born from a heart of rebellion or submission. 

Rebellion or submission. Fists or open hands. Death or life to the spirit. That’s what it boils down to. Rebellion lies and says it can lead to a freedom God doesn’t want you to have (sounds like a garden lie again) and submission tells the truth and says that God is sovereign and He holds the keys to true freedom.

So I was faced with trials beyond what I could bare. My hands were forced open, and my heart was exposed. I was confronted face-to-face with a choice of who I could become.

I was given the keys to freedom. I have tasted the fruit that has miraculously grown. 

There are 10 keys to self-control. I don’t think of 10 separate doors all leading to disconnected parts of myself, but rather one long hallway where to go further and deeper I must open the next door.

What’s the goal? Where is it that this hallway of self-control leads? It’s personal discipline, maturity, and greater growth. It’s coming to the place where you know for certain who you are, what you are called to do and the confidence to do it.

We all have a daily choice: Freedom and fruitfulness or frustrated freak. Who will you control today?

For more encouragement from The Home Learner, click here.

A Recipe for Rest.

A Recipe for Rest

Yesterday I wrote about getting into a “work” mentality. Having the accountability within myself to get the next thing done. It’s a real battle for me to overcome the temptation to seek after the easy life.

But barreling through and having an all work no play attitude isn’t helpful either.

So I’ve developed a recipe for rest that helps me not only create balance in my chaos but it also empowers me to fight against the 7 lies that keep me from rest.

Recipe for Rest:

  1. 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.}
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.”
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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 and I wasn’t enjoying my work to the fullest either because my efforts were out of balance.

What helps you keep rest and work in balance?

If you’re feeling out of balance, may I recommend Crystal Paine’s Make Over Your Morning’s 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.

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