When Homeschooling is Too Hard

“The harder something is, the more it requires my softness.”

This is a saying that is rocking my world right now.

I first heard it from a wonderfully nourishing site of Jen Hoffman at http://healthymoving.com.

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It seems the end of this school year has brought out my insecurities in abandon. Floudering about and grasping for the next thing that promises success, I have been demanding my children to hop to and get in line. I look at our seemingly small progress and project visions of  failure. Instead of seeing the victories and successes I see only “small” and “insignificant”.

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As I was putting to bed one of my very deep thinking and intuitive children, she told me, “Mommy, you trust God for everything but not with school.” Ouch! I think she is right. Another morning, when I was feeling significantly tender and unsure of my ability to lead my children (which ended up taking me down the path of ranting and raving about our need to DO MORE! and TRY HARDER!) my youngest girl came up to me showing me what she had copied into her notebook that morning. I was expecting to see the usual display of cute little backward letters all strung together without regard to spacing or alignment. But the words floored me. “RESTFUL“. Nowhere in the book from which she was copying could I find that word. It is as though The Spirit had her speak words of truth into that moment. And she brought it to me in a sweet offering of a way. I was undone.

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Trying to lead by inspiring and not driving has been difficult for me. The way we as a family climbed to the peak of Mt. Baldy in Eagle River is how I’d love to experience our homeschool days. I was fully confident in our ability to scale our first mountain of the season. I was enthusiastic, fully loving being out and stretching our muscles, pushing ourselves until we were breathless. I willingly accepted and enjoyed the sweaty work. I didn’t bark orders. I didn’t pronounce doom and gloom. I didn’t think anyone was lazy. We simply kept taking one step after another while calling out words of encouragement while stopping to soak in the awe of the vistas we were attaining. We knew we could make it to the summit. And we thoroughly enjoyed the reward of reaching the peak.

So as we continue to plod along this summer in our educational and recreational activities, I’m going to remember the words of our Deliverer:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.  Matthew 11:28-30

I don’t expect life or homeschooling to be “easy” by my definition of “easy”. It is hard work. It is trust work. There is a yoke. There is a load.

Diving deeper and studying the meaning of “REST” reveals: 3) to keep quiet, of calm and patient expectation.

MY YOKE IS EASY TO BEAR” includes: 1) fit, fit for use, useful 1a) virtuous, good 2) manageable 2a) mild, pleasant (as opp. to harsh, hard sharp, bitter) 2b) of things: more pleasant, of people, kind, benevolent.

MY LOAD IS NOT HARD TO CARRY” also means: 1) light in weight, quick, agile.

So when I place my trust in the Savior of my children to lead them individually, to bend their dispositions and hearts toward the things He has planned for them, being willing to allow personal styles and unique callings in Christ to govern our choices, I can feel the weight of performance drop off my shoulders. We can be fully confident that the work He begins in us will be completed by The Author of our salvation. With this full assurance and expectancy, I can enjoy the hard work knowing that we are gaining strength and  the magnificent gift of perspective.

I will continue to repeat the mantra that “The harder something is, the more it requires my softness.” And my softness is my cheerful expectancy that the God of Good, Beauty and Truth is at work in my babies’ hearts, and praise YHWH, in my wavering heart as well.

 “The harder something is, the more it requires my softness.”

Early Retirement Anyone?

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I’m about ready to retire now. Ready to retire from homeschooling, cleaning, cooking, washing. This is the time of year when I want to cast off all responsibility and go on an adventure. The funny thing is we just returned from a vacation to Hawaii. You’d think I would return refreshed and ready to plow ahead. But something deep within my soul seems overwhelmed. Too much noise. Too much talking. Too much struggle. Too much. Maybe it’s the highly sensitive personality of mine, or being an INFP, or simply being a mom who has been on call for 12 years nonstop.

What would happen if I didn’t get up early in the mornings with a quiet time, didn’t rally my kids to get up and “start our day” with chores, devotions, and a read-aloud, didn’t pull out math books to work on fractions and percentages, didn’t ask for daily writing and reading practice, didn’t make dinner, and didn’t wash the clothes? Well Mother Bear used this method and her family rallied when everything started to feel gross and unbearable. Also, it seemed to be a good method for Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. And I understand that those are fictional characters. But I’m wiling to give it a try. I wonder what the results will be from this experiment?

I feel that what I’m really tired of is the feeling of pushing and pulling my family toward my vision for life. I’m ready to spread my wings and pursue areas of interest for myself. No books on the “right” educational methods. No podcasts about “how to do everything better”. More resources about enjoying and expecting. I’m ready to stop waking up in the morning and dreading the day. I wonder if my children have been waking up dreading their days?

So this is my experiment for this time. Casting off mundane routines. Shedding expectations of conformity. Instead, I will listen for the whispers of peace and move in the direction of delight. Join us?

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“Come to Me, all who labor and area heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” – Jesus (Matthew 11:28)

The Light Quenches Shame

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We are designed to live in The Light, to bask in His Radiance. We are draped in His very Life. Our being is meant to absorb the glory of His brilliance as He shines His smiling and accepting face upon us. We are simply to look toward His Presence and absorb the nourishment. We are changed at the core of our being. We are united with Him in Christ.

I have come as a light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in darkness. John 12:26

We are clean and can be sure that we are presentable inside and out. We are washed and have no shame or evil. Our conscience is clear. He always keeps His word. Hebrews 10:22

But what if I choose to sit down, hide in the dark, and run from the radiance? The SON is still there. The reality of His life reaches even into the dark rooms of my soul. If I choose to hide in the shadows and frame my world through the lenses of shame, then I will walk miserably through the gloom, refusing to accept healing. So why do I linger in the shadows? Are they comfortable for me? Does the shame seem normal, natural? Do I prefer to paint the picture of my life with words of unworthiness? Do I believe that I have no choice?

These cold, dark words penetrate, cooling my heart until I see myself as unworthy. When did I first feel this message of unworthiness? Do you know when you first allowed shame to define you? When was the first “Shame on You!” severely spoken into your precious heart? If we accept that message, take that lie into our being, swallow the shame, then we view everything and everyone else through those dark lenses. Has anyone told us we can simply walk away from the shadow of shame and stand up, facing the light of day?

As I’ve spent time reflecting on the words I choose, the attitudes I project, and the assumptions I entertain, it is startling to me how much of my perspective is drenched in the words, “You’re not good enough”. So then of course I have to push myself to achieve more. Look cuter. Exercise. Declutter. Organize. Whiten my teeth. Redecorate. Find the perfect anti-aging skin cream. Sound smart. Make excuses. Blame others. Shame others. Find some way to differentiate myself to get noticed.

And how has this spilled over into homeschooling? Well, when a child presents with a viewpoint that does not support my master plan of “Worthiness through Effort”, I quickly dive into spouting words of condemnation. But I’m tired of living in this murky swamp. What will it take to rise from this dark space and lift my face up into the light?

I believe that God leads us into prayers. I believe that He prepares doors before we even ask and presents them when the time is right. I continue to seek God’s Word and truth, learn to accept help, and learn to trust Him. I wait to see what new miracle He places on my path. And I look for resources that help point me to His face.

So may I offer you a sweet resource I’ve been introduced to through Heather at the God Centered Mom podcast. “Connected Families – Uncommon Grace and Truth for Parents” is literally changing my heart and the tone of interactions with my family. Their message is immersed in truth and freedom. I have spend considerable time reconciling myself to my true identity with Christ. And this resource is a source of true refreshment, offering real examples and skits to help me reframe my interactions.

Visit http://www.connectedfamilies.org. Please take a moment to look at their life-infused examples and encouragement. They have a fabulous website, they offer free videos on youtube, a podcast, as well as subscriber emails that are amazing resources for parents.

There is also a spring course they are offering. Their modules include: How well intentioned parents miss their kids’ heart, You are safe with me, You are loved no matter what, You are God’s workmanship, You are responsible, and The four messages in action. I’m on module 2 of 6 and believe this is the best present I can give myself and my family. If you feel the nudge to take a step toward walking out of shame and into the light this course may be that first stepping stone. Click on the affiliate link to take a look. http://courses.connectedfamilies.org/?affcode=13462_wf8j8oji. They also offer discounted rates for financial hardship. They do not want finances to be a barrier for attending their course.

Let us linger on the following promise from God’s Word:

God comes near to us – in the midst of our pain and darkness. He draws near and is with us. He is Savior. While we were sinners He died for us. We are reconciled to Him. He is with us. He is with us ALWAYS. Romans 5:8

We cannot imagine what God has prepared for those who love Him.

 

 

 

 

 

Earth Quakes!

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We experienced a middle-of-the-night wake up call Sunday morning. Our house was rocked by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. Having grown up in Alaska, I’ve experience tremors quite regularly. But this one felt different. “Is this going to be The Big One”? I scrambled out of bed and stumble through the darkness  – just incase I needed to round up the children. By the time the earth quieted and the house stopped shaking, our hearts were pounding.

That was a truly humbling experience.  We could only brace ourselves and wait while our world was unhinged. We breathed a huge sign of relief when the calm returned. And there was such sweet relief when all was quiet. I calmed myself with the thought that our house is built on bedrock. And it seems the house can sway nicely.

But how I truly appreciate the quakes I don’t feel, like when we have been out fishing or driving and heard later that there was quite an earthquake that we missed. However, when a quake hits while we are in man-made structures, the results can be dramatic. Our stick-built home filled with possessions can magnify the intensity of any tremor.

Some days our relationships are rocked with instability. There is a shifting and sliding that leaves us dizzy.  It takes your breath away. The noise is threatening. We are shrouded in fear.

Has my heart and hands built unforgiving walls and shallow foundations that do not sway? Am I depending upon shifting sand? Are my hands and heart walking in softness and tenderness? Or have I created an environment of rigidness that actually MAKES the way unstable? The results can be devastating.

My prayer is that we absorb the Truth of Who We Are In Christ. We can stand in peace when the quake comes. The feelings of doomsday come when our rigidness revolts against adjustments. I trust He is continually drawing close to us, pursuing us, freeing us.

For it is God who works in you both to will and to do His good pleasure. For the One bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort – for the sake of His good pleasure – is God. So do everything without complaining. Philippians 2:13 – 14

I need this verse because homeschooling is an area where I can complain. My brilliant ideas are not so readily accepted by my children. They are not so thrilled with this or that. My self-made scaffolding buckles under the sway of humanness and childhood. Instead of complaining, I can see that God is drawing our hearts along. His work will be done. So where can I look for open and adventurous places to wander? Where is freedom leading us? What voices of condemnation do I need to shut down? What doors do we need to step through?

Where do I feel weak and need reassurance:

My grace is enough – all that you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. So I will boast in my weakness so the power of Christ may reside in me. Quit focusing on the handicap and appreciate the gift. 2 Corinthians 12:9

I don’t have to worry about my mistakes or shortcomings:

Nothing is wasted with God – even those thing we would like to forget. He takes our torment that we create ourselves and makes a miraculous monument that lives and grows – ever expanding rings of hope and glory. Romans 8:28

When the way seems dark and I don’t know where I’m going:

even the darkness is not dark to You;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with You.
Psalm 139:12

Daughter,

You are Always Safe because you are Held in

Our Father’s Mighty Arms

(REST)

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Feeling Small?

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There have been days on this homeschooling journey that I’ve been reduced to feeling very small. Too small to undertake this epic ride. Too insignificant to lead these “image-bearers” of God toward true understanding of life. Too inconsistent. Too impatient. Too quiet. And too loud.

I hear the mantra of lies that whisper from the dark shadows: “You’re not good enough.” This is a core lie that has unsettled me from the days of my childhood. I noticed at the tender age of 4 that I was different – an undesirable different by being Eurasian. I remember looking at all the “white kids” and wishing I could be like them. I felt that way until deep into my 30s when a significant event gave me the outside affirmation I was seeking. Sadly, looking for validation from people is intoxicating and ultimately unfulfilling. When the praise and platform is gone, so is the belief of adequacy.

However, when I look into the faces of my “blended” children I think they are incredibly lovely – sprinkled with hints of coloring and features from multiple ethnicities.  Nevertheless, living out of my own insecurities and hearing the lies of insufficiency I turn around and want to control and fix not my children’s physical appearance, but their very nature. Because I am ever trying to fix and affirm myself, I turn that into a project of fixing my children by securitizing their athleticism, cringing at their visible self-doubt, and feeling disturbed by their choices.

So my meditations have been spent looking for truth that illuminates our transcendent position and inheritance in the Divine nature. I am continually reminded that we are COMPLETE IN CHRIST. The kingdom has come and the battle is over.

If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing Himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else He wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? Romans 8:32

I want you to realize that you are woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God, that your minds will be confident and at rest, focused on Christ – God’s great mystery. All the richest treasures of wisdom and knowledge are embedded in that mystery and nowhere else. And we’ve been shown the mystery! Colossians 2:2-3

Each day of the journey I want to live fully:

AWAKE

A new understanding of the thrills of life and riding the

Wave of an unfolding day

Another opportunity to rest and soften

Keep seeking perspective from a higher 

Elevation.

Where can we change our mindset to absorb the richness in which we are called and release the illusion of insufficiency?

You are His dear one. There is nothing to prove and no one to impress.

God’s Glory Radiates Through His Creation and YOU are His Dearest Creation.

Mindful Rest

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Our hearts will walk in Faith knowing that God is compassionate toward His children and He crowns us with His loyal love.

God is compassionate toward us, knowing we are dust, setting up His residence in us and making us uniquely brilliant.

I will remember that it is the kindness of God that leads to a change of mind.

Grace flows in worry-free areas and I will choose to believe. And in weak moments I know Jesus is praying for me. He is making the way restful.

I will believe The Promise Keeper.

RestFULLife Maxims

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Our names and days are Divinely ordained and we will embrace our distinctive callings as Sons and Daughters of the Most High.

We can depend on Jehovah Jirah – Not Formulas. (The LORD Who Sees To It and Provides)

For it is (not your strength, but it is) God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work (that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose) for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:43 Amplified Bible

We will dwell on Freedom in Grace – Not Curriculum.

We are image-bearers (made in His image). His Being calls us into Connection – Not Perfection.

Christ is my perfection. My desire is not toward making this external life look “put together”. Jesus holds the Universe together, visually showing the cross in our very cells.

We are Redeemed and whole in Christ – even in our spicy moments.

We will follow the voice of the Spirit who resonates with Love, Truth, Hope, and Joy. Any voice that sounds hard, harsh, sharp, and pressing is not from Our Father.

We Run our Own Race, at Our Own Pace. We are free from comparison which is true humility.

I am not the Savior to my children. My weaknesses point them and myself to our Savior.

God alone has full access to my children’s hearts and minds and He is the only “expert” with a guarantee.

As parents we can lead by enjoying our God-given passions, cultivating heart-rest, pursuing a true perspective of life and family.

Trust the One who led you here.

Melting the Ice

Currently we are experiencing warmer than normal temperatures in Anchorage so our roads are covered in a slippery layer of ice and water. The wind is strong and howling. My daily Rest Walk (when I breathe deeply of fresh crisp air and drink in the beauty of nature) is more precarious now.  Instead of a leisurely stroll I am navigating, compensating, and deliberating.

Some days the living out of relationships resembles trying to walk on ice water. An area of life has gone through a freeze, so when warmth enters there is a time of mixed and unsure foundations. But I venture out, taking one cautious step after another, and after some practice my courage grows! I learn to find places of sure footing! Confidence grows!   I purchase in ice cleats.

Let us look for more warmth and increased light to continue the thaw.  Welcome the incompatibility for this season. This will pass.  It is only weather. Use the tools that will assist you as you bravely Rest Walk.  The Spirit illuminates truths to you through His Word to renew your mind and outlook:

1 John 1:7  But if we walk in the light as He is the light we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

I can see my family through the eyes of freedom. I can see that they are also completely cleansed. There is no offense. There is only mutual redemption.

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Peace is Paved for 2016

JOY in the Simple Moments makes me look ahead wondering how we can keep the Spirit of a Christmas alive when Monday, January 4, 2016 rolls around and we tumble out of bed to start our winter semester of schooling.

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James 1:5 says, “If anyone is deficient in wisdom (don’t know what you are doing?) we should ask God (pray to the Father) who gives to all generously and without reprimand (He loves to help) and it will be given him.

So each morning I get up and meet with Jesus, asking, believing in faith that He has completeled the work and we are given the blessing of simply receiving. And this morning I received the wonderful message again of His love for His children.

Reading through John 14 and 15 we see that as a God’s children we have the gift of the Holy Spirit who will teach us all things. So He will teach my children all things.  This gives me such peace. Peace He bestows upon us. Jesus tells us to abide in His love as He abides in the Father’s love so that our joy may be full. He wants us joyful and full of His love.

I trust that His work is being completed and He loves me in the sweet, savory and spicy moments. I can rest knowing that He doesn’t call me to be perfect as He alone is perfect and I am made perfect in Him. With the pressure off, He allows me to feel connected to Him so I can connect with my family.

Instead of these last few days of the year being the highlight of the school year, I’m asking for continued trust – believing that Immanuel (God With Us) makes every simple moment joyful when accepting His presence of love. The pressure is off. Love flows and shows up in the least expected places.

Blessings and Peace to you my friend.

Heart

Designed to Enjoy the Ride

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How can we live in REST when facing situations where fretting and worrying feels warranted?

  • What If my first-born son at three years old is labeled “severely speech delayed”?
  • What If my nine-year-old daughter is “two grades below grade level” in reading?
  • What If a close relationship seems irreconcilable?
  • What If the economy shifts and we are faced with a job loss?

Don’t any of those topics justify worry on our part?

I believe that the story we tell ourselves has a huge affect on our lives. So I want our stories to focus on the truth of Jesus coming to set us free. He gives us promises. I lived through each of those What If scenarios. I took considerable time to worry and fret – in many ways making things worse. However, when I  meditated on God’s promises of REST those hurdles were removed. And maybe they didn’t change over night just because of my change of mind, but my relaxing into God’s arms changed the filter in which I was viewing my life circumstances and in turn changed the story I was telling myself and others. I hope these verses give you a sense of your true position and REST.

Philippians 4:4 – 9

Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in Him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious-the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

AND FOR THE TIMES WE CANNOT MUSTER UP THE COURAGE OR STRENGTH TO PRAY – WE HAVE THESE PROMISES:

Romans 8:26 – 30 

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.

What If doesn’t always have to lead down the road to negativity. What If I relax and trust God in every unfolding?

By the way…

  • My three-year-old speech delayed son is now 12 and speaks ALOT and very clearly!
  • My nine-year-old girl who is “two grades” behind in reading just produced her own newsletter!
  • My relationship(s) that seemed irreconcilable have been miraculously redeemed and experiencing true healing.
  • The economy has shifted and we are still employed.

GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST! PEACE AND GOODWILL TOWARD ALL MANKIND!