You Might be a Homeschool Mom if…

Derek and I attended our first Homeschool Convention this weekend.  We went to the Teach Them Diligently Convention in Spartanburg.  The decision to go was kind of last minute but we’re so thankful we chose to go.  Rather than staying there everyday, all day, we picked a handful of sessions we wanted to attend and went at those times.  None of the sessions we chose were school topics.  Not one.  The majority of the sessions we attended were about parenting which naturally spills over into our schooling.  We were drenched by the Gospel through Jessica Thompson {co-author of Give Them Grace} and R.C. Sproul Jr.  The boys joined us for our last session which was taught by Ken Ham.  We learned all about dinosaurs, which just happen to be one of our favorite things around here!  The weekend was refreshingly busy.  We perused isle after isle of curriculum and books and thankfully refrained from spending hundreds of dollars.

Right now my life includes lesson planning & preparing, curriculum research, and lots of reading and phonics.  When I’m out shopping I’m constantly looking out for books, maps, or anything that will fit into next year’s curriculum.  And I’m way more excited about it than I think I should!  Right now as I’m planning for next year I find myself speaking “school-ese” more often than I mean to.  I was talking with a friend over the phone Friday night about nothing school related.  In fact, we were having a serious conversation about church and life.  I was rambling on about something and said “…teaching vowels.”  Wait.  Not vowels, values.  My sweet friend, who is a homeschool graduate, replied, “You might be a homeschool mom if…” .  {We laughed both knowing there are one hundred other ways to end this sentence.}

There was a time when I used the word “never” in the same sentence as “homeschool”.  I never imagined I’d be a Homeschool Mom.  Oh, how the the Lord has changed my heart!  At this point in our lives I can’t imagine not homeschooling.  But I have to fight in my love for homeschooling.  Fight against the sin of self-righteousness.  Fight against the sin of allowing Homeschool Mom to become my identity rather than Child of God.  I have to fight against investing more time in school itself than the boys I’m schooling.  And I have to fight against bitterness in those times when I just need a break!

God led our family to homeschool not just for our boys but for this mother’s heart as well.



Reminders From My Oldest

“I know who I want to marry”, he said.

He wasn’t joking.  He has told us who.  Even told us why he wants to marry her.  It’s simple really.

“I just do.  She’s my friend.  I like playing with her.  I have fun with her.”

Let me be clear.  My son came up with this all by himself.  We are very intentional about not talking about having a girlfriend, not even in a joking manner.  He’s five!  Discussions about dating and related topics will be discussed age appropriately as they are brought up or it’s deemed necessary.  The only reference we have ever made to such relationship has been in the context of family members {my sister, cousins, etc.} who are in dating relationships.  So you can imagine we were quite surprised when he announced that he’s picked a wife.

I admit.  This whole thing is rather cute.  But apart from the cuteness of it all I was reminded of a few things.

  1. It is important to have fun with your spouse.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from his answer as to why he wanted to marry her but it wasn’t her outward beauty {although she is adorable}, it wasn’t what she has or doesn’t have.  It was simply that he enjoys her, he has fun with her.  She’s his friend.  Friendship with your spouse is so important.  Friendship is what keeps you connected.  Your spouse should be your best friend.  In a post on the Resurgence website Pastor Mark Driscoll says, “when both spouses make a deep, heartfelt covenant with God to continually seek to become a better friend, the marriage is marked by ever-increasing longing and love.”  Driscoll and his wife, Grace, speak a great deal about friendship with your spouse in their book Real Marriage.  If you don’t already own a copy, you should.  It has been a valuable resource for Derek and I.  Ladies, for some practical tips on friendship with your husbands check out this Mars Hill Church blog post:  7 Ways to Enjoy Friendship with Your Husband.
  2. Cultivate open communication in the home.  I want to be having these same conversations in ten, fifteen, twenty years from now.  When my boys are dating.  When they are seriously considering marriage.  I want them to feel the freedom to talk to us about dating and girls.  I want them to feel comfortable asking us questions about marriage.  I don’t want them to have any fear about talking openly and candidly with Derek and I.  I pray that the Lord would help us cultivate that sort of atmosphere in our family.  We are not here to be their best friends but we are here to teach, train, and nurture them.  I want my boys to know that they can tell me or ask me anything.  I don’t have a step by step on how this happens. {Wish I did.}  I do believe it involves being there.  Really being there.  Spending intentional time together.  Listening.  One way our family is intentional with our time together is Family Fun Night.  One night a week is set aside for just our family.  We watch a movie and eat popcorn, go out to eat, or play games.  The boys count down the days until Family Fun Night!
  3. Our children are watching and listening.  This whole conversation was started because of what he saw and heard about mine and Derek’s marriage.  He hears many of our conversations, he sees the way we interact with one another, he is aware of our habit of date night.  It’s easy to think that because he’s young he doesn’t quite understand it all.  I would argue that he understands and is aware of much more than we give him credit for.  I need to be mindful of this.  One day they will, Lord willing, be husbands and fathers.  We can have many “talks” but at the end of the day much of what will stick will be what they saw.  They are learning from me even when I don’t think I’m teaching them.  Like when I hear one say “what the heck?!” and I jerk my head back in shock and say “where the heck did they hear that?”  Oh yeah.  Me.  Or when the older one shows the younger one how to hold  his spoon “like Daddy does”.   As a child of God I should be imaging God to others so that they see Him and glorify Him.  This imaging God to others includes imaging God to my children.
  4. I should pray for my future daughter-in-laws {and those DIL’s husbands!}. I told the boys they had plenty of time to find a wife.  Which is true.  After all, they are only five and three.  It will be at least twenty years before either one of them tie the knot.  But chances are she has already been born.  She’s on this planet somewhere.  I must pray for her.  Pray for her heart.  Pray for their relationship.  The idea of my boys being married is crazy talk right now but I know it’ll seem like only the blink of an eye and they’ll be men.  Men.  Part of my job as a parent is to raise these boys into men.  While I pray for my daughter-in-laws I should also pray for my sons as they become men.  Men who one day may be husbands and fathers.  I pray often that my boys will “be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong, and that all that they do will be done in love.” {1 Corinthians 16:13-14}  I do pray for Connor’s wife and Graham’s wife.  And in my prayers for my boys I pray for their homes and marriages.  Because one day, Lord willing, they will need to realize the importance of being best friends with their wife.  One day they’ll be navigating through parenting just as their Dad and I are doing now.

These were reminders to me, not things I’ve mastered so I’m passing them along to you.  No, I am not an expert on any of these points.  I wouldn’t need reminded if I was.  I’m learning as I go.  Learning as I fail because I do.  Daily.  Learning through, and because of, God’s grace to me. His grace upon grace.  {John 1:16}

Meantime vs. Meanwhile

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines meantime and meanwhile exactly the same.  The intervening time.

Intervening is occurring or falling between points of time.  To restate the definition of the meantime or meanwhile then would be to say it is the time in between two events.  While these words are synonymous and are interchangeable I hear a significant difference in the two.

Is it just me or does meanwhile sound more pleasant than meantime?

Think about it.  When you’re listening to or reading a story and you hear “Meanwhile…”,  isn’t there an element of surprise?  Doesn’t it usually indicate some sort of  behind-the-scenes activity?  There’s a tone of excitement.  Expectation.  Anticipation.  The meanwhile isn’t idle.  What about when you hear In the meantime…?  It’s as if whoever is involved in the meantime is left out.  As if the meantime is a holding cell.  Kind of like at the doctor’s office when the nurse calls you back to check your blood pressure , do any needed blood work, and check your weight only to send you back into the waiting room.  By this point you’ve forgotten where you were in your magazine and your seat has been taken.  It’s the in-between.

I’ve spent eight months in the meantime.

One event was over and it was on to the next.  Or so I thought.  Instead of heading straight into the next event we found ourselves in the meantime.  Stupid meantime.  When we headed back to SC I knew I would miss Seattle.  I missed it deeply before I even boarded the plane.  However something forced us back.  We have our speculations.  Believe me, I’ve fought this.  Derek and I both have wrestled hard with this.  Did I expect the meantime?  Yeah.  Did I expect an eight month meantime?  Heck no!  But here we are.  Some days we finish well with hope and faith in a God who sees what we can’t.  We trust in a God who is working all things together.  We rest knowing that our God is good, faithful, true, and completely trustworthy.  Other days the meantime suffocates us.  We doubt.  We believe lies that tell us we’ve been abandoned.  That we’re failing.  That we’ve already failed.  It’s dark and lonely.  You see we were called to Seattle from a place of waiting for something bigger and better than where we were at.  Our year in Seattle was one of growth and the pain that accompanies such growth.  I thought surely it would only get better.  I quickly learned that wasn’t the case.

The meantime humbles.  

What does one do in the meantime?  Somedays I feel like all I’ve done is pace the floor, walked in circles, exhausted from a journey to nowhere.  But surely that is not what this time is for.  This time of unsettled chaos has knocked this color-coded planner out.  But I’m coming to.

What if this time wasn’t meant to be the meantime but a meanwhile?

I certainly believe the meantime was necessary for me.  It was a heart check, to say the least.  God has used it and continues to use it daily to refine me.  I kicked and screamed, begged and pleaded, for God to give us a plan. Direction.  Anything!  There was dreaded silence for months.  {Either that or I refused to listen.}  A couple months ago direction began to form.  There wasn’t a flashing neon sign, although that would’ve been helpful.  There was only a series of small decisions becoming one big decision.  However, this decision, this next step, requires more waiting.  This next event is close enough to see yet too far to grasp.  So the meantime continues.

But what if I chose to allow the meantime to become meanwhile?  Although I don’t always see the Lord working especially during this intervening of time, He is.  Even though I am quick to doubt His faithfulness, He is.  This part of my story may not make a bit of sense to me but the reality is that my story is only a small part of a much bigger Story.

The meantime exhausts me and weighs me down.  The meanwhile breathes expectation.  In the meantime my focus is on me.  In the meanwhile my focus is on Christ.  In the meantime I walk as one without hope.  In the meanwhile I walk in the hope of Christ Jesus.  In the meantime I’m saddened by what I am not doing and can’t make happen.  In the meanwhile I rejoice because God in Christ has done it all for me and will accomplish His will in me.  By His grace I can spend more days in the meanwhile trusting in my God who is without a doubt working all things together for my good.