Originally Sent: 1/9/2014
January 9, 2014
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Encouragement for 2014
As a new year begins to unfold, you may be taking one last look at the past year. For some of you, your reflections may bring smiles to your faces and the satisfaction of much accomplished. For others, a look at the past year brings regret or sadness. I remember different times during my homeschooling days when I fell into each group. I thought some personal insights would bring you encouragement and motivation as you head into 2014.
Times of Smooth Sailing
During periods when my homeschooling was sailing along, I needed to remind myself time and time again that it was not of my doing. God’s grace was needed on a daily basis and His kind direction was necessary for every concern. The privilege of spending tons of time with my teens (who are now 29 and 26) could not be taken for granted. We enjoyed each other’s company (on most days!); we valued the flexibility in our school schedule, and we appreciated the increased ministry opportunities homeschooling allowed us to participate in such as visiting nursing home residents and later giving a homeschool mom with five young children much needed breaks every week.
Those are times I cherish as I recall the hectic but always exciting pace of the high school years. Having a front row seat to watch my children grow up and to learn right along with them was a blessing. Especially during the high school years, I was grateful for the time my husband and I had to impart our values to our children and have many academic and spiritual discussions. We did what we had the energy and resources to do. Only the Lord knows how these times will be translated into fruit for His glory.
If the past year found you enjoying much success in your homeschooling, take a few moments to thank the Lord and rejoice in the One who made it all possible. At the same time, look around your circle of friends for families who may not be doing well and ask the Lord for ideas as to how you can encourage them. You may want to send a note letting them know you are standing with them and will commit to pray for them and their children. Or, you may want to cook a meal to share with a mom who is tottering on the edge of weariness. A kind word of encouragement may be the support the Lord uses to whisper His care to another family.
Navigating Rough Waters
On the other hand, the past year may provoke feelings of discouragement for you. I vividly recall difficult days that were part of my homeschooling experience. Most of my regrets found their origin in my lack of trust in God. What if my children would benefit from a better role model—someone else—for a teacher? What if my children are not prepared for life? What if I teach something wrong or miss teaching something? “What ifs” ran around in my mind and caused havoc. The passing of time, though, has allowed me to realize my regrets were based on me—my abilities, knowledge, and wisdom—rather than on God’s abilities. He is all-knowing, all wise, and all powerful. My regrets appeared when the “shadow of me” hid the All-Sufficient One Who is able and willing to take my mistakes and bring beauty from ashes.
The Lord taught me many things when I homeschooled. This example stands out to me, and I share it in the hopes that you’ll reflect on ways the Lord may be teaching you. During my son’s first two years of high school, he started nearly every homeschool day by reminding me he did not want to be homeschooled. On some days I ignored the statement while on other days I became angry.
On my angry days, I burned inside with thoughts that were unkind (“He’s ungrateful and disrespectful!”) to thoughts that were anxious (“What will become of this rebel?”). My heart began to harden towards him. I failed the faithfulness test. I believed my obstacle (a son who hated homeschooling) was bigger than the Lord’s strength and power to change the situation.
It took some time for me to realize my angry and worried responses were as grievous to the Lord as my son’s lack of respect for our decision to homeschool him. But, the Lord was patient with me and worked graciously in my heart as only He can by chipping away at my self-righteousness and by opening my blind eyes. Once I became convicted of my sinful attitude, I confessed it to the Lord and also to my son. Grace poured into the situation.
The Lord used this occasion to humble and remind me that both my son and I needed the Lord’s mercies each day. It was a turning point in our relationship. My heart grew tender towards my son, and he in turn became more respectful to me.
The next two years—which were my last years of homeschooling—were blessed by the Lord. My grown son and I continue to grow in our relationship with each other. He still says he would have preferred not to have been homeschooled (sorry to say, but it’s true!). Nonetheless, homeschooling was an opportunity the Lord used to train him. He learned there will be times when an authority in his life will decide something other than what he prefers. And, the Lord used homeschooling most of all to train me. It was a crucible He fired up to test me and show me my limits apart from His sustaining grace. Through it all, I discovered the Lord opposes the proud (that would be me!) but gives grace to the humble (that is me with His help).
If you find yourself in rough waters as I once did, groaning under the weight of homeschooling and feeling desperate, I recommend a great book entitled Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson.
Final Thoughts for the Cruise Ahead
As you all embark on a new year, it may be beneficial to spend some time pondering the bigger reality of these special homeschool years. Rejoice with the Lord and thank Him for blessings when everything is going well. Ask for His guidance when facing future decisions. Respond in humility when He convicts you. And most of all trust in His goodness, kindness, and faithfulness with all of your heart in 2014!
For our HSLDA members who need a bit of encouragement, feel free to call Becky Cooke or me (540-338-5600.) We consider it a privilege to pray for you.
Join us next month as we share tips on finding college scholarships.
With much joy to you in the New Year,
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