Monday, August 26, 2013

From Overwhelmed To Anxiety...What's A Mom To Do?

Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (emphasis mine)

At the beginning of the school year last year, my baby was two months old.  Therefore, I knew that I would be schooling my kids on a flexible schedule.  I knew there would be interruptions, delays, and I knew that there would be some days with no school.  I knew that schedules would change…often; and that I needed to take advantage of schooling the children when things were going well.  This made our schooling more “spur of the moment” than I’d like.

Being the scheduled, structure-needy person that I am, this frightened me.  Just the thought of all that could happen in the day overwhelmed me.  As I was sharing this with my husband, he quoted Philippians 4:6-7 to me.  At first this annoyed me.  But as I thought about it, I discovered how much I needed that scripture.  What I thought was a feeling of being overwhelmed, was really anxiety.  So, let me tell you how God used this verse to transform the anxiety I faced when the events of the day unraveled. 

I posted this verse in the kitchen, and when the anxiety started, I spoke the verse…aloud.  At first, I could only make it out in a whisper.  With my heart pounding, sweat beading up, noises spinning, tears chocking in my throat, I whispered, “I renounce all anxiety and take hold of the peace of Jesus Christ to guard my heart and my mind.”  And then I gave thanks, as the verse leads us to do, and specifically stated what I wanted (present your requests.)  I wanted my baby to stop crying and go to sleep, I wanted my son to understand his math lesson, I wanted my daughter to stop asking the same question for the fiftieth time, and I wanted wisdom to know what to do.

I can’t tell you if the baby went to sleep, or if the lesson got done, because I don’t remember that.  But what I can tell you is that God provided.  He gave me the peace I so desperately needed for that moment.  I shed my tears to the Lord, made some decisions, and no one got yelled at.  Mommy was able to keep her cool, not because the circumstances had changed, but because God showed up.

I’m guessing there are Christians out there who can relate to me when I say that I know scripture and understand it to be a good thing; but often times I overlook the power of God’s word in my daily life.  Scripture gives examples of the spiritual influences around us that we can’t see with our eyes.  And it’s God’s word that has power over them.  Not my words, not my pastors’ words, God’s word.  I am doing myself a disservice when I don’t speak his word when I need it.

It’s so easy to be overwhelmed and succumb to the anxiety of a day gone wild.  Between family needs, schedules, activities, school, serving others, and don’t forget to cook dinner tonight!  Life gets chaotic.  I still have to use this verse on a daily basis.  Try it out yourself; speak this verse the next time anxiety rears its ugly head in your direction.  And if you don’t receive the peace soon after verbally claiming the scripture, do it again.  And again if necessary!  If the children are around, tell them why you’re reciting scripture, and invite them to pray with and for you.  Won’t it be wonderful if they get to see God moving in your life?  Life may be overwhelming for you, but you are not without hope.  We find our hope in Jesus Christ, who conquered sin and death when he died on the cross and rose from death on the third day.  If he has the power to conquer sin and death, he has the power to conquer anxiety.  Go to him, keep going to him, and watch him show up and take over.

Please note that Anchored In His Grace has moved to a new web address.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pre-school or Pre-training?

Last week I shared with you how my heart made a shift to homeschool my children.  However, I didn't share that my son wasn't as crazy about the idea.  Since my oldest was almost four, I was encouraged to just have fun with the preschool years.  So I began to make plans.  I gathered art supplies, crafts, and activities, all with an educational focus.  The thought of providing activities with an educational bent, seemed thrilling to me.  But wouldn't you know it; he hated it and told me he wanted to go play.

What?  This is playing!  What are you talking about?  Maybe he doesn't like the activity. 

So the next day I chose a different activity...but got the same response.  The moment I said, "Time to do our activity" he started whining, crying, and banging the table.  Even though this continued, I still required him to at least participate in the activity for 10-15 minutes.  I figured he has all day to play!  He can make his own play time choices the rest of the day; and he can handle 10-15 minutes of mom guiding his activities! 

As the weeks moved on, I realized this was more about training him than just preschool activities.

But I thought we were supposed to be having fun, yet he doesn't want to have fun!  How am I going to educated this child who doesn't like school when it's fun?  How will he respond when school requires work and is boring?

I had to make a decision to stand firm and consistently train him to come to activity time with a happy, obedient heart.  Things got better as time rolled by, and I even snagged a picture of him during activity time!  I will say, however; five years later I still struggle with this sweet boy when it comes to doing something he doesn't want to do.  He's my in-charge, take over the world child; and he wants to make all the decisions.  Therefore, we clash when I make a decision that he doesn't like.  Especially if that decision means it's time for school. 

I've tried all types of reward systems and different methods to motivate him.  But it really boils down to him just needing to practice and learn the skill of disciplining himself to work; even when he doesn't like it.  This means I have a job on my hands.  I need to be diligent in teaching and training him in self-discipline; yet need to keep a watchful eye on burdening him with too much work.

My friends I share this to encourage you not to make your homeschooling decisions based on what your child thinks about it.  I also want to encourage you to keep training, instructing, and guiding those little characters.  I know it's wearing.  Long days of tears, children who won't do their work, children who claim to be tired, distracted, bored.  It can be so tough to hold your ground, but sometimes there's more at stake than academics.  Your child can learn to submit to your authority, without making it a big deal.  Don't give up the good work just because you have a stubborn child!  You will face many challenges, but the work you invest will bear more fruit than you can imagine.  You, your child, and many others will benefit from the time you've chosen to pour into your child.

Last year my third child (who happened to be four at the time), announced that he loved school.  My oldest chimed in with, "of course he does, all his school is just fun stuff"  Ha!  What a silly kid!

Look closely!  You might spot the beginnings of a smile!
Please note that Anchored In His Grace has moved to a new web address. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My Journey to Homeschooling

"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your front door.  You step into the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."  The Fellowship of the Ring J.R.R. Tolkien

I was once challenged with this idea; open the door to homeschooling and take a step.  Although homeschooling isn't exactly the same as plodding around Middle Earth, it definitely does have its adventures.  However, adventure wasn't exactly my original thought.  Initially my thoughts were more along the lines of, "You must be crazy" when my husband first brought up the topic during our engagement.  Experiencing both homeschooling and public school he tried to reassure me with, "my mom was my best teacher."  But it really wasn't enough to curtail visions of my children as jobless, social misfits.  All because mom decided to keep them home; yet couldn't figure out how to get little Johnny to sound out "cat"

"Consider it" he said.  "You really are insane" I said.  But reluctantly, I agreed to consider his request.  The door was open.

As the years rolled on, I was surrounded by friends who were passionate about homeschooling.  The more conversations I had with them, the more it became evident that this was a direction God was leading me.  Yet I still thought it was a nutty idea.

Then children came along.  They have an effect on how you see things.

Staying home with them gave me the time to do activities with them, so I did.  Next thing I know my oldest turns three; then I heard the preschool questions from others.  When?  Where?  But I had my own questions.  What's the rush?  Why would I send him away to do all that fun stuff, when we're already doing it at home?  Then the wheels started turning.

Do I really want to send my child away for schooling?  Can I really homeschool my child?

I happened to be at a friend's house asking about the homeschool program she used.  She gave me some information and invited me to an open house to see what it was like.  Because my son was not yet four, I really didn't think I would get involved.  But I went anyway.  I took one look at this program and I was sold.  I saw my son in the class and I knew immediately, "this is the quality I want for my children's education."  Right away, I saw the long term benefits that this program would bring for my children.  Not just learning something for right now, but immersing them in a system of learning so that they can use that knowledge as adults.

So, in the blink of an eye, I took that first step and I was homeschooling.

After homeschooling for just a few years, I love it.  Oh, I don't love every single day; trust me there's plenty of challenges to make me wonder if it's really worth it.  However, the conversations I have with my children in the middle of the day regardless of lesson content are priceless, and I wouldn't have that if someone else were teaching them.  These teaching moments spin off the events of the day, and I'm right there to be the one to converse with the children concerning these topics.  I don't think there's any school or teacher in the world who can replace that.

Now that I've been swept off into the adventure of homeschooling, I find there are many daily challenges that stir doubt.  But as my friend once said, "Homeschooling is the most challenging thing I've ever done, but the most rewarding thing I've ever done."  I completely agree; and at the end of the day I can breathe a sigh of relief and's worth it.

Please note that Anchored In His Grace has moved to a new web address.