Category Archives: Christian Living

When Serving Family Is Hard …

Years ago, I heard the story of a young woman who felt frustrated and frazzled with the endless needs of her small children. One day, while helping her children into their snowsuits, boots, and mittens for the umpteenth time, the Lord asked her to imagine that she was doing these things  for the Christ Child. It changed everything for her. From that point on, every time she buttoned small coats or wiped a tiny nose, she found joy in the task by picturing herself doing it for Jesus.

It was one of those stories that inspired me, and I filed it away in my memory, pulling it out from time to time as needed. Several years after that, I came across a homeschooling article where the author applied Romans 15:1 to caring for our young children:

“We then who are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak and not to please ourselves.”

Again, it was a thought to be stored up for another day. Eventually its time came. While caring for our newborn daughter, exhausted and not well physically, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. At that low point, the Lord brought Romans 15:1 back to my remembrance, along with how the author of the article had applied it. “Not to please ourselves.” With the admonishment came new resolve to throw off dejection and dedicate myself to doing this for the Lord with joy.

Throughout life, there will always be someone we must patiently bear with and serve — someone who can’t do life well without us. We never get past this. When our children are grown, they will still need us, but in different ways. For some of us, it becomes our elderly parents who require a lot of care. This has been the story for my husband and me for a few years now. It could be a neighbor who can’t manage on her own, or another mom who just needs a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on. It may mean we have to set aside preferences and plans we had cherished for ourselves, so that we can “take up our cross” (Matthew 16:24) and “die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31).

Jesus commented in John 15:13, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” We are called to this, just as He was. Whether we serve on an overseas mission field, or in very ordinary, humble ways, pouring out our lives for others is the most precious of all offerings we can give to the Lord. He sees, He knows, and He will honor us for it, if doing it stems from our devotion to Him.

Colossians 3:23, 24 reminds us, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord you shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for you serve the Lord Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 further encourages us that if we will faithfully persevere, “…Your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

There is a wonderful bonus attached to serving others as unto the Lord: as we do it for Him, we will also find ourselves loving to do it for the people we help. What was once a chore becomes a happiness. God is amazingly good at working these changes in our hearts!

So, keep the perspective of Who you are ultimately doing this for. Your children are your opportunity to serve the Lord. Your spouse is, too. As you keep Jesus before your eyes, you will find strength and joy in the journey.

homeschool Bible character studies

 

Character Building for Families,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

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What If I Fail?

homeschooling encouragementIt’s the fear of most new homeschool parents. It’s also the fear of many who have been homeschooling for a while. What if I don’t do this homeschool thing perfectly? Forget something I should have covered? Don’t adequately prepare my kids for life? Totally mess them up?

The fear becomes greatest when things aren’t humming along smoothly.

Let’s put the fear of failing our kids in perspective. What if  you sent them off to public or private school?

  • They still would not be taught perfectly.
  • Some subjects would not be covered completely. Some would be missed entirely.
  • Your children still would not be prepared for every detail of life.
  • Your children would be taught some things — many things — which you would not be happy with.
  • Some other teacher or school experience could still mess them up.

God wants you and your children to succeed. He is your backup, your source of wisdom, your problem-fixer, your prompter when something needs to be remembered or changed. He is on your side, and He’s watching over you and your children. It’s all part of His grace. If we’re honest with ourselves, we realize we are incapable of doing this homeschool parenting thing without Him anyway!

Of course, we do have some responsibility. That’s just the way the Christian life works, isn’t it?

  • We must persevere. Giving up can’t be on our list of options.
  • We should try to stay relatively consistent. (No, you won’t do this one 100% right. Nobody does.)
  • We need to call upon the Lord frequently for grace and help in time of need. When we do, He eagerly supplies, sometimes amazingly so.
  • Prayer for (and with) your children is the most important ingredient for success.

One of my favorite passages for the times I feel woefully incapable of doing well is 2 Corinthians 3:4-6: “And this is the trust we have through Christ toward God: it is not that we are sufficient in ourselves to think anything of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God, Who also has made us able ministers ….” It works for whatever areas of life we feel lacking in, including homeschooling or parenting in general.

God’s grace covers our inadequacies — and our children’s. He brings completeness where we are incomplete. He fills in our gouges and cracks. He is a Father to them and to you, and He will not let you fail.

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.Hebrews 4:16

If you need support from other homeschool mothers, perhaps our Facebook group, Older Homeschool Moms Helping Younger Homeschool Moms would be a source of encouragement to you. You can ask questions and share your struggles, and other moms will be there for you with their advice and prayers.

 

Character Building for Families,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

The Ultimate Stress-Busting Strategy for Homeschool Moms

woman prayingA few days ago, during my regular course of Bible reading, I was struck by these verses:

But so much more there went abroad a fame of [Jesus], and great multitudes came together to hear and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. And He withdrew Himself into the wilderness and prayed. Luke 5:15, 16

“He withdrew Himself and prayed.” Jesus was increasingly gaining in fame. The word was out that when this man prayed for people, they were healed. They were set free of demons. Of course the crowds came!

Jesus could have looked at the vast number of people with heartbreaking needs, groaned with compassion over them, and said, “Father, I know I should spend time with You. I want to, really I do, but the needs are so great. I must minister to them.”

He didn’t do it. Jesus, the most compassionate man who ever lived, stepped away from it all for a time to pray. He knew where His source of strength lay — in time communing with His heavenly Father.

Many times, we get so busy with the urgent things that we justify neglecting prayer. We grow lax about absorbing the Lord’s Presence through reading His Word. We don’t recognize that the anxiety (even panic!) we are experiencing about all that needs doing is a direct result of not spending time with Him.

We have to take care of the children, clean the house, cook the meals, and keep the appointments. In some cases, there are extended family members to care for — an elderly parent, for instance. The larger the family, the harder it is to keep from drowning in all that must be done. For those who homeschool, there is an additional layer of stress because of all the time teaching our children requires. And in our day, many homeschool moms are also trying to add to the family income through an online business or blog. Where does it all end, besides in a nervous breakdown?

Jesus lived with more stress overload than any of us have even begun to approach. He had more demands placed on Him than we can imagine. Yet He stayed peaceful through it all. Why? Because He put His time with God above all else.

Prayer is a lot like tithing. When we tithe (give ten percent of our income to the Lord), something supernatural happens with our finances. We step into God’s economy. Because we are putting Christ and His kingdom first, our remaining dollars stretch farther. Unexpected money comes in when we need it most. The car and the appliances last longer without needing repairs.

The principle for prayer is the same. When we spend time with the Lord, making Him first, our days run more smoothly. We enter God’s time economy, where we get so much more accomplished than we otherwise would have, without knowing quite how that happened. He “orders our steps” (Psalm 37:23) as we “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” and “all these things are added unto us” (Matthew 6:33).

If you are tired and weary, and panic is rising inside, or if you are feeling depressed because you just can’t keep up, perhaps the answer is to take a deep breath and step aside from it all into prayer.

The Lord spoke to me about this principle during a time of great stress in my own life. He reminded me that when I fasten my attention upon Him, He becomes my sanctuary, my place of safety. And then He said, “You just need to know that as you behold Me, the stress will fall off.”

I did just that, focusing my thinking upon Him instead of all the things I had to do. Within minutes, His peace settled in. Life suddenly didn’t seem nearly as daunting as it had just moments before.

God has a knack for making those huge, daunting mountains seem smaller. He will help you to set priorities — to know what is important and what should fall by the wayside. It comes by placing Him foremost on the schedule.

I know it doesn’t sound logical, if you’re already so pressed for time, to use up still more time on prayer. God’s ways are often not logical, and yet, without us knowing how, they work.

Give it a try — and keep trying persistently. If it worked for Jesus, it will work for us, too.

homeschool character training study

 

Character Building for Families, by Lee Ann Rubsam

Foundations and Walls

mason laying bricksI often hear God speak to me through dreams. In fact, one of the ways I serve in the body of Christ is by teaching others how to understand what God is saying to them through their dreams.

Recently, I dreamed that I had been reading Tales of the Kingdom, a much-beloved children’s book in our family while our girls were growing up. In the dream, I noticed there were many silver objects and references to silver in the book. Then, an old, silver-haired man approached me. Pointing his finger for emphasis, he explained that the silver symbolism was present because older people are going to have an important role to play in God’s kingdom in the days ahead.

I believe this role will primarily be one of re-laying the foundations of our Christian faith in those around us and rebuilding the walls which have crumbled, much like Nehemiah led the Jewish people to do in Old Testament times. My sense is that this is something the Lord will be emphasizing to His Church a great deal in the near future.

While my dream was specifically about those of us who are in the grandparenting age group, this does not mean younger generations are without responsibility. If you still have children growing up in your home, you can do your part by building solid foundations and kingdom walls in your children. To them, you are the older generation!

What are the foundations I’m speaking of? They are the pure and simple gospel (what 2 Corinthians 11:3 calls “the simplicity which is in Christ”) and the nonnegotiable beliefs of Christianity, which were firmly laid in place by the original New Testament apostles.

The apostle John said of these, “Let that therefore abide in you, which you have heard from the beginning. If what you have heard from the beginning remains in you, you also shall continue in the Son and in the Father” (1 John 2:24).

The apostle Paul likewise exhorted Timothy, “The things which you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit those same things to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).

The “walls” we are to build are more about discipleship, how to live out godly lives in keeping with Christ — in essence, character education.

Paul gave a few specifics of what that should look like, in Titus 2:1-8:

You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

NIV – Bible Gateway

Homeschooling parents have a powerful opportunity to lay the foundations and build the walls in our children’s lives, so that they will grow up to be mighty men and women of God.

I encourage each of you, you can do this! You may not know everything there is to know about the Bible, but you have the Holy Spirit to teach you, and He can also bring resources to your attention to assist you. My series, A Well-Grounded Faith,  and Character Building for Families can help you get started.

Take the time to pray with your children. Read the Bible with them. Instruct them in the foundations of our faith. It’s even more important than getting all the academic stuff accomplished. Raise up those mighty warriors for the Lord.

homeschool character training

 

Character Building for Families

 

teach children to pray

 

The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

Six Tools for Tackling Homeschool Turbulence

Guest post by Michelle Curren

 

homeschool learningIf you find yourself feeling stressed and like you’ve made a mistake by choosing to homeschool, please don’t feel alone. Pretty much every homeschooling parent has felt that way at one time or another. It can be caused by lack of confidence, a deluge of information and choices, or burnout. How you handle it makes all the difference.

Here are six tools for tackling homeschool turbulence when those times arise.

1. Get the peace that passes understanding.

Pray and ask God to guide your homeschool. Believing that He’s your guidance counselor and watching for His leading will give you peace. We don’t know what the future holds for our children, but He does, and He can best prepare them for it. Some of my favorite memories are from looking back over our homeschool years and seeing how God provided for our children’s education.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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.” — Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

2. Take a break.

If you’re feeling burned out, the kids are unruly, or just because it’s a beautiful day outside, taking a random day off from your usual schedule gives everyone a chance to relax and enjoy each other’s company. Kids are learning all the time, so whether you spend time at a museum or zoo, or let them pursue their own interests, they’ll still be learning.

3. You can’t do it all.

No one can. Every education will have gaps, but with homeschooling, you get to decide where the gaps are. When I first heard that, it was like a breath of fresh air! As I pondered the statement, I began to think of all the things I didn’t know, and yet I led a happy life. Don’t get too wrapped up in trying to teach your children everything. Teach the things that matter.

4. Don’t be a slave to your curriculum.

Trying to check off every assignment and stay on someone else’s schedule can cause stress. One of the blessings of homeschooling is having the freedom to make decisions regarding workload and schedule. Remember that you’re the one in control, and exercise it occasionally. This can go a long way toward easing overwhelm.

Also, reassess your curriculum. Is it the cause of your stress? It’s possible that it’s not the right fit for your family. If you come to this conclusion, don’t be afraid to make a change. Making yourself stick with a curriculum just because you made an investment in it can be costly in other, more stealthy ways, such as causing you to give up.

5. Support

I can’t stress enough how important this is. Even if you have support from friends and family, no one understands the challenges of homeschooling like other homeschoolers. Seek support from other parents through homeschool groups, whether online or in person. You’re invited to join my Facebook group, Happy at Homeschooling, where I encourage homeschool families.

Don’t be afraid to take time off from schoolwork to attend park days or other unstructured events where both kids and mom can make friends. It really can make the difference between sticking it out or giving up.

6. Benefit from experience.

Looking back over the fourteen years I spent homeschooling, there were things I wish I had known earlier. I put all of that hard-earned wisdom into a nine-step guide to give new homeschoolers a shortcut and set them up for success.

For example, I recommend that you write down your reasons for homeschooling. Reviewing them when you feel discouraged will help you reconnect with your motivation and get you back on track.

That’s one of the steps in my e-book, 9 Easy Steps to Homeschooling. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, my workbook will help you to feel more relaxed and confident.

A Blessing, Not a Burden

I hope that these suggestions will help you overcome turbulent times. Homeschooling, although it takes dedication, is meant to be a blessing, not a burden. If you stick with it, someday you’ll have precious memories, stronger family bonds, and children that are well-prepared for life.

__________________________________________________

Michelle Curren, Mid-Life BloggerMichelle Curren homeschooled for fourteen years, graduating both of her children from their homeschool. She and her husband homestead in the Missouri Ozarks with a menagerie of dogs, cats, and poultry. Writing as Mid-Life Blogger, she endeavors to encourage the next generation of homeschooling families. Visit Michelle at http://midlifeblogger.com.

_____________________________________________

homeschool character training

 

Character Building for Families

 

inner peace

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

Journaling: How I Conquer Overwhelm

Guest Post by Simona Kragh

 

prayer journalingI am with you always, until the end of time.Matthew 28:20

We all know the Lord’s reassuring words, but do they make a difference for us when the mound of laundry is taller than the washer, the floor is dirty (again), the older kids can’t seem to remember their spelling, the younger ones’ playdate (and her very critical mother) will be over in two hours, the baby is happy only in our arms, poor hubby is working fifty hours a week for the foreseeable future, and friends and relatives who could lend a hand make themselves scarce because, “Well, you are the one who wanted a big family…”?

If Jesus can be with us always, this would be a good time for Him to show up and help!

The fact of the matter is — He does. Speaking for myself, I can’t always open my eyes to His presence unless I journal. I am not talking about memoir-style writing. In my diaries, I just speak directly and plainly to Jesus. I tell Him exactly how I feel and what I need as if He were with me, because He is. He told us so; therefore there is no doubt. He already knows everything I will ever tell Him, but He also knows that I must vent, feel His presence, realize that I am not alone, and receive the help I desperately need. Of course, this is not a revolutionary way of managing life, but an old way of praying that has sustained me for years.

Here is how and why journaling with Jesus works for me in conquering overwhelm:

  • It forces me to acknowledge that Jesus is right there with me, He was all along, He is not going anywhere, He always has time for me, and He will help me.
  • It allows me to catch my breath and reassess the situation with my best Friend at my side.
  • I can take as long or as little time as I am able. (I have written entries that consist of one word: “Why?” It’s enough to experience the benefits.)
  • I can vent without fear of offending Him. Even Jesus asked His Father, “Why have You forsaken me?”  He understands.
  • Writing well or sounding just right is not a requirement.
  • It’s easy: it only takes a pen or pencil and a notebook.

When I journal my prayers, I can remember the request and recognize the gift. I can go back and see that, when I asked a question, He answered me; when I begged for inspiration, an idea took form; and when I poured out my heart in anguish, I found myself at peace. Whether because of my human limitations or because of the work of the enemy, if I did not have this written record, I would not realize that I am living the answer to prayer.

I don’t have to put up a façade when, in reality, I am overwhelmed — because, no matter how bad I feel, Jesus will be there to exchange my sadness and despair for His calm and sense of real hope. In fact, even Jesus cannot solve my problems until I accept His help. The sooner I am honest about how bad things are (or feel), the sooner He can act.

If this whole idea of journaling your way out of overwhelm seems strange to you, you don’t have much to lose by giving it a try. You might be surprised to find that the more you think of Jesus as a real, loving Person, living with you, in you, and for you, the more you will experience His unfailing help in your everyday life.

The time you spend with Him will be given back to you, multiplied. He will guide you to the best choices, inspire you toward the right solutions, and show you how to reorganize your day so you will accomplish all that must be done. He will let you see that what He did not guide you to do was not necessary — at least not today.  He will become a true Friend, more than any human being will ever be. You will learn to recognize His voice, and even when life becomes overwhelming, it will not separate you from Him.

____________________________

A native of Milan, Italy, Dr. Simona Kragh holds several degrees in political science, journalism, and nursing. She has taught history and political science at the university level. She and her husband currently make their home in Vermont, where they homeschool their five children, ages fifteen to five.

Visit her at Easy Civics (republicbuilder.com), for tutoring and learning support in civics and political science.

____________________________

homeschool character training

 

Character Building for Families

 

inner peace

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

Coping with Overwhelm (Part 2)

homeschooling overwhelmToday, let’s look at some common areas where we can get overwhelmed and how to alleviate them.

Measuring ourselves by other people’s standards

Maybe you find yourself thinking, “I just can’t get it together like other homeschool moms do!”

If you’ve gotten your image of what the perfect homeschool family looks and acts like from some homeschool magazine or hotshot Internet site, get rid of that notion. It’s not reality. The families on those mags and websites got themselves gussied up for the occasion. It’s called a photo shoot. If you could be the proverbial fly on the wall the rest of the time at their house, you’d see they have issues, just like the rest of us.

People sometimes talk like they have it all together, tempting the rest of us to beat up on ourselves because we fail at being just like them. We want to do it all, because they seem to be doing it all — with a smile on their faces!

The truth is, God doesn’t expect you to live somebody else’s lifestyle or hold yourself to their standards. He just wants you to follow His plan and seek His wisdom for your unique family.

Frustrating curricula

There is no perfect curriculum. No matter how glowing the reports, if the system everybody else told you to use just isn’t working, it’s OK to change to something different. Some of these are short-lived trends anyway.

Some families thrive using a very relaxed approach: exploring their interests at their own speed, using “living books” (non-textbooks), seizing learning experiences as they arise. Others do much better with highly structured materials — perhaps a full curriculum package that covers all the bases. Some even do well with a correspondence course, complete with deadlines. It all depends on you and your children.

If your homeschool materials are causing you or your children to stress out, it’s probably time for a change. One of the wisest pieces of advice I received in our early years of homeschooling came from Mary Pride, in her first edition of The Big Book of Home Learning. She said to expect to spend some money on resources which turn out to be duds. She felt it was just part of the process, and nothing to feel guilty about.

Housekeeping — too clean or too messy

Either extreme can cause stress. I said in Part 1 of this series that it’s likely you will need to lower your standards a bit in this area, but letting it all go to the dogs isn’t healthy either!

Use part of your homeschooling day or week to teach the children to do housework, and then put it into regular practice. You can count this as Life Skills, and attribute school hours to it. In addition to learning how to keep a tidy home, cooking and sewing can be part of this “class.” Older children should be helping care for the younger children’s needs, as well as bearing some of the overall workload.

Child care, home economics, and shop classes are making a comeback in public schools. Why shouldn’t you include them too? You will just accomplish them more informally than an institutional school. If you need ideas, check out my article, What About Life Skills?  for a list of basic life skills our children should be proficient in before they graduate.

Make summer activities work for you

If your state homeschooling laws require a minimum number of hours, get a head start on your next school year by counting summer hours spent doing educational activities. Include summertime trips, sports, reading, clubs, etc. and note the hours spent on them. This is a practically painless way to accumulate lots of learning and lots of hours credited toward classes.

Those historical spots you visit? Vacations to other parts of the state or country? Those are social studies field trips.

Sports? — physical education.

Reading? — part of your language curriculum. Keep a list of the books read.

Arts and crafts with the parks department? — Yep! That’s part of your art course for the year.

Now, what do you do to decrease your overwhelm? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Previous: Coping with Overwhelm (Part 1)

 

Character Building for Families

 

inner peace

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World,
by Lee Ann Rubsam