While you can't stop one from learning year-round, we did take a break from our official homeschool over the summer, mainly because we had much going on. The kids did have some wonderful educational experiences, like capturing tadpoles from the pond and watching them over a period of time as they learned what to feed the little critters and how to care for them.
I bought Brain Quest workbooks from Costco for them work through whenever they wanted, and Merikalyn has made it halfway through, if not further, because she loves workbooks.
Last week I spent time praying about and considering the direction the Lord would have us take this year. Different seasons often call for different methods, and I felt like the Lord was leading me to be more hands-on in this year. The word I feel impressed upon me is Intentional.
A while back (last year? early this year?) I read a book by Linda Dillow titled What's it Like to be Married to Me?. The first chapter is titled "By Design, Not Default." This caught my attention. Her book is on marriage, but I realized that I often live on auto-pilot rather than being truly present and purposeful in the day to day where motherhood is concerned.
I'm sure many moms can relate to this. Once one-o'clock or so hits, I'm wishing the day was already over. I'm ready to zone out. My mind feels a little fried, my body is already worn out, and I'm fighting against my flesh just to stay checked in rather than check out. This is not just a symptom of being a mom of many. I experienced this when I was a mother of one!
I think I shared an excerpt from this book before, but this very part that opened my eyes to my tendency to go through the motions. Dillow quotes a character from a novel who, from the grave makes the observation that the living tend to "spend and waste time as though you had a million years," and then asks the piercing question, "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?"
I've often thought that if we knew exactly how many hours, days, years we had together, we might be more aware of how important each choice we make is. But God has not chosen to let us know. At the end of his life, the apostle Paul was able to say, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race... Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness" (2 Tim. 4:7-8). Too often a woman approaches the end of life and inwardly laments, I've fought the mediocre fight [...]. I didn't run well in my race.
Like most people, when we began homeschooling I considered why we were homeschooling and what we desired to accomplish in educating our children at home. Throughout the year I would try to refresh this and reconsider our desires, motives, and direction, but it is still very easy to lose focus. Also, the focus can easily shift if we are not intentional or aware. I am sure many of you know what it is like just to have days (months or even years) when it seems like your goal is just to check things off your homeschool list.
This is why we have changed directions with our homeschool several times, had periods of "unschooling", had seasons of structured learning, stuck to boxed curriculum schedules (Sonlight), or even done a mixture of it all. All seasons have been beneficial. (FYI, my son learned to read while we were "unschooling". Those times have been very fruitful and not at all an abandonment of education like some assume.)
As I sat down this last week, and especially on Monday of this current week, to pray about and focus on this school year's direction, God showed me that I would be coming up against a lot of spiritual warfare in my efforts, not just in my efforts to be prayerful and intentional in our plan, but even in the days to follow as I directed myself and my children. He showed me how, in the past, there had been much warfare that I had not seen as warfare and had allowed to overcome me and throw me into defeat. The Lord encouraged me by reminding me that all had not been lost, because I was still standing, and He was going to use the past failures as strength for the future.
I have been most encouraged by Sally Clarkson's words reminding me "the home is a battlefield where sin and selfishness must be overcome, and that the taming, subduing, and civilizing of a home will be to a woman’s honor." I often forget that there will be much that opposes me. I'm not even referring to the culture around me or those who discourage or frown upon homeschooling. I'm speaking of all that I come up against in the day to day in my very own household.
Sally's words were a reminder of the importance of being intentional. Battles aren't won by themselves, and battles ignored will not go away, even if they seem to disappear to for a time.
As I sought wisdom on the direction the Lord wanted us to go, I experienced such confusion. I felt so unclear. Later I realized that there was a distinct spirit of confusion upon me, and I was reminded that it is not of God. God truly wants me to know and follow His will for our lives and is not going to cause me to be confused or discouraged in this journey. No doubt I will feel those things many times, but it is not of the Lord, and I was reminded that, when I feel these things, it is all the more important to press in to Him and use prayer and scripture to fight against these things.
Monday was filled with many different methods of spiritual attack, and I was definitely grateful to climb in bed with my husband at the end of the day and have him pray over me.
The reality is not only is there a war of sin and selfishness within me and my children to overcome, but there are very real and present dangers from Satan who does not want any of us to be intentional, godly mothers raising and purposefully leading our children and directing our homes in the love of Christ.
The other day I realized that every single time I get on a more intentional path and seek to be more present and purposeful with my children, sickness invades our house and we put everything on hold, and often our whole lives get thrown out of whack. "What a coincidence," I thought, and that was when the Lord revealed that this was definitely no coincidence. So I definitely was not surprised when I came down with a nasty cold and, as I write, currently have no voice and can only whisper! (Thank goodness the Bible app has an audio option, and my older children are able to read aloud to the younger ones.)
As believers, we should be aware that Satan often pulls out all the stops to distract us from our mission. We may realize that he does that in what we consider "more noble work", but if we aren't aware of how important the mission of motherhood is then we will often miss how valuable Satan finds it is to attack the family whenever, wherever, and however he can, especially in children's early years.
As I lay in bed Monday night, relieved that I was finally able to relax, relieved that the battle was over and the heavy spirits were gone, and rejoicing that I was finally able to rest my aching body, Satan struck again. When my husband got home from Men's Meeting that night, I shared with him the events and we discussed how these things play out so often. Satan knows just how to push my buttons and many times he pushes them in rapid succession! Just when I think it's over with, he strikes again!
For so long, I didn't see this as spiritual warfare. Often I saw it as me just being me or just random events of life or... whatever. It's really easy for us to be totally unaware of the reality of the spiritual realm and how it plays out here on earth. We can forget that we "wrestle not against flesh and blood"—this physical world we see—"but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places," [Eph. 6:12] and this very wrestling takes place in our homes.
I don't know about you, but as a believer, I need to be constantly reminded that motherhood is very much a battlefield. It is difficult. There are many ways that Satan seems to be distract and destruct our mission. When I'm aware of that, it's easier for me to throw myself upon Christ and fight against the enemy. When I am ignorant of it, I am more likely to give in to the pressure, to collapse under the weight, and feel frustrated, angry, overwhelmed and burned out. It is no wonder I often want to zone out or switch to auto-pilot!
At the risk of sounding fanatic, I feel that we often do not give Satan enough credit.
Satan, being a created being is very much a finite and limited spiritual entity, but one far superior in intellect, strength, cunning and even determination than man. Satan is relentless in his pursuit of his goal to thwart God’s purposes and rule the all things under his cruel and evil rulership. What men must understand about Satan that will help him to deal with his wiles are these two important things.
1) His pride and arrogance makes him think he can really be like God.
2) He has an intense jealousy and hatred for mankind because of the great love and plan of salvation that has been offered to man and not to fallen angels.
It is my prayer that God would open our eyes as He opened Elisha's servant's in 1 Kings 6:17 so we would not only plainly see the enemy's attacks, but that we would all the more clearly see God's provision in Jesus Christ who is far more powerful. Our enemy is strong, but he is not stronger than our God.
We are called to endure and standfast, and as I consider what this means as the mother and teacher of my children, I see that I can only do these things by finding my purpose, vision, and strength for every moment in Christ Jesus. Unfortunately, sometimes I am swayed to believe that I can do it myself and so defeat comes quickly. Yet it is comforting to know that, although I will lose some battles due to the weakness of my flesh, Christ has ultimately won the war. It is finished.
While Satan may attack us through spirits of confusion, depression, and discouragement, and though he may war against our health, our hearts, and our households, victory is not far away. I don't have to submit to a feeling of hopelessness because in Christ all things are possible, and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Here are some photos from our first day "back at it"!
Our art project for the day was to draw a self-portrait and write a bit about ourselves. I did it too!
|Evangeline Rose loves the color purple. Molly Jo wanted in the photo too!|
|Molly, ever the abstract artist, decided she wanted to desconstruct her construction paper portrait.|