In Mourning

After a very long day, I finally took a moment to sink into the couch and to just sit in the quietness.  I noticed that beside me was a stray scarf that our girls use for dress up and dance.  I haphazardly placed the scarf over my head and immediately thought to myself, ‘I’m in mourning.’

scarf

‘What?  What would make me think that?’   As I reflected over the last couple of weeks and the crazy day that we had just experienced that day, I realized that maybe this thought had some truth to it.  I became aware that I was mourning what I thought homeschool would be like. I was mourning the vision in my head that, for the past six years, I couldn’t seem to make into a reality, no matter how hard I tried…

From the time our family began homeschooling, I always envisioned homeschooling as…

  • a way to build more meaningful, deeper relationships with the kids
  • lots of one on one time snuggled up on the couch reading and discussing great books
  • all of us sitting at the kitchen table doing our school work with the littlest ones playing contentedly nearby
  • lots of time for fun as a family outside of the bookwork and academics
  • weekly nature walks and outdoor discovery
  • a variety of opportunities for kids to explore and learn about what they were interested in – discovering and nurturing their ‘bents’   

 

Instead, I tend to experience…

  • lots of prep work and planning during ‘non school time’ which interferes with the fun family time
  • lots of getting the kids to stay on task and focused (by Legos, an unfinished art project, a cute sibling wanting to play, etc.)
  • fighting to get this mama to stay on track (I get distracted so easily too – by the loads of laundry needing done, stopping to change a diaper, kissing boo boos, being tempted away by the phone or computer, daily meal prep, etc.)
  • multiple times a day of dealing with sibling quarrels (which is hard for this mama who grew up as an only child!)
  • a constant tug of war between wanting to play on the floor with the littlest ones and needing to sit with the oldest ones to read/discuss, teach, and come alongside as they need me
  • lots of feeling like I am just throwing work at the older kids so I can tend to the younger ones
  • attempts to read aloud while the youngest two play loudly or ask unrelated questions and a certain 6 year old boy does tumbles off of the couch
  • and sadly, lots of tears and outbursts (from, ahem, me) due to frustration 

At the start of each school year, I focus a great deal on choosing curriculum, praying over a possible schedule for our day, getting into the best workable routine, reorganizing the environment, etc.  However, regardless of all the planning, the reality of the day to day never seems to be able to match my expectations and the vision in my mind.  This leaves me always feeling like a failure and constantly questioning (my abilities, God’s call to do this, what is best for our kids, etc.)

Yes, I was ‘in mourning’ – mourning an idol that could not continue to stand amidst God’s glory, His all sustaining power, His unconditional love, and His unending grace to me.  What makes me think that my vision for a calm, orderly homeschool had become an idol?  Confession time…

It was because I respond sinfully when my goals are not met.
(Yes, I cry.  I get easily agitated and angry.  I withdraw.)

My reaction to my disappointed dreams reveals what I really worship.  My plans are often frustrated and the response of my heart reveals whether I am worshipping God or an idol.

‘Ruin Me’ by Jeff Johnson has been running through my mind…. 

Now the plans that I have made fail to compare when I see your glory

Ruin my life – the plans I have  made.
Ruin desires for my own selfish gain.
Destroy the idols that have taken your place
Until it’s You alone I live for,
You alone I live for.

You can watch/listen to this song through YouTube.

I’m thankful that God has shown me one of the idols that needs to be removed.

 

Now, as I was contemplating and ‘mourning’ this homeschool idol that God had just revealed, my husband entered the room and cautiously sat down next to his veiled wife.  Yes, I am sure I was a picture of loveliness to behold.  Ha!  But, he prayed with me and gently and lovingly reminded me that…

  • We have an enemy.  We are in a battle.  I can’t give up the fight.
  • The safest place to be is in the center of God’s Will. 
  • God is here with me.  I need to trust in His plan for having me here, to be content in this situation – in the middle of His Will. 
  • We need to pray that He would stop and alert us – allowing us discernment – if we ever go out of His Will and need to change course.
  • God doesn’t call us to things that are easy, but to things that transform us and help to make us more and more like Him.  He calls us to run the race marked out for us, with perseverance. Hebrews 12:1-3 states….

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles,
and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus
, the author and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame,
and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men,
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

So, I stop and force myself to give thanks for the hard days, the difficult moments, and the challenging daily grind that doesn’t always go as planned – knowing that He is at work in all of us.  We are each learning and growing, regardless of the ‘out of control’ feeling of our day that I may often sense and want to escape.

And, if I am honest, I DO see a few glimpses of the ways I originally envisioned homeschooling to be and some that surpass what I could have envisioned that have been orchestrated by God, like the joy that comes from

  • being involved in each of our children’s process of learning to read
  • witnessing the close friendships and bonds that are developing between the kids
  • seeing and participating with the girls as they make up dance movements to songs like ‘LifeSong’ and ‘What If His People Prayed’
  • being able to do history, science, and Bible with the oldest three kids, allowing for slight modifications due to knowing what they can handle
  • from an early age, observing their growing desire for memorizing God’s Word
  • being able to create and tailor curriculum to meet their needs (like Spelling , Bible Memory, and Preschool =) )
  • noticing how much they enjoy reading for pleasure (all kinds of books!)
  • knowing they really do have some opportunities to build creatively with the Legos, play pretend, perform plays, dance, sew, teach themselves chess, and do creative art projects without me in their spare time
  • seeing the older children develop greater independence and the need for less direct instruction for assignments
  • reflecting and seeing how God has already given us ways to help make our days go more smoothly (not perfectly, but more laid back and manageable)
  • having the opportunity to see the gradually changing faces of each child, interact with their developing personalities, cheer on their tender spirits, and watch them grow for six additional hours each day than I would otherwise have during this fleeting time

My God, I acknowledge that your thoughts are not my thoughts, neither are Your ways my ways.  As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are Your ways higher than my ways and Your thoughts than my thoughts.  Please adjust my expectations and vision to match what you desire for our family during this season.

I press on in my weakness, but relying on Christ’s strength…

But he said to me,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,
so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses,
in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.
For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

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Comments

  1. Michelle, I’m teary-eyed as I read this. I can relate so well. Especially today. I desperately needed to hear this and know I’m not alone and hear God’s perspective on my struggles. Thank you so much for ministering to this mom’s heart over the years. Your honesty has been like words straight from my Father to my heart today!!! God bless you 🙂

  2. What a great post. Thank you for sharing your heart and the Word of the Lord.

  3. I feel as though I could have written this.

  4. Loved reading your post! 🙂 Needed the encouragement.

  5. Thanks for sharing…I’ve been learning that when I allow Him to lead our day, it always goes better than what .I had planned.

  6. Excellent post! Actually, I had also imagined your homeschooling days along the lines of your “vision.” Thank you for sharing not only the reality of homeschooling but also what God is teaching you in it, and the wise words from Chris. Recently I read about the importance of praising God — He is “enthroned on our praises” (Ps. 22 and similar ideas in other psalms/passages). Choosing to praise and thank God helps us focus on Him, see His goodness, and resist the enemy. I thank God for your example in doing this. 🙂

  7. I completely understand and relate to EVERYthing you shared in this post. Thank you.

  8. Thanks Michelle, I have been finding myself wallowing in the “it wasn’t supposed to be like this” blues lately. Nice to know I am not alone and that there are blessing to behold if I open my eyes to them.

  9. Sarah Mae just posted about ideals becoming idols….
    http://sarahmae.com/2012/10/fresh-blog-start-day-4-what-i-know-now-when-ideals-become-idols/

    “Accept who you are, your weaknesses and your strengths, and trust God with the details. If you have His Holy Spirit intertwined with your spirit, you are being matured and perfected…. The standards you’ve put on yourself are probably not the ones God puts on you. His standards? Believe in Him; have faith! “

  10. I feel this way a lot too. Thanks for sharing. The hard and the joy.

  11. Oh, thank you for laying your heart out. I so do understand, and reading your “process” is healing. It’s my daily battle too…May God bless you!

  12. Shannon says:

    Wanted to thank you for your website here. I’ve used some of your resources over the past few years and began homeschooling this year ‘officially’ (2nd gr, K, and pre-k). The reality of homeschool vs. my vision sound exactly like yours. Just wanted to thank you for creating this space and all these wonderful resources for us to use!!

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