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Homeschooling Forever?

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Has our homeschooling journey been that long?  No, not really, but it sure has seemed that way some days.  Way back in 1997 when our daughter was a baby, we decided to homeschool our oldest.  We really didn’t know much about the process aside from what I’d read in a handful of library books.  There were two homeschooling families at our church and I picked their brains for what worked for them.  It still was a walk in the dark and every step was preceded by much prayer, thought and hard work.

We have had many days it truly felt like we were stumbling around in the dark, stubbing our toes on the furniture.  Other days were filled with euphoric moments of triumph when new concepts were mastered!  I think most homeschoolers would agree that their experiences has been a combined mixture of both.

Where are we now?

Our older son was in fifth grade when we began this journey and he graduated in 2006.  Ten years ago?  How can that be?  Time truly flies, folks!

Our daughter wanted to do school like her big brother so she began kindergarten at age four. She’s always been very curious and precocious and we felt she was ready.  She graduated in May 2015.

Our younger son is currently finishing up 10th grade and will begin 11th grade in the fall.  He’s almost 6′ tall and we have a lot of fun learning together.  We use the Abeka video program, which I absolutely love!  All of the video teachers have a wealth of knowledge and experience, which make it worth every penny.  We use a separate curriculum for math, though.  That’s the beauty of homeschooling – you can tailor it to your child’s needs depending on their strengths and weaknesses.

I always say, “One of these days I’m going to graduate!”  🙂  The truth is, I’ve been in nearly every grade four times (once myself way back when and then once for each of the 3 kids).

We’ve had many bumps in the road along the way.  We’ve moved quite a bit over the years, which always throws a wrench into schooling preparation and plans.  Also, I just had surgery.  It’s times like these I’m very thankful for the Abeka video program and the fact that my son is older and can work independently for the most part.  We do work pretty closely with math, however.

Life is always full of interruptions and that is why we have always appreciated the immense flexibility of homeschooling.  For instance, we are not bound by school schedules that prevent us from taking a family vacation if desired.  There are so many opportunities my children would never have had if it weren’t for a home based education.

Has it been easy?  A resounding NO!  But then, nothing worthwhile in life ever is.

Has it been fun?  Yes.  We’ve had many laughs … mixed with tears sometimes.  Mixed with worry that our children aren’t learning enough…or fast enough…or on par with their public school peers… It’s times like these, our kids do something really amazing or we have lengthy conversations that allay all my fears that they will, in fact, turn out just fine.

Has it been worth it?  Every minute.  Every ounce of energy.  Only eternity will tell, but I know that in my heart of hearts, I’ve given it my all.

{Side note:  My 18 year old daughter & I had a conversation about the stresses of raising kids, family size, etc.  I shared how important extended family can be, especially relieving strain when the children are small.  Our conversation went on and she said, “Mom, I have many fond memories of you doing crafts with us and always making things fun.  You’ve done a great job.”}

Well, I guess I should frame this, not that she hasn’t said similar things before, because she has.  She’s always so sweet and affirming.  But, because sometimes those “Mommy fears” rear their ugly head and needle away at any confidence I may have had.

Moms have such a full and far reaching job on their hands, raising a family, taking care of the house, their husband, and whatever involvement they may have in church or the community!  Goodness, we need to give ourselves a break!

You’re doing GREAT, Moms!!

Frame this!  “You’re doing GREAT!”  You really are.

If your hearts’ desire is to be the best Mom possible, I’m confident that you are, in fact, doing just that.  We need to give ourselves grace.  And don’t worry so much!  We worry because we love deeply but really we should transfer that worry into a prayer and leave it there.  I’m preaching to the choir now.

It’s hard to imagine life beyond homeschooling but in May 2018, our youngest will graduate.  And then a new chapter of my life will begin.  But this one has been an exceptional run and one that has been rich, meaningful and a real time of planting seeds into our children.  For that, I am ever grateful.

And to those who are just starting out on this homeschooling journey or are midway through – Hang in there!  Enjoy every step of the way.  Do those crazy art projects and science experiments.  Go on those educational field trips and family vacations.  Find beauty and learning opportunities everywhere!  Enjoy your kids, moms.  Those formative years only last so long and then they’ll be taller than you (like all my kids are now!).

I saw this quote many years ago:

“A parent’s true role is to work themselves out of a job.”

Our job is to raise the next generation to be moral, independent, critical thinkers.  If we have done that, our work is done.

Of course, as a Christian Mom, I have prayed for my children since they were in my womb and I will always intercede for them until I draw my last breath.  I love them so.  So, even when our children are out on their own making their way in this world, our role as intercessors never ends.

Do you homeschool?  How would you sum up your journey so far?  Have any of yours graduated?

 

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I did 20 Years…and so did he

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A rather persistent, mutual friend insisted that I meet “this guy” that would be just perfect for me.  I brushed her off a couple times as I’d recently come out of a hurtful relationship and besides I preferred things to happen naturally.  Nonetheless, I humored her and agreed that she could give “this guy” my phone number.

He called and in a matter of a few conversations, we fell in love.  We had many subsequent, lengthy phone calls in the evenings after work.  Each of us couldn’t wait for the next time we could speak!  I agreed to attend a Christian concert with him and some other mutual friends.  After the concert, we all went out to eat.  I was starving.  Literally, I could hear the acids in my stomach raging but I was too nervous to eat.  I opted just to have a Coke and upon “this guy’s” insistence, a few of his fries.  I was so hungry, yet I wouldn’t eat.  Ah, young love.  Well, we talked all night and our love story was sealed that June evening.

We were engaged on Christmas Day and married the following June, 20 years ago.

What is the secret of staying married until death do you part?

I like the quote I’ve seen around, “We were born in a time when divorce was not an option.”

or this one:

“I was born in a time when if something was broken, you fixed it.”

There’s something to those sayings.  It’s called removing the option of giving up, of throwing in the proverbial towel, and pushing up your sleeves and working on it.  A little elbow grease.  Effort.

Marriage is hard work.

There are no two ways around it.  But did you ever have a relationship that wasn’t?  We are all enshrined in this flesh called humanity, and as such, we have tendencies of failure.  We also have huge capacities to love.

And in my Bible it says that love conquers all.

Love hopes.  Love keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not boast.  Love places the other before self.

That’s what love looks like.

Yes, love is hugs, kisses and all the physical trappings that accompany the marriage relationship and make it one of the most beautiful unions.

Sometimes life requires more than mere hugs and kisses.

Sometimes it demands forgiveness, forbearance, time, selflessness.

The demands of family, work, finances can be absolutely draining.  And sometimes one can feel like you have nothing left to give.  There are certainly seasons like that, especially when the kids are young.

We are happily at the stage now where our kids are nearly grown.  The two younger ones at home are 16 and 18.  Our oldest left home quite a few years ago and is 27.  So, the physical demands on us are fewer than they were years ago.  But during the years of great demand, that’s when dating your spouse really is important.  Carving out “couple time” is crucial to staying on the same page emotionally.

Twenty years now.  This June it will be 21 years!  God sure has been faithful to us.  We’ve weathered some fierce storms, times when throwing in the towel sure had its appeal.  If we succumbed to giving up, we would have forfeited the most precious love we share today.

When we were newlyweds, our euphoric love seemed incredible – like Fourth of July fireworks!  We thought it couldn’t get any better than this!  We were so young and naive.  Weathering the storms of life together creates an undeniable bond and deeper love than one could have imagined.

Am I thankful for the storms?  Well, maybe I am.  Strange as that sounds.  Without them, I would not have seen the sweet expression of love and care when my husband has brought me soup when I’ve been ill.  Without the challenges, we wouldn’t realize how desperately we needed one another.  Without the adversities, we would not know the grace and mercy of God as displayed through the other.

You know, friends, when we love our spouses, we are honoring God.  And when God is honored, there are blessings!

One of the most meaningful things my husband and I do together is pray.  When our hearts are overwhelmed, we invoke God’s presence and power into our lives.  When our hearts are full of thankfulness and joy, we express that, too, in prayer.  God is such a vital part of our relationship and He has always been.  I encourage you to pray with your spouse if possible.  God truly honors the unity of prayer.

Not only that, but I believe there is power in prayer.  Sometimes the most spiritual prayer is – “Help!”   God is close to the brokenhearted, my friend.

My husband and I are testaments of God’s grace and His power at work in our hearts.  The beauty of being married for a while is that before long, you know the other’s heart.  My husband knows what I will and will not do and vice versa.  Our hearts trust the other.

So, love begets trust.  And like a garden.  If left untilled, weeds will grow.  Don’t neglect your most precious relationship.

The grass is not greener on the other side.  There are weeds over there.  Till your own garden and your marriage will flourish.

What you invest in, you will reap the harvest.  Invest well.

 

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Our children…Our Greatest Joys

We have been blessed by God with three children, ages 25, 16 and 14, and are so thankful for the joy they’ve brought into our lives.  We really couldn’t imagine life without them.

I had my oldest when I was 18 and was a single parent for 6 years.  His father wasn’t involved in his life, but I was determined to raise my son to the best of my ability.  My parents and entire family provided a great deal of support, and I am forever grateful for their love and assistance.

My husband and I met in June of 1994 and married the following June.  We were overjoyed at the birth of our only daughter 2 years later and younger son 20 months after her!  My goal was to have all our children by the age of 30.  I’m not sure why I thought that was a good idea.  I suppose so I’d still be young enough to get on the floor to play with them.  🙂  I was 29 when our last was born.

Our two boys weighed over 9 pounds and our daughter was a few ounces shy of 8 pounds…big babies, but so precious!  I love the Scripture in Psalm 139:13-17 that says:

“For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.

My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!

How great is the sum of them!”

…Every life is such a priceless gift, a tiny slice of heaven.

Yes, raising children is a parent’s greatest and most challenging endeavor.  There are seasons where you may question your entire repertoire of parenting wisdom.  There have been many days that I asked, “Where can I go to turn in my Mommy badge?”  So many questions we don’t have the answer to.  So many concerns and worries we bear.  Parenting is so complex because each child is so unique with their own set of challenges.

My greatest piece of parenting advice is to pray and “Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.” (I Peter 5:7)

I often remind God that He made these treasures we are trying to raise.  Please help!  Send an owner’s manual or something, God.  I’ve found the truest manual to be the Word of God.  It is there we find the foundation for living.  When we model before our children how they should live, we are promised in Proverbs 22:6:

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

God’s Word is truth, and that’s what we hang our faith on daily.

Then, there are times in our lives that we are so proud of our children, we could burst!  So proud of their choices and their character taking shape.  These seasons make it all worth it!

Each of our children has their own distinct personality, as I’m sure yours do, as well.  Our oldest is very laid back and quiet, although can be otherwise in his vocation.  Our daughter has a very bold personality (like her dad) and likes noise.  Our younger son is like his brother, easy going and doesn’t mind hanging back and observing the situation before becoming involved in it.

All are our most valued assets, worthy of a lifetime of investment.

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