This was an unpublished draft from 2011 but I’m publishing it because even though it isn’t ‘finished’ I want to remember my thoughts on homeschooling from when Liam was just done kindergarten.
It’s funny back when last fall came and we were offically starting homeschooling, I thought I would write more often about it. After all it’s how we spend our days. But then I didn’t. Part of it is simply lack of time to blog and part of it is that being our first year my thoughts were still very much coming together. Right now I can’t seem to get homeschooling off my mind though and want to put some more of my thoughts down here. Please know this is not me saying that homeschooling is right for everyone, in fact I would be the first to say it isn’t. For some families I absolutely think that public/private school is the best choice for them. My mom is a teacher (the absolute best kind, that really loves her kids and is the kind of teacher you would want your child to have every year.) My dad also has his education degree and has worked in the past as a teacher at an elite academic private school (he is also an excellent, firm but kind teacher and as a male in his late 40’s teaching first graders won multiple teaching awards). My brother is educated as a teacher, although he went on to get his master’s degree in another field. One of my children’s surrogate aunties is an amazing teacher. I have several friends who prechildren worked as teachers. So yes, I know lots of amazing teachers who make school the best place possible for the kids they have in their care. I know many lovely children who attend school. This is more about my own thought process for our family.
Deciding to homeschool is a huge paradigm shift. I have been thinking about homeschooling for so long that sometimes I forget, sometimes I forget how hard of a decision it is to decide to homeschool. Homeschooling can still be very looked down upon, unsupported by family and friends and can feel overwhelming so I very much understand why it is a complex decision to come to. For our family it didn’t seem especially hard, I think because our journey towards homeschooling started before we even had our first baby.
Before Liam was born I worked with children with special needs. This took me into the school system (not as a school board employee) several times a week and it was at that time I started to really question schooling. I saw children all being told they needed to colour their bears brown (heaven forbid a purple bear), I saw kindergarten kids bullying special needs kids several years older than themselves, I saw cookie cutter ‘art’ and lots of wasted time. I saw the emphasis placed on completing a project, rather than really learning about the subject at hand. I could go on, but really these experiences very much discoloured my opinion of what goes on day to day in a school and first brought up homeschooling between myself and my husband.
Once Liam was born, we always just knew we would homeschool. And we have had a wonderful year this past year. This year coming up I have to register with a board for Liam’s first grade year and it is really restarting the thinking process about why we are homeschooling.
Family cohesivness: Liam knows his sisters so well. I know Liam so well. We get the best part of his day, every day. He is spending most of his time with those that love him. I know his strengths, I know his passions, I know his weaknesses.
Learning: Prekids this was my biggest reason for homeschooling. I hated seeing the love of learning squashed in so many kids at such a young age. Many authors have written about this better than I ever can, but it really is more important for me that my kids learn how to learn – not what they learn. If as a parent, I can facilitate so my kids have the skills to learn about whatever they want and need to and that they love to learn that is all I ask for. I long for them to be lifelong learners.
Originally published on four moms January 23, 2010
Often I think about needing to go somewhere else to really love people like Jesus is calling me to. Somewhere like Africa or Haiti or the inner city. Sometimes this discrepancy between going somewhere else to love like Jesus calls me to and my comfortable life seems so strong, it is as if I am not loving anyone where I am. For when Jesus says (in Matthew 5)
43“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
All of a sudden I feel uncomfortable. Convicted. As if this is something I cannot do right where I am. Usually, I think about loving my neighbours and loving my enemies and it seems easier than what Jesus is talking about. My neighbours, we ‘get along’. We are polite and occasionally help each other out. And like most women my age I can’t really say I have ‘enemies’. People I avoid relationship with, sure, people that rub me the wrong way, of course, people who I just don’t understand – yes, yes and yes. But since I don’t classify these as ‘enemies’ (and since we are not on outright hostile terms) I usually don’t think about how Jesus is asking me to love them. I choose to just be polite when I have to and perhaps occasionally pray for them to have a relationship with Jesus if they don’t.
Then once in a while God shines a light for me – and I see
(and oh how it hurts because it is usually under heart-wrenching circumstances that bring me to weeping on my knees)
but am I feeling convicted because I am failing to love those ‘enemies’ closest to me? Does this have less to do with someone in Africa and everything to do with how ‘being polite’ has absolutely nothing in common with the love Jesus shows me? The love Jesus is talking about in Matthew? The love Jesus bled on the cross? Does it have everything to do with the people God has placed right smack dab in the middle of my life for better or for worse? The ones who might even share some of my DNA? The ones who don’t know Jesus but do know me? The ones I should be constantly begging to God for, but so often don’t. Yes, I think it does.
Originally published on four moms November 26, 2009
This is a hard post for me to write. But growing is sometimes hard and I am wanting to share about God working so here goes…
I am a pretty prideful person. I have always prided myself on being responsible, being self-sufficient, being a high achiever, being a ‘strong’ person. From stuff like being a good employee, to having a clean house and always shoveling the driveway right after it snows, to being financially responsible, organized and efficient.
So fast forward to now. I am pregnant and I have been quite sick this time. (See I am even having a hard time writing this because I do not want to seem like I am fishing for pity and I know so many people have ordeals that they would LOVE to trade for this small bump now that will be so joyful later.) Not that the first trimester with my other two kids were a walk in the park but this is something altogether different. For about a month I was basically useless. I was feeling so miserable and just wanting to be done with this already. I was talking to a friend who has had it way worse than me as far as pregnancy sickness goes and she mentioned that the last pregnancy she prayed that she be refined by the sickness – that God somehow use it to change her.
At first I thought – This is such crap. (I know how embarrassingly unhumble.) Why the heck would I have to go through this to grow somehow. What good change in me could God be wanting to bring about from this?? This is only making me and my family miserable – I couldn’t see any reason for how this could be how God wanted to bring about any refinement in me. (And again I know it is small potatoes compared to what others go through that must be feeling the same way only magnified.) I am not taking proper care of my other kids, or being a partner to my husband who was basically having to do everything – work during the day, cook and clean when he got home, put the kids to bed. Any other commitments I had were just let go. I was just feeling a big heaping dose of self-pity for what I wasn’t able to be doing (and for not being able to keep holding up my idol of pride in myself).
So anyway my mother in law lovingly cooked a whole bunch meals for us and dropped them off to my husband. A few friends also made us food. Friends and family offered to help with the kids and help clean the house. Friends I volunteer with had to pick up what I wasn’t doing and did so happily. I had help (that I did not accept easily or gracefully but basically had lovingly forced on me) from so many people. Yes, I had to (or in reality was so sick I didn’t put up a stink) swallow my pride. My pride that I wasn’t cooking food for my family. My pride that my house was messy and I couldn’t clean it. My pride that my children were watching obscene amounts of television. So yes, I started seeing refinement. Started seeing that my pride can get in the way of accepting God’s care and love of me via other people. I swallowed my pride more (this time with urging from the spirit but still not easily) and asked my small group for prayer – which was really hard when I know that people have so much more important prayer needs than this and because it was letting even more people know that I needed help. Not all strong after all…
That’s when it became so clear. This was not just a small deal about me swallowing my pride in myself a tiny bit or making a god of living such a responsible life. Because being responsible, strong and self-sufficient are to some extent good things. But not to any extent that they remove me from being totally dependant on God. God wants me to rely on Him – living as if I only need to rely on myself in any area is SUCH a lie. This is where my pride was being so harmful – it was separating me from God, His grace, His forgiveness, His comfort and His love. It was stopping me from even seeing that I needed to repent of this. Friends I am literally crying typing this. Has it been hard – yes – and not just the sickness part, more the growing part – hard but so good in the end. As drawing closer to my Saviour always is. Thank you God.
Originally published on four moms October 28, 2009
Ever since I have become a mother and more so since I became a mother to two wonderful children instead of one (and I only imagine it increases with each child) I have struggled trying to find some balance of how to spend my time. I am sure every mother feels this way – time to spend as a family, time to spend with God, time as a couple, time alone, time with friends, time to clean, cook, manage the house and for many moms time to go to paid work! Not a list that is easy to prioritize and mine is always continually shifting which item has priority status.
Right now for me seems to be a season for paying more attention to my own health (and everyone else’s too, but the kid’s was never neglected like my own has been.) I have always considered myself a ‘healthy’ person and I am hardly ever sick. That said, lots of healthy living things had fallen by the wayside that now I am trying to make time for again. As a mother I am just realizing it is more important for me to stay healthy to properly take care of my kids than cling to my semi-idol like list of to-dos. Right now I need to make some time for things that do not really have any visible results and that is really hard for me. Things like going to bed at an hour where I can get enough sleep. Napping while my daughter naps and letting my son watch a video for a while. Doing yoga or going on a long walk/run almost every day. (I like Yoga Short Forms with David Swenson because there are 15, 30 or 45 minute choices and this new website here which also has lots of free quick videos). Eating properly, taking my own vitamins and drinking enough water.
God talks often about getting enough rest in the bible. He made the Sabbath just for that purpose. He also made daylight just for that purpose, but we now have electricity that makes it really easy not to rest when it is dark. Resting feels really good – it is the other stuff that is hard to handle. My house is a disaster and I am having to let other things go as well (and no I will NOT show a picture) and it also is taking up most of my time after the kids go to bed. But maybe that is good too – I need a good rest with my creator right now and it has me thinking about how when resting in Him it is so much easier to listen to Him and follow Him. And put my own to-do list aside to do just that.
Originally published on four moms October 8, 2009
The current bible study I am doing has us recording ‘God Stops’ at the end of every day. There is a place to journal where you saw God acting in your life that day. Today God showed up in an unexpected way. My husband who has worked for his company for ten and a half years and called in sick two times before came home sick today. He was in the basement doing some computer work. Hmmm, sick husband (sick kids too actually) where is God working in this picture?
Well about a half hour after he came home the fitting on our main floor toilet broke. Thankfully, my husband was in the basement working and heard the water leaking through the roof. Had he not been home, I first of all wouldn’t have noticed the leak (which was already in the bathroom, down the stairs, and over a third of the basemen in the matter of a few minutes), I wouldn’t have known how to turn off the water and I wouldn’t have known how to fix the broken part. Today of all days too, as we had our realtor coming over in the early evening. So thank you God for sending my husband home sick so we did not have a flooded house!
Where has God shown up in your life lately?
Originally published on four moms August 26, 2009
For eleven years I have had the absolute blessing of being this mans wife.
Just to let you know what a gem he is, although we had big plans for our anniversary, we spent the day dealing with a bad flu bug (me) and an ER trip for a baby girl. Instead of being disappointed (alone time is something cherished here), he took the kids for me all day so I could sleep until I felt better, cooked for everyone and rented a chick flick for us to watch in the evening, after the baby and I returned from the x-ray place.
We were married quite young (very young by today’s standards) and have been through some trying circumstances together. One thing I am so grateful though, is that through it all we have always loved each other.
We have changed in ways that neither of us would have guessed or been able to plan for, and at the end of each and every day of our marriage (even though we have occasionally been angry) I have always, without reservation, loved this man immensely. To me, that is what I am seeing as of late as special about a marriage with God involved. There may be circumstances that would make not loving and even leaving easier, but with God, He urges us to love, to keep the promises we made and to remain faithful to Him and each other. To be patient, kind, sacrificial. To cherish, to forgive, to respect, to forget. To live joyfully in each others presence, have lots of fun and relish what you love about the other.
Aaron, there is too much I relish about you to write. I’m glad I get the rest of our lives to cherish all the joy we have together.
Originally published on August 12, 2009
My husband and I are coming up on eleven years of marriage. Over eleven years, we have seen our share of changes, to our lifestyle, to ourselves and to our relationships. On the eve of this anniversary I have been mulling over in my mind how over the past year or so how God has altered our view of where and how we want to live.
When we first married we lived in a 500 (or so) square foot apartment. It was close to the university, close to a quick route to my husband’s job and in a beautiful older neighbourhood. We loved it (a lot!) and never really thought of having more or bigger (although hauling groceries from the car was a bit of a pain living on the tenth floor). After a year and a half we purchased our first home, thinking ourselves financially responsible to start stocking away equity. It was a bright, airy and functional 1400 square foot two story. Although our years there passed quickly, due to full time school and almost full time work, it was where we first started to itch for more. We started to look at show homes for bigger and fancier, thinking our self worth equal to our belongings. We were young, went to a church with lots of wealthy people and although not overtly admitted, though we could prove ourselves by acumilating lots of expensive things. When we moved once again, to a different city, we got a slightly larger and slightly fancier house. Two years later and yet another city and another slightly bigger and slightly fancier house.
Four years later and we are still in that house. Not very long ago, I even wanted bigger and fancier. Not for God`s plan or glory but for my own selfish one. About a year and a half ago I read ‘Irresistible Revolution’ by Shane Claiborne. I wish I could say that it was the bible, or preaching in a church or other Christian friends that first convicted me about how God feels about money and things, but instead it was reading that book. My husband then read `Jesus for President` and for the first time we thought about how our fiscal plan may be totally contradictory to God’s, tithing or not tithing aside. We talked a lot about what we felt God was asking us to do and how what we thought he was asking us to do looked like it really, really sucked. (Sell all we have, give it to the poor, ummm…) We stopped buying a lot of new things, but otherwise took little action. I was convicted that God taught strongly against wealth (Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:24; “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Mark 10:21; “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. Matthew 6:24) but was still very, very attached to our home and other things, for many sinful, selfish reasons. At that point I was not finding this process at all joyful, only sacrificial. Although I could argue I am not rich here in Canada, but very decidedly middle class, in the terms of the world, I am certainly very wealthy and this put me in a very uncomfortable position.
Fast forward about a year. We went on vacation and stayed for two weeks in a small condo. (I know what a rich person luxury, trust me the irony is not wasted.) Both my husband and I were so refreshed at having so very little to take care of. I did not miss any of our belongings. Again, we have just had the lovely experience of camping for several weeks on Vancouver Island. We have a small trailer that we take camping. This time, my husband and I talked about how we both felt freed at how we can better spend our time and energy when we have less stuff to take care of.
These vacations were such a blessing because God really used them to show me something I hadn’t even considered when first reading all this God and money stuff – one reason God cautions so strongly about money and things is because being bogged down by them is not how He wants us to spend our resources. To have a bigger and fancier house means we need to spend more – more time maintaining, cleaning, organizing and more money heating, paying the mortgage and taxes. More of my husbands time working to pay for these things. More time away from the relationships God intended for us to have with Him and our neighbours. More time and money… wasted. I don`t want to waste any more of what God has blessed me with. I want to use it to glorify Him. I don`t want to be too trapped by my possessions to really discover what amazing plans God has for me. When I say this is so freeing from how I used to feel about accumulating more, I don’t know how to say it strongly enough, but boy do I feel free!
So, we aren`t moving – yet – and honestly I don`t know if that is what God wants us to do right this minute. But I just am so thankful how God has showed me He intends for us to be free in this matter – not deprived or legalistic and how he has been so faithful to changing my heart on this matter. I love how He has shown me that it isn`t just about what we have – but that if we aren`t using it to God`s glory then it is wasted, whether we are poor or rich. I don`t want to selfishly hog God`s blessings anymore and try and accumulate them for my own glory. That’s all meaningless anyway. I want to be free to live a joyful, giving life, being obedient and bringing glory to God and putting my investments where they really matter – in God’s eternal kingdom.