The Making of a Longsuffering Parent

In this post, I will attempt to explicate ways to discovering the balance of love and firmness in our homes. My growing desire is for my children and me to share a mutual experience of Christ’s character. Together. Day by day. And, even on those bad days. AND, find joy in the process! 😉

Two Ways and Their End

“There are two ways to deal with children – ways that differ widely in principal and results. Faithfulness and love, united with wisdom and firmness, in accordance with the teachings of God’s word, will bring happiness in this life and in the next. Neglect of duty, injudicious indulgence, failure to restrain or correct the follies of youth, will result in unhappiness and final ruin to the children and disappointment and anguish to the parents,” Child Guidance, p. 258.

Recently the Lord has brought the love chapter, found in 1 Corinthians 13, to my thoughts with increasing regularity. We all know it well or have heard it recited often, but do we cultivate the many synonyms given in our daily experiences and interactions with our families? I know I am found lacking here! So, lets dissect this one:

“If I have… (insert any amazing feat you desire to achieve, any amazing to-do list you desire to conquer, any amazing curriculum or resource you desire to incorporate) …but do not have love, I gain NOTHING.”

This is not to discourage us but to point us to our training manual. If we desire to “gain” in our homeschool, to be victorious over nap time and multiplication tables, and slay those bad attitudes that occasionally rear their ugly heads, we must seek this love Christ offers! Who wants to gain ground for Christ this year in their homes?

“For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” Phillipians 1:21.

We have to put our feelings aside and pray when our children walk off the path of obedience. Recently I touted to myself, during a challenging day, “I should NOT have to put up with this?! I should NOT!!” Then, the Lord almost immediately gave me a math problem. 🙂 I’m serious. It was clear as day in my mind.

“Then Peter came to him, and said,  ‘Lord how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Til seven times?’ Jesus saith unto him, ‘I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until 70×7.'”

Ok, so any other parents hear the rebuke there? It doesn’t mean our children offend and disobey and we forever ignore them along with said inappropriate behavior.

“For whom the Lord loveth, He correcteth,” Proverbs 3:12.

It means we learn to be longsuffering with them. That’s where the extra long training has come in for me: “Love suffers long and is kind…is not puffed up.” My heart hurts at the thought of allowing myself to puff up toward my child. I want to draw them in with the love of Christ, not use the offense mechanism of an animal to discourage its prey.

“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child.” My children are children, and so they are immature in many aspects of their speech and understanding. I forget that I once was a child too. I too needed a patient guide to teach me, to shine a light on the path that I might go successfully, that I might understand the joy found through service and obedience to Christ. This is the sum of our longsuffering duty.

“If you seek the Lord and be converted every day: if you will of your own spiritual choice be free and joyous and God: if with gladsome consent of heart to his gracious call you come wearing the yoke of Christ — the yoke of obedience and service — all your murmuring will be stilled, all your difficulties will be removed, all the perplexing problems that now confront you will be solved,” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessings, p. 101.

To be an effective teacher you have to be a doer of things taught, or the lessons you are teaching will be like seeds planted where they could not find deep roots. They will be crowded out or shrivel up in the heat and die. To teach the character of Christ to our children, we must learn to be longsuffering, and that is when the teacher becomes the student and the student a teacher.

Your fellow student-teacher in Christ,

Allison

Homeschool Fruits: Joy

Tell me this. Does homeschooling bring you joy? Should it? After all, educating our children is pretty serious business.

This is one of my favorite Bible texts: “You will show me the path that leads to life; your presence fills me with joy and brings me pleasure forever,” Psalm 16:11 GNT.

What this tells me is that God’s presence fills me with joy. It doesn’t say my path will be easy, that I’ll never have any stress, that I won’t agonize a little more than I should over which math program to use — but it does tell me that the overall tenor of His presence in my life and my activities should be joy.

January is an excellent time to think about this because we’re starting a fresh, new year. It’s not a new school year, but there is still something very encouraging about knowing a new calendar year has been birthed — a year where you can fix things that didn’t work so well in 2016, and look for ways to claim God’s promise of joy.

If you haven’t done it yet, reevaluate your fall semester of 2016. What worked really well? Were there subjects in which your child flourished? Did anything not flow as smoothly as you had wished? Was there a subject that caused you both lots of stress? Or, are either of you just plain bored with something?

The new year is such a good tweaking time. Spelling, Bible, math, and history were awesome at our house last semester. Full speed ahead! Science had lost its verve, though, so we’re starting 2017 with a new plan. We totally tossed cells, and have embraced physics. (It’s okay. You can do that as a homeschooler, you know. LOL.) Grammar was going okay, but my son really is tired of it. I, as an editor, feel a strangling sensation to throw it out, even though I know it’s not a typical stand alone subject after elementary school. So, compromise: We’re both good with two days of grammar and two days of cursive writing practice. This kind of reevaluation is so important to keep joy alive in your homeschooling. Both parent and child should feel like they are doing something fulfilling.

And, what about the unschoolers? Yes, unschoolers, you’re completely aware that shades of this apply to you too. We started out as unschoolers and loved it, and I can assure you I’ve never seen an unschooling mom or dad who is not involved in their kids’ education. The approach is just different. So, maybe 2017 is the time to add a zoo membership, or to encourage your child to research backyard chickens with you. Is your kid one of those (like mine) that wants more parental guidance? Time to adjust. Or, maybe you’ve been peeking over their shoulders too much, and you need to let them explore music or gardening on their own. Aim for educational joy.

What about your home life? When you are a homeschooler, home life is an even more consuming part of your daily existence than with typical families. What does yours look like? Here are a few watchwords: order, schedules, flexibility, cleaning, noise, time alone, time with kids, time with spouse, errands, rest. This is a good time to think about your needs and those of your spouse and children.

Home should be a haven, not a nest of stress. I’m a pretty “wing it” type of person. My child, on the other hand, really appreciates knowing the day’s agenda. I have minimal domestic desires, but my husband thrives on a relatively orderly house. In both areas, I’ve found ways to extend out of my comfort zone in order to help my family be more happy. Conversely, one of my greatest desires is quiet. Husband and child can make a lot of noise when they’re together, but they make an effort to give me periods of respite — silence, peace, ahhhhh.

I believe joy at home often relies heavily on one quality: being considerate. Being considerate to my family means taxing myself somewhat to help achieve their happiness. Being considerate to myself means asking children and spouse to bend some for me. Peter tells husbands to “be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect…so that nothing will hinder your prayers,” I Peter 3:7, NIV. No doubt this counsel extends to wives and children as well.

January is a great time to decide where your homeschooling and your home life excels and where they could use a little improvement, and to work with your family to seize the fruit of joy.

“You will expand the nation and increase its happiness [joy]. It will be happy in your presence like those who celebrate the harvest…” Isaiah 9:3 GWT.

Surefooted After the Holidays

dreamstime_xl_35184731 Sure-foot’ed, adjective

  1. unlikely to stumble or slip
  2. confident and competent

I don’t know about you, but I feel lacking in confidence after the holidays when it comes to our home school. We’ve spent much of the last two months absorbed in holiday cooking, do-it-yourself gift making, weekly church musical practices, etc. AND…I did count those as learning opportunities of course! But, at this point in time, I am eager to get my feet back on the ground and into routine with a new focus.

I do love the holidays and the warm early evenings indoors with a good book and my little people gathered around to listen. That being said, I also will admit that holidays stress me out a tad because I get anxious we may lose sight of the true meaning of these events while getting caught up in the pace the world tries to set for us. And so every year, I plan ways we might make these events a blessing to those around us, and an opportunity to be blessed in return. But, this post is about how to gain a strong footing again if we’ve found ourselves losing balance post holiday flurry.

cozyfeet

Count Your Blessings

After you’ve cleaned up and put away the holiday decor, serving ware, etc., have a family date night where you make cookies again (to enjoy for yourselves) and reminisccookiedatenitee over the holiday season and what you’ve enjoyed most so far, and the looks on the faces of those you saw open gifts, or experiences you were happy to share with others. Talk about what you’d like to do again the following year and what it meant to each family member.

Make New Goals

Yes, I do make new years resolutions! I’m saying pick three things you want to do before winter’s over, like go sledding or snowshoeing or make ice cream out of snow — some fun activities that don’t cost money that you can do as a family to continue to enjoy this time of year that you may not have had time or snow to do so before the holidays. This year I’m hoping to try ice skating, which I haven’t done for ages. I also love to pick some personal goals in our home school for each family member, and this year I have some fun ideas which I plan on posting in January as we embark to pursue them.

Declutter and Organize

No matter how much I commit to having a simpler Christmas every year, we always are blessed beyond my imagination, and after the holidays I take the opportunity to find a place for each thoughtful item gifted. The children and I evaluate where we will keep our newly acquired treasures, and often they use this time also to donate items they are replacing or no longer want/need. This sort of coincides with the for-every-item-in-one-goes-out thinking. We do a scan of gently used items we can donate to local charity before the holidays so those things can be a blessing to others in need. But, we often can do it again post gift-giving season. When everyone in the home has received new items, I tend to get overwhelmed if we do not do this final step in closing out the year. “A place for everything and everything in its place!”

I pray these three simple steps help you find a sure footing in your homeschool journey as you prepare for another year of adventure learning beside your precious pupils. May the love we shared over the holidays, as we took comfort in the birth of our Savior and gave thanks over the many things He has done for us, shine forth afresh from our homes and the hearts of each member residing therein!

Blessings,

Allison

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Waiting: A Thing of the Past?

waiting-for-the-bus

When I was a little girl and was complaining about having to wait for something, I remember my mother telling me, “Patience is a virtue great, and little Alli must learn to wait.”

In the culture we live in today, waiting seems to be becoming a thing of the past. With smart phones and iPads, there appears a real decline in the need to learn patience, because we have access to almost everything at the touch of a screen! Today “waiting” anywhere consists of people on their phones updating social media, checking email, and shopping online. I am guilty of this very trend… But, I have felt a real push, or pull perhaps, to unplug for the majority of our day and live in real time with real little people, and find real JOY in the process!

happychildren

I am writing this post because I still struggle to find joy in practicing patience. And, maybe you do too? At present, my struggle is in teaching this character to my children by example. So today, I want to encourage you to seek to practice patience with your little ones at your side AND find JOY as you continue to “wait” on Him.

big-shoes

Learning to be little, and waiting to grow up:

My children often exclaim what they’re gonna do when they’re “older,” and I remember those very thoughts when I was a child. As a mother I want them to enjoy the experience God has for them now! But, I think it takes purposeful attention from us caretakers to enjoy the seemingly mundane with Mommy or Daddy by their side. I don’t want to miss the moments He is giving us today. We are studying Samuel in family worship time, and I love the story of this little boy’s life. From a very young age, he saw himself as God’s servant, and his work as God’s work. I want to help my children see each opportunity presented to them throughout their day as the work of a royal servant of our Most High God, and in that work to shine for Him as bright today as ever.

“He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much,” Luke 16:10.

Learning tbusy-parentso listen, and waiting to be heard:

This is a big one for me. How often do you find yourself not listening to your child excitedly pour out their heart to you? So, this is where we as parents commit to teach our children by making eye contact with them, even placing our hands on their shoulders and engaging in their world. This builds trust and teaches them to listen to us when we talk to them as well. I have found so much joy when I practice this simple technique of engaging. I have to choose to stop listening to the million thoughts going through my crowded brain for a moment, enjoy the simplicity of their innocent chatter, and commit to conversing with them. This is especially excellent when practiced at meal time or when commuting because we’re all in one place at one time. We also have a technique for when they need to be heard and Mommy’s talking or busy: They can place their hand quietly on my elbow and I cover their hand with mine, recognizing they need me. I take the first opportunity to answer their need, and again trust is built between child and parent.

In summary, I hope you agree that “Patience is still a virtue great, and be encouraged to learn to wait!” (my paraphrase)

Would love to hear how other families experience waiting in their homes.

Blessings,

Allison

 

Homeschool Fruits: Freedom

Freedom to live, freedom to worship, freedom to study...

Freedom to live, freedom to worship, freedom to study…

I just love freedom! I love the freedom to make my own decisions. (I especially love nobody telling me what to do. Ha!) I love living in a country that operates, for better or worse, on the principle of freedom. I love serving a God who gives me the freedom to choose Him or not — no coercion.

I love the freedom of homeschooling, too. In fact, when we chose our official homeschool name this year, we picked a name based partially on freedom. I asked my son to tell me his very favorite things about homeschooling, and his top two were “freedom” and “doing my own thing.” Hence…Freedom Solus Academy.

Since my son and I are on the same basic wavelength, it gives extra freedom to our homeschooling. If he seriously dislikes something, he tells me. Then we either discuss why he should keep doing it the same way, or, more frequently, change it to something that works well for him. Likewise, if I’m not pleased with how a certain subject is going, I feel free to research other possibilities with his input, and change directions immediately.

An example of homeschooling freedom for us this year was my 7th-grader’s history. We signed up for a free online program, and he started in. Boring. Seriously boring. How many of us sat comatose through history classes when we were in school? If there’s one thing I really wanted to make come alive for my child via homeschooling, it was history.

So, I took their basic daily outline as a guide; substituted an awesome history series I found, produced by public television but available on YouTube; and supplemented with an interesting book of children’s literature set in that time period.

This semester is nearly over, and he recently finished that unit. Rather than go back to a provided program, though, homeschooling freedom combined with this semester’s success gave me the courage to do my own thing. (Wait! Wasn’t “my own thing” one of his favorite things about homeschooling too?!? Genetics, temperament, parental programming…? LOL.)

We have the coolest encyclopedia of ancient history. Each page also includes many links to interesting maps and videos and projects. Between that and a couple books a friend gave us on Greece and Egypt, I’ve created a semester plan on ancient worlds. Here’s what’s so awesome: It looks so cool and interesting that I want to learn it all, too! No more “history coma” for me or my child. Truthfully, it did take a little longer to prepare than the boxed curriculum — but, oh, the freedom…

Homeschooling offers us the fruit of freedom. If you still feel a little bit afraid to branch out and create your own curriculum, or to go from more structured to less structured for less stress, or to go from less structured to more structured if that’s what your child needs, or to simply change course midstream if something isn’t working — that’s totally okay. Relax and pray. Let that fruit of freedom ripen a little more within you, and you might be surprised and gratified at where it leads.

~

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom,” 2 Corinthians 3:17 NIV.

“The Holy Spirit produces a different kind of fruit: unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You won’t find any law opposed to fruit like this,” Galatians 5:22,23 VOICE.