Tuesday, March 07, 2017

How to Keep Going: Part One

The same day as the baby shower, I was also asked to share at a CC mom's brunch and shared some things that have really been on my heart. The struggles I've experience relate to hanging in there with homeschooling, but you could fill in the blank with many varied situations and still find beauty and hopefully some encouragement here. This will be in three lengthy parts - hope it is a blessing. My sweet friend Marion, made these amazing signs for each mom who attended - she and I did not confer on what verses I'd be sharing so read on to see how amazing it is that she chose this verse!!!


My goal here this morning is to encourage all of us to press on when homeschooling feels impossible. Today is for when you feel overwhelmed, discouraged or worn out. I pray that it will be a time to refocus, find strength, hear truth and be refreshed. 

Our goal in being together this morning is just like our goal in training our children – to know God and make Him known. I pray that your hearts will not remember Monica from today but that you will see God and hear His words echoing in your hearts throughout the rest of the day and the days to come. 

The last year has been really hard for many of us. The more homeschooling mamas I talk to, the more I hear about the difficulties in persevering in the face of so much hardship and difficult life circumstances that we are each facing. I think there is a large amount of weariness and discouragement among the ranks and I include myself in this statement. 

Personally, I have felt behind much of this school year and like we are struggling to stay motivated and keep up. 

As the Fall moved beyond the beginning of school there was a six week period of time where we had a hurricane, evacuated, I went to a retreat that I had signed up for months before, my grandmother passed away in Illinois, David’s mom got married and I went to SR training in Charlotte. 

I’m not sharing this so you will feel sorry for me! But because I know each of you could probably come up with a list like this. Life is hard and it comes at us fast and furious sometimes. Faster than we can keep up which can leave us feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and like we want to give up.
After Thanksgiving, my kids and I drove out to my parents house in Colorado for the month of December. I called David more than once with a less-than-stellar report about school. I honestly wondered how I could keep homeschooling feeling so defeated and struggling so much. My students did not want to do their schoolwork, they want to just play all day and do what they want to do – well, I can relate. I didn’t really want to do it either so we muddled through together and not very well I’m afraid. 

This really drove me to my knees and to a place of desperation. My husband wisely suggested we take two weeks off of school which would be over Christmas. By this point, he would be flying out in the next day or two and he said we’d figure it out together when it was time to get school going again. Despite the fact that I feared taking two weeks off would put us even more behind, I knew he was right. 

We took the two weeks off and I started thinking ahead to when we got home and we’d need to start back to school. How can I motivate my children when I am not motivated? How can I lead them when I’m worn out? 

When we got home, I sought out several friends and really confided to them how I was struggling and sought godly counsel for encouragement and strength. I needed some truth tellers in my life and that is what I am hoping to be for you today. One friend listened to me vent and helped me talk through some things and another helped remind me where I had gotten lax in some areas of discipline and child training. Each of these three women prayed with me and helped me get my head and heart back on the right track. 

Through all of this, I began journaling again almost every day about how my kids were doing and what I was learning in the process. I share this with you because I think it is quite likely that at least one mom here will be able to relate and if you aren’t personally struggling right now – you may be in the future or someone around you might be. 

Right before these conversations began, I had been reading Proverbs 31. It has been a favorite of mine for a long time and is usually a source of challenge and encouragement for me. On January 5th, I wrote in my Bible, “I am struggling like never before to be a Proverbs 31 woman. Things that struck me this morning were:
-          - She brings him good not harm reminding me that I need to be a peaceful influence in our home.
-          - She sets about her work vigorously. Vigorously means robust, hardy, energetic or lively – am I going about my work in such a way?
-          - She is clothed with strength and dignity. Hmmm, I feel like I’m clothed with weariness and discouragement.
-          - She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue. Oh dear, I know this is not true of me as I fumble my way through school days and fatigue colors the tone of my voice.

I  began to especially think about the words strength and dignity. Proverbs 31:25 says, “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future.”

I was not even really smiling at the day ahead of me much less the future – but to be honest, I was not clothing myself with strength and dignity either.

When I think of that word strength some things that come to mind are: opposite of weakness, not easily shaken, willingness and ability to attempt hard or heavy things, strength does not come with laziness, fear or lack of faith – we have to work to get it and then choose to use it; in most cases I think of muscles yet there are so many kinds of ‘muscles’ that we are called on every day to use and implement.

Strength is defined by Webster’s dictionary as 1) the quality or state of being strong: capacity for exertion or endurance; 2) power to resist force; 3) power of resisting attack; and the various other uses such as “the strengths of the book were …” or “intensity of light, color, sound…”; the word strength appears 176 times in the Bible and strong appears another 151 times.

Similarly when I think of this word dignity – it brings some words to mind as well. I’m less familiar with this word, it seems to bring royalty to mind and the word dignified; how one carries themselves, head held high {but not in pride}, shoulders up – not slumped over in defeat.

Dignity is defined by Webster’s dictionary as 1) the quality or state of being worthy, honored, or esteemed; 2a) high rank, office, or position; 2b) a legal title of nobility or honor; 4) formal reserve or seriousness of manner, appearance or language. Dignity is only in the Bible 5 times.

Pretty instantly I see how defeated I have been living in relation to training my children. I have been the opposite of dignified and it makes so much sense when I study this word.

One of the moms in our CC community and I were recently talking about Strength and Dignity again and she said, “I think that strength is God in us and dignity is God flowing through and out of us.” That just really struck a chord with me. Strength is what God pours in and dignity is what flows out when I am walking in that strength.

Also when we read the verse in Proverbs and we are told that strength and dignity are her clothing – it suddenly brings to mind a picture of getting dressed in the morning. I have to put strength and dignity on when I begin my day. I may have to even put it on many times during the day as I discipline and rein in my mind from attitudes and thought patterns that are not true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praise worthy.

This of course brings to mind what we are learning with our children in Ephesians 6 right now – about how we are putting on the whole armor of God. Strength and dignity are part of my clothing as a woman of God and the armor fit nicely over them. I am in a battle as there is an enemy who desperately wants me to give up home educating my children. He wants me to live in a place of defeat and overwhelmed so I will stay in a place of failure and not-enough.

But God brings the greater victory! Next I started digging into the Bible for verses about training – there were some specific behavior and character things that I needed to work on immediately and before we started Boot Camp, I wanted to be armed with a “manual” of Scriptures to guide our training efforts.

Here are some of the verses I wrote down:

Hebrews 12:4-12, “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son.’ Endure hardships as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined {and everyone undergoes discipline}, then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Ephesians 6:1-4, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ – which is the first commandment with a promise – ‘that it may be well with you and you may enjoy long life on the earth.’ Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 9:24-27, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

Luke 6:40, “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.”

James 4:1-3, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

1 Timothy 1:18-19, “Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.”

Proverbs 21:30-31, “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord. The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord.”

Psalm 144:1, “Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.”

Psalm 140:7-8, “O Sovereign Lord, my strong deliverer, who shields my head in the day of battle – do not grant the wicked their desires, O Lord; do not let their plans succeed, or they will become proud.”

Psalm 24:8, “Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.”

Psalm 18:32-35, “It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You give me Your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great.”

Joshua 1:7-9, “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

2 Timothy 2:3-4, “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs – he wants to please his commanding officer.”

2 Chronicles 20:3-4, 12, 15, 17, 20b-21, “Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed they came from every town in Judah to seek Him.” “O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.” “He said, ‘Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours but God’s.” “You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with You.” “Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in His prophets and You will be successful.’ After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise Him for the splendor of His holiness as they went out at the head of the army saying: ’Give thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever.’”

I take the time to read so much Scripture because we can do no better as women of God raising our children to know and serve Him than to read His Word and uphold it as the highest authority, source of encouragement and strength for us in the day to day battles we face.

Part Two coming up on Thursday!


Mrs. Chrissy T said...

This is so timely. You won't believe this. Yesterday I was getting dressed and I have been in mama homeschooling burnout mode. I was going to email you to ask your thoughts and to pray with me on it. I never did. But this morning as I was thinking on it I checked here. How amazing.

Allison said...

I think we all come to a place of exhaustion and how to we get excited again and rejuvenate! You have hit the nail on the head again with your beautiful writing. Seek God and all other things fall into place don't they?!? You are precious and I love seeing your heart on the page. Keep fighting the good fight. It's worth it.

Leanne said...

Giving up homeschooling was one of the most DIFFICULT decisions I ever faced... I have had to really work through that it is OKAY to stop if that is what your Husband and God are leading your family to do....
My children are now in an amazing Christian School-- its not perfect--but, it has been SO GOOD for them! and for me... I took a job working part time at the preschool as a childcare provider from 1-6pm...I have to a chance to serve some precious 3-5 year olds who need a "mama" around while they are waiting for theirs! My boys frequently come over and interact and play with the kids... it has been a joy to see them serve in this way...
All that to say-- I am SO THANKFUL for our homeschool years... I had a chance to pour into them in a way I could not have with traditional schooling...and that investment has produced great reward...
I just wrote this for those who really feel its time to stop...it can reap great rewards in the right situations :-)

Nancy at EmbroideryIt.com said...

These were words I needed to hear today. Thank you for sharing them here. Looking forward to part two.

Huskerbabe said...

Usually I just read your blog but today I am printing it up so I can study it and re-encourage myself. I have been very discouraged this past few weeks and feeling like I have completely failed my children. I know this isn't true, but the enemy knows right where to aim those arrows. I need to remember to stay in the Word daily, even when I don't feel like it.
Consider yourself blessed to have friends who can help you and keep you on task. Mine just want me to send my kids to school so that I have more time for myself and them. :(
I have been raising children for a long time so I know that this is just the ebb and flow of life. I also know that the way can be hard but it is worth it when we reach our destination. Don't be discouraged. Give yourself some grace this year. When I look at your blog I see a mother being with her children, building memories, blessing them with her time and teaching them to be creative and attentive to their surroundings. Honestly I wouldn't be surprised if you don't find later that your children have learned more this year than any other year.
Signed, a long time reader who has enjoyed watching you and your children grow. :)

Lindsey Swinborne said...

Thank you for sharing your heart so vulnerably here, that it might benefit your sisters in Christ! Our year has been tough too. Like you, we had home issues (flooded basement) that sucked up a lot of time and attention and money and will be ongoing for several more months. I've felt majorly under spiritual attack more so this year, especially in our marriage, and then we also had a girl entering puberty with all of that drama and emotion. I've felt like I've been on a roller coaster this year and I've lost a lot of my joy in homeschooling. However, in the lowest times, God has stepped in in incredible ways. He used these trials to pry my fingers off of things that I was clinging to instead of Him, for my good and ultimate joy. I've seen Him work in mind-blowing ways as I've fallen on my knees, praying through hot tears of desperation. When I came to the end of my rope homeschooling a certain difficult child, someone who had no idea I was struggling, a stranger, gave that child a full-ride scholarship to the local Christian school. God is transforming our marriage where we'd become lazy or avoided dealing with our own sin, and I'm seeing my kids grow in their faith in various ways too. When I was feeling discouraged by lack of deep and personal spiritual encouragement, He provided two Bible Study groups that I love. When there has been confusion or conflict in relationships, as I've prayed about it, those people have called me to clear things up. So, all of this to say that it has been a very tough year, but an amazing one too. I appreciate this post! So many mamas are struggling and need these words.

Anonymous said...

I am so looking forward to this series. It is exactly what I need right now. Thanks, friend!


Heather said...

"Strength is what God pours in and dignity is what flows out when I am walking in that strength"

Wow. Such powerful truth. Thank you.... I needed this word today!!