Dear Homeschool Mother of Littles: Don’t Give Up

by Elizabeth

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Dear Homeschool Mother in the Little Years: please don’t give up. Don’t quit, not yet. Just keep going.

One of these days you’re going to look around and find that everything you’ve been working towards, everything you’ve been yearning for, it’s happening. Right here, right now. Today.

One of these days you’re going to turn around and find your children reading on their own. For fun. And yes — even the kid who struggled to learn how to read.

One of these days you’re going to turn around and find your children teaching themselves things for the pure joy and curiosity of it all. And then they’re going to turn around and tell you about all the things they’ve been learning and reading.

One of these days you’re going to turn around and hear the sound of those instruments you’ve been making them practice. And one of these days, you’re going to turn around and find that the excitement and wonder you carry for the natural and supernatural worlds, your children carry it, too.

One of these days you’re going to turn around and find your children able to play board games and card games that you actually find interesting. {Yes, even your favorite word games.} And then you’re going to turn around again and watch them invent new games to play with each other.

One of these days you’re going to turn around and find your children making up imaginary worlds that have imaginary languages and imaginary cultures. And then, when they invite you to visit, you’ll go to those places, too.

One of these days you’re going to turn around and find that your children are actually helpful in cleaning up after dinner and taking out the trash and cleaning their rooms. And you’re going to depend on them to help run your household.

One of these days you’re going to turn around and hear them cracking jokes. Like, actual funny jokes. And you’re going to hear new one-liners dropped at the dinner table nearly every day. {And then you’re going to thank God for giving your children the sense of humor that may or may not have skipped over you.}

One of these days you’re going to turn around and find yourself having deep theological discussions with your children, discussions that hold their interest. And you’re going to be able to talk about the Sunday sermons, because they were actually listening.

I tell you these things because this past month as we closed out the school year and started our summer vacation, I’ve been reflecting on the state of my home school. Sometimes reflection can be a dangerous pursuit: it can lead to despair over an apparent lack of progress.

But this month something very different materialized for me: satisfaction and delight. Because all those things I mentioned? They’re happening for us. All of a sudden. Even after I’d given up on some of them EVER happening.

So dear Homeschool Mother in the Little Years, don’t give up. Don’t quit. Not yet. Nurture your little family. Plant those seeds and water them, then place them in the sun to warm. One of these days you’re going to look around and find that those seeds have sprouted and are bearing fruit — maybe even all at once.

Experienced home school mothers used to tell me this too, and I didn’t believe them. I didn’t think that promise was for me. And you might not think it’s for you, either. But take it from someone who can despair with the best of them: this promise IS for you, and your efforts are NOT in vain. So don’t give up.

One of these days it’s going to be worth it. You’re going to turn around and find that everything you’ve been working towards and everything you’ve been longing for is finally coming to fruition. It’ll all be right here, right now, today.

Just keep going.

To the girl

by Jonathan

To the girl who is curious about everything,

To the girl who looks prim and proper, and who is, some of the time,

To the girl who knows how to parse protons and poetry, and is fascinated by both,

To the girl who laughs loud and long and often,

To the girl whose heart-thievery caused a smitten teenage boy to grow up into a gloriously happy man,

To the girl who loves math and astronomy and theology and chemistry and words and Bethel and hummus and Guardians of the Galaxy,

To the girl who is my editor-in-chief and best friend, adding commas and joy everywhere,

To the girl who loves babies and toddlers and kids and teenagers,

To the girl who holds my hand on the banks of the Mekong, gazes into the sky, and with tremendous passion whispers into my ear, “I can see Mars!”

To the girl who litters my bed and couch and floor and every other surface with books and books and more books,

To the girl who said yes,

Happy Anniversary!

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The Screeching Voice of Lack and the Bounty of Jesus

by Elizabeth

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I’ve been stumbling around for weeks now, gathering my identity from the things other people might say about me. I’ve been scooping it up from my deepest fears of failure, harvesting it from my ripening field of inadequacies. But you know the thing is, I know better than this. I know better than to do this; yet I did it anyway. I listened to the voice of darkness, that screeching voice of lack inside my own head, and I flagrantly disregarded the bounty of Jesus and the abundance of His love.

I didn’t know where to begin again. I knew I’d misplaced my identity, but I was scared to approach God with my missteps of belief and doubt. How could I lose that precious gift of identity in Christ, after searching so long and so hard to find it before?? But one day last week I finally worked up the courage to ask God what He thinks of me. Sincerely expecting a reply, I ventured a quiet and tentative, “God, who do you say I am?” And Jesus, mysterious Son of Man that He is, simply and immediately asked back, “Who do you say I AM?”

“Who do YOU say I AM???”

Not an answer did the Promised One provide; merely, like so many instances in the Gospels, another question. Who do I say Jesus is?? Because maybe that’s where I went wrong, forgetting who Jesus is. Because maybe I don’t have to ask so many questions about myself, if I know the answer to the question about Jesus. And maybe I don’t have to get lost in my own dark, dangerous head, if I can get lost in the majesty and glory of the Creator, of the Redeemer, of the Comforter, of the Trinity.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s a legitimate question to ask “Who does God say I am?” But now I know it’s just as legitimate to be asked by Him — as Jesus asked Peter and the other disciples — “Who do you say I AM?” Because maybe, just maybe, that’s the question that can transfer my focus from Self onto Savior. And maybe, just maybe, the moment I answer that question is the moment the clouds will start to lift.

Turns out, the way up out of the pit isn’t to believe in myself better, it’s to believe in Someone Better. For as Peter answered, I believe Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God, and HIS identity alone is what holds sway over the clinging darkness.

Linking up with Velvet Ashes