Life is Uncertain
I originally wrote this ten years ago and wanted to share my testimony again at this uncertain time.
Ten years ago, our house had burned, my 47-year-old sister had died unexpectedly, my oldest ended up in an E.R. several states away with Bird Flu, our contractor was crooked, we moved three times in ten months and threw away 90% of our possessions. We moved back into our partially finished house during the worst flooding in our region’s history (though last year topped that). My dad died a few months later.
It was a stressful year, to say the least.
One thing we all have in common right now is that life is uncertain.
And with that uncertainty comes anxiety, fear, possibly depression. Stress. Will we get sick? Will we get better? Will we have a job? What will the world look like in 2, 4 or 6 months?
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 2 Corinthians 4:7-10
Maybe right now you can relate to these words that I wrote 10 years ago:
I have been tossing and turning for nights. If there were an Olympic event for turning 360’s under the covers- I’d win. Cause while we are home, we are far from settled. The house remains undone and critically demanding from both a time and money standpoint. I feel pulled in a 100-directions at once for a myriad of reasons. Like Mrs. Beaver in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, flurrying around, scurrying in all directions, wondering if she should pack the kitchen sink for their flight from imminent danger, flustered because she’s worried she won’t make a good impression, concerned that Mr. Beaver will fall into the path of danger. Geez, mahn, she’s a worrywart.
Oh, how I relate. Cause I’m faithful and true and a diligent and hard worker and busy and industrious and mindful of things, and thinking of what’s next and on and on. But I’m concerned. Concerned about all that’s not being done and what’s up ahead and how I look and what’s next.
When Mrs. Beaver finally meets Aslan, his comment to her, which sets all things right in her life is, “Peace, Beaver.”
And with those two little words, the High King sets it all straight. He recognizes who she is, calls her by name, dignifies her presence and speaking words of power and might, straightens the crooked places by His ruasch, alive and manifesting His strength and vision for her. The fussing and stressing and striving cease and she can relax in His presence knowing He’s got her back.
I’ve had a hard time getting there for the past many months. I’ve been grief-stricken and weary and flustered. And it’s not that things aren’t better than before, we have been blessed in amazing and profound ways; it’s the process of how they’ve gotten that way. Inventorying time and materials, thoughts and actions, sorting through possessions that were meaningful because of memories or people, profoundly feeling the loss of family, moving yet again in a matter of months.
I look around at all of the projects and consider how we’ll make due this fall and feel, oh so rocked by the waves of the circumstances. The work is something we enjoy, but the amount of it seems ominous, and while Dr. Dh is confident we’ll get it done, it’s all in the context of a day job and homeschooling and the living that will take place around it. And I see how we get tired and sore in a way we haven’t before. Age, stress, the demands of the year, manifesting themselves in practical ways.
This year, in the midst of the chaos and flurry of once in a lifetime circumstances I’ve longed for ritual. For benchmarks that say it’s this season or that. This is what you do when, the words you say now, the posture you take in response. I’ve needed guides, markers, mindless actions to go through that indicate time and life go on in a sensible and pleasing pattern despite disruption and chaos and hurt and fear and unrest and inconclusiveness”- the ritual and meaning and confirmation of faith and death and loss and living.
My youngest came up to me where I was sitting a few days after we moved back home and said, very quietly, “Momma, the fire scared me.” Just so plain and simple and straight forward, but sad and apologetic, like her little 7-year-old self should be braver. The very fact of being home again, I think, finally allowed her to say these simple words. I said, “I know, Baby, of course it did.” And she crawled into my lap and snuggled against me, curled up like when she was two and stayed there for a while. Later she looked up at me and smiled and gave me a big hug and hopped up and went to find kittens to play with. I’m grateful she could be as little as she needed to be and snuggle up with someone older and bigger and stronger and sit and soak in my strength and comfort until she’d absorbed as much as she needed.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever–present help in trouble. … Come and see the works of the LORD. Psalm 46:1
On so many levels, I’ve felt like my little girl and I’ve wanted to say the same thing; “The fire scared me, Sue’s death rocked me, I feel the loss and lost.” And I want to feel and hear and know Abba is saying, “I know, Baby, of course. Rest in My peace. I’ve got you. Despite the worry and chaos and confusion and disorder and the house undone and work ahead, I’ve got your back.”
And He does.
I know He does for me and I know He does for you!
Sunday’s coming and with it, the Living Christ!
The Horse Barn
My daughter cleans stables on the weekends, and since her brother has gone off to college, I have been going along with her. It’s peaceful work. The stables are beautiful, the horses are award-winning and the work straightforward. We clean stalls, sweep the barn, and feed the creatures. The tack room smells of warm leather, the stables of fresh alfalfa, of horse and life.
I look at the barrows full of manure, raked from freshly cleaned stalls, re-supplied with fresh alfalfa, and think, this is life. Cleaning, feeding, sweeping up the debris from the living. We talk to whatever horses are still stalled, and some time to each other, but generally we work.
My daughter, the gardener that she is, gathers tubs of manure to take home to feed her compost beds. Content in the hard work she’s done and the money well earned, we both get in the car, sweaty and tired, smelling of horse and work and life. Her work ethic has been hard-earned, both in her education and life.
My grandparents had a fourth-grade education, yet they valued the gift of education.
Out of my four grandparents, none of them went past fourth grade in any formal type of school. They were, however, always learning. They were hungry for learning. My Gram died a few years ago, 1-month shy of her one-hundredth birthday, still living in her own home near Medway Airport in Chicago. She died in a home that she’d literally lined with books and music and animals and life. She had magnifying glasses at all her sitting places so she could see to read: books, magazines, and papers. She taught my Momma-less, illiterate Mom to read at age eight, by reading Shakespeare out loud to her and rewarded her with Mother West Wind books from the Five & Dime.
My grandfather watched the stock market daily and took careful notes. He studied the Bible with the same careful tenaciousness that he gave to everything else. He wasn’t’ “educated” by today’s standards, but he could talk to anyone about anything and made friends wherever he went. He was passionately curious about people and how they lived and was a good neighbor to all.
My grandparents relished the gift of education. They believed that learning was a beautiful privilege and one they were hungry for.
Crown & the Growth Mindset
Queen Elizabeth, as portrayed in the mini-series Crown, seeks a tutor at one point. She has all the privileges of royalty and wealth, is the most respected woman in the world, which she travels extensively, and yet she sees a need in her own life. A need filled only by education. She hires a personal tutor to fill the void that money and prestige can’t fill. She is dissatisfied with what she doesn’t know and finds a way to fill the gap that lack of education has left.
Her sister, wealthy dissatisfied jet setter, is portrayed as bored and jealous and goes after a man that won’t “work” for her circumstances. We see a person who believes that the only satisfaction they can expect in life is physical and so she drinks and smokes and philanders to excess. The demands of her life don’t lead her to seek the fulfillment of learning and knowing. Because she hasn’t developed the intellectual discipline that character and education require, she settles.
So what does this have to do with the gift of education?
So often, in the homeschooling world, I hear this idea: character is more important than the book. “Put the book down and focus on character training.” I find this odd because it assumes that character training and education are at odds with each other. Au contrair! There is so much character training to be found by educating one’s self or another!
Let’s face it, the cycle of learning can be difficult. When we first encounter something, especially something challenging, it feels overwhelming. I remember the first time I tried to teach First Form Latin. I didn’t understand the teacher’s manual. I didn’t understand the grammar vocabulary; terms like Declension, Imperfect, Pluperfect, Mood, Conjugation. It felt awkward and tough. Now, years later, I love The Forms. It takes difficult material and lays it out in all its parts- vocabulary, grammar, sayings, culture.
Learning often requires an overview and familiarity before we ever get to mastery. It takes perseverance, hard work, vision and character to grow past overview. Getting to mastery requires all sorts of soft skills, character, and strength! Education IS character building!
Education is not a given
For many people around the world, education is not a given. My grandparents received very little formal education. Kids in the third world often don’t’ have the gift of education. Even royals don’t get the education that they need. Education requires infrastructure, stable government, money, and the character and vision to pursue it. It’s a gift. Educational choice is an even bigger gift.
In my weekly Latin classes, I pray. I pray that we all appreciate the gift of Latin and Education and that we steward that gift well. Latin isn’t going to save the world, but students who learn to appreciate words and the Word that became flesh, are great instruments to lead people to the One who can!
Gratitude for a life full of education –
Homeschooling is such a unique and beautiful gift in this day and age of fast food everything. We have the time and opportunity to train our kid’s character as we school them. It’s a both-and, not an either-or proposition. You can teach math AND character at the same time. In fact, I would say they often go hand in hand. And to have the time and opportunity to train our kids well-their minds as well as their character is a gift.
I often hear that homeschooling should be fun, and I wonder where that idea got started. I’m not saying it should feel like slavery or a grind, but often hard work requires just that- work. Not that you can’t have fun while you work, but often work doesn’t feel necessarily like fun. And even if our kids don’t feel like they are having fun, they should still be educated, and we should not cheat them of the opportunity to have that deep sense of satisfaction that comes from learning and academic accomplishment. We should teach our kids to be grateful for the gift of education, for the opportunity to homeschool. It’s not a right. It is a privilege.
And what’s all this have to do with a horse barn anyway?
That simple gift of work that causes one to sweat a little and feel the good tired that comes from working hard; that’s what education often consists of. Real education – the kind that takes us beyond ourselves and transforms us, requires hard work, like the horse barn; vision, like my grandparents had; and a growth mindset like the Queen.
Gratitude reminds us of the above – that we are being given a great gift by being educated, and we are giving our children a great gift by handing them a personalized education, in the form of homeschooling.
(Portions of this post originally appeared on the Golden Grasses website- by Lisa Nehring)
It’s that time of year when parents are re-evaluating schooling options for their kids. I hear over and over again, “I want to homeschool (or my kids want to homeschool), but I’m so worried I’ll fail.” Having homeschooled for 25 years, we’ve seen it all. Wild homeschooling success and wild, abject homeschooling failure. Here is my not so subtle list about how to fail as a homeschooler. Check it out. Maybe it will help you evaluate whether or not you have what it takes to succeed as a homeschooler.
(Wondering why we homeschool? You can find the answers here.)
1- Stop Learning
I mean you, the Homeschooling Teacher. The first law of the teacher is to know the material, which takes time and energy. If you want to fail as a homeschooler, model NOT learning. Model NOT reading, model intellectual apathy, fed on a diet of social media, low standards, and cultivated disinterest.
2- Be Prideful about your Kid’s Success and Ability
Be haughty and prideful when it comes to your own child. They already know it all, why learn more? Your child is “too good” for every program out there. Also, refuse to let your child mingle with children you deem “less-than.” This not only sets them up to fail in homeschooling but also in life.
3- Never Ask Questions
Cultivate the attitude of disinterest; what you don’t know is boring. Asking questions requires vulnerability and humility. Don’t show either.
3-Be Stingy & Hoard
Opportunities, people, competitions, curriculum, knowledge; you need to keep whatever good thing you have to yourself. Don’t share, promote, develop, or go beyond your circle. Keep in mind the toddler rules, “What’s Yours is Yours and What’s Mine is Mine, What’s Broken is Yours.”
4- Be Fearful
Homeschool because the world is scary, and public schools are of the devil. Be reactive. Be closeted and fearful. Homeschool because there is nothing better. Hunker down for the coming of apocalypse zombies.
5- Be Lazy
Have the attitude that no matter what you do or don’t do as a homeschooler, it is better than what the public schools do or don’t do. So if you really don’t “do” school or even train your kids, that’s okay. At least it’s better than what the public schools are doing, anyway, right?
(Trying to figure out how to succeed at this homeschooling gig as a Busy Mom, check out our post on Sacred Sanity – A Busy Mom’s Guide to Homeschooling.)
6- Be Tolerant
Let your kids run wild in the name of homeschooling freedom. Allow them to break the rules, to be rebellious, to set a low standard for others at classes, co-ops, field trips, to subtly jeer and undermine. This tolerance gives the impression that all homeschoolers have low standards and ensures that no homeschoolers will be allowed that field trip in the future. It also provides that any homework assigned will be mocked, that work itself is not that important, and that co-ops should cater to the lowest common denominator.
Make excuses; make them often and frequently, for yourself and your kids, regarding academic standards, character issues, things left undone, and overdone. Don’t take responsibility to educate your kids.
8- Be Idolatrous
Idolize your child, and their individuality to the point of extreme. Idolize creativity while sacrificing discipline. Buy into the cheap imitation of chaos theory that free expression without tools, time, or discipline will produce creative talent beyond our wildest dreams. In keeping with this, teach to your kid’s strengths (if you teach at all) and let their weaknesses go unchecked.
I’m sure that there are other ways to fail as a homeschooler, but these are the ones I’ve personally most often encountered over the years. And, True Confessions, My name is Lisa, and I’m a Homeschooling Failure myself, having participated in all of these at one time or another. Admission, so those in the know tell me, is the first step towards recovery. Good thing, because next, in honor of those in recovery as Homeschooling Failures, I’ll post How to Succeed as a Homeschooler.
(Have you decided that you’re ready to begin? Check out our post on Homeschooling 101!)