I’m sitting at church, dutifully taking notes as our pastor shares from God’s word, when my husband leans over and glances at what I have written. He shoots me a look of real concern. “What are you doing?” he asked. I looked down at my notes and realized his alarm was valid.
All nouns boxed;
the verbs underlined twice,
and prepositional phrases bracketed.
Without realizing, I had diagramed the entire note taking page! With an exhausted half-hearted smile, I whispered back, “I’m diagramming my sentences. I taught the kids about it this week.”
“I have got to get you out more often.” he whispered back.
I realized at that moment that I had not been out of the house all week except for church. I had not talked to an adult except some fact exchanging words with my husband. I homeschooled; that’s it, period. My husband’s apprehension about me was justified. I was withering into a shriveled plant desperate for the ingredients to grow. The pastor’s voice faded, and I wondered why life had become mundane. I lost sight of purpose and passion. Burnout was on the horizon. Charlotte Mason offered a remedy.
“If mothers could learn to do for themselves what they do for their children when these are overdone, we should have happier households. Let the mother go out to play!”
We moms often neglect that which sustains our growth.
I will admit; I am not the best at this. In fact, I confess; I am a cheater. And I am pretty good at it. I use mommy guilt, and personal justifications as well-crafted excuses to not put forth the effort in this department.
So what do we ” do for our children” to cultivate growth in their lives
that we should be doing in our life?
1. We provide our children the opportunity to be in God’s Word. Now for a Christian, this is a no-brainer default answer. However as a homeschool mom, I confess; I cheat.
This is how I cheat…
My story goes like this….
I gather my children and say to them with a big smile, “We are going to read from the Bible the story of Jesus feeding five thousand people.” I read to them. And because I am that awesome homeschool mom, I have props so we can act it out. We recite the child version of a memory verse. There are stickers for those who can say it. I proudly recite the memory verse, and my children tell me I did a great job. They even hand me a sticker.
Confessions of a cheater#1: Nothing is wrong with the above scenario. It’s just that I count teaching my children the Bible as “I spent time in God’s Word.” I realized; I’m not in the second, third, or even seventh grade. I am in the 52and grade (Yup, my age), and in order to grow, I must participate in activities at my “grade level.” I need to seek and make time to dive deeper into God’s word and allow the Holy Spirit to work on my character. My memory verses need to be challenging to me. I need to wrestle with my questions and personal doubts.
If there is no challenge, there is no growth.
2. We provide our children the opportunity to read a book. My friend told me about her 92-year-old grandmother. On a visit, my friend noted a college textbook laid open on the coffee table. The book was an anthology of short stories for an advanced literature class. “Grandma, why are you reading this? You are 92 years old!” Her answer? “I have to have something to talk about,” she candidly remarked. Granted, you may not be an avid reader, but good books do help us grow! I found this on Facebook……an international expert? How exciting!.
Confessions of a cheater#2: I had to come clean and admit that I had not read a book above a sixth-grade level. (At the time, the grade of my oldest child.) However, I was stuck with a very real time-management issue. I would love to sit for an hour and read a book, but my mommy-of-eight-schedule would not allow it. Author, Elizabeth George freed me in her book, A Woman after God’s Own Heart. She addressed this dilemma in her life by first keeping a book in an easily accessible place like the kitchen counter. Second, she chose a moment in her day where she could carve out 15 minutes. Fifteen minutes that’s all! She would set a timer and read. I was skeptical when I began this practice, but over the years, I have read on average 7-10 books a year. Okay, so I won’t become an “international expert”, maybe a “local expert”. But never-the- less, I am still growing and learning.
3. We provide our children the opportunities to use their talents, God-given gifts, and passions. I spend time researching how to cultivate growth in my children. I plan and schedule each subject that I believe will benefit and create a well-rounded child. I take into account the child’s learning styles, and I encourage their passions.
As a marriage lay counselor for our church, I would sit across from an unhappy couple. There were no issues of adultery, pornography, or other major marital issue. And yet a blaming volley would ensue. It was heart breaking. After the last blame ball spiked over the net, I would ask, “What do you want he/she to do?” “I don’t know! Nothing makes he/she happy!” the frustrated voice shouted. It was not an uncommon answer. It didn’t matter if it was the wife or husband who said it. The dam of emotions broke loose, followed by the wife bursting into tears and a teary-eyed blank shut-down stare from the husband. Someone else can’t make you happy or feel fulfilled. That is the work of God in your life. This couple’s marital success depended on understanding that truth.
It is my personal job to discover God’s will for my life and walk in it.
It is where passion and fulfillment reside.
Confessions of a cheater#3: I will admit; At times, I have dug my own hole pretty deep. I know I am in trouble when I can’t articulate God’s calling for me, and I neglect my God-given talents and passions. I begin to complain life is mundane. Unfortunately, my husband usually receives the brunt of my lack of responsibility in this area. The poor guy walks through the door after a long day of work and gets an earful. Not fair. I need to spend the same time addressing this area in my life as I do so diligently for my children.
4. We provide our children the opportunities to sleep, eat, and play.
Child # 1 bickers with child# 2….. OVER NOTHING.Child#3 overreacts to his favorite class cancelled……NUCLEAR MELTDOWN. Child #4 sullenly follows instructions……AIR IS THICK WITH ICE. But as good mothers, we immediately look first to the physical needs of our children before addressing discipline issues. Are they tired? Is it past lunch time? Do they need to run around and play? We recognize the importance of how physical needs affect our outlook on life and shapes the way we handle situations.
Confessions of a cheater#4: Mom, why are you angry? I feel sorry for any child who innocently asks that question. You can be assured; the child WILL get an answer. But… Is it the right answer? Probably not. So here is my confession. My truthful answer should go something like this. (Please use a sweet sing-song voice while reading) “Sweetheart, mommy was up very late surfing the web. I lost track of time and only got six hours of sleep. I didn’t eat breakfast this morning because I woke up late, and I haven’t had lunch yet. You know mommy hasn’t been out of the house or walked any distance except from the kitchen to the living room. Mommy just needs to rest, eat well, and take a walk outside then I will handle situations in a much better fashion.
I can’t tell you how many “situations” I could have avoided by not cheating in that area.
Cheating my way through my journey does not help me grow!
Learning and growing isn’t an easy process. It’s hard work and requires time. And just like my kids at times, I often make excuses to avoid it. I hide behind statements like “I’m too busy”….”I don’t have the time.”…. “It is not a priority.”
My faulty reasoning hurts my marriage and my family.
The discipline of learning and growing that I require of my children needs to be applied to my life as well. Charlotte Mason says at the end of the quote, “…we should have happier households.” A growing mama does make a happy household.
The call to learn and grow is beautifully explained in 2 Corinthians 3:17 (Amplified Version)
” Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (emancipation from bondage, freedom). And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit.”
God’s directives are a breath of fresh air.
There is freedom in taking the time to honor God by by growing and learning in Him.
Home school blogger, Jamie Martin states it well……You can be a fabulous homeschool parent and be yourself. And your children can be fabulous individuals who grow up being themselves, too.
God has given us the freedom to learn and an invitation to grow, mama, grow!
Shall we begin? Why not start today?
From Our Home to Yours,
I would love to hear your thoughts!