Month: November 2014

Christmas on Purpose

Christmas on Purpose

The girl laid curled up under a blanket by the Christmas tree, absorbed in Louisa May Alcott’s Christmas Treasury. It was a beautiful escape with twinkling lights and silver tinsel – an enchanted hide-away, picturesque enough to suit her whimsy yet not too childish for a preteen […]



Kids ran through the house yelling, giggling, kicking balloons and bopping them through the air. Pure joy. She, loving fiercely, had planned this gathering for her wee one’s first birthday…perfect down to the minute details. A day made to celebrate. And it reminded me to breathe thankfulness for these littles […]

Hope-Drenched Homeschool Days

Hope-Drenched Homeschool Days

It’s been a season of service and “real life” lessons and living…and this is what they told me could be beautiful in homeschooling. How the kids would get these real life experiences and grow up in maturity and grace. And maybe they are, but their mama is tired. Spent, pure and simple. Not feeling so grace-filled.

Just feeling a bit stretched, like I’ve got too many irons in the fire. And it’s a hard thing to talk about with others who extend grace to our choice to school at home…but who might just tell you that it’s time to put ’em on back in “real” school. That’s the fear of sharing our hard days.

And I don’t want to hear that…because yes, there are “those” days. Sometimes I’m weary; often I’m uncertain. I lose my temper; I lose papers. But always, always I’m breathing thanks for this life, this choice to homeschool, that’s as natural to us as breathing.

But still, even in something you love, there are hard days. Days you need just a little bit of validation. Days you need to see some fruit right now. When the promises of veteran homeschool mamas of the fruit to come seems so far away and you’re just not sure you’re gonna make it to taste and see that good fruit.

Days you are starving.

It’s been a season like that.

And then she climbs up on my lap with her phonics reader.

“Let’s do two today, okay, Mom?”

And how can I say no to that? Even if I’m looking at the clock…always looking at the clock.

Yes, let’s do two today.

She starts her lesson, and I notice she isn’t laboring quite so much over the letters. I wonder how I missed this, her growth.

I think back to the last year. The calls to those who would get it. I’m failing, I would almost-sob as I detailed all we weren’t learning. Those mamas who’d been there, who’d watched a child struggle or had one who learned differently, offered quietly firm assurances that she would be fine. Let her learn at her pace. Let her play; she’s learning all the time.

So I’d squelch the panic that rose up in me when she couldn’t grasp the sounding out of words, the grasping of a pencil, how to add those teddy bear counters. It all added up to failure in my book. My own. But I blindly persevered.

And I’d see glimpses of the wonder that was her world. I’d watch her brushing our giant of a dog, and I knew in her head ol’ Nana was a horse, and she was grooming her for the big race. I’d catch her rigging up rope on the deck, and I knew that what her eyes saw was a boat. She was a pirate and the cats and ducks meandering in and out on the wooden planks were crew members.

Through the encouragement of others, I saw that she had an amazing mind, a head full of imagination, vibrant and thriving. So I let her play. We read and read. We pushed through her Learning to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and we used lots of manipulatives and props to learn math content. We kept grasping the pencil and forming the letters, both of us biting down on the tongue…her in concentration, me clamping down tight on a tongue that wanted to speak out from my perfectionist heart.

This past year I learned to see through this child’s eyes. And…the. view. was. wonderful.

And the rest of us? We’ve carried the sweet, silent lessons from this little girl of six, and we’ve incorporated them into our lives. Instead of the rush, rush, rush of getting school done so we can get on to the next order of business (which usually entailed me dragging the kids along somewhere where I served), we brought play and imagination and movement smack-dab into the middle of our school days.

As I hurriedly type these last thoughts, the kids are outside…all four of them, pirates together, led by the legacy of living this one has taught us. I’ve taken a few minutes to breathe as I tidy up the mess of the morning activities and prepare for the next sets of lessons. As I venture outside, I hear them playing…and arguing…and figuring out how to compromise. I’m learning anew that this whole-hearted education means really taking care of our minds, souls and bodies – and how we can’t neglect one in order to beat the clock.

Yes, I’m learning.

Still I’ve missed moments of beauty and growth. And I know it’s because I can be buried in insecurity and a bit of hopelessness.

So as I snuggle that girl next to me as we get out the trusty phonics book, I breathe deep and a I savor the privilege of teaching this child.

I can see her thinking as she sounds out the words and organizes the phonics rules silently as she mouths letter sounds. I’m not sure any music ever sounded so sweet.

She grins big as she looks up.

“The ‘e’ makes that ‘o’ say its name, Mama.”

She grins proud as she moves her finger under the letters. The ‘h’ is a soft huff of a sound, and her little mouth puckers into a perfect ‘o’ as she breathes out that sound. She pops on the ‘p’ and looks up, smiling sweet.

“It’s hope, Mama.”

It’s possible my heart might burst with thankfulness. Because it is hope, right there in black and white, spelling out for me and that little one. Right there for anyone to see.

It’s hope, Mama.

And maybe it’s just that I need eyes to see the little pockets of hope everywhere.

There is hope when a sweet homeschool mama holds me up steady with calm words of assurance when I’m about to fall clean apart on her.

“Remember your first ministry. It will be right in front of you, right on your path. And honey, there isn’t anything more ‘right in our path’ than these kids in front of us. It’s the good things, the service, that can creep up and steal moments from your main ministry…the one God gave you.”

It’s hope when I receive the devotional from a sweet sister in Christ reminding me that sometimes, in service, we have to say “no” for the greater good of those we love, those God has entrusted to us.

And I knew it back when He first called us to this life, and I know it fresh now. He will equip us to do this thing well. But I have to be willing to listen, and I have to be available to hear Him call.

Because one message He’ll always carry is that of hope.

And our sweet homeschool days could be drenched in that.


Month 11

Month 11

Ten full months gone by since I scratched out that one word on the inside cover of a fresh, new journal…all ready for a fresh, new year. And I wrote it bold, in ink, so that it couldn’t be erased. Tongue. Yes, this would be the year […]