Walking in Unity

Admittedly, I am not a history buff. In fact, in college, I had the pleasure of repeating World History, due to failing it the first time. One quarter into college, and I received a letter threatening academic probation.

The professor was like character in a movie, passionately lecturing for 2 hours at rapid speed. Sweat would pour off his brow. One day, as I was madly scribbling notes, trying to capture every word he said in hopes that I may just pass the next test, there was a loud thud as the podium that rested before the teacher came crashing down. In all of his enthusiasm and energy, he had pushed the podium right over. At 18 years old, I couldn’t even fathom being that excited about history. In fact, I wasn’t passionate about anything at that point in my life.

When God began leading our family toward homeschooling, one of the doubts the enemy enjoyed holding over me was the reminder of my failure in history. How can you teach history, when you don’t know history? Good question.

Spreading out the curriculum in front of my daughters during our very first week of homeschool, one daughter shrieked with excitement, “Oh, the American Revolution! I would just love to learn about the American Revolution!”

Okay, here we go, God. Let the growing begin.

One of my daughters devoured the books and videos we checked out. As per her style, she was all about the American Revolution for a few weeks, learning all that interested her, before moving on to the next passing passion, chemistry.

During that time, the Lord used our learning to reassure me that it was okay that I had floundered through history class. My girls and I were now a team in our learning, spending our time together, studying, growing.

Fast forward to year 2 of Ostreim Academy, our homeschool. Our family purchased Story of the World, Volume 3. The curriculum came with a copy of the book, which is basically a textbook, well written as a flowing story, capturing our attention. It also contained a teacher’s guide, as well as activity sheets. I had every intention of using each piece of this curriculum. But, in reality, what is happening, is that we listen to the audio version of the book in the car two days a week, when we do school away from home. The reader, Jim Weiss, does a beautiful job, telling the story of our world. We listen and we pause and discuss. We relate what we hear to our life.

This morning, our learning was about the beginning of our great country and our government, and especially about George Washington.

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Jim Weiss, expertly told about George Washington’s past experience, his character and the way the American people embraced him. Suddenly, he spouted off a phrase that left me speechless. The words rang through the car into my mind, but the words that followed went unnoticed because my mind was mulling over what I just heard. “The American people voted, and it was unanimous, George Washington would be the first President of the United States.”

Unanimous?

Pausing the CD, I ask my daughters, “Do you know what that means?”

“Yes, it means, most of the people voted for him,” one daughter said.

“No, not MOST, but ALL. ALL of the people agreed, George Washington would be the best person to lead the country.”

Unanimous, of one mind, in complete agreement. 

When I look at the word, unanimous, I think of the word unity. A quick study of the two words reveals their origin, unus, meaning “one”.

Oh, Lord, how far we have strayed. Please forgive us. 

Our last several elections, have brought about many things, but unity was not one of them. Anger, division, resentment, fear, hopelessness, but, no, not unity.

The Spirit reminds me of the the apostle Paul’s words regarding unity:

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love,  endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;  one Lord, one faith, one baptism;  one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. Ephesians 4: 1-5.

Listening further, we learn about George Washington’s character, not seeking power, fame or attention. When his first term was up, he was ready to move on, but, again, the American people voted for Washington as president despite the fact that he was not desiring to be president. You mean to say, he didn’t slander his opponents, boast about himself, and post signs up and down the highway saying, Vote for Washington?

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Again, Lord, we have strayed so far. I am sorry. 

When I read the scripture, I see God’s desire for unity. When I live out verses teaching the character of Christ, I am living in peace. When I am seeking after Jesus’ heart, I am not easily offended. When I ask the Lord to search me, I am looking for a renewed heart.

Lord, help us to walk in unity. Humbling us so we put others before ourselves. Help us to walk with you, One Lord, One Faith, One Hope. Amen. 

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Overcoming School

2015 brought a radical change for us.

I entered my first public school as a student in 1980. I am old. My education began at Hilltop Elementary School. From Hilltop Elementary, I went on to Alderwood Middle School, to Lynnwood High School, to Western Washington University, to eventually receiving my teaching degree so that I could continue my time at school.

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The September to June cycle was how my life was organized. It’s all I had ever known. Spend August getting ready for school to start, the excitement of school starting in September, school pictures in the fall, celebrating holidays at school, field trips with classrooms, collecting box tops, school fundraisers, the anticipation of school ending for the year in June, and finally summer break. This was my life for 35 years.

This trend of leaving home to attend school continued all the way through until 2015, when God said, “STOP, there is a different way”.

I had never considered homeschooling. In all honesty, I didn’t understand homeschooling.  There are perfectly good schools designed to teach my children. I learned at those perfectly good schools.

It began when I met my friend, Stephanie and her daughter, Katie. I was in my 15th year of teaching; my own children were in the thick of public school: common core, fundraisers, school drama, stress. Stephanie had been a teacher in California and had left the classroom to teach her daughter in their home.

At first, Stephanie simply told me about her experience homeschooling. No judgment. No pressure.

As the Lord began opening up my mind and heart to the idea of homeschool, Stephanie began sharing statements such as:

“No one else will teach your kids like you. No one else loves your kids like you do.”

“God gave you your kids. He will show you how to teach them.”

“It’s a lie from the enemy that your kids need to be away from home all day, 5 days a week..that each family member needs to be doing their separate thing.”

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Is this you, Lord? Could I do this? Should I leave the familiarity of the school setting? Could I handle all day every day with my children? Do I have the patience? Do I have the energy? Will we be able to pay the bills on one income? Will my kids miss their peers at school? Will my strong-willed child do what I ask her?

Each of these questions is giving me an opportunity to trust the Lord and deepen my dependency on Him.

God keeps sending me the message that if my life is comfortable, something is wrong.

Homeschooling has been an opportunity for my weakness to shine and His strength to reign, my need to grow and His power to be utilized.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Over the last several months, so many moms have said to me, I could never homeschool my kids. Reasons include: “my child is too strong-willed”, “we can’t even do homework together”, “I have to work”, “my child is too social”, and “I always struggled in math”.

I am here to tell you that I can honestly say that each of those statements fit for me and my family, too. If God is calling you to homeschool, if you even feel He may be gently telling you to homeschool, calling your attention to the possibility, He will equip you. In fact, He already has. If you are a child of God, with the Holy Spirit residing in you, then you have, “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

It’s not always easy. It’s not always fun. It’s not always what I feel like doing each day. But, it is most definitely what God has called me to. And, He has most definitely been faithful in giving us what we need each day.

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When I was too strict with our schedule and routine, He was faithful to reveal a new way to structure our day. When I was trying to recreate “school” at home, He showed me my children’s unique styles and what would work best for them. In fact, here’s a run down of what the Lord has shown me during quiet time with Him: 

  1. Setting alarm clocks, starting early, finishing early, allowing for a lot of creative learning time in the afternoons. 
  2. Beginning the day with exercise.
  3. Checklists for completing tasks.
  4. Doing most tasks in the order each child chooses.
  5. Working at their level in each academic area.
  6. Having two days a week of learning outside of the home.
  7. Having a “no screen time” rule during the school week.
  8. Audio books in the car.
  9. Weekly trips to the library.
  10. Playing instrumental music in the background all day.
  11. Above all else, having a goal of learning to love the Lord with our whole hearts and loving our neighbors as ourselves. Academic learning is a side benefit. 

Is God calling you away from the traditional school setting? Are you scared like I was? Are you willing to get uncomfortable and follow where the Lord leads?

One thing to be sure of, keeping your eyes on Him, you and your kids will learn and grow as He desires. 

You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 11:19.

 

Monday Morning Meltdown

Confession time…I once told my husband I wanted to go to counseling to learn how to get out the door in the morning with my children without becoming a complete crazy person.

Some seek marriage counseling or advice on how to deal with a painful past, but I was desperate for someone to tell me how to accomplish this morning task without yelling, screaming, frantically throwing stuff together, shouting orders, and an overall tense body.

God began a work in me. I wanted a different way. He opened my heart to homeschooling which drastically changed our mornings.

But, what I discovered is that even with homeschooling, Monday morning still comes. In fact, Sunday evening still happens as well. Sunday evening, I begin hearing in a pitiful voice, “Oh no. It’s Sunday night. That means tomorrow is Monday. School tomorrow. I don’t want to do school. Do we have to do school tomorrow?”

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Following Sunday evening, comes the dreaded Monday morning. Sleeping through their alarms, acting like zombies, wandering around in a daze uttering complaints under their breath. Tell me I am not alone in this?

Operating in my flesh, I become “drill sergeant mom”, barking orders, dismissing complaints, rushing around in my frantic state.

Operating in the Spirit, the Lord whispers to me, My way is better. I am your counselor. Try My way.

Here is how the Holy Spirit is counseling me on how to avoid the Monday Morning Meltdown:

1. Quiet time in God’s word each morning. Not only on Monday mornings like a band-aid, but each morning to receive the instruction and guidance needed to change old patterns.

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2. Memory verse. Commit a verse to memory so that when Monday Morning Meltdown begins, God’s word will already be in your mind and heart. My current verse is, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32.

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3. Seek the Spirit through prayer. Ask the Spirit to fill you. Empty your mind and heart of your own way and seek the way of Jesus.

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4. Firm but calm. For years, I confused harsh with firm. Whatever the Spirit reveals to you, stick with. In practical terms for my family, this meant to ask the child to take their school work to their room to complete until they had a question or were ready to work in the presence of the rest of us. This request was made in a normal tone of voice, the same way I would say, “Please pass the butter.” Child sulked upstairs, completed work in solitude, came back down later with no love lost.

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Romans 12: 2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

The Spirit is renewing my mind, giving me fresh ways to have peace in my heart and peace in our home. What is the Lord doing in your home? I would love to hear!