Category Archives: mistakes

When it Goes Wrong

We have all felt moments When it Goes Right.  Deep in our hearts things click- satisfaction, calm, rest, joy, peace all come together in a satisfying sigh of right-ness.  It is attainable.  It is what keeps us seeking the ideal by bettering ourselves and our children/families one day at a time through teaching at home, practicing what we learn, and mastering what we practice.  It is what causes people to comment on our children.  If you are like us, you get tired of hearing how ‘lucky’ you are and one day become bold enough to reply, “This is not luck, it is bloody hard work in action.”  With a sweet smile, of course!

What about the other moments, those that might dominate our days- When it Goes Wrong.  As homeschoolers we bravely and daily place ourselves to be confronted with the reality of our shortcomings.  Our need for growth.  One of my favorite realizations was that we are so eager to enter Heaven that we choose go through the fires of sanctification daily rather than baby step our way there during weekends/holiday (growth) moments scattering fire to get us through to a peace filled, quiet house Monday.  Who does this?!  Really!  If given the choice, using your brain rather than your soul, everyone would choose quiet days, clean homes, adult conversation.  But you did not- we do not….

…..and things go wrong constantly.  Well, not before the sweet little feet hit the floor each morning.  As I type I struggle with myself over waking the children or taking (stealing) another 30 minutes of quiet time to get my heart-thoughts on to paper.  In releasing myself from carrying guilt all day, I must simply make a clear and concrete decision rather than ‘just a few minutes more.’  They will remain in blessed Dream Land for 30 more minutes!  My timer is set.  My resolve is made.  My guilt laid down.  That, at least, is one thing that will not Go Wrong today.

Other things will go wrong- certainly.  I don’t expect them, prepare for them, nor look for them, but I am not surprised when they pop into our lives.  They have become just another welcomed moment in my day.   One that shows me where I can self improve as a wife, mother, teacher, friend.  Knowing that my days can Go Right places the times when it Goes Wrong in just the right light.  His Light that assures me that I can do better.  I can change.  I can try again to model the actions I desire to impart to my family/children through this journey of home education.  Things that Go Wrong are simply signs that we, ourselves, need to re-direct our thoughts, energies, and efforts.  The children will, most assuredly, eventually, follow.

Bad Habits vs. Thankful Habits

Lately I have recognized a bad habit of feeling sorry for myself when my husband or children do not recognize the hard work I put forth 24/7 which results in a lack of gratitude toward and agreement with Poor Little Me.  It was my husband who was brave enough to say, in the heat of the moment, “I don’t know where it is that you go in your mind, but it always gets us into this argument.”

No longer being newlyweds and knowing that his words are rarely meant to be hurtful, I had to back down and take inventory.  Sure enough, I go to this place of feeling sorry for myself when things are not going my way, the children are, well, acting like children, and my husband is not as supportive as I think he ought to be or in the ways I think he ought to be.  Yikes!  This describes someone that I would prefer not to be.

The beautiful thing is that I am not the Center of Truth, and with His help I can change who I am each moment of each day through the will power gifted by God.  That empty space that grows in my chest that longs for filling really has only one Puzzle Piece that can fit.  I just forget that and try to get quick fixes through my amazing husband and incredible children’s “Yes Mama, you are THE best!!”  “Yes, we can’t wait to do exactly what you say, exactly how you say, and with attitudes that please you.”

With this recognition came the need to figure out how to change this habit.  Habits can’t simply be stopped, dropped, or given up.  They can only be replaced with another habit.  AA works not because you stop drinking but because you shift from diving into your own sorrows with a bottle, into helping others with their sorrows and diving into a Higher Power (used to be called God, but that went out the window when PC flew in).  Note:  I am not an alcoholic….just in case you were wondering.  grin.

Being open to change left me Open to hear His voice which has been whispering through many friends, family, books, conversations of all that is in my life that is not usual.  All that allows me to serve deeply, love longer, live richly.  Substitute- Thankfulness!  Now when I begin to feel sorry for myself after working so diligently toward perfection only to find that my husband and/or children are not playing by the unspoken rules I set, I stop and begin to consider the many blessings that are laid in my lap as gift each day:

  1. Making promises to God to love, serve, honor, care for my better half and sticking to those promises, only to find that the hard times were the tilling of the soil for the sprouting of wonderful times.
  2. Staying at home to raise and teach our children in the way we believe will best serve their future selves.
  3. Having to skimp and save in order to make ends meet, realizing that the savings brought to our financial table was marked and allowed us to live on a single income, focus on family, find joy in living simply, find answers to specific and general prayers prayers (cloth diaper covers, size 4 underwear, girls winter clothing, healthier food), and then to be blessed during the recession.
  4. Bumbling into a home school leadership role that felt way beyond my abilities which has led me to all of you wondrous homeschooling families.
  5. Having a mother who forced the love of literature to discover that books take me beyond my small minded world.
  6. Having a father who specialized in PTSD while not in our lives as children but who brought me to wholeness (along with my other Father) as an adult.
  7. Children who force me to consider the importance of relationship over being right.
  8. Friends who challenge me to be the best version of myself. (love that Matthew Kelly!)
  9. Writer’s Circle and Lost Tools of Living camps that keep ideas fresh and teaching/learning exciting.
  10. My Better Half whose steady double type B anchors me, brings balance to our family, and sometimes painfully brings me to awareness of the side of myself that I would prefer to pretend did not exist.

 

The One Thing

There is not time each day for more than One Thing.  I know, we homeschooling mamas thrive on our super powers of accomplishing above and beyond.  That is not what I am talking about.  The One Thing is your most important objective for the day.  It is done well, completed well, and brings soul satisfaction.

There are many side jobs and yay-I-finally-got-to-that jobs and those that shove their way into our days, but the One Thing must be your focus from the moment you put your feet on the floor and, if you live life fully and freely, should be rather constant yet ever changing.  Organized chaos, if you will.

That sounds like something you would not wish to touch with a long stick, but if we honestly observe living fully in any manner the bookends are rigidity and bedlam.  Organized chaos is allowing life to flow while setting ‘shipping channel’ that guide you safely toward your destination while allowing the freedom of movement, shifting, living a full yet relaxed life.  Let me note that by ‘relaxed’ I do not mean that you will have time to sit around eating bon bons; simply that you will allow yourself to lay down your stress of being perfect.

Back to The One Thing.  It takes dedicated focus to discern and decide what that will be each day.  As homeschoolers most of us immediately conclude that it must be lessons.  What if it were not?  What if lessons were sometimes The One Thing and sometimes not?

Catch your breath.  I am not advocating anything less than the ideal home education that fits your family.  What I am suggesting is that lessons not reign supreme at the cost of all else.  Sometimes they can be the side job that is completed but not the one that you made certain was fully attended to and completed to full satisfaction.  Lessons were simply accomplished while you focused on a friend in need, a birthday girl, chores, a dedicated job, neighbors, adventure.

Remember the Bible story of Mary and Martha?  Who made the better choice?  It was so counter-intuitive.  So counter-cultural.  And yet, it was the proper One Thing for that moment.  Accomplishment, worksheet worship, textbook consumption often overshadow and rob our joys that proffer themselves along the way.  They gently nudge our hearts.  Do you trust that in choosing a non-traditional day of learning has value?   All of life should be learning.  All of learning has value.  Trust that your wisdom to discern between a wasted day and a different day when your One Thing does not leave that mentally satisfying paper trail and allow the joy of releasing your plan of what must be each day to what might be each day.

For our family, we homeschool year ’round which allows us to ebb and flow with our days.  Three days a week our One Thing is lessons leaving two days each week to shift our One Thing out of my controlling hands.  Boy, I do love controlling my universe, but it is not always good for marriage, children, family, personal stress, rest, joy, learning, etc.

  • Be open to adventure and opportunity as they knock.  Our children will learn so much about being flexible, laying down anxiety, embracing life in all it’s colors and glory.
  • Be open to not knowing or planning all of your days.  Begin talking about possible adventures with your spouse, children, friends and see what comes forth–and go with it.
  • Know that what needs to get done will get done.  You will no more allow your child’s education to fall by the wayside than you would allow them to swim in the deep end of a pool without knowing how to swim or being at their side.  It’s not the homeschool way- it would be that far side of the curve–bedlam.  Nobody signs on for that.
  • Be open to change from within.  End each day with praise and start each day with possibility releasing your day into His hands for His glory.
  • Rest and know that you are enough with no need to move mountains in a day.  They will move one shovel full at a time as you take pleasure in your days with focus on embracing fully that One Thing.

Home School Gone Main Stream

Home School being main stream seems counter intuitive and even counter cultural but it is true.  There are more homeschoolers across the nation than private schoolers!  There are so many choices in curriculum, co ops, programs, on line classes, dual enrollment, etc that beginning this journey has become mind boggling.  I am so thankful that it was laid upon my heart to create Faithful Scholars into a realized vision of educating, empowering, and encouraging home schoolers through workshops, newsletters, Face Book Live events, one on one support, and more rather than requiring that you fit into my perceived box of what schooling at home is and is not or simply beginning your legal paper trail.  That being said, I am not knocking those groups as they are the perfect fit for many who find comfort in being told what and how to navigate through the freedom of homeschool or must run their school on a very tight budget.  However, I am thankful that Faithful Scholars grooves to the beat of a different drummer that enables us (my amazing, supportive Better Half and children, incredible office staff, and a top notch IT Team) to serve you beyond the norm.

Becoming main stream has given pause for reflection and I realize that we are so richly woven with threads of integrated primary roles – spouse, parent, and teacher that onlookers are drawn to discover what it is that gives us our joy, edge, vitality.  Call it what you will, but it is appealing and noticed from a distance.  In our undertaking to educate at home, we have have laid ourselves down to be devastated by His grace and will, and found that in doing so, we unexpectedly discover that we are covered by that very same grace.  Becoming aware of this option of being rescued from another person’s schedules, expectations, deliberations, and demands we find that those seemingly secure interactions pale in comparison to our integrated life of family, learning, and play.

Each day is alive with the possibilities, the expectations, of revelation, new, challenges and joys.  Our beings respond with praise and rejoicing in our everyday comings and goings whether we know this or not.  Taking this organic movement into the main lanes of educational options.  Our lives are compelling and mysterious.  People see us coming from a long way off and wonder.  Stopping in their tracks to observe our exchanges with our spouse, children and others, contemplating what has caused us to laugh with pure delight!  Ultimately deciding that they too want the brilliant, kind, curious outlook that they witness….and they come to ask hoping discover a deep well of love, patience, expectation and are drawn one step closer.  You may be tired, lacking your normal patience, yearning for a few more minutes of sleep, feeling burdened by lessons left incomplete, but before all of this, and in spite of all of this, you embody the peace, contentment, and joy that others seek!

The Praise Habit

This is the time of year where I (try to) back down on office work and bettering and bettering and order those ‘real’ items in my life that are neglected during the wonderfully busy Helping Times that bookend my year with Faithful Scholars–  helping families get started, advising on curriculum options according to the unique goals of each family, paperwork for intake, building individual transcripts, creating diploma’s, and all that brings me joy in serving and helping our incredible members each year.  All that to say, I can’t believe that I am getting on here to blog on the sunny and beautiful November morning rather than feeling content with our every other Friday afternoon Face Book Live sessions!  –but am thrilled to find myself here with you all!

What has brought me here is one of my favorite books titles The Praise Habit by the quirky, out of the box theologian by the name of David Crowder.  No wonder he draws me deeply into wonder.  Refreshing!!  This morning I was in the midst of contemplating whether I allow myself to be “engulfed and covered by God’s embrace” by seeking ways of placing myself in the path of “this embrace.”  Of course I don’t—I was built to serve.  At any rate, that has been my motto, and if you are a homeschooling parent, I am pretty sure this is in your top three thoughts.  In fact, how would I even put myself in the path of God’s embrace without feeling like a whiny baby?  I’m not sure, but I am going to contemplate this and see what comes.  Would you join me?  Does it not sound amazing to be engulfed, embraced, and covered by His love?!

“The spiritual life is first of all a life.  It is not merely something to be known and studied, it is to be lived.”  – Thomas Merton

 

Advanced Learners

This year we are doing first grade, but the public school would have him starting Kindergarten.  He is just too advanced to hold back.

Don’t hold him back academically, but I would encourage you to keep him in the proper grade for his ‘future self’.  Don’t dumb down his work.  Many K’s are doing 1st-grade work, but come 3rd or 4th (or sometimes 9th) it becomes too difficult and they totally lose their self-worth as being ‘so smart’.

Label him the proper grade per age (we do this for kids who are behind grade level as well).

Teach at the level he is (above, at, behind grade level).

Tell him what a hard worker he is (but not that he is ‘so smart’)

Understand that he is and will continue to ‘play’ school until age 7, 8, or 9.  Be a fun playmate!

When it becomes real and no longer play is when you want to make sure there are no emotional wobbles due to labels or how proud you are reflecting your advanced student.

Never keep him at full speed/challenged/at potential, but rather move forward as he sets the tone with precept upon precept and concept upon concept.  Imagine if your husband said, “You are such a great wife that I expect you to work at your very best Top Notch day in and day out.”  Exhausting.  Overwhelming.  Draining.

Usually, a child will continue to be ahead in some subjects and fall behind in others as the years go along.  This is perfectly fine.  Completing all subjects of a specific grade level does not give validation or credence to work accomplished.  A year of math is a year of math even if only a portion of the textbook was covered.  You will complete the rest of it next year (or over the summer if you school year ‘round- such a lovely and relaxing approach to schooling!)

We have always made age 6 our K year.  My husband teaches in a college prep high school with tons of really bright kids who have been pushed ahead.  They are able to compete in the classroom, but not on the playing field or leadership as their bodies and emotions are still at the proper age.  And, it’s nice to graduate a man who is a bit more mature in age and wisdom than his peers…and we have loved having the extra year with them.

Impact of our Differently Gifted Children

A Note to Parents of Special-Needs Children by Maura Roan McKeegan

Earlier this month, in a story called “What I Saw on Respect Life Sunday,” I wrote about witnessing the love between parents and their special-needs children at Mass. This past weekend, by God’s grace, I had the privilege once again to see this kind of love in action when I sat at Mass in the pew behind my friend Marybeth and her daughter, Emily, who is autistic.

I have written before about Marybeth and Emily, and about the experience of being at Mass with them. The love between this mother and daughter has taken my breath away for years, ever since Emily was a little girl. Now an older teen, Emily still brightens every room with her childlike spirit, and renders me awestruck with her heartfelt devotion to the Mass.

When this Mass began, Marybeth and Emily opened the missalette, and together they followed along with the readings and prayers, Marybeth pointing to their place on the page, for the rest of the Mass. They found all the songs in the hymnal (hearing Emily belt out the name “Jesus” made me feel like I had a front-row seat to a worship session in heaven). When she recognized familiar Scripture verses and liturgical prayers, Emily recited them ardently along with the lector, deacon, or priest.

Over the years I’ve known her, Emily’s enthusiasm for every word and prayer of the Mass has never waned. Neither has the outward expression of the love between Marybeth and Emily waned; the way Marybeth puts her arm around Emily, and Emily leans into her mother’s shoulder—the back-and-forth of holding hands, rubbing backs, and touching heads—is a dance whose choreography hints of the divine.

Though I’ve seen this before, it always feels new, and so for the second time this month, the love between a parent and a special-needs child at Mass brought me to tears.

Afterwards, I was thinking about Marybeth and Emily; about the families I described in my previous article; about the other parents I know who have special-needs children; and about the grace that overflows in their presence. And I wondered—do these people know how much their witness means?

In case they don’t, I want to write this for them.

To the dear parents of special-needs children: We see you. (I am going to use the word “we,” because I know there are more people than just myself who feel the same way.)

We see the way you care for your child, the look of love in your tired eyes, and the gentle touch of your weary hand. We may not see you during the hours and hours you spend tending to your child’s needs in your home, when no one is watching. We don’t see you get up in the middle of the night, or do the same difficult things day after day after day. We can only imagine how much strength you need.

But we do see you when you bring your child out in public. Sometimes it is an enormous task for you to bring your sweet child somewhere, whether it’s because of how much effort it takes just to get from one place to another or because of how worried you are that your child will make noise in a quiet place. (We understand why it might make you self-conscious, but the noise your child makes doesn’t bother us a bit —in fact, to us, it sounds like heaven’s song.)

We see you, and we are so grateful. If you didn’t bring your child, we wouldn’t have the chance to witness your kind of love. A love that gives when more giving doesn’t seem possible. A love that emanates when your child smiles, talks, laughs, makes noise, and even when he gets upset, needy, and agitated. A love that reminds us that Christ loves us when we smile, talk, laugh, make too much noise, and even when we get upset, needy, and agitated.

If you didn’t bring your child out among us, we wouldn’t get to see this living picture of the love of God.

And yes, we know you aren’t perfect, and there are times when you don’t love perfectly. (We’re in the same boat.) That inspires us, too, because you keep going even when it’s hard, even when you don’t feel like you’re doing a good job, even when you don’t know if what you’re doing is really helping. Discouragement is part of love, too, when we’re human and want to love better and can’t seem to get it right no matter how hard we try. Don’t think for a minute that your feelings of failure from time to time make you less of a parent. They make you more of a parent. They prove how hard you’re trying to do a good job. If you weren’t trying, you wouldn’t feel like you’ve failed.

You’ve succeeded in what matters most: you have been faithful to the call to love and take care of your child, God’s child. And all of us who see that are blessed.

We also know that you’re not doing this for recognition, and that an onlooker’s expression of gratitude doesn’t hold a candle to the blessings you receive simply from being the parent of your extraordinary child. But everyone can use encouragement sometimes, and we want you to know that the work of your life does not go unnoticed.

May God grant you renewed strength as you drink from the stream of the Living Water. We also pray that, when you need help, you will feel comfortable enough to reach out to us, and that we will be able to support you as the Body of Christ.

Your child is beautiful; the way you care for your child is beautiful; and it is an honor and a privilege for us to bear witness to that love. In your example, the words of Jesus resound: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you (John 15:12).”