Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The Secret to Meeting Your Homeschool Goals

Setting goals is a way of life for me. I am always working towards something. 

Homeschooling isn't any different. My purpose for homeschooling isn't just to check off boxes. I want to help my daughter as she grows physically, mentally and spiritually. 

Over our 6 years of homeschooling I've played around with having a schedule, not having a schedule, using timers and being flexible. I've changed curriculum and combined subject all in hopes of meeting our curriculum goals. 

Homeschooling choices are overwhelming and everyone has a different opinion and a different way of doing things.

The lack of structure gave me so many options that I lost focus and wasn't looking at my goals when I made commitments.

We were having fun and our calendar was full but was it all necessary? Did we have to do everything because it was fun? Did this particular fun meet with my homeschool goals?

This past year I found the one thing that was life altering to our homeschool journey. It breathed life into our day and gave us the life we'd hoped to have at home. It was the first year that I feel like we were really focused on our goals.

What was the difference?

I set boundaries. 

Yep that's my secret, I set boundaries. Honestly I was forced to cut everything out because of having a toddler. I know a lot of people that can handle toting a toddler around with them and they seem unfazed, I am not one of those people.

1. Boundaries with with my calendar

I literally drew an X on Tuesdays. It was a day of recovery for me and my girls from our weekend and our CC day, which was on Mondays. We didn't just sit around but we were able to wake up and move at our own pace without having to worry about being anywhere at a particular time.

I also designated mornings only for homeschool. I decided based on our schedule that we would only schedule doctor's appointments on Thursday or Friday afternoons (unless it was an emergency).

2. Boundaries with my yes

This one was a little tougher. Everything sounded fun and I was used to running at breakneck speed. However I had seen the effect of running around too much on myself and on my daughters and I just was tired of being busy all the time.

I learned to say no without feeling guilty. I have also learned how to step back and evaluate how adding something to my calendar will make me feel. I tend to have these conversations with my daughter. In turn she has these types of conversations with me when she's trying to decide if she wants to do something.

3. Boundaries with my kids

Mom guilt is a real thing. We want our kids to be happy. We want our kids to have the life that we didn't have.

We don't want our kids to be disappointed.

The problem with this want is that what they want isn't always best for us. Don't get me wrong I'm the first one that struggles with saying no, but I have to look at a bigger picture.

Will the new commitment help to meet our goals? Will the new commitment be life giving? 

If the answer is no then I need to tell my kids no.

4. Boundaries with myself

One day every time I had a negative thought I wrote it down. Whether it was a random thought or something I truly felt I jotted it down. At the end of the day I read the list and realized that I had let my mom guilt make me feel like less of a person. I prayed and handed all of that mess to God. 

I repeated to myself, I may not be enough but God's grace is.

My boundaries I set were in my mind. If I had a random negative self talk I stopped and said out loud to myself, I am enough. It took time but I started to find the confidence in myself again. 

Setting boundaries has allowed me to feel more relaxed on a daily basis and has lowered my anxiety.

We've all enjoyed the slower days and being able to homeschool without the rush of having to be at the next activity or appointment. 

Boundaries are not always easy to decide on but they will help you model self control for your family.

I'm praying blessing over you in your homeschool day and in your homeschool year!

Recommended Reading:
A Busy Mom's Guide to Saying No
3 Routines Guaranteed to Simplify Your Day
How to Plan for a Successful Homeschool Year

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Lessons from Nehemiah's Mother

*Disclaimer these are my ideas and not based on any fact*

As I was reading the book of Nehemiah last week, I thought to myself, who was Nehemiah's mother?

Yes I agree this is a strange question but when you think of who Nehemiah was, where he lived and the time he was living in you have to wonder about his upbringing. He was a man of strong character and that type of character doesn't develop on it's own.

If you are unfamiliar with Nehemiah, he lead the third and last return to Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile. He was the cup bearer for King Artaxerxes of Persia. He went to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall. (Nehemiah 1-7:3)

While I read I wrote adjectives about Nehemiah. I felt like he was: humble, faithful, loyal, trustworthy, compassionate, vision minded, diligent, wise, confident in his calling, determined, honored God.

Were there any adjectives that you'd add?

This question led me down several rabbit holes. I was on a quest to find out as much as possible about Nehemiah. I'm still not completely satisfied with what I know but it'll have to do for now.

Back to my original question of who was Nehemiah's mother. The Bible doesn't mention her or even give a nod to her, but through Nehemiah we can catch a glimpse of her.

In my opinion I feel that she was an intentional mother. She raised a Godly son that was promoted to a prominent position protecting the king.

These are all theories, but I truly feel that these are lessons that we can learn from her based on Nehemiah's character.

1. She was faithful to God.
Based on my readings we know that Nehemiah was born in captivity in Babylon. His name means "Yahweh comforts." We know that throughout Biblical history children were given names with meaning that usually had to do with something that was happening at that time in the mother's life. (Here is an example)

For Nehemiah's mother to give him this name, either he was a blessing at a time when she needed it or she felt that he might need comfort. Obviously I don't know what she was thinking or her specific circumstance, but I do know she was in captivity at this time away from what she knew in a foreign land.

She did not turn to the pagan gods for comfort. She turned to God.

2. She had a strong Jewish heritage.
Traditions and heritage are very important in many cultures, the Jewish culture is no different. Even in captivity, Nehemiah's parents didn't forget where they came from. They must have told him stories about Jerusalem and described it's greatness in great detail.

We know this because when Nehemiah heard about the condition of Jerusalem's walls and gates, a city that he never lived in or visited, he wept for many days. (Nehemiah 1:2)

Also, his response to the description of Jerusalem's current condition showed that he knew about the city and it's great beauty and the heritage that it once was.

She did not want him to confuse his current circumstances for who he truly was.

3. She set an example of Biblical principles.
After Nehemiah wept, he prayed and fasted.

When Nehemiah heard about the condition of Jerusalem he didn't hesitate to jump into action. Even though he was part of the kings trusted people, he didn't go to him for help. He went straight to the one that he knew could help, God.

In chapter 1 we read the words that he prayed. During his prayer he quoted scriptures that he most assuredly heard while he was growing up. Deuteronomy 6:7

After 4 months of praying, Nehemiah was questioned by the king as to why he was sad. Nehemiah responded by telling him about the state of Jerusalem.

When the king asked what Nehemiah's request was, Nehemiah prayed before responding. He once again showed how he knew where his help came from.

She wanted him to know where his help came from.
Nehemiah was raised in a very pagan culture yet his mother's Godly teaching and example were stronger. Obviously this wasn't only by her strength but by God's, but this gives me hope that even in this fallen world that we live in God can do the same for me and my kids. It isn't a promise from him, after all children have their own minds. But one thing I do know is that I will do my part to plant the seed and let God do the rest.

Our hope is in God, the creator of the universe. The one who sent his son to die for us even when we were still sinners. The God of mercy and grace. What a great God we serve!

I'm praying for you today and always!