This is the first time in the history of our family’s homeschooling in which we’ve taken more than a month off, and it was not intended. By taking time “off”, I mean we are not following a program in which one skill is building upon another, but instead I have them doing review activities and we are always reading. Still, I feel so uneasy because we aren’t on the schedule I had planned for “school”. In this time I have noticed something about my children, they went from being best friends with one another, to disagreeing and fighting all the time. I saw character flaws in them that were my responsibility to re-direct, or pluck from their lives. The foundation of our home is built on Christ. What I mean by that, is His nature and the qualities that He possessed, in which laying down our lives for each other, are central. Chris and I have felt often lately as though the home is divided between the kids and us, and the kids were becoming more and more disrespectful and dominant.
Had we not been moving, I would have happily started our year back up again weeks ago. Instead I feel as though I have all the time in the world to help them reach their goal of getting along again. We’ve had some family talks and they’ve decided they agree with, and want to follow the example Christ has set for us.
As I have gotten a little healthier as a human being, my children have not always taken top priority. At times I needed to do some things for me, like begin to get into shape, or spend more time with the Lord, they weren’t getting healthy too. It’s not like osmosis, when we are laying down our lives and living in Christ, the kids just pick it up. There has to be intentional, life-giving, Christ-giving teaching in my home, or the kids become rude and disrespectful. And it’s not their fault, it’s mine.
I have read book after book on home education. I have even read several books on public and private school education, books for trained teachers. Hey, I want to know my stuff from every angle. So the major theme in all of my non-fiction reading is this: education begins with first with relationships. Especially with the homeschooling pioneers, the first piece of advice is this, the child needs to respect and obey me before they’ll listen to me and follow through with my lessons I’ve spent hours putting together. This doesn’t just naturally happen. When I become too busy with other things my kids will become like little gremlins and they fight with each other constantly, they’ll begin to get a little attitude in their voices and they are not satisfied with their days. My kids need structure, but in order to have structure, they must first respect me enough to listen to me.
It takes different amounts of time to form this habit, but usually after spending a few weeks focused on them, giving them more time than usual, modeling loving patience and kindness, and reading to them, we see the changes we’ve been looking for. Chris and I need to remind each other to put down our phones, the computer, whatever we are attached to, and spend time with the boys. They will listen to and respect them when we are doing our role and not pushing them aside.
One of my favorite authors wrote that “children should not be sacrificed on the altar of church and Christ should not be sacrificed on the altar of our children”. I got the second part down. I did put my relationship with my fellow Christians ahead of my children for a season, but it was needed and I believe it was okay. What made it okay, is that for us, it was a short-term thing. Today I am able to put Christ ahead of everything as He is strong inside my heart, and I am able to put my children ahead of any ministry, time with other Christians, and my healing because there’s a time and a season for everything. Now that I am healthy, I am better able to serve and care for others.
One of the final points on my heart to make is that our time, sharing our beliefs, values, and for us, Christ, with our kids has to be intentional. They will begin to pick up little tidbits as we go, but just like spelling and reading, my kids are intentionally taught Christ. That is why although Chris and I are of the belief that Christ is our Head and we don’t need a go-between, like a pastor or a priest, we are not against the institutional church for our children. We want them to make friends and be around other believers. It’s something they’ve missed tremendously since stepping out of the IC three years ago. They’ve made some friends since, but it’s few and far between and the ones they’ve connected with most are not believers. They are great kids, don’t get me wrong, but our kids are not getting to experience Christ the way Chris and I have because they are at an age and a place in which they love the form and style of “kid’s church”. And I think getting to worship and share about the Lord with other kids in a building most call “church” is a wonderful addition to the unreligous life we are giving them at home.
All of this is revelation had while taking this last month off and spending it with the boys. We are moving half way across the country and there’s been a lot of decision making to do. I have seen that while we are leaving a church family, the kids are excited to have one. I have learned that they have been on the back burner for a little too long as Chris and I have gotten our acts together. To be honest, I’ve gotten my act together and he has supported me. Just like I did for him a few years ago. Through all of this we are a family unit. And as a dear friend reminded me, church begins in the family. We have been a broken family, not doing much together and trying hard to fit in family time and body life in what little time Chris has had home. I have been a single mom a lot of the time and had to choose body life over my children sometimes, for the betterment of them. I can’t parent them if I am not doing well, and getting well has occasionally meant getting together with another believer.
So much of our lives is up in the air right now, but I have never had so much peace and internal joy. I am excited to be a part of my life. I am grateful to be the mother of my children. And I am so happy, truly happy, to be in Christ.
I will leave you with song lyrics that changed my life several years ago, while walking along the beach. I actually stopped, sat down and listened to them over and over again. Today occasionally I’ll listen to Of A Revolution (OAR) and be reminded of Who I am in Christ and what I want for me, my husband and my children. Love, Jackie
About a one, maybe two, three, four, five years ago
Oh when I lived my days full of confusion, as you know
This comes and goes
But it leaves me upset all the time
Oh I was ready to do anything that was wrong
And I was looking for an answer, to just one of these questions here
So I went to this river side, to find me head so clear
And I saw this old man, sitting on a big black rock
I said what’s your name…he said I’m Old Man Time
And my son well I’ve been waiting for you for long
You see that I can see your favors, that are growing in you strong
Well I can see that your so hurt, and I can see that your so vein
But you must listen to this thing I say and live through it all again
You must lose that anger, lose all that hate, it ain’t gonna work no more
You see this world is run by love and absolutely nothing more
So I laid down all my pain, and I got rid of my hate
And I love to get away and the black rock is where I stay
We all have a black rock, its in our minds, and I go there all the time
Its the black rock.