Homeschool Retreat {Instillation #3}

The final installation or summary of our mini homeschool retreat is in! I’ve been thinking about this one. There is so much on my mind and so much to say or not to say… Homeschooling in the hard times is the subject of this talk by Elsie Ludicello at the Portland Wild + Free.

We had our own hard times in 2015 and I’m not sure I homeschooled well. I know my kids survived, I know we did what we could, and I know we made it through. But I also know I didn’t really take time to stop and intentionally try to plant some routines that would serve us well and help us get through the tough times. We did slip into some routines that were helpful and did work and were successful. Were they the best options? I’m not sure. Was there something better we could have been doing? I’m sure there was.

I was barely holding myself together and trying to lead and teach four kids and work was almost more than I could do. Looking back I can see how God was oh so faithful to bring us through. And not only bring us through, but refine us in the process. No I would never want to go back and do it again, but we are definitely a changed family. We love people more and we have more compassion. I know I’m humbled… I can see more of my weaknesses and failures and be ok with where God has me. Knowing that He has me here for a reason and a purpose. I’m not a failure because of my weakness… God uses my weakness to show me His power. It was such a hard, hard time. And although those times are past, the pain still returns, it will never go away and our story isn’t over.

God has used our story to bless others and grow us. But after listening to this talk by Elsie it makes me want to do a better job preparing now for the hard times that will come. God doesn’t promise us an easy life. Our life of ease and rest is coming in heaven. We have a life of work, suffering and pain, sweetened with joy, life and relationships. We shouldn’t be seaking what God promises in heaven here on earth… but I digress.

Elsie has a list of six ways that hardship is a gift in homeschooling. These six things really resonated with me and I want to list them here:

  1. Recognize beauty in unexpected ways. Beauty helps us get through hard things and it can help to change our sadness. I can say from personal experience it’s hard to find things of beauty when in difficult times. It takes work and intentionality, but it’s worth it. Those things are even more beautiful than ordinarily they would be.
  2. Acts of humility begets character. Humility is not weakness. We were created to need other people. This world today expects mothers to be self sufficient and be able to do everything that needs getting done. In hard times it is SUCH a means of mercy and grace when we allow others in and allow them to serve and care for us. We are blessed, but they too are blessed in the giving.
  3. A new way of measuring. This one really stood out to me. “Motherhood is not performance – it’s presence.” She says. Yes… so hard… and yet just sitting, reading, being with our kids is worth so much. I shouldn’t be measuring the success of the day by what got done or what got taught, but by how needs were met, who needed an extra hug, where have I expected perfection?
  4. Improve air quality. Wonder about things and my kids will too. If I love reading, then they will too. If I want to learn more about art and find it amazing and stimulating, they will catch my wonder and interest as well. I should be caring about my education, just like I care about the education of my kids. They will see that I love learning and find importance in it as well.
  5. Habit/Rhythm – Ordering of Affections. Honestly I can’t remember much about this one… someone else who listened,… help me? I have noted: Moving from survival to thriving. And pruning is often painful but never harmful. Sorry… this one may not be of much help, but no matter how much I stare at my notes, I really can’t remember.
  6. Confidence in my capabilities. The wonder is found in our perseverance. Just because we are broken doesn’t mean we aren’t capable. My love and desires for my children makes me more capable than anyone else… because I care more than anyone else.

Our kids see us struggle. They know we are in hard times. We can’t fool them into thinking we are ok and everything else is ok. My husband and I really can’t keep many secrets from our kids, so they know when it’s a hard time. When we have lost babies, they have been in the sadness and tears with us. They have walked hard roads too.

But… our kids also see us struggle, fall and get up, over and over and over again. They see our faithfulness in falling before The Throne of Grace to find mercy and help in time of need. They see us run to Jesus the Author and Perfecter of our faith. They know we struggle, and they know we keep running back to Jesus. That’s what our kids need to see, and that THAT can’t be taught in any classroom, except in our homes.

Lastly, I want to leave you with a quote from Elsie that really touched me:

“Hardship is never a wasted season – but we are always at risk of wasting the hardship.”

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