What do you do when you feel like giving up? Is it ALL really worth it?
Ever had those questions? You may be like my friend, who wrote me this email:
The circumstances surrounding my family are about to put me in the crazy house and I don’t know who to talk to. WHAT DO I DO…? I HAVE RESOURCES GALORE BUT HAVE NO INTEREST BECAUSE OF ALL OF WHAT LIFE IS DEALING US. SOMETIMES I QUESTION MY FAITH AND ASK IS IT ALL REALLY WORTH IT.
What do you do when things are driving you crazy? What do you do when curve balls come at you from every direction? What do you do when you have a heart to homeschool, but life is dealing out really tough stuff that is distracting you, frustrating you, and causing you to lose interest in homeschooling? IS IT REALLY WORTH IT?
Tough times do come for all of us. Of course, each of us have different kinds of tough times. You are probably familiar with my story in the midst of the homeschool years–I went through a very tough time losing babies (7 that we know of), dealing with infertility treatments, working through rebuilding our marriage from the brink of divorce, going through financial stress (that sounds like a mild description), and battling major depression. I experienced some really hard times in the midst of homeschooling too. If we homeschool long enough (and I hope that you do), you will go through your own package of tough times–not because I am declaring doom-and-gloom, but because you are LIVING and living in an imperfect, sin-filled world. We all face tough times. We have got to know what to do when they hit us and hit us again and again. What do you do then? How do you keep on going? DO you keep on going? Is it worth it?
First, things, first–YES! It is worth it all!
Is it worth it all? Well, when I look back on my journey, I can give you an enthusiastic, “YES!” “Absolutely!” It is totally worth keeping on, keeping on! Actually, I am sure that if you were able to look back from the future and see what God is doing right now and what He will do for you and your family through homeschooling and through all of these tough times, I think that everything would change TODAY. Not that your situation and circumstances would change, but I think that YOU would change! You would KNOW that you could make it. You would know that you ARE GOING to make it! You would KNOW that it is very, very worth it. If you could see through God’s eyes, you could see many, many things that are going on–and, if you could, I suspect that you would be inspired to keep on going through these difficult days.
You know that don’t you?
Oh! I wish we could all see past the mire of the mess that sometimes surrounds us. Of course, we would have different reactions, different responses, and different perspectives. But, the stark reality is that we DO NOT SEE. In fact, take a peek at a verse that God gave me in the midst of those dark days of losing baby after baby only to find that I had Lupus antibodies:
1 Corinthians 13:12 (Amplified Bible)
For now we are looking in a mirror that gives only a dim (blurred) reflection [of reality as in a riddle or enigma], but then [when perfection comes] we shall see in reality and face to face! Now I know in part (imperfectly), but then I shall know and understand fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been fully and clearly known and understood [by God].
Look at it again in The Message Bible:
We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
Sweet friend, what if you could see past the storm? What if you could see everything as GOD SEES IT? What if you could see that your deepest prayers are being answered RIGHT NOW? Wouldn’t that change some things for you today?
ou know that God is the Ancient of Days–that means that HE sees all of time at once. He knows how EVERYTHING is going to end up and it is going to be soooo worth it. It is going to be worth it all! Don’t you think it would be so much easier if you knew that things were not going to always be LIKE THIS? What if you could see on the other side of this difficult season? What if you could see the way that God is working and how it is bringing about your very deepest heart prayers into reality? It WOULD change things today, wouldn’t it?
I mentioned all of the tough times that I went through during the homeschooling years. They were definitely NOT EASY. They were very inconvenient. They were so stressful. It seemed that everytime I got through a tough time, I was hit on another direction. I can promise that as I was going through each of them, I would have rather done ANYTHING than go through those particular difficulties. BUT! On the other side, I see things much, much different. And, imagine this, I STILL do not see everything clearly–from God’s perspective. I STILL only know IN PART! But, what I DO KNOW is:
–> It WAS worth it all.
–> We DID get through it.
–> We had exactly what we needed to not only get through it, but to get through it glorifying God.
–> It did not last forever.
–> Although I did not LIKE IT–I would not change a thing!
God has taken very tough things and turned them into very GOOD things.
–> Those tough times, distractions, inconveniences, interruptions, and total chaos taught some of our very best lessons through the years–my children are prepared FULLY for their calling because of those very tough times!
–> And, most of all, God never left me or forsook me–He was there WITH ME through it all!
Sweet friend, you ARE going to get through this difficult time. This is the first thing that you have got to KNOW and KNOW down deep inside! This is not just MY WORD for you, but it is also the very Word from God. Look at what He says to you:
“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” (Jeremiah 29:11–The Message Bible)
I know that you have HOPES and DREAMS. We all get to feeling angry that God doesn’t keep tough times from happening. We all face the question at one time or another, “WHY does God let bad things happen? If He loved ME, why is this happening to me???”
Yet, beloved, because of sin, bad things happen. Bad things happen to everyone. The best news ever is that as Christians, we get a benefit that no one else gets–God promises to be there right alongside of us no matter what we face. He promises that nothing will come into your life that you cannot handle WITH HIM. In fact, because you have a covenant relationship with Him when you are saved, you have ALL of the resources in heaven and earth that are needed to bring you THROUGH this.
That is not all! He promises that EVERYTHING will work toward YOUR GOOD. This may not make sense today, but sweet friend, God knows what He is doing–He is allowing you to go THROUGH this tough time because He has plans for you and your precious family. His plans are to take good care of you all along the way.He is not going to abandon you. He has plans to give you that future that you are hoping and dreaming of.
Yes! You will get through this tough, tough time!
Yes! This tough time is being monitored by God–He is taking care of you, even when you cannot see it!
Yes! God has amazing times on the horizon!
What do you do until then?
1. Pull Back For a Bit!
Today, pull back and run into the loving arms of God! Right now, stop everything and just pull away for a bit to take it all to God. He wants for you to run to Him–no matter where you are or what you are going through. He wants to be the one that you run to. He wants to be the one that you will trust enough to pour it all out before Him. Pull back. Run to Him. Pour everything out that is grieving you before Him. Let God take good care of you.
Remember Elijah in Scripture? When he hit his rock bottom, he didn’t really handle it in the best way, but he DID handle it like we typically handle our tough times. He felt alone–like he was the only one out there going through a tough time. He got into a pity-party–Oh! I am GOOD at those! And, he ran away in fear. How many of us just want to run away and quit???
I love how God came alongside of Elijah and intercepted him. Elijah was weak, wore out, wiped out, discouraged, defeated, and depressed. But, in all of that, when he started running away from everything, he ran right into the arms of God. That is EXACTLY where God wanted him–and, exactly where God wants US!
God began doing what ONLY GOD can do for us–He fed, restored, renewed, revived, and re-charged Elijah so that Elijah could get back on track and step up to the call.
Just for today, pull back. Stop everything. Run into the arms of God. Let Him fill your cup back up. Let Him loose to help you with your circumstances. Take it all TO HIM and let every bit of it go. Let Him loose to do the work that needs to be done. Let Him feed you, restore you, renew you, revive you, and re-charge your batteries.
2. Hear God!
Pretty much every time that I have truly found myself in total overwhelm or wiped out, I have seen one common denominator–hearing someone other than God. It might be in a big area of life or it might be in a very small area of my life. But, none-the-less, when someone else pushes past my boundaries and I LISTEN to them instead of God, I always get off track!
In this, I am not even necessarily talking about things that you are hearing TODAY–more on those in a bit! 🙂 How many of us are tormented by words that may have even been spoken years and years and years ago?
Words have power. Scripture says that words have the power of life and death.
It is amazing how the words of others can take fore-front in our minds when God has so much to say to us. HIS WAY works. Actually, ONLY His way will work.
There are so many opinions about everything. Opinions will lead us astray. Only God’s Word will lead us down the straight and narrow path.
It is funny how so many people rush in to give “advice” or “counsel” or even “opinions” on things that they do not understand. The very day that Matthew and Whitney told the world that they were expecting their first baby, everyone began giving their THOUGHTS, OPINIONS, and ADVICE. It was crazy! But, this is how people really are. I remember all of the things that were told to me that I am SO glad I did not listen to:
–> That we should not homeschool
–> That we should never spank our children–that you could TALK to your children and get them to do ANYTHING you want (yeah right!)
–> That nursing my babies was not going to work
–> That I was a leach for being a stay at home mom while my husband worked full-time
–> That I needed to give my children birth control just as soon as they were adolescents
–> That dating was NORMAL and they should be free to date (from young ages–10)
–> That we were creating rebellion in our children by not letting them drive until they were 17 and could buy their own car
–> That we were too strict and overprotective
On and on and on.
Everyone had an opinion! Even at homeschool conventions!
YEP! I do remember the convention when one of the fellow vendors took me aside and told me that MY CHILDREN would have to be PERFECT so we could be a good witness to homeschooling families and anyone interested in homeschooling–not that they were not behaving or that they weren’t already fabulous but more of the advice!
I remember those who told us how to dress (everyone had a different opinion of what was offensive or what WE should do–not that THEY did it, but that WE should!).
Yes, WE have gotten the same “input” from others that you get. The bottom line is that if it is not a word from God, it can be a very big snare, a very big trap! It can wear you down. It can push you. It can lead you astray. It can tear down your entire family.
Get alone with God and HEAR HIM! Take time to get in the Word and get the Word into you.
This is essential if we are going to stand-fast during the tough times. Hearing God is the only way that we will be rooted and grounded through all of the storms of life.
Sure! Let others say what they want to say. But, KNOW what you are to do. Get grounded in what God wants for you and your family. HEAR HIM and tune out all of the NOISE!
Yes! We can always stand to simplify, but it is ESSENTIAL when we hit tough times. It is during tough times that we need to get back to the basics and stick to those.
When I look back, I think that it is interesting how much progress my children made during the tough times. It didn’t make a lot of sense. According to studies, children do not learn under stress–their minds shut down. Yet, something about homeschooling through the tough times worked. Wonder what it is? Well, it was during the tough times that I could NOT dare keep pushing my children. It was during those times that I had to simplify. So, during those times, we kept things so simple and easy that the children knew exactly what they needed to do each day and they did it.
Looking back, this was perfect:
–> The daily studies were clear and concise.
–> The children knew exactly what they needed to do each day (and that if they got done they could have FREE TIME–of course, they wanted free time so they could dig into studies on their own interests–ha!).
–> I did not throw in EXTRAS–to fill time, to make the most of their “attentive” days, etc.
–> Homeschooling was much more well-rounded–they got everything done and had time to dig into “extra” studies that they wanted to pursue (reading, writing projects, art, music, games, play).
–> They soaked in more information because learning was more fun.
–> We did what was most important–daily quiet times, chores, table time, family time, productive free time, family business/ministry, and read-alouds. We let all of the flurry of extra-curricular stuff and extra CURRICULUM stuff go!
–> We had more time to BE A FAMILY!
–> We made sweet memories!
Tough times have a knack for getting us off balance. But, when we are off balance, the only way to get back in balance is to let go of the STUFF. This simplifies everything! And, as we simplify, we get back to the most important things.
Today, take some time to really think about what you want for your homeschool. What are your goals? What will get you there? Could it be that these tough times are demanding that you get back to the most important things?
There is NO WAY to bring school into the home and last for the duration. I remember one of my dearest friends saying that you can homeschool in the flesh for about 3 good years, after that you will be FORCED to make a decision. Will you walk in the spirit or not? Will you get back to God’s design or not? Will you make it a lifestyle or bring school home?
Homeschooling must become a lifestyle. If not, it will not work at all times, especially during the tough times. So, today, simplify! Get back to the old paths that you know really work. It is definitely worth it!
4. Don’t forget! Homeschooling is MORE than just school!
Homeschooling is more than just another method of education. Homeschooling is more than just academics.
Years ago, I was asked if homeschooling was even possible because in each family there are so many distractions and real life situations that come up. This person was wondering if it was possible to get a good education IN A HOME.
At first that took me back. I guess that if education were merely academics or preparation for tests or preparation for college that COULD be very true. But, remember that other question that homeschoolers are asked so often–what about socialization and preparation for the REAL WORLD? We ALL know that deep down education HAS to be MORE!
Homeschooling is way more! In fact, at these tough times, you have to KNOW that homeschooling is THE WAY to educate your child fully. They miss REAL LIFE in the home when they are tucked away in a school. The home exposes our children to the real-real world! They see life as it happens. They see the good times. They see the bad times. Yes, kids in government or private schools SEE life, but they do not see it from their parent’s knees.
One of the biggest perks to homeschooling is that we CAN let our children into our lives. They can KNOW US. We can KNOW THEM!
Our children and teenagers already know that something is making us grumpy, edgy, upset, and maybe even depressed. They feel the brunt of the THING that is going on. To think that they will not KNOW something is up is truly naive, selfish, and disrespectful of their keen and very concerned minds.
My children were very aware that I was hurting. And, the biggest revelation is that THEY CARED! They did not want for me to go through things by myself. They wanted to comfort me, help me, and bless me.
Both of my children were very well educated. Both have the academics down. Both have grown up to be very successful in their jobs and their relationships. But, both are more than academics and professional success. Both have come away from homeschooling with a FULL EDUCATION! They got the whole package–academics, socialization, discipleship, character. You cannot get that from the books. You only get that from LIVING and LEARNING in the real-real world!
My goals in homeschooling were above and beyond academics. I wanted for them to have a very good education, but all along I knew that education was more than just studying the subjects. Education is so much more! It is giving them a firm foundation for life–that only comes from a personal relationship with God. It is rooting and grounding them–in relationships with God, family, and others. It is preparing them for life–good times and bad times. It is training them up for their life purpose. It is passing on a love and priority for family. It is passing on conviction and passion. It is preparing them for whatever God calls them to do.
Yes, the lessons I planned and taught in my homeschool were so valuable. But, they were not the MAIN LESSONS. The main lessons were those that the children LIVED alongside of me. They learned how to navigate the storms of life. You cannot get that out of a book or learn that fully in an insulated atmosphere of the classroom. You learn that one best at your mother’s knee! Homeschooling is more–much, much more–than just school. Homeschooling is LIFE!
5. Never, ever quit!
And, this brings me to the last thing that I would like to encourage you to remember when you face tough times–never, ever quit!
When Matthew was preparing to leave for Army Bootcamp, I came across a passage in Scripture that just jumped off the page at me. It became a passage that was very special during Bootcamp and the following 2 years that Matthew spent in the Special Forces Pipeline, working toward his Green Beret. It is a passage that we had read soooooOo many times in various translations, but it just POPPED in The Message Bible. Take a peek at 2 Corinthians 4: 16-18
“So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.”
Isn’t that good?
Bootcamp is like a crash course for greatness. Some of the lessons just do not make sense. In fact, for the typical soldier, there are so many opportunities for them to take “the lessons” personal, especially when their drill sergeant is screaming in their faces. 🙂
The times are tough. It is not pretend. It is very difficult–some die in the training. These soldiers are pushed beyond their comfort zone–way past their comforts! Our soldiers suffer much as they are trained for their call. Something has to be inside of them that keeps on keeping on no matter what they face in training OR in combat. If they were to hesitate for even one moment, LIVES are in the balance. They cannot have QUIT in their mind as a thought, much less as a possibility.
I think of homeschooling like Bootcamp. It is a crash course for greatness–for your children AND FOR YOU! Some lessons may not make sense, but they are essential. Lesson after lesson pushes us out of our comfort zone. Something has to be inside of us OR GET inside of us that keeps on keeping on. It is just as important for us to keep on going as it is for soldiers–LIVES ARE IN THE BALANCE!
Motherhood is very tough. The moment a woman conceives her first child, the battle is on! The enemy HATES our children and will do anything in his power to distract us, destroy us, devour us. He knows the power of motherhood. He knows the influence of motherhood. He knows that our children NEED us!
It is very interesting to me that we are called to be “virtuous” women and one of the meanings of the word virtuous is “armed and ready for battle.” Motherhood means that we are called and equipped to step up to the call as a virtuous woman. This does not mean that we sit in an ivory tower, immune to troubles and difficulties. Rather, this means that we are armed and ready to battle for those entrusted to our care.
Sure! We will have times that we are battle-weary. Weare HUMAN! We all have times that we are tired, weary and in deep need of renewal, revival, recreation, and restoration. But, that does not mean QUIT–it means that we retreat like a good soldier. And, yes, good soldiers RETREAT, even in the midst of battle. They retreat to strategize, to re-supply, to rest, and to re-charge! They never retreat to quit!
So, today, maybe it is just time to retreat. Maybe it is long overdue time to retreat. I KNOW that most homeschool moms are just like me and have a BIG tendency to run on empty, even though the demands of homeschooling require that we give our very best each and every day. I KNOW that most of us get stressed and that is when we buckle-down and try to do even more. HELLO! I KNOW that when we are hit by the enemy, we have a tendency to look everywhere except in HIS face for the problem.
Why not take some time to retreat? Take some time TODAY, in the midst of the battle, to retreat! Pull back. Get your strategy–hear your Commander, God, for HIS strategy! Get re-supplied for the battle–let Him fill you back up with hope, vision, encouragement, inspiration, and fresh new ideas. Let Him bring you rest–relief, ease, refreshment, recreation, and blessed quiet for your soul. Let Him re-charge you–so you are operating on FULL BATTERY again.
Tough times come.
Tough times can wear you down.
Tough times are not THE END!
Go back with me to Jeremiah 29: 11…
“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”
When you began homeschooling, what were you thinking? What were you dreaming about? What did you HOPE for?
You stepped up to the call. Sweet friend, God is not going to leave you or abandon you–no matter what your life looks like right now. He is there! He is with you through it all. He has good plans for you! They are soooo sweet! Hang on through these tough times.
I love you dearly! I will keep on praying for you. Keep me posted on how I can pray!
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