Make Room For Rest

    by Elizabeth Veldboom

Sitting in church, I stared in shock at the picture on the side screens. It felt as though the pastor had gotten inside my head and projected what was there for the entire world to see.

I’d been praying the day before, begging God to show me what was wrong with me. I was depressed and exhausted, but I couldn’t figure out why.

leaking-bucket[1]In response, God gave me a vision of a bucket being filled with water. However, because the bucket was punctured with holes all around, the water flowed out as quickly as it went in.

It was the very same image I was looking at now.

When He’d first shown it to me, I’d immediately felt something click. Yes! I thought. That’s exactly how I feel, Lord! Like you’re pouring into me with all of your grace and love, and yet, it’s going out just as quickly as it’s coming in. I should be filled to overflowing! What does it mean? Why am I so full of holes?

He’d been silent then, but now, staring at the magnified version of what had been in my head the day before, the message was clear: it definitely had something to do with the bucket.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had God grab an image from your brain and broadcast it to an entire church, but this was a first time for me. Let’s just say I didn’t fall asleep in that service.

Pastor Hooper’s message centered on how we all have three “tanks” that need to be filled: physical, spiritual, and emotional. That particular day he focused on the third–our emotional tanks.

He talked about how important our emotional tanks are and how we can have so many things we’re pouring ourselves out for, we have no time to be filled back up.

I wonder if you can relate to that image as well? As a homeschooling mom, you have so many things that vie for your attention and time. Spouse, friends, kids, lessons, laundry, volunteering, boss, Bible Study. The list goes on!

If we’re not careful, we can have so many obligations and duties that we pour ourselves out faster than we can fill ourselves back up.

So what do we do to ensure we’re not trying to give out of a leaky heart? It’s important to realize that we all need time for rest in our lives. Without it, we set ourselves up for exhaustion and burnout.

Here are three quick ways we can all make rest a priority:

1) Resolve to Make Room

Unfortunately, rest doesn’t just happen. It’s something that has to be worked for. Kind of an oxymoron, I know.

But if you’re still waiting for that magical “someday” on a beach in Hawaii, you’re gonna be waiting a long time.

You’re the only one who can make time for you. I can guarantee it won’t be your kids who make the time. Neither will it be your husband, boss, or children’s soccer team.

As one of my favorite quotes says: “If you don’t do you, you doesn’t get done.”

2) Read. My. Lips: No

If we want to maintain a healthy balance in our lives and home, we have got to learn how to say no. If not, we’ll end up with a schedule filled with a thousand people-pleasing tasks and only a handful of God-honoring ones.

But it can be extremely hard to know when and how to say no, which is why we need the Holy Spirit to help us discern both our own limitations and whether or not a certain activity is worth our time.

Learn to bring any decisions you face concerning a time-commitment or emotional investment to the throne of God before committing, and then act on whatever He tells you to do. If it’s a yes, then trust Him for the strength and energy to help you complete the task. If it’s a no, then trust Him with that as well.

We cannot do it all, and we shouldn’t try.

3) Reschedule Time for Rest

Finally, make room for yourself to rest. Literally schedule it if you have to! Maybe rest for you means one day per month where hubby takes the kids and you treat yourself to a spa day. Or maybe it means taking that date night you’ve scheduled for the day your kids turn eighteen, or spending a night out with the girls. It could also be some sort of hobby like painting or gardening.

There are so many options, and I encourage you to have fun with them! Rest is not rest if you won’t have fun while doing it.

If you’re unsure what gives you rest, start now by setting some time aside to pray and begin writing a list of things you enjoy. (As a special bonus, check out the “Freebies” tab for a few ideas to get you started!)

The next time you begin to feel overwhelmed, pull out your list and pick something to do to recharge your batteries.

Before God got my attention, I wasn’t doing a very good job of making room for rest in my life. I felt guilty whenever I acknowledged needing rest or told someone no, feeling as though it was selfish or lazy of me. However, He has since helped me see that it’s not selfish or lazy at all. Accepting rest when you need it simply means allowing God to minister to you before trying to minister to others.

When we set safeguards around our heart and time, we can love and give on a deeper level, without worrying that it will empty us in return.

But the greatest rest of all is the kind only He can give:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

(Matthew 11:28.)

Is it hard for you to allow yourself to rest? If you had one day completely to yourself, how would you spend it?

P.S. Check back this Friday when we’ll have a very special guest interview with author Dabney Hedegard. Find out the one thing she wishes she would have known when she first started homeschooling, what she does to try and balance her time, and why she calls herself a “professional patient.” You won’t want to miss it!

__________________

Elizabeth V. PicElizabeth Veldboom is a proud 2009 graduate from The Garden School, as well as a graduate from Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. Along with working as one of The Garden School’s preschool teachers, she also enjoys writing and has been published in places like Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers and Daughters and CBN.com. She’d love connecting with you, so visit her blog anytime at http://www.thefearlist.wordpress.com.

Time to Share Your Great Learning Resources and Ideas

Resource[1]

    By Monica Cappelli

Reading. Writing. Math. Grammar. Vocabulary. Logic. History. Foreign Languages. Geography. Art. Science. Life-skills. Drama. Sports.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Scream.

Science! Advanced math! Science! Advanced math with basket weaving?

Since you’re the “most” fun, active, patient, upbeat, confident, multi-talented, knowledgeable and energetic parent in the world you’ve probably never struggled or worried about teaching any of these subjects. Good for you! But since there can be only one “most awesome parent ever,” the rest of us . . . well, we need help!

Enter family games, online learning, co-op learning, apprenticeships/internships, field trips, travel, and community resources. It’s important to use these and any other opportunities you can find to insert variety, depth, experiential learning, and fun into your family’s learning journey. Burn-out, fatigue, frustration, boredom, resistance, and daydreaming can result from a dearth of variety. Beware: your children might begin to exhibit some of these symptoms, too. Hang in there!

Today I will scratch the surface of the world of digital enrichment opportunities. Following are a few of both the online and software resources I have found to be of tremendous help to my family.

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courseware): Free college courses?! Yes! Moreover, they neither require matriculation nor discriminate based on age. MOOCs will issue certificates of completion, and some may offer limited fee based credit courses in the near future. These are great tools to supplement, enrich, or accelerate your student’s education, to sample college level work, or to “observe” and prepare before taking a similar for-credit college course. Another benefit is cultural enrichment, as students gain meaningful real-world insights by engaging in mandatory discussion forums with students from all over the world. I thoroughly enjoyed the classes I took last spring after learning about MOOCs from a homeschooled 8th grader in a local homeschool group – so parents, let’s go! These MOOC aggregator websites list and link to thousands of online class opportunities: http://www.mooc-list.com or http://www.class-central.com

Individual K-12 subjects, and even full curricula, are readily available online or on disc. Computers are supremely well suited for certain tasks. Typing instruction; flash card creation and review; computer programming (SCRATCH, and others); math drills (Reflex Math, IXL, or many free math websites); spelling/vocabulary exercises (Spelling City, Literacy Planet, Word Voyage [I LOVE Word Voyage!]); oral reading fluency (Reading Assistant, Fast ForWord and others); curriculum enrichment videos (Discovery Streaming, Brain Pop); and Theater (PBS online, and Digital Theater.com). These great tools can help alleviate concerns like eye-rolling boredom, “Am I covering all of the basics?” “How do I fill those aggravating gaps?” or, “Hey, I need a little help here!”

There are many on- and off-line resources available – please share your favorites in the comments section below. Go ahead and post your questions, too – I’m sure you’ve got a few!

Our blog readers look forward to sharing and learning about the great learning tools your family enjoys!

_______________

Monica Cappelli is a wife and the mother of four wonderful children. Over the years her family has been blessed to experience home, public, private, and parochial schooling. This has given Monica an appreciation for the strengths and challenges of the educational choices available to families. A successful experience is possible in any of these situations with the support of community and prayerful, encouraging parents. Monica strongly believes that parental academic expectations and “leadership by example” in the areas of competence, autonomy, and service set the stage for a young person’s entrance into a successful, joyful, and productive adulthood.

Procrastination

angry-cat-1

    By Shilo Bartlett

The list hanging on my desk today has about 15 things on it that need to get done. It stares back at me like a menacing cat in the corner, saying, “I dare you to try and take me on.” Its black ink has a dark feel. This is not a good list day.

Have you had a day like that? Where the things to conquer outweigh the normal goings on of your household by 2-to-1? That is a not so great day, right?

I have a solution!

There is more than one way to overcome this obstacle.

The first is to tackle the “cat” head on – just try and pound it into submission, one item at a time. This will result in what I will call “list exhaustion,” and will leave you feeling like you have fought with a tiger and lost. Scratches, bruises, mental fatigue, and diet problems always follow this route.

The second way to deal with the list is to take a ’round about route – i.e., circle the “cat,” don’t let it know you are coming, then pounce like a mad beast and ride the crazy ride. Hold on for dear life as you try and make the swirling stop. Can’t you just see it? You, riding a wild cat? Yeah, that’s one crazy way to take on “The List.” You slowly put aside your daily things, knowing you must attempt the leap at any moment, and then you just one by one knock them off while blowing what’s left of the normalcy of your day into the wind like the whirling dervish you are! This ends with another bad side effect just like the method above: headaches, children who will wonder if their parent has gone mad, and general disorder in your household.

There is, however, one more method of dealing with The List: Procrastination.

Yes, that is the method. This type of coping mechanism is one that has been proven throughout the ages as the most effective form of dealing with problems in your life that cannot be dealt with. This method requires nothing more from you than no effort at all. Yes! You look at that list waiting for you… staring at you… cowering like the cat in the corner… and what do you do? You don’t do any of it! You walk away and leave that cat to its own sad devices, and move on to living blissfully unaware of any problems, cares, or concerns of things left to be done. You move on with your life in great happiness that you have no worries, no chores, and no responsibilities. This method is the greatest yet to be applied by mankind.

Seriously though?

Procrastination is definitely not the method we should use in our lives with our responsibilities. I just like to amuse you with the ideas of what you could do with “The List” that all of us have in our lives. Sometimes it’s a daily list, other times it may be a list that you have had for years. Things that you would like to do with your life, things you know you should do for your children. “The List” can mean many things.

In my own experience, I have found that this List is like a mountain-a kind of challenge for myself. I have discovered, too, that there is a way to conquer every mountain or mole hill in a very successful way. You know the saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day”? Well, Mt. Everest is definitely not climbed in one day, to say the least. Climbing Mt. Everest is a practiced art they perfect to achieve the goal of conquering that mountain. They train, and train some more, and acclimate, and gain muscle, and build confidence on smaller mountains before they tackle the big one.

There is a key in that method which I believe will help in achieving the various goals and lists each of us have in our lives. Small victories-small chips away at small things-always lead to bigger successes. That list? It can be finished! How? Small, even, realistic steps. Once you have conquered that small hill, and stand on top of it? The bigger mountain looks smaller, right? Yes – it looks achievable. Then you take on the larger things.

If there is a “List” or “Mountain” in your life, maybe we can try going at it like the mountain climbers taking on Everest, and not like the cat wrangler above.

Happy Mountain Climbing!

    ___________________

    Shilo Bartlett is a super organized, over reaching, strong-willed mother of three. She loves having the hands-on time with her kids that homeschooling and The Garden School have allowed her. She grew up in the Colorado River Valley, and went to public school until 6th grade. Her mother homeschooled her and her three siblings through high school, and then she attended CMC graduating with a degree in Applied Science in the Veterinary Field. She has always read voraciously, and written throughout her life for many publications. Her family is her passion. Her driving motivation is to encourage a love of learning.

On Being in Community

Diversity

“Diversity”

    By Renee Miller

Over the years many unique and interesting families have been a part of our community: Christian, non-Christian, gifted children, special needs children, above average children, below average children, families with means, families who sacrifice to pay tuition–the list goes on. With so much diversity, how do we handle so many people as they come into our communities? How do we even create community? For those of us who feel passionately called to Christian education–both at home and in the private school setting–one of the most difficult areas in which to find balance is between family and community.

Where is the healthy balance? After many years of homeschooling and private schooling, I can assure you that I do not have the answer. However, I think a continuing dialogue is important.

As we cast about for a vision of Christian community and Christian education, it will likely emphasize rebuilding paradigms around healthy families, raising abysmally low educational standards, and promoting Christian ideals in dress, courtship, and basic civility. Creating this kind of culture is a full-scale battle. So how are families approaching this community-building?

On one extreme, I’ve observed families who focus entirely on their own children’s gifts and talents, and see the community as a threat to raising Godly progeny. These families can be quite critical of the areas where community falls short. Somehow, the community never measures up theologically, behaviorally, socially or otherwise. They tend to have unreachable and naïve expectations of what can be accomplished with a group of sinful, fallen people awash in the sewage of our generation. Jesus can transform us all in amazing ways, but it is hard work on everyone’s part.

In the other extreme, parents rely on and continually seek other people to do the job for them. These families hope that the parenting thing will not be too costly or time-consuming. They are often more consumer-oriented, on board as long as it is working well for their children. Their commitment can be short and fun, and like our general consumer culture they move quickly on to the next bigger or better thing. They’re glad to benefit from other people’s hard work and investment yet very reluctant to sacrifice for someone else.

All families need people who will come alongside them and help create safe havens of community where they can be challenged and nurtured. Families need for us to not simply say we don’t have the expertise, money, or experience to deal with their difficult situations. We are keenly aware of the millstone around the neck story and the incredible challenge to bless children and not irrevocably harm them. So we need to be careful to not whisk by in our minivans with fish on the back and leave families lying bruised by the roadside.

Working with people and being in community is hard but rewarding. It is the very practical side of learning to work with people we can’t stand, who are merely reflections back to us of all the miserable things we don’t like about ourselves. It is about modeling for our children how to resolve conflict and develop the discernment to know what is of eternal significance.

Fortunately, we are mercifully in possession of God’s Word, which has the wisdom to help us navigate the rocky roads of relationships creatively–and sometimes miraculously! It’s in the Word that we can find solutions to the problems that come to us.

Our triune God exists in community. He calls us into community. He calls us into families. When we get it right, however fleeting the moment, it reflects the character of God to the world in a way that few other things can.

You are Invited to Respond: What’s a situation you’ve been in where you’ve seen a true community at work?

    ____________________

    Renee is the founder and director of The Garden School and Cornerstone Classical School (as well as “The Miller Family School”). Though trained in the public school model–she has taught everything from first grade to junior high science–Renee’s first foray away from this system resulted in The Garden School. Renee holds a Master’s Degree in Teaching and Learning from Point Loma Nazarene College. She is a strong advocate for classical Christian education and an accomplished public speaker. The Millers currently live in a busy multi-generational household immersed in classical and Christian ideals and a whole lot of love.

Two Roads Diverged…

Two-Roads-Diverged[1]

    By Jennifer Marvin

Acclaimed anthropologist Margaret Mead once commented “My grandmother wanted me to have an education, so she kept me out of school.”

Several years ago, my niece announced her intention to homeschool. Annie and her husband were traveling the country from one renaissance fair to another, performing Celtic music for a living, so it made some kind of sense for them to plan to educate their daughter outside the geographical constraints of a single county public school district. They also had a concern about guarding their daughter from bullying and values discordant with their shared faith…they were Wiccans.

Since all the other homeschoolers I knew were Bible believers, this perspective was jarring to me. What kind of support groups for homeschooling witches had my niece found? What kind of world view were they so committed to perpetuating in their offspring that they were concerned would be threatened by public school’s secular bias? I mean, they would have plenty of support for Halloween observance, reading Harry Potter, and concerns about the ecological protection of Planet Gaia, so what were they worried about?

Even though a professor of education quoted in Penn State News observes that “Most people who choose homeschooling for religious reasons are Christian fundamentalists” who “typically want more control over their children’s curriculum and socialization,” the homeschooling movement attracts families from all religions, races, and socioeconomic classes, as my unusual niece illustrates. Like Margaret Mead’s grandmother, some people choose to teach their children at home because they feel that the public school “dumbs kids down” by pitching to the lowest common denominator, using a cookie-cutter or assembly line approach, despite college teacher preparation programs that stress “individualizing instruction” (as if somebody with a classroom of thirty children can individualize anything!) Teaching at home allows parents to tailor curriculum and pedagogical approaches to suit their children’s temperament, interests, and abilities.

Others want a stronger family unit, want to spend their days involved with and growing close to their progeny. Some parents choose home instruction in order to address special mental or physical needs, while many do so out of concern about the safety of the school environment, with its widespread drugs, violence, or negative peer pressure.

Although homeschooling is a trend that has been on the rise for the last 30 years, and is legal in all 50 states with varying standards and requirements, every state has some form of compulsory attendance law requiring children in a certain age range to spend a specific amount of time being educated. There are still widespread notions that children educated at home are academically and socially handicapped, despite statistics showing the superiority of homeschooled students’ results on various measures of achievement, from spelling bees to college entrance exams. As for socialization, when I first attended a Garden School function and met students who looked me in the eye and spoke articulately and engagingly, that issue was laid to rest for me, at least.

Yet homeschooling does take a commitment of resources, time, and energy way beyond volunteering in a public school room. Is it worth it? Are homeschooling spouses still losing custody battles to a divorcing parent who will place the children in public school? What about Infowars.com’s account of purported police training exercises in some states where an anti-terrorist scenario is acted out against ‘fanatical homeschoolers” rather than, say, right-wing political or radical Muslim extremists? Is parent-directed education a practice whose days are numbered? Is it a choice for which you are prepared to suffer? Has your family experienced benefits from parent-directed education? Are there also legitimate benefits from public school exposure? Are there students for whom, or circumstances in which homeschooling is not structured enough, or is inappropriate for some reason? What are your reasons for choosing the conventional, or the unconventional, learning path?

    ___________________

    With a degree in Modern Languages and Bilingual Education, Jennifer has taught Spanish, Russian, Latin, and Bible, coordinated weekly chapel, and tutored Hebrew at The Garden School. She homeschooled her son before sending him to Sarasota Christian School, and is an avid advocate of home cooking, home remedies, home birth, and home death as well.

The Tiger in the Boat

lifeofpi[1]

    By Monica Cappelli

The book The Life of Pi was amazing, fearful, thrilling and allegorical.

As I recently considered re-reading it, the idea for the following post occurred to me.

Energetic, graceful, nurturing, and fun on good days. Heartbreaking, rife with error, and full of regret on other days. My “Life as a Parent” is full of mountains, valleys, triumphs, and mistakes. These are the tiger’s contrasting stripes – faith and doubt, courage and fear, triumph and failure. The tiger is my life in this flesh.

How does one know if the sum total of all your years of parenting – your life poured out on behalf of beautiful, happy, strong-willed, challenging, flawed, adorable little persons (gifts!) – will amount to good in either your lifetime or in future generations?

Sometimes I am able to: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4, NIV.)

And for those other times: “Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me. . .” (Psalm 19:12-13.)

What contrast!

Oh yes, we are temporal parents. Yet our God, the eternal Father, has a plan and a way that transcends our earthly triumphs and depressions. In that knowledge lies faith, encouragement, and strength – the life boat that carries us (despite our doubts and foibles), through the sometimes cruel waters of life.

Parenting with this perspective leads me to think: As a parent do I want to be remembered as a slave to my own stubbornness and sinful habits? Or on “those days” will I be able to submit to God’s calling on me and humble my heart in apology, then offer life-giving love and warmth to my family, coupled with sincere prayer to God for forgiveness, healing, and restoration?

The latter choice, trusting my Father, (e.g., climbing out of the storm-tossed sea into the lifeboat) is my only option for assurance and peace, given my faith. “Peace. Be still.”

The question is not whether I’m a perfect parent – oh my, I most certainly am not (I’m a tiger: striped with conflicting hues of flesh and spirit)- but rather, do I model faith, hope, love and forgiveness even after I make one of my numerous and inevitable mistakes?

I am glad (very glad!) that our sovereign God is perfectly perfect: loving, parental, concerned, protective, involved, just, strong, forgiving, generous, and completely tender-hearted toward me.

My job as a parent is to keep my lifeboat watertight and afloat – whether the “tiger” is having a good day or not.

Have you seen or read The Life of Pi? What did you think of it?

    ______________________

    Monica Cappelli is a wife and the mother of four wonderful children. Over the years her family has been blessed to experience home, public, private, and parochial schooling. This has given Monica an appreciation for the strengths and challenges of the educational choices available to families. A successful experience is possible in any of these situations with the support of community and prayerful, encouraging parents. Monica strongly believes that parental academic expectations and “leadership by example” in the areas of competence, autonomy, and service set the stage for a young person’s entrance into a successful, joyful, and productive adulthood.

Selling Your Kids

    By Patrick Koschak

sales-success1[1]Sales training of all kinds will tell you that sales is not about giving your prospective client your carefully prepared spiel. It is not about lecturing them on your product or service. It is not about demanding a sale every time you see them. This is how a lot of “salespeople” approach the selling process, but the fact is most salespeople are not very good at their jobs.

When I started out in sales, I have to admit I was not very good at it. I did a lot of those things I am criticizing now. I wanted to bowl over my prospects with impeccable logic, and if I could have, I would have dove over their desk and throttled them until they gave me the sale I was chasing. I was overly aggressive, and nearly bulldozed some clients into giving me an order. Looking back, some of them probably gave me orders just to get me out of their offices.

The irony is that the lessons we learn usually apply to more than just one part of our lives, don’t they? Yeah, life is kind of integrated that way. For instance, I found that a lot of sales concepts readily applied themselves to being a parent. Sales are actually about connecting with people, and the best sales are about building relationships. A parent is “selling” their kids on something every day, aren’t they?

Let me throw a couple of these “sales rules” past you and see what you think.

“Always get a customer talking about themselves.”

The idea is to express interest in them as human beings and to encourage them to open up. You don’t try to pry it out of them, but you do want to engage them where they are. You get a person to begin talking about something they enjoy, and before you know it, an hour has passed. They get enthused and maybe even excited.

The hard part of doing this requires you to “let go of the reins” in a conversation and let your customer take the lead. With your kids, this means you have to refrain from always telling them about your opinions or what you like to do. Maybe you will have to engage them in a chat over a video game they enjoy, or a new craft project, or something that you don’t find very interesting at first. I would bet that you will actually begin to catch their excitement if you give it a chance.

“Ask a lot of questions and listen.”

This is related to the above since sometimes you have to prime the pump for more open conversation. Questions are how you can get them to that point so you can let go of those reins. This works the best when you are not trying to follow a particular agenda apart from just getting to know them. If you are, it will most likely dissolve into an interrogation. Do not feel that you have to come to some kind of resolution with every question. Do not answer your own questions.

“Show a client you are interested in their success, not just your own.”

father_daughter_telescope[1]You will really struggle with this one if you have not done the previous two. The reason is that if you are not listening or encouraging their open interaction with you, you will most likely just impose your own desires, hobbies, or definitions of success onto your kids without knowing it. You will try to mold an idol in your own image, and not necessarily into what God has chosen for them.

Being captivated by God’s plan for them might mean helping them to pursue a calling that you yourself do not enjoy or honor. You might be helping to build up a painter, engineer, banker, video game designer, author, homemaker, professor, graphic artist, athlete, politician, preacher, or even a salesperson. The point is to honestly show your kids that you are sold out for their dreams and not yours.

“Always consider the long-term.”

Are you in it for the quick sale? Is it all about getting them to obey right now? Do you think your job is done when they turn 18 or when they are done with college or when they get married? Where have you drawn your finish line? When are you aiming for?

All of our interactions with our kids should be with eternity in mind. Just like the best sales relationships are long-term, our parental relationships should be life-long endeavors between friends. If we are too preoccupied with today, and lose track of the long tomorrow, it is more likely this relationship will not be very fruitful.

So tell me; when was the last time you tried to sell your kids?

    __________________

    Patrick K.Patrick Koschak has enjoyed more than 15 years of marriage with his high school sweetheart, Rachael, and they share three children, ages 9-13. Patrick studied Biblical Studies and Greek at Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon.

    Mr. Koschak has been teaching Humanities since 2008 at the Garden School, where he is affectionately known as “Mr. K.” Mr. K’s teaching is occasionally unorthodox, often cerebral, but always heartfelt.

    “Teaching has been one of the deep joys of my life. I am deeply humbled by the opportunity to influence and inspire these young leaders. I am very blessed.” – Mr. K