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!

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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.

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You Might Be From The Garden School If…

garden%20school%20picture[1]

    By Elizabeth Veldboom

1) You know that “The Rock” is more than just an ex-wrestler turned lousy actor.

2) You have ever had nightmares about forgetting your lines.

3) You know that Latin is not a dead language. It should be, but somehow they keep reviving it.

4) The names “George Grant” or “Paul Johnson” have ever struck fear into your heart.

5) An “Opportunity” means more to you than an amazing chance coming your way. Rather, it is a strategic plot designed to get you to ponder an early demise.

6) You’ve ever had class at a Starbucks and/or Target.

7) The Morley knows all. Period.

8) You could make the Guinness World Records for the most khaki ever worn on a single person.

9) You have seen at least one thing blow up during a 40-hour presentation.

10) You have ever spontaneously burst out singing.

11) You compare every grandma you know to Nonny. Maybe even your own. Or really anyone.

12) You know who Nonny is.

Garden School teachers, parents, students, and grads–what did I miss?! What would you have put on this list? I’d love to hear what you come up with!

And for our readers from out of state: What out of this list caught your curiosity?! Let us know, and we’ll give you the story behind it!

Have fun, guys! I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

    ______________________

    Elizabeth Veldboom is a 2009 graduate from The Garden School, and a student in Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. She has previously been published in places like Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers and Daughters, and CBN.com. She has a huge heart for homeschooling families and would love connecting with you, so visit her blog anytime at http://www.thefearlist.wordpress.com

The Secret to Success

    By Elizabeth Veldboom

Today I’d like to take the time to look at the varying means of higher education, and just what it takes to succeed.

I know a lot of parents who are worried about the “post-high school phase” for their children, and though in today’s culture we are very blessed to have more than one option available to us, those same options can also be very overwhelming. Traditional colleges, trade schools, online schools-how do you choose?

There are many arguments surrounding which course is the best one to take, but I’m not here today to shove a bunch of statistics at you or plead any one path.

Success, I believe, comes down to the individual. Can a 4.0 student from a prestigious college do very well and succeed in a career? Absolutely, yes. Conversely, can another student attend that same college and leave thousands of dollars in debt and no better off than when they first arrived? Yes.

Same college, different experience. Why?

Because education is and should always be unique to the individual. What works for one person will not always work for another.

For me personally, the right choice was an online school for writing. Not only would a traditional college have been financially difficult for my family to maintain, but my focus was also in one very specific area. I didn’t see the point in trying to get a degree in creative writing and then be required to take numerous other classes that actually had nothing to do with writing.

Although the school I ended up choosing is not technically accredited and recognized by the majority of people, so far not a single editor has worried about that or even asked me if I have a degree. Instead, they look at the product: is it good writing?

I have another friend who graduated high school and started her own clothing store without taking a single business course. You might think that would spell disaster. Instead, her store took off and has been named “Local’s Choice” for three years running.

A family friend failed to graduate from high school by one credit, and yet, within a year’s time he was promoted to a high-paying managerial position. How did he do that when he didn’t even have a high school diploma? His work ethic. He was good at his job and he didn’t stop until the job was done.

Another friend found her life’s calling through attending a local college and getting involved in a nonprofit organization, and yet another started her own photography business after taking just a few classes.

All that to say this: success is not defined by the education or lack of education you receive. It’s what you choose to do with the education you’re given.

It’s not the college you go to, the degree you receive, or even pursuing higher education at all. Although our culture would have you think differently, I believe it’s much more simple than that.

Benjamin Franklin knew the secret. So did Albert Einstein. The pioneers and inventors and founding fathers knew it, and this is the “it” that we’ve got to get back to: be good at what you do. Know how to work hard. Learn how to learn, and have integrity in your work.

It may be a simple formula, but it’s a formula that’s been tested and proved.

So if I can encourage you at all today, maybe I can encourage you by saying this: don’t worry about training your child into a certain model of education the world says they should fit into, but rather, focus on training a hard worker of good character. Do that, and you’ll have trained them how to succeed in any situation they’re given.

And as just one final thought? “Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed.” (Proverbs 16:3, NLT.)

Commit your child to the Lord’s loving care, and you’ll see them soar.

How do you define success?

(Dear readers: I just wanted to let you know that my devotion “No Higher Love” will be appearing in the July/August edition of “The Upper Room Magazine”! If you’re interested in ordering a copy, you can find out more at their website: http://www.upperroom.org. You will also be able to view it online at the same place on next Saturday, July 6. Thank you, and I can’t wait to see you there! -Elizabeth)

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    Elizabeth Veldboom is a 2009 graduate from The Garden School, and a student in Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. She has previously been published in places like Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers and Daughters, and CBN.com. She has a huge heart for homeschooling families and would love connecting with you, so visit her blog anytime at http://www.thefearlist.wordpress.com

A Sign of Love

    By Elizabeth Veldboom

(This article originally appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers and Daughters. With Mother’s Day coming up next weekend, I wanted to dedicate it not only to my own mom, but to all you mammas here at The Garden School Journal, both near and online. You are some of the greatest moms I know, and we at GSJ would like to take this moment to honor you. To help wish you a Happy Mother’s Day, we will also be giving away one free copy of The Magic of Mothers and Daughters! Please check back this Tuesday for more details.)

“The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book.”

    -Author Unknown

I saw this sign in a classroom: “If you can read this, thank a teacher.” It was a simple statement, yet it evoked such gratitude, such happy memories from childhood, I couldn’t help but smile.

My mom was my teacher growing up. Since I was homeschooled from kindergarten until fifth grade, it was she who taught me how to read. The sign brought back memories of her holding up Hooked on Phonics cards and rejoicing with me when I got the right answer. It made me remember trying to copy her perfectly formed letters as she patiently waited by my side. Her helpful presence was always there as I graduated from the short Bob Books to longer books at the library.

It was she who first introduced me to Nancy Drew, and because of her I still have a bookshelf full of all fifty-six of them. Snuggled against her on our couch as she read, I listened as she transported me to mysterious times and places. It was magical to be so enveloped in a world not my own. Her steady voice guided me through books I didn’t have the ability to read yet, and I marveled at the treasure she held between her hands-this treasure she’d chosen to share with me. Sometimes while reading she’d even don a Scottish accent, just for me.

Each day she’d decide upon a certain number of chapters we’d be reading. But as she finished that last sentence on the predetermined page, I’d prepare my plea: “Please, Mom! Just one more. I have to know what happens!”

She’d protest at first, but always acquiesced in the end. With one more chapter stirring my imagination, I always left content, dreaming of what would happen next and looking forward to the next episode.

Throughout the years, I never lost my love for reading. The magic and excitement never changed for me. What did change was my need to have my mom read to me. I could begin and finish a book when I wanted and I didn’t need her to sit down with me to help me through it. Soon our precious reading time evaporated all together. Instead, I locked myself away in my room to read.

I became an independent teenager who still loved to read, but who had forgotten where she first acquired that love. I grew to love writing, too, and found it was almost impossible to express myself in any other way. What had once enthralled me as a listener, I could now create! It was a whole new kind of magic, but with a forgotten source.

Until the day I saw the sign. Suddenly, it all rushed back to me. The memories of looking over her shoulder as she read, catching words I hadn’t known before like gold flecks in a stream. Flying on as wonderful a magic carpet as Aladdin’s, watching people and scenery flow below. The sound of her sipping from the cup of coffee she always brought, and her playful voice telling me to make a “duck butt” for a capital G. I smiled, realizing I had someone to thank.

I couldn’t wait to rush home and tell her. As soon as I got back, I updated her about all the happenings from the day as she glided about the kitchen preparing dinner. Then I remembered.

“Oh! Mom. Thank you for teaching me how to read.”

For the first time she stopped, casserole in her mitted hands. With a quizzical brow she asked, “What? Where did that come from?”

“Thank you for teaching me how to read. I read a sign in Mr. Jabbour’s classroom today that said, ‘If you can read this, thank a teacher.’ Well, you’re the one who taught me. So thank you.”

A look of touched surprise came into her eyes. “Oh. Well, you’re welcome, honey.”

We shared a fond smile, each of us remembering a certain green couch where it all began. The memories only we could share. It was only a part of my childhood, but how special it was. But even more special was my mom, my teacher.

Because of her, I have found a passion and a career. Because of her, I have been encouraged, guided, and taught. Because of her, I am inspired to pass on to my own children one day the gift she gave to me.

Mom and I hugging on Graduation day.

Mom and I hugging on Graduation day.

What are some of your favorite memories from childhood?

    _______________________

    Elizabeth V. PicElizabeth Veldboom is a 2009 graduate from The Garden School, and a student in Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. She has previously been published in places like Susie Magazine and CBN.com. She has a huge heart for homeschooling families and would love connecting with you, so visit her blog anytime at http://www.thefearlist.wordpress.com

You Homeschooling Types

    By Elizabeth Veldboom

    homeschoolAs I thought about writing a blog post for this week, I have to admit I felt a little unnerved. After all, this is a place for homeschooling/alternative schooling parents. Considering I’m twenty one and single, I don’t really fit that description.

    I wondered, “What can I offer to homeschooling parents? I’ve never been one.” I worried I wouldn’t have anything of interest or importance to say.

    But then I realized, hey-I’ve spent twenty plus years observing these people. I got this.

    Being homeschooled myself, I’ve watched both Garden School parents and my own mom tackle this whole homeschooling thing. And trust me-there are some stories I could tell on you people.

    Yeah, that’s right. I know stuff. In fact, you wouldn’t believe the kind of stuff I got on you. I know what goes on behind closed doors.

    You homeschooling types are absolutely, 100%, without a doubt: some of the most amazing people I know.

    Surprised? Me too. But it’s true.

    If twenty one years of observing has taught me anything about you, it’s taught me this: you are some of the greatest people. You are so selfless and loving and smart. You’re brave and strong in a world that tells you you’re doing it all wrong. You’re kind and generous with your time. You would do anything in the world for your kids, and half of the time they don’t even know you exist.

    You’d sacrifice just about anything to see them succeed. You spend hours at night trying to learn Latin, or Algebra, or Quantum Physics, just so you can teach it to your kids in the morning. You cook and clean and parent and teach, and then you get up and do it all over again the next day.

    You might feel invisible. Unappreciated. On really bad days, maybe even unloved.

    But as a former homeschooled student, let me offer you some hope.

    There were many times my mom went unseen by me, too. But you are teaching your kids some of the greatest lessons they will ever know in life, and it doesn’t come from a book, but from the heart. You’re teaching them how to care for another human being with all the strength they possess. To selflessly sacrifice and give of themselves for the well-being of another. To love, and give, and give again.

    One day they’ll see. One day they’ll be old enough to tell you how much it meant. But if they’re not saying it yet, let me: you are making a difference. You are so loved, honored, admired, and cherished. It’s not easy what you do. And you can’t always see the reward.

    But dear Mama or Daddy, allow me to let you in on a secret: you are the reward.

    Yeah, I know about you homeschooling types all right. You are some of the craziest, most masochistic, insane people I know.

    And I want to be just like you when I grow up.

    Your Turn: What inspires you to keep going on days when it’s tough?

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    Elizabeth V. PicElizabeth Veldboom is a 2009 graduate from The Garden School, and a student in Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. She has previously been published in places like Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers and Daughters, and CBN.com. She has a huge heart for homeschooling families and would love connecting with you, so visit her blog anytime at http://www.thefearlist.wordpress.com.