“It is not for nothing that the classic passage on the warfare of the Christian immediately follows Paul’s specific instructions about intimate human relationships: wives, submit; husbands; fathers, do not goad your children to resentment. These are the areas of most vicious and relentless attack. The Christian home is a stronghold, and the enemy will never let up his attempts to undermine or breach its sanctity.”*
“Put on God’s complete armour so that you can successfully resist all the devil’s methods of attack. For our fight is not against any physical enemy: it is against organisations and powers that are spiritual. We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil. Therefore you must wear the whole armour of God that you may be able to resist evil in its day of power, and that even when you have fought to a standstill you may still stand your ground. Take your stand then…” (Ephesians 6, PHILLIPS)
“Yes” I thought… This whole thing – being a woman of God, being a wife, a mom, homeschooling as personal obedience to the Lord, for His glory and our children’s good – is a battle. And some days, an uphill one. Elisabeth Elliot’s thoughts on the Christian home resonated with my heart as I entered into our first week of homeschooling.
“ For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12, ESV)
I battled against impatience, against a real lack of self control, against my self-centered expectations… the battle continues and God is fighting for me. (Exodus 14:14)
Learning the new discipline of homeschooling is in fact, a discipline, a fight… that can lead to a dance. Rhythm requires submission. And in order to enjoy the dance, I had to learn the steps, learn the rhythm, and submit myself to the Lord.
Tim Keller writes, “You are made to enter into a divine dance with the Trinity… [but] even though ultimate reality is a dance, we’re going to experience reality as a battle.”**
The first week was particularly hard. Not for the boys in an academic sense, and I worked even harder for them not to “feel” it, but any time you start something new and different, there is a learning curve and I had to submit in new and particular ways. I told Tyler, “Well, I’ve started my new job!”… and by the end of the week, I was exhausted. Thank the Lord for days of rest!
We’ve, overall, I would say, enjoyed our new rhythm. The boys are excited about tomorrow when it’s “a school day.” Which makes me glad. But on the days when they are not, or when I am not, it’s not the day to give up. It’s the day to surrender to the call. To say “Yes, Lord, I will obey You” and do what You’ve asked me to do today.
Our week day rhythm, so far, has looked a bit like this :
6:30 I get up and spend some face time with the Lord
7A We instruct the boys to stay in bed, in their room, until I come to get them at 7A. I do not get them up if they are still sleeping at 7. Typically, though, they are up, and we begin our day. I like to pray with them, to give them to the Lord, to give our day to the Lord. Some days we also read a book together… it’s nice to snuggle!
Breakfast – Read the Daily Light together – Tyler leaves for work.
The boys and I begin our teamwork. I clean up breakfast and unload the dishwasher, which I ran the night before. Leland uses a cordless vacuum to clean up the crumbs and Grafton wipes off the table. Friends, it’s not perfect, but we are learning 🙂
We all go upstairs where I find my bed made (thank you thank you thank you, Tyler!) and we get dressed, make beds, brush teeth and go back downstairs.
The boys play for a bit while I switch the load of laundry that I ran last night from the washer to the dryer,….
Then I get school stuff ready. and pray.
Getting school stuff ready basically involves pulling the books we will read that day and perhaps getting craft supplies together. (On Thursdays at the “end of the school week, I get all of my weekly folder stuff together. This has been super helpful to, one, have a weekly folder, and, two, to get whatever stuff I want to use together. It’s stuff like a little bible verse poster, any printables, the letter of the week supplies together… simple stuff, but stuff to do and gather nonetheless.)
Ok. So we sit down at the table. I love when it’s 9AM, but goodness knows life is happening and we live at our school, and I don’t make a big fuss about the time.
We sit at the table, … or on the couch.
We pray. We pray because I FEEL and know my dependence on the Lord. Lord Jesus, teach us!
In the same thought, Elisabeth Elliot continues, “Prayer is a powerful weapon. It is an indispensable weapon. It takes practice to wield it. It takes courage and time and spiritual energy.”*
Then we begin. I don’t do it the same each day. But we have a rhythm. We have a checklist. We have stories we read and we love to read stories, so that’s just super super nice.
We aren’t tied to the checklist, but I desire to be diligent. We ask the Lord what that looks like for us, for today.
I love the reality that I get to be in tune to my people, and to the Lord, and do the best before the Lord I can to give to them, to take care of them, to teach them. Grace upon grace here, friends.
Typically, when the formal part of school is all said and done, it’s been about 45 minutes to an hour. Then, the boys go outside to play while I clean up whatever they don’t help with from school, and I also do my daily teamwork. (For instance, on Monday I do the laundry that piled up from the weekend and windex.)
Sometimes I start supper.
Then I take the boys a snack outside and enjoy the shady back yard with them.
By then it’s 11AM or so and we might have errands or a play date… or we might stay home.
One thing I have enjoyed over the last four weeks is watching us all learn how to enjoy being home, learn how to be content staying home more. I love seeing the boys be friends.. and learning how to be friends. Of course, since they are also young and learning how to be people, there are tough spots. There is time out and there is holding hands to say “I’m sorry and I love you.”
I had planned to begin school the week of Labor Day, but I am so glad, because Leland kept on asking to begin school, that we began earlier. September includes Labor Day and family time at the beach and Tyler’s birthday, not to mention the beginning of bible study and Leland’s LEARN clubs. So, I think it would have been decently overwhelming if we had only started… well, today. Because even this week is not a “normal” week and in the month of September we are not going to have but maybe one of those.
That’s something else I like about homeschooling, though. I have the objectives and plans, and I can change it when I need to – or want to. As the teacher 😉 when the “students” go to the beach, I get to go with them! (I don’t have to stay back to teach rest of the class.) And as the mom, I don’t have to ask permission or worry about the fact that my boys are going to “miss (formal) school” for a week and a couple of days this month. We can enjoy some flexibility and freedom.
So we weave in between the battle and the dance, and we try to stay close to the Lord through it all. Lord Jesus, lead us on, to Your praise, honor, and glory, and for our good.
“We live [ and battle + dance] one piece lives all weaving together into a sacred cloth as unto the Lord.”( – Ann Voskamp shares her thoughts on homeschooling, “Why Be Crazy Enough to Homeschool”)
*Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot, p 219-220
** King’s Cross by Timothy Keller, p 10