I’m Beginning to See It

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

— Galatians 6:9

When my husband and I first decided that we would homeschool our as-yet-unborn children, in my mind’s eye was a purely idyllic version of what that might look like. I pictured myself puttering around in the kitchen as the kids happily read great literature on the couch, peace and coziness wrapping around our household like a warm hug. We’d do messy science experiments in the back yard and explore art at the kitchen table, giggling and joyful and enthusiastic as I guided them to discover all the riches and wonder in the world of learning.

The reality was harder than I had expected.

Boots on the ground, real homeschooling, I found, meant wading through hyperactive days and sibling squabbles. Fielding endless complaints about grammar and fits of tears about math. Writing off my plans for messy wonderful projects because neither the kids nor I had any stamina left for them after the battles of the day. Wondering whether the multiplication tables would EVER stick, whether my kids would EVER remember to put punctuation at the end of every sentence, whether their character flaws were terminal, and whether I was just doing them a colossal disservice by even trying to homeschool at all.

Maybe you can relate to that. Homeschooling is a lot of work – repetitive, thankless, seemingly endless work, with results that are very slow-coming and often really difficult for us to see from the middle of the struggle. But if that’s where you’re at, take heart.

I have good news for all you mamas in the trenches. It’s starting to happen.

I’m beginning to see the results of all the years of thankless, endless labor that tested the limits of my patience and heart. And it is so, so worth it.

Don’t get me wrong. My family still has hard days – the kind where we’re all tired out, the weather is gloomy, nobody wants to do much of anything, and Mommy loses her cool after three hours of enduring petulant kid behavior and soundly yells at everyone (then wrestles with guilt for the rest of the day). But they are fewer and further between than they used to be.

And I’m starting to see those beautiful moments, more and more often. The kind where the kids are both happily reading school assignments while I putter in the kitchen. The lightbulb moments in discussions where some deep truth about God and humanity clicks for them so viscerally that I can see it in their faces. The moments where they run up to me full of excitement because THIS thing that they just read relates to THIS thing that they studied last week or at co-op or read in a fun book, and they’re so excited about it. The moments where peace and harmony really do wrap around us like a cozy blanket, where I revel in a profound, exquisite happiness so deep it aches, and I thank God with tears in my eyes for our family and the privilege of living this life with them.

It has taken work. It has taken endless repetitions, and not giving up. It has taken days when school work got sidelined because character issues needed to take center stage. It has taken patience with the growing process of children and their need for a LOT of hands-on guidance before they can become more independent. It has taken adjusting my expectations to meet them where they are at, rather than being married to an unrealistic standard and trying to impose it on everyone else by maternal fiat. (That never ends well.) And it’s taken love, and apologizing when I’m wrong, and keeping going even when I feel like I’m failing, and above all else, falling back into utter dependence on the Lord’s help and trusting that he’s able to make up for every single one of my failings. 

So don’t give up, mama. Keep fighting the good fight. Remember that children start out with foolishness bound up in their hearts, and it takes training and energy and time to teach them wisdom. But don’t become weary in doing good, because at the proper time, you WILL reap a harvest. If you don’t give up.

The Truth Needs More Voices

I’m not sure how long I’ve procrastinated on starting a blog.

It’s been on my heart for years. But despite the encouragement of friends and my husband (who is truly my biggest cheerleader), something would always stop me. Could I really commit to writing something EVERY WEEK (or however often you’re supposed to publish things on a blog)? Would I run out of things to talk about? Would anyone be interested?

More importantly, did I have anything worth saying at all?

There are a lot of people out there on the Internet saying things about Christian parenting. You can’t throw a rock without hitting a parenting or homeschooling blog. (Hehe.) And I found that the same thing kept happening to me over and over: I’d come up with some great idea, some insight or tip for parenting or homeschooling, and I’d think – at last! I’ve found it! MY unique contribution!

Only to see it in a Facebook ad for a parenting book a week later. Or hear it in a podcast. Or at a parenting conference.

Really, I thought to myself, there are so many gifted and insightful people out there that my voice isn’t really needed. I don’t have anything unique to share and, therefore, nothing really of value.

But a few weeks ago, something else happened.

A long-time friend shared that they’d* been having doubts and struggling with their faith. They’d been searching YouTube and the Internet for answers to questions, watching debates, making a reading list. And at the end of it, they’d decided they didn’t believe in God any more.

Quite apart from the gut punch of sorrow I felt, I was bewildered. I’ve done a lot of reading and researching myself. To me, the evidence for a Creator who transcends time and space is so strong and ubiquitous that it’s beyond doubt. My friend shared some of the questions that troubled them, and I thought to myself…I know the answers to those questions. I’ve studied them. I know that they’re out there. If this friend has been looking so hard for answers, why haven’t they found them?

And then my friend said something that stunned me:

There just aren’t that many people arguing for the Christian side.

All of a sudden, the realization clicked into place. See, it didn’t matter that the answer was out there somewhere, or that someone had already thought of it. It wasn’t in the places where this friend was looking, and when push came to shove, there weren’t enough people talking about it to make it easy to find.

It didn’t matter that Truth existed. Because a few lonely voices of Truth weren’t easy to hear over the cacophony of everything else.

That friend is still struggling, and I’m still praying for them. But that conversation made me realize something too about what I have to offer.

Truth needs more voices. And so do good parenting, discipleship, and homeschool ideas. Maybe I don’t have anything new to say that someone else wiser or more experienced than I am hasn’t already come up with. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need a louder, broader chorus of voices saying it. Because you might never read that book, listen to that podcast, attend that parenting conference, but you’re here, now.

And in the same way, I want to encourage you. You have something to offer. And even if it’s not new or groundbreaking or totally unique, that doesn’t mean it isn’t world-changing. If you know Jesus Christ and his Word, if he’s been changing you from the inside out, you have access to a rich storehouse of Truth. And Truth needs more voices.

So share what you know, and say it loud. You never know who has never heard it before.

* Pronouns are intentionally vague to protect my friend’s identity. It’s hard enough to struggle with your faith without people scrutinizing you or being unkind while you’re doing it.