Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The A.R.T. of Homeschooling

Homeschooling is a difficult and demanding task. Added on to the already heavy weight that any mother carries, the burden often causes us to stumble and many give up. Early on in my homeschooling journey I began to ask God for a vision that would keep me going when the trials came. I did not want to abandon the call God had given me to homeschool when times got tough. I knew that only a divine purpose from God could sustain me for the long haul.

When we seek the Lord, HE does not disappoint us. He gave me a purpose in the form of an acronym ART.

A is for Attitude,
R is for Relationships,
T is for teaching and training;

thus the ART of Homeschooling was drafted. That is the way I am to structure and prioritize my life and my homeschooling. It was very tempting when I first began to put the 'T' - teaching and training - first. Curriculum, conventions, and catalogs are all tempting and easy to gravitate toward. After all wasn't that what homeschooling was about?

Quickly, I learned however that even the best curriculum cannot be taught when my attitude is wrong or when there are conflicts in the home. To put Teaching before Attitude or Relationships would be to create 'TAR' a sticky mess that would not be easy to work with.

If I put the 'R' -Relationships before Attitudes, and Teaching I would create another undesirable outcome. I desire a great relationship with my children but putting that first I would end up up with self-centered little RAT's. I realized everything was not to be centered around the children, or their "fun".

I wanted a home centered on Christ and that meant one way ART. With the priorities in that order, my days and life will be ordered in such as way as to glorify the Lord and put first things first. This vision has sustained me the last 11 or so years and I hope to continue on as long as God allows.

A Is for Attitude
When God spoke about my attitude being the first priority I began to do a scriptural search on what my attitude was to be. The first scripture I landed upon was Phillipians 2:6 which states

"Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant."
So my attitude was to be that of a servant. This didn't seem much of a new revelation to me. Jesus laid down HIS life so I must also. As a homeschool mother serving just seemed like it came with the territory. Being a servant is one thing but what is my attitude supposed to be as I serve?In 1 Timothy 6:6 we read

"Godliness with contentment is great gain."
Serving our family and homeschooling our children is a very noble and Godly pursuit but is our heart content while we are serving? This scripture shows very clearly that great gain is from serving with contentment. If serving isn't hard enough some days God is clearly saying I must do it with contentment. Contentment isn't just being cheerful. It is a heart at peace knowing that what your are doing right now is exactly what you should be doing over any other activity. Meaning, given a host of choices this is what you would choose.

Contentment robbers come in various forms but there are a few that are common to homeschoolers. Bitterness, fear, and jealousy all attempt to rob us of contentment.

Bitterness has at its root a self-centered heart. We become bitter when we feel as though we are being unjustly treated or neglected. The easiest target of our bitterness is our husband. We read a book about how our marriage or family is "supposed" to be and when we look around we see a family that falls way short. Of course, this is all our husbands fault if he were just...more godly,...home more often....a bigger help....more nurturing...more spiritual...our home would not be this way. My husband is not perfect just as I am not perfect and when I begin to get bitter it is because my focus has shifted from Christ to my own selfish ways or desires.

Other catalysts for bitterness can be our children, extended family, or friends. This bitter root, if allowed to fester, will rob us of the contentment we need to carry out our calling as homeschoolers. When I find myself becoming bitter, I must turn my eyes away from myself and and look back into God's Word which states in Hebrews 12:2,

fixing our eyes on Jesus the author and finisher of our faith who for the joy set before Him endured the cross".
Our joy comes not from a perfect day or situation. Nor does it come from other people. Our joy comes from the Lord. When we accept that people will fail us just as we fail them we guard against discontenment and bitterness.

(Note: This is the first series I posted when I began blogging a year ago. I decided to rerun it and make some updates in honor of my blogoversary. I will repost the whole series as I update them in the coming days.)

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Make sure you read, "R" for Relationships and "T" for Training.

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