Focusing on Marriage Amidst Crazy Homeschooling Life

Focusing_on_MarraigeIf you’ve visited us in the past, you know we normally don’t discuss the topic of marriage on A Homeschool Mom. Before you start thinking this is because we’ve got it all down, let us remove that barrier here and now. Marriage is a crazy ball of fun we’re still working hard at. But, every once in a while, it’s helpful and edifying to focus on keeping our relationship standing amidst the adventure called life and homeschooling.

Let’s face it. We have a lot on our plates. We homeschool. We parent. We clean house, cook meals, run errands, serve in ministry, and so much more. All on a daily basis. With all the busy-ness which consumes our lives, we can often overlook our marriage to a point we are stretched thin. There are days my perspective can become skewed and I start wondering if I am getting as much out of this gig as I am giving. The Lord gently reminds me of the purpose of our marriage and asks me to focus on these two things:

My Spouse is a Child of God – This man I am blessed to do life with is not just my husband, but a child of God. What an amazing perspective! Often, I can forget this factor out of familiarity and this is dangerous. My constant prayer is that the Lord would help me to see my husband as He sees him. The man is not perfect, but he is being perfected by our Heavenly Father. He is being made righteous. He is covered by God’s grace and forgiven. He is first and foremost my brother in Christ. Wow! When I put my earthly perspective aside and get a glimpse of what God sees, I am humbled beyond belief and beg forgiveness. The man God has blessed me with is a good man; so much more than I deserve. He is also much more than mine, He is God’s. What will I do with what God has given?

Marriage is not an Ice Cream Bar… The Theory of 50/50 – I’m sure we’ve all heard this expression. We bring our portion to the marriage, fully expecting the other person to bring theirs. Together, we function at 100% and everything works well… You have to love God’s math. He asks us to bring everything and lay it at His feet. If I walk into this relationship only expecting to do half, and even then only giving when the other person fulfills their role, I’m missing the bigger picture.
From a human standpoint this doesn’t seem fair. We fear being taken advantage of; maybe not getting what we think we need in return. The Lord takes hold of my heart and reminds me of something important. I’m not doing this for my husband. I’m doing this for the glory of God. In a greater sense, I am not even giving my husband 100% – although he might certainly benefit – I am giving 100% to God. I cannot tell God I was only willing to give half when He was willing to give all.
It is also important to point out my perspective could be the one out of focus. Perhaps my spouse is giving 100%, all they have, but right now “all they have” is fragile and they need prayer or assistance. Maybe I am asking something unreasonable and need a heart check.  We all have moments when we are weak. Am I helping or hurting?

While another child of God might not be able to litter our floors with socks or leave a sink full of dishes, these principles still apply. I am to love as Christ loves. I am to serve as Christ leads; wholeheartedly. By renewing my perspective and giving my all to God, the Lord is able to strengthen our marriage and this will overflow into the rest of our life.

Our marriage matters! Before our learning year gets much further and our calendar fills to capacity, it’s vital we take a moment to be sure our marriage is where God wants it to be. This is the perfect time to ask one another big questions, be sure we’re on the same page, and pray over our relationship. If we skip this step in all our homeschooling/life planning, we put everything else at risk.

“So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Matthew 19:6

Your Turn!: How often do you and your spouse go on dates? Who tends to plan them?

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When Pop Comes Home

When Pop Comes HomeI frequently read lovely posts about preparing for Daddy’s arrival back home at the end of each day. The ladies might perhaps put on a pretty blouse, touch up their makeup, and spritz themselves with perfume. Moms are wonderful about making sure the house is straightened up, the kids are in decent order, and dinner is just about finished. I wonder though, what do those women do whose husbands are home all day?!

I find myself in this predicament and often wonder how many other women are in the same boat. My husband, generally speaking, works at home. There is no touching up makeup before he gets in the door, there is no sprucing up the house, or cleaning up of kids; he sees it all.

While we are together the bulk of every day, I would like to think there are a few things I can still do to bless him. They might not be astounding, but every little bit helps!

I make sure we are groomed. This might seem silly to some ladies; I mean sweats are clothes, right? While my husband doesn’t mind what I wear, I still prefer to get up before everyone else and get dressed. I put on “street clothes”, no sweats or pajamas. I put on just a little makeup and do my hair. I want my husband to know that I look nice for him, not just when I leave my house. Periodically I will touch up my makeup, as needed, to ensure I keep looking fresh. My kids are also trained to get up, get dressed, and be presentable.

I make sure the house is fairly decent. While messes can’t be avoided, we do try to keep things more livable. We have trained our children to keep their toys to one room or area at a time. This ensures that the mess can be cleaned up fairly quickly and if my husband walks out of his office, he is not overwhelmed by disorder.

I make sure to touch bases. While we might both occupy the same house, that doesn’t mean we are actually communicating. At various times throughout the day, I make sure to pop my head into his office and see if he needs anything. Perhaps he might like some fresh coffee, a snack, or a hug? Near the end of the day, we talk about when he would like dinner and I get busy.

When my husband does leave the house, I try to walk him out and greet him on his return. I want to be the last thing on his mind when he leaves and the first one to welcome him home.

While I don’t have the benefit of preparing our home before Pop’s return at night, I believe we are doing our best to make him feel welcomed and appreciated whenever he steps out of his office.

Your Turn!: How do you prepare for Dad at the end of each work day?

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Why Your Marriage Matters!

Why_Your_Marriage_MattersThey might cover their eyes, make faces, and even express disgust at our displays of affection, but underneath the fuss our kids not only want to see our marriage work, they need to. Let’s face it, our marriages matter!

Second only to my walk with the Lord, is my relationship with my husband. While our marriage blesses me beyond anything I could express, I’ve found it also ministers to our children. How we treat one another and how the Lord works through our relationship will teach them more than you would believe:

  • Respect – Appreciation for who God has brought into our lives.
  • Submission – For us ladies, an opportunity to share how submission can be a blessing. We are neither doormats nor the boss, but a lovely example of what God can do through a willing vessel.
  • Humility – Our willingness to be wrong, to not always have our own way, and to put others first.
  • Faith – Belief in our spouse, trusting that God is in control and working through them for our greater good.
  • Loyalty – No one, besides God, comes first; not even our children. The needs and desires of our spouse are important to us and it shows.
  • Tenderness – Our husbands model strength under restraint; choosing to handle wives with care.
  • Sacrifice – We put not our own desires, but the greater good, first. Our desire to put our spouse’s needs before our own.
  • Generosity – Seeking ways to bless our spouse, giving of ourselves continually with a thankful heart.
  • Edification – Lifting up one another in prayer, word, and deed. Seeking to encourage our spouse to grow closer to the Lord and be filled.
  • Love – In action, not merely with ‘feelings’ (which so easily deceive). An outward showing of heartfelt appreciation.
  • Affection – Appropriate displays of affection, modeling proper behavior both at home and out in public.

In daily life, in learning endeavors; in seasons of growth and seasons of pain; how we live out our marriages is one of the greatest lessons we will teach our children. We can choose to use our marriage to bless, or allow our marriage to become the center of destruction.

May our marriages be a blessing in the lives of our children. May they see God working in us and through us for His greater good. And, may the Lord bless them with marriages even greater than our own!

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,”
Ephesians 5:22-23

📢 Chime In!: What important lessons did you learn from your parents’ marriage?

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Two Shall Be One

The following is an excerpt from our ‘Homeschooling 101’ series, written to help encourage families who are new to the world of home education. We pray this post blesses you and reminds each of us that homeschooling is a family endeavor, not something ‘mommy does with the kids’. 

……

Two Shall Be OneGenerally speaking, most of us mommies do the teaching in our homes. We pick the curriculum, we pick the method by which we teach, we decide which activities we will be involved in, and we do all the instructing.

Do you see a problem with this scenario? Where is father in all of this? Shouldn’t he have a say in the education of his children?

The second piece of advice I try to give new homeschooling families: Include pop in your homeschooling. While dad might need to work all day, not being available to do actual instructing, there are many ways in which he can still be an active part of your children’s education:

  • He can pray for his family.
  • He can offer advice on which curriculum should be chosen.
  • He can discuss what the children learned at the end of each day.
  • He can be a sounding board for ideas.
  • If available, he can teach classes.

When we first began homeschooling, my husband was a great sounding board for ideas. Everything that came to my attention we discussed together. How did he think we should homeschool; do we use a classical method, an unschooling approach, or should we be eclectic? What should be the focus of our learning? He was instrumental in helping us to narrow down the goals of our family’s learning.

Homeschooling101

At the beginning of each year, I make a point of discussing everything with my husband. We talk about any new changes, new directions, new goals, and new ideas we’d like to try out. During these discussions, he makes a point of letting me know how he’d like to be involved in our children’s learning. This year, he is participating in PE and teaching logic on weekends.

Sometimes we talk about things as they come up, others at the end of the night. The most fun way to have our conversations? A date night! Make a special coffee date and together plan out the coming year for your family.

Knowing my husband is behind what we do 100%, gives me great peace of mind. I am not in this alone, I am not doing this on my own strength. We are in this together for the long haul, raising and training our children.

If you don’t already, consider making your husband an active part of your homeschooling. No matter how “small” the contribution, it will be well worth the effort.

Time To Chime In: How do you encourage your husband to participate in the homeschooling of your children?

“AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.” – Mark 10:8

You Complete Me

Marriage can be a bit tricky. While we are one with our spouses, it is just as important to realize that our spouses are not our everything. If we are looking for the other person to make us happy or to “complete us”, we’re bound to be disappointed.

I love my husband, truly I do. However, I am setting us both up for failure if I expect him to complete every aspect of my life. It is not his job to “fill the whole in the middle of my heart”. Wow! That would be a daunting task for anyone, wouldn’t it? My poor man would need to spend large chunks of everyday simply trying to figure out what I need, then he would have to devote even more time to making it happen, only to figure out that he couldn’t possibly do it all anyway. It’s not that I’m a difficult girl, I’m pretty low maintenance (seriously, go ask!), but, if I’m going to be honest, there are some issues only God can work out.

It is not my kids who are supposed to complete me either. I have heard many a young, frankly naive, young lady who thinks having children is going to fulfill her life and offer up someone to love her completely. Wow! No child should have to live with that burden. What will she do when her child acts out or doesn’t live up to her expectations?

You Complete Me

Sure, you might not rely on people to make you feel complete, but what about that fancy career? What would your life mean, if somehow you lost that important position and were now in limbo?

Here is a tough one for me…. Does my role as a homeschool mom “complete” me? (Ouch!) If somehow I could no longer homeschool, would I feel like less of a person or insignificant in life? How much of myself is wrapped up in what I do and not in my value as seen through God’s eyes?

 

Yes; we should want our spouses and our children to love us. Yes; in a sense, things may be fulfilling. However, there is a huge difference between finding something fulfilling and relying on that bond to complete us. The only relationship which should complete us, is the one we have with Christ. It is in Him and Him alone we should find our happiness and contentment.

As a friend once stated, “I am always going to disappoint you. I am always going to let you down. Don’t rely on me. Rely on God.” Now, that is one awesome statement.

What advice would you give to someone who is co-dependant?

“So you also are complete through your union with Christ,…” – Colossians 2:10

His Ways Are Not My Ways

His WaysSometimes this mommy can get a little confused. I’m the one who keeps the home, teaches the children, runs the errands, cooks the food, and more. With all of my responsibilities, on occasion, I fool myself into believing that my way is the only way. When my husband ventures to teach a home school lesson, asks for something to be handled differently, or questions how things are done, this mama needs to remember humility. His ways may not be my ways, but that doesn’t make them wrong.

God, in His goodness, gave each of us different personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. He also gave each of us distinct roles to play. In a marriage, we are to use these to build our family. As a wife, I need to remember I am here to be his helpmeet, not the other way around.

My husband is definitely not going to do things the way I do. He is much more laid back. He likes to joke around, play games, blurs limits for bed time, and has a routine which is completely his own.

Sometimes, I can get uptight when things are not being done the way I envisioned. In those situations, the problem isn’t my husband, it’s me! I need to remember who the head of our house is and it isn’t this girl. I need to humbly accept that while I might, generally, keep our home, it’s his house too. Our kids aren’t my kids alone; he ought to be involved in their learning, their upbringing, and their activities.

Does this mean he never need listen to my opinion or hear my concerns? Of course not! A wise husband will want to hear what his wife has to say. However, a wise wife will also understand that just because her husband hears her out, doesn’t mean he is necessarily going to do what she asks. She needs to accept this with humility and acknowledge he is doing his best to lead their family.

While our way of handling things doesn’t always align, it is important to remember that these differences are also what make us stronger. My husband is gracious, where I am strict; he blurs time limits, while I keep us on track; and the list could go on forever. There is a time and a place for both!! There are times when my kids need my husband to walk in the room and completely mess up fix our lesson with a few jokes, just as much as they need someone to make them go to bed on time. There are times my ways are going to win out and times when mommy steps aside, letting the man lead as he so desires.

The key is to remember that ultimately I am not in charge here; God comes first and then my husband. So, if my guy wants us to stop in the middle of a lesson and run off to Disneyland; guess what we do? When my man thinks I should be teaching a certain way; guess what we do? If my husband thinks the floor could use one more going over; yup, you guessed it!

Some might say this behavior resembles a certain mat we wipe our feet on, but this is not so. I do not do these things because of my husband, though I love him dearly. I submit because I want to please God and I know He is pleased when I humbly accept my husband’s wishes. On the flip side, I know my husband loves to be good to me. I trust that  he would never purposefully do something to hurt me, humiliate me, or bring our family harm. So, when he wants something done or does things differently than I do, there must be a good reason; even if that reason is just to have a little bit of fun.

Yup; on occasion this mommy needs to remind herself that she is not the boss. God is ultimately in control of our home and family. I trust that He will direct my husband and use my guy’s unique gifts to lead our family in His own way.

Is following your husband’s lead sometimes a struggle?

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” – Ephesians 5:22-24

One Flesh

The Man and IWhether or not you homeschool, being one unit is vital to marriage. It is important to know that you are on the same page and that you support one another.

Within the context of homeschooling, I think being “one” is even more essential. Without a unity of thought and purpose, your homeschooling journey can be fraught with trouble and often treacherous.

When I am focusing on setting up our routines and planning out our year, it is wonderful to know that my husband not only knows what’s going on, but actively participates in what the children learn.

When I am doubting what should be taught and what can be glossed over, it brings peace of mind to know my husband’s thoughts. He often sees things more clearly and helps me to restructure our path.

When my children struggle with a particular subject, my husband has no problem stepping in and trying his hand.

When they fight and argue, we support each other. No one gets past one of us, without the other stepping up to take over.

In the realm of our little world, there isn’t mommy’s side and pop’s side, but our side. There  are no differing answers, but one answer. Mommy doesn’t homeschool the kids, we homeschool the kids.

It is a huge comfort to know that, when I doubt myself or my plans, he has faith in me and that these are our plans we made together. It is calming to know that we support and love each other, filling in the other’s gaps.

There is no me, there is no him; there is us!

Future In-Laws

WeddingSo often when we think of our children’s future, we think of only them. What college they will go to; when they will get married; who they will get married to; how many grandkids our children will provide us with. How often, I wonder, do we ponder the people our children will marry?

I remember having a very pointed conversation with one of my children who seemed very concerned about the person she would marry. “But will he let me homeschool?” she asked. “Will he let me stay at home, like you do?” she wanted to know.

I remember telling her that I couldn’t give an answer to her questions; those were things she would have to work out with the person the Lord brought into her life. One thing I could tell her was this… pray!

Pray that your future husband will be a man of God, pray that he will be excited about the idea of homeschooling, pray that you will be able to stay at home, and keep praying for the man you eventually marry, until the day you die.

As her mother, and the future mother-in-law to whichever man the Lord brings along, it prompted me to also take a step of faith and do some praying of my own.

I pray that he be a strong Christian. Our faith is the center of who we are. I pray that she marries a man who not only has our same beliefs, but has given himself fully to the Lord.

I pray that he is from a strong family. While this isn’t essential (there are many great men who are not from great families), for his own sake I pray that he comes from a family where he is mightily loved. That he has parents he can count on and who love him unconditionally.

I pray that he is protected. While life is uncertain and all of us face a fair amount of trials, I pray that the Lord would take care of this person.

I pray that he would love my child the way God loves us. Every parent wants to know that their child is greatly loved by their spouse, I am no different. I pray that he would have understanding, compassion, and a great amount of affection for my daughter; not only when times are good, but for the long haul.

While it may seem silly to pray for someone we might not have even met yet, the Lord has told me this is something I need to be doing.

Each day of the week, I pray for one of my children specifically (see A Time to Pray). On each child’s “day”, not only do I spend some time praying for just them, now I also spend time praying for my future in-laws. (Imagine me chuckling as I type that…)

I pray that when the time comes for my children to be married, I would love them as my own and that they would love me in return. I pray that their parents would be as accepting of my child, as I would like my child to accept them. I pray that as my children marry, it won’t be a feeling of loss, but one of gain. An opportunity for us to grow and become larger, where family gatherings are filled with lots of people and lots of love.

Do you pray for the people your children will marry?

 

The Dating Dilemma

My Guy and MeI find it increasingly disconcerting that quite a few of my oldest daughter’s books want to talk about love and relationships. She is, after all, only eleven!!

Given the increasing popularity of this topic, it does bring up the issue of dating and relationships. When will I find it acceptable for my children to focus on a relationship? How do I help my children to recognize who is “worthy” to be dated and who isn’t?

I firmly believe that there is a difference between dating and courtship. Dating, even by definition, is informal and meant for an appointed time. Courtship is a long, drawn-out process by which we become better acquainted with someone, with the end goal being marriage.

Very often young people are encouraged to date and “test the waters”. After all, if they don’t date, how will they know who to marry? I wonder if this is wise though. What if dating only encourages our kids to take their relationships less seriously?

I wonder what would happen if we encouraged our children not to date, but instead to become the best people they can be. That they should give their lives over to God and live solely for Him. Then, when the Lord feels they are ready, He would bring the right person along. What if we put our trust in Him and didn’t worry about trying out the dating world?

What about knowing who is “right” for them? Here is a revolutionary thought; what if we as parents, simply lived out good relationships for our children to see? They would know what a good husband looks like. They would know what a good wife looks like. If we encourage our children to study their Bibles and focus on serving the Lord with their lives, then they too will know what to look for in a spouse.

If we encouraged our children to not date, but instead be surrounded by like-minded friends, our children would have a greater opportunity to meet people who are real. They won’t have to worry about “putting on a good front” or discovering who the person is; they will see them for who they are right from the start.

By being friends first, our children will have an opportunity to get to know each other and see where their friends’ hearts really lie. Then when a romantic attachment is formed, there are fewer things to learn and less surprises. When we are friends first, our relationships have a more solid foundation; especially when that friendship is mutually founded upon Christ.

My husband and I were friends for about three years. We never considered marrying each other; he was older than I and neither of us ever considered the relationship a possibility. One day, out of the blue, our relationship became something more. (Literally, it happened in one day!) Because we already knew each other, because we were already friends, there was very little we needed to learn about each other. It came as no surprise to either of us, that on that very first “date”, we decided to get married. Three months after our first “date”, we got engaged and four months after that, got married.

Now, I am not saying that all relationships should go as quickly as ours did, but why not? If we had already known each other for three years and knew so much about each other, why not go ahead and just get married? The only other things we needed to learn were the details… how many kids we wanted, what our life plan was after having kids, and things of that nature. Because our relationship was centered on our beliefs and because we were such good friends, it seemed only natural that we would move on to the next step and to do so quickly. (I will also note, this is a good plan so as not to become tempted by desire, as Christians believe in remaining pure until marriage.)

In raising and homeschooling our children, we have a greater opportunity to show our children what a good marriage looks like. We can show them not only the good, but how to work through the hard. We can show them the qualities to admire and the little things that we need to look past. I can train my daughters how to keep their homes and my husband can teach our son how to provide and protect his family. We an emphasize the importance of being responsible, diligent, and patient.

Since our children were young, courtship is something that we have engrained in their minds. The idea of being friends and getting to know people before becoming romantically involved. The idea of preparing yourself, before you go looking for a spouse. The idea of waiting on the Lord to bring the right person, instead of searching out the desires of your own heart, which can often lead you astray.

Thankfully, my daughter seems to skip right over the books that center on this topic and if she reads a book that happens to have a relationship involved, she usually gives it little thought. However, when the topic does come up, it is nice to know that we can have an open discussion about our faith and our personal beliefs, using this topic to help our children make the best decisions for the future.

Are any of your children old enough to date? How do you teach them about choosing the right spouse?