Friday, March 16, 2018

When homeschooling went from frustrating to beautiful: part 1

The morning was flowing along wonderfully. 
 Our hushed early risers soaked up the fire and coffee
 as the pitter patter of feet one by one emerged from sleepy slumber
 to join us in our morning rituals.
 Snuggling up with the littles under piles of blankets, books and pillows,
we visited,
 read aloud,
 talked about our plans for the day,
enjoying yet another cup of coffee,
happily immersing ourselves in a cozy, lazy hour before the day gets going.
I cherish this hour.
  Such a respite from the hectic pace that all too often befalls us!
Even though I am not a morning person, getting up before the day begins is well worth it,
and it is critical to a non chaotic,  non stressful morning.
Eventually breakfast was pronounced ready.
Our established routine begins the day encircling the table together with these 7 gems,
 giving thanks and enjoying a home cooked breakfast...
today a steaming stack of Joe's pancakes fragrant with real maple syrup and applesauce.
Often we sing a hymn, which helps us focus on higher thoughts rather than on ourselves,
then end with devotions from Proverbs-the book of wisdom-
 so applicable for youth.
The order of the morning proceeded to getting dressed,
children making their beds and a quick tidy of  their room,
bringing down their laundry (if it is their day)
daily chores, and finally reporting ready for morning time.

Poetry, mingled with Americana
kindles inspiration to finish our morning time with Great Explorers. 
 Sufficient coffee having been consumed,
 we are ready for Math, where each student works on their figures and I,
still in my rocking chair,
 am ready to lend a hand when they get stuck.
 After an hour of math, everyone scatters to a cozy nook for a pleasant hour of reading,
 then on to Bible memorization, each child pacing about learning their verses..
some with English accents, some rhythmically swinging while quoting their text.
 During this time I start a load of laundry and prepare a simple lunch.
This is how it works everyday.
 Smoothly, orderly, with much enjoyment and sweetness.
One of our older children says that they wish I had schooled like this when they were young.
 I do too, believe me!
It is beautiful.

But is was not always so.
 Our first 10 years of homeschooling were grueling, yelling, frustrated, overwhelming years
 that I determinedly trudged through.
Somewhere, there was a turn of a corner.

 I have been pondering just how it happened.
 What was it that rocked our world so much
as to turn a driven woman into a nurturing mama?, I asked myself.

 And there, in the question, was the answer.


I have been talking about it all along...if one reads back through the years.
 But I have not gathered all my thoughts in one place-
 until now.

Webster's defines nurturing as
 "providing loving care and attention to, 
the act of educating, developing, nourishing, feeding.
That which promotes growth."
The key here, I think, is what kind of care.
LOVING care.
Loving care says with a smile, "good morning, dear."
Loving care asks "what can I do for you?"
Loving care goes out of the way to feed....
heart, soul, and mind, and stomach.
It does not leave children to fend for themselves in any way.
How can I say that with conviction?
  Because we are to be imitators of God,
 and He never, never leaves us to fend for ourselves.

With loving care he tends to all that we need, and goes above and beyond.
He did not just provide food.
 He provided amazing, diverse, pleasant, satisfying food, and that in abundance.
(likewise we for our children)
He does not drag us along.  He tenderly leads us.
(by His strength, shall we tenderly lead and guide our children)
He did not give us a dry barren place to live.
He created a planet full of incredible beauty, full of unimaginable discoveries and delights.
(Our homes should reflect this)
He does not just observe from above, He is fully present, actively involved with us all the time.
(this is the trademark of a nurturing mama)

I think our corner appeared
 after a reviving and refreshing home school conference,
 we were convinced that our home life should take a dramatic reconstruction.
Our eyes were opened to the sacredness and responsibility 
we carry as parents.
 It is a great thing to take these tender lives, rich with so many possibilities,
and be responsible before God for their shaping and training and building of character.
We are the builders of the home.
  Our home will be what we make it. 
 Its tone,
 its atmosphere,
its spirit,
 its influence will be derived from us, the parents.
Having been thus humbled, and well, scared to death,
we repented before our children and asked them to forgive us,
and shared with them that we wanted our home to change,
 to reflect God and his character instead of the world's sad model.
Eagerly they agreed.
 There were many hugs and tears...and then, much prayer for how to begin.
J.R. Miller's old, old book, "Homemaking"  popped off the shelf at us
 and quickly became  indispensable...still is.
(please, please, please read it!)

And so,
Intentionally, I created a plan to begin our day with nurturing,
(I light a candle, we snuggle together, often with tender music)
 to continue with nurturing,
(we eat breakfast and have devotions, read aloud)
and end with nurturing.
(often reading aloud, prayers and tucking in)
  Know what's in the middle?  Nurturing.
(daily teatime, schoolwork together with no yelling, a meaningful dinner, 
all woven together with words of encouragement and affirmation)

Sprinkling loving acts of care and kindness
 that enrich and ennoble our lives throughout our day
 was the first step in transforming our home school into something beautiful,
 something we would all look forward to,
something just plain wonderful.

Kind words,
 smiles all around,
 candles, music, cuddles and hugs,
 patient teaching and instruction,
 working together,
 praying together,
singing together,
reading aloud, tea time, one on one time,
a well set table,
 preparing a good meal,
taking walks together,
taking time to tuck children in at night,
 anything that makes a person feel special-
 these habits are nurturing and uplifting.

Later, I read Sally Clarkson's book, The Life Giving Home.
Very inspiring.  I highly recommend it.
Even just contemplating the title is a place to begin.
What would a "life giving home" look like?
I believe it is a home where we honor one another with our words, our time, our talents.
   A place where we focus on giving and trust that Lord will fill us back up again.

And, I believe nurturing, or "life-giving" is just what women were made for.
 We are naturals.
 Sure, it will take a bit of practice to really get your nurturing rolling.
But, backed by prayer and a promise that God will see you through,
 you can begin.
You see, the nurturing is for you, too.  It will lift you up as well.
Then, your home school, and home life may just turn a corner.


  1. Thank you Julianne for such a beautiful and poetic testimony of your journey toward consciously cultivating a life-giving home, a nurturing environment centered on relationships, modeling character with humility, not burdensome and oppressive, but rather supportive, caring, loving, so that each child knows that home is their place of refuge from all of the things that may trouble them from within and without.

    Each year I sense more and more that families have lost their sense of what a Godly home should really look like and I'm not talking about the kind of perfect little flawless on the outside, shiny happy looking children eagerly learning, serving, avoiding all sense of discord while internally they are struggling with growing up and who really loves them enough to accept them with their flaws, yet lovingly guide them back, even after failing again and again.

    I knew this kind of home in my childhood and deeply long to help others know what it really can be. Each year it seems to get a little harder as the world around us continues to shape us and pull us away from our core, the family bonds that keep us needing each other, trusting each other, relying on each other, and loving each other.

    I am grateful for the privilege of having been in your home in recent years and feeling a part of this nurturing home life that you are earnestly striving to build. For me too, it is my safe place, my happy place, a loving retreat from the world. Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. Thank you Carl, for your wonderful words. I too have seen the decline, which is why it is addressed here, and why we are praying that this message goes out to many many homes and is received with open hearts. You have been a tremendous part of the developing homelife here at Providence Lodge...your wise council and inspirational discussions have been an instrumental source, divinely appointed, and always cherished. What a gem you are!

  2. Do you have any suggestions as to how to entertain littles while schooling your older children without them creating a distraction? Sometime it feels so hard to keep focus and not let frustration run away with you when the little ones are loud or in need of attention

    1. Jaclyn, I do! Thank you for asking! I love to see a teachable heart. We have had preschoolers with us for 19 years of our 20 years home schooling. I have alot to say about it, 14 posts in the label "Life With Preschoolers. Please read them all...and as always, your questions and comments are most welcome. Please let me know if after reading the 14 posts, you still have questions!

    2. Thank you! I will definitely read them!


Your comments and input are very much appreciate
- Blessings!

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