Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dying to Self

I have grappled with the logistics of creating a master family schedule for several months. In homeschooling families, they are essential. However, each time I would sit down to work on it, I would become overwhelmed and discouraged. Finally, in desperation a few months ago, I e-mailed my local homeschooling group for ideas on completing chores AND homeschooling, with very young children around. One of the suggestions was humorous.

"Keep your bathroom above gas-station standards, and just love on those babies! They're only young once."

Another was very practical. One mom said to try the website. She mentioned that it had schedules. Maintained by a veteran homeschooling couple of 8 children, Steve and Terri Maxwell, the sight has all kinds of valuable resources for homeschooling families. They created a book entitled Managers of Their Homes, which teaches how to make a master family schedule. Terri Maxwell also wrote a beautiful book entitled Homeschooling With a Meek and Quiet Spirit.

I checked the sight right after getting the suggestion, but the materials seemed like a lot for our limited budget, so I didn't buy anything at that time. Then, when I found out I was pregnant again, I knew I had to have help with scheduling, so I did go back to the sight and order the Managers book and the Meek and Quiet Spirit book.

Terri's book is not very long, and I'm nearly done with it. How convicting it has been! I discovered that I have some very wrong attitudes about my right to free time, and about the amount of extra work involved in the homeschooling lifestyle. I see that I have been using Daniel's probable ADHD, and its stresses, to give myself license to take two-and-a-half hours of free time after the children go to bed (various reading and writing). I reasoned that Daniel is so stressful to raise, that I NEED time on the computer to read and write. The kicker is that while blogging helps me unwind, it comes with a high price in terms of organization and my ability to finish chores. In turn, not finishing chores robs me of a meek and quiet spirit, since it is so frustrating to look around at all that needs to be done.

As well, my husband has to repeatedly come home at 11:30 at night to see unfolded laundry on the couch, and me in the kitchen at 11:30 PM, finally getting to the dishes. Staying up late to clean the kitchen and spend at least some time with Don, means that I sleep far too few hours, which robs me of a meek and quiet spirit.

Here is the list from her book about meek and quiet spirit robbers:

fear and worry
hard work and dying to self

She writes a chapter on each of these robbers, as well as one on the power of gratitude, contentment and a smile, and on the power of a meek and quiet spirit.

I see clearly that I have to say goodbye to much of my free time, as I can't serve my children and family well under these circumstances. God sustains us, renews us, strengthens us. I need to keep my eyes on Him, and not on my computer screen.


Betsy said...

All I can say is, "amen."
I'm turning off the computer now and going to read a real live, made of paper I can touch, book. Thanks.

Jen(ni)/Fern said...

Ooooh. Ouch. That definitely gets me -- I find I am not very even keeled, and so extreme disorganization gets me irritable and short-tempered with the kids, and it snowballs from there.

I actually intended to homeschool, and this last October I finally gave up on it. I was so impatient and stressed with the littler ones and realized it will always be something, and I was being unkind to my daughter (we were only working on kindergarten, too!) because I wanted her to care more, be more interested, etc. about the work.

I am sad about giving up on that. Maybe one day. But I think my "need" for free time is a big problem for me. Which makes me think I should probably work on our gigantic laundry pile instead of blog-hopping more tonight.

Mama P said...

Congrats on the new baby and impending organization! Just when you get the organization down, a newborn will blow it to bits! Wait... that wasn't so encouraging. Humor. Humor.