“And the winner is… _______!”
The crowd goes wild with shouts, and the hall reverberates with thunderous applause. Such is a usual scene at an awards ceremony.
News about the recently concluded Academy Awards was trending on my social media feed, with the best of the best bagging the highly coveted Oscar. It was a celebration that paid tribute to the excellence and hard work of people in the film industry.
I’m not an avid movie-goer, and I was even clueless that it was Oscar season. But in any case, this reminded me that I, together with my husband, actually have an “Oscar.” And here it is…
We “won” this in early January 2017, if I remember right. Our son gave it to us when we were at Universal Studios. It turned out that while we were in one of the shops there, my son approached his ninang (my sister-in-law), and asked if she could pay for it, since he wanted to surprise us with it. Generous ninang gave in. And when my son presented it to us, aww…we were super touched! (And amused at how he used his leverage with his ninang, haha!)
So, wow, to receive “Best Parents” Award. What an honor. But it made me think. Am I really doing my best at parenting? Now, with that thought, it could’ve gone either way—me feeling bad that I wasn’t measuring up, or me feeling blessed with the opportunity of parenthood, and wanting to become a better parent.
To be honest, there was a slight temptation to go the path of “woe is me,” but nah, that would just be a waste of time and energy. I decided to chill. 😀
I often say that homeschooling is an extension of parenting. And I also say that homeschooling is not for everyone. So whether a parent homeschools or not, I think it’s safe to say that parents only want the best for their children, so they will do what it takes to give their kids what they believe is best for them.
There are no perfect parents, but there are perfect parents. Translation: There are no sinless, flawless parents, but there are parents who are the perfect ones for their kids. We all fit in the latter category. Because love is our motivation, and love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8). And well, God handpicked us in the first place. Thank You, Lord!
Have you had a similar experience, when your kids made you feel like you were actually doing something right as a parent? Feel free to share in the comments!
(This is an excerpt from the July 2019 edition of Homeschool Huddle—a paid online membership community for homeschool moms.)
Congratulations, you’ve decided to homeschool! Yay! But then it dawns on you…you have now added another layer of responsibility to your life, and it’s a major one: your child’s (or children’s) education. Homeschooling in itself already has so many moving parts. And that’s what you’re adding into the mix of your life that includes other concerns such as managing your household and home, work or business or ministry. Or you may already be in the homeschooling trenches, and are discovering that some other things are not being given the attention they used to have. How might you even balance it all?
Women, especially moms, are known to be great jugglers in the figurative sense. We’re praised for being able to manage so many things at the same time. But if we were to peel back into our core, many of us might feel frustration, stress, overwhelm, and even burnout. Can I get an “Amen”?
I can relate because to this day, those feelings still surface. I am still a work-in-progress. (And well, we all are.) But the good news is, you and I are all “in-progress,” moving forward, step by step, improving a little at a time. So is there a way to balance it all? Is there even such a thing? This whole thing about life balance seems so elusive…
What does it mean, anyway?
The dictionary (Merriam-Webster) gives these definitions for “balance”:
- physical equilibrium
- stability produced by even distribution of weight on each side of the vertical axis
- mental and emotional steadiness
And as a verb, a couple of definitions are:
- to bring into harmony or proportion
- to equal or equalize in weight, number, or proportion
When you look at most of these definitions, what’s implied is that both or all sides have equal weight. Now think of yourself as, say, riding a bike or trying to balance on a beam—don’t you naturally find yourself compensating for your weight, moving left and right to be able to manage yourself, adjusting and course-correcting as you go?
This is the idea that author Michael Hyatt writes about in his article entitled, “What No One Ever Told You About Work-Life Balance.” He mentioned how he brought his mentoring group to a ropes course. “When we were balanced, it never really felt like we were. Our legs constantly moved and wobbled, and we strained to grip each other and the nearest tree,” he said. “But we stayed on that line a long time: making little corrections, adjusting our weight, and trying to stay upright. It didn’t feel like balance, but it was.”
Meanwhile, some people would rather use the term “life integration,” because why separate work and life, when work (or in our case, homeschooling) is part of life!
It’s normal to feel unbalanced. Our lives are hardly ever linear. There are so many layers and aspects, that the weaving in and out, and overlapping of things are inevitable. We might not be aware of it, but many times, we are already accustomed to making small adjustments here and there. Now, when we feel something is really out of whack in our lives, then we might already be in crisis mode. This is what we want to avoid. And so taking two of the definitions of balance—that of “mental and emotional steadiness” and “to bring into harmony”—is important.
Why do we want balance?
We long for balance because we want less stress in our lives. Less stress means better health and more happiness. It’s impossible to have a problem-free life or a challenge-free homeschool (we do live in a flawed world). But we can have the grace of balance, that which comes with the “peace that passes all understanding” that the Bible speaks of, as well as a deep joy from the Lord.
Here are 4 things we can do to balance homeschooling and our other responsibilities:
- Pray. Seek God’s will in your current situation. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:33, NLT). This type of prayer asks for God’s wisdom and guidance: “Lord, what is Your message in all this? What do You want me to do?” Being one with God’s heart allows us to receive a sense of peace and balance.
- Prioritize. When you identify your priorities, you will have a better grasp of what’s more important to you. Then it will be easier to decide what will take precious space in your calendar. With this, you can also plan better and make a schedule according to your priorities.
- Set boundaries. Setting boundaries will help you be true to your priorities, and not let other things encroach upon them. They will also help you say no to what might not be beneficial to you now, so you can fully say yes to what aligns with your priorities.
- Recognize that there is a time for everything. “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NLT). And to qualify “everything,” I refer to “everything that God wants in your life now.” It’s not about cramming all the learning resources and all the extra-curricular activities that might leave both you and your child exhausted; rather, it’s about keeping with the natural rhythms of activity and rest, of productivity and recreation.
In conclusion, balance will look differently for each one, depending on your respective callings, and how God made you. And there will be seasons when you’ve decided that a certain area may need greater focus than others. The most important thing is to seek God, and He will guide you to what works best for you and your family.
Dear Lord, thank You that You have ordered everything to its own time. I lift up to You my situation right now. You know all my concerns and all my tasks—in homeschooling and other areas. Please grant me wisdom that I may align everything to Your will, and that I may keep in pace with Your Holy Spirit. Show me what I must say no to in this season, that I may say yes to all that You want for me now. Grant me the grace of balance. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
- What are your priorities now? Are they reflected in your schedule, or are other things swallowing up time that ought to be devoted to them?
- What adjustments can you make to reflect your priorities?
- What boundaries can you set to manage your energy more wisely?
This August 2019, our main topic is on “Planning Your Homeschool Day.” Want to join the membership? You can go for monthly, 3 months, or the 5-month payment option till August 16 (you get to save on the last one plus receive a bonus). More details here.
Here’s what some mommies said about Homeschool Huddle:
“A source of encouragement.”
“It has given me some sort of security blanket, that I can turn to this group if ever I will feel down or discouraged.”
“[It helps] me discern if I can homeschool my twins in the future.”
“The talk for this month about how to balance homeschooling has been really a great reminder/help.”
For questions, email me at email@example.com, or message me at my FB page, Homeschoolified.
As I write this, I’m chillin’ with some jazz music as my 11-year-old helps his ninong, my brother—a sound engineer—clean a lot of audio cables, speaker wires, extension cords and the like. I figure this is a good activity for character development, to help my son learn about responsibility and a good work ethic. I overhear his ninong telling him that he’s doing the job well, and quickly at that.
After about an hour, my son finished cleaning all the cables from one big bag. (There were more than 50 cables, I was told.) I’m happy and impressed because: 1) He actually did not complain at all! (I was thinking he might…); 2) He did it excellently: he followed instructions, and even cleaned the trickier and harder parts with much attention to detail; 3) He did not give up and continued till the work was done.
I then asked my son how he felt afterwards, and he said, “Accomplished.”
To me, this is a homeschool win because I’ve been praying for my son to grow in this good trait of responsibility. And so when I overheard that my brother had all these cables to sort and clean, I saw it as a learning opportunity and volunteered my tween to lend a hand. So there.
I think it’s important to celebrate homeschool wins, whether academic or non-academic. Because many times, we can easily lose ourselves in the “am I doing this right” or “I’m not a good enough homeschool mom” or any of that type of self-flagellating inner talk. Of course, there will always be room for improvement, but if we only focus on what we haven’t done yet or what we haven’t done right, we fail to see how far we’ve already come and how much good we’ve already imparted to our kids via the homeschool route. (And hint: homeschool can involve everyone in your immediate and extended family, and even beyond!)
So I encourage you to celebrate your homeschool wins. Think about it: what have you done right in your homeschool this past week? And if no one has told you yet, congratulations! (The fact that you’re homeschooling is already a win in itself!)
Feel free to share in the comments what homeschool wins you had recently. Blessings!
The past few days—Tuesday and Wednesday in particular—I felt some heaviness in my heart. I had been praying about God’s direction, and what He wanted me to do to continue contributing to the homeschool community. The last 6 months of 2018, I was on a roll, with so much momentum. I also began planning for 2019, with goals in place. But then in January, I began to slow down. Since then, I have been praying really hard, to the point of asking God if I should even continue. Thoughts like these began creeping into my head:
Is this really what I should be doing now?
Is this really for me?
Is this really…“me”?
I’m no expert…
Then last week, I saw “heavy-weights” in the homeschooling community on my social media feed, and I blurted out in my mind that I would not continue anymore. Why should I even continue when all these “bigatin” experts are already out there? Then I enumerated in my mind how this person is already doing this, and that person is already doing that, and what else could I contribute? Medyo kaloka…maybe also because I’m at this point called…midlife!
Amid all these weird feelings, I continued to pray for God’s guidance. And then came that sense of heaviness…God began to put a burden on my heart for children. The trigger was this creepy online challenge targeting kids, brainwashing them to do horrifying things. I don’t even want to go into details. This alarmed and disturbed me, and made me angry…it made me angry at all the evil around us. The most vulnerable, the most helpless—the children—the ones who need to be protected the most, they are the ones being attacked!
I realized it was just like it was in the days of Baby Moses, or Baby Jesus, when authorities were out to kill babies. Just like in this day and age, when abortion is legal in several parts of the world, and in one US city, is considered legal up until the day of birth (crazy!!!). Then the abuse, the bullying…and now this creepy online challenge. Many other issues out there put children in harm’s way. It’s a sad and brutal reality.
So yeah, I began to have this sinking feeling. But at the same time, that burden began to brew something else. A stirring of the spirit, if you will. A renewed sense of why we homeschool.
This battle for our children will not be simply won in the same realm of the flesh, in the arena of the world. It has to be constantly fought in the spiritual realm. Let’s consider what the Bible says:
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12, NLT)
I use God’s mighty weapons, not those made by men, to knock down the devil’s strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:4, TLB)
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. (1 Peter 5:8-9a, NLT)
This is called “spiritual warfare.” In the midst of all our efforts in forming our children according to our faith and values, let us be aware that these are strengthened a hundred times more by a higher power—God’s power. Our enemy seems to be of Goliath proportions, but thanks to our hindsight bias, we already know who gets the upper hand:
David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you….” (1 Samuel 17:45, NLT)
The evil one is wreaking havoc and will do whatever he can to bring people to his side. One of his strategies is attacking the basic unit of society: the family. Which is why his blows are aimed towards marriages, parents, and children. But in this one passage, Jesus shows us how He is here to topple the works of the enemy:
“A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10, NABRE)
I sensed the urgency to share this message with you, and for as long as God gives me something to share and contribute to the homeschooling community, as long as He tells me to keep going in this direction, then I will.
(Just saw my word count, and it’s nearing 800 words. This might be too long a read for you already, so I will continue this message in my next post…)
What are your thoughts so far on fighting for our children in the spiritual realm? Feel free to message me or post in the comments.
Allow me to share with you a “secret power” in our homeschool. This secret power does not come from me, or my husband, or my child, or other people, or in processes and systems. But I believe it is this secret power that has sustained us all through the years.
What is this secret power? Or maybe I should change the question to, WHO is this secret power?
This secret power is…(drum roll)…the Holy Spirit!
Yep, tada! That’s how I’ve been operating—through the power of the Holy Spirit. Without Him in our homeschool, I’d be running around like a headless chicken…it would be kalerks everyday! (Yes, there are still crazy days, but thanks to the Holy Spirit, who corrects my course.)
Who is the Holy Spirit, anyway? Well, we probably know Him in our heads as the Third Person of the Trinity. But did you know that He doesn’t have to remain as some distant Being? Truth be told, He is the presence of Jesus in our midst. The Holy Spirit is our guide, our teacher, is the One who can instruct us in all things. So when we don’t know what to do, when we feel stuck in our homeschool, we can ask for His help!
“But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” (John 14:26, NLT)
This gives me so much assurance: He will teach you everything. This means we can rely on Him to help us in teaching our children, He will equip us, He will lead us to the resources that we need at the time we need them, He will guide us to the people who are meant to journey with us at certain seasons…He will even pray for us! Here’s what it says in a Bible passage:
And in the same way—by our faith—the Holy Spirit helps us with our daily problems and in our praying. For we don’t even know what we should pray for nor how to pray as we should, but the Holy Spirit prays for us with such feeling that it cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows, of course, what the Spirit is saying as he pleads for us in harmony with God’s own will. (Romans 8:26-27, TLB)
Isn’t that great to know, that the Holy Spirit Himself also prays for us! Sure, we pray for one another…but when the Holy Spirit prays for us, whoa! You can count on it and begin to see awesome things happening.
Here’s one example. I was super swamped with responsibilities at work (I was still a full-time employee then, and could hardly keep homeschooling consistent. We were also homeschooling independently and would choose our own curriculum). So I prayed and asked the Holy Spirit’s guidance on how to homeschool during this very busy, crazy season. Then during a time of prayer and reflection, He reminded me that we lived just a few minutes away from the library. My son loves to read, so off we walked to the library to borrow some books. He devoured the books and enjoyed them.
It sounds so simple, but my mental bandwidth was so full of things I needed to accomplish at work, I was in dire need of the Holy Spirit’s guidance. And as I gave time to listen to His voice in prayer, He gave me a simple solution: go to the library!
So let me encourage you to begin to tap into this secret power—the Holy Spirit! He will gladly instruct you in your homeschool journey!
ANNOUNCEMENT: Registration for The Courageous Homeschooler group coaching program is now EXTENDED to November 14, 2018. First session begins on November 15, Thursday. For details, click here: http://citygirlcountryhome.com/the-courageous-homeschooler/ You may also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org