And all through the house,

The children were singing!

Even the mouse.

Okay, not really.  The crowds aren’t going wild at the thought of a new school year starting tomorrow.  But, let me tell ya, the teacher is STOKED.  I may, or may not, have slept in the school room last night on a sleeping bag with flashcards in one hand and timeline figures in the other.

Most of it is giddy excitement.  But some of it is a good old fashioned freak out.  We’re pulling some major changes around here, and I am well out of my comfort zone.  In my last post, I neatly listed out our curriculum, and on FB, I  posted a photo of my super organized school schedule.  (Didya see it?  It was something else.  A masterpiece of Type A-ness.  I practically scheduled their digestive process in there. )

But… something happened to me.  I wasn’t looking for this, but the Lord has been gently working on my heart about my children.  It has been trickling in at me from many directions, a quiet flow of small changes, until before I knew it, I was floating on top of something totally new.

I haven’t been in this new place long enough to share much about how things are different, but I’ll share the things that have buoyed me to this place.  Maybe they’ll lift you up to something new, too.

First, this article called “The View from Childhood.” (linked by a dear friend a few months ago).  Basically, it’s about how you look in your home.  It’s about showing the most important people in your life that they matter, by taking care with your appearance.  This really resonated with me, and I started making more of an effort.  Earrings or a summer dress or perfume– just small ways to make their mama more pleasurable to them.  Getting “dressed for work” lets them know that they are VIPs to me.  And an unexpected joy– their sweet words, “oh mama!  You look so pretty today!” or them snuggling in for a book and taking a deep breath of me.  What a boost of love!  It seems like such a small, insignificant change to make, but it has made a big difference.

Next, a conversation I had with someone, but I can’t remember who!  (You?) The comment was that whenever they make dessert, the kids want to know who is coming over for supper.  We laughed, because that’s certainly true at my house, too.  But, it stayed with me- it revealed something in my home that I wanted to change.  So now, sometimes I make something decadent for snack.  Sometimes I fry chicken.  Sometimes we eat on real plates!  Sometimes we all go get icees for no reason at all.  I try not to make the only special foods/meals be when company is over or it’s somebody’s birthday.  I love surprising them, and it’s brought even more joy into our house.  Look, we’re not rich people here.  There aren’t any Disney trips in their near future.  But there are a million ways for them to know they are a Big Deal to me.  The more I show it, the more ways I find to show it.  I promise, it does more for their hearts than Disney can.

Another thing, and this one has been coming from our pastor, and from some books I’ve been reading about schooling. It’s about saying YES.  It got to be a running joke around my house, that if you wanted to get a YES, you went to Dad.  ‘Cause Mama is the Queen of No.  Well, shoot.  I don’t want to be the Queen of No!  Why am I saying “no” to everything in the first place?  Is there a good reason?  So now when they ask me if they can do something, I take a minute.  I think about why I have the knee-jerk answer of “no.”  Is it too messy?  Too inconvenient?  Is it dangerous?  Do I simply not want to be bothered at this moment?   If I’ve got a legitimate reason to say no, then is there a compromise that we can come up with?  I’m trying to find more ways to say YES.  “No” still exists in our house, but I’m no longer the queen of it.  And let me tell you, it really tickles me to surprise them with a “yes.”  I get a kick out of that shocked look on their face.  Messes can be cleaned- memories are more important.  So, instead of “no,” I ask myself “why not?”  If there’s a good answer to that, then so be it.  Otherwise, YES!

Yet another really good one came from my friend Brian.  Not sure how it came up, but the conversation came around to the fact that he’s a kid magnet.  True.  He said he thinks it’s because he really LISTENS to them.  Looks them in the eye, and asks questions and hangs on every answer.  It was an offhand comment, but it stuck with me for a while afterwards.  Because I know for a fact, there are plenty of days I am totally distracted, half-listening, and wishing  some of their stories were shorter and the punch line was quicker.  Why would I do that?  These are my kids!  I don’t want other people to be listening to them better than ME!  So, I’m trying.  I make an effort to be still, to enjoy them, to really communicate to them that I am LISTENING.  I laugh at their antics, I ask follow-up questions, I examine their artwork more closely.  I’m trying to be more “present.”

And lastly, this fact:  We are here on this earth to glorify our Maker.  We are in our jobs, in our marriages, in our homes, in our relationships, to GLORIFY HIM.  This includes educating our children, however you choose to do that.  The chief end of their education is to glorify Him.  If you start from that truth, it really changes the shape of what and how you’re teaching them.  I mean, I always *knew* this, but now I *get* it.  I know what objectives the world has for my children.  I know what things they need to have learned by 5th grade, how advanced their vocabulary should be, what extracurricular activities will produce a well-rounded highschool graduate.  I get all that.  But, the world doesn’t care about their heart.  It doesn’t care about their ability to forgive, to perservere, to repent, to love their neighbor, to be kind and compassionate.  The world’s objectives are not the same as God’s.  It doesn’t mean there aren’t valuable things to be found in public education.  But it is not the measure that we should hold our Christian children up to.  I am free from that.  I am free of the format, the content, the structure of education as it has been established in this country.  That sounds wild and crazy and like I’m ready to dump the whole institution, but that’s not where I am.  I’m just saying that my objective is different, and it’s going to LOOK different.

All these things have been percolating in my mind for the last few months, and a funny thing happened.  These small changes joined together like trickling streams– and became a fast moving force that has swept away some long held notions and ideas about parenting and teaching, about LIFE.  It is changing me.  I have a long way to go, and  I certainly don’t have it figured out.  Most of it scares the pants off me!  I don’t know what to expect this year, and for Little Miss Type A, that is the stuff of nightmares.  🙂  But we’re going to go with it.  We’re going to swim with this river of change, and see where it takes us.  I went back to the drawing board, and erased most of what I had.  I let go of my super schedule.  I bought more colored pencils and binoculars.  I left big holes in the day, to let curiosity fill for us.  It’s going to be different in every way.  They don’t know what’s coming, and neither do I really, but I know that the Lord has led us here, so it’s gonna be good.

Homeschooling Year 8.  This is where it gets fun.