Monday, May 15, 2006

Cherishing our Children

I was told once by a friend that she doesn't think it is fair to tell homeschooling moms how to prevent getting burned out in their homeschool. She went on to tell me that over the years she has learned that everyone will go through it at some time or another. Rather we should be sharing how to get through it and out of it and maybe even how to lessen the chances of it. I there is some truth to what she said.

One thing I have found that has helped me to not feel so burned out is to make conscious efforts to cherish my time with my children. By homeschooling, I have been given an opportunity to be with my children in a way that parents whose children attend a school during the day do not have. When you homeschool though, it is very easy to get very wrapped up in the daily schedules and routines of your school and not be as aware of the true needs of your children. My focus can at times be on who has finished their homework or hasn't. Who needs more help in reading or math & I forget to look into their eyes and listen to their real words.

I looked up the definition of "cherish" in the dictionary. It said "to treat with affection and tenderness; hold dear. 2. to keep fondly in mind". Then I went to the Greek dictionary and found the Greek word. Thalpo was the Greek for cherish and it meant, "To soften by heat, to keep warm". That reminded me of a mother bird and how she keeps her eggs warm until they are ready to hatch. Do you remember the documentary movie that came out call, "March of the Penguins"? Do you remember how the newly hatched egg was carefully passed from the mother to the father? Then the father kept the egg buried deep in his fur away from the freezing temperatures for months. His main purpose at that time was to keep that egg safe and warm until the mother came back. He cherished that egg. That is such a wonderful picture that God has given us of how he cherishes us and how we can cherish our children.

In Luke 2:19, when Mary had just given birth to Jesus it says, "But Mary treasured up all these things in her heart." I think she must have cherished every moment with Jesus knowing who he was. Many times I find myself watching my children and treasuring up their play in my heart. I want to remember their childhood because it will be gone very soon. My heart aches all too often because I don't remember many of the special times I had with my oldest kids. I had the first five kids in less than 5 years. I didn't cherish my time with them; I just tried to get through it.

In 1 Samuel we are introduced to Hannah and her husband, Elkanah. She wanted a child very badly. She prayed to God desperately to give her a son (1 Samuel1:20). Finally scriptures say the Lord remembered her and she became pregnant. What great joy she must have felt. She had promised God that if he would give her a son she would give him back to God, she kept her promise. When Samuel was weaned she took him to the temple to be raised by Eli the priest. Don't you know that until that time Hannah cherished every moment she had with Samuel. She must have cherished each visit she had with him each year as he grew and trained under Eli.

So how can we cherish our children in a way that will help to keep us renewed in our calling to homeschool? I think one of the most important things we can do for our children is to pray for them. Use scripture in your prayers. God loves to hear his Word spoken back to him. Pray for their hearts and mind to remain pure and have a hunger for the Lord. Pray that they will desire repentance for their sin. Pray for their purity and for their future mates.

Another thing we can do is to journal about our children. Take notes on what they are doing. Make notes about bad attitudes or even better write down when you catch them doing something good. Notes of Excellence; I write down things I see in my children that can only be described as excellent. I try to praise them for those things & I thank God for their excellent traits.

When you have a house full of kids it is hard to spend individual time with each one, but when it happens it is always so special. I have a dear friend who has 10 kids and they have that time with their kids each night. They call it "eyeball time". Each kid has his or her own night and they get to stay up later than the rest & spend it with mom and dad. My friend says it is priceless what she has learned about each child and their relationship is so valuable to them both.

Deuteronomy 14:2 says. "for you are a people holy to the LORD your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession."

So much of the time I do not feel treasured by my family. I get so caught up in the daily routines and let the relationship go by wayside. When I feel this way, I know my family does not feel treasured by me. But remembering that I am treasured by God often helps keep my feet on the ground & my eyes on him. When I begin feeling overwhelmed by my big long list of "to do's" I put it away.

Matthew 11:28 says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Also, Mark 6:13b says, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest. " (NIV)

I love those two verses. Jesus is calling us away because he knows we need rest. He did not plan for us to become burned out and tired, but he knows it will still happen so he calls us to come to him and rest. Here are a few ways I do this.

I have smaller expectations on myself and my family. I do not expect my five year old to wash the dishes nor do I expect my 13 year old son to fix dinner. I do have expectations for them, but when I set those to high, they are dashed & I get upset. I also enter into my quiet time with the Lord hoping for 5 minutes. If I get 10 minutes, I have surpassed my expectations. When I expected to have an hour and only got 5 minutes I was upset rather than refreshed & renewed. A hot bath before bed counts to me as resting in the Lord because many times I pray while in the tub, listen to worship music or read..

We cannot prevent symptoms of burnout, just like we cannot prevent the temptation of sin. But if we recognize the warning signs and seek the Lord for the rest and guidance we need and desire, we won't experience it so often Don't forget that Jesus drew away for rest, why shouldn't we?

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