Weekend Links

I have been thinking about the best way to share links to good articles and posts I’ve read around the internet, and finally settled on picking the three best every week and sharing them in a quick post on Saturdays.

Keeping First Things First

Luma at Gospel of Grace shares, “A Definition of Christ-Centered Motherhood.”

A life prioritized on Christ will lead to gospel-fueled godly service: to one’s husband, children, neighbors, local church, and who knows how far it may reach. A life prioritized instead on service, including service to good ends like our children, will likely run out of steam, and even all that service will be as filthy rags.

It is so easy to focus on what we should do, rather than on who we are and Who Christ is. What we do is not insignificant, but if what we do is a product of sanctification rather than self-righteous striving, it will be the grateful overflow, not the focus.

It’s a Happier Life Being Ordinary

From Meagan Francis at The Happiest Mom comes “Having it all, part 1: In defense of an ordinary life.”

There was, apparently, a quite lengthy article in The Atlantic by a mom politician who gave up her D.C. gig so she could actually live in the same house as her family. What a concept. Her article is titled, “Women Still Can’t Have It All.” I haven’t read it, but I’ve seen a few responses to it. Meagan, here, addresses the fact that most of the women controlling the feminist conversation are simply out of touch with what normal — non D.C., non-power-career — women’s lives are like, even for moms with jobs outside the home. She points out that many of the author’s problems are problems that come with the high-profile nature of her job; they are not problems of the typical mother balancing a career and family, and those who choose not to have a career often aren’t doing so just because they can’t hack it.

Meagan’s piece here is a good reminder that it’s actually easier to be happy, healthy, and content when you live an ordinary life.

How can we shift our cultural focus from achievement, money and status to the experience of being human, of doing meaningful work, of loving and caring for our families and spending time with our friends?

Take Up and Read

Who Should We Go to for Homeschooling Advice?

The Silence of Older Homeschooling Moms,” written by Willa at Take Up & Read.

When we first got online, my oldest was just 13 and Chari’s oldest was just 11. We loved the deep lively discussions and working out of educational methods and ideas. But looking around our online community, we couldn’t help being aware that we were apparently in the veteran front guard. Hardly anyone with kids older than ours ever spoke up. We knew there MUST be homeschooling mothers with older children than ours, who had much experience to share. But where were they?

It does seem true that the vast majority of homeschool blogs are moms whose children are in the elementary and younger range primarily. Those with preschool age children eat up advice. Those in the thick of it love to evangelize for their choices. Those who have been there, done that, and are finished, tell the moms of preschoolers to relax and not jump the gun on starting an academic load. But what about the moms in the thick of it with elementary students? Just as when I was the mom with preschoolers, I heard most often from the older moms to start slow and relax, but their theme for elementary in-the-trenches moms seems to be mostly, “I don’t know. I didn’t do a great job. I can’t give you any advice or answers” or “It’s tough and it gets tougher. Have you thought about the day school options?” Sure, there are some who are die-hard evangelizers for their method or choices, but I don’t think I actually personally know any of those types. Mostly I encounter moms who are tired after their long years in the trenches and ready to move on to a new phase of life; the last thing they want to do is talk about being in the trenches again.

But perhaps we in-the-trenches moms should consider our approach. Are we having a conversation here or there, looking for an Answer? Moms who have been homeschooling for 20-30 years know there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, they know you have to do the best you can do with the materials and wisdom and faith you have, and they can’t give pat solutions to elementary & middle school dilemmas. “Relax” is a good pat answer to tell preschool moms. There just isn’t an equivalent for the middle years, and we shouldn’t be disappointed when older moms won’t give us three easy steps. And perhaps one of the lessons we should take from them, in their perspective, rather than curriculum-junkie peers, is that life is actually about more than homeschooling.

Do younger moms listen well enough to older moms? Do older moms share useful advice? What is your experience on this issue?

6 Responses

  1. Lisa H.
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    You are right; there is no “one-size-fits-all” advice.
    I’ve been home-educating for 20 years, and I think the reason veteran homeschooling mothers are mostly silent is that life accelerates as your children grow older. They have very little time, especially for online advice! You know all those great craft ideas, those skills you would really like to learn but felt like you don’t have time to learn now, with all the little folk about you> Don’t put it off… learn them now, WITH your little folk, because as they grow older you only grow busier and busier, and the “time to relax and learn” never comes! I have 8 children, ranging from 20 – 4,… I’ve not only graduated 3, but am in also in the process of starting out with our last. I suppose I’m still in the trenches, but this I’ve learned from having educated to the end: it never slows down, the time warp accelerates, and the position from which to handle this well is on the knees! Hold on, the ride just gets better!

  2. Willa
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    I really enjoyed your list of links — somehow three is more manageable than six or seven, and your comments rounded out the quotes.

    I liked Lisa’s thoughts on older moms. In addition, I have been thinking that perhaps older moms don’t tend to keep up with the Newest and Best resources as much, and that is what younger moms often seem to be looking for — curriculum advice! (I think you and Brandy are rather uncommon exceptions in being more interested in working out the significance of things).

    I see moms with kids approximately 10 years younger than mine being the most active in researching and the most confident about recommending resources. It’s like a mid-level stage when you have found things that work for you but haven’t quite tempered your first happy enthusiasm for them.

    This is not criticism — I really loved that stage when I was in the middle of it, I still feel a bit of it especially in spring and summer, and I think those moms do often give much inspiration and helpful advice to the youngers.

  3. Lisa
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    I am also a mom of eight, ages 20 to 9 months. I often bite my tongue at our homeschool mom’s night out because I don’t want to come across as too cynical. I was very idealistic, certain that filling my children with the true, good and beautiful would really make a difference. I am not so certain any more. In the end they must grow up in the Lord, apart from me. I cannot do that for them. And neither can the best curriculum available.

    • Mystie Winckler
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      Yes, I can see that. And I know a couple years ago after hearing that sort of “cynical” advice, I was very tempted to swing toward the “Well then why should I try so hard? Why **not** be a radical unschooler?”

      The “what I do doesn’t matter” is a tightrope to walk.

  4. Lisa H.
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    Lisa,

    I think you’re right! They must grow up apart from us, and only the Lord can do this work in their hearts. There is no one curriculum that will solve their character issues, only one Savior who can cover their sins. We mothers need to hold them, on the one hand (if you’ll pardon the phrase) with an open hand and on the other, with clenched fist giving it our all, because the war we are waging is a spiritual one, best fought with spiritual weapons, not a list of “how-to’s”, or the latest homeschool catalogs.
    I read this quote recently and have it up on my blackboard: Behavior does not determine the blessings; rather the Blessing should determine the behavior.
    We cannot go through a list of things every mother should do and expect some outcome: If x, then y.
    Rather, it is only God’s blessing of the Holy Spirit in the heart of a [child] that will bring about the behavior(reverence, love, grace and a chasing after the things of beauty, goodness and truth.)
    Compare the blessings listed in Deuteronomy that follow obedience (behavior brings blessing) vs. the fruit of the Spirit, the new man of the NT that bring forth good works that were prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Law vs. Grace! While we must not be lawless, too often as parents, we expect things to work out as in OT times. But the heart is what God wants… our heart. Home educating is for us, and hopefully, the children get something out of it too.
    Our solution as mothers of one or of many : humble yourself before Him, commit your ways to Him, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks.
    That place of thankfulness is where God causes the good fruit to appear.
    Blessings!