By Grace Alone

The real life struggles of a Christian mom

A Meek and Quiet Spirit, Part 2 June 26, 2008

Filed under: parenting,spiritual growth — Marissa Henley @ 8:16 am
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I recently finished “Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit” by Teri Maxwell and heartily recommend it to you, whether you are homeschooling or not. I hope to homeschool part-time, and this book was very relevant to me. Although there is some content in the book related specifically to homeschooling, it just as well could have been titled “Parenting with a Meek and Quiet Spirit.”  (You may want to see my earlier post on the first half of the book.)

In her chapter on “Hard Work and Dying to Self,” Maxwell emphasizes that as mothers, we should not expect much time to ourselves. This is a tough one for me. In the past, I have identified myself as the type of mom who needs time away from my kids. Lately, God has shown me that this is not a need, it is a desire. He supplies it often, but I should not demand it. And I should not grow resentful when I don’t think I’m getting enough of it. Every minute that I’m with my kids is an opportunity to share the Gospel with them, train them in righteousness, and love them. I should not wish that time away.

Another great point in this chapter was that if you were not homeschooled, you should be careful not to compare your life to your mother’s. In most cases, your mother had five days each week while you were at school to complete housework, work outside the home, or accomplish other wonderful things. She probably spent evenings and weekends relaxing with her husband and family. If you are homeschooling, your life will look very different. I know that once my kids are in school part-time, it will be difficult for me to not compare my life to my friends whose kids are in school full-time. I’m sure I will sway back and forth between insane jealousy and self-righteous pride in our choice–both sinful attitudes. I pray that God will keep me humbly obedient to what He has called us to do.

Another great point that Maxwell discusses is our role as a helper for our husband. (See Genesis 2:18.) She writes that we are not to view our husband as our helper (although he hopefully will be from time to time!), but we should be looking for ways we can help and support him. I am definitely guilty of thinking, “What can my husband do to help me today?” After all, he has been idly sitting around operating on people’s hands while I slave away at home all day! I cringe at the thought of serving him–do I seriously have to add one more person to the list of people who demand my help and attention? And yet, Genesis 2 tells me that this is my role. I was created to be Noel’s helpmeet. And God will provide the strength to fulfill this role.

One last thing I loved in this book was her reminder that we need to smile more at home. I wish I could see myself through my kids eyes, or walk around with a mirror in front of my face. I suspect that my face shows annoyance, exhaustion and frustration more than it shows joy. Maxwell suggests that making an effort to smile more will go a long way toward creating a more joyful atmosphere in the home. Surely I can handle that!

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A Meek and Quiet Spirit, Part 1 June 9, 2008

Filed under: parenting,spiritual growth — Marissa Henley @ 8:45 pm
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When I recently ordered the Maxwell’s scheduling book (Managers of Their Homes), I noticed another book on their website. Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit, by Teri Maxwell. No thanks, I thought. You see, I’m planning on homeschooling three days a week with an angry and resentful spirit. Who wants to be meek and quiet? Doesn’t sound like it would serve my interests all that well. It was about at that point in the train of thought that I realized I must immediately click “Add to Cart.” And I’m really glad I did.

I would definitely recommend this book to any homeschooling mother OR any mom who struggles with keeping her sanity, let alone a meek and quiet spirit, during long days at home with preschoolers. I’ve learned so much already from this book, and I haven’t even gotten to Chapter 6: Hard Work and Dying to Self. I know that one is going to hurt tomorrow morning and will probably result in the post, A Meek and Quiet Spirit, Part 2 (why I changed my mind about this book). Ha ha!

I have learned so much from her discussion of “meek and quiet spirit robbers” such as fear and worry, disorganization, and anger. I have been reminded several times by this book that my children are watching the way I deal with worries and how I control (or fail to control) my anger and frustration. All of my teaching on self-control won’t do any good if I don’t exhibit it myself!

In her chapter on Anger, Maxwell writes about having high goals and low expectations for our kids. Low expectations should not be confused with permissiveness. But she points out that our children are just that–children. They are in the process of learning how to be godly adults (we hope), but they are still learning. So while we have lofty goals for our children’s obedience, kindness to others, self-control, responsibility, etc., we must understand that they are going to fall short of those goals. Our expectation is that they will disobey and require discipline from us. If I start my day knowing this, it will take away my shock that our son is yelling at his brother over a toy again and might help me keep my temper under control.

Maxwell also suggests having well-defined consequences mapped out for disobedience or irresponsibility. That way, there is no stress involved in figuring out how to handle disciplining a child. When the child disobeys, the consequence is given. That way, the consequence doesn’t depend on mom’s mood or how many times the infraction has occurred that afternoon, and everyone knows what to expect.

Maxwell also points out that anger is a choice. She gives the examples of not being as easily angered at church as we are at home, or yelling at our children until the phone rings and then answering the phone in a calm tone of voice. That was so convicting for me! It is a choice. And so often I choose poorly because I am trying to rely on my own strength. What I appreciate about this book is that it is not only giving me practical suggestions for how to deal with fear, disorganization and anger, but also reminding me that I will not do well at any of it if I am not relying on God’s grace and strength. His grace is sufficient!

 

My new summer schedule May 31, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Marissa Henley @ 9:45 pm
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I recently read “Managers of Their Homes” by Steve and Teri Maxwell, which is a scheduling book for homeschooling moms (primarily those with several kids). Although I will only be homeschooling 3 days a week and don’t intend to ever have more than 3 children (never say never, right??), this book was very helpful to me. (Thank you, Lynette for recommending it. Has anyone noticed all the great recommendations I get from Lynette? I recommend that you get a Lynette in your life–someone who reads the newspaper every day and talks often with intelligent people and is full of useful and interesting information.)

One reason I wanted to read about developing a schedule for our family is that I feel that on days that we are at home, I tend to ignore my kids. That sounds awful, but it is true. They play reasonably well together, so I can get away with sitting on the computer, writing insightful blog posts, emailing friends, and updating my Facebook status, only emerging occasionally to referee their arguments and hand out snacks. Then all of a sudden, it is dinnertime and my kids haven’t been read to all day. So after reading the Maxwells’ advice, I sat down to make a schedule. I prayerfully considered all the things I want to accomplish in a day: teaching Christopher to do chores, reading to the kids, having Christopher read to me, coloring and doing crafts with them, playing outside, having time for family worship/Scripture memory/prayer, and spending individual time with each boy while the other one does something independently. Then I mapped out three schedules–one for days we go somewhere in the morning, one for days we go somewhere in the afternoon, and one for days we (gulp) stay home all day.

I am proud to say that implemented my schedule last week. It seemed like a good week to start, since it was a 4-day week, and I left town on Friday, so I really only had three days of the schedule. Are you dying to know how it went? I thought so.

Day One: Things went fairly well, except for when I set Christopher up to color and practice writing letters while I played with Will, and Will wanted to color instead of playing in his room with me. I think the concept of playing alone with Mommy was so new to him he didn’t understand what was happening. But once we got going with some puzzles, he had a great time. We got behind schedule in the afternoon, and things started getting a little hairy. But Daddy came home early and whisked the boys away on errands at 4:30, bringing the schedule to a mercifully early end.

Day Two: Beautiful. Of course, the kids were with a sitter all morning. Sure does make it easier!

Day Three: Made it through half of the day (the part where we were gone all morning) and abandoned the schedule for the afternoon in the interest of laundry, packing and errands before leaving town.

So it may not be the most successful start, but there is all kinds of time between now and Labor Day for improvement. I have noticed several advantages already. The primary one is that I have been getting up earlier. All four days last week, I was completely showered and dressed AND spent time with God before my kids got up. I am not a morning person, and so this is a big deal for me. Of course, it isn’t so hard to get up when the sun is shining and there are birds singing outside my window–the winter will be more challenging! Also, I’ve been more organized with my housework. I thought I wouldn’t get as much done because I’m spending more intentional time playing with my kids, but somehow the opposite has happened. Amazing! And even on the days that the schedule came unglued, I read to my kids and Christopher read to me. In just a week of dedicated reading time with Christopher, his reading skills have really taken off. I’m so proud of him!

If this is something you’d like to try and want more info, leave a comment and I’d be happy to email you my schedules. I think it will be great this summer to keep us from just wasting the time we have together, and it will be great when preschool starts back up so I can prioritize the things I want to accomplish with the kids.