Tuesday, November 19, 2013

women living well book study: ch.13-15 discussion {on parenting mess-ups, the schooling decision + more} + study guide

This post is the part of the WLW book study series- you can find all the details and the previous posts in the study here!

Oh friends, parenting is one of the things I feel least qualified in. I see mostly where I mess up in this area. It's incredibly hard to be a mama. It really is, but I'm so thankful God "doesn't call the qualified, but He qualifies the called!" I'm thankful that my God is bigger than my mistakes and sins, and that He forgives me when I fail {every day!}. You know what I mean? :)

Chapter 13: Motherhood Mess-ups

I was so encouraged by this chapter. My 10 years of parenting has been full of mess-ups, so I was glad to know I'm not alone! ;) I've had moments when I just wanted to give up completely, to throw up my hands and stop trying altogether.

I remember when I first had Elijah- it was like my entire world shifted and I was the only one going through it. I was the first of all my friends to have a baby, and when I graduated, married, got a job, moved out of the city, and had a baby in a year {at barely 21}, I found myself going from a whirlwind of activity and people to suddenly completely alone at home with a tiny infant all day long. It was such a lonely time of my life.

I didn't regret the choices we'd made, but I was surprised at how different my life became. I could no longer just hop out at a gas station or go into a store without carrying a load of stuff and a stroller. 30-minute feedings and multiple clothing and diaper changes had to happen before I could even attempt to leave the house. :)

But looking back, though it felt so very long {the days felt like forever!}, that season of just babies was actually so short! It wasn't long before I found out I was pregnant for the second time, and things changed in our house all over again. Soon I found myself with two little toddler boys who loved to tag team and destroy everything in sight! ;)

oh, they were so little!! I can't believe I couldn't see it then like I do now.

Like Courtney mentions on page 136- the best thing was that as my boys were growing up, so was I! All those tantrums in the store and that time I had to chase Elijah around a friend's yard because he wouldn't obey when it was time to leave... those times were sanctifying and humbling, and made me realize that I could never be a perfect mom. All those great ideas I had B.P. {before parenting} of how I would never make separate foods for picky children, or how I didn't want my kids to ever play video games... they all kind of flew out the door over the years when I had real children living in my home. :)

Somehow, though, the Lord has been merciful to me and allowed me to grow in His grace. I'm so, so, soooo far from being a perfect mom, but over the years the Lord has gently nudged me and I yell less and love more than I did when I started, and most of the kids are growing up and out of their tantrums too. :P

Growing older always seems so sad, but it's really not- it's a wonderful thing to see how far your children have come, and how far you've come yourself too. It always seems like we aren't making progress, until we look back and see {thanks to our Father alone} that we've come a long way! And it gets better and better. :)

I think this was my very favorite quote from the chapter:

Training takes so long though, doesn't it? It seems to me like character training and potty training have a lot in common: they have to be the right age to understand, it doesn't usually happen overnight, and there are a whole lot of mess-ups. I can't just tell my kiddo how to go to the bathroom and expect them to know what to do. I have to teach them, and then train them how to do it over a period of time.

Both kinds of training may bring a few hard days, but they both are necessary, and their rewards are lasting and so worth it. :)

Chapter 14: I'm Gonna Blow My Top

Talk about a chapter every mama can relate to!

Oh, man. I know I have lost my cool a hundred more times than I could ever remember. I am ashamed at how I've yelled and lost it so many times. I wish I could say I have it all together and am entirely patient now but it would be such a lie. By God's grace, I've been forgiven, and it's gotten better, but I know I still have a long way to go.

I'd say over the last 10 years, unnecessary messes and setbacks have triggered mommy meltdowns for me the most. Oh, I remember getting so mad when the boys {3 and 2 at the time} ripped all of their wall paper border off the walls in tiny pieces. It left a huge mess on the wall and wasted so much money and time, and now I laugh at the story, but oh, that DAY. I was not a happy mama! ;)

I am so thankful that the Lord forgives me, and the Holy Spirit convicts and reminds me when I've sinned against my family. It's only in the last year or so that I've even been able to really notice and apologize to my children for losing my cool. The Lord keeps working on me, and I'm so thankful.

I found keeping calm is so much harder for me when I'm exhausted, and outright disobedience and ugliness often triggers anger in me too. Right now, Sunday mornings are one of the hardest days ever, and ironically, right before we go to church is the time I lose it the most often. The mornings I get up earlier, pray for peace and the Lord's help, have all of the clothes ironed, breakfast ready, and have the children bathed already are the good mornings! Why don't I remember that every week? Unfortunately, I like to postpone the work all too often.

When I'm more organized, I don't need the children to do as much on their own in a short time, and that helps me be a better {less irritable} mama. I was encouraged by this chapter to spend more time in reducing those kinds of triggers. Realizing my part in it is so helpful, and I am thankful for that conviction this week.

Chapter 15: Schools of Thought, Schools of Choice

The big schooling decision is a hard one to make. It has been for us, anyway. I loved how she starts out with this quote from the chapter:

"There is no cookie-cutter approach to schooling, because each parent and child and family is knit together uniquely with a unique set of challenges and skills." {p.151}

That has been very true for us! So much changes between each year!

Some years we have done full-time homeschooling, and two years we've done part-time school and homeschool combined. I don't think there is just one way that works for everyone. Really, we are blessed to have so many options for our children, aren't we?

Thanks to the many sacrifices of my parents, I went to Christian school for 10 years, and the other 3 were homeschooling years. I loved going to school, and still do. :) My brother and I learned so much of the Word of God in those years!

This is crazy: in my 8th grade year, my teacher had us memorize over 250 verses of Scripture, and in two years, we could quote 500 verses aloud continuously! {I have no idea how we did that now! My memory is foggy these days... :)} Every subject was taught in light of God's Word, and we had teachers who really loved us and prayed and poured into our lives. And I still remember many of those verses!

When Rob and I had children, we really wanted them to be raised in the same kind of environment I was blessed to have- one where their love of Jesus would be encouraged and sought after every day. We also wanted them to be close to us for the majority of every day, so we've done private Christian school and homeschooling both since they've started, and have really enjoyed both. This year, we originally thought we would do the part-time school again, but the Lord led us to do something different, and though we miss their little school, homeschooling full-time again has been so good for us.

Homeschooling is hard, but regular school is hard too. This is just my observation, but it seems like no matter which option you choose- most days your children will spend time working on school work at home, so homeschooling is something we all do at some point! :) Every family is different though, and I love how the Lord leads us in different ways!

And Courtney's chapter closing was so good:
Regardless of which school choice we make, our job as parents is to teach our children to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).  
What are the most important things when it comes to their education? Teaching them to love God and love people. So true!

Thank you God, that you lead us and teach us how to teach these little ones, because I'm not worthy to do it! I prove over and over that I am a sinner in need of a Savior, and I need your help to lead these little ones to you. I pray that we can seek after you with all of our hearts, and that your Spirit will lead us as we go about our day so that we can shine the light of the Gospel into the hearts of our little ones. Please help us in the name of Jesus, for your glory. We love you, Father. Thank you for loving us.

Let's discuss! :D

What were your thoughts on these parenting chapters?

Do you ever feel like parenting is too hard too?
{I think it is supposed to be, because it makes us turn to the Lord for help! We can only do it through His strength!}

What has been your most challenging season as a mother? 

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