The Desire and Fear to Homeschool.

I have never been an advocate for home education. 
It’s not very common in New Zealand {around 5,500 students from our country’s population of just over four million}. Though increasing, the status quo is to send children to school at five-years-old. This is equally so within most Christian circles. For Kiwi Christian parents, the question is not “Do we homeschool?” but rather “Public or private?” In general, private schools are religious {the strength of faith depending on each school}.
One morning however, I woke up and the desire to homeschool our children was suddenly really strong on my heart. It was like my heart had been a hardened stone and it had been cracked open, revealing a soft-centre within. I can only attribute this to the Holy Spirit. My children are so young, I have no reason to really be thinking seriously about education, and if I did, it has always been which local school is the best.
The same day I woke up with this new desire, I tentatively mentioned it to Tim. Out of both of us, he has been more against homeschooling than I. His parents, in ministry, purposed to send their children right through public school. We both believe in public school for Christians. It is a great environment for gospel opportunities – not just for children, even more so for parents and relationships. So when Tim didn’t laugh off the idea straight away and said we could look into it, I took that for the Holy Spirit, too.
Since then {about seven months ago}, I have been slowly looking into it. I have…
read a few books, 
read many blogs,
studied about tot school,
started collecting printables and lap books,
got my mind around some of the homeschooling philosophies,
researched home education in NZ,
briefly chatted to the only homeschooling family I know {who I haven’t actually met – friends of the family},
and even read a PHD paper on why NZ families choose home education as opposed to the normal way.
To put it simply, I really, really want to homeschool. 
It seems more natural – both for the child learning and for family environments/relationships. It seems more liberating, more family friendly, more biblical {in terms of maintaining a family core}, more hand’s on for their upbringing {especially spiritually} and, finally and simply, more fun.
We have come to no decision. Our children are still too young. But I am praying about it, talking to Tim about it and praying some more. When the time comes, though it will be a joint decision, I will follow where Tim wants to go. Because, though I love the idea and am a firm convert of it, it may not be God’s will for our family. It may be that God, through this change of heart, just wants me to be more open and understanding. If that is the case, I accept it and trust both God and my husband.
But if we do choose to home educate, and as exciting as that is, it petrifies me too. 
I feel so inadequate for the task. I can’t imagine where to start, how our days would go, how I wouldn’t be my own worse enemy. I know I would struggle with anxiety, over their growth, over my skills, over outside opinion. I know that the greatest fear of failure, of letting my children down for their futures, would be like a third pupil in the school room. The task just seems so great.

And it seems so great because parenting, just on it’s own, is so great. The constant refining the characters of these two little ones take up so much of our life – how would we fit in learning? Unschooling, when I first started researching, looked too scary for me… And yet, right now, seems the most appealing {but still really scary!}.
There are years to go yet. I needn’t fuss or get my knickers in a twist. The idea if it all sounds exactly what I want for our family and I can see us just all thriving. The freedom, the fun, the closeness. But the sense of responsibility is heavy. 
Whether it happens or not, all I can do is continue to follow this prompt in my spirit, this great change of heart, and pray. Ask the Lord to lead and guide and that, if it is his desire for our family, that we all be of the same heart and same mind. I guess when that day of decision comes, all the other details will be worked out.

How I Genuinely Became a Better Wife.

This post has been burning away in my mind {as the deeper ones usually do} and I am really hoping that my experience as a wife might be a comfort, an encouragement, a conviction and a source of guidance for those who may be struggling with things I did as a young wife and who need the hope that they can grow and truly love their husband’s better.
It truly is possible to change because it is truly possible to be a good, but not so good, wife to your husband. It hurts knowing you have areas in your life that need deep {and painful} pruning. But, from my own experience, your husband needs you to change {if you’re struggling in the areas I’m about to share}. If there is a wall between you and if you feel you are constantly battling against him from within, please read on. It honestly doesn’t have to be this way.

A Clinging Vine
As a young wife, I was deeply in love with a man who just seemed to have saved my life. I was a wounded, hormonal, deeply broken young woman in desperate need of love and acceptance. When Tim walked into my life, he was truly the man I had been praying for. Within nine months of meeting, we married and began our life together. 
Both of us had baggage and painful experiences, but between the two of us, I was the more fragile, more emotionally unstable and deeply insecure. While many of Tim’s struggles began to resolve themselves, mine seemed only to worsen. I thought that being married, being loved, would make me feel better – better about my past, better about myself, better about my body, better about everything. But it didn’t. And this only made me more and more insecure.
Instead of being grounded, I continued to be up and down, weak in mind and emotion, and I clung to Tim as if he were my all-encompassing source of life. Though my relationship with God was strong and passionate, my theology was still weak and I believed that Tim was supposed to give me all the good feelings I needed to feel good about myself. I thought being married to this amazing man would make all the pain and fears and anxieties go away.
Clingy, needed, possessive and insecure, I was not the wife Tim needed nor desired. He tried his best but, after awhile, it started getting at him. I was not the joy waiting for him when he got home, as much as I tried to be the “perfect” wife, it wasn’t what he needed. He needed me – secure in the Lord, secure in my soul, secure as the woman God had made me to be. He needed a companion, a helpmeet, a lover – not a tearful, overwrought and needy wife.
My Man, My Girlfriend
Not only was I clingy and demanded him to fulfill in me what only God could, I tried to make him be somebody he wasn’t. It frustrated me when he didn’t get things about me that my best friend would. I couldn’t understand why he thought and processed things the way he did. And my way of having a relationship with God was better, more holy, more passionate because – well, because! I loved this man I had married but I couldn’t believe he was… well, a man.

“You marry a man, not a woman. Strange how easy it seems to be for some women to expect their husbands to be women, to act like women, to do what is expected of women. Instead of that they are men, they do what is expected of men and thus they do the unexpected…Anything he does which seems to her inexplicable or indefensible she dismisses with ‘Just like a man!’ as though this were a condemnation or at best an excuse instead of a very good reason for thanking God for. It is a man she married, after all, and she is lucky if he acts like a man.” ~ Elisabeth Elliot
Because I have matured in this area, almost eight years down the track and many valleys and summits later, I love and appreciate that he is truly, and completely opposing to me, a man. I don’t want a feminine man, I want a manly man. If he were as emotionally-minded as I can be, we would be in for a whole lot of trouble! I want my husband to view the world like a man because, not only is that the best thing for me, it is the best thing for him. When we accept how we relate gender-wise, it frees us to truly complement one another in our union.
Changing Him
Not only did I expect my man to behave like me, a woman, in many areas of life {particuarly emotionally and spiritually}, I also didn’t let him be a man. I thought that he should be, must be, content with my company only. I felt resentful and hurt if he wanted to game instead of cuddle with me {even if we had cuddled every night previously}. And if he wanted to have a beer with the boys then I held it against him as if it were an insult to me.
But men need men as equally as women need women. It is good and right for spouses to have a little time now and then, or more frequently, to be free to communicate and relate to other people of the same sex. Husband’s need male companionship, not just for biblical relationships, but for gaming, having a drink, hunting, playing sport, or just mucking around. A loving wife should almost push her man out the door regularly so he can have time for himself in a “man” environment. 
“If you succumb to the temptation to expect your husband to fulfill all the roles of all relationships you have had prior to marriage you will learn that is asking too much. He needs his male friends, you need your female ones, even though your marriage and home top priority in your interest.” ~ Elisabeth Elliot.
If there are jokes, ways of thinking, insecurities, sin struggles that you just don’t get because he is a man, that is okay. Laugh anyway, try and follow along with his very rational logic, allow him to talk {if and when he does} and don’t interrupt or try and “fix” his problem, just be there and understand. 
Also, don’t be his personal Holy Spirit. That’s God’s role, not yours. Your role is to live out true love and true grace to him. Pray for him, daily, and talk about things if needed  but – for the most part – let God deal with him.

“Tell your mate the positive, and tell God the negative.” ~ Ruth Graham
“God, working through his Spirit, is to be the change agent. We can end up hindering his work in the lives of our spouses when we try to be helpful with criticism that is anything but constructive…Rather than making insensitive and inappropriate efforts to change our mates, we must support them in prayer and be willing to wait for the Holy Spirit to do his work in their lives.” ~ Bob Barnes
I have hurt and hindered Tim in many ways during our marriage because I am a sinner. But, thank goodness, Jesus is a great saviour and he loves marriage. When we seek, as wives, Jesus alone and what his will alone is for our own heart and behaviour, he works his way in us and slowly – oh, ever so slowly – we grow and bloom into the women our husband’s truly need. There is hope for you to be a happy wife, with a happy husband, in a ever-growing happy marriage.
For two great resources on how to really love your husband, read:
Let Me Be a Woman by Elisabeth Elliot
What Makes a Man Feel Loved? by Bob Barnes

What God Lays on Your Heart: Following When It Makes You Different.

The disgruntled, disapproving look hurt my overwhelmed heart and made me sink deeper into my shoes. I smiled a “thanks” and called Josiah over to me. We were at the grocery store and, in a moment while I was filling a bag of fruit, Josiah had gone to an aisle with wine and was clanging two bottles together on the shelf.
An old man growled at him at the same moment I called out his name to stop. Wide-eyed, Josiah stopped and ran over to me. It was then that this man gave me a look that, struggling with anxiety and emotion, made me feel the absolute pits.
Couldn’t he see that I have two little ones under two-and-a-half on my hands?

Couldn’t he see that, in my heart, I was doing my absolute best?
That look stayed with me the whole day, eating at my heart, as I battled a bout of anxiety that was leaving me feeling overwhelmed and insecure as a mother {thanks, sleep deprivation!}. Thankfully, Tim came to the rescue, and helped me put that man and his disapproving look where it belonged. 
But still. Someone out there thought I was a bad mother. It’s hard not to store that away and remember in the recesses of your mind.
Becoming a wife and mother opens you up to criticism. People have thoughts, opinions and a say over how you are doing, how you should behave, what choices you should or shouldn’t make. Even among good friends, differences in couples and parenting styles can cause awkward moments and times when it’s difficult not to have an opinion or when you yourself feel under scrutiny.
I think this is especially so when you feel a particular burden that the Lord has placed on your heart for your family. Even among Christians, there is a mainstream, and some people – usually by a particular call from the Lord – live a part from that flow.
It is so easy to worry about what others think of you. When I was a stay-at-home wife, I was very different and no-one seemed to understand why I wasn’t out earning lots of money before we had children. We’re not selling our house in our poorer neighbourhood and going up in the world. As a mother, I am seeking to live a quiet life for my children and I hope, when the time comes, to homeschool our children. No-one homeschools in our church of several hundred people.
It’s hard not to feel lonely sometimes and it’s hard for people you care about not to understand. Offense can be taken, without ever meaning to, and misunderstandings can occur when families are lived from afar instead of coming along side of. Even in the day-to-day, complete strangers – like the grumpy old man in the supermarket – add to the feeling of difference.
But when there is a pull on your heart, when certain Scriptures {taken with the whole of the Gospel in view} cannot be shaken from your spirit, when both husband and wife are in agreement, when it just seems clear God is leading your family in a particular direction…No matter how different this will make you, you must follow. Trust and obey.

“When we walk with the Lord,
In the light of his Word,
What a glory he sheds on our way;
While we do his good will,
He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.”
~John Henry Sammis
Trust God with the calling. Trust God with the particulars. Trust God with your friends and strangers and conversations. Trust God with your responses and have a ready word prepared in your heart {1 Peter 3:15}. Trust God with the direction of your marriage and family. And obey.

“The home is where a woman provides the expressions of love for her husband and her children. The home is where she leads and guides and teaches and raises the godly generation. The home is where she is protected and secured from other men and potentially wicked relationships and abuses. The home is where she lodges strangers, washes saints’ feet. shows hospitality and devotes herself to every good work. That’s her sphere. And whatever of that home and whatever of the goodness of her life she can take outside and not sacrifice the home is between her and the Lord and her husband.”
~John MacArther.