Tag Archives: life lessons

Friday Flashback: Thanking God For Another Day!

18 Nov

By Renée Gotcher

This week I’m participating with a homeschool blog link-up called “The Homeschool Mother’s Journal” hosted by The Homeschool Chick. It’s been a pretty steady week of “ups” in the homeschooling department thanks to our recent school area “reorg” — which has been really refreshing — but it’s been a very challenging week for people I know and love, so lots of prayers going out.

Here are a few of the highlights and not-so-pleasant moments…

My favorite thing this week was… wrapping up an 11-week Beth Moore study called “David: Seeking a Heart Like His.” It was probably the first time in my 30+ year walk with God that I’ve studied one person in the bible so in depth — and what a wealth of wisdom there was to uncover! A man after God’s own heart, who was still very much a man, full of human weakness and contradictions.

It would take me many more paragraphs to fully capture what I learned in this study (I’ll save it for a future post!), but at the end of last week’s homework, Beth asked us to summarize what stood out to us the most about David’s life at that point in time. This is what I wrote in my study journal: “God doesn’t see us the way the world sees us: He cares only about the condition of the heart. He knows that our humanity prevents us from pleasing Him with our actions, so He is looking for a willing, undivided heart that He can captivate to show Himself strong in our human weakness. We were created to glorify God, but we can only do so when we have a devoted heart fully surrendered to Him. Then our lives can speak volumes about God’s awesome power and loving grace.”

If you ever get the chance to do this study, you should — it’s a game-changer!

In our homeschool this week…

As is typical with a “pre-holiday” week, there were some extra things to squeeze into the agenda besides our weekly regulars like my Women’s Bible Study, Awana and PE Plus. But I was really relieved to see that my girls are starting to get the hang of how to go with the flow without completely getting off track.

We take a unit study approach, and my goal is to hit two units per day (like math and history) after starting the morning off with a bible devotion. This week there were times when I wondered if we had enough time to get anything done in between activities, but the girls stayed focused and thanks to our recent reorganization of the school area, had no trouble pulling out the right notebook and diving in when it was time for math, bible history, ancient history, reading or writing & language arts. Today my eldest Audrey even ran the history “expand” activity for me — talk about applying what you’ve learned!

Even my four-year-old Elise has picked up a rhythm for school time. She now knows exactly what to grab and where to go when I say “It’s time for our reading lesson now!” Of course, her focus on the task at hand only lasts about 15 minutes, but despite that, I was completely impressed that as soon as she was done with reading or math time, she knew to go straight to her cubby and pull out something productively fun in to do in between, like a coloring or cutting project. Mission accomplished!

A photo, video, link, or quote to share… This week was particularly full of new “Elise-isms” — funny sayings from my four-year-old that are full of wit, thoughtfulness and humor. Earlier this week Elise, my little “dress up” girl who loves to wear skirts and girly things, came into my bathroom undressed, with a t-shirt and jeans in each hand. She excitedly explained that she’d picked out her outfit with her eyes closed, pulling two things out of the laundry basket at the same time with both hands, and was holding them up for me to admire. When I asked why, she said “So I can surprise myself, you know – surprise!” Luckily it was a t-shirt and jeans. Surprise indeed!

Elise’s “Surprise” Outfit — surprisingly coordinated!

I’m reading… I recently finished reading both “Radical” and “Radical Together” by David Platt, and I don’t think I’ve been quite the same since. Reading these two books in tandem with participating in the David study has taken me to a new place in my spiritual journey, and both really confirmed principles about what it means to truly follow Christ that had been weighing on my heart for some time. Have you ever noticed that when God really wants to get through to you, you start to hear the message EVERYWHERE?

Yes, Lord — I hear you! If you haven’t heard of these books and you want to know what it means to “take back your faith from the American dream,” check them out (and by the way, you can literally check them out from the library — I did!). For us, homeschooling was one major step away from where our comfortable American lives were taking us and closer to where we feel called by God to live for His glory. Now I feel God asking us to take yet another step closer as a family, and the issues raised by these books really helped confirm what those steps might be for us. I am anxiously excited about where God is taking us — yes, anxious and excited, because I am sure the road ahead will be anything but smooth!

I’m praying for… friends who need God’s comforting embrace in their lives right now. I’m very thankful that we had a wonderfully smooth week considering all the extra activity, however there was a lot of bad news in the lives of people I am close to.

A young mother in my bible study recently miscarried her second child. A young Christian couple I know who were active in the youth ministry of their church is separating after the husband revealed infidelity to his completely unsuspecting wife. A veteran homeschooling mother in my local group is facing a potential major surgery. And my sister-in-law Rosanna and her children were in a terrible car accident that totaled their van — praise God they all walked away from the scene!

There were moments when I could barely contain myself from screaming out to the Lord — WHY??? Why are you allowing these things to happen to women who love you and follow you? Why am I blessed today, while my sister in Christ is devastated?

I cried and I prayed. Then God reminded me of a verse that we hear so much, I think we often forget what a powerful message it is: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” — Rom. 8:28.

Those words really comforted me in my prayer times this week. Those who are called according to His purpose are not promised a comfortable life. In fact, Jesus warned us to expect quite the opposite. But those who love God are promised His comforting presence, His fatherly love and protection, and His strength in our weakness, lifting our burdens off our shoulders and carrying them for us, giving rest to the weary.

I’m so grateful this week! I’m grateful not just for the joy and the blessings in our family, but the knowledge that if all of that is stripped away, I won’t be left standing alone.

“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised.” — Psalm 18:2-3

If anyone felt the lowest of lows and the highest of highs, it was David. I’m thankful that his words of praise are captured in the Psalms to remind us that we have a Sovereign Savior who will deliver us from our enemies. I’m praying that my friends will feel rescued this week, held in God’s loving embrace and strengthened by His powerful presence.

As for me, I’m thanking God for another day! I rediscovered an old favorite song on my iPod during my run this morning — Natalie Grant’s “Another Day” — that seemed extremely appropriate for how I’ve been feeling this week. Click on the link to listen to it for free via YouTube. I couldn’t help but belt this one out with complete abandon today, what an inspired song! I am truly thankful to my Lord and savior today.

— Renée Gotcher is an entrepreneur, writer, wife & home-educating mother of three daughters: Audrey, Claire and Elise. Renée was homeschooled during her last two years of high school and started homeschooling in 2010. She currently resides in Castle Rock, Colorado.

Where’s the “Reboot” Button?

9 Nov

By Renée Gotcher

Lately (and more often than I’d like to admit), I have found myself in the midst of trying to gracefully navigate the twists and turns of a homeschool day gone awry, until I finally reach a breaking point where I am asking myself: “Where’s the reboot button?”

Where’s the “reboot” button when you need it?

Seriously. Can I just start this day over again? Please?

I don’t think I’m alone. In fact, a few weeks ago my homeschooling sister-in-law and I posted Facebook status updates that said essentially the same thing — “Can I just reboot this day?” — less than an hour apart from each other and without having read the other’s post first. It was uncanny: We were having the same roller-coaster day and feeling exactly the same way — hundreds of miles across the country from each other. Although we have kids of different ages and were facing completely different challenges, the feeling was mutual. How do I get this day back on track? Or can I just “erase” it and start over?

Technology has spoiled us indeed. Where did we ever get the idea that fixing something “worth fixing” was easy? When did we start thinking that solutions to the difficulties we face on a daily basis should be right at our fingertips?

Remember the “old days” when mistakes weren’t so easy to fix?

I think it started with the backspace button. I learned to type in middle school on an ancient typewriter with no “auto-fix” functions of any kind. It was industrial gray, it was heavy, and it carried the weight of perfection in print: You got what you typed, period. If you made a mistake, you ripped that sheet of typing paper out of the machine and started over… and over, and over, until it was perfect, creating a paper trail of all your previous mistakes. This was not an easy process. In short order, I learned that it would be much easier to learn how to type without making mistakes in the first place.

Then came the typewriter with the white correction tape ribbon: At least you could go back and “erase” the error and retype it correctly, on the same sheet of paper. A backspace button! It was clunky, but it was a heck of a lot easier than starting over entirely.

The true revolution in producing error-free output started with the digital typewriter: You could type a few pages of data into the “memory” of the machine and review it on a tiny green screen before the final product was printed out. A backspace button with no correction tape necessary! I remember borrowing a dorm mate’s digital typewriter in college to write some term papers. As long as my paper didn’t exceed the typewriter’s memory, I was as good as gold to make sure my paper was perfect before it ever hit a physical page. So much time saved!

Faster, easier… no more mistakes?

Of course, the personal computer followed not far behind, and the way we “fix” our mistakes would never be the same. A backspace button and a reboot button… errors could be deleted instantly and with the push of a button, you could even “start over” with a clean slate whenever the signals got so crossed that your computer froze up.

Things have definitely changed in the digital age. In fact, my computer-savvy daughters can hardly find the time to properly erase a mistake written in pencil on paper well enough that the correction is legible. I get blank stares that say it all: “Why do I need to do this? Wouldn’t it just be easier if I typed this up on my netbook?”

Handwriting may be “old school” but I think it’s important.

And the truth is, yes — it would be! But there’s a reason we’re teaching our children to write legibly on paper and correct their own mistakes by hand, right? It’s part of the learning process!

So why do we feel like we want an easy way out when we’re struggling on the other side of the table?

I’m sure by now you’ve heard some form of this popular quote from Theodore Roosevelt: “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort…” The paraphrase that I grew up hearing was, “Nothing in the world is worth having unless it’s worth working for.”

Although I completely agree with this concept, I find that I’m very impatient when dealing with challenges on a day-to-day basis. In the midst of perceived failure, I look up at the ceiling and ask God where the reboot button is. Can I just erase today’s mistakes and start over? And if not, then can I at least wake up tomorrow knowing what I need to fix so that I don’t find myself here again?

After several more of these days, I recently realized that although there’s no reboot button, we could clean the slate another way: By taking a “time out” to address the roots of the problems. It became clear to me that some of the “rocks” in our bumpy road could be removed if we stopped and took the time to address them properly — and not try to move forward until they were handled. Although there was no easy reboot button, there was an opportunity to clear our path of a few nagging obstacles if we took the time to do it right and do it well.

So many books, so little space…

One of the impediments that was creating daily drama was disorganization. Almost daily, our disorganization led to frustration over lost paperwork, projects taking too much time, overdue library books, sisters fighting over school supplies because, once again, theirs were missing from their personal cubby box, etc. For me, the most defeating part of the mess was the mental “cloudiness” that results from trying to be productive under the shadow of too much clutter — I just couldn’t think straight anymore. We simply had to stop in our tracks and clear the road of these obstacles before we could take another step forward.

So we took several days — at first on the weekend, but then a couple on “school” time — to address the dysfunctional areas in our house and come up with solutions that would work for everyone and most important, be maintainable. It wasn’t easy, and it took a lot more time than I thought it would, but I realized that we really needed to invest the time to get it right. There are a few things left that we need to tackle that are lower on my priority list, but thanks to the work we did, we’re off to a refreshing “restart” that is making a huge difference in our days.

Then I realized: This reorganization exercise was just as essential to their education as it was to my peace of mind! Why did I feel guilty taking “time out” from school work to fix our mistakes? This is life: This is a lesson best learned now.

It’s also a lesson best learned together. There was a point where I thought: I will just fix this all myself. It would be faster and I can do it my way. But I realized that part of why we’d gotten to this point is that the systems I had tried to create before weren’t working for my girls. So we talked through all the trouble spots together and came up with solutions that made sense for everyone. Not only did we all learn in the process, but the girls were more excited about the results, knowing that their work and ideas had made a big difference in our home.

I’m sure there will be more “reboot” days ahead. Homeschooling is a journey down an unpredictable road, and it seems like every time we tackle one challenge, another one appears around the bend. But as a homeschooling mom, I’m realizing that these life lessons are just as important — if not more — to my family’s education than the rest of our school subjects.

Even though we live in a digital world where our children will probably be using voice-enabled devices to do everything for them in the future, I still expect my girls to learn to write legibly on paper, learn to recognize their mistakes and take the time to correct them properly, and create a visible record of the progress in their work. I want them to see how far they’ve come, learn from past mistakes, and build upon each “victory” along the way. Because isn’t that just like life?

How many times have you longed for a reboot button? How do you address your most challenging days as a homeschooling family?

— Renée Gotcher is an entrepreneur, writer, wife & home-educating mother of three daughters: Audrey, Claire and Elise. Renée was homeschooled during her last two years of high school and started homeschooling in 2010. She and her family currently reside in Castle Rock, Colorado.

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