One of my favourite names for God is El Roi; the God who sees me. God sees your sacrificial motherhood and His heart rejoices.RENEE EMERSON
This Mother’s Day, I thought I would share a little bit about my journey to becoming a Homeschooling Mum.
Being such a passionate homeschooling mum, it may surprise you to know that this was not always the dream for my life. Just 10 years ago I had almost no interest in being a mother and had spent most of my life working toward and accomplishing my dream job and career as a Zookeeper.
I always loved nature as a little girl, but I did not acknowledge the creator of the beauty I adored until I was 20 years old. God used my love for creation to draw me to himself, but then He showed me that it had been an idol in my life and gave me a heart for people – especially for children.
My husband and I had been married for about 3 years when we decided to attend a Creation Science camp over the summer. It was a dream for me, spending my days learning about God’s marvellous creatures! But within the first day of attending, my eyes were opened as I watched a brief 10-minute presentation from a Pro-life organization. Seeing images of precious unborn babies, the Holy Spirit immediately transformed my heart and made room for his people. He planted a deep desire for motherhood in my soul. Lost was the apathetic and even uncaring attitude towards children and motherhood – and born were the seeds of a new dream.
Motherhood did not come easily or naturally to me. My firstborn daughter was the first baby I had ever held, and motherhood seemed like an overwhelming and disappointing venture. It took me weeks to fall in love with my baby (who seemed like a stranger to me) and even longer to successfully establish breastfeeding, both of which were supposed to be like second nature, right!?
I was disappointed in myself as a mother, disappointed in friends who decided to “opt out” of the journey, and overall could barely keep myself functioning from the sleep deprivation which was constant and relentless.
Despite all of this, I still found myself so in awe of the wonder of motherhood and children, that I relented my idea of “just one” and settled into the idea of four.
Just before Evelyn’s first birthday, we were expecting another baby. In our excitement, Matt and I decided being a stay-at-home mum and preparing for the next baby was a good idea. After an internal battle raged inside me, I obediently (and painfully) listened to the still small voice which told me to resign from my job to focus on the children. Soon after resigning, I had a miscarriage and wondered at the point of it all. I decided to return to work as a casual teacher at the zoo and did this for a few years, fell pregnant again with our darling Posy and continued working while juggling the two girls.
As I welcomed the little children into the Zoo play garden, heard their squeals of delight, and engaged their learning through the world around them, I thought more and more about homeschooling. Could one really make the whole world their school?
Unbeknownst to me, Matt had met homeschoolers during the Creation Science camp years before (the very same camp which radically changed the course of my life!) and he had been praying privately that I would homeschool our children! Gods perfect, beautiful, and meticulously thought-out plan for our lives, was coming together. After a shy confession to Matt, questioning whether we could we really do it, we officially decided we would be a homeschool family.
I was kind of excited at the idea, but mostly grieved at the great loss of my career and the plans I had envisioned for my life. Although Matt was thrilled, our decision was met unkindly by many around us. I heard too many times to count comments along the lines of “but you’ve worked your entire life to become a zookeeper”, “you’re giving up too much to homeschool”, “but a zookeeper is who you are” and “homeschooling is unnecessary”, none of which helped.
In my sorrowful state, I asked God why, and in my spirit I heard Him say; “You will do more for the kingdom as a homeschooling mum, discipling your children, than you could ever do, while doing anything else the world has to offer.” It was in that moment, that my heart truly chose the path of obedience and sacrifice, above all other things.
Acknowledging Gods path for my life, did not immediately resolve the heavy burden mothering had been on my life. I deeply desired change in this area but did not know where to begin.
So, I started simply by saying “My children are a blessing, they are a gift from the Lord, a reward from Him”. I remember the moment the Spirit intervened in my mothering. I was a heavily pregnant mum of two with a husband perpetually traveling for work and I had reached the end of myself. When my third daughter Winslow Grace was born, the grace, peace, and joy of the Lord made its way into my heart and miraculously transformed my view of motherhood and my behaviour as a mother. I had finally begun to thrive in my motherhood calling.
If you are a mother, and you feel ‘stuck’ in that place of constant struggle, my heart pains for you. I have been there, and I know full well the dark place it can be. But, if the Lord can transform my motherhood journey, He can and will do the same for you – you just need to put one foot in front of the other and allow God to do the heavy lifting.
Having taken this journey myself, and learnt invaluable lessons along the way, I’ve compiled a list of 5 things you can do to allow God to transform your own motherhood journey.
- Get Perspective and put Motherhood in its proper place;
There is an attack on motherhood, because as mothers, our primary goal is to disciple our children, and this is a task which the enemy despises. We were not all created to become “homeschool mums”, but if you are a mother, your most significant calling in life is motherhood – not your career, your ministry, or your passions – but your children.
There are many good things we can invest our time in, but as mothers, we should intentionally invest the best part of ourselves into our devotion to the Lord, which results in our love for Jesus being shared with our children daily – we need to train our children in the ways of the Lord.
We live out our faith, we role model what it looks like to be in relationship with God, we train our children in obedience as we obey the Lord. From the moment our children are in our arms, snuggled up into our chests, we show them the love of Christ, through our tender responses to their needs.
This task entrusted to us, is far too great to leave at the hands of another. God gave these children to you – because there is no other women who can mother them as you can. Our children belong to the Lord, He has essentially loaned them to us, to nurture, to raise, and to train – and because He has set the task in front of you, take it seriously and be the primary teacher in your child’s life.
2. Be Brave and Do it Afraid;
Motherhood in all its beauty and joy, is also the most tiring, repetitive, and burdensome task, requiring an immeasurable amount of sacrifice.
We can become riddled with fear; fear that we are doing it all wrong, fear that our children will make mistakes, fear that someone will hurt our children (or worse, that we will hurt them), or maybe even fear of missing out on better things – yet the Lord tells us not to be afraid because He is with us.
It is not sinful to be afraid, but we do need to tackle our fear by calling upon our God who turns our fear into faith, and with our hearts no longer fearful we can confront motherhood, knowing we are equipped by the one who called us to the task in the first place
3. Seek Validation;
One evening when I was surrounded by my friends and we were chatting about heaven, someone said jokingly, “I’d be happy if the door hit my butt on the way in”. We all laughed, and the conversation slowly moved on, yet I became more and more perplexed by the comment.
How did I feel about heaven? Did I want to go there because I was terrified of hell? Would I settle for getting in by the skin of my teeth? No. I wanted much more. I wanted desperately – desired with my whole being – to be received with a “Well done good and faithful servant”.
Jesus’ version of “well done good and faithful servant”, is not the same as the world’s version. In a society where the sacredness of motherhood is utterly devalued, we will not be praised for embracing truly sacrificial motherhood.
One of my favourite names for God is El Roi; the God who sees me. God sees your sacrificial motherhood and His heart rejoices. We must seek our validation from God alone.
4. Do it in Community;
We were made to live in community. Make friends with other women who love Jesus. Invest in relationships with women who desire to see you thrive in your faith, calling and mothering. Make friends with a diverse range of women; mums with kids of similar ages, women with adult children who can mentor you, women with younger children or who are single so that you can be a mentor yourself.
Be intentional to keep life-giving and Christ-centered friendships with your sisters in Christ because you will flourish in community. Your sisters in the faith are the physical representation of the hands and feet of Jesus, when you are weary and tired, sick, or straying, they will gracefully, and with care, direct you back to your source of life.
When all is going well for you, they will celebrate you, cheer you on, and rejoice with you.
5. Pursue God
I am the mother I am today because of Jesus and I will boast about Him and what He has done in my life. He has a perfect plan for my life – which includes motherhood – and I thank Him daily that He intervened and did not let me stray by pursuing my own imperfect plan. Although “homeschool mum” was not the plan I had, I have found my purpose, peace, and joy, in fulfilling this task which was carefully assigned to me. I can honestly proclaim that the Lord’s plan fulfils me to my very core, which is something Zookeeping never did.
My favourite verse in the whole Bible is Jeremiah 29:13 “If you look for me wholeheartedly you will find me”, it is a promise that when we seek after the Lord with our whole hearts, we WILL find Him.
He is not far away, unknowable, or uncaring. He is ready and willing to reveal Himself to those who pursue Him. Jesus, about His own heart said that “He is gentle and lowly”. Can we really comprehend this? The creator of the universe, our Saviour and redeemer, the one true God, reveals that at the very core of His being, His own heart, He is tender and humble, open and welcoming, willing and understanding, towards those who seek Him (Dane Ortlund ~ Gentle and Lowly).
You can trust Jesus with your delicate mother-heart, and you can trust your children into His tender and careful care. He will take the mess and struggles and make it into something beautiful, all you need to do is hand it to him in faith.