It was not a failure, though I thought it was at the time.

It was not a failure.

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I’ve been dealing with my own feelings of failure for a while now. Have you ever felt that way? I read this story this week, and I poured tears as I contemplated my own “failure.”

There was this man. He was from out-of-town. He wanted to teach people about Jesus. That landed him in prison, and not just prison. First, he was stripped and beaten, and then they put him in prison.
He got out though.
And then you know what he said about that trip? He said, “It was not a failure.”

Public humiliation. Beaten! Imprisoned!

That was not a failure?? He was basically chased out of town. He can’t go back there.

But that man was Paul, and that town was Philippi. You can read more about that story in Acts 16:16-25 and 1 Thessalonians 2, all of chapter 2.

“You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure. We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition.”    1 Thessalonians 2:1-2

It was not a failure because they STILL did share the gospel, as they set out to do. When we tell people the good news, that Jesus loves ALL of us and wants to save and be a friend to ALL of us, we aren’t responsible for how people respond to that. That doesn’t mean be a jerk and don’t care. That means don’t be obnoxious. Share it, and let the Holy Spirit do the rest.

Public disgrace does not equal failure.

Things not ending as planned does not mean we failed.

Being physically destroyed is not failure. It’s not.

You are not a failure either. Think of your most recent failure, and then consider. What did you learn? What good came out of that?


I was reading about all of these things in Children of the Day, by Beth Moore. It takes books like these to help me understand things like Acts 16 being tied to 1 Thessalonians. Believe me, I’d never figure that out on my own. Every single Beth Moore Bible study workbook I have ever read has been a massive blessing to me.

This one is no exception. She just HAD to go and ask us what our most recent failure is. She left a little blank space for us to write about it. Ha! I got out my spiral notebook and filled up a whole PAGE.

I wrote, and I thought, and I cried, and I prayed, and in the end I was reminded.

“Though a righteous man falls 7 times, he will get up, but the wicked will stumble into ruin.”  Proverbs 24:16

Failure stings when it’s something that means the world to you. It stings like getting stung by a HIVE OF BEES  or 50 fire ants.

I set out to home school those two years with two objectives:

  1. I wanted to give them that one-on-one boost with their academics.
  2. I wanted to improve their character. No, I can’t improve it myself, but I wanted to promote it. I wanted to provide the right environment and the right tools for the boys and God to work that out.

I was not able to accomplish what I wanted, academically, and to make it worse trying to be a teacher, homemaker, blogger, and mom all at once made me MISERABLE. It was heart-breaking. Even as I write about it again, it’s like my heart is all ripped up and bleeding. I want to pound my fists to the wall and then lay my head against it and cry until there’s no water left because no matter how hard I tried, everything felt like failure.

I love these children with such intensity, I want to fix every single problem that they have, but that’s not possible, is it? The ability to fix everything was so far beyond my control.

So I failed. Or so I thought. But you know what? I did not fail. They didn’t fail either. Nothing failed. There was nothing wasted here.

In those two years, I saw their character bloom. I saw love, humility, honesty, justice, kindness, and goodness in my boys.

Caleb was saved and baptized, of his free choosing during that time at home with me. I even heard him teaching his friends about Jesus.

There was spiritual warfare waged over the souls of my children those two years, and God won.

I grew to understand the boys’ strengths and weaknesses. I came to terms with my own limitations. We emerged a different family than when we went into this.

I failed in some ways in order to learn. Sometimes we have to fall to learn, to grow, to become.

We saw it happen with my children too. We watched them overcome the kind of adversity that would have CRUSHED me at their age. I would not have handled it with the strength, dignity, and courage that I watched my son display.

That’s not actually failure is it? But it sure feels like it when you’re laying in a wad on the ground.

So no, we have not failed. We have only fallen and gotten back up again, and we too shared the gospel in the process.

All of these thoughts led me to this song, and I can’t get it out of my head. Its “fall down and get back up” message resonated with me. Yes, we are trying EVERYTHING. It’s a fun song, and my favorite line is this one:

“Birds don’t just fly. They fall down and get up.”

You’ll have to click the link below to go to YouTube to see the lyrics and hear this song. It’s worth it.

 

Ok. Your turn to answer Beth Moore’s heart-wrenching question. Failure. When did you last feel it?

“Ask yourself: Did we do the will of God as best we perceived it? Were we authentic before God and man?”    —Children of the Day, page 41, Beth Moore

And I would add, what did you learn? Then maybe it’s not such a failure after all, and even if it is, get back up again.

 

My Home Schooling Failures, Breakthroughs, and Realizations of the Day

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Ever since I began home schooling Joshua and Caleb, every single day feels like a huge, important day. Every day is this challenge. There are new opportunities to FAIL in patience and discipline every single second of the day.

If you aren’t home schooling, just think about the most stressful homework day that you have, and then you will know exactly what I’m talking about. If you ARE a home school mom, well then, pffffff, you already know.

I always thought I had pretty well behaved children…..until I became their teacher. Who are these wild hooligans that can’t sit still and listen? Who is this child that thinks he can tell me that he’s not doing his math paper??? I can live with the forts in the hallway and the Little People in the floor. But why does it feel like my big boys need disciplining alllllllll the time??? I feel like all I do is correct, instruct, discipline, punish. I felt that way before, but now that I am with them all day, it feels that way even more so.

I try to praise more than I punish, but man, somedays it feels like I have 20 kids, rather than just 4.

Who’d have ever thought that Handwriting would be their favorite subject?

Who is this dear little one that keeps begging me for “more work, Mommy, more work. Me want to work!” I have been feeling so bad that I don’t have more work for him to do.

Oh, little one, can’t you teach your brothers your work ethic?

Oh, my Daniel. Daniel was the $10,000 baby (That’s about what he’s cost us in mishaps–plumbing bills, lost things, damages). Now he’s this helpful little angel. He always was, but I’m benefitting from that more and more now. I keep looking at him and wondering where he came from.

Then at night, Daniel often becomes the mischievous elf that won’t go to sleep.

Oh, but at times they are all so sweet to each other–as long as Legos are not involved. Things get ugly and territorial when Lego blocks are involved. No one is safe.

Gracious, we are so blessed to raise these darling little rebel rousers.

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As we speak, Daniel is begging Caleb for his Skylanders. Poor Caleb is trying to share them with Daniel, but of course Dan only wants the exact ones that Caleb is playing with. Geesh. Why? Daniel doesn’t know any more about Skylander figurines than I do.

The Realizations:

The most draining thing about home schooling is just handling my own children all day. Working with kids all day is the kind of work that is EMOTIONALLY draining.

We strive, strive, strive for first-time obedience, but man oh man, does it feel like I am battling this thing out more days than not.

Thankfully, last weekend I had the pleasure of getting together with a room full of other home school moms in my community. It was just the blessing that I needed! I cannot tell you how reassuring it was to hear that everyone is fighting the exact same battles. I’m not alone out there..

I also found it immensely reassuring that several of these moms were also home-school children. If they came out of it unscarred enough to want to do this with their children, perhaps it will all work out for us too.

The Breakthroughs:

There is such a learning curve to teaching. Today I had yet another (I feel like I’m averaging 1 major breakthrough/week, at least, here!) AHA! moment. Joshua’s school day goes so much more smoothly whenever he feels like he can do his math easily. Today I realized that I’m going to have to absolutely change courses on Jman’s math.

Yes, he’s averaging a B right now, but that is one hard-fought B. He could learn these same math concepts, but in a different format, that doesn’t make him miserable. A Beka is a wonderful curriculum, but it is way more advanced than what Joshua was doing last year. They are brushing over multiplication and division and heading straight for larger multiplication and division problems because in A Beka these are review items. This isn’t review for us, though. This is new material. We need to slow down.

Today I started copying the second half of Caleb’s math book. That’s where A Beka introduces division and drills problems like 2 x 3, halfway through 2nd grade. The mom inside of me detests using 2nd grade material for my very intelligent 3rd grader, but the thing is, it just make sense. We will still meet the objectives for 3rd grade, so ‘it’s all good.’ I’m hoping this will make all of our lives a little more peaceful.

Caleb, meanwhile, finds his 2nd grade A Beka Math book perfectly easy. Caleb does enjoy math, but I really think this particular company really ramps up the 2nd grade year of math.

I may have to take a step back for Caleb in Spelling, though. I may need to order him a 1st grade spelling book. It’s very important, when you build a house, to build it from the foundation up, you know? If Caleb needs a boost, I need to set my pride aside and help him. A good friend of mine recommended that, as her children had to do that as well, so that gave me a little confidence boost.

This sounds like a sad “breakthrough”: using easier material. In the long run, I think it will actually make them better at each subject.

When kids feel successful at a thing, they are apt to like it way, way more than when it was a struggle. I’m hoping that’s what I can put into place here.

Breakthrough #2:

Daniel and JD

Yesterday I went online, searching the internet for ideas for toddlers and preschoolers. I found this wonderful website: kellythekitchenkop.com.  She had a post titled 12 Tips for Keeping Toddlers Busy While Homeschooling, with a guest post from Heather at http://www.mommypotamus.com/.

I found this pretty helpful. Yesterday I did a ‘sensory bucket’. There are lots of detailed ones you can copy off the internet. I just went with what I had. I dumped a box of ziti, some pipe cleaners, some cut out stars, and some cups in a box, and called it a ‘sensory box.’  It was a hit. I had a hard time keeping Caleb out of it.

I promise they played with it before he sat in it….

You can find more sensory bucket ideas at http://countingcoconuts.blogspot.com.

That did keep Dan and JD busy for a while, two days in a row.

I also filled a bucket with water and put it on towels, as the blog suggested. That kept the baby at bay even longer. Alan came home and said, “What’s with all the wet towels?”  ummmm

Finally, today, I managed to actually do a Preschool Time with Daniel, from 8:30 to 9am. It was precious. Of course, that means that I never got dressed today. It’s 5 pm. I’m wearing a brown t-shirt and some old gray maternity shorts. NO, I am not pregnant, but these shorts are too awesome to retire. I don’t care what the size label says.

Pre School Time was so precious. Daniel can count. Daniel can trace. Daniel loves to work and draw. He hates to color, so we didn’t really do that. He did his Thanksgiving craft….because that’s how far ahead he is in his book…Then guess what! I found the old flip chart from when I did Joshua’s Pre K 3 year at home! So we were able to sing the ABCs with them all written ever so neatly–as only a first time mom would do for a 3-year-old. 🙂 Then we sang “He has the whole world in his hands,” all the way through, since I had also written out all the words to that song in the nice flip chart.

You know what, I will never really be able to “do it all,” and that’s okay. Who does? Nobody. I just want to enjoy my precious children, while they are still young. It’s true, you know, babies DON’T keep.

The truth is I do not have the patience nor the self-discipline to home school, but I am well educated, I love them, and I have the time to do it. The more I do it, the more I like it. I fail every day, and when I succeed, it is through the grace of God. This isn’t me, taking care of my family, this is God working through me. I am so grateful.

Oh! I had more, but I’d better go. Alan just came in and said, “Let’s go to the beach.” Yes!!!

“He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it.

And it shall be said in that day: Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”          Isaiah 25:8-9

“Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength:”        Isaiah 26:4