Sailing Through Life’s Storms
When I asked the Lord what He wanted me to write about, I felt Him leading me to storms. At first, I questioned this. Storms? This is a homeschooling article. I want to encourage parents in their journey. I don’t want to talk about storms…
When most people think of storms, sailing through them is not what comes to mind. They’d rather turn back and avoid them altogether. We can plan for conventional storms. But what about the storms that we can’t plan for? The unexpected ones such as the loss of a baby, sudden illness, a painful divorce, a rebellious teenager, or a devastating crisis can catch us off guard. They take a toll on our families and homeschools just as much as anticipated storms.
Let me begin by telling you about an unexpected storm that impacted our family just as our school year was about to begin. One Sunday morning in June, I had just returned home from my state homeschool convention. I woke up at 6:05 to itchy, burning feet. It was the strangest thing. I had no idea what storm I was about to face.
The children were 12, 10, 8, 6, and 4 at the time, and I was very excited about our school year. I was looking forward to teaching four school-age children and one preschooler. All the curriculum was purchased or borrowed, and planning was well underway. It was going to be a challenge for me as I juggled all the subjects, unique learning styles, and grade levels, but I was enthusiastic about it.
Well, the itching and burning in my feet quickly turned to pain that shot up into both of my legs. By that afternoon, I couldn’t get up or bend my legs. As the day progressed, every joint in my body throbbed. I couldn’t feed myself, brush my hair, or even get dressed. I didn’t know what was happening to me.
On Monday morning my husband, Tom, helped me get into the car and whisked me to the doctor. We were both concerned.
There were several possible diagnoses to consider. After a lengthy appointment, we still didn’t have an answer. As I made my way to the door, the doctor asked me if I’d been out of my state in the last two years. I thought it was an odd question, but I answered that I had been in the mountains twenty months earlier. She asked what I had done there. I replied that I had been hiking. She said, “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, I’m calling it a duck. I think you have Lyme disease.” Lyme disease! But I never found a tick or had a rash.
It turned out that I did test positive for Lyme disease. They classified the disease as being in the late stage. My excitement for school didn’t wane. I thought I’d do school from my bed, even though I had a difficult time reading and remembering. I admit that did discourage me, but I kept trying. As the months of treatment continued, I became concerned the kids would get behind academically.
It took a year and a half of treatment and another year of rebuilding before I felt strong and healthy. While it was a long process, I learned a lot during this storm.
Here are five ways to help you sail through storms:
Ask for help.
During my recovery, I needed help. I physically couldn’t do anything for myself or the family. For some of you, asking for help isn’t easy. It wasn’t for me. We are strong, competent mothers. We should be able to overcome the obstacles we face. While we may be strong, some storms require support. Don’t be afraid to tell others how they can help. We had people take my daughter grocery shopping. Friends helped our older kids with their studies. We also took advantage of other modes of learning: DVD’s, documentaries, constructive playtime, and busy work that went mostly ungraded. Simple meals and reading aloud became our go to for some one-on-one time.
Let go of expectations.
As homeschool moms, we feel the weight of our children’s education on our shoulders. I know I sure did. Five kids needed me to teach them. However, during a storm, you have to let go and slow down. You can’t navigate a storm well if you don’t pull back. If you are currently facing a storm, give yourself permission to slow down. Once you get through the storm, then you may regain your speed. And in most cases, you’ll catch up in no time.
Work as a team.
Looking back, I see how God used this storm to knit my family closer together. Everyone learned the value of teamwork and the importance of being selfless. We had to rely on each other to get through each day. There is nothing like a storm to instill the idea of leaning on each other. Never underestimate the importance of working together as a team.
Allow your kids to step up.
Parents are so used to serving, they don’t get to experience the humbling joy that comes from having their kids serve each other. My older children would read to the little learners, prepare snacks, make lunch, and do so many things they normally wouldn’t have had the need to do. My little learners also joined in serving. They acted as sibling assistants. It was so sweet to watch them “run the house.”
Focus on the long-term goal.
It’s easy to lose your focus when you are in the midst of the storm. If you aren’t careful, chaos can quickly derail your home. When we focus on the long-term goal of finishing well, we will not let fear of falling behind add undue stress on an already stressful situation.
When you let faith find its feet in the heart of your storm, then you will successfully navigate both the expected and unexpected.
It’s important to remember that you will get through the storm.
1. God is with you in the storm.
2. Know there are always storms on the horizon.
3. Accept past storms and all the stories associated with them.
4. Learn the lessons needed, then move forward.
5. Apply what you’ve learned and make course corrections where required.
6. Stay focused on where you’re going. You can’t steer in a storm looking at the waves behind you.
You get the opportunity to teach your children how to sail through life’s storms. They learn by watching you. In Malachi 3:6, God reminds us of this truth.
For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.
God does not desire storms to consume you or your family. He wants us to lean in and listen to Him before, during, and after a storm. Let each one draw your family closer as it shapes you into His image.
Connie Albers has spent much of her adult life as a homeschool mom and mompreneur with outreach and ministry to parents through her speaking and various leadership roles. She is a respected leader, social media enthusiast and a mom who understands the challenges of balancing the demands of life, work, and homeschool. Connie's mission is to equip mom to live their life with confidence and joy.
Connie and her husband, Tom, have been married 33 years and have homeschooled their five children, all of whom continued their studies and graduated from the University of Central Florida. She is a speaker, a spokeswoman, an author and owner of ConnieAlbers.com.