Homework often feels like swimming in quicksand; it takes a lot of effort to make a small, microscopic bit of progress. I think my son often feels the same. His face, his voice, his delay of the inevitable all lead to a night of overwhelm, and there isn’t one of us who welcomes the arrival of it. Instead, we have had to reframe homework time in order to do more than simply survive the wade through quicksand.
Changing the homework atmosphere
In a moment of desperation, when overwhelm was about to suck every bit of joy from the house, I opted to change the atmosphere. It was time to think outside the box.
Who knew that lavender essential oil was just as important as a No. 2 pencil? It was news to me but now I keep it on hand. Diffuse it or wear it on your wrists to erase overwhelm – yours and your child’s! I bet fresh baked cookies, freshly cut rosemary or flowers would work to invigorate and motivate as well.
A clear space to work makes a big difference. It drives us all nuts to have to clear a spot or work around the syrup on the counter. Have a clear spot ready to go. Also, there’s something about a flickering candle that ushers in peace and shows overwhelm the door. The candlelight serves as a reminder of what home is – a place of peace, it serves to remind me not set a place at the table for overwhelm.
Music is powerful and completely customizable! What type of music focuses and calms your child? Instrumental music, soft rock, a movie soundtrack, or white noise? One night I put on John Coltrane just as I was about to pull my hair out and the strains of the talented saxophonist melted the frustration so that we could all stay focused on what is important – our relationships with each other!
Sometimes everyone needs a break. “Finish that worksheet and we can go shoot some hoops.” “Let’s practice your math facts and then we can have a snack.” “Go ahead and finish that sentence and we can go dance it out.” Homework will feel less like a prison sentence when there are opportunities to blow off some steam.
Atmosphere matters in homework. I can’t do my son’s homework for him (I already passed 4th grade), but I can set the tone in our home. Homework is not always going to be fun but there can be more smiles in the midst of math, more patience in the writing of the report. It is possible to end the night tired yet satisfied, that together, we navigated homework well.
One Small Win: With a simple step outside of the box, homework becomes more than just school work – it becomes a lesson in being patient and kind while mitigating overwhelm.
You can read more from Bethany Howard at bethanyhoward.com. She writes about finding fuel for joy and growth in the details of the daily. Her greatest leadership exercise has been her roles as wife and mom to three. She is a graduate of Leverage: The Speaker Conference.
by guest blogger, Rachel Lewis
“Today, I am trying to cling to the hope in the midst of an unknown future that lay ahead of me. At times, I just want to fast forward a year, till I know how everything has turned out . . .” And I pondered, what to do in the waiting.
Facebook reminded me of this post I made a year ago. We had just found out we were pregnant. After 4 consecutive losses. I didn’t know if I should prepare my heart for a loss, or for the possibility of a live baby to bring home.
We were also fostering a baby boy at the time. We’d had him since he was 5 months old, and had just passed the one-year mark of him in our home. Reunification with his birth family seemed imminent. But I didn’t know how, or when, I would have to let go of this baby. And I certainly didn’t know how our family would survive the good-bye.
Our adoptive daughter’s birth mom had also recently contacted me. She wanted back into our daughter’s life. Again. After failing to follow through so many times.
All of this – at the same time. I suppose you can’t blame me for wanting to fast forward. I felt like if I only knew WHAT I was dealing with, I could face it, make a plan, and work through whatever was coming my way. But at the time, our futures remained unknown – at least, to me. And I had little control over any of the outcomes.
All I could do was wait.
Many of you won’t be able to relate to foster parenting, or struggling with fertility. But I guarantee that you have experienced a time when you wanted to hit “fast forward” on life.
Maybe you are waiting for something good to come – a baby, job, degree, promotion, or retirement. Perhaps you are waiting for answers – a diagnosis, resolution to a conflict, or a restoration of a relationship. Then again, maybe you are waiting for something hard – the passing of a loved one, the closing of a business, or the progression of a disease.
None of us loves waiting. Not for our drink at Starbucks. And certainly not for life’s big events.
But as I discovered over the last year, no matter what we are waiting for, our season of surrender is not a passive one. We can make intentional decisions, right in the midst of our unknown, in order to grow stronger in faith, perseverance and character.
Here are some key actions you can take today in your season of what to do in the waiting:
Besides praying for only the outcome we want, there are a few key things we can pray for during a time of waiting.
– Pray for God’s will. This is the hardest prayer, because we know our will is often not God’s. It’s a prayer of submission, of laying down the very depths of ourselves to His perfect wisdom.
– Pray for peace. God promises a peace that surpasses all understanding. Pray specifically for a peaceful heart, free of worry and fear.
– Pray for salvation. God is not only concerned about the here and now – he is concerned about eternity. As we faced reunification for our foster son, I began praying that God would bring people into his life who would share the gospel with him when I no longer could. Who do you need to pray for salvation for?
– Pray for growth. In every season of waiting, there is refinement in our faith and character that needs to happen, if we would be open to it. Pray that your eyes are open, and your spirit is willing to grow.
Just as muscles require being broken down through exercise in order to grow, so does our faith. Our seasons of waiting give us an opportunity to question our beliefs, expand our understanding of God’s character and his role in our lives, and more solidly define what we believe and why.
In the Bible, you will find that God often had his people wait. But they were not to be idle in the process. Instead, they were to prepare for what God ultimately was calling them to. Now is not the time to sit by passively. It is a time to prepare your heart, your home, your skill set, and your faith so that you can be ready when your season of waiting is finally over. Ask yourself, “What is the next right thing I can do?” Then go do it.
PRACTICE GOOD SELF-CARE
In a season of waiting, it is crucial to take stock in your spiritual, emotional, and physical needs, and then invest in meeting those needs. As much as you are able, exercise and eat healthy. Talk with a trusted friend, pastor or therapist. Journal or blog. Find what feeds your soul And take the necessary steps to make it a practice.
Give yourself grace. Waiting is hard. One day, you might feel as though you have got this. The next, you are all tears, anxiety and regret. Give yourself the grace to take your fears and emotions day by day, even moment by moment. Waiting is a marathon – not a sprint.
Seek out others who have survived a season of waiting like you are currently in. Be vulnerable about where you are, and allow them to speak the lessons they have learned into your life.
We are never guaranteed tomorrow. Either for us, or for our loved ones. It is so tempting to want to live for the futures we are waiting for, and miss out on the gift of today. Be present with your loved ones. And choose to be grateful for every single thing you can. Because tomorrow, they might be gone.
It is now a year later from the day I posted on Facebook. As much as I longed for answers, I now realize I would not have been able to handle all the answers at once. The unknown, while scary, actually served to protect my heart. Had I known what I know now, I would not have had the courage to follow through with God’s call.
Ironically, that season of waiting just gave way to a new season of unknowns.
Our foster son did return home 9 months ago – and we are now waiting to see if his mom will allow us back into his life at all. Our daughter’s birth mom never followed through, though we are open to her in case she is ready to make contact. And the baby we were pregnant with went to be with Jesus shortly after my post on Facebook. But God blessed us with another pregnancy after 5 consecutive losses, and we are only weeks away from holding our new daughter in our arms.
For now, in all these things, we hold onto hope.
And we wait.
“Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.” Isaiah 64:4
“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14
Rachel Lewis is a foster, adoptive and birth mom. When she’s not chauffeuring her kids around, you can find her shopping at Trader Joes, drinking coffee, or writing at The Lewis Note.
Waiting is not wasting time, it is training time. But waiting is hard and waiting, well, requires patience. But what if waiting well is like riding the waves and an opportunity to find pleasure in the experiences we are going through?
This week Kathi talks with Wendy Pope about her new book Wait and See, Finding Peace in God’s Pauses and Plans. Wendy shares how it took 13 years for this book to be published, but through the waiting God worked in such a way, she would not trade the relationship built with Jesus for the world. Often times the waiting is where God actually prepares us for the work he already has already prepared for us. What are you going to take away from a life worth waiting well? Listen in and discover the value in waiting well.