- Give yourself permission to doubt the system. This may mean truly seeing flaws for the first time, perhaps in the business model, the academics, the intentions of those over you, the fit for your family, or even how “Christian” it really is.
- Become aware of other options. You begin to see that there are other legitimate, and possibly healthier, groups, other curriculum, and even other ways of thinking about the group you have been in. You are not only giving yourself permission to doubt, but to think and see things in new ways.
- Decide you MUST leave. I put that in capital letters, because as some point you realize that what you have been seeing in the group MUST lead to your exit. This may be because of unacceptable liability for your family, legal concerns, damage being done to your kids academically or psychologically, or damage being done to you (this is a legitimate reason - you don't have to sacrifice yourself just because your kids have friends in the group). Maybe continuing would violate your own integrity, or maybe God is simply calling you out of it. Whatever your reasons, accept this and write them all down.
- Panic over what to do now. I am not telling you to do this, but you very well may - over how/when to leave, over your fear of conflict, over the fear of what will happen to your kids when you leave, over fear of failing your child. You don't need to give in to the panic, but if you feel it, it's normal.
- Actively explore your options. This helps you to deal with the panic. This is not just being aware of what's out there, but now that you have decided to leave, it is deliberately considering the curriculum you may switch to by investigating new books, online classes, co-ops, Facebook groups, etc.
- Leave. Likely, this means talking to someone in charge of your group, or someone to whom you were reporting as a leader, but it also means talking to and being on the same page as your spouse, telling your kids there is going to be a change, telling friends, and actually not showing up or signing up. And this is the hardest thing of all - just saying good-bye and closing the door on that chapter of life.
- Attend to your own needs. This is super important when going through a loss - and this is, indeed, a loss. Take care of your physical needs, in terms of getting adequate rest, nutrition, and exercise. Consider limiting contact with old connections and Facebook groups, if that is going to increase your anxiety or agitation. Watch your thought life, and if you find yourself obsessing over the situation, take steps to get busy with other activities and conversations. Make definite plans for your kids’ schooling if you haven’t yet, and establish a new normal schedule. Watch for your kids' signs of loss and grief and help them deal with those in healthy ways.
- Express your emotions. You will probably feel grief over what you have lost - community, security, a planned out future, friends, and maybe homeschooling itself. You may experience guilt over time lost and being a part of a system that you now reject. You may be angry over mistreatment you or others got. You may also feel relief and excitement for what you have gained - freedom, time, money, and new relationships. Whatever you are feeling, acknowledge those emotions, perhaps through conversations with others or by journaling. Encourage your kids to do the same.
- Make new connections. Find a new community or co-op. Use the time gained to pour into relationships you already have. Use the extra time and energy you have on your spouse and kids. Go on play dates with new homeschool meetup groups in your area. Talk with others who have also left the group or others who have been in a similar situation. Most of all, connect with God, bringing all of your concerns to Him.
- Expect setbacks. It is not uncommon to feel lonesome or afraid, especially when the new school year begins and your old friends are moving on without you - but don’t give in! Go back to points 3 and 8 to remember why you left and what you have gained.
- Move forward with confidence. Put your plan in action, making changes where you need to, setting up play dates, signing your kids up for a new class, etc. Recognize that this will be a process of figuring out what works, and making changes as necessary. As you begin, you may try to retain parts of the former curriculum out of comfort and familiarity, only to move away from those as you gain confidence and knowledge.
- Reach out to help others, whether online or in person. Think through how to explain your choices to others in a two-minute "elevator speech" and connect with others who are helping people leave unhealthy groups. You've been through it now, and God can use your experience to help others.
Come on in, friend! Pull up a chair, grab a cuppa, and let's chat! I'd love to share what God's been putting on my heart about the topics of family, femininity, and faith, and you do the same. If you want to go deeper, join my Facebook group for "This Side of Heaven", and be sure to subscribe to keep up with every new post (no spam, I promise!). I look forward to getting to know you and sharing the journey "this side of Heaven!"
Most homeschool groups and programs are healthy and supportive, but others are not, whether that is a single local group or a whole geographically diverse system. Our family recently left such a system, and while it might seem like the choice of one homeschool curriculum over another might be fairly straightforward, the longer you have been in a system, or the more intertwined you have been with different levels of leadership (as we were), the more complicated it can be when you discover flaws with which you can no longer co-exist. Over the last year, I have seen myself and my family go through 12 steps of leaving one homeschool system and embracing a different path. I've written these from the perspective of leaving a homeschool system, but perhaps you have been on a similar path, with a different kind of group, an unhealthy church, or even a family situation. If so, you are not alone!
With Black Friday coming up this week, I thought I would share with you some unique gift ideas to consider for those on your shopping list! Some are more traditional and some are things you may have never thought of as gifts!
No green thumb? No problem. This vertical, aeroponic garden systems allow you to grow your own produce without the learning curve or time commitment of traditional gardening. Grow greens and herbs indoors with Tower Garden HOME, or enjoy a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers with the Tower Garden FLEX. Each model takes up less than 3 square feet.
Hairband from Lilla Rose
These hairbands make a great gift. They are one size fits all, thanks to the removable, adjustable elastic band. That same elastic makes them super comfortable, they come in all kinds of styles from fancy beads and seed pearls to real and imitation leather. And if you purchase a chain ($10) or magnetic clasp ($5), you can turn the hairband into a necklace! And all Lilla Rose products are on sale during their weeklong Black Friday sale!
I was so delighted two years ago to learn that my friend Beki made silhouettes that I immediately commissioned her to do one of my children as a Christmas gift for my husband. Unframed silhouettes are $15 each. Framed are $25 with a discount of $5 off each additional framed silhouette. Shipping is extra. The ordering deadline for Christmas is Dec. 15. Click the button below to email Beki (email@example.com).
Jewelry from Papparazi
I love both the versatility and the affordability of Papparazi jewelry! This “scarf necklace” is a single strand of spiraling, interlocking links with light-catching texture, anchored by two tassels of chain that add dramatic length to the piece. There are five different ways to wear it (Open Layer, Loop, Traditional Wrap, Double Knot, and Nautical Knot), and it includes one pair of matching earrings.
Cookbook or kitchen tools from Pampered Chef
A cookbook from Pampered Chef was one of my wedding gifts, and 17 years later I still use it! Their recipes are easy to
make, delicious, and timeless (and their kitchen tools are great, too!). I recently got some new ones from them and can’t wait to try them out! My friend Dawn can help you find the perfect gift for your friend who loves cooking!
Jewelry from Premier Jewelry
This is another jewelry favorite of mine. Premier Jewelry is always so sparkly and elegant!! I love the extra long necklaces especially and all the ways I can adjust them work with different necklines. Also, for the remainder of November, Premier will donate a piece of jewelry to a woman in need for every $100 order placed!! They're partnering with organizations that serve ladies who are making big changes in their lives, and feel that jewelry will help these ladies to feel confident as they move forward!
Organic Rose Water from Lilla Rose
Another one-size-fits-all gift, this Certified Organic Rose Water is made from steam distilled Bulgarian rose petals. It can be used on hair to hydrate and smooth, as a facial toner, or to mist on your pillow at night. It’s become part of my daily routine!
Micro business for Teens homeschool curriculum
This set of two books and one workbook are a great gift for a teenager who wants to begin his or her own business, or for a parent (homeschool or otherwise) who wants to encourage a child to do this. The Micro Business for Teens books are designed to be self-teaching, but can be used in a group setting as well. Each student should have their own set of books or, in a family setting, at least their own workbook.
Hannah's Hope book
This book by my friend Jennifer Saake is one that I first read many years ago. It is one of the best, as it traces the story of Hannah and draws parallels with how we and others react to infertility and pregnancy loss, and how this interacts with our faith. It also contains excellent advice for church leaders and other “burden bearers” who want to come alongside those on this journey. If you have a friend or family member dealing with this, I highly recommend this resource.
Flexi clip from Lilla Rose
This is the hair clip that gave me new confidence four years ago. Yes, really. The Flexi (comes in seven sizes and a ton of different styles, making it perfectly unique to the special person receiving it. Contact me for help getting the right size! (And, again, all Lilla Rose products are on sale during their weeklong Black Friday sale!)
A classical education "Disciplines" course with Jamie Buckland
If you have a friend who is a fan of the classical model of homeschooling, Jamie is a wonderful source of wisdom and knowledge! She has created a number of self-paced courses to help homeschool parents understand the why and how of certain disciplines that are particular popular in classical circles - Latin, logic, literature, English grammar, and rhetoric - and she explains them in a friendly easy-to-understand manner!
Life Planner from It's A Mad Hatter Life
This Life Planner created by veteran homeschool mom JJ Veale, of the Stealing Faith Blog, has a layout and font that is crisp and easy to read, without being cluttered by excess design, and borders. The set-up helps me switch between the big picture and the up close and personal, with a focus on laying out the year's events and goals, and then a vision board for each month that helps me look back at those ideas (normally, I would write them down in a flourish of creative energy and then forget about it). The weekly calendar is large enough to write in comfortably and includes an area to chart how well I am building "habits" (whatever suits me, as it is blank, too). I also like the way the planning is separated into personal, people, passion, purpose, projects, and events. With the new year just around the corner, this is a timely and affordable gift!
I hope this gives you some ideas you hadn’t considered and maybe introduces you to some new businesses! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and a great week!
My husband has been preaching through James this fall, and his sermon last week on James 5:1-6 especially caught my attention. It's a passage I've glossed over often in the past, since the heading in my Bible says it is a "warning to the rich." I mean, I'm not rich, right? Isn't that title reserved for people like Bill Gates and other celebrities?
But as I studied it more, I realized that I am rich - simply by virtue of being an upper class, middle class, educated American, I am richer than most of the world, and so this passage does indeed speak to me - and maybe to you as well. Let me share what God has been showing me about things we need to be careful to avoid, and how it applies to us in the 21st century.
James begins by warning the rich of what is coming - misery. The fine clothes and silver and gold that they have worked to acquire will not last, and their temporal nature will actually testify against them and their foolishness - foolishness that led to four specific actions of which they are now accused.
Hoarding wealth in the last days
James says they have hoarded wealth in the last days. Remember, the New Testament writers had an eternal perspective in that they believed Jesus would return - possibly very soon! So hoarding wealth on Earth when this world is temporary and passing away was the height of foolishness. At that time, this was represented by their fine clothes and silver and gold that were rotting away. What do we hoard today? Oh, the list is long, isn't it? Just look at the popularity of minimalism and people like Marie Kondo, and you can see we know we have a problem of too much stuff. Clothes, books, toys, electronic devices, cars, kitchen gadgets, jewelry, even money. The idea of "hoarding" is usually one of collecting a large group of objects that is then hidden away - kept selfishly for oneself, and not to be shared with others. It is an attitude of selfishness, of keeping more than I need, and intentionally keeping it for me, not others.
We can certainly see that with physical goods, but I wonder if this can also be an attitude toward other privileges. How many of us enjoy the freedoms we have in this country, but it stops there - with us enjoying those freedoms, not using our freedom to bless others? Do we really believe we are living in the last days, and that we must be focused on eternal things, not on earthly blessings, whether that is physical wealth or even intellectual and spiritual growth? For example, as we homeschool our children, I find myself checking to make sure our focus is not only on building our children up academically, but especially spiritually. While we enjoyed the privilege of worshiping without fear today, I realized that this is not the case everywhere, and that we may not always have that either. And so my question to all of us is this: Am I hoarding physical wealth as well as the knowledge I have about the Bible, or sharing that with others?
Oppressing workers in the fields
I was surprised at the fourth verse. James writes, "The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you." Rich farmers were not paying the harvesters who made their wealth possible.
First, as I said before, this didn't seem to apply to me. I am not a farmer with harvesters, and if I were, I would certainly pay them a fair wage. But I began looking at what else the Bible said about this topic of paying workers, and found it interesting that this theme comes up over and over in both the Old and New Testaments. In both Leviticus 19 and Deuteronomy 24, the people of Israel are told not to cheat someone of his wages at the end of the day, and in Jeremiah 33:13, the prophet chides Shallum, the king of Judah, for making his people work for nothing to build his palace. God takes this so seriously, in fact, that those who do not deal fairly with their workers are included in a list of evildoers in Malachi 3:5, along with sorcerers, adulterers, liars, and others who do not fear God.
As with many commands in Scripture, I believe we need to look at both the specific action and the attitude behind it. Clearly, those who hire others need to not cheat them out of their wages. To do so in biblical times was to both take advantage of a willing worker and to put that worker at risk, since he depended on his wage to take care of himself and his family.
But are there other ways that workers can be mistreated and taken advantage of, especially in 21st century America, with minimum wage and federal labor laws? These came to mind:
Up until this last year, when I began re-evaluating a business I was involved with, most of these are issues I never really thought about. Now, I am realizing now that these are things God cares about deeply, especially when the rich employers are those who claim to follow Him!
Since I'm not hiring people, though, maybe I can skip this after all? Not so fast. I believe another way this applies to us is when we buy goods and services from others. We have choices in using our money to support those who oppress workers or those who deal fairly with them, don't we?
If we learn that a company we support is not dealing fairly with those who make their success and wealth possible, I firmly believe that we should stop supporting them.
Now, when I have said that in a group, I’ve had people object to this idea because you can't know all of the details of a company, and after all, not all companies are run by Christians. And we can't just stop buying things! And what if I need what a company has to offer? What if it is providing something that is good for my family? What if it is essential for my health, or my homeschool, or my business?
In response to all of this, consider - especially in our nation, we have many, many choices. It is a rare circumstance where our only choice is a company that oppresses its workers. And no, we cannot know everything, but I believe that when we have become aware of a company not dealing fairly with its workers, whether it is running a sweatshop in a third world country or an office in the United States, we have a moral obligation to use our money as consumers to speak up in support of God's word - and clearly, this matters to Him.
Living in luxury and self-indulgence
In some ways, this mirrors the first accusation about hoarding wealth in the last days, but in verse 5, James focuses on the idea of living in luxury, thinking only of themselves to the point of being like a calf fattened for slaughter - having no purpose except to consume. How do we do this today? I believe we are self-indulgent when we make our finances an idol and the maintenance of our financial status a top priority. When we ignore the warnings of others and measure our success by earthly numbers, and then do anything we can to gain that success - that is self-indulgence. This can apply to physical goods, of course, but again, it can also apply to the things that money can buy - education, influence, and power. Do I care more about my personal desires and building up my own little kingdom than on truly sacrificing for God's kingdom?
Seeing people as disposable.
The final accusation, in verse 6, is that these rich oppressors condemned and murdered innocent people who were not their true enemies. When we are living in luxury and self-indulgence, hoarding our wealth, and using others to get more, it is easy to see those who would get in our way as our enemies, and so to abuse them, or to stand by while others do the same. As with holding back wages from the worker, God condemns this attitude that people who get in our way are disposable. It is a warning for all of us - do we use people and love things, or do we use things and love people? And are we willing to stand up for those who are abused, even when it is inconvenient or risky for us to do so?
Summing it up
James 5:1-6 has given me a lot to think about, especially with the holiday season coming up. I encourage you to think on these action points with me, both for us and as we model a godly attitude for our children and others in our sphere of influence.
Welcome! My name is Kristi. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a teacher, a writer, a musician... but most of all a child and worshiper of God discovering that even in life's messes, God is still good. Learn more about me and my journey here!
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