E-journal January 29, 2008

Home School Burnout, part 3

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by Ellyn Davis

(Parts 1 and 2 of Home School Burnout were in our last two issues of the ejournal. If you missed them, you can read them HERE>> )

More measures to combat Burnout

Spiritual Friendships, Mentors and Christian Counselors

We are relational beings, and, ultimately, all of our problems are relational. All of the practical areas discussed so far in these articles have to do with changing how we relate to created things (like time and our living environment) and changing what we allow to affect our relationship with ourselves (our thought patterns, our energy level, etc.).

But there are other relationships that contribute to stress and conflict in our lives. Yes, we may have too much to do and not enough time to do it, but this time/space problem only reaches “burn-out” when there are underlying relational problems such as tension between husband and wife, conflict between parents and children, or estrangement between fellow Christians.

Usually the largest source of relational stress is in our marriages, because most of us got married without ever being taught how to make a marriage work.

Those of us with relational problems don’t need time-management courses or housekeeping seminars, we need spiritual friendships, mentors, and counselors who help us develop right relationships with others and with God.

What about spiritual friendships? Unfortunately, many of us hesitate to share our deepest struggles, because we suspect other Christians will treat us like a problem that needs to be fixed or like fodder for the church gossip mill. Church is rarely a "safe" place to share your problems, struggles, and failures.

What about mentors? Within the Body of Christ, godly older women are specifically intended to help other women be all that they can be as wives, mothers, and home-makers. But, as I once remarked to a Christian psychologist, “All of the older Christian women I know are faking it just as badly as I am!”

Most of us have struggled to become Titus 2 women—keepers at home, lovers of our children and husband, etc.—but very few of us have had godly older women to show us the way. Instead, we have been nurtured and discipled by women who are as unskilled as we are at fulfilling the Titus 2 mandate.

How do we cope with this dilemma? First, we need to take a good, hard look at who our primary influencers are. Are these women happy and fulfilled as wives and mothers? Can they provide us with a pattern of beliefs and godly living as well as with practical skills that we can duplicate in our own lives? Is their influence causing us to be happier and more productive, or do we relate to them because “misery loves company?”

A common saying is that you will be like the five people you spend the most time with, so it's important tospend time with people you want to be like (and stop spending time with people you don't want to be like.)

Second, we can search for women worthy of modeling. Sometimes this will mean we have to settle for second-hand modeling, by reading books or listening to tapes by women who are well-respected and generally acknowledged as worthy to instruct other women. For example, most of my role models are women I never knew personally: women like Corrie Ten Boom, Edith Schaeffer, and others whose lives will withstand scrutiny.

In addition to the lack of godly, older women, there is a dearth of mature Christian counselors. It is hard to find someone to talk to whose advice isn’t mixed with pop-psychology, or who doesn’t try to superimpose their agenda over your problems. What do I mean by “agenda?” It’s like the old saying: “When you have a new hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

We’ve all had the experience of someone trying to make our problems fit their doctrine. If they happen to be into inner healing, then our problem becomes the “nail” to their inner healing “hammer.” If they happen to believe in demons, then our problem becomes the “nail” to their deliverance “hammer.” Don’t be ashamed to seek professional help, but when you do, check the person out as carefully as you would any other mentor. And don’t let anyone ever treat you like a “nail.”

Sin and unbelief as causes of burnout

No discussion of frustration and stress would be complete without examining whether there is any sin or unbelief in our lives that may be contributing to our feelings of being overwhelmed and under-supported.

I want to tread lightly here, because personally I think as Christians we've got a warped view of what sin is. We tend to think of sin in terms of behaviors and actions when actually it is a heart attitude that doesn't necessarily express itself outwardly. You probably know plenty of non-believers who are kinder, more loving, and cleaner living than many of the Christians around you but they are totally "lost" when it comes to eternal life. And you also probably know plenty of Christians who have learned to "play the game" so well that everyone is shocked when they find out the secret lives these supposedly "perfect" Christians were leading. So, Christian-like behavior is not necessarily an indication of the heart orientation of Christianity.

To add to the confusion, some denominations teach that drinking wine or dancing or playing instruments in church or women having short hair are sins. Others don't. So what Christians consider "sin" can sometimes be a cultural or doctrinal difference, not necessarily a heart attitude.

And then there are those situations that are difficult to grasp . . . . For example, I have a friend who, after many years of trying to redeem her marriage, finally left her husband because he was unfaithful and abused her and her children. A group of her Christian friends implied she had sinned by ending the marriage because "God hates divorce" while another group told her she would be sinning if she stayed in the marriage because to stay would be to condone her husband's behavior. Yet another group (mostly men) told her that the only reason her husband was unfaithful and abusive was because she wasn't submissive enough. Still others told her he needed to take responsibility for his own choices no matter how submissive or unsubmissive she may have been. So no matter which option she chose, there were Christians telling her she was "in sin." Who was right?

To add to the already confused situation about what is sin and what it is not, we have to face the fact that many of us were raised in families who used shame to mold us into "good" children. So our consciences are already trained to think of ourselves as "bad" and to condemn ourselves for the slightest thing we do that might be considered "sin." Because of this, we tend to take on undeserved guilt which adds to our emotional turmoil and physical exhaustion.

Many of the home school Moms I talk to seem programmed to think they are "not enough." They feel guilty that they aren't a good enough Mom, a good enough wife, a good enough housekeeper, . . . .a good enough whatever. They are constantly trying to live up to some standard of what "enough" is and feel terrible that they can't quite ever make it.

Having said all that, my point is that we need to stay in that place in our relationships with ourselves, with God, and with others where our heart attitude is right and our conscience does not condemn us.

If our conscience condemns us in our relationship with God, all our other relationships suffer and no amount of time management, household organization, self-help, spiritual friendships, mentors, or counselors will help. These measures may seem to provide temporary relief, but will never address the root problem, which is the breach in our relationship with God.

Let’s look at the three most common areas of "conscience condemning" that cause women to be stressed-out. First, there is the area of discipline and training of children. There is a lot of pressure on home schooling Moms to raise "good" children as proof our decision to home school was a wise one.

But on the other hand, when we do not “nurture and admonish” our children in the ways God requires, we are not only creating children who make our lives miserable, but more importantly, we are expressing disbelief that God's ways work.

Next is the area of the husband-wife relationship. If your attitude toward your husband stinks, it will be impossible to achieve a sense of peace and order in your home no matter how hard you try.

Finally, there is the area of personal sin. Maybe your house is a wreck because you feel it’s unfair for you to have to do so much work, or you feel cheated of your career potential by being a mother and home-maker. Or maybe you’re caught up in some secret sin like over-eating or sexual fantasies, or whatever. No matter what your personal sin, it clouds your relationship with God, with others, and with earthly things like time and money.

The bad news about sin is that it is like a disease that weakens every part of our lives. The good news is that God loves us more than we could ever imagine and He understands our weaknesses. He freely forgives and heals us if we confess our sins and turn from them.

Sometimes burnout is the result of a life in crisis.

When you’re in the midst of a crisis, when you’ve reached the end of your rope, when you can’t seem to find the inner resources to keep going for another day, you often will reach a place of “ground zero” with God. This is when you find out who He truly is and what you truly believe.

While you are in the midst of those times, it's cruel to try to force yourself to carry on "as usual." You may have lost a loved one and need to take the time to grieve. You may have been facing a huge financial crisis and sunk into depression. You may be struggling with an unexpected and frightening disease that has struck yourself or a family member. Those are not the times to put your "game face" on and act like nothing has happened. Take the time to grieve, to heal, to renew your resources, to resolve the crisis.

The wonderful thing about home schooling is that it is flexible. Maybe one of the greatest life lessons your children can learn is how to cope with a crisis gracefully and with faith in God. Or maybe they just need to see that you're human and can only take a certain amount of stress. Either way, life becomes an education for them.

Ground zero is a term used to designate the immediate blast area of a nuclear bomb, and sometimes life sends “bombs” that leave you feeling like you are in nuclear winter. The nuclear winters of life are times when you must come to terms with Who God really is. So in one way these times are extreme challenges, but in another way they are “gifts” from God because they give you a true perspective of what is valuable and what is not, they show you who your real friends are, and they force you to accept God on His own terms.

There will be times in your ground zero experiences with God when you will be hanging on emotionally and spiritually by the thinnest of threads.

But you know what? As trying as these times may be, something “ground zero” about God will be formed in you. Francis Shaeffer always described our relationship with God as a series of “bows.” There will be times you will have to bow to God’s god-ness. This means you will have to acknowledge that He is God and you're not. It’s hard to explain, but God is God, so He’s always right, no matter what happens and no matter what we might think about what He does. And He loves you and me, no matter what things may look like. It may not make sense, but it can be very freeing to know your life is out of your control and in the hands of a God whose “work is perfect and all His ways are just.”

So what’s the point of all this. Well, one point is that your “ground zero” experience may be the turning point in not only your life but your children's lives too. Another point is that “ground zero” experiences will eventually enter the “This too shall pass” phase and life will move on. The third point is that there will always be someone else whose “ground zero” experiences make yours look like a piece of cake. The fourth point is that, after a “ground zero” experience, life’s everyday hassles don’t seem so hard to bear. And the final point is that these experiences can be “gifts” in disguise, gifts that bring you face to face with Who God really is.

So, burnout, overwhelm, and all the accompanying emotional, spiritual and physical challenges may wind up being part of your testimony some day.

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought.
(James 1: 1- 5, The Message Bible)

Juice Plus

I want to spotlight a product I've found that has made a real difference in my health. It's called Juice Plus+ and it is an easy, affordable way to make sure you and your children get all the fruits and vegetables they need.

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Be a part of our Home Business Incubator!

At Home School Marketplace we are not just about home schooling. We also want to encourage and support you in developing home centered income.

One of the ways we want to do this is by providing you with the opportunity for involvement in businesses that we and other home schooling families develop.

So for years we have thought about creating a home business incubator that home schooling families can participate in.

What is a Business Incubator?

What is a business incubator? A business incubator is a collection of resources designed to help businesses become established and sustainable.

U.S. statistics show that business incubators increase the survival rate of start-ups from 35 percent to 87 percent. This is very, very good news, considering 90% of small businesses fail within their first five years.

We want to create businesses that allow home schooling families to participate in their development and share in their future profits.

Let me assure you that we are not talking about multi-level marketing and we’re not trying to recruit you into becoming some sort of sales force for an existing business.

We are talking about you helping build a traditional business from the ground up. Not only do we have several really good business ideas that we’d like to build a team around, but there are many of you who have some great business ideas who could really use a business incubator.

If you would like to participate in one of our Business Incubators, please GO HERE NOW>>>

CLICK HERE to listen to a teleconference explaining the concept and our vision for a Home School Business Incubator.

Home Business Resources

For years, I have encouraged anyone who wants to create a home business to consider starting a business on the internet. Why? Because an internet business is eas
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Building the Business of Your Dreams
(8 CD Set)
I've had requests for just the business portion of the From Home School to Home Business Seminar, so have developed a set of the business CDs from that set. It contains 8 CDs and includes sessions on The Entrepreneurial Mind, Multiple Streams of Home Income, Discovering Your Ideal Life and Ideal Business (2 CDs) , Developing a Business Plan (2 CDs), and The Importance of Business Relationships. Plus, there is a very important and insightful interview on Redeeming the Marketplace. Find out about this life-changing set of CDs HERE>>

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Home School Resources

I Saw the Angel in the Marble

With over 4,000 copies sold in just a few months, I Saw the Angel in the Marble is becoming a home schooling best seller!

This book represents the best of 15 years of Elijah Company articles. Find our more HERE>>

Turning Hearts: Davis Seminar Set (8 CDs)

The Best of Chris and Ellyn Davis, this set contains seminars given by Chris and Ellyn Davis of The Elijah Company at home schooling conventions. The set contains all of the favorites that home schoolers ask for over and over. People have told us this set of CDs changed their lives. Find out more about them HERE>>

Angel in the Marble/Davis Seminars Set
Order a combination of I Saw the Angel in the Marble and the Davis Seminars CDs HERE>>

From Home School to Home Business
(14 CD Set)

If you missed one of our From Home School to Home Business Conferences, you missed a great time.People who have attended tell us that it changed their lives—not only in the area of home schooling, but also in the area of creating their own sources of home income.This set is huge and filled with useful and encouraging information about how to be successful at home schooling and at home business! Find out more about this life-changing set of CDs HERE>>

Building the Home School of Your Dreams

Building the Home School of Your Dreams is a 6 CD set taken from the From Home School To Home Business Seminar and features sessions by Chris Davis and Mary Hood. Find out more HERE>>

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Webpages about the importance of reading great books and booklists for children of all ages

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