In celebration of World Homeschooler’s Day this June 2, 2023, we would like to highlight one South African mom’s experience as a homeschooler. Although it’s spring in the United States, it’s winter in South Africa. While we’re enjoying warmth and sunshine, let’s remember also that our brothers and sisters on the other side of the equator are experiencing cold and gloom.
And so, as you read, please keep all those in need of God’s light and warmth in your prayers—for some winters are winters of the heart.
Summer’s Ease, Autumn’s Leaves
For as long as I can remember, winter has held a special meaning for me. I love the often-slower pace, warming up under a blanket, hot chocolate, and good books.
“How many lessons of faith and beauty we should lose, if there were no winter in our year!” —Thomas Wentworth Higginson
Not many people share this sentiment, and I often get stares when I reveal this secret love of mine. For many, winter holds long, dark nights and feeling cold, afraid, or even just restricted.
As a homeschool mom, my heart often goes through seasons.
At times, I find myself in summer: things are going well, we are making steady progress, and for the most part, my heart is at ease.
But just as the seasons change around us, summer does not last.
I head into autumn. In my home school, this would be the time we are scrambling to finish our last lessons. I am often walking with some restlessness in my heart about what we did not finish or accomplish.
But, as in autumn when trees lose their leaves, this is also often the season of having to let go of certain expectations, surrendering control of our perfect plans and accepting the invitation of our Heavenly Father to hear what is on His heart.
A Season of Growth, A Season to Let Go
I remember so clearly how in the early days I thought that if I had the perfect plan, schedule, and space, our home school would be, well, “perfect” . . .
That did not last long. I had to learn to let go of my perfect plans and make sure that my roots were growing deeper in the places it mattered and that I wasn’t just ticking off certain boxes.
“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost.” —J. R. R. Tolkien
The reality is that when God invites us into the journey of motherhood and homeschooling, He knows it will entail many seasons of growth and the letting go of habits and ideas which will not bear fruit. And He always extends the invitation to more of Him, the invitation to settle into the warmth of His embrace so He can cover us with His love like a warm winter coat.
Winter brings with it a time for reassessment, because it is in the heart’s winter season when we doubt what we do as moms and homeschool teachers and when it feels like the difficult stretches might not come to an end.
Yet, if we turn our faces to our heavenly Father and ask Him to place in us the seeds for something beautiful, He reminds us the problems we encounter bring with them an invitation of growth. Difficult times grow character, and they can force us to change our perspective of where we are headed and the real reasons we chose to homeschool.
When we choose to embrace the hard times with His grace, the mundane routines and the never-ending battles to complete work become more bearable and easier to handle.
“Grace grows best in winter.” —Samuel Rutherford
Winter’s Grace, Spring’s Embrace
In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul quotes Jesus, who said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (NIV).
It is during the winter seasons of our hearts that this passage really come alive. As we pass through winter and allow Father to pour more of His grace into our days, the difficult becomes easier to deal with. And as winter passes and the first buds make their way in the announcement of spring, so do our hearts become lighter.
I learn during the winter times that I need to offload the heaviness, despite wanting to be in control and needing to force my own plans. It is in this time that I learn that even when it seems like nothing is happening, God is working. My children and I grow in perseverance and character.
And I am reminded that—just as flowers all bud at different times and fruit trees all have different times for growth—in the same way, each of my children grow and develop differently. But in the end, they will all be like trees planted and growing fruit in their due season. And I need to be faithful in watering them, enriching the soil, and filling them with the truth, goodness, and beauty God offers us through His Word while adding some wonderful stories and watering them with encouraging words and love.
If we are faithful in these things with our eyes turned toward Him, our heart’s winters will make way for yet another spring season, and if we allow Him, God will be able to do His work in the depths of our hearts.
Maybe this is the reason I love winter so much: because during the coldest of nights, there always lies the promise of the most beautiful spring gardens . . .
“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” —Anne Bradstreet
Each month, we plan to bring awareness to our wonderful international community and highlight our fellow homeschoolers across the globe.
In the United States of America, homeschooling has been legal in all fifty states since 1993, and we sometimes take our freedom as a given. But in many parts of the world, homeschoolers—and especially Christian homeschoolers—still face distinct challenges and significant obstacles.
Yet, where difficulty arises, grace abounds, and classical homeschoolers around the world are redeeming education victory by victory. We’d like to honor these pioneers in education, share their unique voices, and learn from their much-needed perspectives.
Stay tuned for more International Spotlight articles!