Encouragement for the Homeschooling Mom with Chronic Illness

Encouragement for the Homeschooling Mom with Chronic Illness

There is sometimes a burdensome expectation that homeschooling moms have to do it all. But when a homeschooling mama lives with chronic illness, it can even be difficult to do what seems to be the bare minimum. If you struggle with chronic disease, chronic pain, autoimmune disorders, or debilitating fatigue, you may have wondered if you can still continue, despite knowing the advantages of homeschooling. And where is God in the midst of your struggle? My friend Anna brings sweet encouragement to the homeschooling mom with chronic illness in today’s guest post. She shares the truth of God’s love and care even in the midst of her own experience with chronic disease.

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Encouragement for the Homeschooling Mom with Chronic Illness: Tips, Truth, and Hope

by Anna Jill

“Now it is Winter; now it is good.” I didn’t know that these words from a sweet children’s book I “randomly” brought home from the Library would forever change how I navigated and accepted the harsh seasons of life. 

In our culture the New Year promises fresh starts, a reset, a new YOU. But what about when it’s the same old YOU? The ability to “change” your circumstances is out of your control. 

For those living with a chronic illness we sometimes never move beyond managing symptoms. Although we cannot change our reality, we can come at it with a fresh and new perspective

God’s Comfort in the Midst of Long, Hard Seasons

Have you ever just KNOWN God was speaking to you? He speaks through his Word, through songs and His people. He is personal, attentive and compassionate with a big picture view. Knowing that He is ever present and truly sees us brings a much-needed comfort in long and hard seasons

That needed comfort came in an unexpected way over 15 years ago as I sat down with my littles to read, Now It Is Winter by Eileen Spinelli. I didn’t expect to have a sweet experience with the Lord that day, but I was impacted by this simple tale.

Encouragement for the Homeschooling Mom with Chronic Illness

In this story of a family of mice, the little ones are experiencing the winter blues—anxious for the spring days when they can play tag with their friends, jump in puddles and see the robins and sunshine. They were focused on the next season without truly embracing the current one. 

Their wise and gentle Mama reminded them that Spring was coming but right now they can enjoy what winter holds—like oatmeal with butter and brown sugar. She talked about the snow angels they can make and skating with friends. This experienced Mama mouse responded to her anxious and discontent babies, “Now it is winter. Now it is good.”  

Seeing hope beyond a health flare up

I can relate to these stir-crazy little ones when I’m longing to be out of a flare up and anxious to have my health and energy back. When living in a long season of health issues, cabin fever is inevitable. Unlike the seasons on the calendar, the seasons of chronic illness have unpredictable timeframes, and we do not know when relief is coming. This can cause worry, fear and discontentment which then can leave us feeling hopeless and unable to see beyond the immediate. 

Encouragement for the Homeschooling Mom with Chronic Illness

Just as the little mice in the story were longing for the next season and unable to see the beauty in the current season, I, too, can disengage from the intentionally placed “inclement weather.” Similar to the little mice, I need to be redirected. I need to wake up and engage with my reality. 

When the circumstances in life are different than we expected, harder than we imagined and, honestly, not what we thought our life would look like, we can shut down and endure. It’s like we are waiting for the season to pass while missing the elements that are special to this season alone.

Unexpected blessings in hard seasons

What if…there are intrinsic elements in the hard seasons that are actually a blessing? Take a moment to ponder. Take a moment to talk with the Lord about the possibility of something FOR you, even in the hard. 

Sometimes we assume hard is bad especially when the daily comes with health challenges and adjusting to a new normal. It’s true, these components do make things difficult. I think it’s ok to admit that. 

Just as winter brings harsh temperatures and treacherous conditions, life comes with harsh realities. Yet, these cruel conditions are necessary to kill damaging insects and pathogens. The sustained low temperatures bring “chilling hours” where building up for new growth happens. This intentional dormancy is needed for an abundant harvest. 

Can you see the virtues in a seemingly harsh, cold and trying season? 

Maybe the stillness in your circumstances is needed to actually hear the Lord.  Psalm 46:10 says, “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Encouragement for the Homeschooling Mom with Chronic Illness

Maybe the feeling of being isolated and scared brings a whole new understanding that with Jesus, we are never alone as it states in Isaiah 43:2. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze”. 

The waiting can be a means of holding on to promises in expectancy.  Isaiah 40:31 says, “but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

If our minds go to dark and unhealthy places, the Bible is full of lovely and true things to think on as it states in Philippians 4:8, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

I have personally experienced a depth of knowing and communing with God in the midst of the darkest and lowest moments. I truly believe it’s because of these frigid and harsh seasons I am able to understand the Lord’s faithfulness, compassion and comfort. In that, a harvest is reaped that is abundant and good. 

Encouragement for the Homeschooling Mom with Chronic Illness

What happens when chronic illness causes you to fall short of your own standards?

On a more practical note, I am a recovering Type A Perfectionist. I attribute this to my chronic illness that stripped me of false securities that became like an idol to me

I was only “OK” if all my ducks were in a row. All was well IF my home was in order. Everything was “fine” if, and only if, it all played out just so. 

When you are unable to measure up to your own standards, when you need others to carry the load with you, and when you lack the energy to be the person you have always been, one is left to answer the questions, “Is God still good?” and “What does He have for me in all this?”. 

Finding peace in dependence

I was forced to face my new reality of complete dependence on the Lord. No longer was I navigating the days in my own strength. Gone was the illusion that everything was fine only because it played out as I had anticipated. Everything was not fine; in fact, I needed to be refined. God did just that as He showed me mercy in revealing the yuckiness in my heart through coming to the end of myself.

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God showed me that my circumstances were for my good and His glory. He taught me that relying on Him (not myself) to get through the day was right where He wanted me. 

This all sounds like common sense, but it took brokenness and surrender. It wasn’t easy to surrender to the reality that the life I had dreamed of was not, in actuality, what God had determined for me.  

But different was better, because now I see He was working in ways that were unseen yet impacting in the deepest of ways. This has taken an awakening to shake me out of a hibernation in order to not miss what God is doing.

Time in the Word, focusing on my health and creating new habits has provided a healthier rhythm to my days with an eternal purpose to know Him and make Him known.

Your struggles are not unseen

When we engage with the present we get a clearer view of the bigger picture. In the hidden and secret places of an often hidden disease, the Lord uses His Word to let us know we are seen and held in the seemingly cold and bitter season. He wants us to grasp that He is aware of us and has purpose in our circumstances.  

Isaiah 45:3 says, “I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” As you walk out the quiet moments, remember you are seen, protected and sustained by the One that created you and carries you.

How to move forward when things feel out of control

There are actions we can take moving forward when it feels like things are out of our control. 

1. Recognize God’s sovereignty

First, remember God is in control even if it feels we are not. Isaiah 55:8-9 reminds us “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  We can find comfort in the awareness of the Lord’s sovereignty and presence.

2. Renew your mind with Truth

Next, renewing our minds with Truth from God’s Word can bring the peace that passes all understanding. Curating a rhythm in your days that includes purposeful time in the Word and Thanksgiving in all things can bring that renewal of our minds and fix our gaze on Him. 

This can be anytime that works for you and makes sense for your day. Are you a night owl? Then take advantage of the late night hours. Are you an early riser? Before the household stirs is a perfect time to open your Bible. If you have lots of littles and the days are long and full, spending time with the Lord can look like opening a simple devotional and reading aloud to your children. 

There is beauty and possibilities with every season of life where meeting with the Lord can look unique to you and your needs.

3. Rest in your finite resources

Another action we can take is by seeking the Lord in how we use our time and resources. This ensures that what we take on and incorporate in our days is not a burden. We can take on only what He has for us. 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” 

Matthew 11:28-30 brings relief to me personally as I sift through all the “good” things I can incorporate into my day and confidently choose the “best” things that won’t burden.

4. Remember to care for your body

Then, give yourself permission to care for your physical body. We are the dwelling place for our King and caring for ourselves enables us to honor the One that dwells within. We often put the needs of others first, yet fail to take care of our most basic of needs. 

What does caring for the temple of God mean to you? Do you need to make an appointment with your care provider or do you need to follow through with the regimen that has already been laid out for you? Possibly drinking enough water or ensuring you actually eat well is a needed step. Whatever it is, do it for the Glory of the Lord, and give yourself permission to do so.

5. Request help

Lastly, don’t do it all alone. Letting others SEE us right where we are can lighten the loads we carry. This can be an emotional burden we are navigating or the weight of the daily grind and to-do’s. 

Whether it’s simply reaching out for prayer or conversation, this step of letting others know what we are walking through can bring relief. 

Maybe you could benefit from the physical presence of another to help carry out tasks. This takes humility, but may be needed to care for yourself and carry out the tasks before you. 

We were made for community and connection and allowing others to walk with us is lifegiving. 

While this option may not be easy, it can provide what’s needed to get through a dark time or get through a to-do list. The awareness that we are seen and loved in our circumstances is such a sweet provision the Lord provides even in the hardest of times.

Unexpected harvests in the harshest of seasons

To actively choose to move beyond just enduring takes action and intention on our part. By leaning into our circumstances and trusting the Lord to do a Work, we can know Him more and experience an unexpected harvest even in the harshest of seasons.

Now it is Winter, my friend. Now it is good.

In Him, 

Anna Jill is a second generation homeschooler who has been married 23 years to the boy next door. She and her husband have graduated 2 of their 6 children and are in their 16th year of homeschooling. Their children range in age from 20 down to 4.

Anna has an Eclectic, Wonder-Schooling approach in their homeschool. She prefers to pull resources from various publishers to fit the needs of each child, while also giving space in the flow of the day to go down rabbit trails of “wonder” and pivot as the seasons change. There is also a strong emphasis on character concepts and teaching life skills. Carrying out Deuteronomy 6:4-7 in a tangible way is the why behind their homeschool.

More resources for homeschooling with chronic illness

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