Homeschool Burnout: In Our Weakness, He Is Strong
- Tuesday, May 13, 2003
At some point in your homeschooling journey, you'll likely have a bad day, a disappointing week, or maybe even a frustrating month - or two.
Thankfully, we can turn to the One who will help order our days and transform our homeschool. There are few who know this better than the Bushnell family.
Not only are Tom and Sherry Bushnell homeschooling parents of 10 children (and one in heaven), but they are also the lead caretakers of the NATional cHallenged Homeschoolers Associated Network (NATHHAN), an entire support network for families with special needs kids.
Their vision for helping others has recently led them to expand their ministry in an effort to place pre-born special needs children in loving homes through Christian Homes Adopting Special Kids (CHASK).
The Bushnells reside in Porthill, Idaho, one mile from the Canadian border, where they live in a log home that they built on 46 acres. They farm garlic, alfalfa and have Alpine dairy goats, while homeschooling their children of various ages and abilities.
Their oldest is Jacob, 19, who attends Bible school in Pennsylvania. Their second oldest, Josh, is age 17. He has learning differences and learned to read at age 13. Tally, their daughter in heaven, is 15 and has Down syndrome. Jordan, their adopted son, is 14 and also has Down syndrome. Sheela is 13 and was born without eyes. They adopted her from India when she was 21 months old. Zack, their fourth son is 11. Lynny, their daughter with cerebral palsy and autism, is 10. She was adopted from India at 15 months. Zeph, their fifth son, is 9. Then they have Sheraya, who is 7, Mercy Grace, who is 5, and Jayben, their sixth son, who is 1.
We have the great pleasure of asking Sherry about how she deals with those overwhelming days.
Q: What about the parent who has been homeschooling for a while and is facing discouragement or burnout?
A: In my house, burnout is a state of mind. The Lord can order a day for me that is crammed full of visitors, overtired messy children - a three-ring circus of a school day, a busy office, freezing weather outside, and church in the evening. But, if my priorities are aligned with God's in my heart and mind, this disastrous looking day can be handled with ease. God's way for me is always best. When He is clearing my path, I do not stumble. I ask myself this question, "What does God want me to do right now?"
I have found some secrets that make for a more peaceful day. I will confess. I do not get to enjoy a consistent blissful early morning devotion time, although this has happened occasionally. I set my mind on a meaty Bible verse and apply it to my day. I do see fruit. In regular prayer throughout the day, waiting on Him for advice gives me a trusting relationship. I would not trade a daily, two-hour Bible reading opportunity for the all-day-long, one-on-one relationship with Jesus that I have. I stress the worst when I am not trusting that He has ordered my day.
Second, planning my day, including the meals for several days ahead, helps me cook with less stress. We are not a frozen casserole, once-a-month cooking type of family. We have a big meal at breakfast, lunch and dinner. All these teens call for mega cooking, lest my kitchen be ransacked. We eat a lot of stews, soup and bread, and BBQ venison or elk. This mother of lists has also genetically passed this down to her offspring. My children appreciate a to-do list in the morning. This eliminates my nagging them and their forgetful, sidetracked stares. If we share the chore load and work together we are ready for school by 9 a.m.
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