High School

I feel like we did something right and good for our family, for me, by traveling this summer. I don't know if summer in the city would have achieved the same effect, but life has a very different vibe, the beginning of September, than it did at the end of June.

The kids' spring schedule was intense with the drama production and year-end co-op projects, those priorities consumed us. Co-op wrapped up, I breathed a deep sigh of relief, and we shifted gears into a June busy with different kinds of priorities, checking off tasks, meeting deadlines. Taking care of the things that must be done (appointments, scheduling more appointments), being a responsible citizen (filing tax returns in two countries); you know, just managing a home, a business, a family.

Some of those deadlines were about our trip, like getting our house ready for six weeks of guests and housesitters who stayed in our apartment during our absence. I loved this part, by the way, preparing a welcoming space for friends and strangers. And it was a great opportunity at the end of the spring season to de-clutter, purge and organize our belongings. I was very satisfied with that experience.

Then we left and life shifted into working-vacation/visit family/drive cross-country mode.

At the beginning of our trip I made a list for myself of goals and intentions for the summer, and like I said in that post, "anxious, uptight, and frustrated" were not on the list. My intentions guided my actions and my attitude, through the great parts of our trip and not so great parts. And I feel that setting my intentions (which is not the same as a to-do list or checklist) for the summer, was a very helpful guide for me when I did experience anxiety, frustration and stress.

After the usual stressful transition period upon our arrival home (I'm always stressed and anxious during transitions) I've settled into the most relaxed and at-ease mental and emotional space I've experienced all year.

I stopped taking my supplements for the summer; all those vitamins, minerals, and herbs that are intended to fill any nutritional gaps and help me manage anxiety. I stopped partly because we were traveling but also just to take a break from pills. I haven't started back up again, though I probably will sometime this month. It feels nice to feel good without the help from ashwagandha, St. John's Wort, magnesium, a multivitamin, DHA, and vitamin D (making that one myself right now). Those are great. I often need them, and would take a few of these regardless of anxiety, but right now I'm just taking a break from pills.

a trip to Burlington, VT

Coming home after a long trip felt a bit like a fresh start and I used the opportunity to tweak some behaviors and habits of mine. One thing I've done is to I re-boot my morning routine, getting up with more consistency at 6:30/7:00. I'm going to bed by 10:30/11:00 so this is not a problem. I give myself till 9am to write. Just write. (And make a cup of coffee.) No email. No reading. No breakfast. (I don't need it till later.) If I get up at 6:30 I get a solid 2 hours of writing. I am loving this.

I'm also back to meditating regularly. Which is literally allowing me to breathe deep.

The biggest change to my routine is the time I spend checking e-mail/Facebook. I've cut way back. My goal is to check and respond to e-mail twice a day, mid-morning or around lunch (after I've spent time on activities more important to me) and again around supper-time. (And definitely not before bed.) This is also generally when I read the handful of blogs I follow, as most of the blogs I read I follow via e-mail.

I will deal with school related e-mail during my planning sessions (it's homeschool planning season for me) and financial e-mails during my bookkeeping hours (approximately one afternoon a week) but everything else I'm trying to keep to two discrete times per day. And I'm much more judicious with how and when I use FB, becoming really aware of how I mis-use that app on my phone.

I am tired of the effects on my life (I can feel pressured and frantic) when I don't respect my personal limits around text, e-mail and Facebook. So I've re-evaluated my intentions and goals in these areas and the result is a more relaxed state of mind.

I've been working in the garden, I can actually start to call it that now (as the space is transforming from weedy yard into flowers). An honest-to-goodness vegetable and herb garden is taking shape behind the garage. I started preparing the area last fall with the lasagna gardening technique of covering the sod/weeds/stuff-you-want-to-kill with cardboard and then layering that with organic material. I used leaves for my organic material, because leaves is what I had available to me. I collected bags of leaves from neighbors' driveways, which they had left for the city to pick-up as it does each fall.

Fast forward to this August when we arrived home from our trip. The "garden" looked like a jungle. We have a vining plant, I don't know the name, that takes over if not cut back. That vine plant had blanketed the garden space, covering any evidence of my lasagna gardening technique. Since our return, I've been ripping out those vines and digging out the persistent dandelions that grew through the cracks in the cardboard. This summer's vining branches ran on top of last fall's lasagna layers, but there are old and established horizontally growing roots under those layers also. I've been doing the satisfying work of ripping out all those roots and finding that the lasagna layers did their job in killing everything else (except those dandelions) and have mostly composted into the soil.

And that's my point, I'm starting to get soil in the garden where there was once a mat of weedy grass, overgrown yarrow, and rampant vines. I'm creating a garden!

And while I do that work I get to appreciate the fruits of my spring labors, minimal though they were, enjoying the wildflower mix, zinnias, sunflowers, morning glories and cosmos I seeded in May. I am satisfied that the bees are visiting my backyard and my elderly francophone neighbors are smiling on, from the upper balcony and over the fence, encouraging my efforts, grateful to see a neglected yard nurtured into beauty.

One of the principles I live by is to leave a place better than you found it. I can't always do this, I have my inconsistencies and areas of incongruence, but in the case of this yard, I'm living according to my values. And that brings me immense satisfaction.

There are times I feel dismayed at the slow progress. I want a beautiful yard and I want it now.

Wouldn't it have been nice if the yard was lovely when we moved in? But I had a revelation this spring about the yard and building gardens back there. Transforming that space is part of my calling in this season of life. I'm called to create beauty here where there was none before. It wasn't pretty when I moved here because that's my job to do. I do this for my neighbors and I do this for my soul. It's part of the reason I live in this particular apartment, it's a gift I have to share that comes naturally, it's part of who I am.

I am tempted to make some kind of self-deprecating remark, downplay the significance of this awareness.

I won't do that.

My dad has been here for a few days, he left this morning. He's taking a roadtrip on his Suzuki V-Strom adventure bike through Quebec, Vermont, NH, Maine, and NB before returning home to Nova Scotia. His time here and the essence of his trip, man and the open-road, feels like a late summer celebration of life.

During his visit we ate on the patio. Using the reclaimed-from-the-rubbish tables I found in the garbage last year and bringing out our collapsible dining room chairs, one of our key pieces of small space living furniture.

It gives me enormous pleasure to have cultivated a small garden that beautifies the space where we shared those meals, even though the rest of the yard still needs a lot of work. It's a project-in-progress and I've made peace with that.

Having my dad here was wonderful. As I've gone through struggles in the past few years with anxiety and insecurity, my relationship with him has only deepened. Dad's gotten to know me more through my writing, he reads all my posts. My truth-telling and discoveries, and the stories he's shared with me in kind, have revealed our shared history and experience with these struggles.

We understand ourselves better looking in the mirror of the other and we understand each other better looking into self. This connection with my dad, whom I've always admired and respected, but not had the empathetic relationship we do now, is a gift to me. My dad's heart beats for his wife, his children and grandchildren, building, and now his bike. To know that he cares so deeply for me and knows me, not just as the child I was, but the woman I am - is the best gift a grown woman can receive from her parents. To be known intimately and to be loved. (Thank you Dad.)

September is traditional back-to-school time but our yearly learning schedule - what we're doing and when we're doing it - is fluid. We don't "finish" in June and we don't "start" in September, and we take long and short breaks throughout the year that sometimes correspond with the school system, but mostly do not.

An aside: While I'm talking about homeschooling, it's worth mentioning that since Celine is seventeen at the start of this school year the compulsory education laws no longer apply, which is to say: the government/local school board no longer has any say or oversight in how we homeschool her. We're not registered with a school board to begin with, so no governing bodies interfere with our homeschool anyway, but they could, if they wanted to. But not for Celine, not any more. And that feels pretty darn good to me.

This is the time of year when I plan the school year ahead and try to make sense of the one that just ended (recording and documenting the learning that happened). When the kids were little I did this wrap up and portfolio prep in July and August. Then for a while I didn't do very much "wrap up" and my record keeping got rather haphazard, which is not how I like to operate. And since moving to Montreal I've been really trying to get on the ball with this, for personal piece of mind (this area of my life feels out of order) and for necessity as I now have two high schoolers and Celine is graduating next year. I must get this stuff in order.

That's my big focus this month, to curate her work from the last few years, and to set up the templates and systems to start creating her transcript and graduation portfolio. She'll be involved in this process but I have to get the structure established first. Then I can work on it over the coming year and use a similar set-up to start recording Laurent's work.

I've been in information-gathering mode for the last year. Talking to other homeschool parents how they go about graduating their kids. Getting the low-down on how to get a Quebec high school diploma, if Celine chooses that route. Attending information sessions both at our co-op and at a homeschool convention this past June on "how to prepare a portfolio", "how to get into Concordia or McGill (or other universities) from homeschooling", "why you don't need CEGEP" (that's applicable for us Quebeckers), etc.

I've got the all the information and now I need to apply it to our situation; to package and be able to present (if needed) Celine's self-directed, interest-driven, very non-standard (even by homeschool standards) high school education. I have my work cut out for me, but I'm also excited to see how it has all come together for her, and for us, in ways I could not have imagined at the outset of this journey.

The kids have been at their studies for a few weeks already, according to their own initiatives. They have goals they want to accomplish and stuff they want to do. Celine is currently taking two online classes with Coursera; The History of Rock and Fundamentals of Music Theory through the University of Rochester and University of Edinburgh, respectively. Buying a guitar and learning to play it (she'd never played the guitar before buying her own) has opened up a whole world to her, both in terms of knowledge and academic skills, such as note-taking.

The skills and knowledge she's learning while taking these courses is awesome, of course, but the fact that there is music in our home, arising from a motivated and interested learner, is so satisfying to me.

When there is art going on in one room and guitar playing in another, or sometimes both in the same room, I'm in my blissed out homeschool mother place.

Our family will be a part of the homeschool co-op again this year and it is such a relief to me that co-op doesn't start till October. I need this month of late summer to transition and establish things around the home before we once again commit ourselves to classes, lots of driving, and someone else's agenda.

Brienne is not happy that co-op starts in a month, she wants it to start now. She loves socializing and being with many friends, she loves going to class, loves the external expectations. She's in-between right now. In-between projects, in-between goals, and those times can be hard and require patience and trust, for both the learner and guide/parent. Co-op is a clear route out of feeling stuck, uninspired, and unmotivated. Which has both advantages and disadvantages. It's important not to short circuit or short cut the discomfort of uncertainty in the self-motivated learning process.

All of our kids love co-op and excelled last year in the structured learning environment and worked hard at their classes (receiving excellent grades) on their own initiative. And I love the vision of this co-op, the people we've met there, the excellent teaching, and finally finding a village. We're all excited to be going back, this time not as the new kids but as regulars. We know what to expect and are anticipating it.

And this sense of anticipation is part of this season.

I've got my own learning to do this month.

I'm getting serious now about going through the resources from the Herb & Essential Oils Super Bundle and putting together my plan for cold & flu season. I've already bought a few highly recommended prepared remedies as well as started to purchase herbs at the market. My pile is growing on the kitchen counter. I'll be putting together a plan of action, and sourcing, preparing, and organizing the accompanying oils, herbs, and remedies so I am ready this year.

September is also a month of a few adventures. Laurent will be off to work with my dad again sometime mid-month. He's ready to learn more carpentry skills and he needs to earn some money to pay for art classes.

two of the three most handsome men I know

We're fitting in some family hiking days, hiking in September is such a joy, and a little getaway for Damien and I. My Dad gave us a financial gift for our 20th anniversary. We had brief thoughts of buying things we want but the most compelling option was to seed a marriage adventure/travel fund and take regular weekend trips over the next year. A year long 20th Anniversary celebration.

We both miss the outdoors. We have lots of gear for four season backcountry and frontcountry adventures. And our kids are old enough to stay home, alternately we have friends we can farm them out to for a weekend. The idea of spending a full weekend, every couple months, just the two of us, outdoors in beautiful places - backpacking and tenting, backcountry winter skiing to hidden refuges in the mountains, or even discovering quaint towns in the Eastern Townships or northern Vermont - is exactly the way I want to celebrate being married for twenty years and start dreaming about the next twenty. The fund will help to pay for park fees and refuge rentals and dinners in nice restaurants on the way home from the adventure. To know that we have the means and opportunity in front of us to have these regular adventures brings me so much joy and will contribute to my winter wellness also, because winter adventures and trips really help.

It's a good season, this late summer time of re-setting habits and establishing routines. An in-between season for some family members but for others a time of interesting studies, learning new skills, and preparations for further study. It's a season for looking back on Celine's high school journey, translating it into a language that makes sense for "the system", and helping her prepare for the next, as of yet undecided, stage of her journey. It's a season to start preparing for winter health and wellness. It's a season for having a few adventures and anticipating more.

The beginning of this year was ski season, which was shortened by a season of sickness. Then there was drama production season, followed by tax season. And the get-ready-for-our-trip, followed by the trip. And now this, a season that feels relaxed, yet purposeful and productive. For me, that's about as good as it gets.

One of the gifts of this trip is that away from the demands of raising teenagers in our normal milieu (driving the kids to their many social functions and overseeing their education) I can simply appreciate my kids. Have fun with them.

Now that I think about it, it’s not that we’re driving all that much less, it’s just that I get to spend all that time with them. I'm not dropping them off at parties and soccer, instead we're touring Yellowstone and going swimming together. On this trip, these children are mine again.

I just find these people so beautiful, these adult-sized, nearly grown children.

In general I don't post a ton of kid photos on the blog (this trip I've been posting more). This isn't a "these are my kids" blog but today it is.

We've had a good go of it so far in raising teenagers, but it has been a more challenging age than the one previous, the golden years I call them.

I was kind of tired out when we got here. Tired out from the teenager schedule. A little tired out from making space in our home and in our relationships for everyone's growth.

My role, what I feel called to do, is to make a safe space, a welcoming space, a supportive space for relationship. I need to help the kids navigate their relationship with themselves (understanding who they are), facilitate their participation in a religious community that helps them grow closer to God. I pour a ton of creative energies and time into supporting their relationship with learning (as they apply themselves to the hard work of scholar year studies). I help them navigate relationships within our family, with friends and the world-at-large. "Stuff" happens in those contexts, and our home and our relationship with them as parents needs to be the safe place.

This to me is the biggest challenge so far of the teen years: making space for the intense growth of these years. Intense growth that is all about relationships (that is the lens I view the world through) and yet also leads our children to further independence from us. My job is to support and assist the seperation. This is emotionally difficult work for me.

On this trip, I felt like I got a break from this emotionally intense work. We all could just "be", enjoy our own things and enjoy our times together.

One of my summer intentions was to simply enjoy my kids. And that's how it's played out. And I am so grateful.

The defining feature from our month of May was the drama production at our homeschool co-op. The yearly musical theatre is one of the keystones to our homeschool co-op and it's one of the (many) reasons we joined.

Putting on a show serves a few purposes: it gives our kids training and experience in theatre, it brings the group together in the way that only intense, creative endeavors do, and it's the primary annual fundraiser for the co-op.

Brienne has long desired to be in theatre, she is what you'd call a natural. The reason we moved to Montreal was for our children to have these kind of experiences.

This was our family's first experience with musical and theatrical performance. (The girls each took a year or two of dance when they were little and we lived in Maine, and they performed in recitals as part of that, but those were minuscule commitments compared to this production.)

The production was an adaptation of Fiddler on the Roof, titled Tradition... TRADITION.

Our creative children, with no prior experience or training, dove headfirst into the endeavor, adding their own skills, talent, and interests to the troupe's existing dynamic.

Brienne and Celine, who had been taking drama class since January of this year, were actors and chorus members, with lines to learn and parts to sing. Brienne played the role of Chava, one of the main characters. Celine sewed costumes, helping out the costume director. She also designed posters, the playbill cover, and welcome sign.

Laurent, not a drama student, helped with the technical team, operating the slide-show which projected the scenes. He assisted the costume director with odd jobs, served as usher, and was tasked with fine art projects.

One of the things I so greatly appreciate about the co-op is the way the students' gifts are taken into account in the very choosing of the projects, and roles and responsibilities given. Our own children contributed to the whole, based on interest and ability, and were challenged to grow in those capacities, as well as trying new things they were unfamiliar with. What a wonderful opportunity.

I am a proud parent; our children shone, along with the rest of the cast and crew. They shone because they were coached and mentored by fabulous teachers, directors, and more experienced students; they practiced and worked hard; and because we, as the homeschool parents, created an atmosphere and opportunity for them to do so.

We sold out the show within the first couple weeks of ticket sales, had to add another show, which also sold out in a couple days. All told, we ran five shows in four days.

I'm relieved and exhausted.

The production is over and it went very well. As with all things of this nature, there were emergencies, glitches and errors, and the show went on, with aplomb and enthusiasm. And garnered rave reviews.

I am relieved about all that but I am also relieved that we were able to add this to our repertoire of homeschool and family life experiences. That after years of living removed from such opportunities we could step into this kind of experience.

But it was intense.

And not just because performance and production is intense, which it is, but because parents are the ones who make it happen. And I am one of those parents.

This drama production exists because parents make it possible. Some of these parents are uniquely talented and experienced with music and theatre - they are the show directors. Others organize and mastermind. Others cook. Others sew. Others drive (oh, do we drive). Others design. Others manage children backstage. If your kid is in the play, you too have a part.

Damien and I believe that family life and parents should be the primary influence and social dynamic in children's lives, even through adolescence. Which is just one of the reasons we decided, years ago, to homeschool for the long haul.

Even though family is the primary influence, the circle of interaction, experience, and opportunities must expand as children grow. And if you're homeschooling, especially homeschooling through high school, parents are often instrumental in building community and providing enriching opportunities and experiences.

I am so thankful for the influence I have in my teenagers' lives, for the close relationship Damien and I share with them. I am a co-creator and collaborator in their social community. I know almost all the parents of all my kids' friends, and many of them are my friends. This feels like a gift and a blessing, which it is, but is also a fruit.

It is the fruit of a lot of labor because the endeavor of building community for teenaged kids, kids in general, requires effort and sacrifice. There are things we have sacrificed in this life season, and priorities that have shifted, so our children can be an integral part of their homeschool community.

When our kids were little, assuming responsibility for their education was not a decision we made lightly but we didn't really understand the long-term ramifications. You never do.

I wrestled with the ramifications of that decision all last month. In truth, I wrestle a lot with this. You can hear some of my frustrations in my previous post. Damien and I call these the whoosh years and May typified what I mean by that.

fundamentalist homeschooled children?
no, just girls in costume playing soccer during a rehearsal break

I felt challenged every day. I struggled with sacrifice and selfishness.

My inner world, my writer's world, craves silence and reflection. I need time to read and to ponder and think about ideas. I want to examine my life, not just live my life. I need to write my way through and when that time is limited I get antsy. And my faulty thinking can get the upper hand on me if I'm not careful. (The ways things are today are the way they will be forever, that kind of thing.)

What about my goals?, I moaned from time to time, temporarily forgetting the truth that participating in this production was the fruition and culmination of previous goals and dreams - to find a thriving homeschool community for our growing children.

It was a taste of the Appalachian Trail all over again. Which is to say, it's exactly like life. You have a goal, you set a course and when inevitably that course gets rocky, steep, and sticky with sweat, you think why is this so damn hard? And you remember, ah yes, because good things require hard work. Fruit is the reward of labor.

And you think for the 100th time, if it wasn't for the companions with me on this journey there is no way I'd be doing this.

Which is exactly why we're doing this, why we invest ourselves in teenaged community, homeschool community, and doing hard things together - because of the relationships. The relationships for our kids and for ourselves.

Homeschool parents sign themselves up for a challenging task. We have not passed the torch for our children's education into the hands of a system or an institution. We carry that torch ourselves. The wonderful thing about being part of a homeschool community is that they help us hold it up.

I'm so grateful to be part of a community that provides, through the incredible effort of parents and families, opportunities for greatness and service, high expectations and accommodations, hard work and lots of fun.

Which is not to say we're a perfect group of people. There's "stuff" in our families and community, but there is support for the stuff we are going through, and there are boundaries to ensure everyone's safety; emotional, physical, and otherwise.

It's not the absence of "stuff" that creates a healthy community, a healthy marriage, a healthy family. Hard stuff is the result of our own brokenness, our unfortunate birthright as children of Adam and Eve. And when we pretend there isn't suffering and difficulty in our life, it's a lie at best, and a cancer at worst.

What builds healthy teenagers and healthy families, is having community that will support you through your stuff. People to hold you up, and hold you accountable. People to say, "I've got you covered". People who help rub off your sharp edges. People to pray with you and cry with you. People who will agree to disagree. People who will help discipline and disciple your kids. People who will be those other adults in your child's life to mentor and guide when you are not the best person for the job.

This post sat in draft mode for days because I couldn't write a conclusion on that note. Gratitude for togetherness, we need each other, the importance of community; all sounds so great but it is not the whole story, or the end of the story.

I am tired, physically and emotionally. All that social engagement which my teenagers enjoy and crave, is only ok for me in much smaller doses. You could say I've overdosed.

We crossed my personal boundaries for face-to-face engagement and out-of-the-house commitments many miles ago. Because of commitments on top of commitments I am only now starting to catch my breath, even though the drama production wrapped up at the end of May.

Many other parents "seem" to manage this level of involvement just fine. I've struggled with feeling inadequate and selfish compared to these parents. I'd rather be at home gardening, writing and reading than engaging with people every. single. day. And driving to engage with said people. (And these are wonderful people! They are great to be around.)

Perhaps they, like me, acknowledge this is just for a season. And so, like me, they keep most of their personal angst to themselves.

It's been too much of a good thing.

This last month has been flat out busy and scheduled-to-the-max. End of term projects, visiting family, my trip to Toronto, kid friend birthday parties, the year end co-op celebration, long rehearsals, performances (an extra performance), a youth ministry meeting at church, many shared meals (which build community yes, but also wear me out), birthday celebrations (Celine turned 17!), a post-production cast and crew dinner, debrief and impromptu dance party (best dance I've gone to in my whole adult life, we didn't get home till 1:30am), doctor's appointments, and a homeschool convention all piled up on each other.

This may be "typical" end-of-school-year stress for many families, but it's new to us.

Damien and I have been doing this together. Thank God or I'd really be done for. I feel we have pushed the boundaries of what is healthy. Oh the irony! Healthy marriage, healthy family, healthy teens... rings false in my ears when I am worn thin right now from community. We need companions for the journey, yes, but right now what I need is no companions, no journey. Just rest.

And time to do some of the other work I've had to put off for the last three weeks.

Sitting here with this tension, and having had lots of discussions about this with Damien, I draw on the truth that this is all part of the experience, a necessary part of building healthy family culture and healthy community. A time to re-establish boundaries and re-assert individual and family limits. A time to recalibrate and learn from what we've experienced.

A time to withdraw, because not only is fruit the reward of hard labor, so is rest.

My inner manager falsely believes all discomfort, overcommitments, and periods of overextending ourselves could be eliminated if we only managed things better. Not so.

To some extent yes, good management has the potential to produce better results for all involved. Good drama production management, good home management, good community management. But so much lies outside of our control, and we're usually stuck with making the best decisions we can based on the current information available and then living through the consequences of that. And then we make adjustments for future, based on what we've experienced.

That's called learning. That's called life.

Family life, homeschooling life, teen life must allow for that type of learning also.

I love to keep things well managed in my life, under control. But when things veer out of control is when I have to dig down into one of life's most important spiritual lessons.

When life spins outside of my well managed schedule with its neat and tidy boxes, and I cannot rely on my own strength, I have an opportunity to learn how to rely on the Holy Spirit.

I didn't intend to hit you with a previously unmentioned idea right here at the end. Not good writing form, but I'm pretty sure this is the reason I couldn't conclude this post, I wasn't telling the whole truth.

The truth is, I could not do this thing called parenting, marriage, homeschooling teens, without the breath, or living waters, of the Holy Spirit in me. And I can't do community, the kind I wrote about above where you rub off sharp edges, pray and cry together, agree to disagree, etc. without the power of the Holy Spirit.

I hesitate to write about this (which is no doubt why the idea didn't work its way into this post earlier), because I want to write in a language that is accessible to a wide spectrum of readers.

So this is how I'd explain the power of the Holy Spirit in my life.

If I didn't have the faith that a divine power, a resurrection power, is available to me, I'd run out of the essence of what I have to give.

What I give, to my family and community is expressed, for better or worse (oh the constraints of being human!) in a Renee skin and skill set. But I cannot give living waters from an empty well. I can only give what has been given to me and so I desperately need the Spirit in my life.

There is a lot of talk these days about soul care filling the well. The power of the Holy Spirit in my life is the ultimate soul care, the source that fills my well.

Truer than true: I cannot be who I am called to be in my own strength.

What I want to be, as a mother, a community member, a wife, a writer, is way beyond what I am capable of doing in my own strength. I need divine inspiration. I need the Divine. And this is what I know as the Holy Spirit. It is what I intentionally connect with and seek out when I meditate and when I consciously stop, in the course of my day, to breathe deep. It is the reason I seek solitude, gardening, and good books, so I can hear the still small voice of the Spirit.

What I have to give is not something I dredge from within. What I give is something I surrender to; it flows through me (around the various obstacles I put in its way), changes me, enables me to contribute to community, serve my family, write this post.

I know I said that What builds healthy teenagers and healthy families, is having community that will support you through your stuff. I stand by that, I strongly believe in being part of building and supporting healthy teen culture in the context of family and community.

In addition to that, the conclusion I'm seeking for this post, is that what builds a healthy homeschool mom, at least this mom, is to rely on the Holy Spirit to fill my well.

To recognize that the inevitable seasons of life that move me beyond the zone of "well-managed living", beyond my control, what feels like miles beyond my boundaries, are the Divine opportunities to learn a most important truth: I cannot do this in my own strength. I can fight (and I tend to do that, wasting a bunch of emotionally energy), or I can invite the Holy Spirit to work through me.

And then I rest.

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