The Man and I celebrated our 10th anniversary at the end of January. 10 years is a long time! But it’s also such a small part of the lifetime we have together. We’ve done so much maturing in the past 10 years, going from being young’uns (23 and 20!) just starting out in adulthood to hitting our 30s and becoming parents to 4 kids.

Looking back there are many things that God brought us through in our relationship with each other and him, and used to teach and grow us as parents and individuals. I’m so thankful for God’s provision and protection for the journey we have been on, and know that everything works together for our good.

If I could write to myself when I was 20 about the years that were to come, this is what I would say as advice from a wife, mom and teacher.

Note to Self {10 Years Later} – on being a wife:

Ask forgiveness sooner. Don’t ruminate and wrestle, just go to him, tell him you’re wrong, and ASK forgiveness. That’s the true test of humility.

Pray together more. Be vulnerable in your prayers for each other.

Stop. Turn away from whatever it is you’re doing, and give him a hug!

Plan time together

Slow down, make time for him, every moment together is precious, to be guarded. Don’t take for granted your relationship with your husband! Plan time to spend together, even if it’s just at home hanging out, reading, whatever.

Serve him. It’s the little things that count. Bite your tongue and stop complaining about making lunches. Speak his language and make sacrifices for him. Submit to his leadership – give him opportunities and let him lead!

Note to Self {10 Years Later} – on being a mom:

You will be more tired than you have ever been in your life. Sleep will elude you, and you’ll not think rationally much of the time those early years – especially when there’s 3 under 4 and you’re trying to figure out how on EARTH you’re ever going to homeschool?! But God gives more grace, and he gives the ability to get through the day. He will not fail you! You will survive, and yes, even thrive!

Sleep my child and peace attend thee

But you’ll never arrive. You’ll never crest the hill and see the way clear to the horizon miles ahead of you. There’s no “perfect age”. Each and every age and stage has it’s challenges, along with it’s beauties. You’ll see your children blossom and grow and you’ll finally reach a point where you can sigh and say “This is it, now we’re good!”! But in the very next moment, you’ll throw your hands up in frustration at something they’ve done that you JUST talked to them about, for the 100th time. It’s ok. It’s all part of the growing and training process that God is using YOU for in their lives. And it’s a beautiful thing. Instant gratification is fleeting, but the long-term blessings always more than make up for the process.

Pray more. Pray, pray, pray! Fight for your children, strive in prayer, because you’re the only ones who really will. Set the example for them by praying over them, and continue to pray specifically. And pray for yourself as a mother. God has made YOU the best mom for your children, but you still need him every single moment!

When your baby cries, pick him/her up! You won’t spoil him! You won’t do irreparable damage by responding to her cries. You’ll be fostering the bond between mother and child, softening your heart toward them, and assuring to them that you are fighting for them. Don’t be afraid to savour the snuggles.

The Boy loves to laugh

JJ the spy

Relax! Don’t be so concerned about how you look to other people, how your rambunctious boys are careening through life, hollering up a good time. Don’t squelch their creativity and energy, look for ways to direct it and encourage it, but help them to tone it down when appropriate. Focus on their hearts and attitudes and the actions will eventually follow.

This. Just this.  Stop being so judgemental.

Note to Self {10 Years Later} – on being a teacher:

Wait. Don’t push school on them too soon. Watch for signs of readiness, eagerness, teachability. Just because the world says school begins at age 4 (or 3) doesn’t mean it has to for you. Don’t force the learning – encourage the enjoyment of education gradually, without pressure. If there are tears, determine why – don’t push on through the drills and frustrate everyone involved. Play, get your hands dirty, read, explore, the structured learning will always come eventually.

Searching and exploring

Homeschooling is NOT school at home. Don’t try to make it look like a classroom. Tailor your environment and day to your needs, and don’t do something a certain way because “that’s how the do it in school”. The beauty of homeschooling is that you have all the flexibility in the world to do what’s best for YOUR kids.

Stop comparing. Don’t use other people’s kids as examples, even if it’s just in your own mind. Don’t compare your children to others because they just aren’t them! They are unique individuals with their own skill sets and gifts. Just because someone else’s child learned to read at age 3 doesn’t mean yours should too. And just because someone else’s child didn’t learn to read until they were 10, or 11, or 12, doesn’t mean yours won’t EVER learn to read, EVER. Determine YOUR goals for EACH child, and pursue them to the best of their abilities.

PRAY. God has called you to this amazing responsibility, and he’s not going to leave you high and dry without a clue what to do. He has the answer to every math problem, student-teacher conflict, research paper, grammar question and scientific algorithm. He is the Master of everything, and he will come through when you ask for his direction, guidance, wisdom and strength to keep on. It will get tough, and you will want to quit, and that’s ok! Just seek him first.

Putting your children in school is not giving up or copping out if you’ve prayed and asked the Lord and it’s the best thing for your child. End of story.

It’s ok not to do every.single.subject. If you decide to skip French and Latin, or not delve as deep into textbook history, if Geography is an after-thought and there’s no time or money for music lessons, it’s O-K. Do what is best for YOUR family.

Plan your goals for your year. For you as a teacher, for each child as a student and individual, for your family as a unit. And pray, pray, pray.

If you could tell yourself anything about what you’ve learned over the years, what would you say?

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