by guest author Marcia Washburn,
Women often groan when they hear about the Proverbs 31 woman who seemingly could do it all, have it all, and be it all. She seems so perfect — something we could never be.
But scholars tell us that the description we read is the summary of her entire adult life. She didn’t do all of those things all at once. Her children rise up and call her blessed (Proverbs 31:28a NKJV) probably didn’t happen until they were adults with little ones of their own. That’s when our children really begin to understand what we have done for them, isn’t it?
So often we feel guilty that we can’t be active in as many out-of-the home activities and ministries as we might like. After all, there is so much good to be done in a hurting world — church activities, political causes, serving the homeless or elderly, and on and on. How can we do all of this and still run our households, teach our children, and love our spouses, too?
The answer is, we can’t. And we shouldn’t feel guilty about it.
Gregg Harris, homeschool pioneer and pastor, reminds us that there are four seasons in our lives divided into roughly twenty-year blocks. Sometimes these seasons overlap and ages will vary. In each season there will be elements of education, career, ministry, and citizenship, but the focus on each of these areas varies with the seasons.
- Preparation (0-20 years): These are the years when we learn basic living skills and prepare for a career, whether in the workplace or in the home. Education, both formal and experiential, is the major focus of this season.
- Production (20-40 years): Harris calls these the “Business and Babies” years. There may be some citizenship activity, continuing education, and ministry, but they are not the main focus of these busy years. The primary responsibilities in the Production years are stabilizing the family income and raising godly children. Most homeschooling families find themselves in this season.
- Provision (40-60 years): This is the season of showing hospitality and entering into more in-depth ministry opportunities than were possible in the earlier years. The home is financially stable, the children are raised and moving out on their own. Dad and Mom now have the experience to be able to mentor others. I was 38 when my last son was born, so I straddled both the Production and the Provision season as I raised by family well into my fifties.
- Protection (60-end of life): It is now possible to contribute more actively in the areas of citizenship and ministry without neglecting the family. Education and finances are generally no longer the focus. Having raised their own children well, people in this season have earned an audience and are often invited to serve in their churches and communities.
As mentioned earlier, the seasons of life overlap to a degree. Certainly you will want to vote as soon as you can do so legally even if you cannot be more politically active. Without a doubt you will help at church when you are able, but not to the detriment of your family if you are in the season of Production.
I didn’t begin serving beyond the local level until my children were well past the dependent stage. Writing and public speaking are new chapters in my life that I would never have attempted during the survival years of birthing, breastfeeding, and burping babies. But as our sons matured, God began opening doors to write and speak, encouraging other homeschool moms and dads both across the country and internationally.
I never dreamed that the training God gave me through those 19 years of homeschooling would prepare me for the ministry opportunities I have now. Giving birth to six babies helped me find the courage to put on a shoulder-length glove and assist as sow as she struggled to deliver a too-large piglet.
Surviving my midlife, near fatal E. coli infection assured me that God would watch over me when I taught home education seminars in the Ecuadorian jungle and in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Caring for children when they were helpless has prepared me for caring for my mother-in-law as she becomes less capable of caring for herself due to Alzheimer’s disease. The contentment I learned as a stay-at-home mother has eased the feelings of isolation I feel as a full-time caregiver now.
The patience I learned teaching my boys helps me as I work with piano students who have learning difficulties or who simply don’t practice (believing they will magically absorb the ability to play by showing up for lessons every week).
The home management techniques and shortcuts I learned while managing the boy’s education and activities in the early years are now paying off as I juggle ministry and marriage, speaking and writing, caregiving and piano teaching, not to mention a major home remodel construction project! I would never be able to deal with the many demands on my days now if God hadn’t trained me in the “Bootcamp of Homeschooling” years ago.
We never know what God might have in mind for our future. Occasionally He gives us hints, but mostly he just homeschools us, assigning classes that we may or may not enjoy because He knows what will be needed for the next season of our lives.
We can be thankful that no matter when He calls us home, we are only accountable for being faithful in the season in which we currently find ourselves. We don’t have to live in every season at the same time — we can live in our current season guilt-free.
And at the end of the day we can say, “It is finished, I have done what my Father has called me to do this day.”
Reprinted from the Homeschool Update Magazine Vol 2, Issue 98, 2017.