Dear Keystone,

You mean the world to me. I have homeschooled for seven years now and I have never been this excited for school to start.

The bonds and support this beautiful group of women offers is more than I could have ever asked for. I am here today because many of you stood by my side while I learned how to homeschool through a co-op and I am so grateful. We do the work each week because we love our children, and lets be honest, we could all really use an excuse to have more adult conversations.

Our crazy gifted leadership team had a work day just a couple weeks ago that demanded a lot of their time and energy so that we can come together each week with as much ease as possible. As they went about the long list made up of all the details that make this co-op work, they asked the Holy Spirit for a word for us to connect over and to meditate on. He gave them the word, “Encourage”.

This year we, as a group of moms, will stand together to create a space of encouragement for our children, our classrooms and each other.

When I got the request to speak today about encouraging our children I was flooded with emotions.  I was immediately brought back to a pair of memories. First, a song. Second, a moment as a young parent of a very young little girl and how we cried until we believed.

“Chrysanthemum” by singer/songwriter Amber Rubarth flooded my heart. Verse two says…

I read about a boy who suffered depression

His parents hung a mirror inside his bedroom

And they made him smile at it three times a day

‘Til it took his depression away

I had at this point in my journey been learning too look in the mirror and smile. When things got too confusing, or fear was in the driver’s seat, I was practicing smiling at myself and realizing that I have so many things to be thankful for. I didn’t learn this when I was young so not only was I learning a lesson that is hard all on it’s own, but I was also trying to believe in my own value. I was also desperate not to pass on my wounds to my kids, so I set out to work on smiling, being grateful and focusing on the moment.

One afternoon I had all three kids buckled into their car seats in our van, driving around running all the errands that we mothers love to have our children with us for. I was worn out and not feeling all that happy myself when I looked back at my then five year old daughter and realized she was upset. I can’t remember what she said was upsetting her but she used a string of words that clued me in to her feelings of inadequacy. She was not just unhappy, she was unhappy with herself, unhappy with who she was turning out to be at five years old.

The words of Amber Rubarth’s song came to mind and time stood still. I made a choice that day to be the parent that helped her, that encouraged her and that stood side by side with her until my little girl could recognize her value on her own. Even if that meant I had to stand with her every day smiling at our reflections in a mirror. I didn’t know that moment would be as valuable as it turned out to be for both of us. I turned around in my seat and told her she was amazing and could accomplish anything she was willing to put work into. I told her we would not be getting out of the van until she said, “I am amazing”.

I didn’t know how hard this would be for her at such a young age. She started to cry and told me no, she didn’t want to say it. I started crying, the knowledge that this was a big moment in both of our lives was so thick in the van that day. I was going to face this attack for the both of us until she had the courage to face it herself. I kept talking to her, telling her that she was created to be a reflection of God and his love. I’d prompt her again to say, “I am amazing,” with no response. Then I asked why she didn’t feel amazing and I got the, “I’m just not,” statement. I wasn’t expecting that until she turned thirteen at least. For what felt like hours I talked and prayed and prompted. The boys in the back seat chimed in and told her she was amazing and they wanted to get out of the van so she should just say it. Although not what I wanted, I would have taken it as a step in the right direction.

Finally she mumbled, “I’m amazing”. My heart began to smile and I began to breathe again. I asked, “what did you say?” She said it a bit more clear and then I told her I must be going deaf because I couldn’t hear her. She laughed at me, and said, “I AM AMAZING,” clear as day and my whole being smiled. One last time I said, “you’re a what?” She yelled at the top of her lungs, “Momma, I’m Amazing!”

The boys and I chimed in and we all started yelling and claiming our amazingness. We have never looked back!

 

Many of you have had the opportunity to get to know my Sarah. She is a spirited eleven year old now who is learning of her value everyday. Many of you have been a big part of her learning confidence and feeling free to be who God created her to be.

This year at co-op our word is encourage. I would like to encourage you to find a way to uniquely encourage your children to be a reflection of Christ in the way they were created to be. Help them find value in who God says they are. As mothers and teachers we get to see their “test scores” and their “talents”. To view them as equally valuable and breathe life into our children in the ways they need. This is one of the great things about homeschooling, we get to see it all.

To do this we will need to quite possibly stand in front of a mirror ourselves and say that we are amazing. That we are unique, life giving women and we are not here in this place by mistake. If it takes a year of practice until you can scream it out and feel it in your toes, do it. When you begin to fall in love with who God created you to be you will reflect that belief, your families and this beautiful group of women will benefit because of your willingness to see what God sees when he looks at you.

Lord, I ask that you send the Spirit of Truth deep into the hearts of each woman here right now. We need to see your light and feel your love. As we go about preparing for our school year to begin, we ask, united, that you teach us our value in you and use us to teach our children. Spirit of Truth, we ask that you fill us with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, that we may see when to encourage our children, how they may need us to stand with them to fight for their value and when to let them stand alone in you to be fully who you created them to be. Lord, we are grateful for our children, we are grateful for this co-op but most of all, Lord, we are grateful for truth being bigger than lies and light always conquering darkness.

May your planning be smooth and your last few days of summer be full of joy.