Romance:Nurturing Your Marriage Through the Homeschool Years, TBP #31

Reading Romance: Nurturing Your Marriage Through the Homeschool Years is like spending the day with the author, Heidi St. John. Imagine arriving at her house at around seven in the morning, being greeted at the door by a bright-eyed, sticky-fingered cherub who leads you into the kitchen. There you are greeted by Heidi herself as she gives you a quick hug and offers you something hot to drink.

There are children of varying heights everywhere. They’re at the sink washing an apple, sitting on the couch looking at picture books, two are at the table squabbling over the jam knife, drops of jam going on table and clothing. And there’s this supernatural peace over the whole scene. You’re curious. And so am I. So we lean in, hoping to glean secrets to gaining peace in the midst of messiness.

This gal is the real deal. Right away, her disarming stories about the realities of homeschooling and keeping the romance alive in her marriage cause you to relax and let go of any guilt. In the first chapter, she comes right out and says, “I usually don’t tell people exactly how we homeschool, because I honestly believe that what works for our family may not work for another family.”

Encouragement flows from the pages as Heidi talks about the vortex — those years when Latin becomes more important than lingerie. And, sisters, if we’re being honest here, training up children regardless if we’re homeschooling or otherwise, this vortex is a reality in all of our homes. Somehow, in the midst of harried schedules and all that “must be achieved,” legalism replaces laughter.

“Take care of yourself.” She writes it plain on page 45. In order to escape the vortex and restore the romance, self-care is not a luxury. It is a necessity. Be realistic about how much rest you need and what is your stress threshold.

I complimented a friend one time on her superb ability to set firm boundaries on their family’s schedule. She said, “Sharon, we do this to keep our home sane. We put our children to bed at that time because I need the rest.” Know your limits. So that you have the wherewithal to be a student of your spouse and what makes him tick.

So that you have the wherewithal to give your husband preference in all things.

My children know that if I’m busy and the phone rings they tell the caller, “My mom is in the middle of a project. Can I take a message?” Unless it’s my husband. And there’s something sweet about seeing the smile on my child’s face when I’m in the zone and anyone else on earth would have been put on hold, but they hand me the phone and watch me drop everything to talk to the most important person on earth.

*~*~*~*

*This is what happened as I was finishing that last paragraph: My sweet husband is downstairs making breakfast — a favorite long standing weekend tradition in our house. In our family, we ring a Swiss cowbell when it’s time to eat. There’s a first “five-minute warning” bell. Then the second bell means it’s ready — come to the table!

Well, I was in my zone. I heard the first bell. I considered an immediate stopping point. Then I continued.

The second bell rang. And I had almost completed my thought. I typed a little quicker. Then my husband yelled up the stairs, “Sharon! We’re all waiting on you!” (The bell is supposed to make it so that no one feels compelled to yell for people at mealtimes.) So, I kept the most important person on earth waiting while I continued on in my zone. {Keeping it real.} We’re a work in progress.

*~*~*~*

My takeaway from the book: From self-care to preferring our husbands. From scheduling white space for our marriages to checking in our time spent in the virtual world to making our bedrooms a retreat, hanging out with Heidi is refreshingly real.

Of course, no feminine conversation is complete until we’ve covered the topic of communication in our relationships. Then the topic of Living Parallel Lives and what to do when one or both of you relate to the Homeschool Dad who said to his wife on her first day of homeschooling their kindergartner, “See you in twelve years.” The answer is found in the cord of three strands.

St. John speaks deeply, compassionately into the spaces where marriages are struggling. She is bold in her encouragement to stay alert and to rally. And she speaks healing for the brokenhearted. “All that we know to be true in times of rejoicing and all that we teach our children as we mentor and disciple them can easily be lost when trials come.”

She goes on to share the story of a difficult time in their marriage. She went to a trusted friend who said to her, “Heidi, you must learn never to question in the darkness what God has shown you to be true about Himself in the light.” Those words returned to her many times over the years.

The final chapter reads, “Chapter 10, Love for a Lifetime, The legacy of a real life romance, When the story of your family is finally written, what will the record show?” {smile} The Book Project #29.

We’re coming to the end of my books on marriage. There’s a handful more. That question… is it at the heart of all these books on marriage?

Rating: 3 out of 3 stars

*We got to hear Heidi St. John speak at a homeschool conference here in Germany in 2012. As down to earth in real life as she is in her book, she poured love and grace, laughter and epiphany into our souls.

I’ll never forget one story in which she told about her daughter waking her at eleven o’clock at night to ask her a very important question. “Mom, how will I know if I’ve found the one?” The audience broke into laughter. I thought to myself, my daughter’s only 11. It’ll be awhile before I get that question.

Then, one night, a year or so ago, my oldest son sat on the edge of my bed a little before midnight. “Mom,” he said, rousing me from sound sleep, “how will I know if I’ve found the one?” I smiled as I remembered Heidi’s story.

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