Last week we met Dianna, a homeschool mom diagnosed with a severe panic disorder. As Dianna homeschools her four young children, she also faces feelings of defeat and inability at this daunting job.
She wrote to ask for advice and encouragement for her homeschooling journey. She knew that there were other homeschool moms who also faced chronic illness and had advice to offer.
In response to Dianna's call for help, we received some wonderful letters reminding us of what God has promised.
"God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love."
I have struggled with panic disorder my entire life. It took various forms for me as a child, teenager, and at different stages in my adult life. When it was finally diagnosed in 1995, my daughter was in first grade at public school and my son was a toddler at home. My children are now 16 and 20.
When I look back on those earlier years, I can totally relate to your experience. There are times when this condition is so debilitating and other times when I hardly know I have it. I know I will have to manage it the rest of my life.When I took it before the Lord, I asked for answers--and did I ever get answers! I asked for help with my son that had a disability and for my spirited, gifted daughter.
The most important thing to remember is that your children won't be young forever. Those years are gone in a flash (and I mean that), so appreciate every day as it comes--both the good ones and the bad. It is also important that you take care of yourself--don't over-schedule your children and don't over-extend yourself. It always helps me to write down my next day's to-do list before I go to bed every night. That way, I don't lie awake worrying, which contributes to my panic during the day. As my children got more and more independent, I was able to add in more volunteering, outside activities, etc. I now pray about every "opportunity" before I make a commitment. If someone (even the kids) asks for something, I always say "maybe" and give them my answer after I have pondered it for a while.
Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,
I have had some problems on and off over the years. The first time was about six years ago. I had only a toddler at the time, but it was hard to get off of the couch because of lack of energy and my health problems. Six years later, I have a 7-year-old homeschooler and a preschooler. I suffered from panic attacks after suffering from a miscarriage. I couldn't do much on some days.
A benefit of homeschooling is that your children learn real life lessons that they would never be able to get in a school setting. I had to be very honest with my 7-year-old and tell her that I was having problems. At first it was just because of mourning. I would break down crying all the time. Then when I realized it was more than just mourning--my mind was just a fog, and I couldn't function very well--I soon sought help. It has been a great lesson to my daughter on grace, mercy, forgiveness, patience, and much more. She can't learn real life at school like she is learning at home. She is learning about God's goodness despite earthly trials. We rejoice together on good days, and she sees her mother's humility when I get in my moods and need to ask her for forgiveness. I have seen her mature so much this year despite all the problems my family has had this year (there has been more than just my health issues to deal with this year). Remind yourself often that school is not just reading, writing, and arithmetic.
A homeschool mom,
I am also battling a chronic illness while homeschooling, and there are days that it becomes very challenging. I, too, worry about ruining my child. But God has commissioned us to teach these precious children of ours, and He will not allow us to ruin them as long as we remain obedient to Him and His Word. Here are a few verses that I found on fear for you. I hope they encourage you as they do me.
"Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world." 1 John 4:4
"I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." Psalm 23:4
"Thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee." Isaiah 54:14
"Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7
"I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears." Psalm 34:4
"The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" Psalm 27:1
"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7
"So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me." Hebrews 13:6
" Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee." Deuteronomy 31:6
And here are a few on peace thrown in for good measure:
" The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace." Psalm 29:11
"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." John 14:27
"Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all." 2 Thessalonians 3:16
"And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7 (I know this one I wrote under "fear" but it bears repeating)
Keep on praying; keep on loving those little ones; keep on doing what you are doing, and don't give up. God is a rewarder of those who love Him and keep His commands. Just think of the reward awaiting you at the end. You are doing an amazing job, and as a homeschool mom, I know how hard it is (and I have only one. I can't imagine four!). Worry for nothing . . . especially what tomorrow will bring . . . for tomorrow will have enough worries of its own. Remember, God loves you and He will not leave you nor forsake you, and He has an amazing plan for you and your little ones.
Love from one homeschool mom to another,
I have a chronic health problem, and I just take it day by day. It is hard and not always easy. My children are 10, 7, and 5. It is hard some days. I am in pain every day and have trouble going through my days, but God wants me at home to teach my children. On really bad days, I either teach while sitting or give them an easy day that doesn't require as much. You can do it as I have; just try every day and try not to be sad. You can only do so much. I hope that this helps you. Just do your best and just remember why you started homeschooling in the first place. I am using a unit work so that I can teach all of them at the same time for the most part. God bless you through this time. ~Jennifer
One thing that might help Dianna is to get a mentor! I mentored a mother of four who has a similar illness to mine, and it really helped her to get the rest she needed and still homeschool. I would take the younger kids to work on hands-on projects while she worked with the older ones or vice-versa. When she was at her weakest . . . during the winter months . . . I'd occasionally even have the kids overnight.
Hi Dianna, I just wanted to let you know that I also suffer from anxiety/panic attacks/depression. I have suffered for several years as well and can understand how wiped out you feel. I have not recovered completely, but I have sought all forms of help as I am sure you have, too. It is so difficult to function when you are feeling so bad. I encourage you to keep doing the best you can and don't give up. I also have worried about this condition affecting my children in a bad way. But I have come to realize that God made me to be the mom of my kids and He made me to have this problem for a reason as well. He has called us to homeschool our children and He is with us every minute so cling to him and do what you can to make healthy changes in your life. That is all we can do. Just know I am suffering along side of you. I pray for your healing.
Panic disorders are very hard to deal with. I have fibromyalgia, and with it I suffer panic attacks, chronic back pain, and on I could go. But I have learned that Satan is the deceiver. He speaks those negative words in our heads. I have felt I am ruining my daughter; I am a terrible mom, wife, and everything. But, God! He knows how we feel; He is there. I have had the panic attacks probably as long as you have. My verse now is to be transformed by the renewing of my mind. When I start panic attacks, which can come any time and at least suspecting times, I have to speak Scripture to myself. My husband is wonderful in that he tells me not to worry; this is just the panic attack. One of my previous ministers at church told me "Don't answer the phone when it starts." They never have gone away, however, when they do come, most of the time now they are easier to deal with. When God has called us to homeschool, our children will not be hindered by it. He is the one that is in charge; He knows what is best. He would never ask you to do anything that would hurt your children. He loves them more than you do. He wants the very best for them; that is why He gave them you.
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