HS #262 What Do You Turn To (to alleviate your stress) On Your Hardest Days? with Wendy Speake
Links and Resources:
Wendy Speake is the co-author of the popular parenting book, Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses. Wendy is also the host of the popular 40 Day Sugar Fast and has just released The 40 Day Social Media Fast book.
When our kids have our attention, they don’t have to get our attention. (Wendy Speake, The 40 Day Social Media Fast)
“Whatever keeps me from my Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to be.” (A.W. Tozer)
The 40 Day Sugar Fast
The 40 Day Social Media Fast
“Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you.” (Psalm 55:22)
“Come to me when you are weary or heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
"Even now," declares the LORD, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning." (Joel 2:12)
HS EP 262
Hello, and welcome back to another installment of the Homeschool Solutions Show. My name is Wendy Speake, and I am one of the many hosts we have here on the podcast. Each week you'll hear from one of us, inviting one of our friends to join for a conversation about this busy, blessed season as we educate our children at home.
Now, the title of this show is Homeschool Solutions. While we don't have the answer to every question, we know that all the solutions to every stress and every struggle can be found in the person and presence of Jesus Christ and His Living and active and applicable Word. We are so glad that you're here for today's conversation. But before we start the show, I'd like to thank our sponsors.
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And now, on to today's show.
Hello, and welcome back. Well, we've had some hard days over here recently. Goodness, haven't we all? You've heard it said, and I have to that these are unprecedented times, which has led to unprecedented stress for many of us. Moms, in particular, are feeling the weight of it all. I know that here on the podcast, we have a lot of new listeners this fall, specifically moms and dads who never intended to homeschool their children and now find themselves home with their children, doing school remotely.
Whether you are a veteran or a newbie, a traditional homeschool family, or suddenly find yourself distance learning, I want to talk with you today about all the places that we tend to turn to when we're under stress. Stress in our marriage. Stress with our children. Financial stress. The world stress, which feels so personal and confrontational right now. The stress of extended family members who are battling fear and loneliness these days. Some people are experiencing stress because the house is a mess. That's actually a recurring stress for many of us, I think. Others are fixated on and fearful about the fact that there's no vaccination for this virus yet. While others are stressed about the possibility of soon being forced to give their children a first-generation vaccine. Of course, that topic is not what today's show is about. I'm just throwing out there all sorts of stress triggers that are triggering us during this unique season.
Of course, the triggers related to homeschooling are always present. Children melting down. Not taking personal responsibility for their own work as they grow older. Sibling rivalry. Pushing back on what they're asked to do. Giving sassy responses. Rolling sassy eyes. Wanting to eat all day long. Not coming when they're called. You know, all of it. The typical, ordinary, raising children, homeschooling unique personalities. Dealing with learning challenges. All of it.
But then there are the atypical stresses of these, again, unprecedented times. And all of it weighs on us these days.
Over the past months, I've started a series here focusing on our homeschool triggers. Today, I am not going to address any one trigger, but instead, I want to consider with you where you turn to help you cope when you're triggered. Sometimes stress can feel like an illness and make you sick. Even the daily stressors can do that. And so, we turn to stuff, to other things, in an attempt to self-medicate our illness. To self-medicate our stress, our frustrations, and our overwhelming sadness at times. Even the daily common stress that can take us by surprise. Struggling to prep dinner, get dishes put away, make it through our schooling plans for the day. Even that ordinary stuff can feel so weighty that we turn to something to get us through and to help us feel better. To self-medicate.
But God told us so clearly in his Word that there would be an overwhelming weight to this life. But He told us where to bring the weight. He did not say, hey, take that heavy burden you're carrying... take it to Facebook, and you are gonna find rest for your soul. He didn't say, run through the Chic-Fil-A drive-through for a sweet tea or run through Starbucks for a sweet latte. He didn't say take your stress to the pantry or to the freezer or bake your way to happiness, no. He said, in Matthew chapter 11, verse 28, He said, come to Me when you're weary. Come to Me when you're burdened when you're heavy-laden, and I'll give you rest.
And then in Psalm chapter 55 verse 22, we're told, cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you.
So often, in the middle of our most challenging, even ordinary, challenging days at home with our children, we look for the strength to get us through by turning to another cup of coffee. Caffeine is really helpful. But it's not helpful at getting us through our days on a deeper level. The kind of level that we need to be turning to something stronger. Someone stronger. No, I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with coffee. Let's not get ridiculous. But it was never coffee's job to get us through our days. I mean, truly, to sustain us. Only God can do that for you. That's why we've got to spend a little bit of time pinpointing what it is that we've been running to in an effort to get us through our days.
When your children have wearied you out, do not turn to your phone. Do not turn to the pantry. Do not turn to anything other than Him to get your through. Do you comfort yourself with mindless scrolling through Instagram? Or fall down some other virtual rabbit hole to alleviate your pain. I'm not asking because I'm judging you, but because I'm identifying myself with this question. I'm realizing that those temptations are there for me too. Perhaps you've heard me talk about my tendency to turn to sugar to soothe not only my sweet tooth but my stress as well. Over the years, I've led through an annual online 40-day sugar fast each January. You can find out all about that and sign up join us by linking over to 40daysugarfast.com. 40daysugarfast.com.
However, I want to tell you that during this fast, we don't just consider the time that we run to sugar, to comfort foods, rather than to the Great Comforter to get us through. We also consider, what else is it? What else is it that we're turning to instead of the One who invited us, turn to Me? Follow Me. Come to Me. You see, God didn't ask us for a sugar sacrifice. He asked us to be a living sacrifice, and so during these days fasting from sugar, we consider, what else is it that we run to, come to, turn to, to get us through our stress? And our struggles? Ordinary, daily stuff. And extraordinary, unprecedented, pandemic style stuff as well. And the number one answer to that question always seems to be my phone. Or social media, or screens in general. Scrolling through YouTube videos, even podcasts, and audiobooks. Always online, rather than right there with our children and our spouse. Actually, turning away in our stress from all the little people in our real life in order to seek the comfort and numb the stress with all the people that we follow online.
Is it possible that in your daily stress, in the middle of your homeschooling days, or once you've wrapped things up at the end of the day, and you need a little pick me up before starting on dinner prep, is it possible that you turn to all the people that you follow online instead of the One who said, who invited, follow Me? Do you maybe open your Bible for a few minutes of the beginning of your day, but then you dive headlong into your phone for hours throughout the day, as though that's what you need most of all? These are hard questions, yes, I get it. But these are hard times. And we want to find the right answers to sustain us when things are challenging when our kids are challenging. When math and reading and upper-level schoolwork is all challenging, and they're learning disabilities are challenging. And a lack of personal space is challenging.
We need to train ourselves to turn to God when we're challenged. The easy, follow the culture, follow the current, thing to do is find some relief in alcohol as soon as it's five o'clock somewhere. The typical thing to do is drown our sorrows and our stress in ice cream. The world's answer is almost always the world wide web. But Jesus said to us then, and He invites us now, that we're going to have to deny ourselves a bit of this world and maybe even a bit of the world wide web in order to follow Him.
What? You might be asking, what? Where does it say that in the Bible? Where does it talk about the world wide web in the Bible? Well, in Matthew chapter 16 verse 24, He said to His disciples, and He invites us, whoever wants to be My follower, and come after Me, must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. The two words that jump off the page to me are "deny yourself." Oh, it's so hard, especially now, in this culture, when we really, we're not encouraged to deny ourselves. We're encouraged to grab hold of anything that we have an impulse to grab a hold of, right?
But especially I think because so much of homeschooling and motherhood is self-denial already, this is especially hard. So much homeschooling and motherhood is self-denial, self-sacrifice, and putting others first. We're always doing that. But when we want to finally give ourselves a break, we turn to sweets and social media. And please hear me when I say that sweet treats and online friendships and online games and online movies and music and podcasts aren't bad. I'm not saying they're bad, goodness no. You're listening to one right now. But if you are turning to them, to this, to sustain you, instead of turning to the One Who said come to Me and I will sustain you, then you're turning to the wrong source of strength for your sustaining. Capisce? You get me? This is resonating, right? Anybody?
Today, I'm not talking about our homeschool triggers specifically. I'm talking about what it is in general that we do with our stress when we're stressed. There are things that help us and then there are things that seem harmless, but they actually harm us. They can, over time, harm us, if we turn to them rather than turning to the only thing that says, hey, I can help you through this. Not the only thing, the only One. The Person of Christ, who said turn to Me, I'll help you through this.
I've heard people talk about their phones, our phones today, as a form of idolatry. And I'm reminded of this passage in Isaiah chapter 44, starting in verse 8. I'm going to read this passage. I'm gonna read it slowly. I hope that you'll stay with me and listen.
Is there any god besides Me? No. There is no other rock, I know not one. All who make idols are nothing. And the things they treasure are worthless. Those who would speak up from them are blind. They are ignorant to their own shame. Who shapes a god and casts an idol which can profit nothing? People who do that will be put to shame. Such craftsmen are only human beings. Let them all come together and take their stand. They will be brought down to terror and shame.
Okay, now we're getting to the part I really want you to hear. Starting in verse 12.
The blacksmith takes a tool and works with it in the coals. He shapes an iron with hammers. He forges it with the might of his arm. He gets hungry and loses his strength. He drinks no water and grows faint.
Chapter 44 verse 13, listen to this.
The carpenter measures with a line and makes an outline with a marker. He roughs it out with chisels and marks it with compasses. He shapes it in human form. Human form in all its glory, and it may dwell in a shrine. He cuts down cedars or perhaps took a cypress or oak. He let it grow among the trees of the forest or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow. It is used as fuel for burning. Some of it, he takes and warms himself. He kindles a fire and breaks bread, but he also fashions a god and worships it. He makes an idol and bows down to it. Half of the wood he burns in the fire. Over it, he prepares his meal. He roasts his meat and eats his fill. He also warms himself and says, ah, I'm warm. I see the fire. From the rest of the wood, he makes a god. His idol. He bows down to it and worships. He prays to it and says, save me, you are my god. They know nothing. They understand nothing. Their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand. No one stops to think. No one has the knowledge or understanding to say, half of it I used for fuel. I even baked bread over its coals. I roasted meat, and I ate. Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left? Shall I bow down to a block of wood? Such a person who feeds on ashes, a deluded heart misleads him. He cannot save himself or say, is not this thing in my right hand a lie? Remember these things, Jacob, for you, Israel, are my servant. I have made you. You are My servant. Israel, I will not forget you. I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.
Goodness, what a meaty passage. There are so many verses that we could camp out on today, but this is my main take away from this big passage in Isaiah, chapter 44. Phones are useful. But they are useless to save me. They are useless to save us. They are useless to save homeschooling moms. The wood that the carpenter uses is useful as wood to make a fire and warm himself, and make his food over. But it is useless as a god. It is useless to save him. I love verse 20, where the man should proclaim, is not this thing in my right hand a lie? Oh! Whether you are picking up your phone or a fork to get you through your challenging days at home with your kids, so often we hold it in our right hand. Food is useful. Our phones are useful. But neither of them are useful when it comes to getting us through this life or getting us into the next life. What a convicting thought. So, what is it that you are turning to? Perhaps that thing is something useful for something, but not useful for saving you.
A couple of years ago, I shut down social media for a forty-day sabbatical for the first time. Before I did it, I invited my online friend to join me offline. And when I say join me, of course, I mean, join me on their own, not with me. We said our goodbyes, and then we said our hellos. Let me explain. We fasted from social media in order to get social with the Lord. And not just the Lord, but with the real-life flesh and blood blessings, right here in our midst. Our kids, spouse, neighbors, friends. Real-life friends. At the end of those 40 days, one lady wrote to me and email and said, my kids saw my face more during those fasting days, and then she went on to say that she enjoyed them more too. Now, hear this. I want to suggest that her kids may have actually been more enjoyable. I think she might have enjoyed them more, not just because her face wasn't covered, but because they actually became more enjoyable. And here's the key. When our kids have our attention, they don't have to get our attention.
Think about it, they don't have to try wrong behavior in an effort to get a big response from us. Because we're already responding to them. They have our availability. They have our attention. They don't have to get our attention. And so, I want to encourage you to ask two questions today. First of all, what are you turning to in an effort to self-medicate your pain away? Your stress away? Name it. Claim it. And then go the next step and don't just confess it. But lay it down for a season. Before the Lord, lay it down, however harmless this thing you're turning to may appear to be. Be willing to set it down.
A. W. Tozer once said, whatever keeps me from my Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to be. Is it possible that the people that you're following online have gotten between you and the only One who said, so clearly, follow Me. Follow Me.
We're coming to the end of an unprecedented year. What do you think, what do you think about ending it with a personal private fast? Or maybe, starting 2021 off with one? I mentioned that I lead on online 40-day sugar fast in January each year, but you can grab the book and quietly seek the Lord on your own. And, if social media is your thing, your thing that you turn to, that lie you're holding in your right hand. If your device is your vice. If your device is divisive, dividing you from the Lord and His Word and the real people right there in your home who need your attention, then consider laying that down for the next 40 days. Or for the first 40 days of the new year. Or for lent. I now have a 40 day devotional entitled The 40-Day Social Media Fast. The subtitle is, Exchange Your Online Distractions for Real Life Devotion.
Are you distracted during your homeschool days? Distracted from your children, yes, but also distracted from the source of your sustaining strength to get you through these long days at home with them. Goodness, I understand. Please consider fasting. Fast from whatever it is that you're turning to. Perhaps it's something useful. And yet, you found that it is useless to get you through these days.
You can find both the 40-Day Sugar Fast and the 40-Day Social Media fast on Amazon or wherever books are sold. Or link directly from the show notes in today's episode.
Return to the Lord. His invitation is so clear at the end of the passage that I read to you from Isaiah chapter 44. It ends, remember these things, Jacob, for you, Jacob, are my servant. I have made you. You are my servant. Israel, I will not forget you. I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to Me. Return to Me. For I have redeemed you.
Let's turn away. Let's turn so that we can return. Let's turn away from whatever lacks the ability to redeem us so that we can turn to the one who can redeem us. So often, I turn to social media and sweets to refresh me, but when I do, I don't return to my family more refreshed, more available. But when I turn to the Lord, I do. God is inviting us now, return to Me. In Joel chapter 2 verse 12, the Lord declares, even now, return to Me with all your heart. With fasting and weeping and mourning. I love that He tells us, return to Me fasting. It's a tool that'll get you back to Me. And it might make you cry when you realize how far you've strayed. How far you've wandered. It's okay if you weep, and you mourn as you fast. But mourning won't last for long. Joy will come because when we return to Him, when we find ourselves again running to Him.
How about this verse. We're told that in His presence, there is fullness of joy. Fullness of joy. I don't find that in my pantry. I can find five minutes of joy. I don't find that in social media. I can find some numbing hours there. But I don't find fullness of joy. But with Him I can. If you've been running to one thing to get you through these days, turn around. And run the opposite direction. Return to Him. And let fasting be part of your journey back to the Lord and to your family.
I pray the Lord's blessing over you, my sweet homeschooling friends. Let's pray together.
Dear Lord, thank You for Your patience. Thank You for Your longsuffering invitation to return to You again and again and again. So often, we go astray, looking to things that you created to be good and useful, but they are useless if we turn to them instead of You for saving and for sustaining. Convict our hearts and give us the sustaining grace that we need to follow You. Bind our wandering hearts to You. Fetter us to Your Side. Keep us close, Lord, in Your Word, not in our pantries, not in our phones. As we desire to get through our days in a way that just brings glory to You. That woos our children to You as well. We ask this in Jesus' Name. Amen.
Amen. Well, I look forward to being back with you here again very soon. In the meantime, would you spend some time pinpointing what is it that you've been turning to? What is it that you've been following? Who have you been following? What have you been looking toward to give you everything you need for your long, blessed, but often stressed, homeschooling days? Pinpoint those. And then consider laying them down for a short season. In order that you might pick up the Bible. Pick up your faith. Pick up your eyes. Pick up your head. Lift up your head and find your source of strength right there in front of you.
That's it. That's it for today. I could go on and on talking about this. I wish that we were sitting across a table together, talking it through, jotting down on a piece of paper, just a list of the things that we're convicted over that we can offer up to the Lord. Because He never asked for our sugar. He never asked for our phones. He said I want it all. I want a living sacrifice.
So, I hope that you can pinpoint some of those things that's holding you back from living your life, following, turning to, running to, following, Him. That's it. That's it. I told you. I wanna keep talking about it. But we're gonna wrap it up so that you can shut down this podcast and return to your family. I'll talk to you again soon. Bye-bye.
Thank you for joining us this week on the Homeschool Solutions Show. As always, you can find show notes and links to all the resources mentioned at Homeschooling.mom. I hope you'll take a moment to subscribe to the podcast. And, if it was especially meaningful to you, share it with your friends via email or social media. This is just another way we can all encourage and love and support one another.
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