It was decided that the state of our family was indeed....messy!
The changes we made were by no means a fly by the seat of our pants reaction to things going on around us. Jeremiah and I sat down on multiple occasions to access where we've been, what has been the results of what we've been doing and making plans to change things to get where we want to go. One of the biggest problems we had was that we didn't know where we were going! We pretty much felt that we were living life in survival mode. Just like running on a treadmill, running, running, running, but getting NOwhere. Not a fun thing. We needed a plan, even if it was a basic plan. We are confident that God will show us the next clarifying step, but we needed to make up an overall map, based on prayer and His word. We talked at length as the reality of what needed to be done was becoming evident, and it wasn't going to be easy. Some people think we are trying to play the Holy Spirit by 'containing' our children. Others have thought we are taking this homeschooling thing too far. But I dare say that a lot of people thought Noah was off his rocker for building an ark, but that didn't stop him :-)
So, what was the state of our family? We were pretty close to shambles. The easiest way to sum it up would be to say we all had big time heart issues. This is where anyone's problems start to be sure. For the specifics though...
Chaos, anger, laziness, bitterness, and more bad stuff seriously filled our home. To be honest we are still dealing with those, but there has definitely been changes for the good. It was pretty much each man for himself. In a large family that doesn't bode well. In any family that doesn't bode well! It just makes for more chaos the larger your family is. Anyways we realized that we needed to set our priorities straight. We decided to get an idea of where we wanted to go and then work back from there. Evaluating everything we were doing and asking if it was going to help us reach our goal.
We had lots of fighting going on between all of us. Laziness reigned. Getting the kids to do anything was like pulling teeth. They were all more concerned about their friends or computer games than each other. They were not thinking for themselves. Some were being influenced by the children around them (this was from church). Our family values were continually being challenged. We have no problem with talking about our values, why we believe the way we do, but this was not what was going on. We are talking about challenged as going behind our backs. And this is with just the children!
Jeremiah and I were on shaking ground for various reasons. For privacy we won't discuss those here, but suffice it to say things had come to a head and something needed to give. With an unstable relationship our family was on wobbly ground. Our time with the Lord was reduced to obligation. I still have a long way to go here, but at least I see the problem now. It's just the logistics now to set things straight.
Our home was a mess. Literally. We were being overtaken by our stuff! We weren't taking care of the things we had. The inside was a mess, and the outside was a mess. This was causing our animals to be sick. Some of the problem had to do more with our layout than an actual mess. For example goats really need to be rotated in different 'padlocks' as they are so prone to worms. We most certainly did not make out ahead with our goat milk last year with them being so sick for half the milking season. This caused us more work, more money and more time.
Everyone (including yours truly) wanted to just hang out in a world of their own. This was either computer time, games, videos, or walking around with an I-Pod in their ears. Some of us, not many I can assure you, had enough past training to get work done, so we didn't fall into an abyss. But we certainly were not being productive.
As you can see, it was not a pretty picture. Thankfully I had some good friends who gave wonderful Godly advice. They were patient with my questions. We have also read books in the past that addressed this very issue, and we had that information at our disposal as well. With this in hand, we started to carve out a plan. We knew that we needed to start with what God had already given us. We needed to focus our attention on the things were already doing, that would contribute to the well being of our family. We decided that we needed to do everything as a family. For us that included our wee little homestead. We thought that we should learn all we could to best care for the animals we had, and how we could best use the space of our land. This would give us something to work on as a family. Now, what did we have going on in our family that might interfere with that goal? Oh, boy. There was a bunch! Movies, games, computer, 'junk food' books and more. We realized that we needed to change our spending habits to facilitate these goals. There isn't a lot of wiggle room there to work with, so we are needing to get creative. As we were going over these things we knew that it was going to be important that we just didn't rip the rug out from under the girls. We needed to make sure we had a plan and options to work with. In the past our downfall was that we took things out of their life, but weren't putting anything in it's place. That was a recipe for disaster.
Once we were ready with our plan we called a Family Pow-Wow Meeting. We told the girls our plan. There were many an objection to be sure. But once they saw that we seriously wanted their input, and that we ourselves came to the table with options, the dust started to settle. In the next handful of posts I'll address each area one by one. Why we made a change, how we went about it, and how it's working for us now.
Shared on Simple Lives Thursday and Homestead Barn Hop