Growing Relationships title
Through Parenting & Education

by Connie Albers

Living Your Story
Ifyou use a planner or journal, then you know. You know you can flip through the pages for a recap of your year at any given moment. Those books are full of experiences: some good, some not. But they tell a story of what you’ve gone through, overcome, or achieved because it’s written down.

You used the pen or pencil to write down a dream or goal, your child’s dental appointment, or an upcoming birthday reminder. It’s all there. Some entries make you smile, while others make you pause. Then, you read the story you wrote or the event you were planning, and you instantly are transported to that moment.

Your life tells a story, but we often don’t notice while we live it. I mean, most people don’t think they are living a story. Instead, they are just trying to get through a math lesson or bedtime battle or potty training and wonder will it ever end!

Recently, I needed to gather some data for a new book I’m working on. Walking to the cabinet, I pulled out three years of journals, planners, and notes to help with my project. Upon opening the books, I read things I had forgotten about. For example, the date my daughter told me she was pregnant. And the date she choked out the words: “They can’t find a heartbeat.”

At this point, I had all but forgotten why I grabbed the journals and planners. So I took a detour and went down memory lane. As I turned the pages, I could not help but notice how many days I had to be in Ohio with my grandfather, who was dying. Seven. I spent seven days with him. I couldn’t stay another day, so I said my goodbyes and flew home. Then I noticed I spent another week of my life preparing for his funeral.

Then my cousin suddenly passed away, and my husband’s uncle and one of his groomsmen, then my daughter’s best friend, and if that weren’t enough, my stepdad unexpectedly passed. I had to stop. That was enough strolling down memory lane for me. Not because I was overwhelmed by the losses that came one after another. No. I stopped because I realized God allowed me to walk through this season and how He used so many people to carry me through.

People holding hands
While thinking about this article, I felt compelled to share not about my season of trials and grief, but about how God used those difficult seasons of life to get me to the point of allowing others to help me get through it all.

That is a hard place to get to as mothers. After all, we can do it all—or so we have been told. And your friends online seem to sail through life’s storms with no problem. At least that is what they lead you to believe anyway.

My season of loss began in early 2019 and lasted until the end of 2021. That’s right, three years. And that doesn’t count the seven years of caregiving. Think about that for a moment. That’s a lot of entries and stories. But, like you, I wasn’t counting the days. I was getting up and running my race every day. Was I running fast? That depends on who I compare myself to. If you’re running against a three-year-old, then yes! But compared to my friends, no! I was moving at a snail’s pace. Was it hard? Yes. But more than being hard, it was humbling not to run as fast as I knew I could if I wasn’t carrying the load I was given.

We all will go through seasons of hardship because real life is hard. REAL HARD. Most of us push through—one day at a time. You think the following Monday will be better, then Monday morning rolls around, and it’s not. It’s a repeat of last Monday.

Well-meaning people tell you to snap out of it as if “it” were a light switch one can turn off and on. You think, yeah, I should do that. So you reach for your light switch only to realize it didn’t work. “What is wrong with me? Why can’t I be like them—the superwomen online?”

Instead of thinking clearly, you feel worse about yourself. You and I both know how that story plays out.

But here are some lessons I’ve learned walking through this season. Lessons I pray will help you as you live out your own story.

God uses people to help carry your load until you can manage it again. For instance, the team here at Homeschooling Today has walked through hard seasons. They get it. They’ve stood with me and shown enormous grace when I was late on a deadline. The guilt I felt knowing I was throwing off their calendar weighed on me like an anchor tied around my waist. But they never got impatient. Why? Because they get it. They know it could be them. They’ve lived through challenging seasons of struggle.

When you go through hard seasons, something happens inside you. You learn to see through the lens of another person. You gain empathy you might not have had before.

Are you surrounded by a team or a group of friends who are willing to carry you, not condemn you? If not, ask the Lord to bring those people into your life. You need them! And, are you willing to help carry the load for others? If not, ask yourself why not?

God puts people over projects. Projects matter. As do deadlines. But putting people first makes getting projects done easier. That’s right. When people are elevated above projects, those same people will work harder to complete deadlines. This is also true of our children. When we prioritize relationships with our children, then learning is less stressful, and conflict is reduced.

Women hugging

As a veteran homeschool mom of five, entrepreneur, podcaster, and more, it was easy for me to put projects and deadlines ahead of people when the children were younger. I had a lot to get done. But when the kids hit their teen years, I stepped out of everything. It was a big deal. But I handed off the projects to others to complete. I turned businesses over to others. For me, time was of the essence. Time was the one thing I couldn’t get back. And I learned something remarkable after I did that: I could always step back in. God didn’t have second best because of my decision. And this is true for you too.

God will change you through hard times. We are on a journey, my friend. You might be starting your homeschool journey a little nervous about this whole homeschool thing. Or maybe you are coming out of a challenging season and enjoying life right now. Perhaps you are like my daughter who lost a baby you were praying for. Whatever your “hard” is, you will not be the same person when you come out of it. You will change. Let it change you for the better. Don’t allow yourself to be robbed of the lessons you could learn by becoming bitter or resentful. God allows hard times to stretch us. And if you break, He will put you back together when you lean on Him.

God can bring your family closer. So while hard times are stressful for the family, they can bring you closer. Likewise, your children learn to face challenging times from watching you show up every day. For example, this Christmas, I wasn’t myself. There were so many empty seats at our table. I couldn’t get into the holiday season. I didn’t want to buy a tree. I didn’t feel like decorating my house. I didn’t want to pull out the china for Christmas dinner. I didn’t want to make cookies as we’ve done for thirty-eight years. I wanted a year off. I reasoned that the kids don’t care about all that stuff. To my surprise, the family noticed my lack of enthusiasm.

One evening, several of the kids invited us to get our trees together. So we did. Then my daughter and husband pulled out the lights and put them on the tree. Great. At least it had lights. Two of my daughters decorated the tree and hung the stockings a few weeks later. It was starting to “look like” Christmas. They asked me to meet for coffee and helped me order gifts for their siblings.

Then something happened the Monday night before Christmas that changed everything. I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep, so I started organizing the garage. That’s when I stumbled upon a neatly folded letter that was tucked inside a backpack with my name on it. It was a letter from my stepdad to me. It caught me off guard. I reached in to remove the letter. It began with, “Connie if you find this letter…” A one of those “I’m longer with you letters.” A reassurance that “It’s okay, I’m right where I want to be —with your mother in Heaven.” While it initially reminded me of that pain of losing him, after reading and rereading that letter, I realized what a gift it was to me. And just like that, the light switch worked.

Dear Mom and Dad, I don’t know your story. Chances are, you probably don’t know how your story will turn out either. But this I know, God is writing it right now. You’re living it every day. Maybe it won’t be as traumatic as mine. But you will have your stories of hardship. How you show up, who you are surrounded by, and when you allow yourself to grow as you lean on the Lord for wisdom and direction will be what gets you through it all. Be honest with yourself. Don’t believe you have to be like your online friends who post highlight reels and rarely allow you to see their struggles.

We are grateful you are here reading this article in Homeschooling Today because we care about your story. We are willing to carry your homeschool worries as you wrestle with the ups and downs of this season of parenting your children.

Connie Albers

onnie Albers is a mother of five and veteran homeschool mom who has used her public relations background to help shape the homeschooling movement for twenty-seven years. She has spent much of her adult life as a homeschool mom and mompreneur with an outreach and ministry to parents through her speaking, writing, and various leadership roles. More recently Connie’s newest book, Parenting Beyond the Rules by NavPress, outlines positive approaches to parenting today’s teenagers. Her enthusiasm for helping others navigate social media led to her taking a post at Social Media Marketing World. Connie’s mission is to equip moms to live their lives with confidence and joy.

Connie and her husband, Tom, have been married thirty-five years and have homeschooled their five children, all of whom continued their studies and graduated from the University of Central Florida, from the beginning.