The Importance of Community: In the Midst of Grief

Editor’s Note: This article was originally shared by Kyrie Zimmerman at a RM: Local Gathering on September 10, 2019

Three. That’s the number of children I’ve held in my heart or in my arms and had to say goodbye to.  The first was my son, taken directly from my womb to heaven.  The next was a private adoption that didn’t go as I, or the baby’s birth mother had hoped.  The third was a spunky toddler who fit easily into our family the minute Children & Youth placed her in our home.

Trials, trauma, hurt, sadness, grief. Whatever you call it or whatever you’ve been through I know you didn’t choose it.  We don’t set out seeking the painful things in life.  Those things either creep into our lives or come at us with a swiftness that can’t ever be accurately conveyed.  The void in your heart.  The physical pain you feel.  The thought that the depth of your breaths may never return and that you’ll never be able to see the world in its full splendor again.  Friends, I know that hurt. Our family feels it today as we daily walk through the unknown and face the possibility of that number three turning into a four.  If that happens, our grief will be real, our sadness immeasurable, but our hope will remain.  After a time, the sky will again return to its brilliant blue, the wildflowers will be full of color again and our breaths will be easy.  After a time, we’ll be ready to keep going and share the testimony God will bring from it all.  After a time, the brokenness will be beautiful.  I know this because I’ve seen it before.  I know this because the community we have surrounding us stands with us in our brokenness. They cry with us, they pray with us, they cook for us, they carry us until we are ready to hope again.  We could not do this on our own.

Having strong and meaningful friendships are vital to our lives.  We truly are better together.  I could not live out the callings God has placed on my life without the support of my people – and I wasn’t made to.  David had Jonathan.  Moses had Aaron.  Elisha had Elijah. Paul had Timothy. There’s Naomi and Ruth.  Jesus surrounded himself with a core community and wasn’t afraid to wake them up in the middle of the night to pray for him.  That’s my hope for each of you.  That you find women in this group to wake up in the middle of the night – and that we become the woman who wake up for others.  Think of how differently those stories would have played out if those friendships hadn’t happened.  If Jonathan decided it was too risky to be David’s friend.  If Moses decided he would try to do it all on his own.  Or if Elijah had been too proud to mentor Elisha.  The truth is that although Jesus has already won, trials will still come.  We aren’t at the finish line yet, we’re still in the middle of the race.  Prepare for the trials. Arm yourself with strong friendships. Be vulnerable. Be present. I’m not speaking about small talk and acquaintances.  I’m urging you to dive in and show your past brokenness because if it hasn’t been made beautiful yet you are wasting a chance to showcase God’s glory.  I know it’s not easy.  I recognize how difficult it is to be transparent, to rely on others and let them really see you.  Just between you and me, I’m more of the lone wolf type.  The girl that can do it all herself and doesn’t need or want anyone.  I understand how hard it is to let the walls down that you’ve built up for so long.  But be brave. Be messy. Let God use these women to gently take them down, brick by brick.  Sometimes it’s painful and it’s usually a little scary. But it is so worth it.  You, my friend, are worth it.  To be seen and understood by other people brings a peace and comfort to my life that far outweighs the fear of being truly known.  There is freedom that comes with community. 

So, from one person to anyone else in the middle of uncertainty or grief, the beauty will come. Layer by layer, brick by brick, a little more light will shine through. Revival Moms is more than just a room full of homeschooling mamas.  Look around and you will see the hands and feet of Jesus.  My hope and challenge for us all is that we let the beauty come.

Kyrie Zimmerman

Kyrie is still head-over-heels in love with her husband of over a decade. Together, they homeschool their 3 children and are active foster parents. Kyrie is the founder of Revival Moms, a non profit organization dedicated to building community among home educating mamas. She has a heart to see moms gather, learn + do life together.

@kyriezimmerman
kyriezimmerman.com

The Importance of the Homeschool Dad – Part 2

Editor’s Note: This month, in honor of Father’s Day, we’re turning over our article spot to a homeschool dad! We hope you enjoy this series and that it sparks some great conversations in your home.

Gentlemen! (and ladies!)  This is part deux of The Importance of the Homeschool Dad.  I am humbled that enough of you cared to read part one and are here for more!  Thank you, and welcome.

In part one, we discovered that fatherhood consists of more than financial provision for your family.  We learned that we also need to provide for and protect their spiritual, emotional, and physical needs.  And I contend that homeschooling offers us unique opportunities to be able to do this well.

While walking through this, I will be referencing what I do at home with my family.  This is by no means intended to convey that I have it all figured out, or that my way is the only right way.  It is just what works for us in this moment, and will surely grow and evolve over time.  Caveat two: give yourself grace.  If all of this sounds overwhelming and too much to bite off, don’t let that stop you from just starting somewhere.  We’re so used to instant results, but this is a slow burn that will pay dividends long into the future.  Finally, we also need to keep in mind that all provision is from God.  As fathers, we have the opportunity (read: duty) to impart that provision through us and into our family.  With all that in mind, let’s get into the weeds.

We aren’t going to spend a whole lot of time looking at financial provision.  My only thoughts are that we easily get consumed with providing for our current needs.  And while today is important, we also need to take a long view of our finances.  Rather than dreaming about being empty nesters and wintering in the Sunshine State, let’s consider our future grandchildren and how we can equip our children financially to help them be better parents.

Moving on, I’d like to tackle emotional and physical provision and protection.  Homeschooling gives us the special ability to actually socialize our children.  Anyone who has discussed homeschooling long enough is usually confronted with that well intentioned concern of how our kids will learn to “socialize” while not being in school.  Like somehow throwing 20-30 emotionally ignorant kids into a room with one adult is the best way to learn how to socialize?  Ha! Personally, I think introducing your kids to more concise interactions with other people (of all ages, not just their own) and being able to process any emotional challenges with them afterward is a far superior way to learn to socialize.  But I’ll get off my soapbox and summarize this point by reaffirming that homeschooling affords us more time to process emotions and emotional growth, and to incorporate more physical activity into the daily rhythm.

Lastly, and probably most importantly, we need to look at fulfilling the spiritual needs of the fam.  This one might also be the most difficult to adjust to.  As I mentioned in Part One, we have been outsourcing spiritual growth and needs to our pastors for generations.  We at Revival Lancaster believe the Bible clearly establishes the father’s role to include being the spiritual leader of the household (1 Corinthians, Ephesians, 1 Peter, etc).  Does that mean Sunday morning sermons and youth group are worthless?  Of course not!  Nonetheless, it is the father’s job to ensure everyone is spiritually fed.  There are many different elements you can include in your daily and weekly rhythms to do this, so I cannot list everything here.  But I would encourage you to seek out resources on how to do this well.  At a minimum, I would look to include worship, Bible reading, or prayer (or all three) into your daily (yes, daily!) family schedule.  I know, that sounds daunting.  But. Just. Start. Somewhere.  When I first attempted this, I tried it in the evenings after dinner.  That failed miserably.  I am fortunate enough to have a job with a flexible start time, so we moved this time up to the morning while everyone is eating breakfast.  This has worked really well for us.  We call our time Morning Midrash where we spend 10-15 minutes reading a passage of Scripture (we’re reading through Luke and Acts), discuss it, sing a hymn, and pray.  This has quickly become a favorite part of the morning, and we have been able to be very consistent.  My other suggestion, and something that I am personally still trying to figure out, is adding a day of family rest into the weekly rhythm.  I am finding that this period is critical to everyone’s wellbeing.

Again, I want to stress that the intent of this article is not to add stress to your life or even to be a guide on what to do.  Rather, my goal is to simply get the gears turning in your head and to reexamine what fatherhood can look like.  Culture has done a terrible job modeling fatherhood (even in the church), and it is time for change!  Your grandkids will thank you.  Thanks for reading!

Brent Zimmerman

Brent is married to his elementary-school-sweetheart, Kyrie, and is the father to an ever expanding number of children through foster care, adoption + the good ‘ol fashioned way. He fancies reading Tolkien + C.S. Lewis, learning about the Bible + riding his scooter to take out the trash. When he’s not climbing a tree with his kids, you can find him helping with math or facilitating their morning midrash discussions and dreaming up ideas for their family’s ministry, Revival Lancaster.

The Importance of the Homeschool Dad – Part 1

Editor’s Note: This month, in honor of Father’s Day, we’re turning over our article spot to a homeschool dad! We hope you enjoy this series and that it sparks some great conversations in your home.

If you are anything like me, it can sometimes seem a little confusing how we, the dads, fit into the magical homeschool brew we see before us day-in and day-out.  And if you are nothing like me, you’ve had this all figured out from day one and are a homeschool dad champ.  Congrats!  You may move along and go back to polishing your Father of the Year trophy.  No, not that one, the other one, on the left.  No, the far left.  There you go.  That trophy case looks great, by the way.

If you find yourself more lost than not, let’s go on a journey together.  Brad, if you haven’t grabbed the trophy polish yet, maybe you’d like to come along in case we get lost?  Thanks buddy!

Some of you might be thinking, “But Brent, I have a full-time job working outside of the house.  My wife is home with the kids  Doesn’t it make sense that she handles all of the homeschool stuff?  She takes care of the kids, I work to provide for my family.”

“Great point!” I might reply, somehow perceiving your thoughts and responding telepathically.

You do bring up an interesting phrase: providing for your family.  I assume you mean providing financially.  Super important part of the father’s role, no argument there.  But did you know there are more and sometimes more important ways you need to provide for your tribe?

It is your job as a father not only to provide financial security, but also to ensure spiritual, emotional, and physical needs are met and cared for.  I was shocked the first time I heard that.  I’ve watched enough 90’s era sitcoms to know that going to work for a paycheck, then being a bumbling idiot the rest of the time pretty much summed up fatherhood. Got a job?  Check!  Now excuse me while I get back to my According to Jim reruns.

Then perennial Dad of the Year winner and Fatherhood G.O.A.T., Brad, taught me the importance of the other means of provision, and how they can actually all relate to and be implemented in the homeschool rhythm. We’ve done a great job as a society realizing our talents and abilities and outsourcing where we lack.  Unfortunately, we’ve outsourced essential functions of fatherhood.

Provision for my family’s spiritual needs?  That’s what my pastor and youth pastor do on Sundays (in an hour-long gathering with hundreds of other people – on the weeks we can make it).

Provision for my family’s emotional protection and needs? Emo-what?  Sounds girly.  Wifey, can you handle this one?

Provision for my family’s physical protection and needs? Oh!  I’ve got this one!  There’s a Louisville Slugger in the corner that will find the temple of any intruder! (You say, as you watch Sunday Night Football kick off in a game you really don’t care about, having also watched the 12 o’clock and 4:30 games, and your 6th grader comes in showing you the latest Fortnite dance move he unlocked after countless hours of playing.)

Now, I do not mean to come down so hard on football and Fortnite, but I think you see the point.  You’ve already decided (or are considering) to take back the outsourcing of educating your child(ren).  Let’s now consider taking back the other areas too.

It is our responsibility as fathers to ensure ALL of the protections and provisions our family needs are met.  Look, I can’t speak into everyone’s specific situation.  And what works for me might not work for you.  In fact, a certain amount of outsourcing might be exactly what your family needs to make it all work.  And that is ok!  But know that the responsibility to ensure the needs are met remains with you.

In part two, we’ll look at how the homeschool dad can practically meet our family’s spiritual, emotional, and physical needs, and how we can apply them to the homeschool rhythm.

Thanks, Brad, for coming along, too.  Now back to your trophies!

Brent Zimmerman

Brent is married to his elementary-school-sweetheart, Kyrie, and is the father to an ever expanding number of children through foster care, adoption + the good ‘ol fashioned way. He fancies reading Tolkien + C.S. Lewis, learning about the Bible + riding his scooter to take out the trash. When he’s not climbing a tree with his kids, you can find him helping with math or facilitating their morning midrash discussions and dreaming up ideas for their family’s ministry, Revival Lancaster.

Just Loop It

Have you discovered the Loop Schedule? It’s a life-saver, a grace-giver, and an all around family favorite around here. When we’re not sure what to do about chores – loop them. How am I going to fit in all this amazing stuff we want to learn? Oh, I’m going to loop those books, too. Am I stressing about fitting in the dentist + grocery shopping + foster care caseworker visits without missing a ton of lesson work? Well yes, actually, now that we’re talking about it but that’s not because of our scheduling style. That is a totally different article.

I first learned about the idea of a loop schedule from Sarah Mackenzie in her book Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace. Since then, I’ve been looping everything. The beauty of the loop lies in the simple fact that it’s part of a rhythm, not a rigid schedule – which is something my family has found extremely helpful. When we flipped our mindset from having a schedule to pursuing a rhythm something clicked + the loop became the basis of our family scheduling. The idea of rhythm rather than schedule is also the foundational idea behind the Revival Moms Planners.

In a traditional weekday schedule, you’ll miss an entire day of lessons just because everyone needs a haircut, or there’s a great class at the local environmental center but now you’re always missing your Wednesday lessons. The schedule gets “off” – the days aren’t lining up with the weeks anymore – you’re left feeling … behind. Oh, the horror! Shake it off, mama. Ditch the weekday titles + opt for an A-D rhythm. Now if Tuesday was a “B” day, Wednesday was a field trip, you can pick right up on Thursday with day “C.” For us, an A, B, C, D, Flex loop has been working really well, where our flex day is a little lighter for when the sun is shining and fishing, hiking + nature journaling come calling.

Confession: I’ve got several different loop rhythms for our family. Shocked? Didn’t think so. Here’s the run down:

Every week, I place a new Independent Loop out for each of my students. This has helped them shift from a total reliance on me to taking responsibility for their own work as they are ready to handle it. They can clearly see what lessons we hope to accomplish that day and start on their independent work as soon as they get to the table.

I also utilize a “Master Loop” that gives me a complete picture of what all of my students are working on + includes our morning gathering studies (the lessons we do altogether).

We also have a family cleaning rhythm and I have to confess – it’s built on your regular ol’ days of the week. This is just what works best for our family right now but by all means, loop those chores, mama.

As for meal planning (because I get this question frequently) I use a rotation schedule. It’s basically just a list of 25 meals that I rotate through from top to bottom. Think of it as a mega-loop. I am currently testing out a few new planning sheets for an upcoming family planner and a meal planning loop is on the list!

You can see lots of examples of the loop schedules I utilize on the Revival Moms Instagram account or on the Revival Moms website. Happy planning, friends!

Kyrie Zimmerman

Kyrie, founder of Revival Moms, is a homeschooling mama of 3 … as of today. Being a foster mom, you never know how many children she’ll have by the time you’re done reading this article. Kyrie has a heart to see moms gather, learn + do life together.

@kyriezimmerman

Uncharted Waters

I’m 7 months into the homeschooling thing and still trying to figure things out. We take one day at a time, and figure out what we can for that day.⁠
It can be a shocker to see how different homeschooling is than public school. There are pros and cons to both, but they are so very different. So don’t feel like a failure if your first week of homeschooling didn’t look like what your kids normal school day looks like.⁠
Let them learn about what they love. In their pj’s. On the couch. With their music. At their pace.⁠ They may be done in a hour. It’s a hard adjustment, I know. You feel like they’re not doing enough, learning enough.⁠ I would shush my girls’ when they would tell people they were done with school before lunch. Who needs that judgment? I do enough critiquing of myself, I don’t need help from others in that area.⁠

I’ll be so very honest with you. There have been days where we have snuggled up together and watched movies or played games because it just felt right. But then there are days where we push through and do the work, because it just needs done. Again, I go back to the fact that we take one day at a time.⁠ I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. But when I really dig into the truth of that, and stop believing the lies in my head, I realize that I DO know what I’m doing, simply because I am their mother.⁠

Mamas, you know your kids better than anyone else. You know what they need and how hard they need to be pushed. And what an amazing opportunity we have in these moments to truly get to know them better, and learn how to love them even more.⁠
I’m praying for you as you navigate these uncharted waters. When you’re feeling stressed that you’re not doing enough, or they’re not doing enough, I pray you hear the words “it’s ok.” I pray you feel a complete peace and truly know that it’s all ok.

KATIE SMITH
@katie_keepingitreal

Katie is a lover of Jesus, her hubby of 17 years, and their 3 tween/teen daughters. She is passionate about empowering others to find their purpose and raising up the next generation to love Jesus!

5 Tips for Homeschooling When Your Spouse Works From Home

When my husband started his new job 6 months ago, he went from working outside the home 7am – 5pm, to working from home most days. I was nervous about the transition to having him home a lot more; not because I don’t enjoy his presence (he happens to be my absolute favorite person in the world), but because, being a homeschooling family, we thrive on the rhythm and routine of our days and weeks. We had a solid routine already and I was concerned the kids would think the days their dad worked from home were “vacation,” and would not be able to concentrate or apply themselves to their school work. This is what my friend and I affectionately call “Dad Sabotage.”

Now, with government mandates surrounding the Corona Virus pandemic, many more families are finding themselves thrown into a new way of life with Dad home every day of the week. Through the last 6 months of navigating this transition, sometimes multiple times in one week, I have a few tips for the homeschooling family finding a new routine with husband home full time.

  1. CREATE A WORK SPACE. If your husband is working from home, it benefits all parties involved if he has a place to work that is removed from distractions. The benefit is two-fold: he has a (mostly) quiet space in which to concentrate and get some work done while alleviating the need to split his time helping out with the kids. And secondly, when Dad is out of sight, the kids find it easier to apply themselves to their work – and not feel like it’s vacation! We all have our own work to do during the day, and it is helpful for us to be separate to accomplish our daily goals. 
  2. MAKE ANCHOR POINTS IN YOUR DAY. My husband decided on a clear time he wanted to start his day, take breaks, and end his day and that really helped everyone know what to expect and when. 
  3. CREATE A ROUTINE around those anchor points. First we decided what was important to all of us. Then we synchronized our schedules as much as reasonably possible with a 7-person family, so we could have mealtimes and “brain breaks” together. If weather permits, we like to try to get outside all together and take a walk or throw football around. My husband and I also like to exercise together so we made that part of our routine as well.
  4. GIVE YOURSELVES TIME TO ADJUST. Finding a peaceful rhythm isn’t necessarily something that will happen overnight. It may take a few days or weeks to fall into your own unique groove. And that’s okay!
  5. EXTEND AND RECEIVE LOTS OF GRACE. Have realistic expectations and leave room for laughing at your mistakes, crying over unmet expectations, and navigating it all together. A little irritability is completely normal, but try to take it all in stride and don’t sweat the small stuff. 

MALLORY SENSENIG
@sensenigseven

Mallory Sensenig is a homeschooling mama to 5 wild + free kids, ranging from toddler to teen, and wife to her renaissance man since 2005. Her home is full of books, music, and loud boisterous children and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Hear more from Mallory on the Revival Moms podcast.

Physical Distancing for the Extroverted Homeschool Mom

Sharing a cup of coffee and conversation with the people in my life is one of my favorite, life-giving things to do – other than my sacred hour of quiet time I carve out each day. It’s been 20 days since I have been able to connect with friends or family in the way that fills me up. I always knew I needed that connection in my life, but give me 20 days without and I REALLY learned that. Apps like Marco Polo, FaceTime and Zoom have helped me so much. Getting to see their faces and hear their voices makes me feel connected again. I can’t wait until I can hug them all again and actually share a cup of coffee or wine with them. Until then, I am on Marco Polo to get some connection with the people who make me remember what it’s like to be intentionally connected with each other – because while I love alone time and quietness, sometimes you just need to be seen by a friend who can look you in the eye and just know how your doing – good or bad.

Jessica Martin
@j_mmartin

Jess is a homeschooling mama of 4 who loves chatting with neighbors while on long walks around the block, pizza + a house full of her favorite people.

Courage, dear heart

A letter from Revival Moms founder, Kyrie Zimmerman, amidst COVID-19

Friend,

As a homeschooling family, you may not feel the jolt of suddenly spending most of your days together at home, but chances are your daily rhythms have been altered.  No co-op.  Dad is working from home or has been laid off.  Playgroup + bible study have been cancelled.  The groceries you typically buy are difficult to obtain.  No one is coming over for dinner + you’re worried about the livelihood of your friends + family. Maybe at first it felt like an introvert’s paradise and a chance to add some hygge into your daily life but then all of a sudden social distancing felt more like isolation.  Courage, dear heart.  Aslan once whispered this to Lucy as she and her companions were trapped in complete darkness, surrounded only by their isolating fears in C.S. Lewis’ Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  My friends, take courage.  Because we know the darkness will never overcome the light, we can continue to have + spread hope during these strange, difficult days [1].

While the heart of Revival Moms remains to bring moms together in real life settings, we’re working to find new ways to encourage, strengthen + bear each other’s burdens during this time of physical distancing.

Much Love,
Kyrie

[1] John 1:5

Kyrie Zimmerman

Kyrie, founder of Revival Moms, is a homeschooling mama + foster mama of 3 … as of today. She has a heart to see moms gather, build community + truly do life together.

@kyriezimmerman

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