Spotlight on Malia Russell
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Do you remember the enthusiasm in which you undertook Home Educating your children?
Perhaps despite all your high hopes discouragement has crept into your home.
The excitement has been leached away. Perhaps your child is not
progressing as you would like, or you have been distracted, busy and unprepared.
Maybe you are already exhausted beyond belief. Let me share with you another verse
that speaks so beautifully into the lives of a home schooling parent:
I love this verse in Habakkuk 3:17-19:
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crops fails and the fields produce no food, though
there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls…” (Wow, this
guy is having some problems.) Listen to the next verse:
He said, “Yet I will REJOICE IN THE LORD, I will be JOYFUL IN GOD MY
SAVIOR” (emphasis mine)
He is going to REJOICE because, verse 19 says, “The Sovereign Lord is
my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to
go on the heights”
Wait a minute! Forgive my modern day translation:
“Though there is no food ready for dinner, and there is no money in the
account, though the sickness gets worse, and the pain persists, though
my children are out of control, and my spouse does not appreciate me,
though I feel like I am buried in never ending work, and I cannot get
through a single subject without someone interrupting, yet I will rejoice
in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
Wow! How many moms have you talked to lately that had that kind of
joy? Do you have it in your home?
Is that what we are called to do? Regardless of the circumstances, you can rejoice!
Let’s go a little further in God’s word:
Nehemiah 12:43 “Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced for
God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced:
so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off.”
Did you hear what I just read? If you want a little context here, this verse was written
after giving a detailed description of all the work that went into rebuilding the walls
around Jerusalem. After 52 days of hard labor, and many hours spent in prayers,
fasting, work and disagreements, the men made sacrifices to the Lord. As home school families,
aren’t we called to make great sacrifices to our Lord daily?
Perhaps you gave up a lucrative career, or the fantasy of enjoying some freedom
from kids as they climbed cheerfully on a school bus. You may have given up many
of your own ambitions and freedoms so that you could raise your young ones the
way the Lord is calling you to raise them. Perhaps you have alienated family and
friends who simply could not understand your desires to home school.
Oh, to have such grace in our hearts that we Joyfully make sacrifices unto our God
even when we are exhausted.
Let’s read a little more:
Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations “The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
Now, who among us cannot see that the Lord has clearly done great things for us?
We have been given tremendous freedoms, both in our expressions of our faith,
and in educating our children. Rather than complaining that we have it so tough,
let us rejoice in the Lord. Did you notice that the nations noticed that the Lord
had done great things for them? If we are joyfully home schooling our children, people will notice.
They will make remarks about our children, their behavior, their maturity,
and we will have the chance to show them the light. Have you had that pleasure yet?
You are sitting in a restaurant, or maybe out of town on vacation and a complete stranger
walks up and tells you that your children are a delight. They say that watching
your family has somehow blessed them. Take those moments and help to show those people the
Not the home schooling light but The Light. The One that makes it all possible, CHRIST.
Some of you may be wondering if you have been on the wrong track, how do
you obtain the joy of the Lord as your strength. I urge you to pray for it, to seek it and to
act in obedience. When the Israelites were told to cross the River Jordan to the
Promised Land, the river did not cease flowing until the priest’s toe touched the water.
Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
Ps. 32:11 says “Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye
that are upright in heart.”
You might say, “I don’t feel like rejoicing.” But God didn’t say, “Rejoice, only if you feel like it.”
No! He said, “Rejoice always.” Obviously, God knows that you don’t feel like rejoicing always.
But he commanded it, so how do we do it?
Joy comes from trusting and obeying God’s word. Joy comes from knowing
God is working to accomplish His purposes in all things for the GOOD of
those who love him.
But if you feel you are beyond yourself, simply act in obedience, just like those priests did. I used to call this: Fake it till you make it. Rejoice. Sing a thankful hymn. Take a laugh break with your kids. Institute a family joke night. Read a funny story, read the Bible. And friend, when you are truly discouraged, go to Jesus. This sounds so trite, but listen: If you are a believer then you know this. Jesus’ body was dead. Lifeless. It lay in a tomb for three days. Beverly Bradley once quipped, “you cannot get any more dead than that.” And by power of God, Christ was resurrected. If you think he cannot offer you encouragement and a spirit of joy on those hard days, you are underestimating Him.
Dare we say that JESUS cannot bring us joy?
The same power that took a dead, hard corpse and brought him shining and new back to
life wants to bring joy to you. Not a book, not just a Word, but God’s amazing, magnificent power!
If you want the joy of the Lord, make your face show it, your body language show
it and make sure your husband and children FEEL it, really feel it. Smile broadly when they
enter the room. Let them know you have been waiting for them to wake up and give you
good morning kisses and hugs.
Laugh at their jokes, with a great big belly laugh, even if they are not too funny.
Practice having a joyful heart over and over. When you become overwhelmed and impatient,
remember that joy is within your grasp. Laugh. Make a joke. Smile. Think of how to spread
joy to those around you and it will be contagious.
Finally, apply the word of God in your life. Read what God’s word says about
Joy and think of ways to make it a reality in your life. Let the joy of the Lord really be your strength.
If I could give you three things to walk away with, here they are:
1) trust and obey even when that means sacrifice,
2) realize that God is doing great things for you and through you, and
3) rely on His power to give you joy beyond your circumstances. If we follow these
principles we’ll find true joy!
About the Author
Malia Russell is the blessed wife to Duncan, thankful mother to four children, ages 3-18 and an author, conference speaker and director of www.homemaking911.com. Visit her site for inspiration, encouragement and practical help in your roles as a godly wife, mother, homemaker or home educator.