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Romance for the Busy Homeschool Mom: An Interview with Heidi St. John

February 11–15, 2013   |   Vol. 114, Programs 66–70
Originally Aired: June 21–25, 2010 | Vol. 98, Programs 1–5

“‘That Girl’ is inside of each mom. I think that she’s the girl most moms want to be, but they lose sight of her as the pressures of homeschooling and life come. And certainly she’s the girl my husband prefers to the harried homeschool mom I can sometimes be.”

This week on Home School Heartbeat, Heidi St. John joins Mike Smith to talk about recovering “That Girl”—the girl your husband married. She reminds busy moms that your marriage is more important than curriculum, cleaning, or cooking, and offers encouragement to draw you close to your husband again.

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Do you feel like you’ve been a mom forever? Do you have a hard time remembering the days before diapers, or spelling lists, or mountains of laundry? This week on Home School Heartbeat, Heidi St. John joins host Mike Smith to remind you of someone you may not have seen in a long time—“That Girl.”

Mike Smith: This week, I’m pleased to have author, wife, homeschooling mom, and my friend, Heidi St. John, on the program. Heidi, thanks for joining us today!

Heidi St. John: Hey, Mike, thanks for having me!

Mike: Heidi, you’ve released your first book, The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Romance. Tell us about the main character in your book—“That Girl.” Who is she? And how did she end up in your book for homeschooling moms?

Heidi: Well, “That Girl” is inside of each mom. I think that she’s the girl most moms want to be, but they lose sight of her as the pressures of homeschooling and life come. And certainly she’s the girl my husband prefers to the harried homeschool mom I can sometimes be. She’s a dreamer; her schedule’s uncluttered; she pursues her husband. So she’s a student of her husband, like she was before they were married.

And she ended up in my first book for homeschooling moms because I really believe that marriage, by God’s design, has to be the most important relationship in the home. So the book is a very honest look into days of my marriage, and also the effects of homeschooling on it, and what it took for him to help me find “That Girl” again. It’s a story of hope and encouragement.

Mike: Well, Heidi, thanks for joining us today! We’ll be talking about marriage, homeschooling, and “That Girl,” all week. And, until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: Heidi, on our last program, you told us about “That Girl”—the girl your husband married. But a lot of moms haven’t seen “That Girl” for a long time. Where did she go?

Heidi St. John: Well, she’s in the homeschool vortex. Seriously! I think that there is such a place because I’ve been there. In the homeschool vortex, it’s all homeschool, all the time. It’s crock pots and curriculum, your bedroom is full of curriculum and homeschool magazines, and everything in the house takes a back seat to your kids and homeschooling.

Also, I think inside the vortex, the myth of the perfect homeschool family—and it’s a myth—is alive and well. So, once you’re in, you need help to get out. I was totally in there, and eventually it caught up with me. I was tired; I didn’t have any energy for Jay. And one day he took me on a date and he just—in the middle of conversation—he just said he missed me, and he recognized that we had started to grow apart.

Now I am a child of divorce, and I know firsthand the pain it inflicts. And this was a huge wake-up call for me. So we decided together that we would make some changes. We started to learn more about each other’s world by asking questions at the end of the day. And then we made it a priority to get a handle on how we were dealing with the free time that we had as a family. It was the best decision we ever made.

Mike : Well, Heidi, I know this program is going to be tremendously helpful for a lot of moms listening who would like to find “That Girl” again! We’ll talk more about it next time. And, until then, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: Heidi, most homeschool moms are busy—you know all about that! But how can they know when they’re too busy?

Heidi St. John: I think you know when you’re too busy by taking the pulse of your family. So, in other words, you gotta look at the calendar. And I know, if my pulse is racing at the sight of the calendar, I need something called “white space.” I need a few days in a row that don’t have anything scheduled on them. If I can’t see a day like that, I know we’re doing too much.

I’m not talking about occasional busy stretches. I’m talking about a lifestyle of too-busy, a lifestyle of lacking white space on your calendar. So when you’re too busy to find personal time with the Lord and alone time with your husband and time to nurture the hearts of your children—in that order, by the way—you’re too busy.

Mike: Heidi, does having white space mean the same thing for you and your husband, Jay? Can you give us some examples?

Heidi: Yeah, that’s a great question, too! I was surprised to discover, after asking Jay what white space meant to him, that we see our time commitments completely differently.

I need to have totally unstructured free time in order to unwind and stay connected with the family, but Jay enjoys practically any time we have together as a family or as a couple. For him, as long as we’re together, even if we’re working or traveling, his cup is filled rather than drained. And you have to communicate in order for that to happen.

Mike: Heidi, thanks for opening your life up to our listeners! And, until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: Heidi St. John joins me again today. Heidi, you have some helpful illustrations of ways that marriage can tend to stray, and a great image of how a husband and wife can stay connected. Would you share those with our listeners?

Heidi St. John: Well, when couples lose touch with each other, it’s often because of something that I like to call “parallel living.” By “parallel living,” I’m talking about two lines that represent individual lives, but, because they’re focused primarily on their own pursuits and interests, they rarely intersect.

Now you can go along fine for a while, maybe even a long time like this, but the danger is, even if you throw a millimeter of distance between those two lives, what happens to them? Well, the more time goes by, the further apart they become. So to keep this from happening, you’ve got to make sure that you and your spouse are doing things to connect or draw these lives together frequently. Most people think, “Well, it’s physical intimacy.” But it’s much more than that. It’s finding things to do together that give you a shared purpose as a couple.

So when you add the two intersecting, entwined lives with the strong, growing relationship with the Lord Jesus, you’ve got the strong cord of three strands that Solomon refers to in Ecclesiastes. The Bible says that that cord is not easily broken.

Mike: Heidi, these are really practical and great insights. Thanks for sharing them with our listeners! And, until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: Heidi, this week you’ve shared some great advice for busy homeschool moms who need to take some time and refresh their marriages. That’s a big job. Would you take a minute to bring some encouragement to those women to persevere and to see hope for the future?

Heidi St. John: You know, the biggest encouragement that I could give is just to invite you to be real about your life: your struggles, your good times, your bad times. Stay vulnerable and soft toward the Spirit, and surround yourself with people who will encourage you and build you up as a couple, and then dig down deep.

By that, I mean you need an everyday, strong, growing relationship with the Lord Jesus to successfully navigate the homeschool years and cultivate a healthy marriage. If we’re going to remain faithful to finish the course that God has laid for us, then we’ve got to be rooted in His Word and committed to the covenant of marriage.

Homeschooling is challenging, but I would encourage you, look beyond the homeschool years. When they’re over, what will you have? By God’s grace, your husband will look into the eyes of you and rejoice in the wife of his youth, because when he sees you, he’ll see “That Girl.” Ask God to give you a love song that will last a lifetime. And when you do, I think you’ll discover that the best is yet to come.

Mike: Heidi, that’s a great message for all the moms listening. Thank you so much for joining us this week! And, until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Heidi St. John:
Heidi St. JohnHeidi St. John has been married to her husband, Jay, since 1989. They have seven children (and one son-in-law) and have homeschooled all the way through high school. A favorite conference speaker, Heidi approaches homeschooling with humor and grace at events all across North America. Growing up in Boring, Oregon, with six siblings and a cow named Hamburger has proven to be wonderful inspiration for many of Heidi’s workshops. Now, with seven children of her own, Heidi brings a heart to encourage and inspire whomever she is with. (And don’t worry—you’ll get the real story behind the stories!)
Jay and Heidi are also the founders and executive directors of First Class Homeschool Ministries, a parachurch organization dedicated to helping churches start Bible-focused homeschool cooperatives. First Class has been in operation since 2000 and has over 40 locations across North America. The St. Johns reside in southwest Washington state. In 2012, Heidi and Jay released four new books for families, including “Firmly Planted,” a Bible study written with the whole family in mind. For more information on the St. John's ministry, please visit heidistjohn.com or fchm.org.

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