You mentioned that you were glad to talk to me. I want you to know that I am privileged to be able to speak to you about your concerns. You are a holy witness and a loving daughter of the Lord. Jesus is with you through this difficult time and He desires that His presence be made tangible and real to you. I admire the courage and the docility of spirit that allows you the grace to speak to the problems you are having. From your first admission in your letter that 'God seems so far away right now', I know in my heart that you have a close relationship with the Lord and that the greatest sorrow you are experiencing at this time is the feeling that Jesus somehow is distant and uninterested in your sorrows.
I think that we should realize that this line of rhetoric is from the Tempter. The Tempter loves to separate Jesus' precious little ones from the knowledge that Jesus is Lord and able, willing, and ready to stand in the gap for us and heal all that hurts us.
During our sorrows, confusion, and physical weakness or infirmities Jesus tenderly holds us close to His heart. His love for us is like that of a mother holding a hurt child. His tenderness is real and His desire to come to our aid is immediate and sure.
Do you remember the story of the storm at sea? How many times did the disciples have to cry out to the Lord before He heard them? Only once and that was mainly for their benefit, because certainly the dear Lord knew the difficulties they were having at the time. For you see when we cry out to the Lord it actually helps us to focus on the root of the problems. We cry out in our desperation and plea for help with the issue that matters most. Just like you did. "God feels so far away right now." Remember the blind beggar that the Lord healed. He told the sweet Jesus the one matter that was at the heart of his sorrow. "Lord, that I may see." We pray to the good Jesus just the same way. "Lord, that I may 'see' Your hand in this challenge, this sorrow, this difficulty. In so doing, dear Lord, I will be able to weather the storm because I know that You are with me always."
I sense that we should cover some important matters before we address the homeschooling issues. First and foremost it is important that you speak with your health care provider about your physical condition. It is not at all uncommon for young women in their childbearing years to experience a fluctuation in their energy level as they strive to meet the demands of their families. Certainly a young breastfeeding infant will take quite a bit of physical energy as you meet those specific needs. However we should be very careful to understand the difference between what is normal and what could be a symptom of problems that can be easily fixed with vitamin therapy or other medications or lifestyle changes. Make an appointment with your health care provider and explain your physical feelings frankly and make certain that there is not something going on with you that needs addressing.
Homeschooling. Considering the way that you articulate your present state, in my opinion I think that it is a time to back away from education and concentrate on formation. You will not be able to go forward into a peaceful homeschooling experience if your children have somehow lapsed in their desire to obey and please you. You and your husband need to address the matters that are at the center of the problems and get to the root of the challenges. There is an old saying 'axe to the root'. Make a list of those concerns that trouble you most and stifle the success of homeschooling. Be firm and constant as you 'retrain' your dear children to do better. This will probably not take all that long, because it sounds as if they know what they should be doing but for some reason have decided to rebel and forget their responsibilities.
Curriculum. I feel very strongly that each family must choose the method that works best for their situation. I am not in your house and therefore I am reluctant to advise you on the best method. I can however tell you what works for me. I like to use a planned curriculum because it keeps me focused. If this is financially impossible then the next best step for me is to peel down the books that I will use and concentrate on the important basics. Religion, reading, grammar, spelling and math. There have been times in our homeschooling journey when I used all workbooks that I purchased from our local teacher supply store (except for religion which I purchased from Catholic homeschool providers). This is not ideal but it was all that was available to me at the time. CHC publishes several wonderful, cost effective, easy to use, parent/teacher friendly and totally Catholic workbooks that would suit your needs. I think that you will find that this is an excellent alternative to having no books at all, unguided study or secular materials. Another hint is to teach for 4 days and then take a day off to catch up. I like to use Friday as my catch up day. If possible begin the day with Mass. Remember 1-2 hours of fruitful study is far better than chasing children around all day doing 'catch as catch you can' work.
The husband/wife team. Remember that there is a well spring of graces available to you from the Holy Spirit. These graces are your best resource when meeting the challenges of raising a family. If possible pick a time when you and your husband can spend time before the Blessed Sacrament. Pray together for the graces to do what the Lord is asking you to do. Pray intently for 5 minutes and then listen for 5 minutes. Hear the words that the sweet Jesus would have you know. Ask your husband to tell you the one thing that he would like to see done for him each day. For my husband, he most especially likes to have 40 minutes to himself to run when he returns home from work. He has never been fussy about meals, laundry or the cleanliness of the house. However he likes to exercise each day. I make this a priority for him. In the same respect tell your husband the one thing that you need each day. For me this is time alone in the evening. When the children were very young, my husband would take over the bath time ritual while I did the dishes all by myself. I loved getting the kitchen cleaned up while listening to favorite music. My point is: make your spouse a priority by understanding the needs that each has. This makes marriage a team effort.
You are a dear woman who is special and lovingly cared for by an Almighty and Generous Father. I am humbled by your powerful witness. You have reached out for guidance. I am praying that the words I have just told you have come from the Holy Spirit and will in some way comfort you. Please continue to be courageous in your desire to follow in the Lord's will for you. Continue to seek the guidance that is of the Holy Spirit. Do not dismay and above all do not lose heart. When you feel yourself losing strength, remember that the Lord's precious Body in the Holy Eucharist is food indeed and the best of medicines.
God love you, you are blessing for your family.
Jesus, we ask that You surround this dear mother this day with Your strong arms. Please place all her sorrows, burdens and difficulties in Your shepherd's heart. Tenderly inspire and empower her with the skills necessary to weather the challenges she is facing at this time. We love her, Lord, and long to see her at peace with the burdens she is carrying. I would ask a special blessing upon her husband. Please keep him safe and strong so that he is able to continue to provide for his young family. Lord, please allow that all those who love this dear mother, protect her health and ensure that she has plenty of rest and good food to eat.
Sending out a prayer,