I shared with you about my recent state of mind. You need to read that post (Godly Friendships) to really appreciate this post.

I was drowning in a sea of details and paperwork and organizational tasks that came upon me with an unexpected decision to end a beautiful, 16 year, comfortable homeschooling co-op.

(Truly, I know I’m going to look back and realize how idiotic I’ve been acting, but don’t we do that when we feel completely out of control?)


Through much prayer over the summer the Lord clearly laid on our hearts the next place for our kids to receive their education. It’s a different type of  homeschool co-op.

Familiar friendships…gone. Familiar routine…gone. Familiar curriculum…gone. Familiar teaching styles…gone. My leadership responsibilities… gone. Home-cooked co-op lunches…gone. Teacher’s lounge talk-time…gone. Rather than meeting once a week and teaching each other’s children, this meets twice and I don’t even need to stay there. (Mama Like) The ideal plan is for these two days to be spent on CultivatingAHome: blogging, building the non-profit. uhhh…that’s the plan, anyway.

When the new school year began, I was not prepared for the up close and personal relationship I would have with drowning. Details and paperwork and changes just don’t land well in my brain. Book lists, layout of the school’s website, different systems within the system, each teacher’s separate website, different ways of communication, syllabi, syllabus, yellow bus, squirrel…oh. sorry about that…homework expectations, notebook expectations, location of assignments. AHH! Wrong books coming in. Incorrect editions ordered. Essays here. Critical thinking there. Missing links. Unclear directions. AHHH!

For crying out loud, I’m an educated woman who led a co-op and I felt like an idiot. (Sorry to use that word. It’s kind of harsh, but it really described how I felt as I bobbed up and down gasping for air, trying to get it together.) Drowning.

I’m convinced that for most people, handling details and adjusting to changes comes much easier.  But, being transparent here… for this grown woman, I was reduced to tears and flailing of arms trying to just keep afloat.

But, in my moment(s) of dark despair, questioning, “Lord, did I hear you correctly?” And in the midst of my kicking and screaming, “What was I thinking? Surely, I misunderstood you, Lord,”  some unexpected things began to occur…

Three friends to the rescue.

Three women, separately, unbeknownst to each other, heard and obeyed the promptings of the Holy Spirit to check on me.

Enter Kiki.


Before school began, when I was away taking Kelsey to college, recognizing my parental absence and my struggle for paper organization, Kiki went to the office supply store, purchased rolling totes, notebooks, dividers and even organized the girls’ notebooks for them. She didn’t even ask. She just did. She came over and sat with the girls and explained this notebook organizational system. “Put papers to turn in here. Put graded work here.”

When school began, recognizing my thoughts of cliff-diving and my inability to locate and be on top of details, she discovered wrongly ordered books and books that I hadn’t ordered. She just straight-out picked up the phone and ordered correct ones. Boom. Done.

She spent time with each girl, explaining, mentoring, and encouraging. She helped me see to the future that all was going to be well. Her soothing voice and reassuring words brought great hope for me.


Enter Melissa.

A fairly new friend to me. A neighbor and mom of a student at the same school. She randomly checked on me to see how we were adjusting. “How are you?” I may have alarmed her with my direct response, “Not well.  I’m drowning. Trying to survive.”

Or maybe she was highly intuitive to the silence on my end of the call in my attempt to hide my quivering voice.

Whatever it was, a few minutes later, there was a knock on my door. She had altered her schedule and shown up with a hug, a smile, and reassuring words. She was a voice of reason, oozing with compassion, and wanted to just encourage. She was willing to hand-hold to get me to a place of stability. She, too, literally sat at the computer with me, showing me a missing component – a website with the teachers’ assignments right on it. How did I miss that? No wonder we were continuously baffled and resorting to “I don’t know where that piece of literature is. Just Google it.” Seriously. We were trying to do mounds of work and each assignment was without proper explanation or tools. Oops.My bad.

I loved how no judgment was cast on me. I should have known about that website three weeks ago! I love how she was calm and comforting and wanting to gently, patiently come alongside me to see success.


Enter Paula.

She, too, is new to this particular schooling situation and is on this same journey of great change and adjustment. She stopped by to… well, perhaps commiserate with me…to laugh and cry together…uh, like for real.

She’s actually the mom of my son’s girlfriend (who, by the way, will be writing a post coming up for my mentoring section.) Paula and I go way back and have a beautiful friendship. It’s the kind of friendship where we can be real with each other but ultimately make sure we are looking at things through spiritual eyes.

So, she’d interject things like, “We cannot quit. I have no doubt He directed our paths here. God has something big for us. He is doing something we cannot see.”

I wanted to tell her shut up, but I don’t talk like that.

Oops. I just did.

She came by to “bear ye one another’s burdens.” Just two friends, cheering each other on through the tough stuff.

Several times recently, knowing I was overwhelmed, I’d get a call from her. “Hi sweet friennn. I’m at Publix. Do you need me to pick-ed (say that with a Brazilian accent) up anything from the store for you?”

I keep a running grocery list, you know. But, I had mercy on her and only chose a few items I was most desperate for.  “Yes! Thank you! I need coffee creamer and diet coke.”

She knows me. She knows my weaknesses and wants to come alongside and make my burden light.

  1. Vicky

    I had to laugh a little when you said they all stayed until evening. Everytime I stop by your house it’s a 4 hour hang out session like we’ve been best friends forever. I think that’s what relationships forged on the anvil of the gospel ultimately look like. I love Rhonda Ellis! You bless my life!

    • Vicky, YOU are the great encourager (and writer, too, I might add). I love it when you stop by.

  2. Mel

    This is SO sweet.

    • You are so sweet.

      • Mel, I think the world is awaiting some more blog posts by you. If anyone sees this comment…cheer for Mel. She’s such an amazing teacher who has implemented everything ever taught to her into her students and the whole tone of the class. She has sooooo much to share. She’s the bomb diggity. Wait. Is that an old expression?

  3. Rene Perry

    Thank you for being real…and 2 of those sweet friends that ministered to you, have unbeknownst to them ministered to me last year as we served together in MS! They have that “gift” of being keenly aware of others Love them! (Even though I probably drove them crazy!). Thank you for not being perfect and sharing it! 🙂

    • Hi Rene, You sure are missed. Thanks for passing on to the others the gift of your encouraging words. Isn’t it good to be Believers. I’m praying for you and your new adventure.

  4. Melissa

    Rhonda, Three cords are not quickly broken. Praise the Lord we get to experience the truth of His Word! Friendship is an amazing gift from the Lord! I am thankful for you. You bless me with your godly example of humility and transparency. I am honored to be called your friend 🙂 LOVE!!

    • Melissa, I wish I would have thought of that verse. 🙂 Thanks again for your help…and I think I’m going to need some more soon. Praying for your wonderful ministry Forgotten Fruit.

  5. Karen Tidwell

    Dear Rhonda: I have enjoyed reading your blog for some time. I especially liked the ones this week on friendship and then the change of your homeschool situation. I have read the book by Jerry Bridges and thought of the co-op as I read it. That co-op was a very special group of families and I have been blessed by them over the past years of Ben and Molly’s engagement and then now as they are married and have baby James. Not being one to embrace change, I am encouraged by you and your writing.

    • Hi Karen, WOW! What an honor to hear from you, my beloved friends’ beloved friend. Thank you for encouraging me. That’s neat that you thought of the co-op when you read the book. Continually praying for your sweet family.

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