My dining table/school table is stacked with books, math manipulatives, and school supplies….the school room is not the way I want it, the laundry is piled up, my daughter is sick, and the new puppy has had two accidents this morning, so I have had carpet to clean. And, to top it off, my son has already managed to hurt himself, and he has only been up for about 30 minutes. Needless to say, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed and weary, and it is only 8:00 a.m. Yes, I had planned on having so much more accomplished at this point, but that has not happened yet! Can you relate?
What do you do when you are feeling weary, frustrated, and overloaded? Sometimes, we get overwhelmed with the prospect of getting started that we actually get frozen in place! Are you tempted to quit before you have even really gotten started? Do you call a friend? Do you just jump in and try to begin school in the midst of all the chaos? If you are like me, you may have a tendency to grumble and try in your own strength to “buckle down”, just try to plow through and “get it done”!
Mistake #1: Starting Out In Your Own Strength
Once again, God is teaching me that I cannot do anything in my own strength! I have to stop, breathe, and run to Him with all my concerns, worries, frustrations, and feelings of anxiety. I need to focus on Him and His strength, as well as ask Him for all that I need—direction, clarity of thinking, ability to prioritize, discernment, etc. I encourage you to cry out to God! He is faithful to answer.
Jeremiah 33:3: “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”
Proverbs 3: 5-6 reminds us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Isaiah 40: 28-31 declares, “Do you not know, have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall, but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
I have determined that I am going to start out in His strength and not my own. I will allow myself time to soak in His presence first before rushing to do the tasks on my to-do list. I will give myself the grace and time to get organized—even if that means we don’t start new projects or implement new ideas on my original time table. One thing is for sure and a non-negotiable: Morning quiet time with my Bible and cup of coffee!
Here are a couple of recommendations for devotionals which will strengthen your spirit:
Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
Grab a Broom, Lord…There’s Dust Everywhere by Karon Phillips Goodman
The Women of Faith Prayer Journal by Lana Bateman
Mistake #2: Failing to Seek Advice and Assistance with Planning
Sometimes, I get so excited about a new project—class, school year, etc.—that I am tempted to just jump right in before I have really thought through all the logistics. The visionary side of my personality often needs assistance with planning the details. Proverbs 20:18 admonishes us to “Make plans by seeking advice; if you wage war, obtain guidance.”
Proverbs 16:9: “A man’s heart plans his ways, but the Lord directs his steps.”
I have found it truly helpful to seek advice and prayer support in decision making, organizing, and planning. First, I usually consult with my husband for feedback and ideas. He is able to offer practical guidance and helps to set boundaries. He has been really vital in helping me decide what projects, classes, etc. to take on and what to say no to; additionally, he has been key in deciding what we will outsource and delegate to others and what I will lead and teach in our home education program.
I have also sought the advice from wise homeschooling moms who have been at this longer than myself and from other “newbies” that are creative and gifted at organizing. Locating ideas on-line for time management, storage, and scheduling have been keys to success, as well.
A great resource that I am finding really helpful for ideas for time management, scheduling, and organization is the book Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms by Mary Jo Tate, which you can find at flourishathome.com.
The lesson planner I am excited to be using this year is: The Ultimate Homeschool Planner by Debra Bell available at debrabell.com/store. I really like this planner for several reasons. It is spiral bound and has a pocket folder on the inside flap, as well as calendar for several years. It also has a section to write goals for each child, which can be particularly important for children with special needs. Additionally, it has a few pages for recording scores/grades, reading list record keeping pages, and field trip record. Another nice feature of this planner is that it has a section on Motivating the Reluctant Learner, and a page that lists learning styles and Bloom’s Taxonomy of Thinking Skills. This planner is also full of funny quotes, uplifting scripture verses, and lots of areas to write notes, supply lists, observations, and appointments.
Mistake #3: Playing the Comparison Game
Sometimes, I beat myself up or compare myself to “Susie homeschool mom” down the street who seems to be able to keep all her ducks in a row and manages to keep, like, seven plates spinning at one time compared to my three! “Why can’t I be more like her?” I wonder…but then I hear the sweet, gentle voice of my Savior and Lord whisper to my heart,
“I love you and made you just the way you are. In your weakness, I show myself strong!” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Do you play the comparison game? Don’t do it—there is no winner! We are all designed differently. Some people are gifted with an abundance of strength, energy, creativity, or may be quick workers, while others are frailer, deep thinkers, work at a slower pace, or are more analytical. Give yourself, and others, grace. Yet again, we need to shift our focus away from ourselves and others and back on to our loving, Creator God, who knows us intimately and calls us His own. His Word reminds us of who He is and that He is strong and able!
Isaiah 40: 26: “Lift your eyes and look to the heavens. Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls them by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.”
The one who created the heavens and earth, keeps all the planets and stars aligned just the way He set them in place, and “who holds all things together” (Colossians 1: 16-17) knows me and sees me! So, surely He is able to pull my crazy, homeschooling life together! He’s got this…..
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” (Philippians 4:13) and so can you!
A fun blog and pod-cast that I thoroughly enjoy is Heidi St. John’s “The Busy Mom”; I admire Heidi because she is so real and transparent, as well as encouraging! Be sure to check it out at http://heidistjohn.com/blog
Have a wonderful, grace-filled homeschooling year!