There is rest in repetition.
The waves crashed on the sand. Row after row rolled in to the shore. Occasionally, a wave would overtake the one in front of it. The crashing was constant. Another wave was constantly rolling in from a distance.
The repetition provided solace to my soul. My mind slowed. My body relaxed. I watched wave after wave after wave…
I could have sat for hours and the waves would never have ceased. All day and through the night. Again tomorrow and the following day. Since the beginning of creation, the crashing waves have held a constant presence. Their predictable repetition provides peace.
There is rest in renewal.
There is more offering rest. Each crashing wave renews the shore. During the day, people and animals leave their footprints. The winds shift the sands. Children dig holes. Beach gear leaves tracks. Sand castle mounds stand proud.
But each changing tide renews the sand. Everything is wiped smooth. One wave is not sufficient. But wave after wave provides renewal. A fresh slate greets each new day. This renewal offers hope for rest.
So it is with my mind as a home educator.
Wave after wave of thoughts crash in my mind constantly. They pummel the shore of my heart. My heart, like the sand, takes a beating every day. Words leave their mark on the shores of my heart. Words from our culture, the enemy of my soul, and well-meaning friends affect my perspective of myself as a home educator.
Yet it is my own thought patterns – the waves that roll in so fast they crash over one another – that affect my heart with the greatest impact. My own self-defeating thoughts leave my heart weary, anxious, frantic. If I am going to thrive in home education, perhaps just survive some days, something must change.
When the shore of my heart is not restful, it must be transformed by the renewing of my mind.
When the waves of my mind need renewal, the tides of my thought patterns must shift.
The shore of my heart must be transformed by the renewing of my mind. Waves of new thoughts must overtake the old patterns. Wave after wave. Thought after thought.
In my Introduction for Restful Home Educators, I claimed that restful home education is possible with a mom who surrenders to the process of being transformed into a restful home educator. In the natural realm, restful home education is impossible. In the supernatural realm, however, all things are possible through Jesus – even being a restful homeschool mom.
But we must make a difficult choice to surrender to the process of being transformed.
Are you willing to surrender to the process of being transformed?
Will you choose to be transformed by the renewing of your mind?
Looking back over my homeschool journey thus far, I see that my mind has been changed. I have been renewed. I am still a work in progress, but my heart is more restful than when I began. My thought patterns are changing. The shifting tide is renewing the shore of my heart.
My mind has been renewed through God’s Word, His people, and the Holy Spirit. Some changes in thought rolled in quickly and easily. Others have required wave after wave crashing repeatedly. Regardless, I see specific thoughts that have become patterns of habit in my mind. I am more restful as a home educator because my mind has been renewed.
To renew your mind so that you can rest, consider adopting the following thought patterns about home education:
1) Know your why
My old tide of thought: I waver between loving what I’m doing and doubting my calling. Not restful.
My wise mentor, Kristy Trent, taught me early in my homeschool journey to know my why. Before our first day of school, she cautioned me that a day would come when that yellow school bus would beckon. Everything in me would want to give up. That day has come. Many times. On those days, I must remember why we started homeschooling in the first place.
“Without a vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18) Without a vision, so will the homeschool. That’s what your “why” is: a vision. This is the reason you continue with the hard work day after day.
My changing tide of renewal: Knowing my WHY renews my mind by giving me an anchor. This anchor stops my mental pendulum and allows me to rest.
Renew your mind: Write down your WHY for why you homeschool.
2) Invite God into your school
My old tide of thought: I insist like a two year old that I can do this myself. Not restful.
Inviting God in sounds like a no-brainer. But surely I am not the only who forgets to ask Jesus to help me with this task. One of my first struggles, like many of you, was over math curriculum. We tried one after another, but none seemed quite right. So I researched, assigned placement tests, and bought new curriculum. Then in my struggle one day, I heard God’s quiet whisper in my soul: “Have you asked Me?” Well, no Lord, I haven’t. Since that day years ago, we have consistently used one curriculum.
“Even so, come Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20) Come take us home to be with You. But for the current moment, come into my current school situation.
My changing tide of renewal: Inviting God into my school renews my mind by giving me relationship. God’s presence is my only hope for true rest.
Renew your mind: Consider where you are insisting you can handle it alone. Invite God in.
3) Limit your priorities
My old tide of thought: I struggle to do way too much, because everything good seems important. Not restful.
Reading. Writing. Arithmetic. Bible (oops! guess that should have been first.) Spelling. Copywork. Dictation. Memory work. Science experiments. History. Biographies. Read-alouds. Narrations. Art. Music. Poetry. Logic. Latin. Spanish. French. German. Lapbooks. Unit studies. Hands-on. Salt dough. Dress up. Catechisms. Sigh, I’m tired already, and that’s nowhere near the end of the list.
We just can’t do everything. Now, I choose one main priority for the year. One year it was math. One year it was our Classical Conversations Essentials class. One year with little children, household chores was primary. Last year it was just surviving through family sicknesses and moving twice. We focus on this one thing first, and the other good possibilities follow.
“This one thing I do.” (Philippians 3:14) There is power in focusing on just one thing. Forget what was most important in the past, and strain forward to what God intends for this year.
My changing tide of renewal: Limiting our priorities renews my mind by giving me focus. Focus allows me to rest knowing that we need not do every good thing.
Renew your mind: Choose one thing as top priority for your year.
4) Allow the academic gaps
My old tide of thought: I strive to check off the complete list of teaching my children every academic detail they need to know. Not restful.
One of the first words of wisdom I heard as a new homeschool mom was “Every homeschool parent fears their child’s education will have gaps. But the truth is, we all have gaps in our education.” Quite true. Which of us knows everything? Which of us ever stops learning? This is part of why I love the classical model of education: the focus on teaching skills for learning and fostering a love of learning. My job is to teach my children skills, inspire them to want to learn, and trust the Holy Spirit with their lives.
“But the Holy Spirit…will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26) Holy Spirit, I entrust my child to you. I trust that You will teach them, filling the gaps they need filled.
My changing tide of renewal: Allowing the academic gaps renews my mind by building my faith. Faith is the ultimate provider of rest.
Renew your mind: Think about an academic gap in your child’s life. Entrust that gap to the Holy Spirit.
5) Focus on discipleship
My old tide of thought: Since school is the primary job for children, I fret over making reading, writing, and arithmetic come first. Not restful.
In our early years of homeschooling, I saw value in having more time with my children so I could disciple them alongside the academics. With time, I learned that it is ok at times to neglect academics in favor of discipleship moments. But even beyond that, I am learning that academics are really a tool for discipleship. Yes, my children should learn math, science, and history. But what they really need to learn is to love the Lord their God will all their heart and soul and strength. You only love someone like that if you really know them. Imagine what could happen in our homes if we learned to point to Jesus in everything. We are teaching academics so our children (and we!) can get to know Jesus.
“But you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) God created everything. Everything reflects a bit of Who He is. So every academic lesson is an opportunity to search for God with our whole heart.
My changing tide of renewal: Focusing on discipleship gives me purpose. My purpose is to get my children close to Jesus and trust Him to care for them.
Renew your mind: Choose to focus first on discipleship during this school year. Look for Jesus in one new way today.
Stay tuned. More coming soon!
For now, prayerfully consider whether the Lord is asking you to change any tides of your thought patterns about home education. Trust Him.