It’s August, one of my favorite parts of the homeschooling year. We will be starting school soon, and packages have been arriving on our doorstep. Each is filled with something new and delightful: boxes of perfectly sharpened pencils, curriculum and student sheets from my favorite publisher, fresh markers that still have all the lids on them, clean workbooks that are not yet wrinkled and dog-eared. Hope and excitement abound in our home as we look forward to an exciting time of learning together.
As I place all these wonderful supplies in our school room, I get carried away with my thoughts about the upcoming year. Really, if you could hear me thinking, you’d know how ridiculous I can be! I’m just certain that this is going to be our best, most peaceful, more creative, well… I get even more carried away… could this be a perfect school year? My thoughts are snowballing now. We’re going to accomplish more from the teacher’s handbook. We’re going to do all the recommended art and music lessons. We’re really going to go for it in science and get those experiments done. If I just try hard enough, this year is going to be terrific!
Screech... my Pollyanna thoughts come to an abrupt halt as reality sets in. I remember long division! I remember perfectly planned group times that are met with children who are not interested in history or geography or anything and refuse to pay attention. I remember the tears and whining, not just from the kids. I know there have been unmet expectations in years past. I know from experience that when I try to manufacture a perfect year in my strength, I quickly get discouraged and tired.
A heaviness sets in, in both my heart and my mind. This is my tenth year of homeschooling, and while it is a tremendous gift from God full of so many blessings, teaching my kids at home can be overwhelming and scary. The pendulum in my mind has swung and now I start to doubt. Can I do this again this year? Can we get everything done? Are my kids going to learn enough?
I turn to God’s Word. Jesus tells us so many times, “Do not fear.” He says to take my thoughts captive. An older, wiser woman taught me that taking thoughts captive doesn’t mean trying to turn them into positive thoughts. Instead, she told me to take each fearful thought and turn it into a prayer. That’s the best, most effective way she’s found to “taking her thoughts captive.” I love that there is an action I can take.
So that’s what I do. As I go about my days and new fearful thoughts come, I turn each one into a prayer. “God, I’m afraid of math. Long division just about did us in last year.” I talk to him like He’s a friend, because truly that’s what He is, and He’s instructed me in Psalm 62 to pour out my thoughts to Him. He doesn’t care if I talk to Him about math or markers, attitudes or astronomy. He answers me with this verse, “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” Ephesians 6:10. “Yes, Lord, give us yourstrength. It’s unmeasurable.”
Later, another thought arises, and I pray, “God, can we really accomplish all that we need to in this school year?” I think of the promise in Proverbs 16:3, “Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.” “Ok, Lord, I commit this year to You, and just like in all our years of homeschooling, please help it to be established in Your perfect will.”
Homeschooling mom, this practice of turning fearful thoughts into quick prayers may seem overly simple to you, but truly the assuredness of Psalm 94:19 is coming true in my heart. The Psalmist writes, “When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.” Friend, as we start a new school year, I encourage you to take your fearful, anxious thoughts and simply turn them into prayers. I’m not talking about down-on-your-knees prayer at 4:30 a.m. While that kind of prayer is wonderful, also let’s pray while going over the long division steps. Let’s talk to the God who cares while checking the spelling. Let’s shoot up an arrow of a prayer when our kids forget the short O sound again. Let’s pray for peace and focus with our kids as we begin group time.
Let’s ask God right now to take the load of this year and carry it for us. I’m convinced that we canhave our best, most peaceful, most creative year yet because of this delightful promise in I Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.”
Article and Photos by Annie Boyd of The Gingham Apron.