A prayer for all moms as the school year approaches, and for homeschool moms in particular
Dear homeschool moms,
I’ve been thinking about you a lot these past few weeks as the August evenings shorten, the itch to get into a routine triggers that old nesting instinct, and the stores fill with colorful organizers, markers of every shape and size, and notepads (oh, the notepads!). September whispers seductively, promising hope and energy and victory over vowels and verticals and virtual classes.
I know that August path you are walking. Maybe you’re clinging to those minutes of light you can capture before each day’s early dusk settles in. A tightrope stretches out in front of you, and a deep canyon of unknown obstacles yawns below.
The carefully selected curriculum is purchased, unpacked, and lined up at eye level for your learners, but you’re not sure if it’s the right kind, the right challenge, the right amount. You have chosen your homeschooling space but you’ve seen so many cleverer uses of corners, shelving, storage, and seating on Pinterest that maybe it’s not too late to rearrange it one more time. The kids can now recite by heart every ultimatum you’ve issued regarding morning routines and schoolwork expectations, and all the while you’re bribing them with promises of trips to the zoo or the new zipline course (PE!). Yes, I remember those days—and those days are among my favorite memories! Hopeful, anticipating, purposeful—our intentions were as fresh as the smell of newly cracked books.
There was the sense that we were, in our own little way and as the Lord had made it possible for us to do, responding in obedience to the call to raise up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, teaching them all that he had commanded us, and instructing them throughout the day as we would sit and when we would walk by the way, and upon rising up and lying down. Combing the scriptures for understanding about how to be godly parents and how to make sure the results would be godly children. That one trait that defines a homeschooler is that she is always learning, wearing the tutor hat but ever the student. There are articles that give advice on what to say to family and friends who discount homeschooling, to the nebby lady in the grocery store who wonders why the kids aren’t in school, and to the neighborhood kids who think that being at home means your kids are always available to play, even if they’ve knocked on the door in the middle of math lessons. There are always more books, there is always new curriculum, and the links to online pep talks are endless.
There’s a lot out there, and I advise you to search thoroughly but choose your counsel with discretion. Not everyone will have your best homeschool effort in mind, and really, how could they? They don’t know you, and they don’t know what will work best in your home and with your kids. I certainly don’t; I am the last person to declare with confidence that there is one way better than all the others.
To begin with, I can’t honestly say—in fact, I won’t ever say—that homeschooling is the only and best solution for parents on the question of how to educate their children. And I will never, ever promise that it will all be worth it if you follow “the rules” or “stick to the list”. I will promise you that learning to be content with whatever revisions to the list the Lord brings along begets joy regardless of the situation.
I remember my first day homeschooling, which went like this:
- 1) Prayer and devotions
- 2) Introduction to lessons (Hannah was in 7th grade, Tom was in kindergarten, Joy and Hope in “preschool”.)
- 3) Chores: dishes (me); send son to collect laundry baskets
- 4) Trip over baskets; realize I’ve dislocated my knee; call someone to stay with the kids; spend rest of the day in the ER; spend evening on meds.
My words for you this day, while I think of so many of you putting your foot forward for your next step on that tightrope, are prayers for joy in the soaring moments and the gut-wrenching struggles; for confidence in what’s true about your sure foundation in Christ regardless of insecurities that swarm around decisions about math books or DVDs or ability to keep your children healthy and growing in wisdom; for strength for the long days and rest for the sleepless nights; for union with Christ, wherein we find our only rest and from whom flows our only strength.
In short, I pray for perseverance.
- Lord, I pray for these moms that they would remember that, if they trust in you, then it is because you called them from before the foundation of the world, and through Christ, they are adopted for a purpose—this purpose. There is nothing that can happen in a homeschooling day that surprises you.
- I pray that they regard the teaching of academics with this truth in mind: that knowledge is good but wisdom is the greater pursuit, “for all those who practice it have a good understanding” (Ps. 111:10).
- I ask you, Lord, to remind them that you always live to make intercession for those you have saved to the uttermost, who draw near to God, that the work of salvation is entirely in the hands of Jesus, the only high priest who makes perfect atonement, who is eternally and permanently assigned to this glorious task. They can confidently approach your throne for help, for guidance, for strength for the day, a confidence that is secured through this assurance. (Hebrews 7)
- I ask that you make them aware every day that they are “blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1), that these blessings are far more valuable than a perfectly run itinerary or finished assignment. And, Lord, that even while these blessings include a preference for order and obedience—because these things reflect you and give honor to you—yet we homeschool moms tend to obsess over how our children execute them, so I ask for patience and contentment with your timing and ways, that you would show these homeschooling moms how to be content with want as well as with plenty (Philippians 4:12).
- Lord, would you in your grace and mercy— which at times includes hard lessons in rough circumstances—do whatever work needs to be done that these homeschooling moms remember that their identity is not in their curriculum, or their educational styles? that the choices that are external, whether it be in family size, perspectives on modesty, which activities are chosen to rebut the mischaracterization of “unsocialized”, do not determine their identity? If they are bought and paid for by Jesus, they belong to you (1 Corinthians 6:20). Therein lies their identity, and it is as firmly set as the blood on the seal (Ephesians 1:13). All else is fluid.
- I pray, Lord, that this truth—that they are branches grafted into the vine (John 15:5), sheep who are attuned to the voice of their Shepherd (John 10:16), living stones built upon a foundation that does not move (1 Peter 2:5), the body whose head is Christ (Ephesians 4:15-16)—comes to mind whenever they feel that they are alone in this task.
- When the days are long and the complaints are most strident and the structure seems to be nonexistent, Lord, I pray that you pour your love upon these homeschooling moms, that they would be filled with love for their children, that you would remind them that they are able to love, because you first loved them and gave yourself for them (1 John 4:19).
- Lord, I pray for mornings like this:
I will awake the dawn! I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great above the heavens, your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. (Psalm 108: 2-4)
and nights like this:
In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8)
- And, perhaps the hardest for us moms to remember: I pray that you show them that they must point their children to Jesus as their strength, that they endeavor to model for their children a weakness that depends upon you alone, that what they sing are the praises of a God who has opened the path to himself by means of a precious Savior, that they have a glorious king and perfect high priest and, that in mom there is no hope, only in Christ.
Persevere, moms, “as the snail to the ark.” (Charles Spurgeon) The ark is ahead. That great deliverance beyond the flood is ours, sealed by the trustworthiness of the Holy Spirit, and we inch forward according to the pace God sets for us. I’m praying for you.
Here is the final verse from Psalm 108. It was the motto over the Miller homeschool built by the Lord:
With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes. (Psalm 108:13)