The Secret to the Perfect School Year

I spent a few minutes in the back to school section at Target the other day watching parents try to manage the chaos of gathering school supplies for multiple children. I wanted to gather us all in a circle for prayer because I could hear the tension in the words exchanged between a mother and father about exactly which markers were needed. Instead I opted not to linger near the markers. This year I only needed a few things for my ONE high school student who hasn’t even bothered to look at what I managed to find him BEFORE the actual first day of school. (I am determined to be awesome in the eleventh grade.) My oldest graduated in May and I’m still not quite sure how we got here since I was pretty sure I was messing him up the ENTIRE eight years we home-schooled, even though I knew it was the right thing for him. This is the first year as a mother that I feel peace about the upcoming school year and want to share some of that peace with you.

Lean in close because I feel like I need to whisper these sage words…

There is no secret to the perfect school year.

This is actually really good news for us. It means we don’t have to even try to do it exactly the way someone else does their school year for this thing to work out. This means you can send your kids to public school or private school. You can teach them at home or a whimsical combination of homeschool and traditional school. Mama, you have never had more options to educate your children than you do right now at this moment in history. And you have never had more pressure on you as a mother to educate your children as you do right now at this moment in history. So if you feel a little overwhelmed at times, there’s a good reason.

Here’s the one thing that I wish I would have understood and owned FIFTEEN years ago when I dropped my firstborn off at preschool:

As a parent you are the president and CEO of your family. (In a perfect world you are sharing this role, but this is not a perfect world so let’s just focus on you.) You get to manage your children’s education. This means you get to determine from year to year what your family’s needs, your personal needs, and each individual child’s needs are for that year. (This does not mean you get to start firing people in your family for being annoying slackers. I’ve tried. It doesn’t work.) What worked for you last year might not work this year. Perhaps you’ve been homeschooling forEVER and this year you decided to put your kids in traditional school because you are on the verge of losing your mind and dear God let there be peace on earth once again in this house. Perhaps your kids have been in traditional school forEVER but you’ve decided it’s time to try something different at home because you sense a change in environment might be exactly what your children need to grow during this season of their lives.

You get to choose what’s best for your family and for your sanity. Because your family needs your sanity. (You know that, right?)

And here’s the best part. You don’t have to do it alone. Even if you’re not married. Because Jesus will lead you every step of the way.

Isaiah 40:11 says “He tends his flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”

It’s not all up to you. He leads, you follow. This means if he leads you in a different direction that you can trust where he’s leading. If he leads you to keep doing what you’re doing even when it seems like everyone else is doing something better, you can trust him. Mama, you have to let him lead so you can lead well. Maybe that’s the secret after all.

This is my prayer for each one of us as we begin this new school year.

Jesus, you are the good shepherd and you know where we need to go. You know our fears and frustrations better than we know ourselves. You know our children and the destinies you have just for them. Forgive us when we wander off and try to go it alone. Thank you for the gentle correction and loving encouragement that brings us back to the path right behind you. We love where you’re taking us, Jesus. Lead on.

Now it’s your turn. Would you please share some back to school encouragement with a fellow reader today? You can do so by leaving a comment.

Thank you.



I’m A Slacker Mom

There’s a saying that goes something like this:

“God couldn’t be everywhere, so He created mothers.”

Well, it’s a lie. I know this because no matter how hard I try, I cannot seem to be everywhere my family needs me to be.

For instance, yesterday my SUV had an appointment at the dealership to have some recall repair work done. The dealership is about 40 minutes from home. No problem. I would drive down to the shop with my almost 13 year old son and bribe him with Barnes and Noble purchases while my 15 year old went to work at his new job. Never mind that about a month ago we had signed up for some homeschool field trip and failed to let them know our plans had changed. (My brain has been on summer break for almost a month now and it shows.) I had it figured out.

Until I got a text from my 15 year old at 8am. He wasn’t needed at work. He didn’t check his phone before being dropped off at work to see the text sent to him at 7am saying just that. No big deal, right? Right. I picked him up and brought him back home. On the way home he mentioned that he’d still like to attend that homeschool field trip because his friends would be there and they really really really wanted him to go. I told him he’d have to text his friends and ask if their mom would be willing to give him a ride. She was willing. This meant that both boys would stay at home and I would take the car down by myself and not spend as much money in Barnes and Noble. Plan B was going to be OK.

The friendly courtesy shuttle driver dropped me of outside of Barnes and Noble and I proceeded to enter a mall that I hadn’t been to in a very long time. I sat down at a small table with the intent to work on the checkbook. Across from where I sat was the indoor playground area that used to be my sanctuary not so many years ago when my boys were little. No longer was I sitting on the inside watching my own children play while I talked with a girlfriend, I was outside looking in…alone. Cue the sappy music.

The next text I got from home was one saying that both boys wanted to go on the homeschool field trip. Of course it was OK that they wanted to go, but suddenly I was not OK.

Suddenly I felt like a slacker mom. Again. I was sitting in the mall working on my checkbook while my kids were 40 miles away relying on another mom. For some reason, it hurt more than it should. There wasn’t anything I could do about it. I didn’t even have my car to drive home.

So I cried. Yep. Right there in the mall, I had a good old fashioned three Kleenex pity party. I hoped one of the moms in the play area wouldn’t notice a middle aged blubbering mess and alert security. So what if the security guard circled the area where I was having my meltdown a couple of times? I’m sure it was perfectly normal.

Right in the middle of my second Kleenex, I got a text from my mom and decided to call her back even though I knew I couldn’t really talk yet. But if you can’t blubber on the phone in your mama’s ear, who can you blubber to? I mean, really? She listened. She countered the nasty messages I was believing with love and truth. Except that she told me that coffee didn’t taste good, and I know that’s a flat out lie, but she was trying to be helpful, so I gave her a pass. She never has been a very good liar. Before we said our goodbyes, my mom prayed for me. She wielded her shield of faith on my behalf all the way from California and made it OK for me to do the same right there in the mall.

This morning I’ve been reading some scripture out of Romans about offering our bodies as living sacrifices. These are verses that are very familiar to me, but this morning one particular phrase in The Message translation jumped out at me like never before. It’s one of those times that I question if it really was there before, even though I know it’s always been there.

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you; Take your everyday, ordinary life–your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life–and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Romans 12:1 The Message

Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.

This is the phrase that He wrote for me this morning. Yesterday God took control of my out of control morning and I need to embrace it. Embracing what God does for me is an act of worship. Yesterday I couldn’t be everywhere at once. Today I can’t be everywhere at once. Only God can be everywhere at once and I will choose to embrace what HE does for me and my family. May it be a holy and pleasing sacrifice and bring glory to His Name.

Does it bug you that you can’t be everywhere at once? There’s an app for that. 🙂 Embrace what God does for you today. He really likes it and He really loves you.

I welcome your comments and insight. Thanks for stopping by.

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