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A Tale of Tools

Several years ago, I was struggling with homeschooling (again!), and seeking the Lord for help.   (Make that:  HELP!!!)


It seemed I was always getting bogged down, every year, trying to get it all done (and I didn’t even do all the traditional subjects!   )   I felt my yoke was not easy, nor was my burden light!  So obviously, I had taken on a yoke and burden that were not what He had in mind for me!


My husband is a self-employed contractor, doing mostly remodeling and additions with his small company.  (Small as in him and one other guy!)  The Lord showed me something through my husband’s work—something to do with tools.


No matter what your job, you have tools.   A businessman has his briefcase, powerpoint presentations, computer, etc.   A mechanic has a shop of sorts, a pit or place to work on vehicles,  and different tools to do his job.  A janitor has his mopbucket, mop, broom, glass cleaner, squeegee, cleaning rags, etc.


And a contractor has his tools, too.  THAT is what I am most familiar with (I didn’t say I knew the names of them ALL, but I am more familiar with those than, say, a mechanic’s tools!)


My husband has a shop.  Half of it is family storage, half is mostly for work (office, saws, workbench, etc.).  He also has a utility trailer he pulls to the worksite for longer jobs, which is a "miniature shop", having most of the tools, saws, etc. he might need on a job (including a microwave and refrigerator for lunches!   )  Then he has a topper on the back of his work truck.   In that he has tools that he uses on most jobs, so he has them with him at all times.


Now, imagine, if you will, that my husband has come to your home to remodel your bathroom.  He shows up, wearing every hammer, screwdriver, nailgun, screwgun and staplegun he owns.  (And he owns several!)  He also has on pouches full of nail, screws, nail coils (for the nailguns), etc.   He probably has his set of wrenches hanging somewhere, too!


And he’s carrying his table saw!   You  nervously let him in, wondering if he can make it around the corner and down the hallway to your bathroom without running into and ruining the drywall!  


He can’t.  And he does!


Not only that, but as he’s trying to get into your bathroom door with all this paraphernalia on, he gashes another hole in the hallway drywall, not to mention making a big dent in the door itself!


Since the bathroom isn’t that big, he crashes things into each of the walls, knocks the sink off the wall and drops several items into your bathtub, chipping the porcelain finish.


AAAHHHH!  Sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t it?!   Sounds like he’s drumming up more work!!!!


THIS is what too many of we homeschooling mamas do to ourselves!


We start our schoolyear weighted down with every single book for every single grade we’re teaching.  We’re trying to pull it all together, and wouldn’t you know it!!!  We just gashed a hole in our dinner preparation "drywall"!  Before we can round the corner of the first quarter of the schoolyear, we’ve gouged another hole in our character training "corner".   And as a last straw, before Thanksgiving even, we drop a bunch of things and chip the "porcelain" of our family relationships!  Not to mention the "dent" in our laundry…er, maybe the lack of dent in our laundry?!


Remember I said my husband has three places for his tools.  He has a shop.  Those are tools he doesn’t bring with him, or where he stores tools he might not need often, but occasionally will load into the trailer for a job.   Then there’s the trailer, where the more often-used tools are.  Finally, there is the topper in his truck, where the MOST often-used tools are.  He has tools he may use just a few times a year!  And he has some he uses nearly every day!



So it is with us!   If we let go of our preconceived ideas, of thinking we need to bring "school" home (read John Taylor Gatto’s books if you think the system is important to duplicate!), we can start seeing which "tools" are necessary to use every day, which we can "store in our trailer", and which ones can rest in the shop until needed. 



Then we aren’t cumbered about by so many things that we make more of a mess of things than we fix!!!



For me, that is what "relaxed homeschooling" is really all about.  It is realizing what to let go, what is truly important, and that it all doesn’t have to be done NOW.  (Or yesterday!)



I have learned, in 17 years of homeschooling, that they don’t have to finish a phonics program to read.



That they don’t have to go all the way through a spelling program to spell.  (Nor that they will spell because they go through a program!)



That they don’t have to go through and do all the tests, quizzes and questions in a science book to learn a lot from it.  (In fact, they may learn even more from it without all that other stuff!)



That they don’t have to go through a bunch of grammar to learn how to write.



That not all my children want to write stories.   Some prefer research writing.



That they don’t have to learn algebra to be "well-rounded".  (A very Greek concept, by the way!)


That they don’t have to do history and science every year, in a certain order, to learn those adequately.  That they might learn it in a self-imposed intensive learning session, that I’ll wonder why I ever worried about it!!!



That they do need time with me, as mommy, with each other, with God, to build their character.



That they do need to focus on a relationship with the Lord to be spiritually grounded–not with a theology, a Bible course, or even a Bible study (although those can be good things, they do not substitute for a relationship).



That if they fail at relationships (God, parents, siblings), nothing else they do will matter. 



If they focus first on those same relationships, everything else will fall into place.



If you’re feeling that your homeschooling yoke is not easy, and your burden is not light, perhaps you have put on a yoke Jesus never intended you to have.  Ask yourself, "Whose yoke have I put on?  Jesus’?  Or the ‘state standards’?  Or the ‘what every good homeschool mom does’ monster?"



The fear monster can be so loud that we can’t hear His still, small voice desiring to lead us in our homeschool journey.  Put all those aside, all the things you think a "good homeschool mom" should know/do, and ask the Lord, "Which tools would You have me use at this time?"



When you see His plan for you, you WILL be free!  You can move around unhindered by all the extras you don’t need to be carrying around.  You won’t bash into drywall, put holes in corners, dents in doors nor chip porcelain!  You will be able to do your job efficiently, and you might even be able to whistle a tune of praise while you work!



It’s all a matter of figuring out which tools are the most important, and leaving the rest of them in the shop until they’re needed.



And if you find they’re not needed?



That’s what homeschool swaps are for! 



Blessings as you seek Him in your homeschooling!

7 Responses to “A Tale of Tools”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Great Post Trisch! You always have such great insights!!!!

    blessings, Elizabeth

  2. sixfolks says:

    Great analogy! You are so right. Thanks for the reminder of what is truly important.


  3. Anonymous says:

    Hi Trisch….

    I love this article.. I sent all my homeschooling friends the link to read it ! A reminder if you will of what God has called us to do ! And I have never looked at the "yoke" comparison … But it makes alot of sense to me….Thanks

    You have been so great to encourage me the last couple of weeks.. I feel refreshed now and am ready to start a "new" school year ! :) haha


    Hope your family is doing better. If there is anything I can do let me know. :)


  4. fruitbuns says:

    I used to have them complete all their workbooks. I now see the tests and quizzes as unnecessary. I do like the grammar though, I am looking at a way to modify the Christian Light and cut out the unnecessary repetion. Even to the point of only doing the quizzes and tests and missing out everything else!

    Our fun Frdays are working great, thanks to you.

    Stop by some time:0)

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hello? Anybody home? Hope your lack of posting isn't due to declining health… I had heard you hadn't gotten it yet… hope that's still true.

    I'm praying for you all… hope you get to being healthy soon. : )


    ~DB : )

  6. momma24blessings says:

    What a great and timely insight – especially now that things are wrapping up for the year and we are starting to think about next year. A few months ago, I decided to let go of things I don't need, curriculum included. Just when that guilt, that "what if you're not covering everything" tries to creep back in, I read your post and I'm reminded why I decided to scale back on the curriculum. Thank you and God bless you! Lisa

  7. GardenGirl639 says:


    What a wonderful blessing your post is! It should be required reading for all home school mamas!


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