How to Stay Inspired
- Monday, February 26, 2007
As a full-time wife and mom, I enjoy learning new "tricks" that help me accomplish more in less time. To be able to take a lengthy or difficult task and make it faster or easier is exciting and refreshing. But these household tricks, however convenient or efficient they may be, aren't the secret to getting things done. Tricks are great, but they, alone, cannot make things happen. Inspired people make things happen. If things are not happening around our house, usually it is because the mom is uninspired.
This is not a cop-out, but a fact. When I lose inspiration, I coast to a standstill. I drift out to rough seas. I take a vacation without really going anywhere. If I am uninspired, I find myself not doing much of anything at all. This is a waste in itself, but it also causes the zeal of those around me to flag, too. It is said that the mother sets the tone for the whole household. That is decidedly true around here.
If we want things to happen, it would seem as if the obvious solution would be to stay inspired, right? For a long time, I did stay inspired, and I did not even know that was what was happening. People would say, "I don't see how you can keep on, doing all you do." I was always surprised, because it didn't seem to me as if I was doing a lot. I did not realize at the time that I was inspired. So, when people said things like that to me, I would answer with something like, "I get up at 4:30." (Meaning: I have healthy sleep habits; what about you?) Or, "I use the old-fashioned schedule, such as 'wash on Monday, iron on Tuesday'." (Meaning: People invented schedules long ago for a reason; try it.) Or, "I let my husband bring in and sort the mail and I only shop once a week, to save me some time." (Meaning: A little self-control never hurts.) Or, "I found the curriculum I need and have stuck with it." (Meaning: Why be a slave to crippling indecision, hmm?)
Now, let us be very clear that early rising, schedules, self-control, and patience are good habits and proven helps to measurable progress, just as household tricks are. Nevertheless, these habits will not make things happen, if the mom is uninspired. To rise early and then clock out as soon as I get a cup of coffee is at least as non-productive as sleeping in. Inspiration makes progress happen.
Okay, if it is so important, what exactly is inspiration? The word comes from the same root that gives us the word "spirit." To be in-spired is to have some spirit in you, motivating you, driving you. Now we are arriving at some scary ground because there are many spirits out there. A spirit of pride could motivate a person. A competitive spirit could drive others. However, we want the Holy Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ leading and guiding us, do we not?
More than once my husband and I have encountered people who told us that God was leading them to home school their children. It sounded so holy, right, and good. We rejoiced with them in their new inspiration. The trouble was that they never did get around to home schooling. They met with some obstacles, became angry, and shifted blame. Their final comments were that they were tired of home schoolers putting pressure on them all the time. I was sad, partly because I had been so excited at their joining the ranks of home schoolers that I had probably made them feel pressured.
I was also sad because they had told absolutely everyone that God had led them to the home school decision. Even their children had heard many times, "God wants Daddy and Mommy to home school you children." How confusing that must have been for their little ones when Daddy and Mommy changed their minds! I personally felt that Daddy and Mommy did hear God, were inspired by God, but then let the first obstacle put them off from obeying His Word to them.
A variation on this theme is the home school mom who stays the course--sort of. She buys new curriculum and begins home schooling, then slacks off. After that, she buys new curriculum and begins home schooling anew, then slacks off. Then she buys another new curriculum and . . For this mom, when inspiration flags, she thinks that the curriculum is at fault.
Let me tell you a home school secret: Every good home school curriculum is good. Mine is good, and yours is, too. Just because I am having success with the curriculum that God showed me, does not mean that I could not have success with yours, instead. I could use yours and you could use mine and we both would have well-educated children when we were done. In fact, the folks who pitch all curriculum and just use the Bible or encyclopedias do well, too. I do not succeed because I am smart at choosing curriculum. No, I have succeeded because God ordained homeschooling and I am doing it. It is God, the parents, and the curriculum, in that order, that make home school children turn out. God is most important. His inspiration makes it happen.
If inspiration is so important, how does it help? If God has inspired me to care about my children and to know that they will be losing out if I don't home school them, I will not quit and ship them to the local institution.
If I realize that they, as well as I, need to stay strong, I will guard our sleeping and eating habits carefully. I will keep them with me, allowing them to sleep all they need while they are growing. I will tend to their diet, making sure their food is balanced and adequate, instead of sending them to the land where ketchup is a vegetable and a hotdog is meat. I will keep them at home when they are ill and when others are ill, to allow them to enjoy life at its uninfected best.
If God helps me to realize that my children will learn to be disorganized if they see me being so, I will shape up. I will establish schedules and stick to them. I will force my children to follow my lead. I will also show an organized lifestyle by tidying a little every day, so that my house is never "the pits." If I realize that God is the God of order, not chaos, I will consider this as I make every decision regarding my home, school, and life.
In fact, if my inspiration comes from God, my whole life will exhibit this type of self-control. I will score papers promptly. I will keep a neat home. I will not waste money on trifles. I will collect homemaking tricks and use them. I will try, in every possible way, to be like the wonderful homemakers of old.
Why will I do all those things? It is because I will be waiting for God to show His excellence in my children. That will be the most important thing in life, to me, as a Godly mother. I will not want to let them grow up full of bad habits that they need to break. I will not want to let them grow up thinking that laziness is good, that waste is good, and that foolishness and frivolity are good. I will not want to let them grow up thinking that impatience is good.
Ah, yes, patience: That is the best product of Godly inspiration. When we know that God is telling us what to do and we obey it, we will not become so tossed about (James 1:5-6). We receive blessings from God because we seek wisdom from Him and we do what He says. He, alone, knows what our children need. If it is difficult for me to do, I must do it anyway, full of this assurance: What I hope to achieve in my children will manifest, ultimately, and what I lack in ability will come to me from the Throne of Grace.
The Bible tells us in Proverbs 2:6 that when we train up our children in the way they should go, they will not depart from it. This promise from God inspires me to make things happen.
That it may also inspire you, is my prayer.
Katharine Trauger has homeschooled her six children for over twenty years. She and her husband, Gerald, live in Arkansas, and enjoy gardening, reading, and Bible study.
This article was originally published in the Jan/Feb '07 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. For more information, visit http://HomeSchoolEnrichment.com
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