This week my teenage daughter decided to redecorate her room. I gave her minimal bookwork and counted the hours toward home economics. As she primed and painted she listened to the Chronicles of Narnia. She later told her friends, "I was getting bored with the same old Bible stories, but as I listened to tales of Aslan this week, I felt closer to God and the stories meant more."

Today at the hockey rink, my oldest son gave away most of his chances to score, trying instead to ensure that his little brother ended the season with confidence. Would he have had that kind of care if they'd been separated from each other for hours each day in a traditional school setting? Maybe. Maybe not. I know we wouldn't have had as many conversations about how his encouragement shapes the confidence of his younger brothers. We wouldn't have spent as many hours in discussion of great books that teach kindness and integrity. We would have missed more devotions than we do now.

I think it's time to revisit all those standards I set for myself. I'm in my eighth year of home schooling. You'd think by now I would realize that the important stuff happens incidentally, as I stay the course God placed me upon. It's easy for me to think that our life is about home schooling instead of letting home schooling be about our lives.

Real life isn't school. It's the day-to-day living we do. While curriculum and learning methods are helpful on my journey, not a single one of them will give us the perfect home school. It doesn't exist.

I believe the Lord wants me to find the balance—to let home schooling be a reasonable part of our day instead of the whole focus. Some of the best learning happens without anything that looks academic. God knows what my children need and when. I should trust Him to lead me! Some days the books need to be set aside so we can learn real life lessons and I shouldn't feel guilty about that. He takes my meager efforts, unfinished to do lists, and less than exciting lesson plans, and somehow uses them. He's with my family on the days we fuss and on the days we show extraordinary grace. He's there whether we're buried in workbooks or shoveling the neighbor's driveway.

This job isn't about me, how well I do it, or creating the perfect home. It's about God, His plans for my children, and His ability to shape them for His glory. As I stay obedient to this wild, crazy, insane job He's given me, He simply asks me to follow. Then He makes something beautiful from the ashes of my effort.


A home schooling mother of four, Paula Moldenhauer is passionate about God's grace and intimacy with Jesus. Her website offers home schooling hints, book reviews, and a free weekly devotional, Soul Scents. Subscribe to Soul Scents at You can contact Paula at