There we were in the middle of the large home improvement store, my feet aching and my somewhat patient children getting more than somewhat hungry. This had been more time-consuming than I thought it would be.

We were going from aisle to aisle as my husband was asking me more questions for which I didn't know the answers. "What color would you like for the cabinets?" or "What about this whole piece for the tub instead of porcelain?" I even had a few questions myself, for example: "Are we doing improvements on all these rooms at the same time?" As my husband answered in the affirmative, I realized that this was the first trip of who knows how many. Plus, family history dictated that our projects would take ten times longer than most folks take simply because our life as a family of ten is extra busy. I saw an inkling of how much time would really be involved, and I began to see how much more this project would disrupt our regular lives. But for the joy set before me (ridding our house of rusted sinks and dirty carpet), I would be hard pressed to be thankful for the disruption, not to mention the many trips with aching feet.

Home improvements can create a more beautiful home, but in the process what is broken needs to be repaired and what is standing in the way of progress needs to be torn down. What is unnecessary needs to be removed and what is dirty needs to be cleaned. Research needs to be done and money needs to be spent. Although it takes a lot of time and energy, the end result is worth the investment.

Now let's look at three areas of home improvement: the improvement of our physical homes, our homeschools, and our spiritual homes. There is much correlation between the three and often plenty of improvements are needed!

Prayer

Before running full steam ahead on any ideas or plans, we must really seek the Lord. I have read that home improvement projects can be very stressful for families and marriages. So, as we go, we must continue to pray for God's guidance, wisdom, and provision.

Our homeschools also need to be handled with prayer. Prayer for God's vision and His priorities for each child are important. If we have prayed that God's purposes would be fulfilled in each day of our homeschool, it is a freeing place to be when that interruption comes, for we know that the interruption has been divinely appointed. Praying over and for our children helps us see them as God sees them, and we can gain new insight into God's design.  

Just like our homes and our homeschools, we need to focus prayerfully on our personal relationship with the Lord. Where do I need to change? Where do I need to invest my time? What needs to be replaced or torn down in my life? How can I build up my own home? All the answers come by prayer and seeking God's wisdom. I was telling one of my children today that God desires a two-way relationship. This one-way business of praying only at meals and Bible studies has got to go. We converse with the ones we love all day. We need to purpose that God will be on that list too; we are to give Him the same attention and time we give others, if not more. This is where change begins and where abundant life is cultivated.

Make Your Plans

We really need a vision of what the end result will look like. Piecing things together without long-term vision equals chaos, or at the very least, we can end up with something that is useless or unsightly. Asking good questions such as "How much space do we have to work with?" and "How long will this product last?" and "How functional is the new design?" helps us assess our plans so that the space can be used in the very best way. Asking others what they have done helps tremendously in the decision-making process!

Just as our home projects have to be planned, so must our homeschool projects. Careful planning of the school year helps ward off doubts. Instead of feeling like we are just flying by the seat of our pants, we have an idea of what we want to accomplish. A simple list of curriculum choices and subjects covered for each grade level can be very helpful. Having an overall plan for each year and a vision toward the finish line can be very helpful indeed. Not only do we know where we are headed, but we also know how to get there. And again, asking others what they have done helps tremendously in the decision-making process!

Even as we plan our projects and select our curricula, we must plan to acknowledge God. Even as we plan, we must trust the Lord to direct our steps. In all our ways, He promises that if we acknowledge Him, He will direct our paths. In all that we do, in all that we say, in all that we plan, He must be recognized and given His rightful place.

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)