If I invited a professional organizer to come over to my house and help me with my goal of organizing all my homeschooling “stuff,” the first thing this expert would do is sit me down in my living room. She’d pull out a clipboard, and she’d start to ask me questions.
“Anne, what’s not working? If you could change anything about your homeschooling year, what would it be?”
I might tell her which subjects we just never get around to, or that I’ve misplaced one of the books we need, or that several of my kids take after me and really struggle with spelling.
Then this professional organizer would ask, “Anne, why do you think it’s not working?” and “What do you think would help most?”
We’d start to hash out some practical solutions for our homeschooling year, followed by some action, when maybe she’d call in her team of people who’d enter my house, help me sort through all the clutter and get rid of the junk we don’t need anymore, sell used books on eBay, and clean out all the rooms. Then we’d add a fresh coat of paint to the walls to help it all look fresh and new. We’d go to an organizing store and get new bins and containers, then we’d stop by a discount store for the snazziest new school supplies, markers, binders, and folders. She’d help me find a place for everything, and she’d help me put everything in its place.
I’d be amazed by how wonderful it all looked, probably cry a little and give her a big hug, then out the door she’d go.
Would it stay looking this great? Would I be able to maintain it? Would this finally be the answer I’d been looking for? Would we finally have a fabulous, glitch-free homeschooling year?
Would she come back in January to help me figure out how to teach math to a wiggly six-year-old?
No, but that’s why we all spend so much time online. We’re looking for help with the first steps, the part that helps our houses look great and our supplies get organized. Then we need even more help as the school year progresses. It takes more than a snazzy organizational system to make the entire school year a success!
Just as the professional organizer sat in my living room and asked me three questions, I’d like to start by asking you those three questions.
1. What’s not working?
2. Why not?
3. What do you think would help most?
These questions will help you figure out a solution that works for your family. I wouldn’t want to impose my household on you. I live in a parsonage in southern Minnesota. We have seven children, with five in school. We have four bedrooms, but one of those is my office. (Maybe it will be another bedroom someday!) We have some attic space for storage, and my office contains room for some bookshelves, although none of this storage ever seems to be enough. We have a basement that we use as a catch-all, a school room, play room, and laundry room. We have a nice back yard, but again, it’s covered in snow for much of the year, so we spend many months indoors. My life revolves around my husband’s job as a pastor, so I have to deal with interruptions not only from preschoolers but from church members with needs, by phone or at my door. Our schedule changes from week to week, from day to day, often from hour to hour.
So I just can’t bring my solutions to your house. Our homes will never be the same.
I need you to put on your “thinking cap” and figure out solutions that will work at your house. These three questions will help you do that.
In addition, it would be really tough for me to give you advice about your home school when I can’t even visit, as my professional organizer did, to see how your house is laid out, how your children behave, and how your daily routine flows.
I have some good news, though. Jesus has given you a promise.
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:16-18).
The promised “Spirit of truth” would love to come and live inside you, to guide you in your home school – and in every other area of your life as well.
“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:13-16).
He knows everything about you and is aware of the ways that you fail. In fact, He is waiting for you to admit your sins and failures to Him, to rest on Him completely for strength, and to humble yourself before Him.
He has taken care of all the sins and mistakes in your past. Jesus’ blood paid the death-price for your sin, and now He stands as a high priest before His Father in heaven, showing evidence of His sacrifice and gaining God’s favor on your behalf. Because of His Son, God the Father smiles on you and wants to bless your home.
He understands your weaknesses. He lived on this earth, and He understands the frustrations, trials, temptations, and tiredness you feel. Of course, He had no sin, but remember that He wants to live within you and give you the power not to sin as well. What a precious thought it is to know that He understands, He’s been here, yet He also has the power to change things!
Finally, He’s just waiting for you to ask Him for help . He wants you to speak to God the Father with confidence, and He promises mercy and grace “to help us in our time of need.” No professional organizer could ever promise that!
So what should you do?
1. Obey Him.
In John 14:15, Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth….”
It would be very frustrating to a professional organizer to have a client who had paid a lot of money for her services yet refused to do anything she advised. We also can “quench” (1 Thessalonians 5:19) or “grieve” (Ephesians 4:30) the Spirit of God by ignoring what He asks us to do.
All of His commands revolve around loving God or loving others (Matthew 22:37-40). His commands are also specific, not vague and open to interpretation by us. To know what His commands are, we first must read His Word.
Your top priority is to open God’s Word, the Bible, each day. In God’s Word, you’ll learn what His commands are. His Spirit will “teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26).
Your next priority is to listen and obey.
2. Talk to Him.
Just as you wouldn’t hire a professional organizer, seat her in your living room, then go into another room and ignore her as you munched on popcorn and watched a movie on television, so you must not invite the Spirit of God into your life and ignore Him.
Hebrews 4:16 instructed us to “approach the throne of grace with confidence.” In Isaiah 6, we see illustrated what God’s throne was like, as Isaiah the prophet approached it for the first time. Isaiah wrote,
“I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.’
At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke” (Isaiah 6:1-4).
Isaiah’s response to this amazing sight was to cry out and acknowledge his sin, especially his sin of “unclean lips.”
Each morning, your job is to enter God’s throne room and allow God’s Spirit to expose the sin in your life.
Then God gave Isaiah a specific job to do, which is exactly what His Spirit will do for you.
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21).
Throughout your day, as your children wake up, as you burn breakfast, as you homeschool, as you clean, as you minister to others – throughout your day, God’s Spirit will be with you, whispering in your ears, “This is the way; walk in it.”
So talk to Him! Talk to Him first thing in the morning, and keep up that conversation all day long. Talk to Him in the summertime, as you begin to plan a new school year. Talk to Him each school day, asking for His guidance during all your activities. Talk to Him after the day quiets down, getting “grace and mercy” for the needs you have, allowing Him to whisper in your ears, “This is the way; walk in it.”
So as your school year progresses and you find areas where you need help, go first to God’s Spirit, the “Master Planner” who will abide with you always.