Some days I feel like I am a crooked stick trying to draw a straight line in the dirt. On those days, I remind myself of my educational goals for my child. I remind myself that they’re simple, really. I remind myself that there are only two.
Some days I wake up in a state of panic before my bare toes make contact with the cool pine floor. As a homeschool mom, I’m overwhelmed by the burdens of somehow being it all, doing it all, and making sure they learn it all. But I’m so very inadequate. So, well, crooked. I’m never going to be great at all 259 goals I try to set in my mind every night.
So I decided long ago that I would try to focus less on my numerous, “little” goals and more on a few big goals. Our BHAGs. Big Hairy Audacious Goals. Each girl often has one or two BHAGs that are ongoing, or even on the back burner. They’re huge goals that may take years to attain, but we pluck away at them, one tiny day and one minuscule step at a time. They might be tangible. Like braiding a rug. (A multiple-year project that each girl has taken on over the years.)
Making a quilt. (A four-year project for all four girls). Building a blog following. (The blogger has an active group of followers reading about her homeschool mishaps and life adventures on our rocky New England homestead). Training a dog. Learning to raise livestock. (So far, the young homesteader owns chicken, ducks, rabbits, and a cow.)
Or their big goals might be intangible, without an instruction manual. Like an idea they’ve been working on for many years about encouraging children in hospitals to create art as a therapeutic outlet. And then there’s one daughter’s passion since the age of nine to one day own a therapeutic riding stable. (Almost six years later, she has learned to ride beautifully and earned enough money to buy fencing and make barn repairs.)
As a homeschool mom, I have two BHAGs. Educational goals for my child. Goals we’ve been working on for more than a decade and a half. The foundations of our homeschool. Why I homeschool. My BHAGs?
1. To instill in my daughters a LOVE OF LEARNING, and
2. To always strive to PLACE GOD AT THE CENTER of our days.
So when I wake up flooded with panic… with never-ending mental lists of 10,000 ways I’m failing… or 1,000 things I need to make sure we accomplish this month… I try to remind myself to shove each “thing” under one of those two BHAGs. And if that “thing” doesn’t get done well, at least I can focus on the BHAGs. At the end of the day, or at the end of 13 years of formal education, my educational goals for my child can be simple. If my daughters enjoy learning and place God at the center of every category of their lives, then how can I call myself a “failure?”
Thank goodness God draws straight lines with crooked sticks. My self-inflicted discouragement and my lists of thousands of details at which I will ultimately always fail… those are the bends in my bark. The things that make me a crooked stick. Yet God can miraculously use me, crooked and all, to draw two beautifully straight lines throughout my days, pointing my daughters toward love for learning and a desire to have Him at the center of all they do.
They, too, are crooked sticks who fail at these two goals every day as well. But God is so good, and despite our crookedness, He has continually brought us back to these two BHAGs again and again over the last 15 years. As a result, I have four daughters who truly love to learn–especially about things they are passionate about, thanks to their own BHAGs–and who strive to take Col. 3:23 to heart, rewording it for their situation… “Whether they eat, or drink, or play softball, or do farm chores, or learn about invertebrate, or add fractions, or write an essay… they do it all for the glory of God.”
Mind you, we have our share of temper tantrums, and we most definitely have our share of whining (some days even the kids whine!), but at some point, we always come back to our BHAGs. If we hate learning this topic, we’ll find another way to work through it. (Or, we may even put that topic away for a month or two.) We stop whining and remind ourselves of our blessings, even the simple ones: the sunshine tumbling through the window or the warm grass scratching at our feet. We put away whatever we’re complaining about, enjoy the sun and grass, then ask God to help us be thankful for the day He has given us and the challenge He has placed before us and to help us do it well, with thankfulness.
No, we’re not always thankful for Algebra, but we can always be thankful that He uses even fraction addition to give Himself glory in the midst of our tiny little efforts, and He allows us to make beautifully straight lines pointing right back to Him with our very crooked sticks.
“But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” John 3:2