I have the haziest memory of this book being prescribed to me by a loving friend, months ago. Now I don't even remember who it was that recommended it, (THANK YOU, anonymous friend) but thankfully the title of the book kicked around in my skull for long enough that I was able to find it when I needed it.
I finally read it this week and wish so much that I had read it my very first year of home schooling. It is inspired and powerful and it has brought me a great deal of hope and joy already.
I consider myself really good at simplifying, so a lot of the practical elements of this book were refreshers for me. But at the core of Sarah's writing is one of the most honest and relatable discourses on grace I've ever read.
"Rest" is the place between anxiety and neglect. Sarah teaches that we all tend toward one side or another of rest most of the time. Sometimes we even swing back and forth. I spend most of my time on the anxious side. But when we can still the pendulum on our trust in the Savior we are truly at rest.
"After all, our job is not to be successful--success itself is entirely beside the point. It's faithfulness that He wants. God is good! He isn't going to let us pour out our hearts for our children only to be left choking on the dust of our mistakes...The heart of this book is about remembering what our true task really is and then throwing ourselves in completely. Giving our all. The raising of children, the teaching of truth, the sharing of life, the nourishing of imagination, the cultivating of wisdom: These are all his anyway; we are merely His servants."
Oh, it is liberating to remember who we are and whose we are, and to remember that we are only helpers in God's great work. It frees me up to enjoy the work more and worry over it less.
"You are where you are (which is likely to be exactly where God wants you). So work hard every day. Value academic work because nurturing the intellect is part of what makes us fully human, but don't elevate it beyond its place. There are relationships to cultivate, books to read, oceans to swim in, forts to build, toilets to scrub, bills to pay, paintings to create, dinners to make. This is why we homeschool--because we want to engage in a full-to-bursting life."
"Lavish" is a word Sarah uses over and over to describe the way a home school mother teaches, loves, and listens. I have been working this week on loving lavishly in my home. It is slow, satisfying work. I love thinking about what a great privilege it is for me to be with the people I love all day every day. Who gets that? When I am miserly with my time and my love, my work is tedious and discouraging. But this week, I've had a few magical moments of gratitude--of living truly in the moment. I want to love lavishly every day of my life.
And one last, lovely thought from this book that I will treasure: a woman who embraces her unique strengths and teaching style is a woman who enjoys her work, and a woman who enjoys her work has a happy family. I have often tried to do another woman's version of home school. It is unnatural, stressful, and no fun for me or the kids. But when I think about the things that I absolutely love and do those with the kids, we have a great time. So the schedule includes necessaries like math and spelling--yes--but it also honors my love of reading and conversation with a 45-minute chunk for studying the classics together. And that bright spot of teaching from my strength makes all the other hard work worth it.
There is simply too much beautiful, simple wisdom bound up in this surprisingly thin volume--you've got to read it for yourself. Or buy it for that wonderful woman on your list who could use a little rest. You can find more of Sarah's thinking at amongstlovelythings.com.