Book reviews by Karen D. Koch

Too Blessed To Be Stressed
How to Find Joy While Raising Small Children
by Gaye Burch, 2017
ISBN 13:978-0692960165
$12.99 Amazon

My children are no longer young, but this book was a blessing to me in many ways, and a good reminder of how I want to conduct my upcoming final eight years of homeschooling. This book is a helpful and encouraging work from a mom of seven (plus foster children!) who has spent more than 30 years educating kids.

Much of the book tackles character development and is highly sensible and uplifting. Early on she reminds us, “Good character doesn’t happen overnight. It must be taught and must be continually taught.” Using biblical principles throughout, she gently reminds readers that getting a good foundation is essential, and will make parenting more enjoyable and rewarding in the long run. Reading this book feels like talking to a mentor who loves and encourages you instead of berating you your short-comings.

I am no longer a young mother with preschoolers running around, but with a nine-year-old caboose, I found myself pondering the ways I haven’t always been consistent with training him in many areas of life. I also know, which Gaye’s encouragement, that it’s not too late. Gaye’s approach is calm and sisterly in this book, and not “preachy” like some books on child training I’ve run across. Reading her book makes me feel as if I’m sitting down to coffee with an encouraging friend who is sharing the wisdom she’s gained.

Too Blessed To Be Stressed is also immensely practical, with sections on potty training, teaching children to serve, be compassionate, and to be on time. In other chapters she deals with mealtime issues, finding time for yourself, and a reminder that comparing ourselves to others is toxic.  Don’t manage bad behavior, she reminds us. Teach good behavior instead.

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Teaching From Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace
by Sarah Mackenzie
Classical Academic Press, 2015
ISBN-13: 978-1600512872
$12.22 Amazon
This slim volume has been on my “to-read” list for years. I finally finished reading it through during my daughter’s long orthodontist appointment a few weeks ago. I wish I had read it sooner.

Sarah is a homeschooling mother of six (including twins) so she knows of what she speaks when she addresses the chaos and stress that homeschooling can create. But she seems to get to the heart of the matter when she provides such gems as this: “If you have more to do than time to do it, the simple fact is this: Some of what you are doing isn’t on His agenda for you.”

Her book is brief (just 81 pages) but carries a good deal of thoughtful educational philosophy. Much centers on finding the core reasons for homeschooling and working outward from there–simplifying the curriculum, working with your strengths, loving your children as individuals. She reminds us that children are not projects to be managed but souls to be cultivated.

She provides some resources and practical applications that may work in your homeschool, and encourages reading aloud, which is a core focus in our home, so that resonated with me. (See her website

Definitely written from a Christian worldview, this book really hit the sweet spot for me. It reminded of me some basics tenets I know, but forget, like leaving margin in our lives so we are not overwhelmed, and one key phrase that really struck home with me: “When doing Mommy triage, always choose your child.”

The book also contains resources and a bibliography of other works she recommends.