by Katie Julius
March 2020, the world as we knew it came to a grinding halt. We always heard about (and maybe despised) the “new normal” that we had to adapt to in the months that followed. Now, the pandemic is mostly behind us. We look around for that familiarity that we have longed for the last three years, only to find a world that is forever changed. There is no going back to the way things used to be, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing!
One major change that has impacted so many of us is the awakening of parents to what their children were learning about and the agenda of the public schools. As homeschool leaders, we have been aware for years and have prayed for parents’ eyes to be opened. It didn’t happen in the way we probably imagined, but in the last three years, we’ve had families knocking down our doors for guidance, support, and resources.
And it’s been relentless – between school safety, vaccine and mask mandates at all levels of government, critical race theory, a socialist agenda, and more – just as we get settled after one wave, another hits. The flood of families the last three years was likely overwhelming to say the least … and came with little break, kind of like the winter storms we had here in California this year.
Don’t get me wrong; this is good! We are helping to empower parents in their biggest and most important job. However, it is also exhausting – physically, mentally, emotionally, and oh, those spiritual attacks! Even before the pandemic, being a homeschool leader was a lot of work, especially while still homeschooling your own kids. It’s a fine balancing act to keep all the plates spinning, not neglecting any of our responsibilities within our home or within our ministry. After three years, it’s by the grace of God that we still have our heads above the water.
There is Hope!
It’s not just all negativity and “doom and gloom!” We know we weren’t (and aren’t) alone in this ministry. We have a network of group leaders that we can rely on to help us through these rough waters, to pull us into their life raft or toss us a life ring.
When we couldn’t gather in person, we resorted to online meetings. But we all know those just weren’t the same. Connecting in person is so much better for the soul. Taking time away from our normal everyday “crazy” allows us the space we need to recharge, to be encouraged by a friend or fellow leader, to be refueled and filled by the Holy Spirit.
One of the best ways you can do this is to be with other homeschool leaders. In Galatians 6:2 (NIV), Paul writes, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” We all face different struggles throughout our lives – homeschool related and not. We never know who might be put in our path, either to help us through it, or for us to help someone else going through something similar.
Come Be With Other Leaders
I know what you might be thinking, “Oh great, here comes the ‘sell.’” Yes, CHEA’s Leadership Conference is coming July 13, 2023 at Calvary Chapel Downey. Yes, we want you to be there, but not for CHEA’s benefit. For YOUR benefit. For the benefit of your family. For the benefit of your kids. For the benefit of your ministry. We know you’re weary, worn down, tired. No one can help carry your burdens if you aren’t willing to share them.
Please hear my heart, not as an employee of CHEA or a speaker at the conference, but as a fellow homeschooling mom (and leader) in the thick of it who had probably one of my roughest years yet. You need other people. God did not design us to be solitary beings. You need to set aside the time for yourself to be filled. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” It’s true!
Keeping Your Head Above Water
Of course, we know circumstances will not allow every homeschool leader (or potential leader) in California to be at this event, as awesome as that would be. If you are one of those, I implore you to find other leaders in your area to connect with. Schedule time to meet up, maybe once per quarter, to offer encouragement or share struggles or seek advice.
Set aside time away from your ministry. I know the summer is usually a busy time as you prepare for the coming year, but if you can, take a week or two away from your group completely. Set the away message on your email and the voicemail on your phone. A worn down leader is not a very effective one.
Delegate some of your responsibilities. Are you building up the next generation of leaders in your group? Do you have different levels of leadership so you can develop the younger moms in your group to eventually replace you? Are there any jobs or tasks you can pass on to someone else today?
Most importantly, be praying. The reason we do what we do isn’t for ourselves, for recognition, or even for our kids. What we are doing is Kingdom work. Jesus says in Matthew 11 that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Surrounding ourselves with a solid team is great, but Jesus is the only one who can actually calm the stormy seas.
I’m reminded of a song from my high school days by Jars of Clay that I think speaks to how many of us have been feeling and the saving that only Jesus can do.
Rain rain on my face
It hasn’t stopped
Raining for days
My world is a flood
Slowly I become
One with the mud
Lift me up when I’m fallingFlood, Jars of Clay
Lift me up I’m weak and I’m dying
Lift me up I need you to hold me
Lift me up and keep me from drowning again
Katie is wife to husband John, and homeschool mom to one energetic, full-of-life, pedal-to-the-metal, insanely creative fifth grader, Sarah. She holds degrees in Art and Education and somehow strikes the fine balance of organization, planning, and paperwork with her right-brained creativity, which serves her well in her part-time position as CHEA’s Communications Manager & Editor. Katie also serves on the Board and Leadership Team of her homeschool support group in Southern California.