Three Ways I’m Bringing My Basket This School Year

You know that awkward moment when your best friend asks you what you thought of her book?

And you liked it, you really liked it, but the English teacher in you wants to ask, “Are you sure somebody didn’t help you with this?”

Because it’s just that good.

You talk to someone every single day — so much so that your husbands have their eye-rolling synchronized at your antics — and you just never really know what they are capable of do you?

That was me last summer when Sarah released the first edition of Teaching from Rest. My feelings were a combination of proud and awestruck, and I wasn’t the least bit surprised when Classical Academic Press contacted her to publish the print version (though I may have squealed like I was).

You can read or listen to this post.

That print version is on the shelves, and I am supposed to be writing a review. But now I’ve totally blown my objectivity and can’t gush without you rolling your eyes, so instead I’m going to tell you a little-known secret about this book.

Lean closer.

You all know that TFR is the perfect book for the hand-wringing, anxious mama. What you may not be aware of is that it is also the perfect book for the “type-A, appears to have it all together mama” too. But it is.

Rest is not a state of inactivity

You see I really don’t have much problem trusting that God can do great things, because I am pretty sure He can. My problem lies in the fact that I can’t give over control to anyone other than me. Even to Him. I have built up the illusion in my brain that if something is going to be done right then I have to be the one to do it. I’m am fairly certain this is one of my main motivations for homeschooling, though I would never admit it.

I’m the one who has to stay up late planning the lessons. I’m the one who has to make sure the kids read by the end of first grade. I’m the one who has to ensure the third grader knows every multiplication fact backwards and forwards.

I’m the one causing my own hair to fall out in clumps. Not because I sit around, wringing my hands and anxiously worrying. Oh no, because I can’t sit — I have to do — because nobody else can do it better.


Which makes Teaching from Rest the perfect book for moms like me. Sarah assures you, “He’s got this,” but she never tells you to sit back and do nothing. Rest is an attitude — not a state of inactivity. The fastest way for her to lose me would have been the mantra that I should not do anything. Instead she encourages me to do the opposite.

Bring your basket

Sarah used the story of the feeding of the five thousand to illustrate God’s grace and majesty. See how He took those two fishes and five loaves and was able to feed that multitude of people? It is true; He can do anything — even be responsible for the education of our children.

And yet He didn’t start with an empty basket. He still wants me to do my part. He’s got the big stuff, but I get to contribute.

He knows me so well.

Three Ways I'm Bringing My Basket This School Year Be Present

So as I read through TFR yet again (because you really should read it regularly) I ask myself, “What do I need to do this year to bring my basket?” Sarah gives some great ideas in the book, but I know me best — where I fall short, where I need the most grace — so I came up with three other ways I could do my part.

1. I will be consistent

This is huge. It’s huge because it’s an area where I need help, but also huge because it can make the biggest difference. If I am to be faithful, I have to demonstrate that faith by doing school every day.

It’s so easy to give in to the temptation of “well, they’re playing so well outside together” or its ugly cousin “you guys are driving me crazy just go upstairs and watch TV.”

That’s not what He’s calling me to do. He’s calling me to show up. Get everyone moving in the right direction. Provide instruction and attention. I don’t have to perfect it — He will do that — but I do have to make the effort every single day.

2. I won’t add unnecessary burdens

Oh, I struggled with this mightily last year. We held our Morning Time, we worked on our skills daily, we attended a Scholé Group that taught science, history, and enrichment in a wonderful way.

And I still felt the need to try and add more science and history at home. For a preschooler, second grader, and fourth grader. It didn’t take long for it to feel superfluous, unnecessary, and guilt-inducing.

Fortunately I am not so stubborn that I can’t see the writing on the wall. About halfway through the year I packed up the fancy science experiment kit I bought and sold it.

This year I resisted temptation. Our Morning Time is beautiful. Our skills work is consistent. Our Scholé Group work is more fruitful than ever. I will not make this harder than it needs to be by trying to do too much.

3. I will not put stumbling blocks in front of my children

The Bible admonishes us to not set our kids up to fail (well, you know, in so many words). Now, I wouldn’t do that purposefully, but I also have to keep a close watch on what messages I am sending subconsciously as we work.

  • Am I requiring their best work and not letting them get away with being slipshod or rushing through?
  • Am I sending the message that their education is important by being fully present during the school day?
  • Is my attitude cheerful and joyous or do I make them learn from a grump no one would want to spend their day with?

A failure to heed any of these (I’m airing all my dirty laundry today, ya’ll) and I am sabotaging my children’s ability to be successful before we even begin.

Now it’s your turn

If you’re one of those mamas who scoffs and thinks, “I’ve got this.” I challenge you to take another look at Teaching From Rest. There might be more for you there than you anticipated. (Yeah, not fair, I know you can’t resist a challenge.)

If you’re the kind of mama who worries she doesn’t have this, then don’t worry, there is plenty in there for you too.


Disclaimer: Yes, I did receive a free copy of the book, because what kind of friend would Sarah be if I didn’t? My thoughts and opinions are totally my own. I don’t sugarcoat things — especially to friends.



  • Sarah says:

    I really appreciate your candor, Pam- and I completely relate! I’m on my second reading of the book, it’s that wonderful. It opened my eyes to another way of looking at homeschooling altogether. I recommend it to anyone needing that reassurance that all will be well if we just bring our gifts for Him to use.

  • Simply beautiful and so well put, momma. Wish you lived closer ….. but then we wouldn’t get anything done!

  • I really appreciated this post Pam. And you just may or may not have been speaking to me a time or two. *ahem* 🙂 I have the first edition of Teaching from Rest and have read it completely once and re-read portions of it more than once. 🙂 I need to get the new edition!

    • Pam Barnhill says:

      Only when you needed to be spoken to, Karen. Only when you needed to be spoken to.

  • Mystie says:


    I’m bringing a smile, a willingness to pause long enough for meaningful conversation, and a plan I will work rather than tweak.

  • Mary says:

    I will be sharing this. You have expressed so beautifully how the book made me feel, too…not putting stumbling blocks in front of our children. Wow. ?

  • I love this post, Pam! I can really see myself in it. I’m definitely one of those moms who seem like they have it all together, but I found I was destroying myself (and hurting my kids too) in my anxiety and lack of rest. I read Sarah’s book when it first came out last year, and cried – and I am not a crier! – and it was incredibly meaningful. I think my favorite part is where she tells the story about her daughter and the ant study. That was like a gut punch (in a good way!) and I still tear up thinking about it.

    I’ve since read the first edition again, and I’ve read the second edition too. I’m thinking it needs to be read at least two to three times a year… or maybe more!

  • Kelly says:

    I love the big table in the photo of your school area. Tell me all about it, please!

  • Sarah says:

    I recently finished reading Teaching from Rest for the second time, such good stuff. It will definitely be on my list to read yearly! I loved this post, possibly because all 3 of the areas you mentioned are my biggest struggles! Consistency & I battle quite regularly! Thanks for the encouragement, I will be coming back to this post when I need a reminder (you know, probably tomorrow).

  • Elizabeth Hafferty says:

    I completely appreciate your candid review and advice here. We are in the process of beginning CC, and I have always prepared it all myself during the summer. Definitely going to read this book. Pam, thanks so much for all you do. You are a great source of encouragement and practicality, as well as peace(peace comes with putting things in perspective, right?)

  • Kimberly says:

    Our HS Mom group is using TFR as a guide for this year. I read it in May to prep and LOVED IT! I’ve been telling everyone how great it is.
    This is a great post. One of my biggest battles with myself is the battle between diligence and joy-filled learning. Both are needed. Consistency is so very important, isn’t it? But being a crazy drill sergeant mama is off base as is just doing whatever as the days drift by. Still learning here. 🙂

  • Brandy Barnett says:

    chuckled all the way through this post

  • Destiny says:

    I love this book and pull it out frequently during the year. Now I need to sit down and work out what I need to do to bring my basket this year.

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