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Laura Booz is a farm wife, writer, speaker, podcaster, and homeschooling mom of 6 children ages 2 to 16. She is passionate about helping women love God deeply, think biblically, and live vibrantly. Her new book, Expect Something Beautiful: Finding God’s Good Gifts in Motherhood, is filled with practical encouragement to not only pour ourselves out on behalf of our families, but to receive the love and care God has for us as we mother.
Connect with Laura:
- Check out Laura’s book, Expect Something Beautiful: Finding God’s Good Gifts in Motherhood
- Read Laura’s blog
- Connect with Laura on Instagram and Facebook
- Listen to Laura’s podcast, Expect Something Beautiful
If you prefer to reading to listening, check out the transcript below!
Aimee: Thank you so much for joining us today, Laura.
Laura: Oh, it’s a pleasure to be here. Hello to the listener!
Aimee: Would you start out by telling us a little bit about yourself and your family and how you got started with homeschooling?
Laura: Sure! My husband and I have six children, and I think I started homeschooling them when I was just a kid myself because it was kind of this dream in my heart. I only knew one person at the time who was homeschooled, and I begged my mom to homeschool me, but it wasn’t her style and it wasn’t what the Lord was calling us to. It just kind of became a seed in my heart, and then sure enough, as soon as I had my first baby, even when she was in the NICU because she came five weeks early, even when she was in the NICU I was sitting by her little bassinet reading the Bible to her and news magazines. We just got rolling because something I always wanted to do. Maybe as if someone feels they are called to the mission field, I really felt like the Lord put that call on my heart when I was very young, and it’s been amazing to see him prepare me for it, prepare my husband for it, and kind of lay the path before us.
Aimee: That’s awesome! I am kind of similar. I just knew before I even had kids I really wanted to homeschool. It just seemed like so much fun to learn alongside my kids and get to pour into them. So I can totally relate to that!
How has your homeschool life changed as you look back on those early, early years to where you are now, what’s different about your homeschool life now than when you started?
Laura: So this is sixteen and a half years later. That little NICU baby, she is now 16, going on 17, and I’ve got all the other ones down to age 2. So it looks much different. It kind of used to be all the time and everywhere I could engage on every topic, and for my first two I feel like there was no distractions. We had our little books that we were reading and our projects and our field trips. Now I do almost daily feel that sensation of being entirely spread too thin, and like there are certain things I would love to incorporate in our lives, but I can’t. I’m at full capacity. Like if you picture a juggler, I’ve got all the balls up in the air that I possibly can do. And then there’s a whole basket of balls on the side that I hear other people doing or I see the potential and I think, “That would be so nice!” But that’s just got to be a ball in the basket for now.
But that just makes me lean on the Lord. I’ve found that motherhood from the get-go causes a person to lean on the Lord because you realize right away how much control you don’t have. And then with every subsequent child and every year of homeschooling, I’ve leaned more and more heavily on him, more and more just trusting him to fill in the gaps that I can see I’m missing. I try to be a good steward but I can see very well that there are lots of potential things in my children, things they could learn and grow in and do and be. I guess I’m finally grasping the fact that it’s not me who’s going to maximize the potential or meet all those needs. It’s going to be other people, other experiences, it’s going to be the Lord. It’s also going to be some things they’ll just wait on. And hopefully some day down the road it can be an interest that they enjoy. Does that answer your question?
Aimee: Yes, thank you for sharing that. I think there are a lot of people who can relate to that feeling of being stretched too thin, but also the reliance on the Lord that comes from that and just trusting that where He has us in this season is what He’s calling us to, and He knows our limitations. He knows the time that we have and that our hours are limited and that there are lots of little people depending on us. We can trust Him in that. We can relax into the goodness of His faithfulness in that. I love that you shared that.
Laura: Yeah, and sometimes I think that that alone is of more value than if I got one more sport in or one more music lesson or another language. For my children to grow up in an atmosphere where we’re all trusting the Lord and leaning on Him and opening our hands in surrender and receiving the good boundaries that He puts in place because we have one another and we have to accommodate for one another. I feel like we’re on to something, that that is of a lot of value.
Aimee: Yes, and even for them to just see us navigating that day by day and coming back to the Lord. As you look back on your years of homeschooling, do you have any advice for people who are listening who might be just getting started on their homeschool journey?
Laura: The first thing that comes to my mind is to expect to learn and grow yourself. Expect this to be a really amazing education for you! When people ask me about homeschooling, I often say, I am hoping I’m doing a good enough job so that my children consider homeschooling their children some day and get a real education. Because I feel like I’ve learned so much about God, about humanity, about child development, about adult development, community, conversation, let alone the subject matter that we’re studying. I feel like I’m absorbing it to deeper levels than I ever did in the years I was in formal academic education. So that is one thing just to go into it with your blank notebook and pen in hand ready to learn.
That also helps when things don’t go right or the way things are going don’t meet your expectations or you look at the way other people are doing things or you really mess something up. Well, you’re in it to learn and to grow. So an easy response is just to say, I can learn from that. How can tomorrow be just a little different? How can I try something different so that we can make some improvements and some adjustments and continue to learn and grow? And have grace for yourself in that. So that’s the first thing that comes to mind.
And of course to pray. Pray always at all times about everything. There have been times I have gone to bed thinking, ‘I have no idea what I’m going to do with a particular child tomorrow.’ It just feels like whatever curriculum we chose is not right or maybe it’s the preschooler and I’m like, ‘Lord, what should I do tomorrow?’ And I’ll get an idea, a specific idea.
I remember one of the first times I did this was with my first child. I just felt like everything I was choosing for her was not interesting her at all. I couldn’t figure out how she was working in that season. So I prayed about it, and right way I thought about puff ball art. Like just giving her some cotton balls and glue and a picture of a bunny. That was it. So I found this picture of a bunny in a coloring book, and the next day I gave her the puff balls and the glue, and she did it and loved it. She did puff ball art for weeks afterward. And I really do believe that that was an answer to prayer.
I’ve seen God do that over and over and over again throughout our homeschool years because He cares. He cares that He called you to homeschooling. And He cares about that child and their development and their interests and how He made them. He cares about the supplies that you have on hand, the resources you do have and the resources you don’t have. If anyone knows how to thrive within the circumstances He has set you in, it’s Him.
So I guess I would just say pray. Let God become your very dearest friend and confidante about everything. The smallest thing as puff ball art to the big things that cause us to grieve or rejoice. But do draw near to the Lord and pour your heart out to Him.
The third thing that I think to bring out to someone who is just starting homeschooling is this: if you are married, put your marriage first. Homeschooling is so all consuming. You are doing it all day, and then in the evening you are assessing what happened through the day. Maybe grading and planning for tomorrow, and your energy is spent because it’s very physical, very emotional, very mental, very spiritual. And I think it’s really helpful anytime you can start with the blank calendar or the blank day planner. Of course, your walk with the Lord goes down first, and then your relationship with your husband is what you put in second, and homeschooling has to fill in those gaps.
Now the only reason I’m saying this is because of all the million times I’ve done this wrong, and I’ve noticed it wear on my husband and our marriage. And then the couple of times I’ve done it right, and I’ve noticed, Whoa! This is such a blessing. Our whole home thrives. And even again if that means, one or two of the children can’t do all the things all the time because my husband and I have to connect, well then that is a major blessing to that child. And I notice when my husband is thriving, he’s pouring into our children’s lives in a way that I can’t, and any great curriculum I choose can’t. He is my best resource even when it comes to homeschooling. So when he’s doing well, and I’m open-armed, welcoming him into our day, our education, our children’s development, it’s so great! So, so great! And they learn so much from him in ways I cannot. I can’t do what he can do. And vice versa. We notice each one of us bringing something to the table. But definitely keep an eye to your marriage, and see how you can love your man, and cherish him because that is so, so valuable.
Aimee: That is really great advice. One of the questions we get asked very frequently at the Homeschool Compass is, a mom will reach out to us and say, ‘I really feel like the Lord is calling me to homeschool, but my husband isn’t on board.’ And in those moments I feel like it’s really important to seek the Lord and ask Him, if it’s His will for you to homeschool, that He would bring that before your husband, and that you would be united with him because homeschooling is so much about the atmosphere that we create in the home, much more than the academic material that we put in front of our kids. And so if you pushing and driving this idea of homeschooling on your husband who’s not feeling that from the Lord in that moment is creating discord in your home atmosphere, whatever you might have gained by homeschooling is going to be lost through that hostility entering into your home. That’s such great advice to seek the Lord, to ask the Lord to speak to your husband if that’s really what you feel God is calling you to do, but that you can come at it from a place of unity.
Laura: Wow! Yes, you’re giving women such wonderful counsel. That is great.
I think it was maybe at a point when we were considering moving and buying a new house that we were seeking some counsel from people. And one wonderful well-seasoned couple told us, ‘Figure out where you are unified, and take a step in that direction.’
So maybe if you feel like you aren’t unified with the grand idea of homeschooling, maybe you can sit down and have a heart to heart and say, “Where are we unified when it comes to our children’s development and education?” and then step there.
Maybe your husband will say, “I’ve kind of always wanted to travel together as a family.” Well then you’re on board. You’re like, “Ok! Let me help you plan the next trip.”
Or if he says, “I think it would be fun to get some old electronics, and take them apart, and tinker with them over the weekend.” Great! Send your kids to school, and do that over the weekend. But wherever you are unified, you’ll be so blessed and your children will be so blessed if you take a step in that direction.
Aimee: I love that so much! What would you say, Laura, are some of the values and principles that have shaped your approach to homeschooling?
Laura: An abstract value is relationship. I try to keep that in mind because I’m a very type A person, and I’m a teacher by trade, so I can get very much focused on the check boxes and the accomplishments and the actual substance of the learning. But it’s so helpful for me to remember that underneath that must be the foundation of a really healthy growing relationship with my children. Their relationships with each other have to take priority over the check off the school work. So there are a lot of starts and stops to our school day. If we have to have some conflict resolution, or someone just needs to say something more kindly, or to be patient with one another, all of that to me is a value much higher than the facts. That’s an ongoing thing, something I’m always growing in. How can I befriend my children? How can I listen to them, hear them out? How can I see the strengths that God has given them and see the strengths that God has given them? All of that is just relationship and so important as a framework and grounding for homeschooling.
Secondly, there are a couple of specific things that always have been (and I hope always will be) essential keys in my homeschooling, and the first is reading aloud. I think that reading to my children is so valuable.
My younger sister, she’s like ten years younger than I am, she’s just starting off and she’s got all her little ones. She was asking me some questions about her child’s attitude. She was like, “Ugh! How do I come in here and discipline or train her?” Because she was disobedient or had an attitude or something like that. And I said, “Read aloud.” She was like, “Oh! That is not what I was expecting you to say.”
I was like, “Yes! Just read to her. Read to her about girls who are spunky and interesting.” Because she was avoiding the Ramona Quimby thing). I was like, “Read a Ramona book to her, and talk to her about it.” What kind of decision did Ramona make? And how much do we love Ramona and want to see her thrive? How did things change and circumstances happen so she could learn from it? Read the whole spectrum. Talk about it together, or don’t talk about it. All of those storylines will shape a person in ways that nothing else will. That has just been a key. I think it always will be. Reading aloud.
And then even the beauty of just sharing those characters in common with one another. Sharing the storylines and the quotes, the funny parts, the sad parts. I thought, when my children leave our home, there are just a few things you leave your home with as like, ‘Oh yeah, I will always remember X, Y, and Z’ right? So I thought I want to choose one book that I read every year to my children. And it’s Charlotte’s Web for me. So we started reading this way long ago. We’ve been reading it every spring or summer, and it’s been so beautiful to see as my children grow older and new children come to the table or to the picnic blanket, who’s at the age to cry at the end? Whose heart breaks at the end is so moving to me. Because there are the littlest ones who don’t really understand what’s happening, and they just get into the story. And it’s Wilbur and Charlotte. And then there’s that one golden year when it dawns on them, “Oh! She gave up her life for him!” Then by the next year they’re ready for it. They’re a little bit stronger. They can handle it. So I just thought, ‘Wow! If they can leave my home, hearing me, hearing my voice having read that book to them every year, or any year I can, then that’s special.’ So reading aloud. A value and something I try to hold dear.
The second thing is for me and my family it’s so helpful if we have a consistent schedule. We are not unschoolers. I know that that suits some people, but it doesn’t work well here. I really work very hard to come up with a schedule where we are at peace with one other for the most part and everybody’s kind of occupied and learning. I work through the summer to wrap my mind around how the fall will be. And then, with kids, they’re continually changing, so this schedule, I have to continually change it and tweak it. But it’s kind of a continually working document, but I do hold it very dear. I think it’s very important to our development here.
And then just one more thing is the value of conversation, just talking throughout the day. I’ve always valued that my children are the ones at my lunch table. The funny guy is my son and their brother. We just laugh about the same things. That’s a very high value for me, to have conversation going with my teens, with my ten-year-old son, with my two-year-old. It’s fun to know who they are and hear how they’re doing and talk.
Aimee: That’s beautiful. I’m so struck by that idea of having one book that you read together every year and get to continually return to as a family. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard anyone share that before. That’s such a great idea. I’m going to be pondering that.
I want to make sure we get to talk about your book, your new book that just came out: Expect Something Beautiful: Finding God’s Good Gifts in Motherhood. I feel like you’ve already alluded to some of the themes that show up in the book, but if people aren’t familiar, can you give a little overview of what the book is about?
Laura: Yes! To be honest this interview is very soon after the book release, so I’m still trying to get that elevator pitch down. I don’t quite know yet how to summarize what the book’s about. So maybe any listener could help me out and send a little email like, “This is what your book’s about.”
But one of my passions is for mothers to see that as they are laying their lives down for their children, God is doing good work in the mother’s heart. A lot of times we focus so much on the fruit we see in our child’s life, which is good, and we should anticipate it and look for it, but I really want moms to see that God is at work in their own heart and things don’t end with self-sacrifice. That’s not the end game. The point, Jesus said, of the grain of wheat going down into the ground and dying is so that it would bring forth abundant life. And he did that for us when he died on the cross, and then rose again, and brought abundant life, more than I could ever express! How can you ever put that into words, the life that he brought to humanity by laying down his own life? But then he gives that call to us.
In this book, I explore what that looks like specificially on a day-to-day basis. I kind of go through the fruit of the Spirit chapter by chapter. I share personal stories and Scripture. I talk about how God has been each of those beautiful values to me. He has been love and joy and peace and patience throughout motherhood, and then also how He cultivates that in a mother’s heart so that she can grow and look back and realize that He has been up to something good.
Aimee: I love how you frame the book in terms of expectations because I think our expectations can be so impactful on our mothering. Sometimes we go into motherhood with expectations that we have picked up from culture, or maybe we don’t even know what to expect, but what we think we’re going to get out of the experience of being a mother can sometimes shape whether we’re able to embrace that with contentment and trust in the Lord or whether our heart gets filled with bitterness and resentment. So can you tell us a little bit about what the good gifts we can expect from motherhood are, and what God really promises us as mothers?
Laura: Yes, yes. Well, I can guarantee you anything good you that expect from motherhood, God has better things in store. He is so generous and good-hearted, and He loves you so very, very much. And if He has given you a child, then He has given you a good thing. And He intends to create goodness in you and in your child and in your experience for His glory. So just you wait!
One of the things that comes to mind is from Isaiah 40:11. It says, “He will tend his flock like a shepherd. He will gather the lambs in his arms. He will carry them in his bosom and gently lead those that are with young.” That is a picture of Jesus and you and me and our children. Jesus pulls mothers up close to his side, and he nourishes us. Just imagine how a shepherd takes care of his nursing ewes. Those are the ones he makes sure get really high nutrient-dense food and cool clear water. He makes sure they are protected from their enemies and they lay down to rest. He’s holding the little lambs in his arms. That’s us! That’s literally us in our motherhood. Anytime we need him we turn and he is there. He will be there. You can expect that.
You can expect him to feed you with his word. His word is not just one more thing that you need to check off your to-do list. He’ll pay attention to those weaknesses and sins that creep up, things that all of a sudden as a mother you realize, ‘Oh my word! Look at my sinful heart. It’s so discouraging!’ But one look at your Good Shepherd and you’ll realize, ‘Oh! He has died to forgive those sins, and He will help me day by day to let go of my sinful habits, sinful ways, sinful attitudes, and receive his righteousness and live it out.’ You really can. You can expect Him to produce His good fruit in you.
He’ll give you bravery in the face of fear and hope for the future when things look dismal. He will give you patience, and kindness, and gentleness toward your children on the very days when you feel like you’re going to lose it and treat them badly. He will give you the strength to turn to Him and receive His gentleness. I mean, the list is limitless. That’s just a few things that come to mind.
Aimee: I love that! One of the good gifts that you mention in your books is that motherhood offers us endless opportunities for worship. Can you share a little bit about how you experience that in your life?
Laura: Very regularly things fall apart here. Very regularly I have this wonderful idea of some homeschool experience that’s just going to be amazing whether it’s a project or a meal or a field trip or an experience. Very regularly it’s like the stilts get knocked out from under me. Something falls and shatters, and I’m spending my time instead cleaning up the broken pieces. Or taking care of a child who’s melting down when it was supposed to be a happy memory. And that is when I realized, every time I kneel to collect the broken pieces or speak to the broken heart or hold something together that I’m worshipping the God who came to do that on a grand scale, who came to wipe our tears from our eyes, who came to take the broken pieces and restore them and redeem them.
And you are too! Every time. And I know you have to do it. I know it’s part of your daily work. Every time you do it you are worshipping him and saying, ‘Come again, Lord Jesus! I believe that you will come and heal this broken world. Every time I do it I’m proclaiming your kingdom come and doing the work that you want me to do.”
I also think on a day-to-day basis of Matthew 25 when Jesus said the Son of Man will come and he will divide the sheep from the goats. He speaks to a certain population of people, and he says, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
Why? “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”
Then they ask him, “When did we ever do that?” And he said, “Every time you do this to one of the least of these, my brothers, you did it to me.”
This is exactly the work of mothers and fathers. We are literally feeding the hungry. Giving the thirsty something to drink. Clothing the naked. Visiting the sick. Helping our children when they are caught in captivity in the sin of their own heart. Releasing them and setting them free by pointing them to Jesus and his grace. This is our daily work from sun up to sunset and often through the night. And Jesus takes it personally. It is our worship to Him, and we can ask Him to help us do it with a glad and thankful heart.
Aimee: That’s so good, Laura! I don’t think I’ve ever thought of that passage in terms of motherhood before, but you’re exactly right. That is the work of mothering.
What would you say if there’s someone who’s listening and they’re feeling discouraged or overwhelmed. Maybe motherhood hasn’t turned out the way the expected it would be, and they’re wrestling with that grief that comes from recognizing that some of the dreams they had for their life as a mother may not come to fruition. That could be for a whole host of different reasons, but for those who are wrestling with that, what would you say to them?
Laura: I think first that they’re not alone. I think that’s common and a lot of women struggle with it, so they shouldn’t feel like there’s something wrong with them or they’re an oddball because everyone else seems so gloriously happy with motherhood. We all struggle from time to time.
But also your struggle is unique, and what you are wrestling with is unique. So I encourage you to listen to the words of Psalm 62:8. This has been a life verse for me, and I hope it becomes a life verse for you too because here’s what it says. “Trust in Him at all times, O people. Pour out your heart before Him. God is a refuge for us.”
So whatever you’re struggling with, wherever that ache is of disappointment, pour it out before the Lord. He can hear every single bit of it and handle it and hold it. He can hold you. He will be a refuge for you from your very own disappointment. Picture yourself being hid in this wonderful fortress simply because you are going to the God of creation, the God of your own soul and pouring things out to Him. Saying, “God, I’m really disappointed in X, Y, or Z. However things turned out or however things are. Let it all out before Him. Even in the process of trusting Him, I think you’ll find great peace and relief. But then I know He will respond. In His own way. Keep an open heart, a warm heart towards Him. Keep your eyes open, keep your journal open so you can write down what He does over the next day, two days, two years, and so on and so forth. Because He heard you and He is going to answer you from a good, loving heart.
That might be the first thing that I would say, and I could probably just leave it at that, but also to acknowledge that it might be that way. There may be some big disappointments. There may be some things that you have sacrificed and it hurts. But just imagine and remember that anything that you are sacrificing or giving up for the sake of loving your child is worth it. This is a human being who God has made and they are relying on you to love them, to point them to Jesus, to care for them and see them through even on the hard days. So by God’s grace as you do that, the pain of letting go of something is just an indication that there was a cost and you made a decision to take the hard road but the good road. So I want to cheer you on, and I want to pray a blessing on you: grace and peace and strength and courage.
And also I hope that you find at least one good friend in your real life who can come alongside and just be there for you through those tough times and you both can keep yourselves coming back to the same book and the same Lord over and over again because that will be good for your soul.
Aimee: Yes, that’s been exactly my experience as well that God is near to us in those moments when we’re so broken hearted and we turn to Him. He’s ready to embrace us with His love in that moment. It’s not always easy to walk that out, but He is so, so faithful in those moments. Thank you very much for sharing that with us.
It’s been so good to talk to you, Laura. It’s been so great to hear more about your book. I hope people will pick up a copy! Do you have any final words of encouragement for the homeschool moms and dads who are listening today?
Laura: When I was praying about this interview and thinking about the homeschool mom, homeschool dad who may be listening, this verse came to mind. I’m going to share that. It’s “This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” And I would just encourage you to remember that when God sees your day, He doesn’t think, ‘Let’s just get through this one. Let’s just check this one off. This will be one of 180 days.’ No! He made it on purpose. This very day when you’re listening to this interview! He made it, and He made it for you. He has plans for this day. He has good work to do in your heart and your child’s heart and your home and your homeschool. So look to Him and rejoice in what you see him do because it’s important to remember in the blur that can sometimes come up with homeschooling. One day leads into the next and into the next, but each day matters to the Lord. It matters to us.
Aimee: Where can people find you, Laura, if they would like to connect with you more? I have a website and it’s firstname.lastname@example.org so people can certainly find me there, and they can also find me on Instagram and Facebook. I’m not always regular on Instagram and Facebook, but during this book launch I check in more than probably I will in 90 days.
I have the best feed in the world, the most inspiring wonderful people. I love them! But I find with all my children and all of the stuff, I just can’t. I just have to figure this social media thing out. But it’s a joy! And currently that’s where I am. Laura@laurabooz.com will be reliable. Facebook and Instagram, I’m there, but I don’t know what that will look like far into the future.
Aimee: Well, thank you so much for sharing with us and opening the Scriptures to us and sharing your heart. This was really powerful.
Laura: Thank you, Aimee. And thank you to the listener too. God bless you!