You Are Enough
This blog post is authored by guest, Cassie Shepherd, homeschooling mom of 4 and creator of Home Centered Learning.
“I don’t know how you do it. I could never homeschool my kids.”
These are the words that spilled from my mouth five years ago as I sat next to one of my homeschooling neighbors. And—let me tell you something—on the surface, I believed it. I didn’t understand how she could stay home with her children all day (let alone want to) or feel she could provide for them what they needed to be successful in life. Of course I loved my kids and cherished our time together, but homeschooling definitely was not for us.
And three years later, that’s exactly where we were—not homeschooling and happily sending our children to our local public school. My twin girls were in first grade, and unfortunately (or maybe not so unfortunately as I originally thought), we ran into some problems with the administration that brought me humbly to prayer, pleading with Heavenly Father to help us know how to navigate the issue.
In hindsight, I can so clearly see the Lord’s hand preparing us for homeschool—and it started long before this experience. But at the time, I wanted nothing to do with homeschooling and wouldn’t even consider it. I fought the thoughts for weeks. I wonder now if the adversary was working so hard on me because he sensed what power could potentially unfold. But I’ll never forget that moment of immense peace when I finally let the Spirit speak, and all I could hear was, “Bring them home. It is time to bring them home.”
And I bet you can guess the first person I called: my neighbor.
This all took place in the fall of 2019, just four months before the pandemic forced school closures in the United States. Isn’t that interesting? Can you envision the shock on my face when I watched the news announce that all the schools were shutting down and parents now found themselves in some kind of homeschool anomaly? Can you imagine what that did to my testimony? As the rest of the world was in chaos, we already had everything figured out. We were calmly settled into a homeschool routine, and we never experienced the challenges so many families went through.
So why me? Why us? I can’t tell you how many times this question has crossed my mind. How many answers I am still searching for. There are so many good and amazing people who didn’t have this experience and these promptings. So why did the Lord choose to prepare me for this path? What does He need me to do here?
I can’t answer this question in full. I suspect it is unfolding and may take a lifetime to unfold. I am not sure. But what I can tell you is that as I pondered and prayed about this article that you’re reading, I asked God what message He wanted delivered, and the thought that came to me over and over again was this: You are enough.
I have an associate’s degree in early childhood education. I finished my bachelor’s in family life education. I worked for years in various schools and with different families. And at one point, I served as a child advocate in the court system. And above all, I have a short eight years of experience as a mother. This isn’t the most impressive resume, yet I feel confident enough saying I have some experience behind me, especially when it comes to teaching and education, the family, and working with children.
And let me tell you that I was absolutely terrified walking into homeschooling. I have never felt more overwhelmed and underqualified at the responsibility that laid before me in my life. I remember crying in the middle of the night asking how I could possibly be smart enough or patient enough or capable enough to teach my children all of the things they needed to know in order to be prepared to survive this world. What if I fail them?
Yet I knew what the Lord was asking of me. I could feel it in every bone in my body. So I took a giant leap of faith and listened. As I dived in head first, thoughts and impressions about my doubts and insecurities started to come to me, and over time, I began writing them down. The more I have read through them, the more confident I am that these thoughts are for every mother to hear—especially for the ones who have found themselves paralyzed with fear or flooded with thoughts of insecurity. Because, as it turns out, your divine nature alone makes you more than enough.
Have you sat down and studied “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,”1 specifically the paragraph on the family? “Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Let all things we do be done with Him as our ultimate foundation. There are also a variety of qualities families must maintain in order to be successful. There must be faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.
And what is our role in this process? As the proclamation outlines, “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.” Mothers are to nurture, the definition of which is “to supply with nourishment, educate, or further the development of.”2
Do you think our Father in Heaven would tell every mother in the ENTIRE world that her main responsibility is to nurture, to educate, to further the development of her children if she would fail at this? Absolutely not! He told us mothers this because He knows what we are capable of. He knows that with Him we are enough. Remember that we were prepared in the preexistence to raise our children during these times. It is only our earthly experience that breeds doubts and insecurities that we must overcome.
What better place to practice nurturing our children than in the home? Time and time again we have been taught that our homes can offer a shelter where children can safely practice and prepare for the world. Our children need a strong foundation that is centered on Christ. As Elder Bednar has taught, “our homes are the ultimate setting for learning, living, and becoming”3 while centering all things on Him. He described knowledge as the most important nutrient we can receive in this life. Fortunately for us, we don’t have to be alone as we strive to educate our children. When we create, invite, and facilitate an environment where the Holy Ghost can dwell, He becomes the ultimate teacher, and through Him, true understanding and acquisition of knowledge can take place.
I often think of the mothers of the sons of Helaman. Did these valiant women ever doubt their own self-worth and abilities? These mothers didn’t raise up their children to fight; rather, they raised them to have faith in God. And when the war came, they were fully prepared. Where is our focus? Do we truly believe we are incapable of teaching our children to be prepared for life? It leads me to ponder what insight the mothers of these strong warriors would share with us. Would they tell us to embrace our divine callings as nurturers? Would they tell us to bury our doubts, our insecurities, our fears? Would they remind us that through God all things are possible? Would they tell us, “You are enough”?
Just a few months after pulling our twins from public school, I was sitting at a neighborhood party one evening with mostly all the same women I had been sitting with years prior. Except this time, a woman sat beside me, and as she learned we had decided to pull our twins from school and home educate, she looked at me with a bit of shock and said those familiar words, “I don’t know how you do it. I could never homeschool my kids.”
I chuckled a little bit to myself, laughing at the irony of the situation. But this time, as I pondered on many of these impressions that had been flooding my mind, all I could think was, how could I not? What a blessing this journey has been.
1“The Family: A Proclamation to theWorld.” Ensign, November 25, 1995, p. 102. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/the-family-a-proclamation-to-the-world/the-family-a-proclamation-to-the-world?lang=eng2 “Nurture.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nurture. Accessed 27 Jul. 2021 3David A. Bednar, “Prepared to Obtain Every Needful Thing,” Ensign, May 2019, p. 54. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2019/05/54bednar?lang=eng
- The Mindful Heart