Bad Days Are Part of the Deal


In parenting and homeschooling especially, bad days are part of the deal. In fact, if you aren’t having bad days, I want to talk to you because I want to know how you are conjuring that magic.

I could reassure you that bad days are what help us to see the good days for what they are – but you already know that. I could explain that bad days are part of living in a fallen world, but that certainly isn’t news to anyone. I could remind you that the days are long but the years are short and that the bad days will be distant memories soon enough, but that doesn’t cheer you up when you are having an “Alexander Day”. (Alexander Day? Oh…. stop reading this post and go get your hands on this little gem. It is essential.)

I just had a bad day. A really bad day. Our house was egged in broad daylight as it has been done many times before. My plans for the day went out the window. I went from settling in with a mug of Mystic Monk deliciousness and a schole book while sitting next to a roaring fire to being forced to call the police and investigate damage.

Almost three hours later, I was frazzled, frustrated and furious. I was about to lose anything that was left of our school day. As I reached for my phone, I saw the custom lock screen… my Rule of Six. I felt grace rush in and inspiration draw my focus onto a plan to save my day. I wasn’t worried about checking boxes. I was worried about not letting the egging get the best of my precious time with my beautiful babies. I wanted to stand up in that moment and defend my home culture and my vocation. I wanted to get past the damage done to my house and protect against potential damage to my relationship with my children.


My Rule of Six is a simple but powerful list of 6 principles that govern any decision I make for our homeschool. These principles are entirely my own – my husband and I prayerfully discerned them – but the idea of creating this list and learning to apply it came from Read Aloud Revival.

tfrLast November, two of my most trusted friends (fellow Potato Peel Pie Moderators, Jaime Showmaker and Allison Gaulin) and I read “Teaching From Rest” together. As my husband was driving our family across the state to see my grandfather, we mamas were chatting on Facebook about some homeschool philosophy questions we were muddling through. I don’t remember who did it first, but someone posted a quote from Sarah Mackenzie into our chat. Intrigued, all of us either reached for our unread spine or quickly ordered the ebook. Within hours, we were reading almost at the same pace, talking the entire time. All three of us were coming to Sarah’s book with the same reserve and skepticism. All of us were fearful of being sold yet another “golden philosophy” that required us to just do X-Y-Z. Imagine our surprise, delight and joy as we unpacked this mighty little book.

Teaching From Rest does not advocate a particular educational philosophy. Instead, it passionately urges us to do what we were wired to do – to lean into the Holy Spirit and let God lead our homeschools. This book is packed with goodness, truth and the beauty of trusting in a God who loves our children more than we do. Written by a homeschooler in the trenches, it contains practical suggestions while being inclusive of many styles and approaches. It is gentle and loving. It is focused on vocation more than technique. (More on that in a detailed book review coming soon.)

I mention Teaching From Rest because it was this little book which helped me to understand who Sarah Mackenzie and Read Aloud Revival were. More importantly, it prepared the soil for what was coming, and it taught me to trust Sarah’s mentoring.

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 4.56.37 PM

In January, I gambled. My school budget is tight like anyone’s – especially those of us who school through a love of classics and are always building a library. Upon the advice of some trusted friends I decided to try the Read Aloud Revival membership site on for size. It costs almost as much as a monthly Audible membership; I was skeptical that anything at that price could be as valuable to me as Audible is. However, I was impressed with Sarah’s writing and the free video book club she did for Teaching From Rest. I decided that a one month trial was worth some small risk.

IMG_7263I wandered into the RAR Membership site and starting binge watching past Master Classes and Author Events. I absolutely fell in love with the SD Smith Author Event! I loved Heidi Scovel’s Book Club Detectives Master Class. I went out and bought every book that Andrew Pudewa recommended in the Moral Imagination Master Class. I appreciated the way that Adam Andrews gave me some clear and easy questions to ask my children when we are reading.

I worried, however, that I might exhaust the site and then be left with a subscription and limited new content going forward.

About mid-way through January, Sarah began advertising the Focus and Align Master Class scheduled in February. I continued my membership into February so that I could participate in that 2-part course. It was held in the evening, and I was able to log in and chat with the community and the RAR team as Sarah walked us through this powerful and helpful approach to saving the bad days.

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 4.58.15 PMIt was hard work. The course itself was fun. The homework, however, was small but mighty. Discerning God’s will for us can be messy. The fruit of doing so, however, is that when we do, we are prepared to meet the challenges He is going to send.

In the case of the Focus and Align course, we had to discern our Rule of Six and trust that doing so would render us equipped to stand up on days we would rather lie down.


That cold, sleeting morning when I wanted to be reading Leisure by Pieper, I was filing a police report, talking with my husband about the complexities of our situation, and wrestling with all of my worldly frustrations. No one would have blamed me in the least if I had called it quits for the day and turned on Wild Kratts for the kids while I holed up in my room reading. No one, except me.

Instead, on that day, I noticed the picture of my Rule of Six on my phone lock screen as well as a picture I had posted to Instagram mere moments before the eggs hit. A picture of promise, and beauty and I decided to do what I promised to do. Chase wonder. Appreciate beauty. Study truth. Practice hospitality. Pursue holiness. Cultivate virtue.

My Rule of Six saved a bad day. In fact, it has saved a lot of mediocre days too.

That day, I applied my Rule of Six practically and facilitated a genuine turn-around.

‪#‎chasewonder‬ – Greek, Herodotus & Physics
‪#‎studytruth‬ and ‪#‎pursueholiness‬ – Slugs and Bugs
‪#‎appreciatebeauty‬ – Growly Books
‪#‎cultivatevirtue‬ – Latin, Pray & Saint study
‪#‎practicehospitality‬ – wonderful hour long visit from the police

12605296_10153414716886375_4333912788532889927_oIf you want to learn more about the Rule of Six, I recommend checking out the Read Aloud Revival Membership site. It’s ok to be skeptic and just join for a month to see if it is a good fit. When you join you get access to all of the old goodness and everything new that posts that month. You may decide that being a member just a few months a year is all that you can afford or all that you would use – that is totally ok too. *And make sure that you check out the #rarruleof6 hashtag on Instagram – it is full of goodness!

I have not been asked to provide this review – I am writing earnestly from my experience. I am, however, deeply grateful to Sarah and Kortney for the rich mentoring and support I have received from my membership. I am grateful to their families for sharing them with us. Read Aloud Revival is a very special place, and it has been a big blessing in the life of my family.

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 4.57.37 PM