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Put your oxygen mask on first!

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From Our House to Yours

Put your oxygen mask on first!

If you have been on a plane, you have been instructed to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others. This is a good metaphor for homeschool moms, who are some of the busiest people I know! We give, give, give, and then we give some more. But, what happens when we have no more to give? We burn out, feel depressed, become anxious, develop insomnia, and suffer from sheer exhaustion. The Lord wants us to have life, and have it to the fullJoy is to be a part of our daily lives, but joy is hard to have when one is short on ‘oxygen.’

Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, notices Moses forgot to put on his oxygen mask. 

Homeschool moms aren’t the only ones who forget to put on their oxygen masks before helping others. Let’s look at Exodus 18:13-16 to see what prompts Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, to notice Moses has misplaced his oxygen mask.

13 The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. 14 When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?”

15 Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. 16 Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.”

Jethro tells Moses his oxygen mask is missing.

Have you ever had a loved one tell you to slow down? That your load is too heavy? That you cannot handle it alone? Maybe they even pointed out your oxygen mask is missing, and has been for awhile? They might have even told you ‘what you are doing is not good.’ Ouch! Let’s look at Exodus 18:17-20 to see what Jethro had to say to Moses about his misplaced oxygen mask.

17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 19 Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. 20 Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. 

Jethro tells Moses to make his load lighter by asking others to help.

How do you do with asking for help? Most homeschool moms don’t do very well with this. In fact, most homeschool moms don’t accept help even when others offer it themselves. Well, let’s look at Exodus 13:21-23 to see how Jetho’s remedy for making Moses’ load lighter involves asking for help.

21 But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”

Moses’ Response to Jethro’s Advice on How to Put His Oxygen Mask On

How would you respond if you received this advice? Asking for help is hard!  It is humbling because we are admitting we cannot do it alone. Let’s look at Exodus 18:24-27 to see Moses’ response to Jethro’s advice on how to put on his oxygen mask.

24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 25 He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 26 They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves. 27 Then Moses sent his father-in-law on his way, and Jethro returned to his own country.

How Jethro and Moses’ Life Relates to Homeschool Moms

Moses had people standing around him from morning to evening, waiting for him to make decisions. He was wearing himself out, and Jethro wisely told him that what he was doing was not good. Jethro’s advice was to teach others what to do, how to live, and how to behave. His next piece of advice was to tell Moses to delegate by choosing capable people to help. To make Moses’ load lighter and to be able to stand the strain, Jethro further advised having others make the simple decisions, so only the difficult decisions were left for Moses. In this way, all the people (including Moses) would go home satisfied. Can you relate to Moses’ story? I can! And I bet most homeschool moms can too!

Put on your oxygen mask by delegating and by asking for help.

It is true, we as homeschool moms must often do the difficult things. There isn’t anyone else to do them. The big decisions, at least in homeschooling, often fall on us. However, there are many simple decisions. These can be delegated, most likely to our children, if we can give up the control to do so.  Likewise, we can ask for help. We might ask our husbands, our children, our extended family, and/or our friends. Or, we might ask people to help outside our circle of family and friends, which might require payment. If you are running on empty and short on ‘oxygen,’ it’s time to put on your mask! Start by filling up with the ‘breath of life‘ – by taking time to talk with God each day. But then, like Moses, take Jethro’s good advice. Delegate, and ask for help! Pause, take time to breathe, and make a plan to keep that oxygen flowing! Everyone will be the better for it!

In Christ,


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Michelle Foelber

    Such a great blog! This is so true and I have always loved this story about Moses. My mother just recently said to me “I feel so bad…I used to help with your laundry when the kids were babies and you were exhausted. Is there anything I can do for you?” I just looked at her and said, Mom thanks so much…what I need now more than laundry help is time away from the kids. Can you watch them for a sleepover? I realized I needed an afternoon/night off and she was willing to meet me in my need. Sometimes we just have to ask!

    1. I’m so glad this post resonated with you, Michelle! I’m even more glad your Mom asked how she could help now that your kiddos are older and that you had the sense to ‘put on your oxygen mask’ and specifically share what she could do to help! Time off alone for us as homeschool moms is healthy. It is a time to refuel and come back stronger. I believe God puts people in our lives, like your Mom, to help. He puts a desire in their hearts to help, and by allowing them to help, they benefit as well. I hope you had a wonderful afternoon/night off, and I hope you do it again soon!!!

      In Christ,

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