Who would have known? I heard my first homeschool radio broadcast in 1982 through Focus on the Family. I read my first homeschooling book shortly after. I met my first homeschooling student (age 9 who could not read until that year, then took off reading everything in sight) in our first year of seminary. Now, homeschooling on purpose since 1985 – 8 children later – 6 high school graduates – 5 college degrees so far – 2 more children in high school – missions minded – servants’ hearts – worshippers – giving their lives away – that is how I would describe the children whom I have had the privilege of homeschooling in my own house! Did I use the perfect curriculum? No, often just what was handed down to me or was the most affordable. I must have had the perfect schedule – no, I am not sure we did the same thing any two days in a row for the last 25 years. How will your seven boys play sports? Don’t worry, they have played just about every one. What about socialization? I am not sure I could take it if my kids were any more social than they are! What about music lessons – how will you afford them on one salary? I have more kids playing more instruments and singing than I could have ever imagined, and without lessons!
“How did you do it,” they ask? I have to confess, there is no “perfect” way to home school; there is no “right” curriculum; there is no “ultimate” schedule; there is no magic formula. There is not an ideal mother/child relationship for schooling at home. All I know is that it works. What works? Loving your kids and seeking to give them the best that you can in terms of character and a biblical worldview that can change their world…living life in front of them in an imperfect world, as an imperfect parent, who has a perfect Savior!
As I sat through two recent graduations of two sons, I was more convinced than ever of the possibilities and benefits of home schooling your children, if at all possible. They did it! We did it! God did it through us! Every time I drove by a middle school this year and watched the inappropriate boy/girl interaction, I would look at my fourteen year old daughter and be so thankful that she did not have to endure all of that. When I watch the peer dependency of young people, then see my guys choose each other to throw the frisbee with, go to the beach or movies with, or just sit and play music with…I am again awed at what God has done. Reading Pilgrim’s Progress and The Screwtape Letters, followed by incredible indepth discussions about the books – how could it get better? Easy? No, never, not one day, but do-able.
How can you respond to your children who are so grateful to you for the sacrifices you have made? How do you react when they tell you they are so glad that they have not grown up in churches where they had every need met by others and where trendiness was the modus operandi for ministry! They want to give their lives away and find God’s will for themselves. When your tenth grader is discussing with businessmen in an airport about absolute truth and they ask him what college he goes to…when a son tells you how God is teaching Him to pray – when you ask your husband for a good verse on brokenness, and your daughter offers the ones she has been reading lately… when your sons who have never led worship, step out and lead for the very first time…when your young adults are talking to you about their future marriage relationships, and want your input (even though you are working hard at letting them determine their convictions and set their boundaries)…these and more are all byproducts of God’s “amazing grace” in homeschooling. Again, we are not perfect and our children have and do make mistakes. But to be able to be there and guide them through to the other side, is also a gift in homeschooling.
(mom, dad, and five of the eight at UCF, spring ’09)
God initiated this direction – He went before us down this path – God kept our feet steady along the way – God has produced the fruit in the hearts and lives of our children. No shortcuts, no furmulas (although I have longed for them) – just hard work – prayers, tears, hugs, flexibility, and more hard work. If I could tell you it was a certain curriculum, schedule, or secret homeschool weapon, then I would not be able to boast in the Lord like I am. It is His mercy that has been new every morning – His faithfulness that has proven true, especially on those many days when I never even got to the academics for the day!
Take hope in the path that God has called you to, whatever that path is, and seek Him. Stay on it – don’t give up! Fellow homeschool moms and dads, do not decide ahead of time what it must look like, exactly what every child should be and do, and wonder how you are going to control it all. Focus on those internals, not just the externals. Ask God to allow you to follow Him in raising up children who love Him, love each other, and love the world…children who get it – who want to give their lives away for His sake! Wow!
I encourage you to keep on going! Enlarge your vision of God, to stay on this task. He uses every experience to teach us all. He is a BIG God and the object of our hope!!