This is one of my favorite times of the year, the time everything is fresh and new and possible! This is the time when I get to look back and forward, dream and consider, pray and trust as I look to a new year of home schooling.
Over the course of 18 years of teaching my children at home I have learned that this journey is not about figuring it out, but it is about prayerfully persevering. It is about continuing on through the challenges and celebrating God’s goodness and faithfulness.
We must remember not to allow our plans to become our idol. God’s word says that “man plans his ways, but the Lord directs his steps.” God has a plan for each of our lives, for our family’s homeschool. We should plan prayerfully and hold our plans with open hands, offering our plans up to God to work through and use as He will for His glory.
Planning gives us a target to aim for. We do not always hit the bull’s eye, but having one means we are shooting in the right direction. It is vital we have a target to aim at while allowing, or rather inviting God to come and direct our steps.
Here are some steps I go through as I plan the year:
- Pray. Before you even begin the day, ask the Father to guide you and grant you wisdom as you plan. His Spirit will help you and give you insights as you go forward.
- Review Objectives. Our over-arching goal each year is to glorify God and to raise children who glorify God. From there I look at each student, where they are and what they need for the year and set goals for them individually.
- Plan out weeks. This simply means looking at the calendar and your family’s activities/travel and planning which days/weeks you will be home schooling. Additionally, consider planning in some down time for you and your kids. We adopted a 6-weeks-on-1-week-off schedule several years ago that works great for our family. The week off gives us a break, a chance to adjust and catch-up if necessary. Once you know when you can homeschool, now you can better plan ‘what’ and ‘how’.
- Decide on the year’s subjects. I have developed a rotation for our study of history so that we can go through world and American history several times over the course of their education. Subsequently I add in math, science, writing and foreign language. After these are in place I look to see what I can add in that is unique to each child. For instance I might add in some LEGO material for my LEGO enthusiast or an art class for my emerging artist. Though these may seem to be merely extracurricular, I maintain that as their particular talents and interest begin to develop, they should become more prominent, not just add-on’s.
- Develop a Routine. Over the years I have come to believe that a routine is much better than a schedule. A routine sets a pattern for our day, a course of action, and ultimately, habits. In contrast a schedule ties us, makes us slaves to the clock. A schedule demands we pay attention to the minutes instead of the moments. It robs us of joy and distracts us from our purpose. I desire to create a context wherein my children love learning. I want to engage them in such a way that they don’t even notice the time. I don’t want to rush to the next ‘thing’ but lean into the now, what we are reading or discovering or solving now.
As you consider the pattern you want to adopt for your day, I would encourage you to put God first (Matthew 6:33). Read God’s word together first; pray together first. This example of putting God first is an excellent example for your children as they grow up and begin to adopt their own daily routines. As they get older, show them how to have their own quite time first and then ask them to share what they learned that day.
After time with God, then put the other subjects in an order that best serves your children, their needs, and your day. We have a routine that is basically the same each day. This way the kids know the drill. They can proceed on their own if I am busy with a character issue or the laundry.
- Plan a meeting with the Principal. This is key. Make sure that you take the time to go over your plan with the principal of your homeschool, your husband. (In North Carolina, the husband/father is considered the principal of the homeschool. Though homeschool law varies from state to state, this is a good way to look at the division of roles.) Get a date on the calendar to meet with him and discuss your plan. More on this next week!
Have you ever prayed the “most dangerous prayer,” as I’ve heard it called by Pastor Rick Warren?
Have your lips and your heart ever cried out, “Use Me, Lord!” but you think you’re stuck in an unending season of homeschooling?
As I’ve contemplated His holiness and our humility this month to write this to you, dear sister, I can’t help but share with you a few encouraging revelations I’ve gleaned over the years.
Homeschooling Keeps Us Humble
This thing we do, the thing you, dear mama, do– knee deep and over your head at times (and I’m right there with you) called homeschooling is our place of humility. We surely know that the Holy Spirit will convict us through words we speak to our children. Over and over again. (Thank the Lord for His grace!) It’s a place we’re brought humbly to our knees (even if that looks like the driver’s seat of our minivans) to ask repeatedly- each and every day, “Jesus, help!” We know that without Him, this homeschool is nothing.
Humility is remembering our place in the Lord, but not shying away from our role and place in His Kingdom here on Earth. I had a Bible college teacher say: “we’ve often got this humility thing all wrong. We think being humble means hiding our true selves, whom God has called and created us to be, under a banner of ‘The Lord has it, I’m just going to be humble and shy and do nothing.’ Quite the contrary! Humility means yes, put our pride aside and know the Lord Almighty is in control, and to give Him all the glory! But it also means to step out confidently in the Lord into who He has called you to be, and the plans upon your lives!” If He’s called you to homeschool, then your plans as a homeschooling family are to be His Light in this world, together. ” When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” — Proverbs 11:2”
Let’s humbly seek the Lord for His wisdom, but then “GO!” into the World as the Lord has commanded us!
” And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” Isaiah 6:3 NIV
Mamas, It doesn’t say “your whole home(school) is full of His glory! It says the whole earth! Do you know just a couple verses under those often quoted words where we sing holy, holy, holy, that the Lord asked Isaiah : Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And Isaiah responded, ” Here am I. Send Me!”
The Earth is Filled with His Glory!
Remember that dangerous prayer? Have you asked to be sent? This is your opportunity! When was the last time you took yourself, and your children, on an adventure to see some of the glory covering His earth? Are you out in nature regularly, even if just for a walk or a picnic? How about exploring other places? Maybe studying His creation and other cultures? Are we really getting our children out to see some of this Earth full of His glory?
What are we doing to be sent- getting into the world- as an answer to that dangerous prayer I’m sure so many of us have said? See, mamas, this homeschooling thing, it’s about being available, hands raised high, for expanding His Kingdom here on Earth. I bet you’ve prayed that prayer sometime in your life. And maybe you’ve said to yourself, “the Lord will use me when we get done with this homeschooling season.” But, friends, the time is now! What if that prayer gets answered through your children and your homeschooling? I personally think homeschool is a misnomer. We’re hardly home, and it certainly doesn’t look like school. And that, my friends, is the Lord’s great blessing of freedom in your education in this season!
Homeschooling Is Holy
This homeschool thing is already holy. It’s set apart. It’s different from the world’s systems, and we’re raising up an army of His warriors! Let’s get them trained and out in the world as to how to respond to it, while they’re still home with us under our wings. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you…casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7 Ask the Lord, my friends, is this the time? Could you really use me during our homeschooling season?
Think about the story of Gideon. He was hiding from the world, and from the call of the Lord. Yet, the angel knew Gideon was a mighty man of valor. How about you, mama? Are you hiding from the call of the Lord to get out with your families into this big, wide, world, yet He sees you as a mighty warrior leading your army for Him?
He Was and Is and Is to Come
…Day and night they never stop saying: “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.” Revelation 4:8
If the Lord says it in the Old Testament and He says it in the New, we should certainly pay attention. He was and is and is to come. Let’s use this “is” season we’re in to show our children His glory around the world, not just in our homes, while we educate them on the ways of the Lord. Embrace your gifts and use them for His good. Where do you think He’s calling your family to reach out? I’m sure it will be through the gifts He’s given you, and your children, as strange and puzzling as they may be. (Here’s a little glimpse at one of our family’s outreaches.)
I believe in you, mamas, and I know the Lord does, too. Keep humbling yourselves under His mighty hand and He will exalt you. All for His glory.
Vaya Con Dios-
I’m a tri-polar homeschool mom. By “tri-polar,” I mean I tend to bounce between one of three poles: the good, the bad, and the humble. I have “good” days when I think homeschooling is the best choice we’ve ever made for our family and wouldn’t dream of changing a thing! I also have “bad” days when I question my sanity and run the same load of laundry for the third time. Because. Reasons. 😉
Most days I’m somewhere in the middle—like a pinball briskly bouncing between the bumpers on the machine (quadrupling the score) before bouncing back out onto the playfield only to slide straight through the flapper paddles into the “out hole.” Game over. Or so it could be, if not for my third (bonus) pole perspective.
Before I share my “bonus pole strategy” with you, I need to explain the dangers of the first two:
DANGER OF POLE #1: PRIDE
To the homeschool moms who paint the picture that all days are good, that homeschooling is easy, that children are always respectful and obedient: Bless your heart! (I mean that in the most Southern of ways.) Actually, what I mean to say is, “Stop. It.”
If I’ve learned nothing else in the past eight years, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that homeschooling is a 2-for-1 deal (God is efficient like that). Both children AND their parents are transformed through the experiences of home education—sometimes, parents more so than children—and the more challenging the experience, the more dramatic the change. God is always working on us to transform us into His image, anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something. Outward appearances can be very deceiving.
“Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty,
but humility comes before honor.” Proverbs 18:12
Some of the most judgmental, prideful people I have ever met have been homeschoolers; however, the vast majority are among the most humble and kind. My point is that when we make the choice to homeschool our children based on strong personal convictions, we must fight the temptation to condemn those who have chosen not to. More importantly, we should not judge those who do it differently than we do. That is pride and generally frowned upon in most Christian circles.
We should be generous in our assumptions (as if we have the right to make any in the first place). Brené Brown, one of my favorite authors, suggests that we “extend the most generous interpretation possible to the intentions, words, and actions of others.” This gives satan very little space to bait us with offense and lead us into the sins of arrogance and judgment.
DANGER OF POLE #2: SELF-ABASEMENT
To the homeschool moms who are at their wits’ end, who think all the other moms know exactly what they are doing, and that they are the only moms blessed with disrespectful, obstinate kids in the homeschool community: Things could be worse! And I mean that in the most Northern of ways. Actually, what I mean to say is, “Stop. It.”
“The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom,
and humility comes before honor.” Proverbs 15:33
Something else I’ve learned in my years of homeschooling: satan loves nothing more than to make us feel isolated, alone, and abnormal. If he can get us to repeatedly verbalize our insecurities, doubts, and fears, he will lead us down a path of self-pity where we forget that We. Are. Not. Alone! We forget that our homeschool journey is as much an adventure of faith as it is an education. We forget to look up!
As Dr. Tony Evans says, “God would not have called you to it, if He did not plan to see you through it.”
How did we ever conceive the notion that the path would be smooth when following God’s will for our lives? It’s rarely like that. Don’t believe me? Just look in the Bible for a few examples of folks whose path was anything but smooth (e.g., Joseph, Moses, David, Ruth, Esther, Mary). God uses the ups and downs, curves and caves to sculpt us into the people He created us to be—so we reach our full potential! So, we must be wary of our penchant for whining on the bad days, lest we forget He who planned this journey in the first place. Does it mean we never vent our frustrations with a trusted friend and ally? By no means! God gives us partners on the journey for a reason; however, we must keep our attitudes in check, lest venting take root or worse drag the other down. Does it mean we take responsibility for our spiritual perspective during these times? Absolutely.
BONUS POLE STRATEGY: A HUMBLE PERSPECTIVE
This, my friend, is where our “Bonus Pole” comes in. The third pole exists in another dimension, and the good news is that there are no dangers here! In fact, this place is filled with extra pinballs that come out at just the right moment to help us keep playing the game. Thank you, Lord! This pole is the best place for me to hang my hat as a homeschool mom. It’s an “every day” attitude of HUMILITY. And the cool thing about this pole is that since it’s in another dimension, I can bounce in anytime I want—whether I’m having a good day, a bad day, or just a day.
“Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:4
HUMILITY shifts my perspective from my relationship with my kids to my relationship with God. I’m able to see the battle for what it is and fight the real enemy—which, by the way, is NOT the kids, the pet(s), the curriculum, the finances, the house, or even the spouse!
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12
When my vision is clouded by pride (it’s all about me) or self-abasement (it’s still all about me), I forget that the same God who called me to homeschool is the same God who has equipped me for battle. As I intentionally shift my focus from self to Savior, I am reminded whose I am. My vision becomes crystal clear and my discernment is sharpened. I remember my spiritual armor, and I’m able to fight the fight of faith with weapons that actually work! Interestingly, this shift can only happen when I’m in humility.
So, how do I get there? This place called “Humility”?
Well, when you arrive at the fork on Attitude Road, consider your options: You may head down the paved path of pride or choose the grovel road that leads to self-abasement. Or look up and take the highway to humility where there are no tolls or trolls and the view is quite divine!
“Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” James 4:10
It is my heart’s passion to encourage you in raising that child. As the mother of at least two, probably more like two or three or four of “Those Children” myself, they really do have my heart. I know how challenging they can be but I also know what a joy and what a privilege it is to be their mom. I’m here to encourage you.
Today I want to look at something very near and dear to my heart. That is the issue of how to bend “That Child” without breaking “That Child”.
I know what it’s like to have a day with “That Child” where you just want to yell and scream. You just want to tie them in a knot. You’re just at the end of your rope. Whether it’s the incessant questions or it’s the confronting your authority, or the belligerence, or the inability to focus….I remember one time sending my “That Child” who is now much older to the mailbox to get the mail. I was distracted by all the other children in the house and didn’t realize how long he had been gone. When he came back in, about 30 minutes later (p.s. It’s only about a minute walk to and from our mailbox!) he had done everything but what? Get the mail!
Yes, I know about those long days when focus flies out the window.
Another time I sent him downstairs to get a roll of paper towels. He came back with…. A hammer! It can be very frustrating. I get it, my friend.
I get the frustration that can just build. I know that you do, too. I don’t know if it’s been that day at your house. I want to talk to you about how do we bend these kids and not break them? We are not called to break them.
My two youngest sons that are now 14 and 13 have recently gotten really kind of deep into entomology. That’s the study of bugs. They procured a beetle for this unit of study. This beetle was very, very, very stiff. There was no way that they could spread out the legs of this beetle, or his antennae. They couldn’t do anything. In fact, this beetle actually had wings underneath this hard shell; but there’s no way that they could expose those wings in order to see the beauty of this beetle. Enter the softening chamber. This is just a piece of Tupperware with an airtight seal, some damp paper towels, and a moth ball so that this little beetle becomes movable.
He had to sit in that in that airtight chamber for 3 or 4 days. The boys could just wait for this beetle to soften up and be malleable, to be movable, so that they can go in and manipulate the parts and study this beetle.
What does that process have to do with bending and not breaking “That Child”? I want to suggest to you, a whole lot! Very often our kids are a lot like that atrophied beetle…really hard and really stuck in a single position. We want to come in and just force this beetle to do what we want it to do. In fact, the boys have had an experience or two where they didn’t wait long enough. Apparently, the anticipation of studying this beetle really builds. They would get impatient! (Sound familiar?!)
They would just jump right in and start opening wings, moving a leg or antennae. And guess what…wings broke off, legs broke off, antenna broke off and the boys would end up really frustrated. Because it probably only needed another 24 hours.
I think this speaks directly to us as moms because all too often, just like my boys see in these little beetles, we can see in our children what they could be. We can see the beauty of what God’s created and the position that God has formed them for in this universe and we have a vision for what they could do in God’s kingdom.
But then we go and we don’t wait for them to grow into that position on their own. We want to cut to the chase instead of enjoying the journey. We end up, breaking that child, just like my boys would break a beetle that simply wasn’t ready to be handled yet. Now, I don’t think we mean to do this, but we are capable, of breaking “That Child”.
What I want you to know is this: they’re a lot more sensitive than you might think they are. I know with my original “That Child”, I was confident that he was behaving the way he was behaving just to get at me. I was confident that he knew exactly what he was doing. But all this time later I can tell you this, let me just tell you, young mom of a “That Child” who has driven you crazy today… they are not doing it on purpose. They really are unaware of what they are doing in most instances.
Look, I get that there are times when they push every one of our buttons at the same time. I know what that’s like. But I also know that there’s a lot of time when they are just wrestling through being them. They’re really not trying to push all your buttons. They really kind of accidentally rubbed up against them.
Three keys to raising that child
- Humility is key. In order for us to mold these children into the young men and women, the warriors for the Kingdom, that God intends for them to be, we ourselves must come to this task broken. Humble. We cannot come to this task of molding our children, and discipling our children, if we have not dealt with our own brokenness. If we have not yet come to terms with how desperate we are for a Savior, if we are not aware of how much forgiveness, and grace, and mercy has already been bestowed upon us, then we are not in a position to bend anyone.We must first bend our own knees before we can invite our children to bend their knees. Guess what? They know. We might be able to fool everyone else in our lives but we can not fool “That Child”. The key is for us to come humble, for us to come submitted. Look, your kids get to see how you live this every day of your life. If Mom is submitted to God, does she worship Him? Does she sing praise to Him? Does she point others to Him? Does she have the joy of the Lord and the confidence, and the hope of salvation every day?
Mom, before we can begin this task we must deal with our own hearts.
- Build that relationship. Next, I want to suggest to you that we need to focus on making our kids malleable and moldable. How do we that? We do it by loving them.
Remember in the Bible when Paul wrote, “Christ loved us while we were unlovable?” That’s true! God didn’t wait until you and I had it all together and all figured out. I’ve known people in my past who were waiting to get it all together before they came to Christ. But it says in the Bible that He loved us while we were yet sinners. He loved us!That love, as we start to embrace that love, and learn about that love, it makes our hearts malleable towards Him. It’s the same with our children.
We must first point our children, as we’re seeking to mold them, and to bend them, and not break them, we must first point them to God. The wonder of His creation, His majesty, all of His attributes… I’ve recommended to you before A. W. Tozer’s “Knowledge of the Holy” and I commend it to you once again. Introduce your kids to the God of the universe after you’ve dealt with your own need for him.
Just love on your kids!
When my boys put this beetle into that chamber, the whole point is to make it moist so that it can move. The best way for our kids to want to respond to our bending is that they know how loved they are by God, how wonderfully he has planned a life for them, given them hope of salvation through the gift of His son, and placed him, this child, in your family, and how much you love them. It is the light of that love that we can bend them.
In the Bible we are commended not to exasperate our kids. That happens when we are just on them all the time without engaging in a conversation. It’s easier to exasperate because exasperation doesn’t take any time at all. It doesn’t take any self-control. It doesn’t take any patience. It doesn’t take any wisdom or insight. It’s just as responding in our frustration. It’s really easy to exasperate.
Engagement takes time. It means that right when we want to explode we exhale and we get a hold of ourselves. We do what we want them to do. We allow the spirit of the Holy, Mighty God to come and grant us patience, and wisdom, and insight. Let us not exasperate our children. Let’s engage, especially with “That kid”.
Rules without relationship lead to breaking. When you are just going to insist on them doing x, y, and z without having a relationship… Look, it’s just like that the key to our relationship with God. It’s not that we have to obey Him, it’s that we get to. We get to this place when we understand the love that He’s given in His son’s dying on the cross to pay a sin penalty that we can never pay. The more that we know this truth, the more than we accept that love, and embrace that love, the more love we have to give to others.
I have a policy that now that I have four out of the house anytime any of those four call, I’m answering the phone. I don’t care what time of night it is or what time of the morning it is.
- Demands without discipleship make for breaking. Let’s not just demand that our children do what we want them to do. I know that early on as a mom, the number one thing I wanted was for my kids to make me look good. I am pretty confident that I am not the only one who has had that as a priority.But I am so grateful to be liberated from that one. My priority for my children now is that they would be disciples of Jesus Christ. That in everything they do and say He will receive all of the glory. That they would grow their sanctification in him every single day. That takes discipleship!
Do you see the trend here? Exasperation, rules, and demands don’t take any time. They’re quick, and they are easy, and they are a result of our impatience and our frustration. But engagement, relationship, and discipleship are the three things, through love, that make our kids moldable and helps us not break their little hearts. Not break their little wills, but bend them.
Look, mom, if you have been given the trust of a “That Child” in your house, I want to tell you boldly and with great confidence today, your God does not need the will of “That Child” broken. This world needs more strong-willed women and men of God who will stand boldly on the truth of Jesus Christ. We just need to make sure that their will is not broken but bent to the things of God. The enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy. He knows that one of the strengths of your “That Child” is their strong will. He seeks to steal it, to destroy it, to kill it.
It is our job, it is our joy, it is our opportunity, it is our delight to bend their will towards the things of God so that can use that strong will that He gave them to glorify Him and point others to Him. My friends, raising that child is difficult. It’s frustrating. It is also an incredible journey. Embrace it, don’t fight it.
Your Name Here
Remembering names is not my gifting. I want to remember—really I do—but I’m not very good at it. I’m better with faces. Although I don’t like name tags, I need them. If we’ve met, and we see each other again, I’m hoping that grace will prevail. I will reintroduce myself and maybe we can share a laugh!
But God knows each of us intimately. Scripture talks about Him knowing the number of hairs on our heads. Perhaps more profoundly, He knows our thoughts, even our days. Those are things that I don’t even know about me.
My hair isn’t as thick as it once was, but I don’t know the exact number of lost locks. My thoughts often seem scattered and unfocused. And my days? Those are crazy (most of them)—not necessarily in a bad way, but full. And while I’m a planner, I rarely remember what I had for dinner yesterday. I’m glad God knows those things, but they seem impossible for me to know.
It’s the fact that He knows my name. This blows me away. And I think it is so wonderful. My name. Mine. The name my parents gave to me. The one my husband whispers, the one my friends call, the one my kids repeat. I’m not a number to God. You’re not a number. He doesn’t ever forget my name or yours. You are you, by name. I am me, by name.
It must have been startling for little Samuel to realize that God was calling his name, not Eli. God was saying, “Samuel, Samuel!” God’s voice, not just the priest’s. While Samuel listened to and obeyed Eli, while he wanted to be attentive, the sound of his name spoken by the Almighty had to be a powerful moment.
And what about Saul on the road to Damascus? Talk about a crossroads. Saul, passionate about upholding the Law and the traditions, led the charge in persecuting the Christians. He went door to door. He was actively imprisoning men and women. He stood in direct opposition to Jesus.
Then as he was on the road with his companions, set on finding more believers and punishing them. Jesus spoke to him from a bright light, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” Saul was literally blinded by the light. Jesus called him out and gave him a new name, Paul.
The calling of the disciples is a part of the story that we often read as if it isn’t significant or substantial. Wait just a minute. Jesus called these men by name, and they followed Him without question or discussion leaving their work behind them.
Might there have been something different about the authority with which He said their names? Did He exude the qualities of a leader that drew them to His side: confidence, direction, charisma? If we could ask them, I would bet they would say they couldn’t quite put their finger on it, but there was something in the way He looked them in the eye when He offered the invitation by name with the words, “Follow Me.”
Jesus called Mary and Martha by name. This happened on two very different occasions, and in both instances He did so with gentleness and compassion. Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, “ when she had become frustrated with her sister about helping her in the kitchen. Mary seems blind to all that needed to be done and was just sitting and listening to Jesus.
Jesus wasn’t calling Martha out. He didn’t seek to embarrass her. He wasn’t intent on making her feel bad. No. Jesus softly spoke her name. He wanted her full attention. I’m sure He looked her in the eye. “Martha, Martha.” Jesus wanted Martha to listen to Him, not be distracted by what wasn’t being done around the house.
God knows your name. And He whispers in a thousand different ways. It’s in the wind of a storm, the quiet breeze at the beach. You can hear it when the birds sing or the soft rain falls. Sometimes your name is clear in your heart. And every time you hear it, lean in and listen. He knows your name.
On Mission In Kenya
It’s actually happening. I’m actually in Kenya on a mission trip with my daughter Molly. It didn’t get to happen last summer, which was a story in its own right. So naturally there was a little concern that the enemy would try and find a way to steal, kill, or destroy the dream this year. Praise be to God, we are here.
The time to travel here took 40 hours worth of clock time. We left the house early Thursday morning to meet the team at the Charlotte airport. A flight to Cincinnati was followed by a 6-hour lay-over. Then a long 8-hour flight across the pond to Paris, a relatively short lay-over, and one more long 8-hour flight to Nairobi. After making our way through customs, we still had a long, bumpy, and dusty ride through the middle of nowhere to Bomet, the location of Tenwek hospital where we will serve this week.
As my kids were growing up, I read many biographies of missionaries. The stories were typically amazing and heroic. I honestly can’t imagine the kind of travel they had to endure. They would be on the open seas for three or more months, watch people die along the way (sometimes their own loved ones), then hike for miles in strange new lands, persevere through personal illness, and eventually find a humble dwelling to call home. That’s the kind of sacrifice that makes our “long” travel time seem like a walk in the park. I guess I better count my many blessings.
Thank you in advance for your prayers on our behalf. There is real work to be done here in Bomet at the Tenwek hospital. Death is a common occurrence here. They simply don’t have the basics that we take for granted—things like soap and clean water for example. The OB/GYN doctors deliver many stillborn babies because the mother never had any kind of pre-natal care. This makes work in the labor and delivery section of the hospital a little more sobering and less joyous compared to a similar wing in the USA. However, the heart and mission of this hospital and the people serving here is beautiful. I’m sure we will help with a wide variety of health issues. I can’t wait to tell you the details when we return.
Yes, we will get to go on safari while we are here. I’ve been before, and you never can tell what a day will hold. I can tell you this much—it isn’t like a visit to the zoo in America. There are no fences, no separation pits, no zookeepers keeping close watch. This is nature at its wildest and most unpredictable.
I spent a few years of my own childhood in South Africa, so my heart goes out to this land. I love this country. I love this continent, and I hope and pray we can make a difference in the physical and spiritual health of the people we meet and serve this week. Thanks for joining us in prayer. Ask the Father of all Creation to do a marvelous work, to show Himself strong and mighty, and to let His love and grace and truth be known far and wide in Africa, Kenya, Nairobi, and Bomet.
Where Does a Homeschool Mom Go To Cry?
From The Middle of 24 Months of Unemployment
That last year has been the most difficult of my life. There had been so many losses, so many hurts, so many broken promises, so many dreams interrupted. 2007 is not a year that I will miss, though I am glad it is over, the fall out lingered and the storm had not passed yet when I wrote this. So many times that last year I had been overcome with emotion that is not characteristic for me, waves of grief had assaulted me as I tried to stand strong in the storm around me. This is from that time – the middle of 24 months of unemployment.
There have been blessings also. My marriage to Davis though severely tested, has been strengthened the hard way. The kids are great, healthy and growing strong. God met our every need in the stormy trial of the last year through friends and my family. He sustained us in what can only be described as a fiery trial.
Through it all, this roller coaster ride that has taken my breath away and shaken me to my very foundation of belief. I have had seven pairs of eyes watching, 24-7-365. See, because we homeschool, I have not had the luxury of waving to them as they headed off to school each day. I’ve not had an escape or a break or a breather, our situation did not allow for that. Every morning I awoke with a rush of realization of the enormity of our situation and our lack of control in it. We were just going to have to wait on Him, trust Him and depend on Him.
My kids watched as people, sometimes strangers to us personally, brought food to our house. They found anonymous donations in our mailbox or on our front porch. They saw me thank person after person after person who gave to us what we could not get ourselves. They saw the hand of God in these servants of the Most High.
One day a friend came with groceries, a bunch of them. As she and her children brought in load after load I was overcome, some of the items she brought were on my list in the pantry that no one knew about but God. I had to excuse myself. I went out to the steps and just sat down and sobbed. He knew, He cared, and He provided.
On a funny note, everyone who has brought us food has brought us chocolate. Chocolate M&Ms, brownie mix, chocolate Teddy Grahams, chocolate chip cookies. Clearly word had gotten out that I like my chocolate – my pantry was full as so was my heart.
The employment deal we were working on took many unpredictable turns. At first I tried to hide my tears from the kids, but as the time passed I couldn’t and I stopped trying. It was then that I realized that there was value in their seeing my tears. Their mom who they were used to seeing laugh, wasn’t laughing anymore.
I woke up just about every day with a start. Every morning the first thought in my mind was, Oh no, it wasn’t just a nightmare. It’s reality. I would have to make myself breath as my mind started racing through all of the challenges, unanswered questions, and bills. All of those still lingered. The silence lingered. It was stifling, oppressive.
My emotions started breaking through in the simple innocent questions from my kids. Questions like, “Can we get some Goldfish crackers? I miss them.” Or, “Could I play soccer?” or “It’s hot. Could we get some ice cream.” The unemployed answer was a solid no on all accounts. I knew why. I understood, but how to explain it to the little eyes?
What do you tell them so they comprehend but aren’t stressed? My words failed me. Fact was there wasn’t a explanation. I didn’t understand, how could I help them. My tears told them what I couldn’t. My raw emotion said what I didn’t know how to say. Some said that I needed to hold it together for the kids, that I needed to shield them from it all. I did for a while, but then the dam broke and the tears spilled over.
Challenge: Write a Letter
Back in the day, before email, before texting or Facebook or Twitter.
Back before there were blogs or the Internet or digital anything, people wrote letters.
In my opinion it was a glorious time.
Back then, people took the time – the time – to sit down and write letters, often very long letters, to one another.
Not all of them were love letters, some were merely letters between family members who were separated by hundreds or even thousands of miles, time zones, oceans or continents. They were filled with news that would be old by the time it was read, but news just the same. They were filled with encouragement and dreams and hopes.
But people don’t write those kinds of letters anymore. In fact people don’t write letters at all anymore. It seems that we have settled for practically meaningless, punctuation-less, abbreviated and often flippant texts or emails instead. It’s the new, innovative, modern method of communication.
In our rush to get to the next thing we miss the value of investing in others. Letters were treasured, bundled, guarded. Read and reread. Cherished. They were physical evidence of love and endearment. They documented trials, challenges, struggles and victories. Men wrote home from war, missionaries from foreign lands, daughters to mothers separated for the first time.
There’s nothing like getting a letter or a note. Often I will read and reread them. I have a file full of letter and notes of encouragement I have received over the years. In moments when I wonder about this homeschooling journey I pull out a note from one of the kids, written in crayon, in all of its beautiful crookedness, misspellings not withstanding: “your the besth mom evur!”
Now having launched three of my kids and being a mother-in-law to boot, I’m resolved to write more. Sure we email and text and that’s fine and good. But I want to take time to send along something more, something lasting, something worth reading and rereading.
I’m grateful God gave us His love letter, the Bible. I’m glad it wasn’t just a text or an email, but that He inspired over 40 men over 1600 years with the message of His love for His people, His glorious plan of salvation, of His grace available to all who would receive Him as Lord.
Why not take time today to write a note or a letter. Why not push the pause button on the craziness of it all, pour a cup of tea, and steal away to invest in someone else. By doing so, we receive the blessing of encouraging someone else, knowing we will brighten their day. The possibilities are endless, your pastor, a friend, your son or daughter, your husband, a neighbor, your parents, if you’re blessed to still have them here, your grandparents. Whose mailbox might your note brighten?
Blow the dust off our address books.
Find a notecard or make one – nothing fancy, just paper and an envelope.
Scrounge around in our desks and find a stamp.
Get a pen and share our hearts.
Seal up our thoughtfulness with a smile.
Walk it to the mailbox.
Know that someone is going to get a little unexpected sunshine, Special Delivery!
“The generous will prosper;
Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”
(As I’m planning our school studies for the year I am going to be focusing on this special ministry of letter writing with my kids. Why not join us?)
Waiting And Resting
Pages From My Journal
As you continue to work out the kinks in the plan you had for this homeschool year, would you like to hear a story of God’s faithfulness? Would you like to know how this homeschool mother is finally resting after years of waiting while you figure out what you need to do to amuse your toddler? I’d love to tell you about it as you are in the middle of potty-training your three-year old, getting your laundry done, preparing your grocery shopping list, or cleaning up after a rough start to the day.
Would you like a word of encouragement from someone who vividly remembers homeschool life back when I had kids in diapers and young ones who didn’t sleep through the night? Would you like to know that what you are doing is not in vain, not insignificant, not unnoticed? Would you like a little reassurance that God knows your concerns, that He hears your prayers, that He cares, and — get this one — He is working on your behalf. Even now, even today, even though your voice seems to be bouncing back in an echo chamber, even though progress seems minuscule — God is working!
Do you feel like the only evidence you have to show for your daily progress on this path is weary footprints in the dust? If this is you, or someone you know, read on. Let me tell you a true story of how God has encouraged me.
This last March, Davis and I traveled to New York City to visit The King’s College with our oldest son Charles. Boy, I never could have predicted this one. New York City? Really?
The college was hosting a special weekend for interested students and their parents. Davis and I arrived separately from Charles as he was flying in from Atlanta where he had classes at Impact 360 (his gap-year program). Davis and I landed at the airport, took a taxi and settled into an extraordinarily small hotel room.
When Charles joined us, we were all excited about our weekend together. We headed on foot from our hotel to the Empire State Building where King’s has its offices, student center, and classrooms. The students and faculty greeted us warmly and offered coffee and muffins. The air held an anxious anticipation for the would-be students. After all, this is New York City.
We proceeded to enjoy a “campus” tour (The King’s College considers New York City its campus since the students dorms, some classes, and the internships are spread across the city) which included different locations in the Empire State Building and across the street where the professors have their offices. After a New York style pizza for lunch, we had the opportunity to listen to faculty members and professors. Charles was completely focused, intrigued, and introspective. The goals and objectives of the college (as stated by an executive staff member) took my breath away as I had always hoped and dreamed that these options would one day be available for Charles.
After going through their agenda, the panel took some audience questions. One person asked about the history of the college. The answer included an explanation that it had started in 1938, but had run into problems in the mid 1990’s and closed the doors for four years. In 1999, the college re-birthed itself when a group of dedicated men (including Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ) gave leadership, focus, and renewed purpose to the school.
My mind started racing. Did he say all this happened just over ten years ago? Really? Is that what he said? Oh dear heavenly Father, You did hear my cries.
My eyes filled with tears. I wasn’t listening to the speaker. His voice now muffled, and distant. I sat really still trying to control my emotions. The tears ran down my cheeks; Davis took my hand, not understanding, yet showing support. Why wasn’t there a tissue in my purse?
Ten years ago.
The memories came easily and vividly, but not gently. That time was not just a blip on the screen or a bump in the road. No, that was a really tough time when my homeschool journey was filed with loads of self-doubt. Many of the old insecurities resurfaced. That was the year defeat and discouragement lurked about stalking me every day.
Charles was in pre-adolescence, a time when his body was being charged with hormones. This displayed itself with feelings ranging from anger and frustration swinging all the way over to elation and joy — often within moments of each other. His reading skills had only recently taken off and so did his questions, his intensity, and his abstract thinking. All this change caught me off guard. I expected this down the road and with my daughters, but I thought I had a few more years until these battles set in. Unfortunately, there was no denying – we were well into it.
In the middle of all this, Charles was struggling with some focus issues, which were affecting his schoolwork. I fought against the “testing” option. I thought I could teach and pray and love him through it. But that year, nothing seemed to be working. He seemed to need major intervention. Maybe private school was the answer; maybe this was the end of the homeschool road.
And so I prayed
I prayed that Charles would hear from God and grow in confidence, that the Lord would become real to him, and finally that God would prepare a place especially for Charles. As his mother, I had come to realize that it was going to need to be a very special place, where our goals, values, and vision for our son, our precious Charles, would be supported, where he could soar, where he could grow, where he could lead, where he would be prepared for God’s will and plan for his life.
We are now in our 15th year of homeschooling. I still stand by my characterization of this homeschooling lifestyle as the adventure of a lifetime. God knew that I enjoy the breath-taking rides offered by roller coasters, and my life’s journey has been nothing short of exhilarating.
Sitting there in a meeting room of the Empire State Building, I felt God’s peace. He had answered my prayers. Jesus told his disciples that He goes to prepare a place for us. He does the same thing for His children here.
As a homeschool mom I have missed many opportunities. Many things have gone untaught. We haven’t even gone to the library as regularly as most families do. We have missed some good field trips, and for what it’s worth, our annual test scores are pretty average. But this I know, God has given everyone of us opportunity after opportunity to see His hand, to experience answered prayer, to enjoy His provision, to rest in His plan, to trust Him beyond our understanding, and to rest in His providence.
When I speak, I regularly advocate for God’s providence and His sovereignty. I believe, but I must confess, I didn’t know what it meant to rest in His plans until that moment. During Charles’ senior year I wasted many a night worrying about where he would go and what he would do.
In that moment as I felt God’s peace wash over me it was as if He was saying, “I’ve got Charles. I heard your prayers all those years ago. I already know it is New York City, but do you trust me? I do have amazing plans for Charles. You persevered and obeyed. Though imperfectly, you trusted Me though tears and even doubt. And you recognized that Charles is really mine. I’d like you to do something now that you haven’t done in a while: take a deep breath and let him go. Let him come here to New York City, to The King’s College. I have some people that can continue what you and Davis started. I know it is a risky proposition, but that is why it is called faith. You can breath now. I have proven Myself faithful. I have answered your prayers. Now rest in my peace.”
So, as crazy as it might seem, Charles is at The King’s College in New York City. He lives 1.5 miles from campus and rides the subway regularly, which he has already mastered. And he is thriving. God has met my son in New York City for a kind of divine appointment. God even threw in some scholarships to boot. His grace truly amazes me.
Charles turned 20 years old in 2010. Through this journey our hearts have been knitted together by the Master. I miss him, his energy, his enthusiasm, and even his intensity. I miss the debates over breakfast and the 11:00 pm knocks on our bedroom door, “Mom? Dad? You got a minute?” Yes, I miss that. Every morning I go into his room, turn on his bedside lamp and say a prayer. At night I reverse the ritual. I haven’t stopped praying or missing — I’ve just started resting!
Off to the Philippines!
Davis and I will be leaving on Tuesday, October 13 for Manila, returning on the following Tuesday. This will be our first time to the Philippines and we are excited about the ministry opportunity. You can see the press release and read about the conference, “Ready for the World” here.
Davis will be presenting on Friday, October 16, 2015: “I Believe in Homeschooling” and on Saturday, October 17, 2015: “Give Me One Good Reason to Homeschool”. I will also be presenting twice, on Friday, October 16, 2015: “How to Really Live” and on Saturday, October 17, 2015 I will be one of two keynotes presenting: “Teaching Foundational Truth”.
We would appreciate your prayers.
- Pray for travel mercies. We are facing a challenging travel itinerary. Please pray that we can get some sleep on the plane.
- Pray for our continued preparation for presentations. Pray that God will be glorified through us, that we would be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.
- Pray that we will have eyes to see and ears to hear what God would like to show us and teach us. Pray that we would be able to focus on each person.
- Pray that parents would be encouraged and challenged. Pray that those who attend will come with teachable hearts, seeking God.
Thanks in advance for your prayers. By praying for us you will be blessed and you will be a blessing to your brothers and sisters in the Philippines. I will be telling them that my friends back home are praying for them. I know that they will be encouraged that you care enough to intercede for them.