I love homeschooling for so many reasons! I've put 3 of them together in this post and will share a few more later.
I am very grateful for the freedom and opportunity to teach and talk to our kids about the things that matter most to us. As parents, we take Deuteronomy 6:4-9 seriously, and for us, homeschooling is the best way to carry our our God-given responsibilities for raising the next generation. In a world that is increasingly hostile to truth, we cherish the freedom we have to use the Word of God as our primary teaching tool. Parents, we must freely speak of the foundational truths God has laid out in Scripture AND in the universe He created.
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse." Romans 1:18-20
Especially on a week like this one has been, with sickness running through the house, I'm grateful for the flexibility homeschooling brings. Not only can we set our own schedule, but also we can pick up and GO! Nothing like doing school by a lake, in a park, at the library, in the car, or on a mountain! And certainly in many, MANY times of transition over the years, the flexibility of homeschooling has served us well. Whether it was uprooting our family for yet another military move...or adding yet another baby to the household...the flexibility of our home educating lifestyle allowed us to make important adjustments at an appropriate pace.
If you're not already homeschooling, you may not believe this, but honestly, homeschooling is FUN. Perhaps not all day every day, but I truly have fun with my kids as we learn and discuss life together. It's a joy to watch them learn and grow. And we get to go on some stinkin' cool field trips! We've gone to the zoo on the first day of public school, taken school books to the lake, and even skipped "school" so we could take advantage of an opportunity taking place during typical school hours. We've made some incredible memories together, with a whole lot of laughter and silliness along the way.
If you're a homeschooler, what are some reasons you're thankful for homeschooling?
If you're not a homeschooler, what is something you're thankful for this year?
This Veterans Day marks 3 years since my active-duty Air Force husband hung up his uniform and quit shaving. Although doing military life for over 22 years wasn't always easy, I'm grateful for the opportunities our family had to meet new people, join different church fellowships, and visit other parts of the world we may not otherwise have seen. And I'm extremely proud of my husband and all his accomplishments. Not many people know this, but he chose to retire as a Lt. Col even though he had earned the rank of colonel. The reason? Retiring as a full colonel meant he would need to uproot our family of 11 and relocate two time zones away. While we were certainly no strangers to military transitions, in 2019 we had 3 teenagers plus a daughter with significant physical and developmental issues. Prayerfully seeking the Lord's will, Ted announced he would do what was best for our family: it was time to retire.
I believe God has abundantly blessed that decision! Our children, now ranging in age from 5 - 22, have thrived in a place they have been able to call "home" for more than 5 years, which is much longer than we ever lived in one location during our military tenure. It reminds me that "there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens" (Ecc. 3:1).
Not to take anything away from my husband's Air Force career, but as I ponder what it means to be a veteran, I realize that I, too, can claim this role! Of course, I've never been a member of the armed forces. But I'm certainly a veteran homeschool mom after educating my own children since 2005! And there are similarities in my husband's and my callings that I think are worth considering. In hopes that this will encourage YOU, dear one, I offer a few observations here.
While my husband made a career of military service, his choice to do so stemmed from the feeling that God was calling him TO that service. Likewise, I believe homeschooling is indeed a calling. It will, of course, look different in every family. But Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is clear that parents are ultimately responsible to teach the next generation about God, His character, and His commands. I believe strongly that homeschooling is the BEST way to carry out this mission, but whether or not you choose to home educate your children, if you are a follower of Christ, you must take this calling seriously.
TRAINING & PREPARATION
It would have been absurd for my husband to play video games and eat junk food in the weeks and months leading up to entering the U.S. Air Force Academy as a cadet (waaay back in the summer of 1993!). And he certainly could not have sustained a 22+ year career if he had not taken seriously the need for ongoing training as he rose in ranks and assumed more responsibilities. The task of homeschooling is multi-faceted and warrants serious thought and preparation. This doesn't mean you can't pivot in the middle of a school year and pursue a different course (especially if something just is not working). However, the training I'm thinking of most here is for US as homeschool moms! Curriculum, schedules, and extracurricular activities are all tools, and we can and should put down a tool that isn't working anymore and pick up a new one.
What is VITAL in this homeschooling-for-the-long-haul journey is our humble recognition that we constantly need to be in the presence of Jesus, asking daily for wisdom and grace to BE the moms He has called us to be as we teach our children to follow hard after Him. We need to be in the Word, soaking our minds in the truth of Who God is and who He created us to be. This leads to our last point.
If you know anything about the military lifestyle, you know it involves a level of discipline not typically seen in other circles! The homeschool mom knows that discipline is essential for her lifestyle as well. First and foremost, she must choose to discipline herself: daily Bible study and prayer should be a given. And I'm sure I'm not the only one who is constantly asking the Holy Spirit for patience and self-control as I interact with my children on an hourly basis. Disciplining my own tongue is much harder than getting up early to exercise and have my quiet time...and let me tell you, I am really not fond of rising before the sun is up!
And as we continue to practice discipline in our own lives according to the Spirit's gentle leading, we then must teach and discipline our children as they grow physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Remember the word "disciple" as the heart of the concept of discipline, and you'll be able to better navigate those battles with the flesh (both yours and your children's!).
NEWBIE OR VETERAN?
Are you a new homeschool mom or a veteran? Regardless of where you are on this journey, it's often helpful to talk things over with someone else in the trenches, someone who can help you see past the weeds or obstacles in your path. I'd love to help you find some clarity on your journey, whether you're dealing with toddlers interfering with school time or wondering how to handle difficulties with a teen. If you'd like a veteran mom to prayerfully meet you where you're at and lend a listening ear, I'd love to chat!
Sometimes homeschooling is amazing!
Listening to a child finally reading out loud by herself;
seeing your awkward teenage boy jump for joy after mastering an algebra lesson;
hearing exclamations of surprise during a science experiment;
making memories during a family field trip;
hearing a chorus of "Just one more chapter!" and pretending reluctance as you happily comply.
And then, of course, we all experience the stressful, difficult days of homeschooling:
Struggles with math or reading.
Tears and tantrums from toddlers (or teens...).
Trying to power through when you're sick or in pain yourself. (Having thrown out my back earlier this week, this one is definitely true for me today.)
No one can find pencils or paper; everyone is complaining; the kitchen is a disaster; wet laundry is still in the washer from yesterday; and you have no idea what you're going to feed everyone for lunch OR dinner. (Is fasting an option?!)
What keeps you going on those difficult days? What do you do when homeschooling is hard?
And...more than that...what keeps you going on REALLY difficult days? Not that the above scenarios aren't difficult, but I mean when homeschooling is HARD because you're dealing with heartache on top of the daily struggles.
The doctor confirms a terminal diagnosis.
Your husband is being let go from work.
A loved one has lost the battle with cancer.
You miscarried the baby you prayed for.
How do you keep going?
When homeschooling is hard, the only way forward is to remember your mission, your WHY for doing this in the first place. If you don't have a mission, if you haven't established the foundation for why you're home educating your children, it will be all too easy to find an alternative option. But if you're committed to homeschooling for the long haul, you'll remember that the daily activities, schedules, assignments--all of that is there as a TOOL for you to accomplish your mission.
Maybe school goes on hiatus while you regroup as a family. Maybe you shift into survival mode, doing the bare minimum to keep the kids occupied while you and your husband attend to the crisis at hand.
There are ways to keep going when the going gets tough. But most important of all is keeping an eternal perspective, remembering that ultimately, we are homeschooling so we can teach and disciple our children, growing them into kingdom-minded followers of Jesus.
Is homeschooling hard for you these days? You don't have to do this alone. Hop on a free clarity call with me and let's get you past the difficulty.
"Our suffering should not change our view of God; our God should change our view of suffering."
This quote in our Bible study stood out to me this past week. While our family isn't in a season of suffering now, we certainly have experienced our share of trials in various forms. Lately we've found ourselves walking alongside dear friends who are facing extremely painful circumstances. And even beyond our small circles, we grieve and pray for those facing devastation beyond description such as hurricane damage or war crimes.
The older I get, the more I mourn over the brokenness in this world. It wasn't supposed to be this way. Parents aren't supposed to lose their children. Innocent civilians aren't supposed to be brutally murdered. Places of safety aren't supposed to be upended. And yet here we are, clear evidence of the toll sin has taken on our planet and all the inhabitants thereof, down through the ages.
Ironically, though, the more I mourn, the more fiercely I cling to true hope and PEACE. The very fact that life isn't supposed to be this way points me to the promise of healing and redemption to come. One day true justice will be administered; one day every tear will be wiped away. At that time, "at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Phil. 2:11
Another verse from our study in Romans is appropriate to ponder here: "Do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?" Rom. 2:4
"The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9
"Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him." 2 Peter 3:15
**Study referenced: RightNow Presents The Book of Romans: Part 1 STUDY GUIDE
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The Facebook ad caught my eye with its reference to "religious toxicity." The lengthy prose spoke in soothing tones, validating the feelings of those who have been hurt by the church, religious people, and/or specific religious doctrines. The author, an ex-Baptist preacher, offers his course on trauma-informed care to counselors who wish to serve people who have experienced religious trauma. The comments on this sponsored ad were both revealing and cynical...but most of all, heartbreaking.
I can't adequately explore every branch of thought that sprouts from the main trunk of Religious Trauma. It's difficult enough to put my own response into words, let alone dissect the ideas of other learned folks who have probably spent years researching and writing about this topic.
But I DO have thoughts stemming from my own foundation of Truth, the Word of God. And I offer them here because I think it's important to separate the wheat from the chaff, facts from feelings, and yes, lies from truth. Let's start with this first point...
1. Not all who claim to represent Christ do so with His blessing.
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" - Matthew 7:21-23
It's tragedy that defies words, the abuses that have been inflicted upon the innocent under the guise of spiritual leadership. Recent exposés include failures of individuals (such as Ravi Zacharias) and denominations (such as Southern Baptists and Catholics). And sadly, these egregious wrongs surely go back through time and across continents and cultures.
Make no mistake--these ARE wrongs, abuses, exploitation. In a word, SIN. And there is NO excuse for it. NONE. Not for the perpetrators, and not for those who covered it up. WOE to those who cause such suffering! (See Matthew 18:1-9.)
But here's the question: do these evildoers and their actions negate the truth that God exists? Are we forced, because of their toxic actions, to conclude that anything having to do with religion/spirituality is therefore toxic as well, simply because the evildoers claimed some kind of religiosity?
I say no. I believe we can--and should--condemn those who do wrong (especially when they claim to have some kind of moral authority) while still believing in a loving, just, all-powerful God.
The very fact that we define abuse and exploitation of the innocent as EVIL is, in itself, a moral judgment that (to me at least) indicates there IS an absolute standard of right and wrong!
So then, a practical (and biblical) response to a person who has experienced heartbreaking abuse by someone in a position of religious power and authority:
Listening without judgment.
Understanding (as much as possible) the pain and trauma he or she has undergone.
Helping the person find help and healing.
And...if it has not yet been done...telling the proper authorities about the abuse so as to hold the abuser accountable for his or her actions.
This is a start. I hope to share more thoughts in a follow-up post to this one.
Thanks for reading along with me as I process some of my own thoughts about this complex issue. I'd love to hear your thoughts as well; leave a comment or send me a message if this is something that you've thought about or experienced.