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!