Clay and me with a few of the grands at the WW 1 Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.
Author Nancy Pearcy recently described homeschoolers as “the ultimate do-it-yourselfers. They are self-motivated and self-directed, independent-minded and creative. They are not content to turn the education of their children over to the government.”
I know this is true! I never cease to be amazed at the dreams homeschooling parents turn into reality in order to meet the educational needs of their children! Many develop learning opportunities for children with special needs. Others design lessons that will reach the hearts and minds of any number of children all under one roof, all different ages and abilities, all with varied interests and gifts, and typically all living on one income! And all of them make life and learning happen in the midst of what seems like an impossible life to those on the outside looking in!
I believe it happens because they have sensed an amazing call and are willing to be used by the Lord to raise children for His glory alone! Deuteronomy 6:1-9 paints a picture for us of what this looked like for the children of Israel: “Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the Lord your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it, so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
I believe this is what it should look like in Christian homes today! It begins as we purpose to love God with our whole hearts, souls, and might. It continues as we love our neighbors as ourselves, especially the little neighbors who live in our own homes! It blossoms when we teach our children diligently from the very moment they wake up, all through the day as we live ordinary life in our own homes, as we run errands and accomplish daily tasks, and again as we tuck our precious children into bed at night! The Hebrew word for diligent implies that we do these things with precision and purpose, striving to hit the mark as we prepare our children for spiritual battle. We are to wear our Christianity every day, all day long, reminding our children that we are set apart and that we belong to the one true living God! There is no more effective way to obey these commands than to homeschool our children. There is no better teacher fit for the task than a child’s own parent!
This morning I woke up thinking about women in my life who helped shape my views of children. God love them. From my upcoming sequel to The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling:
“Another person who shaped much of my thinking about children was my friend, Shirley. One of the most creative and fun people I have ever known, she spent years as a Boy Scout leader, often turning 30 boys at a time loose with wood carving knives! Many times she heard, “My mom never lets me do this,” so she took note and was sure to give them many more such opportunities. When it came time for Bible school, she was the craft lady who had prepared for this week all year long with hundreds of clothespins, cereal boxes, glue sticks, and cotton balls lined up in her garage. By the time grandchildren came along, she had mastered the art of providing creative and simple play and they spent hours at her house “painting” the outdoors with water and putting on dramas on her front porch. She taught me that no cost, child-directed play is always the best!
Since Shirley’s husband worked as the janitor at our local school, she enjoyed looking at how the schoolrooms were decorated when she went to help him clean. “There isn’t a square inch of those rooms that aren’t decorated out to who-laid-a-rail,” she would often say and she was right. “The refrigerator is full of ADHA meds because the kids can’t concentrate and is it any wonder when they dangle every imaginable thing in front of their faces?” she lamented. She often worried about those artistically gifted children who were stepped over in order to fulfill the subject hierarchy, understanding it before Sir Ken Robinson had even identified it. She went out of her way to praise the small painters and designers, raving about the beauty of their stick figures and sardine can dioramas! It was common sense insights like this that made me question so much of what I had been taught in teacher education courses in college!”
Someone sent me a photo of a page from a charter school high school entrance exam. I don’t know the “right” answers for these questions; do you? Please, homeschoolers, do not trade your freedom to teach what is right and true for government dollars!
Scripture itself recognizes aspects of child development that wise parents will want to acknowledge and consider. Psalm 139, for example, describes the amazing, hands-on method God uses in creating each individual human being. We must approach the miraculous creation of a child in the womb, God’s secret hidden place, with awe and reverence. It is a holy, sacred act, set apart from how man creates. The Hebrew word “raqam” is used to explain the unique and particular way He makes each and every baby. It is used other places throughout Scripture to describe fine embroidery; it literally means skillfully woven in variegated colors! Verse 17 tells us that God’s thoughts of us are precious and infinitely valued because He has created each of us with a particular and divine purpose! No child is a mistake or not good enough. If these things are true, shouldn’t we use this as a beginning point for understanding and thus educating our children?
Summer is the perfect time to start a new plan for family Bible study! There are so many wonderful books that will engage the hearts and minds of everyone in the family; let me share some of my favorites!
Sally Lloyd-Jones and the artist Jago have teamed up to give us one of the finest children’s storybook Bibles available, The Jesus Storybook Bible ~ every story whispers His name. Sally’s winsome writing style draws children in immediately and it will soon become everyone’s bedtime favorite. Jago’s illustrations are breathtaking and colorful and bring each story to life in a fresh way. Helping children see God’s amazing plan for them through Jesus has been masterfully presented and is convicting as well as comforting.
Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing, also by Lloyd-Jones and Jago, gently presents big thoughts for little ones, again pointing them to Christ and setting the stage for deeper thoughts to turn into deeper conversations.
Jago’s beautiful illustrations will captivate your little ones!
The devotionals by children’s ministry director and author, Starr Meade, belong on every family bookshelf. Doctrinally solid and written to be used for multiple ages, Meade’s ability to present difficult truth in simple ways will give you the confidence to tackle the many questions children ask. She is a prolific writer but here are a few of her books I have enjoyed:
Comforting Hearts, Teaching Minds ~ Family devotions Based on the Heidelberg Catechism This year is the 450th anniversary of this confession and a good time to revisit it or read it for the first time. I love it because it is very personal and convicting.
Big Beliefs ~ Introducing Your Family to Big Truths by David Helm is another solid work that breaks down key theological concepts into bite size pieces the whole family can understand.
The newest one I have discovered is The New City Catechism ~ 52 Questions and Answers for Our Hearts and Minds and it is a gem! This is the perfect size catechism to memorize as a family and to spark discussion and further research as you learn sound doctrine. The word catechism simply means “a summary of the principles of Christian religion in the form of questions and answers, used for the instruction of Christians.” Unfortunately, the practice of catechizing families is a lost art, one we should certainly bring back to our homes and churches. You can also find more information about this book at www.newcitycatechism.com and a handy phone app is also available.
Finally, this little treasure of a book was brand new to me when a guest pastor quoted from it a couple weeks ago. Only 37 pages in length, Jonathan Edward’s Resolutions and Advice to Young Converts gives us wise counsel from the writings of the the Great Awakening preacher and amazes us with how timely it is, even all these years later.
Do you have any favorites to recommend? Please leave your suggestions in the comments!
I checked my lipstick one last time and adjusted my cute strappy heels. Getting dressed up for a night out was a treat for this jeans-and-t-shirt-wearing mom of preschoolers! My salesman husband was entertaining clients and their wives for dinner, and I looked forward to lively conversation that didn’t include detailed reports of somebody calling someone else “doodie breath” or complaining “he looked at me” over the mac and cheese.
Happily, I slipped into a chair next to another woman about my age and introduced myself. Her face lit up as she told me her name, and then she promptly asked me, “So, what do you do?”
“I’m a mom!” I shared excitedly.
“Ohhh, that’s nice,” she declared in her very best Judy Dench voice, before turning to the woman on her other side, both of them ignoring me for the rest of the evening.
That moment in time would forever be etched in my memory. It didn’t matter that, besides being able to sing all stanzas of “There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Spider” while cleaning up a diarrhea mess without losing my composure, I was well-read, a sharp conversationalist, keen on current events, and held a college degree. I was even wearing cute shoes, for crying out loud! The fact that I was simply another human being worthy of respect had escaped her. And worst of all, in her eyes, choosing to define myself as “a mom” held no value.
Sadly, often we are the ones who are the worst enemies of godly motherhood!
The explosion of Pinterest and Instagram tempts us to compare ourselves to unrealistic standards. Homeschool mommy blogs make us tired and nearly defeat us. We become obsessed with the seemingly urgent, but non-essential, cares of life. And often the worst day of the year is Mother’s Day, when well-meaning pastors extol the virtues of the Proverbs 31 woman while we interpret the story as though her lifetime achievements were a daily checklist.
Jesus had a friend who struggled in similar ways, and we see her story in Luke 10:38-42. One evening, when he was invited to her home, Martha was worried and distracted with making sure all the details of her dinner party were in order, and she began to complain. “Don’t you care that my sister has left me with all this to do by myself?” she asked him.
Her sister Mary was sitting close to Jesus, hanging on every word of spiritual truth he had to offer. He replied to his dear friend, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)
What words of wisdom for every mama today! Jesus, in using the phrase “good part,” made it clear that spending time with him, being attentive to his word, and not being distracted by the temporal cares of this world are what bring about an honorable, upright, excellent, and happy life. This is often so difficult, but here are some thoughts we must remember:
- As a mom, you are made in the image of God, infinite in value, chosen before the foundations of the world, and dearly loved by your Creator. God looks at your heart and measures your worth by what he has already done on the cross!
- As a mom, you are called to obey what Jesus told us are the two greatest commandments: to love God with your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself. Loving God means we will know and obey his word and seek to apply it to every aspect of our lives. Loving our neighbor means loving our children first, applying all the “one another” verses of Scripture as we build relationships with them.
- As a mom, you are called to rest in Jesus. He has a sovereign plan for each of you and your children, and he will bring it to pass in his perfect time! Like Martha, we are to stop worrying, fretting, and complaining and simply and fully trust Jesus!
Originally published in Family Magazine, 2015.