in·san·i·ty: giving our children to total strangers we know nothing about and allowing them to work on our children's minds out of our sight for 13+ years straight
Children’s Children’s Children…
Last week, reflecting upon my youngest daughter’s third birthday, I blogged about the exclusive homeschool benefit of time. That line of thought has naturally led me to consider the future and my ideals regarding our outcomes. Our family’s present is altogether contradictory to the future I envisioned early in my marriage. I was a new Christian just firing the opening shots in my own spiritual revolution. I had long been a believer; and having recently repented and submitted to Christ in water baptism, I had received acquittal for my prior sins. However, I still had a carnal mind and a heart for this world; and I was woefully lacking in Biblical knowledge and understanding. Probably the most apparent manifestation of my worldly mindset was my assertion that I did not want children. Though I had always identified as pro-life, I had been surreptitiously imbued by the culture’s abasement of motherhood; and my selfish, only-child mentality had yet to be overcome. And so I ignorantly dosed myself with abortifacients (a.k.a. birth control pills that do, in fact, cause abortion…read the label). It was when the drugs “failed,” and God - in His abundant grace - still preserved the life of my precious firstborn, Rylee, that my understanding of love and obedience and selflessness and motherhood and legacy all began to change. With Rylee’s arrival in this world came also my very first glimpse of a multigenerational vision.
Multigenerational vision is about changing how we view the future; and multigenerational vision and education are tightly intertwined. For example, John Dewey, recognized as the Father of Modern Education, had a multigenerational vision for our American society that he set into motion through the workings of her public school systems. It was not in his own lifetime that America would move from a Christian nation to one where the mention of Christ and the display of God’s law was banned from the public sector; still, looking ahead toward generations to come, he helped chart the course and made major headway. Now, not quite a hundred years after his early twentieth century stratagem launched, that dream of a godless government school system mass-producing mindless, faithless, state-serving creatures of habit has certainly come to fruition. His multigenerational vision has been a success for the causes of atheism, socialism, and fascism, while freedom, autonomy, and - most tragically - Christianity have seen defeat in public school and its posterity.
I do not belong to the “school” of educational antinomianism. I do not believe that God is silent on the subject of schooling; nor do I believe that we, as parents, should just “pray about it” and educate our children “as we feel led.” There is NO Biblical justification for that! Contrarily, the Bible dictates that education is to be God-centered (Proverbs 22:6, Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 9:10, Colossians 2:3) and parent-directed (Genesis, 18:19, Deuteronomy 6:6, Ephesians 6:4, Proverbs 4:1-13). This is the beginning of the multigenerational vision that will counteract the workings of such God-haters as Dewey.
People often ask me when or how or what made me decide to start homeschooling. As previously stated in this blog, the work in me began the day I met Rylee. The vision was born with her. No one had to warn me about the perils of the government indoctrination or falsified history or peer dependency. God’s Word and His Holy Spirit indwelled in me told me that this child was mine to raise for the glory of God and the furthering of His Kingdom. Nothing else even made sense. That should be the starting point for the multigenerational vision of every parent, shouldn’t it?
Nine Sweet Homeschoolers to carry on the Wilson Multigenerational Vision
Moms, when you bring a child into the world, you quickly earn enough credit hours to merit a degree in selflessness. You’re a round-the-clock nursing, diaper changing, baby bathing, swaddling, cuddling, monitoring machine that operates without any maintenance, rest or recognition. What in the world happens to our commitment level between the first day home and the first day of kindergarten? How can we go from all-in to sidelined observer? Did someone convince you that - although you taught your child to sit, crawl, walk, talk, throw a ball, use the toilet, behave appropriately, play games and operate toys - you’re somehow unable to teach him to read, write, compute, understand and retain? Or was your selflessness during your child’s infancy forgotten once he became more independent. What happened to the multi-generational vision?
A multigenerational vision holds on to that new motherhood selflessness and says that your family is operating as a tight unit, caring for one another, as you will till death do you part, though increasing and multiplying along the way. Your own personal desires - be those degrees, titles, positions, incomes - do not come before the legacy of a God-honoring, Christ-serving lineage that will carry on to your children’s children and your children’s children’s children. When we treat our children like eighteen year sentences to be endured - passing them off on others at every turn, we - through such education - push them toward an unbiblical vision. They - in turn - see parents as a temporary support system to be tolerated until the time they can move out, support themselves, and look out for number one. Fast forward fifty years, and guess where this ethos leads - in the only direction one could expect. Mom and Dad grow old and are placed in some form of institution; and thereby the grown children carry on the insanity of turning their closest and most vulnerable family members over to strangers.
In contrast, what a great legacy we can create when the multigenerational vision is perpetuated from the beginning by a biblical model for educating, upbringing, nurturing and living. This is so much to try and explain in a few paragraphs, but can you grasp the exclusive homeschool benefit here? It’s a God-honoring vision that you can begin creating from the day your child is born. It’s a vision that most certainly must abide throughout his years of formal education if it will carry into adulthood. As commanded in Joel chapter 1, verse 3, “Tell your children about it,
Let your children tell their children, And their children another generation.”
How appropriate then to conclude a blog on multigenerational vision on Pentecost Sunday. Peter addressed this vision some two thousand years ago in the very first Gospel sermon ever preached.
“Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on the throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grace, nor did his body see decay.” Acts 2:29-31
David was looking ahead to the Salvation that would come through his lineage. In homeschooling, we also, seeing ahead, are able to speak words of life to our children and change the way they view the future to reflect an eternal hope in the timeless God.
This week, the youngest of my four daughters turns three years old. Since (without Divine intervention) my husband and I are physically unable to have any more children, this is really bittersweet. I realized how much I’m going to miss being Mommy to a baby this week in Food Lion, of all places. There was a young mother shopping with her twelve-ish-month-old in the cart. He was trying to eat her keys, drooling all over his hand and arm, looking around curiously through his innocent baby eyes. And I remembered those days - giving the baby anything I could find to keep her from teething on the disgusting shopping cart handle; nearly wrecking into every mid-aisle display because I was so lost in her big, inquisitive eyes. Then as I looked at the beautiful girls in and around my own shopping cart, I thanked God for yet another exclusive benefit of homeschooling my children - the time I’m given with them.
Were they in a traditional school setting - apart from me from 8 to 3 for the required 180 days per year from kindergarten to twelfth grade, I would lose 16,380 hours of time with each of my girls. That’s 682 and a half days. That’s nearly two whole years. Whoa!
Now it’s a common saying - “quality over quantity.” However, this dictum cannot realistically be applied to time. Why not? Because quality moments arise out of the quantity. You can’t plan those precious, teachable times - you just have to be available for them when they happen. And at least 16,380 hours of absence make a parent’s presence at such instants …unlikely.
On the other hand though, think of what quality can be added to that much quantity! I have two extra years to know my children - their learning styles, their passions. I can watch for, recognize and nurture their spiritual gifts. Have you ever considered that no one is concerned with nurturing a child’s spiritual gifts in the public school setting? But in the 5,040 hours I’ve had with Rylee, thanks to homeschooling through 3rd grade, I can clearly see that God has given her a gentle spirit, a tender heart, a musically-inclined ear and an extraordinary capacity for grace and forgiveness. The 3,780 hours of homeschooling Reagan, who’s finishing second grade, have allowed me to witness her artistic ability, her talent in drama and acting, her silly personality and ability to laugh at her own faux pas. And maybe more crucial than my having time to learn their strengths and gifts has been the time I’ve had to identify their weaknesses and struggles. Reagan, for example - though outgoing and confident - is easily broken by harsh words. Consider how many lives may be saved if that weakness was recognized and spiritually nursed in public schools. How much might depression, rage, cutting, even suicide be prevented?
Homeschooling allows us to truly invest ourselves in our children lives - quite the departure from our culture of “me time.” I hear moms talk about their need for time away from their children for sanity’s sake. But I’ll guarantee you that sanity will never be gained or maintained through selfishness. Philippians 2 tells us all about the Christ-like humility Christians should seek - how we should esteem other better than ourselves and look out for their interests. God forbid we fail to do this with our own children.
The investment of thousands of hours into the teaching, training and discipling of our children goes so much further than seeing to just their own blessed and beautiful futures. It’s an investment with the capacity for generations of return. I recently came across a saying that I will be adding to my dialogue with my pupils in our homeschool, and it goes like this: We must seek to become the kind of people who plant shade trees for others to sit under. In next week’s installment, I will discuss this in greater depth. For now though, let it suffice to say that the time poured into Christian homeschooling not only replaces a future of regret for missed moments with an abundance of precious memories, but it provides an unmatched opportunity to know and nurture. In this, we can sow a bountiful harvest of blessings from which we may reap for generations to come.
Recently, in a post titled “Tired of Arrogant Homeschoolers” a friend blogged…
They post to Facebook, a mug shot of a teacher who was arrested and caption it “Why I don’t send my children to public school.” Well, one bad apple does not spoil the whole bunch. Unfortunately, I can say the same thing about churches. I can post a link such as: http://www.maggiesnotebook.com/2011/10/joe-cheater-youth-pastor-child-rape-arrest-rape-lewd-indecent-acts-on-children/ which shows the mug shot of a youth pastor arrested for rape and then caption it “Why I won’t send my children to Sunday School”.
I couldn’t help but think of his blog when I read the following excerpt from an article in Practical Homeschooling titled “101 Reasons to Homeschool” by Mary Pride:
Sex abuse by public school personnel FAR outweighs priest sex abuse. Just one example: An LA substitute teacher was investigated by police three times for molesting kids. Each time the school district just moved him to another school. Finally he was caught ON TAPE molesting a 2nd grader - at which point he fled to Mexico, where he remains to this day. The media pointed out a “pattern” of covering up for abusive priests, but is just now starting to occasionally report on the practice of shipping abusive teachers to a new school instead of firing them. The sheer scale of the problem is still under wraps, though. According to a 2004 official Department of Education report, Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature, “the AAUW report that nearly 9.6 percent of students are targets of educator sexual misconduct sometime during their school career presents the most accurate data of this time.” As a scholar told Education Week in 2004, “The physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests.”
Smooth Schooling & Peaceful Parenting
I’m going to preface this week’s blog with a confessional. Our Home Sweet School - as sweet as it is - is often unorganized. I took everything out of our school drawers this week with high hopes of creating a perfectly compartmentalized chest having a place for everything and everything in its place. I got over that pretty quickly; after cutting through the clutter and filling an entire trash bag, I stuck everything back into the drawers wherever I could make everything fit. And still, I didn’t find Rylee’s language arts book. Why is her book missing? Because along with being unorganized, our Home Sweet School is also unstationary. Somedays we learn at home, somedays at church; sometimes we’re at a friend’s house, sometimes we’re on the beach. Often my girls complete book work in the car on the way out of town. Why are we often traveling out of town? Because along with being unorganized and unstationary, our schooling is - at times - unplanned. Our fearless leader is a minister, and when he is called away to serve the Lord elsewhere, we load up our Home Sweet School and go right along with him. So for any reader who might’ve been perusing under the false pretense that we’re orderly, anchored, or always prepared, please recognize that we’re not at all so.
Still - with all our inconsistencies - we have one merit that surmounts all those we lack, and is an ever-increasingly exclusive benefit of a Christian learning environment. We have peace.
Let me tell you a little bit about the peace in this place. My four daughters love one another, and they look out for one another. There’s no bitterness or envy between them. I don’t have to tell them to be kind to one another because they love each other and choose to do so on their own. When the younger ones do something that most would find frustrating, the older ones don’t get angry. They loving guide them. We began the sisterly-love conversation with them about a year ago when I first heard Rylee (number 1) yell at Reese (number 3). I explained to her that little sisters have a special love and admiration for their big sisters; and that if big sisters don’t cherish that love - if they abuse it by mistreating their little sisters - that special love may be lost and not regained. And how my older girls have stepped up to the calling of cherishing their younger sisters! They have some of the strongest sibling bonds I’ve ever witnessed.
Another place that peace abounds is in the parent - child relationships in our home. Now, I have heard kids really berate their school teachers. In fairness, the child is not always completely at fault. I’ve seen teachers treat students in a way that would leave them undeserving of a great deal of respect, in my opinion. It’s such a beautiful deviation from the intergenerational hostility when student/child and teacher/parent can love one another and each maintain appropriate respect for the other. Even when my children make poor choices and have to undergo discipline at my hand, the love endures; the respect endures.
Peace is a quality I’ve taken for granted for a long time. It is the stark contrast to the situation in our local public schools that has brought this advantage to my attention. Weekly (sometimes daily) bomb threats are forcing schools to evacuate for hours. And now I’m hearing about even worse scenarios - schools are foregoing evacuation procedures because bomb threats are becoming too common to be taken seriously (or so administration seems to think). Students are being locked up in classrooms while the school is swept; janitors are erasing bomb threats written on school walls to avoid having to report the incidents. Someone very close to me actually walked into a public school building for a meeting last week while the school was in the midst of a bomb threat, and no one even informed him of the situation. It wasn’t until later that evening that a school employee “accidentally” told him. “Boy that was scary this morning, wasn’t it?” “What?” “The bomb threat at the school this morning.”
In another local public school, a student was arrested this week for attempted murder after bringing a gun to school with the alleged intention of shooting a schoolmate. All the threats of violence and close brushes with catastrophe are really taking a toll on the students. A few days ago, I sat with some girls in a Bible study group who said things to me like, “I’m afraid to go to school in the mornings,” “I wonder, ‘What if I don’t make it through this day?’” and “The pressure is so much that I just break down like once a week.”
What is peace worth? As a child, I can very clearly remember the few times that I didn’t feel secure. I had a generally stable upbringing, but the isolated times of fear stand out to me much more lucidly than many of my other cloudy childhood memories. I think that insecurity is one of the most scary feelings a child can experience. They know they are small in a great big world; they know they are dependent on others to care for them; they know they need others for security. And when a long stretch of their day is spent in an INSECURE environment, what toll does that take? I think the girl who said “I just break down like once a week,” gave a telling testimony. Mind you, outside of school, she lives in a financially stable, church-going, two-parent Christian home. School is the sole source of these weekly “break downs.”
Homeschooling hasn’t just given my children peace and promoted peace in my relationships with them though. It’s given me a new kind of peace that I’m still learning to accept and hold - the removal of fear in my parenting and teaching. I’m learning a peace that comes from acknowledging it’s not MY ability to be orderly, anchored or always prepared (because, as confessed, I’m not) that will bring about spiritual, intellectual, physical, musical greatness. It’s a great God at work in earthen vessels that will make my children what He desires them ultimately to be - happy, blessed, content and mature servants of His.
Blessed are those who find wisdom,
those who gain understanding,
for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold.
She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her.
Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
Her ways are pleasant ways,
and all her paths are peace.
The Narrow Path
This week, as I was surprised by a last minute request to play drums in worship, speak in two workshops, and provide breakfast for all the attendees at the South Carolina Christian Women’s Retreat, I was more than a little distracted from the learning plan for our Home Sweet School. To help uncomplicate things, I allowed Reagan (number 2) to head South with her Nana to Florida, since Rylee (number 1) got to go West with her on the last trip. Then we cut all the unnecessaries from our academic goals to allow time to plan and prepare for the retreat, and narrowed our focus to only fractions, reading and health. Reading took up most of our school time as we walked with Christian through Pilgrim’s Progress - a journey quite comparable to homeschooling.
Speaking at SC Women’s Retreat at Camp Edisto
From the time our children are born, a burden is placed on the Christian’s back - a burden for the children’s souls. A daunting responsibility is laid on us to provide shelter and love and security in a world prone to instability and trouble and hate. So we place our hands over our ears, as did Christian, drown out the trappings of this world and echo his cry of, “Life! Life!” for our children. We start down the narrow road of homeschooling, often with family alienating us and Obstinates mocking us.
We meet new friends along the journey though. Some jump on the homeschool path with us, but like Pliable, are deterred as soon as they’re made to muddle through the Slough of Day to Day Routines. I’ve met folks like Help at homeschool conventions and co-ops who graciously offer their experience and expertise to guide my homeschooling; and I’ve also fallen prey to Mr. Worldly Wiseman. In Pilgrim’s Progress, he tells Christian, “Like other weak men that I know, who aim at things to high for them, you have lost heart.” I’ve been tricked into trying to achieve homeschool success by an easier route, rather than the straight path I set out on (in our family’s case - Worldly Wiseman was a virtual charter school.)
We see Passion and Patience personified in our own children and do our best to offer consistent guidance to be less like the former and more like the latter. We stand in the place of Deliverance when we watch one of our children surrender his life to Jesus and a burden falls from our shoulders. But the journey doesn’t end there. We still have to climb Hills of Difficulty, representative of new, difficult concepts in textbooks or varied learning styles among our children. And there’s that temptation to put school on the back burner, lie down in The Park and go to sleep.
My husband, bringing my second daughter, Reagan, to the Cross
Then when we’re so very tired - our houses a mess, our children antsy, our bookshelves and filing cabinets in disarray, and our patience exhausted, enters Apollyon. He beckons us to come and follow his educational path and be rich in worldly wisdom; maybe he even points us toward Vanity Fair where families mindlessly place sports and clubs before worshipping and serving Christ.
Recognizing the similarities between Christian’s journey and my own, I’m fully expecting the dungeon, the beatings, the lions, the trials with which I’ll inevitably be faced on the homeschool path. But I’m also looking forward to crossing that graduation river on shallow ground, in faith that I did all I could to train up my children in the way they should go.
We homeschoolers are on a journey. We’re pilgrims progressing daily down a narrow path while many around us float along toward destruction with high hopes and lofty dreams of achieving worldly success; of impressing those who failed to recognize the only One impressive is the Almighty; and of finding self worth that should’ve been found in Christ in their children’s high marks given by secular institutions. The benefit is this: though the narrow path is certainly not the easy path, it certainly IS the path that leads to a promising destination. Does homeschooling your children earn them guaranteed entrance to the Celestial City? Of course not. Does training your children in Christian love and truth and grace rather than turning them over to a secular state relieve you of the burden of wondering where you went wrong when they’re faced with trials in their own journeys? ABSOLUTELY! And even in this life, every little bit of difficultly you face is drowned and forgotten by the flood of joy that comes with knowing, raising, teaching and discipling your own.
As a final note about our progress this week, I want to tell you about a new friend I met. I’m going to give her the allegorical name Fearless. She’s a teacher in a South Carolina public school. She began her teaching career in a classroom of low-income, high-risk students as part of a student loan forgiveness program. She told me how she struggled though the first few years of teaching her difficult pupils, hating her job and looking forward to the day when she could move to another school; until she realized why God had put her there. She was in that school to be a missionary. And so a missionary she became. Here’s why I call her Fearless: while I’ve heard many public school teachers claim the title of missionary, this lady is living it. She teaches earth science; and not only does she show her students that the whole millions of years thing is garbage, but she replaces the lies with Ken Ham’s consistent-with-Scripture teachings on origins. And she prays with her students. Not “God is great, God is good;” but real deal, worshipful supplication in Jesus’ name. That’s Fearless.
What distinguishes her from all the other public school “missionaries?” She recognizes, like Christian recognized - like I hope all of you homeschoolers recognize - that forsaking this world and its evils is pointless if you don’t use the Scroll to determine your new and alternate path. The Scroll, of course, is the Word of God and the wonderful, glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. We purposefully point them toward the cross - everyday, in every page read, in every equation solved, in every single word, written and spoken - that’s this Pilgrim’s progress. And what a wonderfully light burden to bear!
Homeschooling Versus Hijacking
Graduation is such an exciting event for a child and such a proud moment for a parent. Folks spend years looking forward to commencement services marking the completion of their college or high school careers. My little Reese, age five, has woken every morning this week with graduation on her mind. For days now, I call for her to get up, and - with eye half opened, hair in a tangled blonde mess - she mumbles, “Am I graduating today?” What an exciting morning this one was for her when I was finally able to answer, “Yes, Baby! Today is the day!”
Reese reciting the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) at her graduation today
So twelve precious homeschooling kindergartners marched down the aisle as Rylee, my oldest daughter, played Pomp and Circumstance on her little quarter-sized violin. Before anyone was seated we pledged our allegiance to the American flag, the Christian flag, and the Bible, and we invoked our Heavenly Father in the name of His only Son, Jesus Christ. During the presentation of art awards that followed, my mind drifted to a recent recount I’d heard a speaker give of a commencement ceremony he attended. He described a graduation at a prestigious university with a prominent judge addressing the thousands of participants - spectators and academics dressed in their gowns. Here is the speakers’ paraphrase of the judge’s commencement address:
Well students, here you are. You are now graduating from the university and getting your degree; and, of course, on your lips will be the question, “What is the purpose and meaning of life?” Of course that’s too big a question to try and answer. I mean, here you are - you’re graduating, and then you’re going to go out there into the world, and then you die. And so what are you going to do until you’re dead? Well, for me, I read some books that helped me through life. For instance, one of the books that really influenced me greatly was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. In there, the computer was asked what is the purpose and meaning of life; and it came to the conclusion forty-two. And then I read a book called Zen Buddhism and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. And so students, you know, you need to go out there and the things that influence me will be different from the things that influence you; and you just need to do the best you can with those influences until you’re dead.
According to his account, the academics rose at the end of this speech and gave standing ovation.
Now, I don’t know how much of his paraphrase was seasoned with some sarcasm. (I’m hoping the part about the books was embellished!) Regardless, though, that IS the message of the world. If you don’t believe in God, life is meaningless and purposeless.
Now as I thought through the atheist judge’s speech at the atheist university’s commencement, I concluded that a godless culture that calls itself “academia” (but that is actually DECEIVED [1 Corinthians 3:18], FOOLISH [1 Corinthians 1:20], DEMONIC [James 3:14-15], and DEATH [Romans 8:6]) has attempted to hijack wisdom and celebrations of wisdom - such as graduations. This is comparable to homosexuals’ hijacking of the rainbow. A symbol that God gave us as a sign of an EVERLASTING covenant between God and man (Genesis 9:16) and that He created as an adornment for His throne and angels’ heads (Revelation 4:13 and 10:1) has been used by this world as a symbol of acts that - according to Romans 1 - are vile, against nature and shameful.
Now let me call your attention to my emphasis added to the word everlasting in Genesis 9:16. The rainbow is NOT a symbol for homosexuality and never will be. There’s a custom built house in my neighborhood, just down the street from mine. It sits on a lot so large that I don’t know how it was never subdivided. It’s probably 3,000 square feet (or better) and absolutely BEAUTIFUL inside and out. I would love for it to be my house. Now I can go stand in the middle of the lawn, on the porch or in any one of its many rooms and proclaim loudly and boldly that it belongs to me. But can such audacity ever make it mine? OF COURSE NOT! Likewise, homosexuals can plaster rainbow stickers all over their cars until their hearts are content, but what God gave as HIS symbols of HIS everlasting covenant will NEVER TRULY be a symbol of sin. As the saying goes, “A lie is still a lie if everyone believes it; and the truth is still the truth if no one believes it.” And there’s only one real source of Truth, friends!
I encourage every Christian reader to homeschool your children and not partake in a godless culture’s attempt to take knowledge - which is a work of the Spirit (Exodus 31:3) and a gift of God (2 Chronicles 1:1 - 12) - and falsely claim it as a self-gained, self-serving accomplishment that is reached only through denying our Maker, Master, Messiah! Do you not believe that godless education is doing just that? Read Romans 16:19! “…I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.” Paul knew that worldly wisdom corrupts. He even called His own worldly education “rubbish” after having lost it for the KNOWLEDGE of CHRIST (Philippians 3:1-11).
My little grad and me
Today, when Reese Chanel Wilson was announced from the stage, she walked so sweetly up the steps to meet her daddy, who was waiting to give her a bouquet and a diploma. How beautifully was enacted the Bible’s model for education - a Godly father, the spiritual head our our home, passing on a symbol of Godly teaching (her diploma, that is) to his little girl. This would not be in another educational setting, but I so desire that every one of my brothers and sisters in Christ join the homeschool movement so that you could experience this joy - this beauty - this blessing. It’s so much more than just a school choice; it’s a lifestyle and a mindset that preserves the Truth that wisdom is Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:30) and is only found in and through Him.
Reese receiving flowers and her diploma from Daddy
Homeschool Heavenly Father
We’ve had a generally non-academic week. Monday we cleaned the ridiculous mess formerly known as our living quarters - prior to the rush of last week’s “time-out,” and we learned how to cook a delicious chicken and spinach entree. Tuesday we played catch-up, paying overdue bills, returning overdue library books, laundering clothes overflowing their hampers, and packing for the next day’s trip. Wednesday, after a violin lesson, we departed Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for Macon, Georgia. After several en route stops to visit Christian family and sister churches, we checked into our Marriott room shortly after midnight. Thursday we made the seventy mile trek to Atlanta to take the kids to the World of Coca Cola, my favorite field trip of my elementary years. Then we attended the Georgia Christian Convention (where their daddy was a featured speaker) Thursday night through Saturday morning, ate at a few new restaurants, made several new friends and browsed the flea market in Savannah on our way back home.
Our family with the polar bear Coke mascot
So as I reflected on these things, I asked the Lord to show me what exclusively-homeschool lesson we ought to take away from this week. Immediately, He answered. Though we didn’t do much book work this week, we did plenty of people work. Some call it “socialization,” but I say it’s so much more than just that. So many learning opportunities were afforded to my girls this week - lessons in making good first impressions, in graciously accepting compliments, in sitting quietly through the “grown-up services” (a skill also known as self-control), and in positively reflecting the organization (Promise Land Ministries) and the preacher (Daddy) they represent. They got practice in politeness - holding doors for the elderly, the handicapped, and the bellhops pulling heavy luggage carts; using good manners around tables where they were surrounded by brand new acquaintances; speaking loudly and clearly when introducing themselves and answering adults’ questions; and applying the conversational skills I’ve tried to teach them via Dobson’s “roll the ball” game (if you’re not familiar with it and would like to be, please just ask).
Now, admittedly, I (almost inadvertently) answered the Lord with, “But this ‘people work’ isn’t gonna pay the bills when they’re grown.” He responded, “Is that your goal in educating them - to enable them to pay bills?” Christians, isn’t our Lord wonderful? He’s constantly teaching ME - probably more than I’m teaching them! No, my goal for them isn’t that they be able to pay the bills - that they just get by in this world, pursuing financial gain, worldly employment and the titles and praise of men. My goal for them is that they love and serve God and that they love and serve others. Considering this ultimate purpose, it immediately became clear to me that our Georgia trip was actually one big, engaging, hands-on lesson, tailor-made for our Home Sweet School.
And aside from providing the education He knew my daughters needed this week, God ministered to me on the trip as well. I would’ve never expected to tag along with my husband for this convention - attended almost exclusively by senior citizens - to find a scheduled homeschool workshop (taught by an older gentleman who serves as administrator over his church-based Christian school); to have our booth placed right next to Florida Christian College’s display, which was tended by a couple who, after 26 years of homeschooling, will see their youngest child graduate in two weeks; and to be introduced to The Old Schoolhouse iPad app by the rep from Johnson University, whose wife is a contributing columnist for TOS magazine. Oh, it’s so wonderful to know I’m loved so much that the Author of all creation would take time to set up these divine appointments just for me!
As a matter of fact, I’d venture to say that if God came down here to be an earthly Father - like Jesus came down here to be an earthly Son - He’d likely be a homeschooling Dad. After all, only in homeschooling is the kind of individualized care I’ve described here provided. My kids aren’t just nameless faces among thousands of students in government institutions - like I’m not just a nameless face among billions of people in a fallen world. God knows my name; He knows my heart; and - by His love for me - He provides a beautiful and precious model of how I ought to know my own children’s hearts, and how I must minister to them through education and through every other provision He funnels down to them through me.
Time Out for Jesus, Part 2
I’m composing this blog a few days later than my usual self-imposed deadline because I’ve just now - on Tuesday of a new week - recovered from the exciting and inspiring - though spiritually and physically draining - events of our Time Out for Jesus…Part Two.
As explained in the prequel to this entry, we abandoned all text books except the Bible beginning twelve days before Resurrection Sunday. This move accomplished its intended effect of giving my daughters a “Wow! This is more important than anything else!” recognition and awareness. Aside from opening our remaining eight Resurrection Eggs, walking through and praying at each of the Stations of the Cross, and learning how a boiled egg can represent God, us and the Holy Spirit in us, we also had the honor of taking part in a live depiction of Christ’s final week on earth before hundreds of spectators.
Each year the church we serve puts on two “Journeys” - the Journey to Bethlehem at Christmas and the Journey to Jerusalem at Easter. We have spent the last month painstakingly preparing for the latter. My husband and I are in charge of the “Heaven scene” - a portrayal of Jesus’ reunion with the Father in Heaven and of Satan’s ultimate destiny - his sentencing to hell for all eternity. This year, Matt undertook the immense task of rebuilding the entire heaven scene - a magnificent spectacle of multi-level, movable staging, theatrical lighting, laser special effects, holograms,booming sound system, smoke, dry ice and even zip lines for action stunts. My daughters involved themselves in the building process as much as possible - hammering nails; taking measurements; checking microphones; laying, stretching, and securing carpet; sweeping and mopping the sawdust-covered floors; decorating the scene; even operating a power drill. They also helped with other Journey tasks, such as braiding ropes into belts for costumes.
The show opened on Wednesday night and continued through Sunday. Rylee, Reagan, Reese and Rachel all took part in the Heaven scene, cast as little angels dancing around the throne of God and playing at the feet of Jesus. They absolutely loved every minute of their acting sequences, looking forward to their evening performances from the moment they woke each morning. And in addition to performing in our newly-constructed Heaven, we got to experience the other scenes of the drama - Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem; Mary’s anointing His feet with pure nard; the Passover supper; Judas’ betrayal; Jesus’ prayer in the garden; His trial before the Sanhedrin and sentencing before Pilate; His brutal beating and weary walk down the Via Delarosa; His supreme sacrifice on the old rugged cross; His glorious resurrection; and bittersweet ascension as He went away to prepare a place. What a worthy replacement for textbooks and writing assignments!
Little angels playing in the snow in front of God’s throne in the Journey’s Heaven Scene
And speaking of resurrection…remember in the book of John, chapter 11 when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead? He told the people with Him to move the stone. He didn’t say this because he wasn’t able to move the stone Himself. He could’ve simply spoken the stone out of His way. But He told them to do it. He commanded man to do what man could do; and what man could not do - raise a man from the dead - Christ Himself did.
I can’t save my children. They are - like all - born into sin and death, and bound for hell without intervention from the Savior. And, though I can’t personally raise them from this state of death, Christ has commanded that I do what I can - and I can roll the stone away. Every day that I commit to teaching them diligently (Deuteronomy 6:7) - to bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4) - I’m rolling the stone away. Each teachable moment that I recognize and use to point them toward the Savior - I’m rolling the stone away. I am moving the lies and spiritual traps - the stones - of the world out of their way and preparing them for resurrection. Such stones aren’t moved by other forms of education. It is the intimate, loving discipleship that takes place between parent and child that clears this path.
Christian parents, God desires for YOU to roll the stones from your children’s path as well. Some parents may feel inadequate, unprepared, or underqualified to educate their own children. Please know that such self doubt comes from your enemy and the father of lies. The Lord desires a Godly seed (Malachi 2:15) - He has called you and me to raise up a generation who will pursue righteousness. For the sake of your children’s lives and for your own future, please answer this call. He only expects you to do what He has enabled you to do. And He will do the rest. He will raise them. But we must move the stone.
Rylee, Reagan, Reese and Rachel at the Empty Tomb scene in The Journey to Jerusalem
Time Out for Jesus, Part 1
Across denominational lines, I’d say that everyone out there who claims Christianity could agree that the focal point of all history is the first advent of Christ on earth. All history preceding Him looked forward to it; and all history since looks back at it. His world-shaking, curtain-ripping coming defines life for the Christian; all that we have, do, and are is changed because of this moment in world history. But how do most of us remember and honor His momentous sacrifice? By sleeping in (it’s “spring break” after all), going on vacation, or getting our spring cleaning done? I’ll admit that, while this time has always received recognition in our home, I’ve never given Christ the credit He deserves. And though I know I could never thank him enough, homeschooling gives us the unique opportunity to try our very best. Here’s how:
Twelve days before Easter, I tickled my students pink with my announcement that from then until Resurrection Sunday the only schoolwork we were going to do would deal with the last week of Jesus’ life on earth. “And I really don’t have to do ANYTHING in my math book?!?” Rylee kept asking as she happy-danced around in the kinda spastic way that she does. And so the decree was made; their hopes were high so I was accountable. No backing out now. I was fully committed to twelve days of lots of creativity (can’t let Jesus lessons become tedious like math lessons) and lots of self control (can’t even think about bringing out the math books no matter how clearly my A Beka lesson plan says I’m supposed to).
Older two reading The Beginner Bible to younger two
On Day 12 (cause we’re counting down) we had our Triumphal Entry lesson. Rylee and Reagan read to Reese and Rachel from The Beginner Bible; then they rotated reading with me the account from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. We played a roll-the-dice and get Jesus to Jerusalem game. We opened the first of our twelve Resurrection Eggs, which contained a donkey like Jesus rode over the cloaks of those singing “Hosanna!” Then Rylee and Reagan built resurrection gardens, and they’ve faithfully watered them every day since.
On Day 11 we discussed Judas’ betrayal and opened a Resurrection Egg to find coins inside. We contrasted the low cost of his sellout with the high price Jesus paid for our salvation. We constructed and framed crosses using the small change Judas received for handing over the Son of God to His accusers. I also gave them access to our tightly guarded “Florida Jar” and they withdrew from the fund their 30 Pieces of Silver offerings that they’ll give to the Lord in memory of His death and in honor of His resurrection on Easter Sunday.
We read about Jesus’ Last Supper with His disciples on Day 10. We made our own meal of homemade bread, adding yeast as we mixed the dough. We reviewed Old Testament history to discover why the meal was called “Passover.” And as the dough rose, we noted that the Israelites’ Passover meal was actually made with unleavened bread. I let them read the recipe for flat bread and draw their own [correct] conclusion about the effect of yeast in the first loaf we made. So we set our kitchen timer for 18 minutes and raced against the clock to mix, knead and roll out yeastless dough, pierce holes into it with forks (symbolizing the holes in His hands and feet), and bake it to a kosher crisp. We also took the opportunity to read Jesus’ teaching about yeast. Since the day’s Resurrection Egg contained a cup, we filled our own cup with water and added red food coloring and a white carnation. By Day 9, the water had already travelled up the stem, turning the flower pink. We noted how, similarly, Christ’s shed blood covers us.
Our first bread recipe - with yeast
On Day 9, we also cut a bundt cake in half, stood it up like an arch, sprinkled dyed green coconut all around it and inserted three wooden crosses formed from toothpicks into the top. A cookie propped against the opening served as the stone rolled away. Praying hands inside our fourth Resurrection Egg represented Jesus’ cries to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane.
We’ll continue our Time Out for Jesus for the next eight days through Easter Sunday. And in addition to our Just Jesus curriculum, we’ll also be taking part in a beautiful reenactment of Jesus’ final week on earth - a production called The Journey of Love that attracts several hundred guests each night - running Wednesday through Sunday of the coming week. Only in a homeschool setting, could every non-essential teaching be placed on hold for a week and a half and be replaced with an in-depth and hands-on study of the climax of human history. And this freedom to give Christ the priority He deserves - and illustrate to my daughters His Supremacy by allowing Him to preempt even math - is certainly their favorite exclusively homeschool benefit we’ve discovered to date.
Finding out what’s inside the Resurrection Egg - highlight of the little ones’ day
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"Mommy, you make learning about things so much fun!"
-Rylee Wilson, my oldest daughter
And I have the joy of waking up this morning, knowing we get to do it all over again today! What a precious and rewarding venture is this homeschool journey!
Baking bread with and without yeast in our Home Sweet School