home school

Day 23: Mission Stories



When my middle son Andrew was in third grade, I found a home school curriculum that I had never used before and wanted to try.  The year of learning was planned around the theme of “countries and cultures.”  Since it was a curriculum that had a Christian worldview, there were missionary stories and biographies to read as we studied the different continents.  We read Cameron Townsend while learning about missions to Mexico.  We read about Nate Saint and Elisabeth Elliot while studying South America.  We read about David Livingstone, Charles Ludwig, and Betty Greene while studying about Africa.  We read about George Muller and Mary Jones while we studied about Europe.  And we read about Gladys Aylward and William Carey while we studied about Asia.

Andrew loved making the paper model of Nate Saint's plane.  It didn’t take long into our first story, the exciting story of Nate Saint, for Andrew to begin saying he wanted to become a missionary when he grew up.

If you don’t know anything about Nate’s story, this is what happens.  He along with fellow missionaries to Ecuador, Roger Youderian, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming, and Jim Elliot, are murdered by the tribe the attempt to make contact with.

The families of Nate Saint and Jim Elliot continue living their calling out in Ecuador.  They eventually are able to make contact with the tribe, offer their forgiveness for the deaths of their family members, and share the story of Jesus.  As members of the tribe accepted Christ as their savior, Steve Saint, the son of Nate Saint became friends and brothers in Christ with the men who killed his father.

It takes a certain amount of bravery as a mother to present the foreign mission field as a viable choice for your child’s future.

Andrew is now in 7th grade, and being a missionary is something he has not changed his mind about.  I realize that God may or may not eventually call Andrew into the mission field.

But I know that God has a plan for Andrew.  I can see him growing up into a great man of God.

If we let God write the story, he doesn’t always promise that all the chapters will be easy, but He does promise that in the last chapter, He will make sense of all the things that have happened in our life, even though some of them are terribly painful.
— Steve Saint, son of missionary Nate Saint

Am I willing to let God write Andrew’s story, even when there might be chapters of loss or hurt?

What choice do I have?  I could try to write my own story for Andrew, controlling his choices and options well into his twenties.  I can believe the illusion that the story that I could write for my son could be safe and good.

The truth is, the belief that we have any type of control over our life or our children’s life is a deception.  It is a fantasy.

We don’t have control over even our next breath.

...yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
— James 4:14 ESV

Today Hurricane Patricia, the strongest storm ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere will make landfall on the western coast of Mexico.  The eye of the hurricane is hitting landfall at the town of Manzanillo, Mexico.

I have never been to Manzanillo, but James and I visited Puerto Vallarta just up the coast, 170 miles north.

One of my favorite things about that trip was taking the public transportation.  Riding with the locals from our hotel to downtown, we saw how the locals lived.  We saw some neighborhoods up in the mountains of the coast line.  Another day, we hiked down the coast, visiting four different beaches, see homes all along the way.

Millions of people live in the area that will be hit by this hurricane.

Right now my heart is breaking for mothers who live on that coast of Mexico.  I prayed all night that God would provide ways for those mothers to evacuate with their children and move inland.

The news is predicting devastation, flooding and mudslides, as the hurricane is making landfall as a category 5, much stronger than both Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Families that are able to evacuate will most likely not have anything to return to afterward.  The coastal towns will be uninhabitable for months.

Who does have control?  Our loving and merciful God does.

“Peace! Be still!”  These three words were uttered by our Lord, Jesus.

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.  But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’
— Mark 4:35-41 ESV

God could calm Hurricane Patricia with those three words.  Why He chooses not to, we don’t know.  We don’t get to see the last chapter until He is ready to reveil it to us.

How can I not put my trust in in someone who the wind and sea obeys?  Someone who laid down His life for me and for my son, Andrew?

All I know is that I want God to write Andrew’s story, not me.  And in writing Andrew’s story, God may use Andrew to rewrite many other stories.  And those stories are precious to me too.

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Day 17: Home School



Before James and I were married, we talked about having kids.  We talked about how James thought it would be a good idea to home school.  James had been home schooled most of his life, and he thought it was the best option.  I vigorously disagreed.  At the time, I had just had an ideal public school experience.  Almost every teacher I had was a Christian.  My biology teacher showed us Fantasia the week she was suppose to teach us about evolution.  My school was medium sized, not so small that we had subpar teachers, but not so big that I had gotten lost in the crowd.  Some of my teachers were even neighbors.  I had Christian friends.  There was a lunch time Bible study that I could attend.

     James and his sister Anna home schooling in the 80s, before it was cool.

     James and his sister Anna home schooling in the 80s, before it was cool.

Fast-forward to actually having a child.  When our daughter was 3, there is about a billion places I wanted to put my baby girl before I stuck her in a classroom.  I had a little cub.  I was a momma bear, and my protective side had been heightened.  My daughter was advanced verbally, and I knew she was ready to start learning how to read.  I decided that I would just teach her some pre-school.  A year later, I realized I had done too good of a job with our pre-school.  I knew that she wouldn’t fit well into a mold of organized learning.  She would be either board in a kindergarten class, or if I convinced a school to put her in 1st grade, she might be behind.  Because she was a little sponge who learned quickly, she could possibly be board in a 1st grade classroom as well.

I decided to home school her for 1st grade and see how that went.  By that time, we had found a home school group.  We had a weekly outlet for making friends, playing, and fun learning activities.

Every school year ended the same.  I would look at our options, and it was clear that home schooling another year was our best option.

     My favorite home school picture ever.  Our middle child doing Kindergarten in a Snuggie.

     My favorite home school picture ever.  Our middle child doing Kindergarten in a Snuggie.

No one ever told me how much home schooling would change me.  I had to have faith in the fact that God was going to give me the ability to teach my children.  Every year has been an exercise in faith.

Every year has been an education for me as well.  I’ve learned Bible history, phonics, literature, and spelling right alongside my kids, as I filled in gaps in my public school education.

About five years into home schooling, I decided that I would go back to school and finish my master’s degree.  I had to go take a standardized test similar to a SAT to apply for the masters program.

To my shock, I realized I scored better on the language portion of the exam than the mathematics section.  That had never happened to me before.  Part of the discrepancy was the fact that I had forgotten some of that upper level math I use to know.  But that wasn’t the whole reason because I had scored above average in both areas.  The fact was that my reading to my kids, teaching them to read, teaching them how to diagram a sentences, explaining unknown vocabulary had actually improved my language arts proficiency to a higher level than it had ever been at while I was enrolled in any formal education program.

I ended up only taking 4 classes out of the dozen I needed to earn my masters degree.  I realized I didn’t want to be a CPA.  I wanted to be at home with my kids reading books, at least for that phase of my life.

Home schooling also did something else for me personally.  I became part of a community.  I made home school mom friends that encouraged me.  I was asked to be a treasurer on the home school association’s board.  That meant that I got to know the other members of the board pretty well.  They were good friends to me.  They were prayer partners when I went through some rough stuff.  They threw me a shower when I had my yurt baby.  They shared their struggles with me so I could see that everyone has struggles, even those of us that look good on paper.

     Our home school table in the yurt.

     Our home school table in the yurt.

Other home school moms opened their homes for Bible study, curriculum discussion, and seasonal parties.  Those ladies ministered to more women than most churches.

After nearly 5 years of group meetings with mom groups and our home school association’s mentor meetings, I realized I had been actively engaging in women’s ministry, something I thought I didn’t need or didn’t really want to be apart of.  Those times of ministry built up my confidence in my abilities to parent and educate the kids God entrusted me with.  Sure I learned about curriculum and education in those meetings, but more often than that I learned about God’s love, loving others, and how to grab hold of the fruits of the spirit when we want to grab hold of our hair and just pull it on out.

Now, if you’ve been reading this and you either don’t have kids or have no interest in home schooling.  Let me assure you that my philosophy is this.  First, we can learn from the struggles and joys of others, even if they are on a completely different path than you.  And second, how any parent chooses to educate their children is a complex, vulnerable decision.  The golden rule dictates that I should never question that decision.  I have full confidence in someone else’s ability to make that tough decision for themselves.  God equips me to parent my children.  And dear reader, God equips you to parent your children.

My husband and I like to laugh.  There is this famous morning radio bit that we often joke about, especially around autumn.  The radio DJ does his best over-enunciated pastor’s voice and tells the listeners about the haunted house that his church will be hosting.  One of the scary features of the tour will include “children who are public schooled.”

I know a joke is good when it hits on a nerve of truth.  The home school community is notorious for making public school out to be the devil (or at least the bad guy.)

This doesn’t accomplish much, other that make our side feel spiritually superior.  And feeling spiritually superior is the opposite of humility, a trait that we are called to as Christians nearly a hundred times in scripture.

I don’t think this egotistic attitude is out of cruelty.  It usually stems from our insecurity as home school moms.  As a home school mom, my greatest struggle has been convincing myself that I’m enough, that I’m doing a good job.  Tearing down the other side is the short cut in propping ourselves up.

I’ve been as guilty of this tearing down as the next gal.  It’s a physical struggle I face.  When the opportunity comes, I have to take all my energy to keep my mouth closed and redirect my thoughts.

But the better work comes in looking to my loving Father and my gracious Savior to remind me of my value, my competency, and my worth.

If that message doesn’t resonate with the non-homeschooler, I don’t know what does.

What about you?  Where are you struggling to see your worth?  Where do you need to have faith in yourself, as He works in you, or in your Creator, Savior, Sustainer, Equipper, and Sanctifier?

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
— Hebrews 13:20-21 ESV




If I don't include a Tim Hawkins song, I might loose my home school club card.


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I'm sorry pj pants, you are the biggest loser.

Here's my new year's resolution.

Wear pj pants less.

I'm a home school mom, and that means we are at home most days.  So I've gotten into a bad habit of just getting up and doing school in pj pants.  Usually I'll change into a different t-shirt and brush my hair, but let to pj pants stay.  Cause they are that comfy friend that makes the party seem chill.  Who's sending that friend home for jeans?

Well I've decided I need to.  It affects my mood.

In pj pants, I'm all like, "Shucks, we'll do that spelling and grammar tomorrow.  I think the Good Wife is still on my DVR.  We can just read history and call it a day."

A few days of the week we have places we have to be in late afternoon - like Bible club on Wednesday at 3:00.  Ten minutes before we leave, I'm throwing on pants, shoes, and fixing my hair (for real this time.)

I started noticing that every time I put on decent clothing, my son Andrew would say, "Are we going somewhere?"

After this happened ten or thirty times, I started to resent it.  This 11 year old kid is pointing out that I dress like a slob at home.  Then, I lost it.

A: "Mom, are we going somewhere."
Me: "No!!!!!!  I'll show you going somewhere."

It wasn't really that bad, but it was bad.  My heart wasn't right.

So that's my resolution for this year.  I'm going to get dressed.  What kind of lazy bum have I become?  Ambition use to be one of the words I would put on job applications.

Can I say that Jesus is refining me?

No, better not blame that one on Jesus.

So how resolved am I?  Well, I'm writing this in pj pants.  Ha!

Ok, I'm going to get dressed.  Right.  Now.

****Bonus, if you can comment that I've confirmed all your home school stereotype suspicions.  Extra bonus if you are a public school teacher.  Jk, love ya teach.  Some of my best friends are public school teachers.****