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Archive for the ‘homeschooling’ Category

John 15:13 Greater love hath no one than this, that one lays down his life for his friends.

‘I never thought in my comfortable American life, I would ever see a person lay down his life for another, but in my years of homeschooling, I have seen some do just that. Over and over, I see mothers and fathers with a committed force about them as they say, ‘We homeschool.’

There is when one lays down his life for another. The one he lays it down for is not facing a firing squad or a torture unimaginable. No, the one he is laying it down for is usually not even aware of the sacrifice being made.

We, homeschool parents, have all had the same conversations with others, and heard statements like, ‘Oh, I could never homeschool, I don’t have that kind of patience. Or, ‘I enjoy my job and we really need the money.’ And how about, ‘I could never be that organized.’ You get the picture. All these statements suggest that homeschool moms have an extraordinary amount of patience and organizational skills. That we did not like our chosen profession. That we do not need or miss the money we could be earning. Well, let me dispel all those ideas right now. You see, we do not miraculously homeschool our children based on our own abilities, or because of our dedication to their education and love for them. We are only able to homeschool them because of our love for Him.

Human love and affection for our children would not in and of itself cause a person to have the long-suffering strength it takes to continue to homeschool day after day. Love for our children, though a tremendous force, would not allow us to ‘lay down our life’. Our own desires would get in the way. However, because of our love for Him, we get up, regardless of how we might feel, and in good cheer, we meet and greet, feed and wash, read and write, cook and clean, discipline, tuck in, say ‘amen’ and cause the little children to come unto Jesus every day that we go without pay, or sleep, or just our own way. We have made the decision to lay down our life before Jesus – our talents, degrees, desires and careers. We have lost what we thought our life was about and discovered what life really is . . . It is love . . . Love found in Christ . . . Measured by sacrifice . . . And extraordinary to common man. “

These are the words I spoke to a group of parents several years ago and I post it today to mark the end of my 10 year homeschooling career. All of my children are now “in school”. Even when I stood behind the podium, as I spoke to those parents on that spring day, I knew our homeschool experience was not an indefinite one. While we took each year one at a time in terms of whether it would be a homeschool year, we still had an “end date” in mind. We have now reached that date.

Such mixed emotions for me! Not trusting I could find the words to describe those emotions, I end with this: (the same words I ended with that day)

Matthew 16:25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, will find it.

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Making babies was always an easy thing for me. By the age of 26, I had 3 children under the age of 5. The following year, my fourth child was born. He was a big baby and so, so fussy. I held him in my arms for most of the day (and through the night) just to keep him from crying. The sleep deprivation from caring for him in addition to the other little ones began to wear me down. First, I stopped talking and kept most conversations to a minimum whenever possible, then my hair began to fall out, and (at 5’7″) my weight dwindled down to 110 pounds. Life was literally draining from me and being poured into my children. This went on for 18 months before I began to suspect that something may be wrong with my littlest one. It was 2 months later, at 20 months old, that he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. This coincided with the confirmation of my 5th pregnancy . . .

The neurologist said the left frontal lobe of his brain was malformed, which was going to affect the motor skills of his right side. They were unable to give me a prognosis or assess his cognitive skills, but said he would be monitored and tested every 6 months. Based on his brain scan, the doctor said he would have expected to see much greater deficits in my son, but seemed to think that the constant physical contact of being held in my arms for so much time during his infancy may have helped contribute to the compensation made by the right side of his brain up to this point.

My husband did not take the news of the diagnosis well. He coped by immersing himself into his job while I took our son (along with all the rest of the children) to countless evaluations, doctor appointments, physical therapists, occupational therapists and neuro-psychological testing. I researched and sought out every treatment, procedure and therapy thought to have the most long-term benefits.

When he got close to kindergarten age, I was encouraged to send him to public school where he would have access to “specialists” & “services”. Of course, I wanted what was best for him, but since I was already homeschooling his siblings, I wasn’t sure if the public school was truly our “best” option. He was 4 years and 4 months old when he went in for the routine cognitive testing that was done on him twice a year. In my heart, I always hoped he would score higher than his age level, but my head already knew, based on every previous test, he would score below. “So what if the results showed his cognitive & learning abilities to be delayed?” I would tell myself. “I know he is a sweet, smart boy who makes friends easily and has never let his disability stop him from trying to keep up with his brothers . . .” But the significance of these results were different. They would decide if what I had been doing at home for my beloved boy was working, or if he really did need the “expertise” of those trained in “special education”.

I was called into the doctor’s office with the neurologist and social worker. I could not tell by their faces what the verdict was. The doctor smiled as I entered the room and sat down. The social worker looked serious and quite concerned. The doctor opened the file in front of him while the social worker wrote rapidly on her notepad. “Well”, he began, “over the last 6 months it looks as if your son has not only caught up to his age group in cognitive skills, but he has completely surpassed our expectations and is testing well above the age of the average 6 year old.” The tears of thankfulness for answered prayers began to run down my face. The social worker quickly interjected by saying, “Although, by no means does this indicate that I think you should homeschool him. He has a disability and needs to be educated by people specially trained in this field. There is no way you can provide what he needs in a home environment.” As I looked at the neurologist for his input he said, “I diagnosed your son at 20 months old and saw the amazing results your home environment made to a child who should be severely physically disabled & mentally impaired. I whole-heartedly recommend you continue whatever you are doing. No one will ever be as invested in your son as you are.” With that, I thanked them all and, with my 5 children, we went home.

I have been told that in Old Testament times, people would build altars to remind them of significant events where God manifested His greatness in their life. While this was not the end of our challenges in dealing with my son’s cerebral palsy, this post represents my altar of sorts to remind me and tell others of God’s goodness, love and faithfulness.

Genesis 35:3 We are now going to Bethel, where I will build an altar to the God who answered my prayers when I was in distress. He has stayed with me wherever I have gone.

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Just when I think that life is too difficult and I feel so alone – I am reminded that I am loved. Not because of anything I have done, just because I am. Sometimes it’s a seemingly insignificant event that reminds me, like finding the closest parking space in a packed lot at the mall. Or at times, it is a really huge burden that is lifted – either way, the overwhelming realization that I am loved is the same. I am humbled and in awe.

Most recently, I had been struggling with the fact that I could no longer afford to pay the tuition at the local private school for my eldest son, and he no longer wanted to be home-schooled. (up to this point he had been attending the private school part-time & I  home-schooled him part-time) Our only option left was the neighborhood public school. It was difficult for my husband to understand why I had such a problem with this. In short, I felt like I had failed my son. I wanted to give him the best education possible and nothing could convince me that the education offered at the public high school was close to being the “best”. My husband’s attitude was, “I went to a public school and look at me, I turned out just fine.” That reasoning gave me no reassurance whatsoever. . .

Over the weekend, we received a phone call from our assistant pastor saying someone from our congregation had anonymously donated the full years tuition for my son to attend the private school. What a blessing! I feel my tears welling up just thinking about it. I am reminded of this verse:

Ephesians 3:20-21   Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope. May He be given glory for ever and ever through endless ages. Amen.

I had never even considered that, as the result of someone’s generous donation,  my son would be able to spend his senior year at a private school. It was definitely not something for which I had specifically prayed. But I am so thankful that God heard the prayers I did make and this anonymous person listened to His prompting to do such a wonderful thing for us! Again, I will say that I am humbled and in awe of His love for me.

Ephesians 3: 14-19   When I think of the wisdom and scope of God’s plan, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious unlimited resources He will give you (ME) mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit. And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your (MY) hearts as you (I) trust in Him. May your (MY) roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. and may you (I) have the power to understand as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. May you (I) experience the love of Christ, though it is so great, you (I) will never fully understand it. Then you (I) will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

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Of the many titles that could be used to describe me, “home-school mom” is one which brings much bittersweetness. While I love being home with my kids , at the same time, it is really hard being home with my kids!

In addition to the challenges of homeschooling 5 children, my husband (not surprisingly) has not been supportive of my decision to home-school the kids these last 10 years. He thinks that our family has suffered financially as a result of me working only part-time; that the kids should go to public school and I should work full time.

As the kids have gotten older, they’ve attended a private school near our house so they can take some of the upper level classes I did not want to teach at home. (i.e. Biology Algebra II, etc.) Initially, the classes were paid by a scholarship that I applied for and thankfully received, but the last few years, the price of these classes has doubled and I have had to pay the difference out of my own pocket. At this point, it is no longer something I can continue to do.

The decision has been made to send the 2 older kids to the local public school. It is a decision that makes my heart sad because I wish I could continue to send them to the private school, but without the financial support of my husband or their bio father, it is impossible for me to do it alone. I pray that this school will be a good experience and that the foundation the kids have received at home is strong enough to stand in this new environment.

II Thessalonians 2:15-17 With all these things in mind, dear brothers and sisters, stand firm and keep a strong grip on the teaching we passed on to you both in person and by letter. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, console and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say.

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