Just like we are all called to The Great Commission (Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20) which may look like foreign missions for some, huge donations for others, and sharing Jesus with their neighbors for others, the bible is clear about specific directions for parenting too- "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." Deuteronomy 6:5-7. The directions are clear-- but the method may look different for each person and family. For this family, the Lord has made it clear, that homeschool is the way to go about that command- at least for this time.
It all started when I was pregnant with Max. Actually it started before that.... you know back in the day when I thought I knew everything. Back when I said things like "I'll NEVER drive a minivan-- I'll drive a bus before that happens"... and know-it-all comments like "God created public school for moms to have a break" and "Homeschool kids are dorky-- that won't be my kids." Well fast forward and I now drive a minivan that I'm actually quite fond of... and we're homeschooling.... never say never :) So back to Max... he was growing in utero and Chad and I were on the way to church (in our super cool 4runner I might add...) and I reached over and grabbed Chad's forearm and said "I'm supposed to homeschool." He looked as me as only husbands who have been dealing with raging hormones for too many weeks on end can and said "ok, don't get upset, we have a while to figure that out." Small tears seeped out of my eyes- it was an encounter with the Lord for me- I knew what was being said and what I was to do, but I didn't know why and I didn't understand it.
Well over the last 4 years, that moment has been flushed out a bit. God has continued to open my eyes to my job as a parent, what it looks like to teach my children the way, and opened my heart so much that I don't even care if my children are dorky-- I just care that they're learning to love God with all their hearts, souls and strength. God has brought it to my attention that I can delegate tasks (like educating) and authority to others when it comes to my children, but I can't delegate responsibility-- I'll have to give an account for how I raised them and what I delegated. AND before you even think I'm attacking all teachers, I am NOT-- my grandmother was an incredible kindergarten teacher for decades, and I have many close wonderful godly friends who are teachers in the public school system-- and thank you Lord for that! But as with all government run establishments, there are not God-centered and Christ-like requirements for all personnel, and until God shows me that my children know His way well enough to fend off the "fools" that Prov 13:20 talks about, then we're going to own the task of their education, which by default, keeps them home with me and under own discipleship during most of their awake hours, instead of the opposite. Again... at least for now :)
We recently attended this really well-done homeschool talk by Jonathan D. Crumly, Sr (his website it crumsoftruth.com) and he asked 3 simple questions that I just love for our family in general:
1) Is God preeminent in our decisions about educations?
2) What goals do we have for when our children become adults?
3) What goals do we have for educating our children?
It really just gave us a great perspective for continually praying through this process of education, and listening to God as He leads us.
So when homeschooling entered into our family a lot sooner than planned with Gabe last month, I scrambled, asking my discipleship leader from college for help, as well as a wonderful family that Chad and I both look up to, and really great lady from church-- all who I admire, all who homeschool their children-- for some help, direction and encouragement. Melisa, my leader from college, told me this and it's stuck: 80%+ of homeschooling is heart and character work. And not just the kids! And oh how true it is-- there has already been battles in my heart over "my" time and the way "I" like to do things... you know get out and about all the time, meet up with other preschool moms, etc... but that's just not feasible. God is working and showing me what gets the priority right now, and if I'm honest with myself and factor in the small people we have in our home now and to come in the next several weeks, this isn't just a short stage I'm in-- this is what God has called and is calling me to for the next many years. It's going to encroach on me time-- it's going to "hold me back" and keep me from doing other things I want to do-- it's going to limit my freedom and flexibility, and it's going to significantly cut into my social life-- but as Nehemiah 6 demonstrates, "I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down."
Last question- will we ever send them to school? Well the short answer is God led us here and he'll lead to the next steps too. For now, I believe God gave us these precious people and it's my job to shape their minds, hearts, and souls as God sees fit-- so when/ if we feel like they are ready for the big mean world-- hard and peer pressure, and that God is calling them there, we will send them! Whether that's middle school, high school or a foreign country to serve Him- they are His, we are just here to steward them and I want to spend my energy doing it the best way I can! My desire is for them to be strong, young men at every age, capable of being in the world not but of the world as scriptures call us to be.
So all that to say, I do not think this way is "the" way-- it's just a way and the way we've chosen for now. I don't think I'm a better parent than someone doing it in a different way, and I don't judge others for choosing one of the many other routes to education and discipling your children! I'm just oh so grateful that God showed me this and put it on my heart years ago, because He knew that if he sprang this on me when Max was five, I would've laughed all the way over to kindergarten registration! This has been a work of my heart and Chad's, and will continue to be as we look to the Lord for guidance in raising and training our children.
"The education of children for God is the most important business done on earth." R.L. Dabney