Taking Ground Through Homeschooling

I was walking in my mom’s front yard with her and 18-month-old Salem one day in 2013, and my mom asked me, “Are you going to homeschool him?” “NO! What on earth would make you think I would do that?” “You’re always going off the beaten path,” she answered. I assured her that I would never be homeschooling. No way. Not me. I like naps. I have dreams, Homeschoolers are weird. 

 Ironically, I always said my mom never knew me very well (she died 5 years ago). But she was the first person to call this out in me and my mind keeps remembering that. The nudge on my heart to homeschool kept coming every school year. I considered a dual classroom/homeschool private school when my oldest was in kinder, but didn’t feel like it was time. Again, in first grade, the nudge came again. I don’t want to assume that homeschooling is all what it appears to be on Instagram, but every time I stumbled across a homeschooling account, it stirred something inside of me. That happened again just after the start of the school year. I came across the Wild and Free Co account, and I saw a post about an upcoming book releasing tomorrow by the founder. Typically, I’m pretty intentional and calculated when I buy books. Usually I’m familiar with the author and what the message is going to be about. But this time, I wasn’t at all. I just felt an urge to buy it, and I kinda thought after a week or so it would join my graveyard of partially read books that I don’t think I’ll actually pick up again. 


But quite the opposite happened, actually. I couldn’t put it down. The minute I had a minute I wanted to read it. I read the whole thing cover to cover in probably 4 days. As I was reading the book, I realized I couldn’t ignore this stirring in my heart any longer. I needed to actually consider this open-mindedly. I realized that if this was God leading me to do this, the stirring wasn’t going to go away. I also realized that I’ve had a lot of the same values for raising my kids that homeschooling families have, but I never connected the dots that I could best manifest these values through homeschooling. 

As I shut the book and prayed about it, and discussed a lot with my husband, we decided that we would definitely homeschool next year. At least for our oldest son. But since we had already made the decision to do it, I immediately began to see everything now through the lens of what would be possible or what would no longer be a problem if we were homeschooling. 

And here’s where I get into my specific reasons for homeschooling. I could divide these into what I do like about homeschooling, what I don’t like about public school, but please know there ARE things I love about public school. Obviously, there are many things I appreciate about it which is why my middle son will stay in public school for now. I think each family should do what’s best for each child that year! This is just right for us right now. Seriously, sending all the good vibes to the families that love public school!

What I like about homeschool:

  1. I have more time to foster a close relationship with my kids. Family togetherness is really important to me. Life is only getting busier as my kids get older. I sense that I’m in a really crucial period of time with my oldest, one that I want to capitalize on rather than drift through. I think time spent together is a big factor in the level of influence you have with your child. You definitely can do this without homeschooling, I just think it takes more intentionality!

  2. Being able to do school when it works for us. I live in Texas. I was born and raised in Wisconsin. For me growing up, summer meant time to finally be outside, enjoying the weather without having to go anywhere. In Texas, summer means that it’s time to hibernate, it’s too hot to go anywhere unless you’re in water. This has always bothered me that our kids are in school during the best weather months of the year and out of school when we can’t go outside because of the heat. With homeschooling, that’ll no longer be a problem. I fully intend to at least do some subjects during the summer and ease up when we have beautiful days in other school months. And we’ll probably take school work outside!

  3. Giving my son the opportunity to work at his own pace. Not trying to brag on my son, but the pace of public school is very slow for him and I think it is for many students. He could be a grade level ahead (at least) in math and reading if he were able to work at his own pace. I could also use that extra time to teach him additional things he’s interested in that wouldn’t an option in a classroom setting.

  4. Nature. I think children spend far too much time disconnected from nature, which is vital to us in so many ways. Read How to Raise A Wild Child by Scott Sampson for more info on that. I see us being able to be outside for a long time, experiencing the world in ways we would never get to in a classroom. I’ve got a list of places I want us to go exploring together!

  5. I’ve done a ton of reading up on how kids learn. Not how kids pass tests. Not how kids complete the assignments. But what environments actually turn on their inner drive to want to know something and discover it. This is probably the aspect of homeschooling I’m most excited about. I think kids learn because they want to and that every kid is a genius about something. I’m excited to reignite Salem’s imagination, curiosity, and provide a feast of learning opportunities as Charlotte Mason calls it. I want my kids to read because they get to, not because they need to color a box for every 5 minutes they read. Overall, I want to shift their mindset from “have to” to “get to”. 

  6. His spiritual development. I’m super excited to have more time to devote to all the things I’ve been wanting to teach him and be more intentional about. We’re doing Unseen Bible Study by Priscilla Shirer, reading about Children and the Supernatural by Jen Toledo, and more! Following Jesus is a lot like show and tell. You show them, they get curious, and then tell them how, why, and more. I want to provide more opportunities to do the show part.

What I’m Not A Fan of About Public School

  1. You could read the above list and pretty much put everything in reverse, but there are a few other ones that don’t quite work that way. I’m really not a fan on the ample supply of low quality literature. My kids have read pretty quality books for assignments in class. However, I’ll never forget the first time I sent my son to school with $10 for the book fair, and he came home with a Minecraft graphic novel that was way over his head. The next time he came home with a Plants Vs. Zombies graphic novel. Then I decided we won’t be supporting the Scholastic Book Fair anymore. They also pretty regularly come home with books that I would have put the kibosh on if we were at the library. I know most parents are happy that their kids are reading at all, but not me. I have a standard, and while I’m not in control of them, I can choose what I’ll foster. I want the books my kids read to align with our values and cultivate things we want to see in our kids! 

  2. Video games are rampant, especially for boys. I’m not completely anti-video games, but I do strive to be pretty low-tech. I do have some values that video games negate. When certain video games are the talk of the playground, the lunch table, gym class, in line to music class, is a little too far for me. There are just so many other things I would rather see my kids do with their free time than play video games, and I don’t want them to be bombarded with video game talk everyday.

  3. Along the same vein, I’m going to be as late of an adapter to kids having smart phones as I can be. I’m not at that stage yet, but I’ve heard from middle school parents in our school district that kids need phones to keep in touch with teachers and complete assignments by late middle school. I know most parents don’t want that, but wave their white flag in defeat anyway. Honestly, I don’t ever want my kid to need a phone for school work and keeping up with the Joneses is not my thing. 

  4. Living slowly. I know, it sounds ambiguous. But I feel like busy is glorified left and right. I feel like we’ve been duped into thinking busy=quality or busy=significant. Yesterday my son spent all of his after school time climbing trees, catching bugs, making “armadillo traps” (don’t worry, no armadillos were actually trapped!), perched on the table drawing sketches, and looking for shooting stars. We didn’t leave the house to go to two different practices or Spirit nights or anything. Play is the work of childhood. I think unstructured time for play is just as important as learning how to read and write and memorize math facts. I don’t want half of their time to be spent in the car going from practice to practice.

I could write more and more, but I’ll leave it at that for today! Overall, I’m really excited. I have my moments if I wonder if I’ve completely lost my mind for giving up my 7 hours of child free time, but I know that I want this more. I know that being on mission with him this way will be more satisfying than all the pedicures and clean rooms, and naps combined. 

And because I figured someone would want to know what we’re doing approach-wise, so far I’ve fallen in love with Charlotte Mason’s pedagogy so that’s primarily what we’re doing, although I will probably pick up what I like from each approach!


Mom

They say that personal blogging is dead. That writing should be geared towards helping your readers and less about yourself and your story. Personally, I really miss reading personal blogs. I was bummed out when my favorite bloggers got too famous and stopped sharing what God is doing in their life in real time. Honestly, I’m not very interested in articles. If I don’t sense the humanity and authenticity of the person who wrote it, I wouldn’t trust the person because I don’t know them, and therefore, I’m much less likely to take their advice. So, I’m putting that advice to the test today. This is personal. This is my story, plain and simple, and not much advice added to the top. We’ll see how God uses it.

I don’t really have a memory of my mom where she wasn’t addicted to alcohol. I remember thinking the world of here as a little girl, but whenever she drank, she turned into a different person, one that I didn’t recognize from the person she was when she was sober. Her alcoholism continued to escalate throughout my childhood, until it drove a wedge between her and my dad, which caused their marriage to end in divorce when I was in 5th grade. When she and my dad were finally separated, she was finally “free” to drink as she pleased without my dad discouraging it. I remember hiding in my closet as a 5th grader, pleading with God to change her and give me my mom back. My healthy mom. My mom who was a safe place. My mom who was stable and predictable. But it didn’t happen, it only got worse. And there in that place, as a 10 year old girl, I grieved the loss of my mom. I grieved that I wouldn’t be guaranteed a safe drive home from my after school activities. I grieved that alcohol might be on her breath at my parent-teacher conferences. I grieved that my house was not going to be a place I felt comfortable inviting friends over to. I grieved that I couldn’t trust my mom’s advice or judgement on most things. I grieved 1,000 other things and cried buckets of tears. But, she was alive. She was there but not there. No one said, “I’m sorry for your loss”, because no one knew I lost something.

This grieving happened over time, from 5th grade until I moved out at age 19. Jesus got a hold of my heart at age 13 and I surrendered my life to him. Eventually I met my husband (then, boyfriend) and moved to Austin, Texas, where he lived. We were in worship at a conference one day, and I had an encounter with the Lord like I had never had up until that day. I had my first vision from Him. He showed me a picture of my heart. Planted within my heart was a tree, and the roots went down deep, and it was trying to grow up tall above the heart. But sitting where the sprout would be was a big brick that said “unforgiveness” on it. I heard God say, “I am trying to grow you but you’ve got to get this unforgiveness out of the way, because it’s blocking the growth.” I knew in that moment, with tears streaming down my cheeks, that I needed to forgive my mom, and in that moment, I did.

Months later, I sent my mom a card with a letter, telling her that I was sorry for how disrespectfully I had spoken to her as a teen, and I also told her that I had forgiven her for how she parented me, although she hadn’t apologized to me, or even admitted that she had done anything wrong, so I didn’t know how that would go over. She called me after receiving the letter, thanking me for forgiving her. Although we weren’t really mad at each other, I felt like our relationship was restored to a greater level of intimacy.

About a year later, and after a lot of prayers for her, I felt like God was compelling me to send her a Bible. I highly doubted she would read it, but he gave me the words to say, so I wrote it in a letter again and put it in the Bible and mailed it to her. I told her that I thought God would change her life around if she read it. I asked her to really consider Jesus, instead of putting that off for a time of desperation. She said she would read it and didn’t really bring it up again in the future.

Then, about three months later, she had the first of many trips to the hospital for a health problem related to liver cirrhosis. She was basically told that she was going to die soon if she didn’t stop drinking and sought sobriety for the first time.

Around that time, a friend of hers from work invited her to her church, a new church plant in town that was aimed towards seekers, and she went. She called me that Sunday, after the first day she went church on some sort of spiritual high, telling me that she couldn’t believe the great “Christian rock band” they had and how the pastor talked about sex. She continued to go to that church on and off for several months, until one day she called me on a sunny, spring day in April and with not a hint of Christianese in her language, she told me she wanted Jesus in her life. I lead her to the Lord over the phone that day, and got to see a prayer I had been praying for 12 years come to pass. Somehow, after I told her I had forgiven her, things I had been praying for in the spiritual realm started to manifest in the physical realm. It was if that unforgiveness was blocking the flood of prayers I prayed, and once it wasn’t holding those prayers back anymore, we were able to see a flood of answered prayers: forgiveness, reconciliation, joy and contentment, eyes to see her as God does, and many more.

She still continued to struggle with alcohol on and off between initially trying to get sober and her passing in 2014. At the time of writing this, New York passed a law allowing the abortion of full term babies two days ago. I’m deeply saddened by this horrific law, and am praying for the rights of the unborn. As much as my mom struggled to raise me, I’m grateful she chose life for me. I’m grateful, finally, that I got to be her daughter. I’m grateful, that God used every bit of pain, heartache, and loss and worked to redeem every part up until she died, and beyond. I’m grateful for that peace between us in our relationship for several years before she died.

I would love to pray for anyone wrestling with these things. Shoot me an email, comment, or DM.

Let's Get Fortified.

Fortified- Verb, Hebrew חָזַק, transliteration: (khaw-zak’), definition according to Strong’s Hebrew and Aramiac dictionary: to fasten upon, to sieze, cure, help, repair, fortify, to bind, to strengthen, to harden, to be constant, be established, to behave valiantly, to withstand.

I’ve basically become obsessed with the word fortify and the meaning behind it in the past year or so. Because if it isn’t obvious by now, I’m big proponent of seeing believers walk in victory, being more than conquerors, and knowing that they have what it takes in Jesus to dominate in any attack. The word victory itself implies that we have an opponent, and therefore, something to conqueror. I’ve wrestled with the concept of “a spiritual attack” quite a bit, knowing good and well that they’re a real thing, because I’ve had them, but also wondering why some believers don’t seem to have them, or even know what you’re talking about if you use that term. I also know good and well that for me personally, and I believe for many other believers, that I was very “attackable”, for lack of a better word. I was easy prey. I was an open target. Not because I was a lukewarm believer. Not because I didn’t really love Jesus. Not because I didn’t read my bible or pray or practice any of the spiritual disciplines. I was almost literally on fire for the Lord and couldn’t get enough of my Bible. And I know many other believers that have been attacked are too. But there’s one thing that I was not: fortified. I believe the meal that that prowling lion, seeking someone to devour loves to consume is a 1 part Christian with a brilliant future and destiny that will totally annihilate his kingdom of darkness in her sphere of influence, combined with 1 part unchecked, unguarded, unfortified heart, holes in her “wall”, and therefore holes in her life, all wrapped up in one brilliant yet vulnerable human being. If you have no idea what that means, hang in here because I’m going to get there.

This blog series is a call for all of us, myself included, to fortify our lives, through equipping with a study of the Old Testament concept of fortified cities, mixed in with my own personal story. Until Jesus comes back or we see Him face to face, we will have a prowling lion seeking someone to devour, but in Jesus’ name, we don’t have to be easy prey. We can live fortified lives that are able to withstand attacks triumphantly.