This is our first week back to school but preparation for going back to school begins in April/May for the Neal household. ( We purchase our curriculum at the end of the school year! :) Then I do my best to concentrate on summer activities until about a week or two before time for the new official school year.
About the first of August I begin thinking about school again and it shows up in my prayer journals. This year the first entry was on June 17th. I think the reason for that is because Asher chose to do some of his senior year's schoolwork during the summer.
I remember when the Lord began dealing with me about our children's training. As I would read the verses in Deuteronomy that the Christian schools were using I was troubled because it didn't give the priests the responsibility to teach and train the children. The responsibility was laid squarely on the shoulders of the parents. The second thing that bothered me was that more and more Christian women were leaving their homes to work in the Christian school. As a young wife and mother the Lord had showed me very clearly that my ministry was to have my home as its core.
Please remember as I'm giving you our personal testimony that homeschooling was almost unheard of when the Lord began dealing with us about it. We were truly entering an area that very few people were brave enough to approach.
My husband and I would discuss it and we both felt that it would be disloyal to our pastor and send a confusing message to the church if we pulled our children out of the school to be taught at home.
I began to seriously pray about it. In my mind we needed to do it and do it now because time was slipping away. However, the Lord always knows what's best and the principle of honoring authority kept me from taking a position of authority over the Lord, my husband, and my pastor.
The real crisis for me came when it was time to send the last of our four children to the Christian school. I felt like I was going to be desolate staying at home with an empty house while my husband was at the Christian school with everything that was precious to me--my entire family. I began to waver on my conviction of the woman being a "keeper at home" (with the emphasis on the word "at") and listening to one older woman's comment that "the Christian school was simply an extension of her home".
It seemed everyone at our church assumed that when Nevin went to Christian school his mother would be there too joining the work force. I approached my husband with the idea that the school was just an extension of the home and got a strong reaction! He let me know that his conviction hadn't changed and I wouldn't be going anywhere!
Now during this entire time the Lord had been working. I truly didn't see any of it till I was looking back at it. The year that Nathan was supposed to go to Christian school our pastor announced that we were going to have to teach our own kindergarten age children at home. The woman that was supposed to teach had to stay home and care for her dying mother. So, we ordered the curriculum from the school and I taught him kindergarten at home!
The next year we had the same situation and I taught Nevin kindergarten at home. I absolutely loved every moment of it.
Then God called my husband into the pastorate and he began actively seeking where the Lord wanted him. When he took his first pastorate they had just closed their Christian school and he let them know we would be homeschooling. We offered to help anyone else that was interested in doing it. At that pastorate we ended up with a large group of homeschoolers!
Once I began teaching all four children at home I realized how merciful the Lord was to me to let me start out with one student, then two students and then up to four. His timing was so perfect, and mine so flawed. (This all took place over a period of about five years.)
Early on I asked the Lord to give me verses for our homeschool and He gave me II Peter 1: 5-8. That portion of Scripture taught me one of the most important lessons in teaching and training children--that teaching facts (knowledge) is useless if you haven't first taught your child that the Bible is the final authority in our lives (faith) and that character is more important than lessons. (virtue) I have used that as a pillar in teaching our children.
Another valuable lesson the Lord taught me was that just pulling my children out of the world system wasn't going to automatically give me godly children. I realized that based on the depravity of man my children had the love of the world built into them. Therefore, if I thought pulling my child out of the world was going to take the world out of my child I was sadly misled. My motivation for pulling my child away from the world system was so that the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit could be heard over the distractions and lures that the world has. That child had a choice to make but I wanted to get them in an environment where they could hear the Holy Spirit and have an opportunity to make a choice. Satan is a master at sending distractions, so I wanted to remove as many of them as I could!
I have met some parents who have been deeply disappointed when they thought having the perfect environment would create a perfectly spiritual child. Sometimes I've watched them even pull themselves into a shell and out of the local church thinking that would help. It doesn't.
The goal is to send those children into the world as glowing arrows to do the work that the Lord has for them. (Ps. 127:4) The home is the boot camp for this. Sending children into the arena before they've become trained and mature is like throwing a kitten into a pack of grown dogs and expecting it to come out the champ. My prayer for each of my children is that they will walk in obedience to the Lord in being 1) Saved 2) Surrendered 3) Submitted 4) Separated unto the Lord from the world 5) Servants 6) Soldiers.
Over the years the Lord has given me many verses concerning my children. Here are a few:
I. Seek the Lord for wisdom and the right way for our little ones. Fast and pray over them. They are so precious. (Ezra 8:21)
2) Fight for their spiritual welfare for all your worth. Remember who your Captain is so you're not afraid. (Nehemiah 4:14)
3) Three things that we must teach our children and grandchildren: A. the praises of the Lord B. His strength C. His wonderful works. (Psalms 78:4)
4) Letting the Lord keep the "strange children" out of our lives will allow our children to be healthier spiritually and "polished" as He wants them. (Psalms 144:11,12 ) *This is a cause-and-effect passage.
5) The Lord wants to fight for my children! (Isa. 49:25)
6) The bottom line teaching has to be done by the Lord Himself to get the right results. (Isa. 54:13)
7) I must set a "watch" and cry to the Lord even in the night for my children. (Lam. 2:19)
8) And here's my new one. This is a direct answer from the Lord with one of my biggest battles with my flesh--impatience and irritation. (I am in my 50's!) "the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning." Prov. 16:21b. Oh, I pray the Lord brings that one to mind on a regular basis when I need it!
That's not all my verses but some of the ones that are precious to me after over 20 years of homeschooling. The Lord's been good to me and given me "extra blessings" through adoption. I'll be 62 when my homeschool journey ends. But really it won't end there...I have 17 grandbabies you know!
As we head back into the homeschooling year I am reminded that we begin homeschooling when they are born. When I see someone with a lack of confidence I remind them that they are the one that taught there child to talk, eat, and encouraged them in their first steps. They are the one who potty trained the little one and has already taught them so many vital life skills.
Many years ago others taught me that curriculum is simply a tool and that a dedicated and committed teacher can learn right along with the child if they are willing to humble themselves and do it! My children have taught me as much as I have ever taught them!
I always grab a few hand-picked articles or books to get my homeschool engine up and revving at this time of the year. Some to encourage me and motivate me and some to remind me that God's schooling is the best.
I pray that each of you that are beginning a new year will be able to do it with joy and expectancy. I pray that those whom the Lord is dealing with will be patient and obey Him on His time-table. I pray that each of us no matter where we are in our journey will dedicate ourselves to being a tool in the Master's hand to see our children won to Christ heart and soul. God bless every mother and father who are committed to teaching and training their children for Him.