While preparing to write my story of how I came to faith, I looked over some guides and outlines on how to begin. Most of them split it into two different sections: “Before I accepted Jesus I lived like this” and “After I accepted Jesus I lived like this.” That was a challenging approach for me considering that I asked Jesus to come into my heart at age 3. I think this is both a blessing and a struggle. On the upside of things, I was raised in a Christian home, going to church every Sunday, doing Bible studies as a family and have my parents to set great examples for me of how to imitate Christ. I definitely learned from watching them live out their faith just like it says in Philippians 3:17 to follow those who set examples in Christ.

I accepted Christ on a walk with my mom one fall afternoon. I understood the basic concept of sin and that I hadn’t lived a perfect life, even in those short three years. I asked my mom about heaven and about why Jesus had to die. She explained to me that he died for my sin and everyone else’s. I thought about this for a little and then stopped on the sidewalk and said, “I want to accept Jesus.” So we stopped right then and prayed that Jesus would come and live in my heart and forgive me of my sin. My mom had made sure that I understood what I was doing and why. I think my story of coming to faith details perfectly what Jesus said in Matthew 18:3 when he spoke of having faith like a child.

It’s been wonderful that I have been able to grow in my faith for so long, but sometimes I wish I had a more drastic and sudden conversion. Not that I wish I had a major trial or anything like that, it’s just that I often take my faith for granted. Although I have met plenty of people who do not share my faith, I sometimes feel that I don’t fully appreciate how different Christ has made my life. In addition to this, I have often wrestled with making my faith my own. Growing up with Christian parents I often felt that their faith was my faith. For a lot of my life I have simply gone through the motions of Christianity: going to church, reading my Bible and praying. It wasn’t until high school that I wanted more out of my relationship with Christ. I realized there is no way to have a personal relationship with him if I don’t at least make an effort to learn about faith on a personal level. With this realization I began to attempt to live out Jesus’s command in Matthew 22:37 about loving God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.

But this wasn’t an easy thing for me to do. I got busier and busier with each year and slowly I saw my quiet times with God get pushed to the back burner. I struggled with making my faith my own until I went to a summer leadership camp called Worldview Academy. Worldview was unlike any other camp I had been to: instead of feeding off an emotional high that lasted about a week after getting home, we studied theology and apologetics and learned to find the reason and hope in our faith.  I went 3 years in a row and each year I felt more and more encouraged in my faith and the reason for it. On the third year something clicked and I felt that my faith was finally my own. It wasn’t my parents’ or my friends’  or my church’s; it was mine and I had a reason for the hope that I had, just like it says in 1 Peter 3:15.

As I entered my junior year I was met with a busy schedule filled with academics, church and extracurriculars, but I knew that God was with me through it all. One of my favorite ways to stay strong in my personal relationship with God is by talking with others about God’s word. Something that has always been important to me is relationships with others. I think we can learn so much about the Bible and the world in general from talking with people of all ages. Since freshman year I have been involved in a Bible study group with some friends from church; over the years I have learned so much just from the weekly interactions between a small group of fellow believers and time centered around God’s word. A verse that really resonates with me is Hebrews 10:25 about the importance of being surrounded by other Christians: “Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Over the years I have seen my faith change from simply being something I seemed to have inherited from my parents to something I have begun to take joy in learning more about and making my own. One verse that has shaped my life is Jeremiah 29:11, “‘I know the plans I have for you’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’” I haven’t always seen God’s purpose as being especially clear in my life, but recently I have strongly felt God’s call to further my education at a Christian college. I enjoy studying the world through a Biblical worldview and this is something I believe I can only get at a distinctly Christian school and I hope to be encouraged in my faith and studies by my professors and peers. I am excited to see what God is calling me to and what else he has in store for my faith journey.

Where do you live? Family information? Ages of your children?

My husband, Todd, and I have two children: Jane, 18 years old, and Samuel, 15 years old. We live in Roseville.

How long have you been homeschooling? SCOPE member?

We have been homeschooling for 12 years, beginning when our daughter started first grade and that was also when we joined SCOPE.

Are you the primary “teacher” or does your spouse get involved with the homeschooling?

I am definitely the primary teacher but Todd has been involved and responsible for different parts of their education over the years. When our kids were younger we would often plan the school year together and we, of course, discuss any issues that come up. In the elementary years we had a great time doing science most Friday evenings with Dad. He would choose the experiments or subjects, often with ideas I provided or sometimes we followed a published curriculum. For middle school and a little bit in high school, we continued doing some of the science experiments with Dad (especially the dissections!)

Another area Todd has taken on is Christian training/apologetics. He leads our weekly family Bible study time and it’s usually a study that includes reading or homework that each of us do during the week. He also always has books that he, Jane, and Sam are working through together, but different books for each of them. For example, Mere Christianity or More Than a Carpenter. They try to read a portion of the book separately each week and then discuss it together.

I have found that asking Todd to take over subjects that are challenging, either because of the academic content or because of personality clashes, can be a huge lifesaver for our homeschooling and our relationships. When a statistics course involved more conflict than learning, I asked him to take over as the teacher. This may be easier for courses at the high school level since it is more about providing oversight and coaching them through tough spots.

Additionally, an area that has some overlap with homeschooling is Scouts. Troop 107, a Christian homeschooling troop, has been an encouragement and blessing to Sam and the rest of our family and Todd is the main parent for those activities.

What do you love the most about homeschooling, and what do you like the least about it?

Definitely what I love most about homeschooling is the control we have over our time. We want to be good stewards of our time, and relationships are vitally important to us. I could see that if I wanted my children to have close relationships with their Lord, their parents, and each other, then we needed to make sure we had plenty of time together.

What I find most challenging about homeschooling is the time. I found that being a homeschool parent continues to be more than a full-time job even as your children progress through their school years. For me, it’s not just the time that I spend planning for and carrying out the academics, but even more so the time we spend talking and listening. I am very thankful that my kids have lots of things they want to talk about and I think this is a combination of how God created them and how we’ve spent time building our relationships. However, I have a finite amount of energy for interactions (I’m more introverted than extroverted). Therefore, I have had to be very careful about how I manage my time and what commitments I take on so I have the energy to commit to my kids and my marriage.

The effort and sacrifices are well worth it, though! I am so thankful for all the conversations we’ve had, the learning we’ve shared and the relationships we have with each other and with the Lord.

What is a favorite homeschool memory for your family?

Dry ice experiments! There are so many fun things you can do with dry ice and you can learn many scientific principles at all different ages. As much as possible, science should be fun. God is amazingly creative and He loves it when we learn about and delight in His creation!

What did you do to ensure that your son/daughter would be eligible to attend college?

It’s important to know your student and for them to know themselves. Throughout their whole lives you should be talking about where their strengths are and continuing to build on those strengths while not neglecting those areas where they aren’t strong. Our daughter just graduated. So, what this looked like for her was knowing that she did intend to go to college and preparing her to enter a university directly. Although we knew attending a community college first was another possibility, we know families where the high school senior decided at the last minute to apply to universities, so we wanted to do what was reasonable to prepare her for that.

I think “reasonable” is the key and the biggest challenge in preparing for college, and it could look different for every student. For our daughter it meant taking the PSAT, SAT and ACT only once and that was sufficient. I learned that depending on the student’s expected major and the schools they’ll be applying to, not every college-bound student has to take algebra 2, precalculus, chemistry, or physics. Our daughter’s strengths are writing, literary analysis, psychology and creativity. Therefore, instead of chemistry or physics we created our own zoology course, and instead of algebra 2 she took statistics (a great subject for all students!) Even without those “standard” college-prep courses, she still had no problem gaining admission to the colleges to which she applied.

One of the things that helped her admissions process and helped her feel prepared for college were college courses she took in high school. Community college is a great opportunity for this but we ended up with four other options that she pursued: she took an online British literature course through Liberty University; a psychology course with another homeschool mom and then took the AP test; a worldview class “Understanding the Times” which has an option for college credit through Bryan College; and then she took a human development course and passed the CLEP test for that. There are many ways to earn college credit in high school which helps with the admissions process and gives your student a head start on their required courses.

If you have an idea of what colleges your teen may be applying to and you’d like to pursue college credit in high school, it would be a good idea to ask those colleges if they have a listing of credit that they give for AP, CLEP or online university courses. Some colleges will limit the amount of AP or CLEP credits.  Jane almost took Liberty’s online freshman-level English composition course but at least one of the colleges she was interested in wouldn’t give her credit for that course if it wasn’t done in a classroom environment.

How has SCOPE benefited your family? Tell us something you learned by being a SCOPE member.

I am sure we would not have been able to stick with homeschooling if it wasn’t for the SCOPE community. From the very beginning I had ladies that would sit down with me for hours and tell me how this crazy thing called homeschooling worked for their families. Every year we continue to be encouraged and learn from the families in our Chat group, from the SCOPE conferences, the newsletters, and from the SCOPE-wide events. I know I have women in SCOPE who lift my family up in prayer and share in our successes and setbacks. Definitely the most important part of all of this was being involved in the Chat group. That is where our whole family has had the ability to share in learning experiences and form friendships.

I Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV): Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Teach Them How To Open A Can Of Paint – by David West

“Son, don’t be like that guy. Of course, I don’t know his story and don’t want to speak bad about him. Maybe his parents didn’t do projects around the house, or maybe they didn’t let him help with projects. I don’t know how a person can get to adulthood and not be able to open a can of paint. You don’t need to be proficient at everything, but I want you to know some basic things. And I want you to know how to think through a problem to a solution.”

My son and I had just left a home where I was hired to do some carpet work. I had watched, amused and baffled, as the homeowner attempted to open a can of paint. He was trying to paint an odor sealing primer on the concrete before I installed new carpet padding. The whole process was difficult to watch. Once he had opened the can (his wife eventually helped him), he struggled to apply the primer. His motion with a paintbrush resembled a southpaw throwing right-handed.

How is it possible, I wondered, to be so inept? I didn’t want to think ill of someone, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I couldn’t think how it was possible that he never opened a can of paint until that day, but there must be a good explanation.

I recall another time someone didn’t know how to do something which I considered a basic life skill. Upon leaving a restaurant our van wouldn’t start. I had battery jumper cables in the vehicle and was sure we could use them to get the vehicle started. My family waited in the car while I approached two young men to ask for assistance.

“Excuse me. My van won’t start and I need a jump. Any chance you could help? I have the jumper cables.”

Both young men (I guessed in their early twenties) looked bewildered. I waited through an awkward pause and then one of the men said, “What do you need us to do?”

“If you could pull your car alongside mine, then we can use my cables. I’m pretty certain that’s all my vehicle needs to get started.”

The bewilderment continued. “Okay, but I’ve never done this before. Will it do anything to my car?”

That was a question I hadn’t expected. How does a young man grow up without ever seeing someone use battery jumper cables? What did he think I was going to do?

The young men did help. I showed them how jumper cables worked and in a few minutes we were shaking hands and on our way.

Fathers can’t teach children everything there is to know about cars, paint, and tools. But what we know about these things we should attempt to pass on. My oldest daughter is driving and about to get her own car. I want her to know how to use jumper cables. I hope she never needs them, but I want her to know how to use them.

I can’t point to any Bible verse which says, “Fathers, teach your children basic life skills related to home and car maintenance.” But I can point to my own experience and make a suggestion. In order to fulfill the cultural mandate – to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it – we need to teach our children many necessary skills. Let them watch as we open cans of paint; hand them a set of jumper cables and show them how they connect to the battery.

In the current era of knowledge workers, mechanical skills are often forgotten. A fireman told me last week that mechanical skills are still necessary at his job. He said most of the young recruits struggle when asked to break down a chain saw and clean it. This wasn’t the case when he started on the job. His generation knew their way around objects with moving parts. The new generation knows their way around a computer screen. He suggested to my sons that they get some basic mechanical knowledge if they ever want to be firemen.

I appreciated his advice and I pass it on to you. Don’t let your children (boys or girls) grow up completely removed from analog and mechanical devices. They don’t need to be building contractors, handymen, or auto mechanics, but we should teach them as many basic skills as possible.

All of us differ in our knowledge of tools and how to use them. But at the very least, fathers, teach your children how to open a can of paint.

Home Education In California: How It All Began by Chuck & Pam Geib

Home Education was more of an experiment or an idea rather than a philosophy for many families in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Seen by many as social misfits, these parents were trying to educate their children without the age segregated environment found in public schools and the strict structure of a classroom. These families were primarily secular and used the “Un-schooling” approach of having their homes full of books and learning resources to stimulate learning naturally with little or no set classroom time.

In 1972 Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore brought home education into the Christian arena. They wrote the book, Better Late than Early which was born from an article first published in Harper’s magazine. The California state legislature was considering a law to lower the compulsory age for children to attend school to 2 years, 9 months and in response to that legislative idea Dr. Moore wrote the article based on his research that children actually did better if they waited to begin formal education. The article was republished in Reader’s Digest and was so well received the publishers requested the book be written. Thus modern Christian Home Education was born.

It would take nearly a decade for the seeds that were planted in 1972 to sprout. There were a few cutting edge Christian families who embraced the Moore’s ideas and began to homeschool during that decade but the fullness of time had not occurred for most. Dr. Brian Ray and his wife, Betsy began both to home educate and to research home education in the late 70’s. Dr. Ray meant for his research to be part of his doctorial thesis but was turned down. Instead it became his life’s work and was used in his thesis which then became about the public school system.

In the early 1980’s Dr. James Dobson invited Dr. Raymond Moore to be a guest speaker on his Focus on the Family radio program. In those days  Dr. Dobson was who the young Christian family looked to daily for encouragement in parenting their children.

In Los Angeles County a husband and wife heard the now famous radio program and knew it was an answer to their prayers for their young son, they were Michael & Elizabeth Smith. In Orange County two families heard it also and felt the same answer to their prayers for their children, the mothers of these families were Karen (Woodfin) Middleton and Susan Beatty. These women were soon overwhelmed with the numbers of phone calls and letters asking for help to begin home education because hundreds, perhaps thousands, of families heard that broadcast and felt lead of the Lord to try homeschooling. Susan and Karen began writing a newsletter but it was soon apparent that their work needed to be offered to a wider audience and on a statewide basis rather than just a local county one and the new organization, Christian Home Educators Association of California (CHEA) was born. The first organizational meeting for this association was held in the home of Mike & Elizabeth Smith culminating in forming a small advisory Board consisting of Mike Smith, Dr. Raymond Moore, and Jonathan Lindvall. The year was 1982.

Although groups were cropping up all over California, they were still small in numbers. An average support group might consist of a half dozen families. Many families did not even have school aged children yet. They had heard that wonderful radio program and wanted to gather with others who planned to homeschool their children when the time came.

The legalities of homeschooling became a major issue in the beginning days and Mike Smith was asked to step in and help families who had issues. At a conference in Sacramento Mike met another homeschooling father, Michael Farris who was essentially doing the same kind of help for homeschooling families in Washington state. In March of 1982 these two men founded the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) with 250 members. CHEA and HSLDA would continue to work hand in hand on issues here in California indefinitely.

The first state wide homeschool convention was chaired by Michael Smith and held in downtown Los Angeles at the Church of the Open Door in 1984. The Keynote speakers were Dr. Tim & Beverly La Haye and other speakers included: James Rose, Gregg Harris, Karen (Woodfin) Middleton, Susan Beatty, and Cathy Duffy. A whopping 900 people attended.

In February of 1985 Dr. Raymond & Dorothy Moore sponsored a How to Homeschool Conference in Pasadena. All attendees sat in their seats and speakers came and went. There were about 1000 attendees with both Dr. and Mrs. Moore speaking, Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum, the creator of Math It, Elmer Brooks, and the creator of Winston Grammar, Paul H. Irwin. Not to disappoint the masses, Dr. Dobson also made a guest appearance.

In March of 1987 HSLDA moved to the Washington D.C. area and set up offices there taking Mike Smith away from the state and the position of legislative liaison. Roy Hanson who already homeschooled his own children and worked closely with CHEA and HSLDA officially became the new legislative liaison and the 3 groups of Family Protection Ministries (FPM), HSLDA, & CHEA began its long run of watching out for home education and homeschooling families in California.

By 1985 the small little support groups multiplied immensely. Groups went from 5 or 6 families to 25 to 30 families and continued to grow steadily with each consecutive year. Dr. & Mrs. Moore visited different cities throughout the state giving seminars on home education. Gregg Harris also made the rounds throughout California giving 2 day seminars and being a featured speaker at homeschool conventions. Jonathan Lindvall first gave one day Priorities workshops and then his two day Bold Christian Youth and Bold Christian Living workshops.

The 1980’s brought lots of books to the forefront. Susan Beatty and Karen Woodfin Middleton co-authored An Introduction to Home Education which regularly sold out at conventions almost immediately. Dr. Moore added Home Grown Kids and Home Style Teaching to his growing list of books. For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay was the first glimpse for many into the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education. Mary Pride gave us The Way Home which advocated our children being our mission field and the idea of passing on a godly heritage. She also gave us The Big Book of Home Learning which quickly expanded to several books to hold all of her curriculum reviews. Cathy Duffy also wrote her Christian Curriculum Manuals (both elementary & Jr. & Sr. High School) and stayed on top of what was out there and which curriculum worked best for Christian homeschoolers. A Survivor’s Guide to Home Schooling by Luanne Shackleford and Susan White gave us our first book by a couple of homeschooling moms about how to make it work day in and day out. Ruth Beechik’s You Can Teach your Child Successfully and her The Three R’s are still foundational “how to” books that every homeschool teacher should read. Encyclopedia of Bible Truths for School Subjects by Ruth C. Haycock was a must have for every homeschoolers book shelf. Mary Schofield introduced her first edition of The High School Handbook and a little known book by Debbie Castaneda and Pam Geib titled Help! I’m Homeschooling had its modest debut.

The major periodical of the day was The Teaching Home. It went from a simple black and white format to a beautiful full color edition during that first decade of homeschooling (it is still available for free on-line and in an email format). The Court Report by HSLDA was also a foundational magazine that home educating parents waited for every other month. Home School Digest also made its debut with its above quality articles and fewer advertisements.

In the early days of the 1980’s A Beka was not sure how they felt about homeschooling so they announced that it was not profitable to offer their books to homeschoolers and gave them a deadline as to when they would quit selling to families individually. The outpour of orders from families buying complete K-12 curriculum was so overwhelming the company re-thought their decision and never did stop selling to homeschoolers. Bob Jones University Press (now known as BJU Press), Rod & Staff, Christian Light, Alpha Omega, Christian Liberty Press, all made their presence known and became familiar sites at local homeschool conferences and fairs. Exhibit Halls were generally smaller in those days and those few periodicals were thinner.

Park Days were foundational to the early homeschool family. Not only were they a time of socializing but they were also a time of learning from each other about curriculum and teaching styles and philosophies. Group field trips, parties, service opportunities were all shared and enjoyed. There were almost no computers (oh a few here and there but used mostly for games), no cell phones, very few answering machines, and families sharing their resources, babysitting swapping, rides to and from, and gleaning from each other what worked and what did not. Community was essential.

Thus was the first real decade of Private Christian Home Education. Next time we will share some of the history making moments of the past 30 years and how God providentially met each need and concern as it came up.

 

Many people are reluctant to homeschool their kids for a variety of different reasons. However, most of these reasons are really just fears, rooted in the unknown. I remember thinking that homeschooling was just doing school at home and wondering why someone would do that. Once I found how completely wrong I was, I started to fall in love with the idea of it. And yet, I still had many fears. In this article, I will address five misconceptions about homeschooling. By just having more understanding, you too may have a change of mind and heart.

My Kids Will be Socially Awkward

This has been one of the most common misconceptions over the years but has gradually lost some steam. As more people are homeschooling, many people are realizing that homeschooled kids aren’t lacking social skills.

I believe this is true for a couple reasons. One, kids have many opportunities these days, whether it be at church, on sports teams, in co-ops, or merely in the neighborhood to interact with their peers.

Two, interacting primarily with other kids their age isn’t going to make kids have great social skills. Homeschooled kids have the opportunity to interact with people of many different ages, including those much older and younger. Through these interactions, they can learn how to have mature conversations with people of any age.

And let’s face it. Some kids are just awkward. I work with 4th and 5th-grade students at my church and many of those public schooled kids are awkward. It doesn’t have to do with how they are educated. It’s just their natural personality.

So rest assured, if you homeschool your kids, it does not mean they are bound to be socially awkward!

My Kids Will Not Receive a Good Education

While this is an understandable fear, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, recent studies show that homeschoolers actually score higher on standardized tests than both public and private schooled kids. Yes, higher!

For one, there are countless curriculum options available these days that are very challenging for homeschoolers. Because student to teacher ratios are much lower at home than in a classroom, each student can go at his or her own pace, not being held back or pushed forward. Thus, students can really get the attention they need for each subject.

Moreover, as most people know, education does not simply include that which we learn from textbooks. It is so much more than that.

Learning at home gives students a well-rounded education in real life as they see it played out before them each and every day.

From cooking, cleaning, and running errands, to interacting with adults, to welcoming people into their home for co-ops, homeschoolers can get an education in life experiences that they will take with them for years. Not to mention the learning available through field trips, mentorships, internships, and other arenas outside the classroom.

Because education can take place in fewer hours at home with far fewer students, kids, at least in the younger years, have more unstructured time in their day. They do not have to sit at a desk for the majority of their waking hours only to go home to do homework.

With that free time, their minds are able to create and think more outside of the box. Having the time to think and tinker and play is actually learning. Just ask Google if you are not convinced!

I Need to be a Trained Teacher

This fear is related to the one above. However, it too is very untrue. I believe credentialed teachers are very valuable and have one of the toughest jobs there are. In fact, I have very close family members and friends who were and are great public school teachers. Partly because of this, I feared that I wouldn’t be good enough because I don’t have the training.

Yet, you know your children better than anyone else does. You are aware of all their tendencies, shortcomings, strengths, and triggers. These simple facts help equip you to teach them well.

Additionally, it goes back to the great resources out there – a variety of great curriculum, tutors, online classes, teaching DVDs, etc. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Research what is there and utilize it.

Finally, you will grow in your teaching abilities. As you teach, you will grow more comfortable doing it. With each student you teach, you will be better prepared on how to tackle each subject.

Just like with anything else, the more you do it, the easier it will become. Keep growing, keep learning, keep stepping out in faith. You can and will be able to do it!

I Can’t Afford It

While there is a cost for the curriculum and supplies you will need, you might be surprised at how much you actually have to spend.

The bottom line is, if you really want to homeschool your kids, there will be a way to do it. Don’t let finances hold you back. There are even scholarships for struggling families through www.hslda.org

I Don’t Have Enough Space

I remember having this concern when we first started homeschooling. We lived in a very tiny apartment and my husband was working nights and needed to sleep during the day. I kept reading how people would set up their homes with dedicated homeschool rooms or spaces. That was no way possible for us.

However, learning took place and still does, all over our home. We mainly work at our kitchen table. The benefit…it always needs to be cleaned and organized after breakfast. No room for messes to be left out!

We also read on our couch and even outside. What could be more comfortable and inviting than that? On nice days, we often sit on our deck while my kids read aloud to me. And on cold, rainy days we snuggle together on the couch.

You don’t have to have a lot of space to be able to homeschool. Create an atmosphere of learning wherever you are.

Be creative. You may have to have educational materials in your kitchen or bedrooms. Maps may replace fine art on the walls. The alphabet may line your crown molding. Books may be in your living room in baskets or on shelves.

Whatever it may be, be creative with whatever space you have and learning will happen! I know people who homeschool in a trailer. So don’t let a lack of space hinder your decision to homeschool.

I hope I have helped clear up some misconceptions about homeschooling and settled some fears you may have had.

Blessings!

(More articles by Katie can be found at www.itakeheart.com)

My wife and oldest son enjoy gardening. For the past few years they have dedicated a corner of our backyard to growing tomatoes, zucchini, peas, sunflowers, and a few other things. It’s a small garden project, but one that brings them much pleasure.

They started a compost pile and get excited to see the black soil formed from their efforts. My wife had a friend from church over for a composting party. They turned the compost, filtered the soil, and prepared the garden area. I didn’t know such “parties” existed. But they seemed delighted.

Today I was looking for Calvin inside the house. I didn’t find him, so I looked in the yard. He wasn’t in sight. I called out for him and he answered from around the corner of the house. He was in the garden.

“What are you doing? Oh, I see. You’re weeding.”

He nodded.

“It’s a lot of work, isn’t it?”

He nodded again.

“Tell me what you are growing here,” I said.

My son proceeded to tell me about the different varieties of tomatoes and other plants he was raising. I saw a sign for lettuce but nothing had sprouted there.

“The slugs ate the lettuce,” he told me.

I don’t know much about gardening but I’m happy my son and wife enjoy it. I like to listen as they discuss what to plant and where to plant it. They are happy when a plant does well. And I am happy when they are happy.

Although I don’t know how to plant a pumpkin, I do know its important to plant things. One of the things I want to plant is not something which gets put into the soil in a garden. I want to plant convictions into my children.

I suppose there is an analogy to gardening which might work. In order to plant conviction successfully, one needs to consider many factors.

First, what is the condition of the soil. Before attempting to form convictions in my children, it’s necessary for the soil of their souls to be prepared. Salvation, regeneration, the new birth, this is the first and most important factor. My children are dead in trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2) until the Lord works by His Spirit to give them life. Once they have this life, they will be able to hear and understand Biblical teaching leading to proper convictions in a way they could not prior to salvation. My first priority in the formation of convictions is to proclaim the Gospel, to tell them of their need of a Savior, to press upon them the necessity of coming to Christ.

Second, water, sun, and food are important. Plants need food and water and so do the souls of my children. Photosynthesis takes place inside plants and turns light energy into chemical energy. Without water, and without sunlight, plants will die. My children, made alive in Christ, will shrivel inside if not constantly fed from the Word (I Peter 2:2). God has promised to sanctify those who belong to Him. In this work, He uses a variety of means.. One of the things God uses to cause young people to grow and mature is the instruction of parents. It’s my job to give them water from the work, to feed them daily from Scripture, and to put them in the path of life giving light. The light they need is light of the gospel of the glory of Christ (I Corinthians 4:1-6).

Third, planting isn’t enough. Gardens take maintenance and continuous weed management. The work isn’t done when my children profess faith and I’ve taught them a few things from God’s Word. There will always be work to do, things to teach, prayers to pray.

The analogy breaks down at some point. Gardens die and are replanted, but not children. They continue to grow spiritually. They will continue to need God’s Word, our advice, and our prayers as long as they live on earth. The Apostle Paul preached in order to present everyone mature in Christ. For this same purpose I desire to plant Biblical convictions in my children.

Our oldest child was still an infant as we walked the aisles of the department store that day. My wife pointed to some adorable girls’ dresses. I don’t recall if they were Christmas dresses or Easter dresses, but they were cute.

My little girl was certain to grow up and fit into one of those dresses, but I didn’t want to believe it. I denied the inevitable and told my wife, “She’ll never be that big, so we don’t need to look at those dresses.”

Those words have become a joke between my wife and I. When one of our children grows and does something new, we look at each other and say, “She’ll never be that big.”

 

But she is that big. She’s graduating this year. By the time you read this article her years of homeschooling will be complete. She’ll be finished with the academic courses we’ve outlined for her and ready for the next phase of life.

Long ago we said goodbye to the infant, and hello to the toddler. Then, we said goodbye to the toddler, and hello to the young girl. After that, we said goodbye to the young girl and hello to the young woman. Now we say goodbye to the high school student and hello to the high school graduate.

Our oldest is graduating and our youngest is still 3 years old. Many of you can relate to this. We’ve got a long road ahead of us in our homeschooling journey. A long, wearisome, frustrating, joyous, memory-filled, glorious road.

Homeschooling isn’t easy. The daily grind falls on the moms, but dads also feel the burden. Even when I’m not involved in the daily lesson planning and teaching, I seek to raise children who are prepared for the world outside our own doors. It’s a big responsibility and it can start to worry me.

Have I done all I can do to prepare my children? Is my graduate ready for the temptations she will face? Is she strong in the Lord? Did I fulfill my duty to raise her in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?

Lydia senior

In these moments I ask where the time went. One day I walked department store aisle with her in my arms, the next day I watched her walk down the aisle at graduation rehearsal. I didn’t get everything right in the days between those dates, but I can rest assured that the most important thing was accomplished. I proclaimed Christ to my child and she confessed Him as Lord.

Time races by; the inevitable happened. She grew and eventually wore some of those cute toddler dresses. Then she grew some more, and then some more. But sometimes, when I’m with her, a picture jumps into my mind’s eye. In the picture I’m holding a little girl and saying, “She’ll never be that big.”

In my last post I shared the importance of staying connected to God while homeschooling. He is our source of life, fruit, peace, hope, and strength. Apart from Him, we can do nothing. If you missed part one of this series, click here. Today, I will be focusing on staying connected to the church, or the body of believers. As homeschoolers, we spend a good majority of our days isolated in our homes. While we get quality time with our family, we can’t neglect staying connected to the extended body of believers. It’s not just a good idea, it’s an exhortation!

Staying Connected to the Church Body, an Exhortation

The author of Hebrews exhorts, “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Staying connected to fellow believers in your local church can be vital to your relationship with the Lord and to the teaching of your children. None of us is at our best when we are separated from the body. Being connected can help override your feelings of being isolated and lonely as you commit to educating your kids at home. It can bring encouragement and refreshment that we all need, including prayer support. And, you have a role to play in the body too, encouraging other believers as they endeavor to follow Jesus in their lives.

It Takes Time and Effort

While none of us has “extra” time in our days, make an effort to carve out time as a family to be involved in your local church. You won’t be disappointed! And I don’t mean just showing up on Sundays to a worship service. While that is important, don’t stop there. I have personally seen the difference in our lives when we are truly connected to the body of Christ in our local church rather than when we are just church attenders.

As I have shared a little before, when we first decided to home school our kids, we were well connected to our church body – we were a part of a life group that had been meeting for many years, actively involved in ministry, and I was in a mid-week Bible study. Our church truly felt like our extended family. We shared life’s joys and hardships, meals, kids’ clothing, prayer requests, and just life. Then we moved 400 miles away to an area in which we knew no one in the local area. And it was just a few weeks before school started.

We easily found a church we enjoyed. But, we quickly realized that getting truly connected takes time, stepping out of your comfort zone, and a good deal of effort. Getting connected was not easy. During our first several months in our new area, we were left feeling alone. It made us realize the importance of being truly connected to a church body. And then 9 months later, we moved 100 miles further away, again!

Three Ways to Get and Stay Connected

Because of our various moves, I was forced to take a look at how to get connected to a local body and the importance of staying connected. That which I may have taken for granted before, became a life-source that I realized I needed to pursue.

Small Group Community

While joining a small group at your church may seem like just one more thing to add to your already full calendar (believe me, I have felt this way before!), it can really be so valuable. Look at the early church in Acts 2. Believers met together, broke bread, prayed, and devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship. They truly shared life with each other. Having your family connected with other families at your church:

  • takes away feelings of isolation
  • provides a sense of community within your local church
  • enables your kids to feel more connected
  • models for your kids that you value getting into the Word with other believers
  • offers a safe community that can support and love you through life’s ups and downs, and
  • gives a space to pray for and encourage other believers, fulfilling your role as a member of the body of Christ

Look for a small group that has child care or allows kids to be included. It can be hard with little ones, I know! Be flexible and find one that works for you, even if it means your kids have to stay up past their regular bedtime. It’s worth the crankiness the next day! You never know, you may form friendships that last a lifetime.

Ministry

Over my 20 plus years of following Jesus, probably the number one way that I have gone deeper with other believers is serving alongside them. There is just something special about doing ministry with other believers that can make you feel connected with them. Again, this isn’t something to just check off the list or to make your already full schedule, that much fuller. But, if you can find some way in which your family can serve at your church, you will feel that much more connected. Some examples include:

  • monthly homeless feedings
  • a summer mission trip
  • a local outreach
  • serving during weekend services

In the last year and a half that we have been in our new area, my family has served in various ways at our church. It makes us not only more connected as a family but also feel like we are part of something bigger than we are. As a homeschool family, being connected through serving has helped us overcome feelings of loneliness as well as grow spiritually.

Mid-Week Bible Study

This may not be possible for many homeschool families, especially those with older kids. However, take advantage of mid-week Bible studies if you can while your kids are young. Some churches offer mid-week children’s ministry through kindergarten, and others may have a homeschool room in which your kids can go to read or do school work. Our church even had a science co-op that met during the women’s Bible study so that homeschool moms could rotate teaching and attending Bible study. Meeting with other women in your church to study God’s Word together can bring life to your week. If you can afford the time, make it happen!

Take Steps Today

If you are not feeling connected to your church body, or are feeling isolated because you are homeschooling, take steps today to get connected. Don’t feel like you have to do it all. Pick one thing that will make your family more connected. It may mean you have to step out of your comfort zone or rearrange your schedule. Make the adjustments. You will be blessed as you follow the exhortation to meet together with other believers to encourage and stir others up to love and good deeds. The benefits far outweigh the costs.

*KATIE LANDERS IS A SCOPE MEMBER, HOMESCHOOLING MOTHER OF 2 PRECIOUS KIDS AGES 7 AND 5, MARRIED TO HER WONDERFUL HUSBAND FOR ALMOST TEN YEARS. KATIE RECENTLY STARTED HER OWN WEBSITE TO ENCOURAGE OTHERS ON THEIR JOURNEY OF HOMESCHOOLING SO THAT TOGETHER WE CAN RAISE UP A GODLY GENERATION WHO LOVE AND SERVE THE LORD. IN HER FREE TIME SHE LOVES TO BE OUTDOORS AND ACTIVE WITH HER FAMILY. MORE OF HER WRITING CAN BE FOUND AT WWW.BASKET-OF-BLESSINGS.COM

 

My 10 year old son is playing youth baseball this spring. The team’s regular practice day and time is Sunday afternoon at 2 o’clock. After church our family heads home and eats lunch together. Then I take my son to his practice. It’s a relaxing time for me. I sit with book in hand, looking up once in awhile to watch my son field a ball or swing as the coach pitches to him. The sound of balls being hit, boys running bases, and balls popping into gloves, provide background noise for my reading.

I catch enough of the coaches lessons to reinforce them to my son on our way back home.

“When you’re playing second base, and the ball is hit to third base with no runners on, what are you to do?”

“Make sure to watch the third base coach for signs when you reach first base.”

There are other lessons, much more important, which the coach isn’t teaching my son. Reinforcing the baseball lessons is fun for me to do, and hopefully helpful for my son, but not urgent or necessary. Other lessons I teach my son are urgent and necessary. An opportunity to teach one such lesson came recently when I read an email from his coach.

The baseball league scheduled team pictures to be taken on a Sunday. The assigned time slot for our team was 10 a.m. Our church service starts at 10:15 a.m. and is on the other side of town. Besides, we attend the Sunday School hour which starts at 9 a.m. Joining the team for pictures at 10 a.m. would mean my son would miss church. He wouldn’t just be late to church, it would mean missing the church service altogether that day.

I read the email and paused for a moment, but only for a moment. That’s all it took. My decision was made. If I skipped church and took my son to have his picture taken, what lesson would I be teaching him? The lesson wouldn’t be good. I would be saying that youth sports are more important than fellowship with the saints. I’d be teaching my son to weigh sport’s pictures against listening to the preaching of God’s Word.

That wasn’t going to happen in my home.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying it’s a sin to take a day off from church on a Sunday morning. We all need rest and Sunday afternoon is often a good time for it. But it’s not a command we need to keep under the new covenant.

So then, what’s wrong with sports activities which cause one to miss church once in awhile? Maybe nothing. Then again, maybe everything. After all, we are commanded not to neglect meeting together with the local church (Hebrews 10:25). This is a command we should not ignore.

Dads need to take the lead in teaching the importance of the local church in the life of the believer. How can we teach our sons and daughters to love the church, the bride of Christ, if any other trivial event takes precedence on our calendars?

The league actually did me a favor by scheduling pictures on a Sunday morning. They gave me an opportunity to stand on my convictions and to let my son see me do it. They gave me an opportunity to teach my son a lesson more important that anything his coach is teaching him about baseball. I was given the chance to teach the importance of the local church, the bride of Christ.

I didn’t give my son a long lecture on the importance of the church. I didn’t complain about the league scheduling pictures on Sunday morning. I kept the lesson simple, “Lincoln, church is more important the team photos. I’m sorry you won’t be able to participate but we are not going to miss church in order to take pictures. I hope you understand.”

He didn’t say much and didn’t seem disappointed. Our habit of attending church had created an expectation for him. He’s learning about the importance of the local church by our actions as a family.

Maybe thirty years from now he will be looking back at old photos. And maybe he’ll find a picture of his baseball team in a shoe box and his own son will ask, “Dad, where are you in this picture?”

That’s the day I’m looking forward to. That’s the day the lesson I’m teaching my son today about the importance of the church will be passed on to his children. That’s the day when my son will tell my grandson, “I didn’t join the team for pictures that morning. Let me tell you why?”