4: Answering a Hard Question

As I served with my care group this evening, I was asked this question:  Why are you homeschooling?  This question had only four words, but has had me thinking all evening.  Why indeed?  I know exactly why in my heart and mind, but I haven’t been asked to articulate it to anyone.

Why do any of us make drastic changes in our lives?   Something isn’t working, so change is worth the risk.  What’s not working that caused our change?  Our public school system?  Maybe.  But, as a public school teacher, I know the system inside and out.  My fellow teachers are working harder than ever, and while school problems are plentiful, my kids go to a fantastic school with an amazing principal, who cares about kids first and foremost.  A problematic school system may seem to be the obvious answer, but it’s not the heart issue.

How did I answer?  Simple, yet complex:  I am concerned about my kids’ foundation.  Hannah’s 11 and Owen’s 8.  As I talk to them, I realize they do not have a solid Biblical foundation.  I know, I know.  Many of you could say…I didn’t know any Bible at age 8, and I turned out just fine.  Or, they have plenty of time to learn about and grow in Christ; give them a break.  Just think…after Owen spends a few more years in UpStreet (our children’s ministry at First Baptist Church of Williamstown) and Hannah spends a few years in the Vine (our youth ministry), they’ll be good to go.  They’ll learn Bible stories, virtues, and life-applicable lessons.  Just relax, Farish’s – your kids will be fine; they’re at church every time the doors open.

Maybe that’s true.  They are pretty good kids.  But, I’ve felt more and more convicted that it’s not FBCW’s job to lay my kids’ foundation.  In fact, I know it’s not and have known that for a while.  But, in the midst of school, dance, soccer, and all that church going/serving (ironic!), when am I supposed to sit down with my family and discuss Daniel in the lion’s den or John the Baptist or even what they want to be when they grow up?  We have token prayers before meals, and both kids often ask me insightful theological questions about heaven, hell, angels, and salvation.  But, really, when do we study the Word together?  Sadly, never.

So, back to the question:  Why am I homeschooling?  I am homeschooling so I can begin each day with my kids in prayer and in the Word; so Steve and I can fully take responsibility for our children’s Biblical foundation; so Hannah and Owen are equipped to be lights in the world; so I grasp what they know and what they need to learn; so I can REALLY know my kids – who they are, what they love, what they dream.

Now, there are many other, smaller factors related to the decision Steve and I made to homeschool.  But, that is the true heart of the decision.  While I’ve tried to articulate it here, I think Tony Foreman, children’s pastor at FBCW, does a better job in his recent blog Views from the Front Porch.  I hope you’ll read it too:)

I also hope you’ll comment and share ways you take responsibility for your children’s foundation and faith.  Do you feel it’s more the church’s responsibility?  Yours? A mix of both?  How do you make time?  Tips?  Helpful hints?  I bet we can all use help and practical advice on this one.

 

Links

Views from the Front Porch

Comments

  1. Lori Mosser says:

    Sarah,

    Wow, you have just said everything I have been “trying” to say for a year and a half and just didn’t know quite how to say it. I have felt like you…I knew in my heart WHY I chose to homeschool, but I couldn’t ever quite articulate it when someone would ask. The only response I could come up with was, “I don’t know why other than I felt like God was telling me to and I was just being obedient.” I felt like even fellow Christians would look at me strange like that wasn’t a good enough reason…like they’ve never felt God calling them to do something, so they didn’t know how to respond. But even though it is true that God indeed impress upon my heart to homeschool, I also felt like you…pulled in so many directions, we were losing precious time with our girls. It has been so rewarding waking up every morning, not being in a big hurry, and starting school with a Bible story/devotion and prayer…something my girls would not get to experience as part of their school if I wasn’t homeschooling. That is their favorite part of the day! I know it’s possible to still do that before they would go off to school somewhere, but we were always so rushed in the mornings, it wasn’t something that we were able to do consistently. Now, we do.

    I am so happy for you making such a huge life change. I know I have told you this several times already, but I just love seeing others taking that leap of faith and realizing how important it is that YOU are the primary influence in your child’s life, and that you take their relationship with Christ so seriously. My husband quite often says, “Even if our girls’ academics suffer a little by us homeschooling (which, so far, they are about a grade level AHEAD…so I doubt that will happen), it’s worth it to make sure they have a solid Christian foundation and that WE are the primary influences in their lives.” I am always careful to admit that homeschooling is NOT for everyone and I do not try to force my decisions on anyone else, but it is so encouraging to see others in the same boat. 🙂 You’re gonna love it!

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Lori! You know you’re “on call” as I navigate this year. I have been so thankful for your recommendations and advice as I planned. I’ll keep you updated on our progress:)

  2. Sarah,

    My husband and I moved from WV to Charlotte, NC in 1988 and started our family soon after. I was raised in a Christian home and was very involved in the church. It took a while to find a church in which we felt God was calling us to attend, and when we did we found out they also had a Christian School ministry.
    Although I didn’t know it at the time, God was making a way for me to send my children to Christian School.

    I did not have the financial resources or the inclination to homeschool my children when they became school age, but I did have the conviction to send my children to Christian School. I too am a public school teacher and both of my children attended Kindergarten in the school in which I was working at the time, but I enrolled them in Christian School when they went to 1st grade. I found myself questioned about my decision many times over the years. I had to explain that it was not a private vs. public school issue as it is with many people who choose private schools. I just wanted my children to have a solid foundation in the scriptures. I also wanted them surrounded by the Christian values that I taught at home and to have friends who shared those values, especially during those tough teen years. I had such a peace about my decision over the years and God provided for us financially so that tuition fees were always met. My youngest graduated in May and is starting college this fall. Both girls (22 and 18) love the Lord, are grounded in their faith, and have avoided many of the issues that often plague others their age.

    I’ve found that when you listen to God’s voice and you obediently follow the path He as laid before you, your family, and especially your children, will be greatly blessed.

    • Tina,

      Do you go to Elevation? Do they offer a Christian school within the church? If we had that option, I would have undoubtedly considered it. We have a Christian school two blocks from us, but we disagree with it somewhat. Although disagreeing with some of the Christian school’s rules and values may not stop us from sending our kids there in the future, we didn’t choose it this year because I needed a break from teaching as I explore what God may have for me/what he’s calling me to. And, we needed time to just stop, decrease the busyness, and regroup as a family.

      Thanks so much for sharing your situation. I am so glad to hear from someone on the other side of these decisions…those that have navigated the tween/teen years successfully! I hope you’ll continue to share insight:)

      Sarah

      • We do go to Elevation, but they do not have a Christian school. The first church we attended in Charlotte was a very strict Southern Baptist church, very similar values to the church I grew up in without the ‘country’ flair. We loved the pastor and his teachings. When the time came we started the girls at their Christian School. It was a pretty small school and I felt that it was a little closed off from the ‘real world’, so I told my girls when it was time to attend high school they could choose to go to public school or stay in a Christian school. (I felt like they needed to ‘test their wings’ while I still had some control over how they spent their time.) Mandi chose to go to public school in 10th grade and made a very good transition. Alyssa changed Christian schools in 7th grade (Metrolina Christian Academy). It was bigger and a better fit for her (ADD) to have more peers in which to interact. I took back the public school option for her since our public high schools have over 2300 students enrolled and she really needed a small class size and teachers who would hold her accountable and keep me informed of her progress. She graduated from MCA this past spring.

        We also changed churches and started going to Metrolina’s sponsoring church, First Baptist Church of Indian Trail. I really loved this church. It was a mix between contemporary and traditional worship (southern gospel), and they taught/reinforced/encouraged the same values that I was teaching my children using a literal interpretation of the Bible. My children were not very active or attentive (just like most teenagers), so they decided to try Elevation. They loved it and after they decided to keep attending Elevation, I thought I’d better check it out to make sure they were getting a true Biblical foundation and not just an entertaining experience. I was pleasantly surprised by Elevation, but it took a while for me to get used to the worship band. We all attend Elevation now and all of us look forward to attending church.

        Christian schools are not perfect and neither are the children who attend. What I have learned from my experience is that parents who held to the same values as the school and who lived out those values at home had fewer problems with their children when they began making their own decisions and went out in the ‘real world’. When the home values and school values were not consistent, children seemed to have a more difficult time adjusting and often experimented with ‘worldly ways’. I found this to be true more often than not whether children attended public, private, or home school!

        Over the years I learned that God will provide an opening, you just have to trust that still small voice and walk through it on faith. I thought both girls would have stayed at the first school throughout their school years, but God knew best what they needed. What worked for one daughter was not best for the other, so the ‘rules’ changed and everything worked out for both of them. God is in the details, we just need to let Him have control. Take one year at a time and listen to that still small voice.

  3. One of the best changes we have intentionally made was cutting out the busyness. We were so guilty of trying to have our kids in everything coming and going, not wanting them to miss out on anything. But the irony was that they were missing out on what was the most important. The answer for us was that we limited our kids to one sport each and the number of evenings we are away from the house….including church “events” at times. When you cut out all the “stuff,” even the good ones, you find beautiful God-moments that could not happen on our previous schedule.

    Good luck on your new adventure!

  4. Lisa Sams says:

    We read the bible and do a devotion each night before bed. We then use that time to discuss any concerns in life or school if we haven’t already during the day. I am usually a stickler about mealtime. We always stop and eat at the dinner table with no distractions. We do make exceptions for special times with movies or shows. My kids are very active in sports but have made it clear that if it involves playing during church time then we don’t do it. We have had to miss all-star games and other things but have told the coaches up front. I really don’t believe they should have any activities on Sunday even not during church time. We are trying hard not to visit restaurants or any establishments on Sunday either. It is something God has put on my heart. We are to honor the Sabbath. As we talked about in an earlier post, it is a command. I try to remind my children that God is there for every moment and situation. That is something it took me forever to get. I thought I should just call on Him for the “big stuff” and I could control everything else. That doesn’t work at all! I want them to know God cares about every detail of their life and has a plan. For example, I encourage them to pray before a test, or game, or if they cannot find something, etc. I really do feel that it is our responsibility as parents to lay that strong foundation. I rely on their teachers and others at church to confirm and strengthen it. There can never be too many seeds planted but they have to have good soil in order to take root and harvest great fruit!

Leave a Reply