Tag Archives: homeschooling

A Promise Kept


“Your son has won an award. There will be an awards ceremony at the school on Thursday at 9:15 and you are invited to attend.”

That was the phone message that I received from my son’s high school last week. There was no hint of what kind of award he had won, but that didn’t matter…Doug and I would be there.

Once we arrived at the school, we found our friends Steve and Risa, who explained the drill. At the end of every semester there is an awards ceremony. Each teacher selects a few students who have excelled in some way and honors them with an engraved medal.

Several parents arrived early, cameras in hand. Eventually, the entire student body arrived, pouring into the auditorium with animated, energetic chatter.

The principal welcomed all of us before introducing the first teacher. In a group this size, I expected that each teacher would say a few words, then call out the names of the students and that would be that. I could not have been more wrong…and happily so.

For the next two hours, I watched as teacher after teacher took the podium and often struggled with tears as they spoke in a heartfelt manner of the students they were honoring.

These are people who truly care…they have chosen to be on the front lines in order to invest in the lives of these young people; to develop their budding intellects, to encourage their dreams, and celebrate the young adults they are becoming.

One teacher could not even continue her speech about a graduating senior. Overcome, she motioned to another teacher to take over for her and read her prepared statement. Another asked if the mom of one of her students was in the audience. When the woman timidly raised her hand, the teacher ran over to give her a hug, thanking her for raising such a wonderful son.

The applause as each deserving student came forward to accept their award was heartfelt and enthusiastic.

As our son walked up to the stage to receive two medals for academic excellence from his teachers, I was filled with two things: pride for his accomplishment…and most importantly, gratitude and awe for my great and faithful God.

So many years ago, when He was making it quite clear that we were to homeschool our children, I was flat out petrified. Finally, one morning, after staring at the mountain of unavoidable evidence of God’s will, I begged Him…with tears in my eyes…to show me something from His Word that would absolutely clarify that this was His will. I knew that I would need that eternal Word to cling to as time went by and things got hard.

As always, He was faithful to answer that prayer. He is a loving Father who delights to give wisdom to His children when they ask. (James 1:5).

In my devotional reading that day were these beautiful words from the book of Isaiah: “Your children will be taught by the Lord and great will be your children’s peace.” (Isaiah 54:13).

I was right…there were definitely days when I had to go back and re-read that verse over and over again. I had to trust Him for the big picture when the days were rough and the enemy screamed into my ear that I was failing at this.

Finally, the day came last November when Josh quietly approached us and told us that he would like to go to high school full time. He was ready.

We sought the Lord and He said, “Yes.”

Everything came full circle for me that moment in the auditorium. Yes, I was proud of my son because he has worked very hard. But the most of all, my heart was full of praise to my beautiful God who lovingly guided me through those years and has greatly blessed my (sometimes shaky) obedience.

And just as I trusted Him for that season, so I will trust Him for this new one as I await His plan for this next adventure in my journey with Him.

He is faithful. Always.

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Rainbows and New Beginnings


Two days ago, I wrote this post about seizing the day.

Little did I know that that truth would come to life the very next day.

It was Promotion Night at my daughter’s homeschooling co-op, which is always a very special night. The sanctuary is packed with family and friends as we all gather to celebrate the achievement of the kids as they are recognized for doing the hard work to advance to the next grade.

We were only one exit away from our destination. It had been raining quite hard and we were delighted to see a  beautiful rainbow, not only stretched across the sky but right in front our our vehicle! It seemed to rise from the wet road and shimmered right in front of us as we drove.

Suddenly…traffic that had been traveling 65 mph came to a screeching halt.

There had been an accident just ahead of us.

A tractor trailer truck had jackknifed across the highway, hitting two cars and slamming them into the guardrail. We narrowly missed hitting the car in front of us and having  the car behind us smash into our vehicle.

In the blink of an eye, life could have changed forever.

Watching the reaction of the man in front of us was interesting. He was highly irate. He got out of his car and paced all around, clearly frustrated that he was stuck in the middle of the highway. It was as if we could actually see his blood pressure rising.

That would have been me a few short years ago….but not that day.

Rather than fretting and fuming (which would have done no good anyway), I whispered a prayer of thanks for God’s protection. I prayed for the accident victims as we watched several ambulances arrive on the scene.

Forty-five minutes later, one of the lanes were cleared, allowing us to be on our way. (Later, we learned that no one was killed and injuries ended up being somewhat minor, fortunately).  It was a solemn reminder that every minute is precious.

When we finally arrived at the co-op, it was such a joy to enter into a celebration of life…milestones reached,  happy memories of years gone by burned into hearts and minds, fresh starts.

The night began by honoring the lady who has led the co-op for several years. Becky has served us tirelessly and passionately and this was her last year with us. One of the group’s quilters had the wonderful idea of making her a quilt as an expression of thanks for all she has done for us. Every family wrote a farewell message on one of the panels and then it was lovingly sewn together by the quilters. The end result was gorgeous:

The children in grades 6-11 were then called up to the stage by grade, one by one. They each received their promotion certificate and gathered for a group photo.

The seniors, clothed in cap and gown entered to “Pomp and Circumstance” and a standing ovation as they make their way onto the stage. Then everybody’s favorite part of the night began.

The parents of each senior previously record a 3 minute video montage of their graduate’s life. In the voice over, they share their favorite memories, their pride, and their hopes and dreams for their child as they prepare to take their journey out into the world. When the video ends, the senior comes forward and waits for his or her parents to ascend the stairs onto the stage. The parents then present their child with their diploma. After years of hard work, they all have made it. Homeschooling is not for the faint of heart. It is a triumphant moment.

Even when I don’t personally know the student, tears fill my eyes. It is such a beautiful thing.

There is one moment I will never forget. When the video montage for a young man named David began, his parents explained that they were told by the “experts” that since their son had been born with certain issues, he would not have a normal life and would certainly never  graduate from high school.

So much for the “experts.”

As the montage ended, this young man stood up and walked to the center of the stage.  Tears were unashamedly streaming down his face. His parents made their way slowly up the stairs. David’s mother has been quite ill and has spent much of this year in the hospital enduring serious surgeries.

I could tell by one look at this woman’s face that she is someone who fully knows and appreciates the power of a moment. Not only was she living a moment that she was told would never happen, but she was well enough to experience it.

The entire room erupted in cheers and applause as we all gave this family a standing ovation. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house.

I love moments like that.

Eventually, all the seniors were officially graduated and turned loose on the world…but not before having a little fun with silly string. 🙂

A celebration commenced after the ceremony.

Julia and Doug

It was a lovely, if somewhat bittersweet evening… one that marked the end of  one season and the beginning of a new one. I am looking forward to the next chapter.

It’s a wonderful life.

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The Sound of Silence


My house is very quiet today.

It is a sign of things to come as a new season approaches. There is only one week left until my homeschooling days come to an end.

Doug is at the office, Josh is at school, and Julia is at play practice getting ready for the Little Women performance this weekend.

Right now, I can hear the birds singing and the drone of a plane flying overhead. Our dog Buddy is sleeping beside me as I type.

And I wonder…what’s next?

For over a decade, I have been the principal of “Brown Academy” (that is what we called our homeschool…very exclusive). :).  Our days were filled with a constant hum of activity.

Somehow, I thought those days would go on forever.

I don’t regret a moment of it. I was given the precious opportunity to spend the minutes and months and years with my children, watching them grow and learn and mature.

As I mentioned previously, I went into homeschooling with great trepidation, feeling totally inadequete for the monumental task ahead of me.

And I was. It was only by the grace of God that I was able to do it.

It was without a doubt the hardest thing I have ever done. But oh, how joyous it was!

I love the people my children are becoming and I consider myself privileged to have shared that journey with them thus far.

So many people have asked me what I will be doing in the fall and I don’t have an answer…yet.

I’m excited about a new phase, another chapter, a turning of the page.

But for today…the silence is loud…and as happy, noisy echoes from the past fill my mind, I remember…and give thanks for precious memories of times gone by.

To everything there is a season… (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

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Popping The Bubble


I was talking to a fellow homeschooler about her new church and I asked if her children attend the youth group.

She wrinkled her nose and said, “Oh no. There are way too many public school kids there.”

(Please note that this response is not indicative of most homeschoolers I know).

She then moved on to talking about another subject, but her response remained with me.

It made me incredibly uncomfortable.

Didn’t Jesus tell us to go? (Matthew 28:19)

Those kids in public school need Jesus. They need to know that He loves them.

We began homeschooling because God directed us to do so. It was never part of my plan, that’s for sure. I went into it kicking and screaming and scared to death. But I obeyed…and it has been a tremendous blessing.

However, we didn’t keep our kids in a bubble. That was not God’s intention, nor was it ours. They played with kids in the neighborhood, went to church with kids from both public and private schools, volunteered in the community.

We had zero interest in creating a little Christian community where all our friends were Christians and all our activities centered on church.

It’s real easy to become a Pharisee that way.

In just a few weeks, our homeschooling journey will come to an end. Our son is already in the local high school and our daughter will attend there in the fall. They were ready and it is a good thing.

It is God’s path for our family, but it certainly is not the right path for everyone.

However, one path that is always right for Christians to take is the path that leads us to relationship with the people in our lives: our friends, our neighbors, teachers and students in the local schools, the needy in our community. They have been sovereignly placed there by God and we are commanded to reach out to them with the love of Christ.

Why would you not rejoice that there are public school kids participating in a church youth group?! They are in a place where they can hear the Good News!

Are they perfect? Of course not.

Neither is your child. Or mine.

Nobody is perfect.

We are all in need of grace.

We all need to hear about a God who loves us with an everlasting love, a God who is always reaching out to us, a God who has made a way for us to be made right with Him (John 3:16).

The greatest privilege we have as Christ followers is to be able to tell others about His extravagant, breathtaking love and His radical salvation! We can hardly do that if we spend our lives only associating with other Christians.

Don’t be afraid to pop the bubble…the world desperately needs the message that we have been given the privilege to share.

“Cultural withdrawal isn’t an option. In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus calls us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world…but consider this: salt and light have no effect without first making contact with something. Salt prevents decay only when it comes into contact with the meat it’s meant to preserve. A dark room  cannot be lighted until a lamp is brought in and placed where it will shine…Jesus didn’t invite the world to come to church; He directed the church to go into the world (Matthew 28). This means every Christian is a missionary.”–Tullian Tchividjian, Unfashionable pp. 82-83

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Treasuring Time


“We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand…and melting like a snowflake.” —Marie B. Ray

This afternoon, my husband and I took our daughter Julia to  the local high school to get her registered for freshman year in the fall.

As I watched Julia interact with the guidance counselor, so poised and confident, the school office suddenly melted away and this is what I saw in my mind’s eye:

and this:

and this:

After the meeting, we went to the car to wait for her brother. As I drove home, listening to their laughter and chatter, more pictures from the past flashed through my mind:

Where has the time gone?!

Seasons change so quickly.

For the past 11 1/2 years, the kids have been homeschooled. That was a journey I never thought I would take and I went into it with much fear and trembling. Homeschooling is not for the faint of heart. To this day, it is the toughest thing I have ever done…but the joy was immense. I wouldn’t trade even one moment.

Eleven and a half years went by in the blink of an eye. My son is now in school full time, so once fall arrives, both will be gone and the house will be quiet…the days of workbooks, field trips, lunch out every Wednesday afternoon, long walks, messy science projects, bursts of laughter, and even sibling squabbles…will all be relegated to sweet memories.

I won’t mourn for the fact that my children are confident teenagers, ready to spread their wings; that is as it should be.

But I will mourn the fact that as I was living those precious days and years, I did not truly treasure them for the gifts that they were. I took them for granted. Just because the days sometimes felt like they would last forever, they did not.

I won’t make the same mistake again. For the next few years, I will  cherish this time with my children.

I will not just see; I will perceive.

I will not just hear, I will listen.

I will not just pass the time; I will redeem it.

I will celebrate.

I will fully enter into my moments, even the seemingly “small” ones, realizing that “the whole of life–even the hard–is made up of the minute parts and if I miss the infinitesimals, I miss the whole…there is a way to live the big of giving thanks in all things. It is this: to give thanks in this one small thing. The moments will add up.” –Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts.

Time is the great equalizer. Rich, poor, young, old, sick, healthy…we all have the same amount.

We all choose how to spend our days.

I will choose joy.

I will choose gratitude.

I will choose grace.

I will choose courage.

I will choose kindness.

I will choose mercy.

I will treasure.

Time is a relentless river. It rages on, a respecter of no one. And this, this is the only way to slow time: When I fully enter time’s swift current, enter into the current moment with the weight of all my attention, I slow the torrent with the weight of me all here. I can slow the torrent by being all here. I only live the full life when I live fully in the moment.” —Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts.

So, this day…and every day…enter fully into your moments. And live.

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