From the March 6, 2013, issue of THM
Melanie has a recurring dream that she is back in college, final exams are approaching, and suddenly she realizes with horror that she’s been signed up for a class that she’s forgotten to attend all semester! Thankfully, that never actually happened to her, but that kind of panic feels pretty familiar sometimes.
We’ve had a few really challenging years in our homeschool as our family faced cancer, a baby in ICU, starting a new business and ministry, and so many other trials that it sounds like bad fiction. There are days we’ve had that “What are we doing? What are we even supposed to be doing?” fear. Now, our children have always been homeschooled; it’s a commitment we made before the first was even born, so we don’t think, “Maybe we ought to put them back in school.” There’s no school in their past to go back to! That doesn’t stop us from having doubts and anxieties, though, does it? So, what do you do when it seems everything is falling apart around you? Here are a few things we’ve learned along the way:
God’s curriculum for our children is often different than ours and that’s not just okay, it’s good. We’ve had to simplify and let extras go in our schooling at times, but the character and life lessons our children have learned are amazing and humbling.
God will stand in the gap. We’ll never forget the time we weren’t able to prepare our son as much as we’d hoped for the state National Geographic Bee–the Henty novel he read the week before was set in the very location they asked him about. We have tons of stories like that.
Simplify your home and life. Fish sticks on paper plates won’t kill you, and if they leave you the time to teach and disciple your children, be thankful for them. We try to eat healthy, too, but sometimes you just have to survive. After all, “Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man” (Matthew 15:11 NKJV). In the same way, focus on getting the basics done in your school and add more as things get under control.
Suffering has purpose. Our trials have allowed us to reach so many hurting people because we’ve “been there.” We’re told to comfort one another in the way that we’ve been comforted (2 Corinthians 1:4) and we’ve found this to be such a blessing. Trust that this time is for your good (and your children’s!) and for His glory.
So, don’t quit! Homeschooling is about so much more than school. As your children watch you in the fire of trials, they’ll see your Christ just as when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3). We wouldn’t have chosen to go through the trials we have, and Melanie often wishes it hadn’t taken such a toll on our schooling, but we can thank God when we see what it has done in the character of our children. May the Lord bless your family the same way in your trials.
Yours in the battle,
Hal and Melanie