A Private Message That Forever Changed Our Family

I never intended to homeschool high school. As a high school student, I did well in English, history and foreign language; but I had needed a tutor to make it through Algebra 2, and I never took a science course beyond Biology. (I didn’t need to for my degree in music.) I hadn’t been successful when I TOOK those classes and I couldn’t imagine that I would be remotely successful TEACHING them. I was sure that it wasn’t God’s plan for me to homeschool high school. 

In June, just three months before high school was to begin, I was attending a women’s conference and the speaker said, “God can give you wisdom beyond your experiences.” I knew that God was sending me a message; He wanted me to homeschool high school. Part of me was angry. “God, when I had agreed to homeschool, I didn’t think that high school was part of the deal!” The insecure side of me felt too inadequate. The selfish side of me was looking forward to only having three to homeschool and didn’t want to be responsible to teach those challenging subjects. But after talking with Harold, we said, “Yes.” In return for our obedience, God poured out abundant blessings I could never have imagined.

Our family has grown in unity. Each of us has grown in character and grown closer to each other. We have learned how to serve each other, and we have learned how to work together to serve others. Our girls are more than sisters or classmates; they are truly each other’s best friends. As parents, these years have allowed us to grow strong relationships with our daughters that will stand the test of time.

Each daughter received a customized education that best prepared her to achieve her future goals. All of my graduates took college courses during high school, which prepared them to excel in their college studies and gave them space in their college schedules to pursue a minor or other field of interest. The flexibility of homeschooling allowed our girls to use their time to explore and pursue their God-given callings through life experiences, travel, education, and extra-curricular activities.

Most importantly, our girls flourished spiritually. Homeschooling allowed us to mentor and disciple our daughters through the critical teen years. We were able to read the Bible and discuss it together, to talk about the consequences of choices made in various situations, to memorize scripture together, and to guide them as they learned to make wise choices. Though we used carefully chosen textbooks and materials with a God-centered worldview, we also educated our daughters in other world views and religions so they could think critically about the influences in their lives. As a result of intentional spiritual discipleship, each daughter has established her own vibrant relationship with God and is positioning herself for continued growth.

I’m not saying that you have to homeschool high school if you want your child to be a Christian, because truly there is more than one way to raise a godly child. I am saying that homeschooling was God’s choice for our family and the experience has been an incredible blessing that has forever changed our family. I am grateful that God loved our family so much that He sent me a private message.

   

Reflections on Letting Go and Launching a Daughter

Five weeks from today, our oldest daughter will begin a new season.  She will be furthering her education in the areas of Bible and worship.  For the first 17 years of her life, I had envisioned my sweet daughter finishing her high school education, maybe attending college from home, and finding a wonderful husband so that they could pursue a life together serving God.  But God challenged my ideas for her future while the two of us were serving on a missions trip to China just before her senior year. Close to the end of our time in China, we had the opportunity to take a short hike to an overlook in a remote village.  As I stood gazing at the expanse of the incredibly beautiful mountains piercing the sky, I heard in my spirit, “This is your Mount Moriah.”  Immediately my mind flashed to a picture of Abraham with his son Isaac, standing before an altar.  His heart may have been filled with pain and grief, but through his surrender came great blessing to him and the world.

God:  Are you willing to give me your daughter? Me: I did that years ago during a baby dedication service at church.  Of course she’s yours. God: But this is different.  Will you surrender her to Me—and to China? Me:  But she can’t go to China.  She’s not married yet.  Certainly you don’t want her to be here alone (God had clearly called her to China during a Kindergarten geography lesson in our homeschool, but we had imagined that would be after she was married.) God: Must she wait until I send her a husband?  What if she never marries?  Can she not return to China?  Do you trust me to take care of her? Silence. Me: (through tears) Yes.  I trust You.  She’s yours.

This whole conversation was a surprise to me.  When our children were babies we understood that it was important to commit them to God’s care and follow His direction for them.  It was no surprise that our children belonged to Him, but I had imagined that our girls would stay at home, learn a skill that could bring in money from home and then they would be married.    I had not considered the possibility that our creative God might have other plans.  When we returned from China, I shared the revelation with my husband and with Victoria.  Together my husband and I released her to follow God’s direction for her life—whatever that looked like.  She continued to pursue her love for China and training for worship while she studied graphic design at the community college.

Fast forward two years.  Victoria was about to finish her studies at the community college.  Clearly God was growing Victoria’s passion for worship and expanding her gifting.  Leaders in the church confirmed her gifts and gave her opportunities to grow.  Victoria sensed she needed further training beyond what she could receive in our area, but she was reluctant to even dream about what might be beyond our community.  We could see God’s hand guiding her and knew He was expanding her vision.  After prayer, long discussions, divine appointments, confirmations, and our blessing, she applied and was accepted to a program to study Bible and worship.  I knew it was God’s will but my heart held a seed of fear that I was losing my daughter—and my friend.

One day in my quiet time as I was praying about this situation, God showed me that my daughter was like a bird.  “She’s a bird made to fly and it isn’t good if she was allowed only to sit in your nest and sing.  She has a gift and she will bless many ‘nests’ with her voice.  A captured bird becomes unhappy and unfulfilled.  As she fulfills her call, joy will overflow—both in her life and in yours.  There will be some who prefer birds in cages and they may not understand.  But I created birds to fly.  Some fear the birds will never return, but I created migratory birds to fly away for a season and then return to the same location, a safe place.  She will always treasure the safe place of your home.”  I realize that only outside the cage can she fulfill the purpose of her Creator.  First and foremost she belongs to God and I know He loves her so much more than I ever could.  I trust that He is guiding her and that she is following His voice.

The next five weeks will pass all too quickly.  We’ll spend time together, sharing quiet moments, shopping for necessities and making more memories.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the day Victoria checks in at school is three years to the day we departed on our life-changing missions trip to China.  She may be thinking of her new adventure, but I’ll be thinking of the mountains of China and Mount Moriah.  I know that through surrender will come great blessing.

 Note:  Victoria is currently recording her first CD.  It will be available in the Daughters 4 God Shoppe in early August.       

Packing for College or Apartment Living

In about a month, our oldest daughter will be starting her first semester of college outside of our home.  Since this was a new road for me, I did some research to find out what she might need.  I found an incredibly long, but comprehensive list online.  So many things to buy.  So many things I hadn’t even considered.  So many things that would put a dent in our budget if I bought them all at one time!  I made a plan to do a little at a time and spread out the expenses. Here is the comprehensive list I found, plus some other items that we’ll be packing.  If you think of something we’ve missed, please post a comment and let us know!

January—Medical and Laundry Medicine Med Box/Container Aspirin Tylenol Motrin/Advil Cough syrup Cough drops Cold medicine Benadryl Band aids Dayquil/Nyquil First aid ointment Rubbing alcohol Cotton balls Cotton gauze pads Tums/Mallox, etc. Eye drops Thermometer

Laundry Laundry bag(s)/hamper Laundry soap Dryer sheets Stain remover: Shout stick Clothespins Clothesline/drying rack Quarters: Some schools use a card system Needles and thread (blue, black and white) Safety pins

February—Kitchen and Cleaning Supplies Kitchen Kitchen box: large shoe/boot box Plate(s) Bowl(s) Knife, fork, spoon (s) Serving spoon(s) Hand can opener Paring knife Measuring cups Measuring spoons Water bottle Travel cup/glass for making tea Pot for cooking Dish washing detergent Dishwasher detergent Brita filter Coffee maker Microwave Refrigerator

Cleaning Window and mirror cleaner Paper towels Bathroom cleaner Comet Sponges Dusting spray Dusting cloth Swiffer or mop Swiffer refills Bucket

March—Technology and Tools Technology Mp3 player Digital camera, batteries/battery charger, rechargeable batteries Stereo CD’s DVD’s Clock radio/alarm clock Extension cords Multi plug outlet Phone Lamp(s): Desk, free standing, clamp one for your bed Hammer Nails Screwdrivers Flashlight Nightlight Light bulbs: 40/60 watt Trash can(s): Most colleges only have one Trash bags

April—Personal Items Purse(s) wallet money Watch(es) Jewelry: Earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings Glasses Sun glasses Contacts, contacts case, and contact solution(s) Nail clippers, Emory boards Nail polish, nail polish remover Cotton balls Brush/comb Hair stuff: Head bands, barrettes, rubber bands, scrunchies, styling gel, etc. Feminine supplies Boxes of Kleenex Toilet paper Cologne/body sprays Deodorant Hand lotion/body lotion Razor/shaving cream Make-up Hair dryer Flat iron Curling Iron

May--Clothes Socks: All kinds Pantyhose/knee-highs Shoes: Dress, tennis, flip flops, shower shoes! Underwear Bras/sports bras Slips/half slips Camisoles Pajamas/bathrobe/slippers Shorts: Play and dress Dress pants/slacks Casual pants/jeans Casual shirts: Long sleeve/short sleeve T-shirt: Long sleeve/short sleeve Tank tops Sweaters Vests Blouses Dress: Some colleges have winter formals Bathing suits Belts Sweatshirts Jackets: Lightweight, wind breaker, winter Gloves/mittens Scarves/hats Hangers Suitcase/duffel bag

June--Bed and Bath Bedroom Two sets of sheet/pillow cases Comforter/bedspread (Stores have special “dorm sets” that they advertise beginning in June.) Mattress pad Egg crate Blanket/throw Pillow(s) Soft butt pillow for desk chair Sleeping bag/air mattress (for guests!) Stuffed animals: College kids with stuffed animals make better grades

Bathroom Towels, hand towels, wash cloths

Bathroom rugs

Shower caddy (holder for shower supplies) Toothbrush, toothpaste Hand soap Soap/shower gel Shampoo, conditioner Shower cap Water glass/cup Towel rack for your door

July--School/Homework Supplies Computer (look for a back-to-school deal) Monitor and cables Printer and cables Lan cable: 25 feet Computer paper Ink Surge protector Calendar Day planner Notebooks/binders Pocket folders Notebook paper Stapler/staples Paper clips Scissors Sticky tack Post-it notes Push pens Pens Pencils Ruler Zip drive/jump drive/thumb drive Hole punch: Single and 3 hole Pictures/posters High lighters Permanent magic marker(s) Erasable message board with pens: These come on most of the dorm doors, but just in case, or if you want one in your room Cork board/bulletin board/magnet board Book bag Stamps/envelopes Address book, telephone numbers Year book, photo albums, pictures, picture frames Novels, books, Bibles Journal