Remembering Why We Teach Them at Home

by tklicka on July 5, 2017

Last year in the spring, like I’ve done for many years, I stopped to think about the reasons why I homeschooled my children. Our journey lasted 26 years, from the time my oldest of seven children turned three, until my youngest child graduated this past December. While I loved teaching my children at home, there were several times I wanted to quit. It would help me to remember the benefits, right at the time of year (early spring) when I usually felt most like a failure.

Perhaps you have just finished your school year and are now breathing a sigh of relief, not ready to think about starting another one in three months. Whew! Yet, this is a really good time to look back and count your blessings. Here’s a list of just a few of the reasons why homeschooling has been the best choice for our family.

Through homeschooling:

1. Your family shares life together – yes, the ups and the downs, but also the most meaningful moments of our days. This strengthens the bond between parent and child, and between siblings. Through your example, your kids can learn what it looks like to form and develop healthy and deep human relationships, which can help them in building relationships with others. When my husband developed advanced MS the last years of his life, being with their dad was the most important thing in the world to us and to our children. Homeschooling made that possible.

2. Your kids can develop the qualities of a leader – because doing truly great things requires being someone of great character, homeschooling provides you the opportunity to both inspire as you teach and lead as you train. You can help your children value the qualities of loving truth, serving others, working hard, finishing a job, being creative, taking initiative, admitting failure, forgiving offenses, and loving others for who they are. I remember thinking several times while my seven kids were growing up together, “Well, they’re either going to kill each other, or learn to die to self and become great leaders!” Guess what? They’re all still alive! Seriously, they are all leaders who love each other and those around them, and have a vision to make a difference in their world.

3. You can encourage your children to be who God made them – beyond their primary academic studies, your kids can gain important life skills (so they can live independently and successfully as adults), and pursue, develop, and excel in areas in which they are gifted or have an intense natural interest (such as art, music, sports, debate, engineering, computers, missions, creative writing, etc.). For instance, my youngest son John was able to pursue acting in film when he was 11-13 years old, like the film Undaunted, in which he played the moving role of young Josh McDowell. During that time, he developed many skills and good character qualities that have helped shape the young man he is today.

4. Kids can learn subjects at their own pace – whether a child finds that spelling is easy or math is hard, the freedom you have to let them speed up, slow down, or give up (just kidding!) can make a big difference in how much and how deeply they learn. Homeschooling is particularly great for children who have learning disabilities. My daughter Amy, now 22, knows she has a very mild case of Asperger’s Syndrome and has been officially diagnosed with a math disability. It took her three years to get through Algebra, and even now, unless she is doing a certain kind of math problem on a near-daily basis, she forgets how to do it. Yet she’s working a cash register at Chick-fil-A, took honors English and history courses at our local community college, and still loves learning every day.

5. You work harder, but you can also play more, and enjoy the big picture – When it comes right down to it, life is about much more than formal learning. Playing games are a great way to learn, spending time in the great outdoors boosts one’s sense of well-being, and sharing time and talent through volunteering changes lives and expands the capacity of the human heart. These kinds of opportunities made possible through a homeschooling lifestyle make a powerful case for developing a well-rounded adult emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

These are just a few of the reasons that helped me stay committed for over 26 years. I wouldn’t change my decision to teach my kids at home, not for all the gold at Fort Knox.

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Fragile times that Truth Strengthens

by tklicka on June 7, 2017

A couple Fridays ago, I was blessed to attend a Steve Green concert with my daughter Charity, who invited me to share in the experience with her. I raised my kids on many wonderful Christian artists’ music, including Steve Green. From Hide ’em in Your Heart CDs for kids, to his outstanding praise and worship music CDs, my kids were saturated in gospel-centered theology in music.

You never know if, as adults they will like, let alone remember what you tried to instill in them through the music you listened to as they were growing up, and it blessed me greatly to know Charity still listens to and loves Steve Green’s music.

 

I love it too, more than many other artists. Green was raised on the mission field by parents who lived out the gospel in lands far away, without many of the comforts and conveniences we take for granted in the USA. He saw the reality of their faith and I’m certain it had a big impact on the strong man of God he has been all his life.

At the concert that night, Steve shared that the gospel is something we need to be reminded of, again and again. How true this is, especially when you find yourself amid difficulties – enduring sickness, suffering loss, or experiencing being misjudged or maligned.

If you are facing ongoing hardship, you may find that waves of discouragement come washing over you when you least expect it, like a surprise wave, bigger and stronger, and threatening to knock you down. Isn’t that the time when you need to be reminded of God’s faithful love, good purpose, and mighty power toward you? I know I do.

I remember longing for these reminders in several seasons of my life – during a nightmarish childhood, then when I almost died from ulcerative colitis in the late 80s, then when Chris’s health start to deteriorate rapidly after a shocking MS diagnosis, quickly followed by us nearly losing our twins in utero in the 90s, to my being very sick again with UC around 2000. Losing Chris to MS in 2009 is a grief that never completely goes away, even while I have so much to be thankful for in our marriage of 25 years.

Chris & I meet Steve Green at one of his concerts in 1995 – me, pregnant with our twins, Charity & Amy

 

Most recently, the past two years of my life have been very painful and difficult. Turning my eyes to the Lord has been my only hope. Purposing to trust in God for the details and needs of my life is what I’ve tried to do, again and again. Waiting for His help as I’ve sought to obey and follow Him through suffering, however, was excruciating at times.

The power of God’s Word to strengthen us in its truth is just what we need in the center of our storm. God knows this and He often brings the very Word we need to hear to lift up our hearts and minds. During an emotionally fragile week last week leading up to the Steve Green concert, God brought me a Word that deeply encouraged me.

In an online course I’m taking about stewardship for nonprofit Christian ministry, a wise, godly older gentleman in the course with me shared a story about King Hezekiah. His application is just what I needed to hear:

“I’m reminded of a story in 2 Chronicles 32 about Hezekiah and Sennacharib. Hezekiah was king of Judah and Sennacharib was king of Assyria. The mighty Assyria army was headed for Jerusalem to take the city. Upon hearing the news Jerusalem set out to deter the army by doing all they could within their limited power. They repaired the broken walls, strengthened the gates to the city, fortified the towers, and even built another wall outside the existing wall. They also made large numbers of weapons and shields.

They did everything within their power to stop the Assyrian army. After they prepared for war and did all they could do, they left the matter in God’s hands.

With Jerusalem gathered together, Hezekiah declared, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said.

The end of the story was victory for Hezekiah and Jerusalem. God sent an angel to defeat the Assyrian army before they ever made it to Jerusalem. Thus, I am challenged to:

1) Recognize the days in which we live

2) Be strong and courageous

3) Be wise and do everything within my ability to {conduct myself in a worthy manner; emphasis mine}

4) Realize that God goes before us to fight our battles”

I would not have written the story of my life the way it has turned out, particularly the last two years. The fall is real. Brokenness is inescapable. God has heard my prayers, though, and has either strengthened me for each step of my journey or has shown me mercy. It is God’s lovingkindness, or hesed that keeps us from being crushed under the weight of the fall and its effect on us.

And that strong, true picture of our God filled Steve Green’s music that night, music and truth which Charity and I both love. Praise be to His dear name.

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When God Demonstrates His Personal Love for Our Kids – and nudges us in the process of showing them

April 24, 2017

These two have a special relationship, which all began about seven years ago. To understand how important this pooch is to my boy and what God has to do with it, you need to hear the whole story. When my son John was 9, he asked his dad for a dog. My Chris, having Solomon-like […]

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On Waiting…

April 16, 2017

Much of the Christian life is about WAITING – Waiting for God to answer our prayers for His provision of a job, a spouse, or our house to sell. Or perhaps it’s waiting on Him for healing or relief from a long-standing infirmity, the duration of the pain or limitation at times almost more than […]

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Do You Want Your Husband to Succeed?

March 14, 2017

  Of course, as a wife, I want my husband to succeed. I don’t think I’ve ever met a woman who doesn’t want her husband to succeed. But success is one of those terms that can mean a lot of different things, so I think it’s worth thinking about. What does it mean for our […]

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The Surrendered Life

October 29, 2016

Ten years ago, in the summer of 2006, I had an opportunity, a rare gift, to spend some time in Montana at a weeklong art workshop, taught by my long-time friends, Barry and Saundra Stebbing of How Great Thou Art (HowGreatThouArt.com). Barry had been teaching mostly homeschooled children for many years on how to draw […]

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Contentment in Dangerous Times

September 11, 2016

Hello! It’s me…long time, no see (or read anyway). [Editor’s note: For those who have been reading my blog over the years (starting with my CaringBridge blog before my late husband Chris passed away in 2009), I apologize I haven’t written since April of last year. The reason I haven’t is somewhat complicated, but the desire […]

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Where Love Makes a Difference

April 14, 2015

“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ ”                ~Matthew 25:40 I’m in Dallas this week for work and a conference, and in my free […]

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