Sunday, January 1, 2012

Why We Homeschool

by Lori Hatcher

Thirty years ago when homeschooling first reappeared on the educational radar screen, it was limited primarily to families who appeared to be, shall I say, unusual. One family that achieved national recognition left their suburban lifestyle and moved to a goat farm in upstate New York to rear and educate their sons. The boys did quite well academically and ultimately secured full tuition scholarships to prestigious Ivy League colleges. The results were great, but what average family wants to go live on a goat farm for the purpose of educating their children?

Today, homeschooling has once again proven itself as a viable educational option. I say "once again," because for 200 years in this country homeschooling the only educational option. All of our founding fathers were quite well educated using the tutorial method. State-sanctioned "public education" did not come into full use until the late 1800's.

As the homeschooling mother of two teenaged girls, I am often asked the question, "So, why DO you homeschool?" While my answers are not the answers of all homeschooling families, I believe they capture the essence of why so many families choose to educate their children at home.

We homeschool because it gives us:

A rich family life-
The nature of homeschooling lends itself to activities that the whole family can do together. Instead of being age- and grade-segregated, all members of the family explore an area of science, history, culture, or the arts together. We've visited the places where the Civil War began and ended, watched loggerhead turtle babies released to the sea, toured the museums in Washington, D.C., and lay on our backs in the grass to track the stars in the summer sky. In addition to the educational lessons my children have learned, we have had the opportunity to build relationships with each other as we built family memories.

The chance for our children to pursue their interests- Because homeschooling is more time efficient, our children have more time to pursue their areas of interest once the academic portion of their school day is complete. One daughter is fascinated by the political process. The flexibility of the homeschool setting allowed her to travel to Florida in 2004 to campaign for former President George W. Bush in the I-40 corridor of Orlando with a group of 100 homeschooled students. Another daughter loves children and swimming. One day she hopes to be a physical therapist. Our homeschooling schedule allowed her to work with a USC grant project teaching autistic and mentally retarded children to feel comfortable in the water.

The freedom to be children-
When other children ask my girls if they have homework, they reply, "ALL our work is homework!" It is a funny way to comment on the fact that their homework is built into their school day. Because they have the benefit of someone working one-on-one with them in challenging subject areas, extra remedial work and practice is not necessary once they have completed their assignments. This allows them time to play outside with their friends, read for fun, daydream, and generally just be a kid.

The chance to disciple our children-
We have the freedom to open our school day with prayer and Bible reading, stop during the day to address an area of sin or disobedience, or deal with an area of character development using the principles found in God's Word. We take time in our school day to cook a meal for a sick friend, visit a neighbor in the hospital, and serve our church. We memorize Bible verses as a part of our school work, not in addition to it. I learned the Ten Commandments for the first time as I helped the girls learn them for AWANA. Now that they're teenagers, we work our way through devotionals that teach them how to keep themselves pure, be a witness to their friends, and impact the world for Christ. Our daughters see us living out our faith day in and day out because they are with us.

The chance to live life at a slower pace-

One friend shared with me that her family life was so busy that between school, homework, extracurricular activities, church activities, and the rarely shared family meal, that she didn't even have time to bathe her children during the week. Our lifestyle, while still busy, makes time for home-cooked meals with friends, sleeping in after a late night, and read-alouds after dinner.

A chance to be well socialized-

Because they have been taught in a learning environment that regularly reaches beyond a classroom, my children can communicate and interact well with people of all ages, not just their peers. They learned to talk with the elderly as we visited a nursing home every week for a year and a half. They learned to enjoy young children as they volunteered at summer camp and Vacation Bible School. They learned to relate well to adults as they worked alongside them and learned from them in various campaign events and ministry opportunities. Imagine my surprise to hear my daughter interact in an informed and articulate way with her Senator regarding a recent education bill he had introduced! The world is not age-segregated, so my children need to be able to relate to people of all ages and walks of life. Homeschooling has given them that opportunity.

I am the first to say that homeschooling, like any other educational alternative, is not for every family. It is right for mine, and it might be right for yours. I encourage you to evaluate your current situation, pray with your spouse, and ask God to show you what is best for your family. If you feel led to consider homeschooling, I encourage you to do some research. Check out some books from the library, talk to a homeschooling friend, do a web search on it. "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all men liberally, without finding fault, and it shall be given to him." (James 1:5) NKJV God bless you as you seek His will for your family!

A 17-year veteran homeschooler of two daughters, Lori Hatcher shares life with her youth pastor husband David. She is the author of the book Joy in the Journey -- Words of Encouragement for Homeschooling Moms, available in early 2012 from Mardel.Com. Visit her blog, Be Not Weary at for more encouragement.

I Stopped Giving It All at Christmas

By Lara Krupicka

“Please let me give flowers to my teacher,” my daughter begged that first year we were introduced to Teacher Appreciation Week. But out in my yard the only blooms visible were rows of wilting daffodils.

“Can it wait a few weeks?” I asked. My daughter cried. Within a few minutes, however, I had her excited at the prospect of the bright pink peonies and deep purple irises yet to bloom. More tears were shed that week as she daily recounted the flowers and gifts other children brought for the teacher. But, two weeks later she returned from school bursting to share how her flowers brightened the teacher’s day and her empty vase. That day I learned the value of bucking tradition when it comes to gifts.

If you’re like me, sometime in late October the anxiety begins to build. By Thanksgiving it’s a palpable knot in your stomach, and by mid-December it has become full-out panic. In the name of tradition and expectation we push ourselves to stressful heights during the annual holiday season. And chances are, at the end of each one we vow not to do it again. Yet October rolls around and… stress again. What to do? Change it up! Stop the old, stressful tradition and start a new one. Stop giving gifts to everyone on your list at Christmas. Instead, give your gifts of appreciation to people like your hairdresser, the mailman and yes, the school teacher, at other times of the year. You’ll find that spreading out your gratitude will result in benefits for both your recipients and for you.


You’ll benefit by having the ability to be more thoughtful in choosing your gifts. With a self-imposed, flexible deadline, rather than one dictated by the calendar, you can find space to be creative and considerate. There will be no more last-minute dashes to the store to grab some old something for the doctor or babysitter.
Not only that, but the thoughtfulness becomes more apparent when the gift does not arrive at the traditionally appointed time. A few years ago I started giving teacher gifts during October and November. Having seen the mounds of gifts some teachers receive in December and the less-than-enthusiastic reception they induce behind closed doors, there is no doubt tradition equates with obligation for some people. And that defeats the purpose. My October gifts are separated from the season of obligation, and as such, stand a better chance of being appreciated for their sincerity. Rather than showing up in obligatory fashion, my gifts arrive unannounced, unexpected.

One year, my youngest daughter particularly enjoyed giving her teacher a fall gift. She giggled as we created the padded pumpkin, wrapping a roll of toilet paper (more giggles) in cushy batting and patterned fabric. And she proudly inserted the stick she’d found in our yard in the pumpkin’s top as a “stem”. The next day she stood erect in the line at school, clasping the gift bag to her chest. Later that afternoon, she leaned into my arm as I read the note from the teacher. “Thank you for the adorable pumpkin. It’s the only fall decoration I have for my desk. How thoughtful of you.” It made not only the teacher’s day, but my daughter’s as well.

Focus on the Recipient

Taking the time to think through and act on what would be most meaningful to our beneficiaries can greatly enhance the value of a simple gift. When during the year could they use the appreciation and encouragement the most? What gift or gesture would speak to them personally? Putting the focus on our recipient means watching, listening and learning about them in an effort to truly appreciate them individually. Instead of following our timeline or our “to do” list in a mechanical fashion, we act on a timeframe more suited to those we seek to bless. That speaks volumes. It elevates the value of the gift by virtue of being other-focused.

As church nursery coordinator I saw the need for this in my gifts to the nursery volunteers. I baked them cinnamon rolls in December in a nod to tradition. But then in February, when cabin fever reached its height and the end of the term seemed far away, I gave each of them a gift: an encouraging book I’d selected for specifically for each of them, along with a hand-written note expressing my gratitude. The impact of my timing led one of my volunteers to come thank me for my encouragement to her.

Freedom and Peace

Other rewards for bestowing appreciation gifts outside the frenzy of the winter holidays include freedom and peace. My holiday gift-buying list shrinks by at least a dozen when I shift the timing of my gifts of gratitude. This frees up space for baking, or entertaining, or even shopping for gifts for family members. It reduces the load of holiday preparations to a manageable size. I’m less stressed and it shows in everything I do during December.

We need to rethink giving our gifts of appreciation at Christmas. It may mean explaining to people our intentions, to counter any expectations related Christmas gift-giving traditions. But in doing so, we’ll lighten our own load and open the door to a season of peace and joy. We’ll bring our gifts into an open time frame; one better suited to the needs of those we’re giving to. And we’ll have more time, both for considering the gifts we give to those we appreciate and for those gifts remaining on our list for the holidays.

Why not give yourself a break this year and take appreciation gifts off your holiday “to do” list? You might come off as the best giver ever when you spread out the blessings over the entire year.

Lara Krupicka is a wife and mother to three tween girls. She writes and speaks regularly about gift giving, hospitality, and finding simple ways to live the abundant life Jesus promises us. Lara is also the author of Pampering Gifts: Crafting a Ministry of Treating People Well for Less.

Loving Your Man as God Loves You

by Cindi McMenamin

I was once a wife who was quick to point out my husband’s faults. Quick to let him know when he was falling short of my expectations. Quick to let him know when he wasn’t loving me as God does.

But, when I turned it around and started trying to love my husband as God loves me, that’s when things began to change in our marriage. I began focusing less on his faults and more on my own…and my own need for God’s grace in my life.

Can you imagine what marriages would look like today if both partners practiced unconditional, sacrificial and persevering love? There would be no strife, no stress, no bitterness, no built-up baggage. There would be no devastation or divorce. There would be two people, giving up their rights to themselves so they can serve one another. There would be a perfect picture in our love toward each other, of God’s love toward us.

Take a look at God’s never failing, unending, persevering love for you and see if you can’t try modeling this to your husband:

• He has promised He will never leave you.
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
Can you say this to your husband, and truly mean it as God means it toward you?

• He is always thinking only the best about you.
“How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.” (Psalm 139:17-18)
Can you say that your mind is always filled with only good thoughts about your husband?

• He is gentle toward you when you’re broken.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)
Are you gentle toward your husband even when he is angry or unlovable – which is how he often responds when he’s hurt?

• He promises nothing will ever come between the two of you.

“(Nothing) will be able to separate us from the love of God...” (Romans 8:39)
Are there any conditions or exceptions in your mind when it comes to loving your husband? Is there something in the back of your mind that he could do that would end it for the two of you? God holds none of those reservations about you. He has promised nothing – that includes nothing you can do – will ever come between you and God. Can you say the same to your husband?

• He delights in you, quiets you with His love, and sings over you.

“He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)
Can you delight in your husband and rejoice over him, simply because of who he is – one who is loved by his heavenly father and by you? Think about the joy and comfort you have, knowing God feels that way about you. Now what would it add to your husband’s life if he knew you truly delighted in him?

• He loved you so much He was willing to die so He wouldn’t have to live without you.

“For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Have you cemented your love for your husband so deeply that you are convinced you would not want to live without him? In many ways, that’s how God felt toward you. He found a way so that the two of you would never have to be separated.

• He loved you in spite of yourself and still does.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) .
Would you show sacrificial love to your husband even if he didn’t deserve it? Even if he had turned his back on you? Scripture tells us: “This is the kind of love we are talking about – not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.

“My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other.” (First John 4:10-11, The Message)

Now, from what you’ve seen about God’s persevering love for you, can you love your husband:

Even when he’s annoying you?
Even when he’s inconsiderate?
Even when he’s clearly ‘unlovable’?
Even when he’s clearly wrong and unrepentant?

Because we are not like God who never grows weary or wounded, we must know how to renew love for our husbands. We simply can’t wait for the feelings to be there. I’m so glad God doesn’t depend on His feelings for us. He has determined to love us, regardless. We must love our husbands that way, too, because the world will take it out of us. Pain will take it out of us. The everyday stuff of life will take it out of us. But, God alone can replenish it in us.

In Isaiah 40:28-31, we are told that the God who never grows tired or weary “gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” and “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” How do you renew that love you once had for your husband? How do you get back that delight in him when he – or something in this life – has taken it out of you? By waiting on the Lord for His strength to love your husband through you and by focusing on what first drew the two of you together.

Next time you’re tempted to start listing what your husband is doing wrong, I encourage you to start listing what you love about him. It’s what God would do if He were in your shoes.

Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and the author of several books including When Women Walk Alone, Women on the Edge, and When A Woman Inspires Her Husband (from which this article is an excerpt). She and her husband, Hugh, have also co-authored the book When Couples Walk Together. For resources and free articles of encouragement to strengthen your soul or your marriage, see her website: