Friday, August 5, 2016

Homeschooling: The Journey Begins

Homeschooling and I have resembled a science experiment I did as a kid. I would pour water and oil into the same cup and swirl it around, but no matter how much I swirled and shook, no matter how many oil bubbles were created, the elements never blended into a homogeneous solution; they each remained distinct.

I've been swirling around in a jar with homeschooling and we've been bubbling against each other. Last year was a mix of frustration and self-doubt, mingled with enthusiasm and disappointment. Nothing, literally NOTHING, went as I had planned or imagined. My children did not wake up with enthusiastic smiles begging to begin school (yes, I had dreamed of my children loving school so much that I simply fed their eager imaginations and hunger for learning). Samuel did not sleep or play quietly while the older children and I read fantastic stories about fairies, world history, and science. I did not manage to drag my sleep deprived body out of bed before my children so I could greet the day with peace and joy overflowing from my time with Jesus.

My water of life was not mixing with my oil of homeschooling. By the end of the year, we were just really broken down into lots of little pieces and I was left staring at the fullness of my sin (impatience, lack of love, pride, and the list keeps going).

This is what homeschooling sometimes looks like in our house. Samuel climbing on everyone!
As we entered into summer, the Lord and I entered a season of His revealing how much work He has still to do in my life. I feel like he pulled back the curtain of my heart and gently shined His light into so many places where I need to grow.  My heart was humbled and repentance entered in. His gentle instruction has led me over the past few months and He has hemmed me in, behind and before, with His tender love.

Amidst this season of repentance and rebuilding (although isn't all of life full of both?), the Lord continued to encourage me to homeschool. There was no head-bashing. No forceful pushing. Just His firm gentle insistence that He would do this with me and that I could trust His leading in my life. I wanted to homeschool, I truly did, but I wrestled with whether I could homeschool. I have ADD, a part of me that is both wonderful and frustrating, and I wondered whether I could tame my mind's constant pushing and pullings to properly educate my children.

And so, somewhere in my heart, I committed to this journey. Really, I committed to my children, because I'm homeschooling for their sake and not my own, and I committed to the Lord.  Chaos may abound and attitudes may flounder, but the Lord and I are on this journey together.

Paideia, the latin word for nurture, stood out to me suddenly bold and bright as the Lord lit it on a page before me.  In Ephesians 6:4, Paul writes, "Fathers, do no provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."  The word nurture here is paideia in the original greek. The Lord impressed it into my mind like a seal upon wax, scribbled in the margins of my bible and circled in my own hand.

God has called me to paideia my children: to nurture, discipline, train, and instruct them in the way of the Lord. The public schools won't do this for me. God did not call my church to do it for me. He didn't ask a private school to do it for me. He commanded fathers (and I'll imply from the whole of scripture that this includes both sexes) to train their children in the way they should go, to talk about Him when they sit at home and when they walk along the road, when they lie down and when they get up (Deut 6:7).  To be clear, I don't think God calls everyone to homeschool, but a number of years ago I very clearly felt the Lord tell me to homeschool. And so, here I am, finally committing to this journey.

I'm not committing to "homeschooling" itself. I'm not pledging myself to the classical learning style. I'm not placing my flag on the hill of better education.  I'm standing my ground on paideia. My children may not speak chinese, sign language, and write in perfect cursive by the time they are six. They may not learn to read faster than their peers. They may not have perfect attitudes and be the best behaved children on the playground. But I'm not homeschooling for these reasons.

I'm homeschooling because I want my children to see Jesus, day in and day out, in my weaknesses and in successes. I want to nurture them and instruct them. I want the gospel to saturate their life.  I want prayer to be in their left hand and God's word in their right. I want faith to be as natural to them as breathing and salvation to cover them like a helmet. Because they are going to face some battles in this life, (we all do, don't we?) and I want them to be prepared in the "nurture and instruction of the Lord." I want their first response to be "Jesus!" and their last breath to be "Jesus!"

And since He has called me to this, I believe that He will equip me for it because He has prepared these "good works" in advance for me to do.

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Hebrews 1:11).  I am assured that my hope, which is Christ, will not disappoint. I am confident that every promise God has made is "Yes" and "Amen!" in Jesus. So I'm walking into this knowing God is with me and that He will guide me and instruct me. That He longs for my children to walk with Him and that He is faithful to finish the work He has started. That His Word will not return void. That He will extend His faithfulness to the thousandth generation of those that love Him. These are the promises I cling to and the impetus for this journey. 

No matter whether homeschooling and I are remain water and oil, paideia and I resemble sugar water. Sugar dissolves when it is mixed and stirred in water and both are changed by the process. This journey may have mixing, stirring, and all kinds of agitation throughout the process. In the end though, something new and sweet emerges. Add a little lemon and you've got a refreshing drink. ;)

I will be chronicling my journey here to keep a record and history of the "science experiment" God is conducting in my life. Sometimes you'll see the agitation process. Sometimes you'll get a drink of our sweet concoction. My hope is that we'll look back and see a record the results of God's handiwork and His scientific method at work in our life. 

Care to join us? 

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Anna Shelton said...

Hey Elisha!

I haven't been on my blog in a few months but I happened to just go on and was looking through my blog feed. I had followed yours a long time ago! I'm excited to read of your homeschooling journey. Perhaps we can co-op together every once in a while. I'll be keeping my Adelynne (almost four) with me this year. Last year she attended private preschool, two days a week. Would love to hear your thoughts further. I'm not certain of what education will look like after this year. But she is doing two years of preschool before Kindergarten. Would love to chat further.


Elisha said...


I would love that! Would you like to join a co-op me and some gals from my church (and their friends too!) are doing on Fridays? We are planning to meet fridays from 10-2pm at our friend's house in Beavercreek and do some kind of learning/outdoor exploring time. Our plan is still a little unfinished, but it would be so great if you came! I can email you more information if you are interested!

Anna Shelton said...


Yes, I'd love to hear more. Email me at :-)