20 Years Later...

20 Years Later… 

We are starting school today… yes, it’s a late start for most homeschoolers. I’m sipping my coffee and reflecting over the past 20 years of homeschooling my eight children as I let my sleepy teenagers wake up a bit slower (minus the alarm clock.)

This journey has definitely been the most easy, most difficult, most thrilling, most depressing, and the most unexpectedly beautiful adventure! What an invitation from God, I’m so glad I accepted it. And all along the journey I have been privileged to have gotten a front-row window seat.

In my early 20’s I wasn’t on the path to motherhood and homeschooling certainly was the furthest thing from my mind. My “career” was my plan. But then God gave me the “desires of my heart” before I even realized what they were! Homeschooling my children came into focus and became a reality.

We started out with nothing more than a sweet, eager-faced little towhead boy. With his newly sharpened pencil, he eagerly waited for me at a re-purposed, hand-me-down end table with a little stool in our unfinished basement and a handful of books. While we read and played together, I discovered a great and unexpected pleasure in teaching this little person whom I loved most in the whole world. I jumped wholeheartedly into the joy of teaching him and vowed I’d never share that joy with some unknown schoolteacher down the street.

As we ventured along this path, our family kept adding a new student every couple of years. One of my first big homeschool purchases was my “school table” – a real, school-quality, blue table with adjustable legs that we could raise and lower. I got quite a workout over the years doing deep squats near that table every day! I vividly remember sitting at that very table with my older three children and thinking, “Someday… all these chairs will be filled with my kiddos, and God wants ME to teach all of them!” It was hugely intimidating yet quite exciting, too!

We outgrew the table pretty quickly. I knew I was in over my head and would need divine intervention to complete this monumental task! I asked God to show up and help me do this…since it had been His idea from the beginning! I kept that table for many years, it was always a symbol of God’s provision for me: He called me to this job, and He showed up day after day to help me.

Our journey took us through several family moves to several different states. We participated in co-ops and didn’t participate in co-ops. We played sports, did music lessons and orchestras, joined theater groups, and drove to hundreds of soccer practices and ballet lessons–and didn’t do all that, too. We had seasons with church activities and programs and seasons without.

We prioritized the Word of God. We memorized scripture (thank you - Awana and the Bible Bee!) We read about our heroes with biographies about Christian missionaries from all over the globe. (My second big purchase was every YWAM Benge Christian Heroes Then & Now series ever printed!) We LOVED reading them out loud as a family and listening to them on road trips. They built an incredible shared heritage between the kids and us and gave all of us a passion for the world and godly heroes to look up to. We prayed over countries and Unreached People Groups. We studied worldview and apologetics together and learned about the world God so loves.

We spent endless hours lost in great books and read-alouds together The Wingfeather Saga and the Mysterious Benedict Society series were a few favorites. Our family has many hysterical inside jokes that come from the pages of the books we shared together. Almost all my favorite homeschool memories contain references to the books we read.

We explored the wonders of science together. We watched as tadpoles turned into frogs (that lived for 7 YEARS!) We marveled at our caterpillars flying away as butterflies. We collected every type of stick, pinecone, stone and bird nest we could find! We took countless nature center and science museum field trips and practically grew up at the zoo. We did experiments (including my personal favorite…the dissections!) together at the kitchen table and in classes at coop together with our friends.

We learned about the world while we cooked the craziest concoctions, (ever tried Pilgrim Swill?) and eagerly tasted food from all over the world (Vegemite anyone?). Our home was filled with maps and globes. For many years we had maps on the kitchen table under clear tablecloths. Our favorite school time snacks came from our “Universal Yums” boxes as we tried treats from different countries.

We ventured into high school, eager to prove we had done this homeschooling thing well. We mastered dual credit college courses, and rigorous study, classic literature analysis papers and the ACT. We did all the “Bonus” questions, and extra credit assignments and we had years we didn’t even finish the book!

I discovered I had a passion for teaching– both at home, and in a co-op setting. We learned to manage our time (the kids and me!) by doing schoolwork, having part-time jobs and balancing our commitments and responsibilities. We survived Driver’s Ed (Only a few more to go…) We deepened our faith and understanding by taking the Perspectives of the World Christian Movement course together. We went on mission trips and learned to serve others. And we learned to bravely step off the fast track and customize their education to the person God created them to be with new and varied learning opportunities.

We experienced health issues and came face-to-face with cancer, twice. We suffered deep tragedy and we wrestled with trusting in the goodness of God. We learned how truly faithful God is. We experienced beauty for ashes and thrilling new beginnings.

We came to the end of the school years for my first born (that seemed would never end) and I had the great joy to hand my son a high school diploma. I was an absolute emotional mess as I graduated Sam, my always eager student, in a full cap & gown ceremony with all the pomp and circumstance (How do we parents ever survive the Senior slide show?)

More years passed and more graduations have taken place. I’ve loved seeing each of them fly high beyond our homeschool! So much is happening now with all of them and some are launching into adulting from home which has had some amazing lessons, blessings and opportunities for all of us! My kiddos joke that I get more relaxed with each child… the last one will probably have a diploma thrown out the window at them as I speed off in my much-dreamed-about red convertible… and a laugh…a wild crazy laugh!) Homeschooling will make you lose your mind at times!

These past 20 years have taught me so much more than I ever dreamed. Sometimes I believe God’s direction to homeschool my children may have actually been more about my learning than theirs. There are amazing and abundant blessings that came with this decision! I have learned that I need to be constantly reliant on the Lord for each and every step along this path. Each new season requires His fresh guidance for the twists and turns ahead that only He knows are necessary for the wonders He wants to bring. I need to be truly as dependent on His leading today as I was in that first uncertain day.

This gift of TIME with my children is the most precious gift I’ve ever been given. I had time to get to know them, time experience life with them, time to learn together, time to grow in knowing God together, time to get to know and love on many people together and time to catch a glimpse of the amazing people God designed them to be.

I was given an invitation to participate in this great work to the very end of the journey–their graduation from High School and beyond! I’m so incredibly grateful! I pray that you will accept the invitation too!



All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace. - Isaiah 54:13