It’s that time of year again! Home­school con­fer­ence sea­son is upon us. Are you going to one this year? What do you like best about the con­fer­ence you attend? Do you like to get inspired by the var­i­ous work­shops and speak­ers? Do you love to thumb through all the cur­ricu­lum (cur­ric­ula?)? Or do you sim­ply enjoy the oppor­tu­nity to visit with friends that you know or meet there?

For so many peo­ple, their home­school con­fer­ence means cur­ricu­lum. They love to touch it, put eyes on it, pour over the var­i­ous options. I, too, love to see it in per­son before I make a final deci­sion. It’s great!

In the vendor hall with Peyton

In the ven­dor hall with Peyton

I often have peo­ple ask me what cur­ricu­lum we choose. To be hon­est, when we finally landed on our cho­sen cur­ricu­lum, I was so excited about what we had found that I wanted every­one who was home­school­ing or con­sid­er­ing home­school­ing to know what we were using. I thought it was the PERFECT choice! It had every­thing that I thought we’d need to home­school suc­cess­fully. {I shud­der at how obnox­ious I likely was!} And, mostly, I have been very happy with my choice. I haven’t felt a need to change much of what we have been doing for these last 15 years or so. But my per­spec­tive has changed sub­stan­tially over the years. I’m not quite as quick to share what we use. I actu­ally hes­i­tate to tell any­one what we use. I have learned that it isn’t the be all and end all for me or any­one else. Cur­ricu­lum never is, no mat­ter what the shiny brochures tell you.

I have learned that cur­ricu­lum is just a tool. It makes no guar­an­tees. Well, if it does, I’d be seri­ously con­cerned. A par­tic­u­lar cur­ricu­lum can­not promise that your child will be a doc­tor, a lawyer, or a can­dle­stick maker.  What I have dis­cov­ered, and maybe I am way slower than every­one else out there, is that what really mat­ters is that we spend those impor­tant years teach­ing our chil­dren about Jesus, about doc­trine, about for­give­ness, and about lov­ing our neigh­bors. With­out this very basic empha­sis, we are wast­ing our time.

I have also learned that char­ac­ter far out­weighs find­ing the solu­tion to a math prob­lem. Some­times that char­ac­ter is found in the pain of find­ing the answer to that math prob­lem, to be sure. But the true prize is the char­ac­ter, not the value of x. All the books and courses in the world won’t be worth much of any­thing if your chil­dren lack char­ac­ter. You can put the best math books in front of your son, but if is too lazy to work the prob­lems, he will never learn it, much less apply it! We tend to spend so much time and effort find­ing the per­fect cur­ricu­lum, but for­get to think about how impor­tant it is to develop char­ac­ter. We don’t need char­ac­ter train­ing books for this. We need the Bible. And we just need to live with our chil­dren and pay a lit­tle bit of atten­tion to them. We also need to look in the mir­ror and teach them about humil­ity and repen­tance by being an exam­ple to them by our actions and words when we are wrong and sin against the peo­ple in our home. I find that this can be a daunt­ing task, but it is a must for every Chris­t­ian home.

Also, the cur­ricu­lum needs to be thor­oughly Chris­t­ian. World­view really does mat­ter. If your child is tak­ing in the philos­phy of the pagans all day, at the expressed or non-expressed approval of the experts (you and your hus­band), he or she is going to believe what it teaches. If it teaches that Cre­ation is a myth or just one of sev­eral optional beliefs, then they are likely going to pick up on that and believe it. If you put books in front of your chil­dren that teach that his­tory is ran­dom, with chance being the only con­stant, then they likely won’t see God’s hand through­out all of his­tory. Alter­na­tively, if you emerse your chil­dren in God-honoring and God-fearing cur­ricu­lum, they will learn that see­ing the world from God’s per­spec­tive is the obvi­ous way to look at things. While it can be very time con­sum­ming, and we won’t get it right all the time, we must make every effort to place before our chil­dren books and infor­ma­tion that will build a strong foun­da­tion before we try to place the antithe­sis before them to ana­lyze. Some chil­dren can han­dle the antithe­sis more read­ily and eas­ily than other chil­dren. So, what we choose to expose them to and when to do so will be some­thing we need to care­fully weigh for each child. Unlike a pub­lic or pri­vate school set­ting, home­school­ers get to man­age the infor­ma­tion that goes into the stu­dents based on each indi­vid­ual stu­dent. What a great priv­i­lege we have!

How­ever, my favorite part of the con­fer­ence is hear­ing the var­i­ous speak­ers share their wis­dom and heart to those in atten­dance. We have learned so much from many con­fer­ence speak­ers. One such speaker, 13 years ago in Cal­i­for­nia, opened our eyes to a vision for our fam­ily that we never imag­ined or even con­sid­ered pos­si­ble. He asked the men in the room, “Men, do you have a vision for your fam­ily?” My hus­band relates that he felt like he had been hit by a 2x4. Vision? A man can have one of those for his FAMILY? I mean, my hard work­ing, devoted hus­band had great vision for his job. He had huge plans. And he was liv­ing them. But, for his fam­ily? He has a say in that? And it mat­ters? Appar­ently so. And our fam­ily has never been the same since. Sure, we still strug­gle. We have issues. We are human, and we are sin­ners. But, we have a plan, more or less. My husband’s focus changed from one of self-serving, career build­ing, man pleas­ing pur­suits to look­ing at his fam­ily, serv­ing us, lead­ing us, teach­ing us, invest­ing in me and our chil­dren. And God has led my hus­band in a beau­ti­ful way as he relies on Him. My hus­band was once a reluc­tant home­school­ing dad. He allowed me to home­school as long as I did every­thing right. Send­ing the kids back to pub­lic school was a threat that always hung over my head. As long as I didn’t mess up (what­ever that meant), and my hus­band was “allowed” to con­tinue to pur­sue his career, all was well. But now, thanks to God open­ing his eyes at that con­fer­ence all those years ago, he is a strong advo­cate of parent-led edu­ca­tion, of fathers lead­ing their fam­i­lies in right­eous­ness to the cross daily for their encour­age­ment and growth and for­give­ness. He’s a dif­fer­ent man. I didn’t shove it down his throat. I didn’t lead him to this. I didn’t “force” him to lead his fam­ily. {I find that con­cept odd.} God, in His per­fect tim­ing, showed my hus­band a bet­ter way to lead his fam­ily than what he was doing.

All from a talk at a home­school conference.

I want to encour­age you not to get bogged down by all the choices and flash of cur­ricu­lum. I find that it can make me feel so inad­e­quate about our lit­tle school. Are we doing art? What about sci­ence projects? Sports? For­eign lan­guages? Music? What are we miss­ing? Oh, what’s down this aisle? Geog­ra­phy, geol­ogy, geometry…Oh, my! Spend some time before your con­fer­ence, fig­ure out what your goals are for this next year. Dis­cuss them with your hus­band and chil­dren, and don’t be afraid to tweak some things. Make a list of what you need. If you can get ahold of the list of ven­dor hall booths before you go, take a look and see where you can shop for what you need. Get what you came for, put them in your car, and then go soak up some encour­age­ment from the speak­ers. You can look at cur­ricu­lum all year long online. But, that won­der­ful oppor­tu­nity to be fed some encour­age­ment by moth­ers and fathers who have been doing this for years is price­less. Please, don’t defeat your­self before you even start the new year. You can­not do it all. I know you know it. But, it is so easy to lose that focus. And it is so easy to get frus­trated. Soak up the godly coun­sel, the hope­ful words spo­ken. And the hard words. We all need some hard words, too. But they are for our good, and the good of our chil­dren, to help wake us up from our slumber.

So, what cur­ricu­lum do I use? Who cares? It’s just a tool. It’s so much more impor­tant that I love God, honor my hus­band, love my chil­dren, and teach them to love the Lord with all their strength, heart, mind, and soul. The rest will fall in place as the Lord ordains.


Photo credit: jim­miehome­school­mom / / CC BY



I have been at the Fam­ily Eco­nom­ics Con­fer­ence this past week soak­ing in the words and wis­dom of many godly and gifted speak­ers. As I was lis­ten­ing, I was think­ing, con­nect­ing dots, exam­in­ing our life and the way we do things as a family.

Inte­grate: to bring together or incor­po­rate (parts) into a whole; to unite or com­bine. from the Latin inte­gra­tus to renew, restore

We are a fam­ily of home­school­ers, but more than that. We inte­grate our chil­dren into our daily lives. We inte­grate them into the wor­ship on the Lord’s Day. They sit with us in church, they wor­ship our Lord with us. We don’t farm them off to nurs­eries or children’s church. The thought of them not being right with us dur­ing the wor­ship is hard to even com­pre­hend, much less bear. We also inte­grate our chil­dren into our daily lives. They help run the home, they help keep us orga­nized. After lis­ten­ing to many of the speak­ers, my hus­band has encour­aged me that we really need to inte­grate them more into the fam­ily econ­omy. I have to admit that I have been slow to adopt this vision for our chil­dren. I am very pro­tec­tive of my lit­tle busi­ness. I am “par­tic­u­lar” about the way things need to be done. I desire excel­lence in it, from start to fin­ish. I fear that it may not be as much so with the chil­dren because, well, let’s face it, I don’t see it in their bed­rooms or the dishes just yet. But, is the prob­lem totally with them, or am I to blame some­how in this? I do think I share in this more than I’d like to admit. So, when we get home, our plan is to inte­grate them more into the busi­ness. Pray for me please. That I will be filled with grace and patience, that I will be able to teach them effec­tively, and that we will take great joy in the process of learn­ing together how to make this work.

But, why do we do all of this inte­gra­tion? It really is a lot of work to get there. Yes, there is much joy and grace from the Lord towards our fam­ily in doing it. We really like being together. When I con­sider the thought of them going off to a school, pub­lic or pri­vate, I get teary-eyed think­ing of them being away from me and each other all day. I can’t stand the idea of some­one else get­ting their best all day. But, is there more to it than that?

Then it hit me. The oppo­site of inte­gra­tion is disintegration.

Dis­in­te­grate:  to sep­a­rate into parts or lose intact­ness or solid­ness; break up; dete­ri­o­rate; to decay; to reduce to par­ti­cles, frag­ments, or parts; break up or destroy the cohe­sion of.

Um. No thanks. THAT is what we are try­ing to avoid. We love the cohe­sion of our fam­ily. We believe with all we have that it is what God desires for our fam­ily, for your fam­ily, for all fam­i­lies. It isn’t about con­trol or fear or any­thing else neg­a­tive. It is about glo­ri­fy­ing God, rais­ing our chil­dren in hope, teach­ing them about the One who cre­ated them for His glory and purposes.

We’ve seen dis­in­te­gra­tion long enough in the world. Let’s start build­ing up, breath­ing life into our chil­dren, giv­ing hope. Let’s show them a bet­ter way to live: together, in Christ, for His glory.

What areas can you re-integrate your chil­dren into your life? Surely all of us have an area that we have neglected. None of us have arrived yet, have we? Per­haps some have done a much bet­ter job at see­ing this than we have. Let’s learn from them and stand on their shoul­ders. Let’s redeem the time together. And remem­ber the promise from Joel 2:25, “So I will restore to you the years that the swarm­ing locust has eaten, the crawl­ing locust, the con­sum­ing locust, and the chew­ing locust…” Walk together, inte­grated, in hope and joy, know­ing that it is never too late to reclaim your fam­ily for the Lord’s delight. Embrace these bless­ings that the Lord has given you. Let’s repent where we have failed due to lazi­ness, igno­rance, stiff-neckedness (is that a word?). And embrace our call­ings as moth­ers who carry much respon­si­bil­ity and priv­i­lege. Who’s with me?

Field trips

Field trips

We are a home­school­ing fam­ily. I have six chil­dren. Two have grad­u­ated. Those keep­ing up will know that I still have four that I’m teach­ing. A cou­ple of years ago I came up with a bril­liant plan. His­tor­i­cal field trips.

We have done a Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War field trip, trav­el­ing clock­wise from Col­orado, tak­ing us to Philadel­phia, Wash­ing­ton, DC, and Charleston, SC. We lis­tened to some Faith and Free­dom Tour CDs  from Vision Forum on the way across the coun­try to pre­pare us for what we would see. Occa­sion­ally, we would make an unplanned stop to see some­thing spec­tac­u­lar, like the home where Stonewall Jack­son died. It was a high­light of our trip. The actual bed he lan­guished in is still in that tiny white house. With tears in my eyes, I relayed to my chil­dren the story of his death, his faith, and his Hope. And they were there.

Stonewall Jackson home

Stonewall Jack­son Home


Then last year, we made a sim­i­lar trip, this time counter-clockwise from Col­orado to Florida, and up to Boston. On the way up to Boston, we planned to drive by to see the Statue of Lib­erty from across the har­bor. How­ever, when we got there we couldn’t resist the urge to go on the ferry to see it up close. We vis­ited Ellis Island while we were there. Faith decided that she would like to go back to NY for her birth­day. She waf­fles between NY and Paris. And throws in Pom­peii on occa­sion to keep us on our toes. We ended up in the Bronx dur­ing Rush Hour…in my 15 pas­sen­ger van. I called my hus­band and asked him to guess where we were. I was a tad bit overwhelmed.

So, we make great mem­o­ries, learn a ton of his­tory that sticks, and the chil­dren don’t even seem to real­ize that they are learn­ing. It’s just part of the big field trip.

This year, we are head­ing to the West Coast. I want to drive the kids to Cal­i­for­nia, by way of the Grand Canyon. Then we will head up the Pacific Hwy. I need some his­tory ideas! I want to take them to the Hearst Cas­tle, Solvang, San Fran­cisco. Pic­nic on the beach. What else should we do? I am in great need for ideas. We used to live at Edwards AFB, so I will take them out there for sure. I’m beg­ging you for ideas. Where do we go? Even in those spots I men­tioned, what are for sure not to miss sites? Act like I know noth­ing (and you’ll be pretty close to where I’m at) about the places and spill the beans. Where would *you* go?


Photo credit: Bill Selak / / CC BY-ND

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