"Does It WORK?!?"
by Barbara Edtl Shelton
with gems from
Rosann Evans and Marsha Wolfe
I receive many questions about various aspects of my message. One of the "biggies" is "But does it work?!?" The following letter took the prize (had I given one) for covering many concerns in one email and expressing oneself quite eloquently! Do you identify with this precious homeschool mom?
The first thing I want to say is that there's really not anything that "works" or "doesn't work." It's a matter of you becoming aware of what God wants you to, (i.e. what *true education* is, biblical principles for raising children, etc.), and then you applying what you learn to your own family. Mostly God will start changing your vision and understanding, and that will have no choice but to start changing the things in your life, how you deal with your children, how you deal with how they deal with each other, how you do "school," and most specifically for this article: how you define "success." Here's what one homeschooling mom, Rosann Evans, had to say about that very thing:
"We need to redefine "success". I spoke at last year's Florida (FPEA) homeschool convention on that topic and got an amazing response from people who didn't think to look outside the "norms" for their definition of success. We need to see success from the eyes of eternity; from the eyes of service in this world ~ whether our children serve as tradesmen, skilled surgeons, ministers in the traditional sense, pilots, missionaries, nurturers, scientists, authors, etc., etc. ~ the focus is to minister in the area the Lord directs. Therein lies true happiness and success. People are hungry for validation. They want to know they're on the right track. Let's help them redefine "success" so they can pursue with joy and excitement the track the Lord prepares for them. ... I have a passion to encourage people to redefine success because I feel that, even "homeschoolers" put one another in a box. So many of us still judge success by the world's standards instead of the Lord's. ... Also, I've learned that success to one child may not look like success for another child ~ or even success for one of my other children. The Lord has been faithful in keeping us from falling into the trap of comparing our lives and our children to others and I just love to free others from that."
What you see as "success" depends completely on what goals you direct yourself (and children) toward. I love what Albert Einstein said: "Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." If we see "success" as merely getting good grades or being accepted at a prestigious college, I personally think that we need some "vision adjusting." We are preparing our children for LIFE! Not just grades, scholarships, or college!
To help you adjust the focus of your goals, I'm going to share a letter from a homeschool mom who had the above questions, and who shared her process of getting answers to them from the Lord. I could share until I was blue in the face, but nothing I could say would be richer than what Susan Hitchcock shares right here ~ in blue! I have left all her punctuation and all-caps just as she wrote them (a woman after my own heart!) because it will help you "hear her heart" just as she expressed it! (And I that saying "she's bursting at the seams" is putting it mildly!) I put the scriptures in burgundy just for clarity.
Susan:) I have been feeling very stressed and anxious about schooling
the boys. It seems difficult to figure out how to juggle the home
educating needs of six young boys, make the meals, do the laundry, clean
the house, LOVE MY HUSBAND, nurture my children, be a thoughtful friend
and sister and daughter, etc. I struggle so much with thoughts that I'm
unable to give them everything they need. We've had some very tense
moments lately. I felt so hopeless on Tuesday. I just WEPT before
the Lord!!!!! I locked myself in the bathroom and CRIED AND CRIED
AND CRIED!!!!!! Well, the Lord heard my cries for help!!!!!!
"The Lord also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold
in times of trouble" "For Thou, O Lord, hast not forsaken
those who seek Thee." "...He does not FORGET the cry of
the afflicted." "Answer me, O Lord, for Thy lovingkindness is
good; according to the greatness of Thy compassion, turn to me."
Praise the Lord!!!!!
a great well-being include knowing Math????? If it does, then GOD
WILL DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh, Hallelujah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I
feel like bursting out crying as I'm typing this because God is SOOOOOO,
SOOOOOO, SOOOOO FAITHFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
my children KNOW EVERYTHING THERE IS TO KNOW, if they can play classical
music on the piano, if they can win art awards and identify beautiful
paintings. ... IT MATTERS NOT IF THEY HAVE FORGOTTEN THE
MOST IMPORTANT COMMANDMENT!!!!!!!!!! I have tried to build a house
with a weak foundation. They have some 'outward' signs of education but
that which will support the 'LOVE OF LEARNING PROCESS' is very
(Back to Barb now:) "All the above" will make no sense to you until and unless you allow the Lord to speak to your heart! You can't get this revelation from anyone else second-hand! You have to "Seek the Lord with all your heart!" Susan's story can only urge you to seek the One who is willing and able to do the very same work in you, but you must seek... and knock... and ask yourself! :-)
Where and how to begin? Well, this is precisely what my "season of re-education and renewing of the mind" is all about. Did you think it was more "studious"? More "academic"? Dry? ... Nope! Susan has captured in words the "heart and soul" of what this season is about! In fact, the reason I chose the waterfall background (isn't it lovely?!) is because of how refreshing her heart and words are! It is evident that Susan is drinking from the Fountain of Living Water! The River of Life!
I suggest you continue reading everything available
here at my website, even things that you don't necessarily think apply
to you ~ it may very well be that it really does, but in a way you didn't expect.
If, half-way into an article, you find it really doesn't apply, then
feel free to move on; but at least give it a chance because it may be the very thing you need.
If you need to get your kids going on something else, that's what my "jumpstart plans" are for. There's one in the very beginning of Form+U+la if you have high schoolers, and then for children age 12 and under I have a whole book called the "Homeschool Jumpstart Navigator for Younger Children." (See the "Resources for Parents with Children Age 12 and Under" section of my online catalog.)
The overriding "theme" of our family is redeemed. That means "to take something of little or no value and exchange it for something of great value." God has done this in just about every area of my life! Including my marriage! And my ideas about education! So do not be ashamed or embarrassed if you, too, are in need of God's "redeeming" in your life! It's the joy and privilege of being a Christian!!! In fact, it's the only place to be where the Lord can start to have His way in you! So let God have His way! Surrender! You have nothing to lose and everything ~ oh so much ~ to gain!!!
So back to the original question: "Does It Work?" Susan already answered it thoroughly and eloquently, not to mention enthusiastically. And now to sum it up, here's what another homeschooling Mom, Marsha Wolfe, shared with me: "I think I must be weird. I do not fret over the future of my children as to whether they will go to college or not. I don't have energy now to spend on it. If college is in their future, then God will make sure we have covered what we need. With strong godly character they can do anything they set their hearts and minds to do. Success is defined individually."
If that's "weird," Marsha, then Susan and Rosann and I are right there with you!*
Susan Hitchcock is the wife of Dennis,
and the homeschooling mom of, as she says, "six SUPER boys"!
They live in Wisconsin in a log home. Our sweet cyber-friendship started
out with her asking me some questions about my "season of re-education
and renewing of the mind" and blossomed from there! I'm so grateful
God brought her into my ~ and now your ~ life!
Rosann Evans is the mom of 9 children,
and they have been homeschooling for 11 years! They
live in Leesburg, Florida. Here's another
little "gem" from her:
"I have a passion to encourage people to redefine success
because I feel that, even "homeschoolers" put one another in a box.
So many of us still judge success by the world's standards instead of
the Lord's. Makes me sort of crazy. <G> (Of course, I
don't have far to go.)"
One more quick 'n' fun thing!
When I asked Marsha for permission to use her
above comments in this article, she, of course had to read it first.
And this is what she had to say about what Susan wrote:
"Susan's comments were so uplifting. It puts me in mind of
the picture of an eagle when it's settled in a thermal;
flying yet resting at the same moment."
Isn't that a lovely and very accurate
way to put it?!?!
(*Speaking of "weird,"
you might want to read this article!)
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