Confessions of a Homeschool
(Our need of Faith, Fortitude and Focus!)
by Tamara Eaton
Planning to accomplish a lot today? Don't forget to watch out for the
trials and tests that are bound to come your way! Last Monday marked the
formal beginning of our new homeschool year. I woke up unusually early and
thought I'd get a head start on the busy day --by the time the children woke
up, I was ready to go back to bed for a nap. Instead, I drank another cup of
strong coffee and prayed for strength.
By noon I was crashing fast and burning our science experiment. (I'd
forgotten to switch the oven from preheat to bake!) Smoke was pouring out of
the oven, the dog was dancing around us in circles, barking loudly, and my
youngest daughter was saying, "Oh neat! Are we making rocks?!"
She later told Dad what she'd learned from science --rocks were made from
volcanos. (I guess the oven did resemble one with the smoke pouring forth!) I
couldn't help but think of all the new homeschooling parents just beginning
and hope their day was smoother than mine!
The rest of the week flew by with marathon math sessions with several
children, lots of reading, helping with writing, trips to the library,
juggling housework with encouraging and meeting needs, praying for the dog who
stole and swallowed a chess piece from the children's game still in progress,
and so forth. Clean laundry sat around in baskets (279 socks yet to be
sorted), the answering machine took all the phone calls, emails piled up with
messages unread while I concentrated on the more important task at hand
--teaching my children!
We first made the commitment to homeschool our children in the late 70's.
Our preparation began then and our love and zeal for homeschooling has
increased each year. By this point, we've been involved long enough to see
even more benefits and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that homeschooling has
been the very best decision for our family!
Even after all of these years, we still have to overcome obstacles and
distractions as we begin each new school year. Adjustments are always needed
as we work out our new routine so last week's "adventures" didn't
discourage me --instead, I reminded myself of three necessary ingredients
to begin the new season: Faith, Fortitude and Focus!
First and foremost, we need faith in the Lord. Faith that He will
provide us with wisdom and strength for the homeschooling journey. Faith that
He will bless our teaching and help our children to learn what they need to
learn to accomplish His will. We don't bear the burden alone to nurture and
teach our children, He promises to help us if we will trust Him.
Secondly, we need fortitude --a firm courage, even an obstinate sort of
courage that refuses to succumb under any circumstances to defeat. If we
know God has called us to homeschool our children, then we can experience this
steadfast fortitude regardless of the trials and distractions that come our
Thirdly, we need to examine our focus each day and make sure it's
centered on the Lord and His ways. Keeping my focus on the Lord in the
midst of busy days, busy weeks, makes all the difference in the world, but I
sometimes experience temptations to be distracted. Susan Alexander Yates,
author and mother of five, shared some helpful thoughts on staying focused :
"Often in our lives as busy mothers, we may find ourselves so
focused on our roles that we forget to rejoice in the Lord. As we walk through
our daily activities, we will discover that our eyes are usually on one of
three places: on ourselves, on our circumstances, or on other people."
- Too Focused on Ourselves?
If we have our attention focused too much on ourselves then we're
disheartened because our inadequacies may overwhelm us. Perhaps we're
tempted to view ourselves as unorganized or poor teachers. If we dwell on our
weaknesses, we may entertain self-pity or feel like total failures with no
hope for improvement!
Too much introspection is unhealthy. Our good qualities suddenly
disappear (in our eyes) and we only see flaws. On the other hand, some have
the reverse problem and think they're "supermom" without flaws and
if there are any problems, then it must be someone else's fault. Neither
extreme is in line with God's view.
- Too Focused on Our Circumstances?
Dwelling on our circumstances may also cause us to feel overwhelmed or
worse --cause us to complain and not be content with whatever the Lord has
currently provided for us! Especially if we compare our situation with
Perhaps another homeschooling family appears to "have it all
together", or be prospering in all the areas that you're lacking. Maybe
their children ADORE homeschooling and are five grade levels ahead while your
child struggles in academics. Instead of making comparisons, focus on your
blessings and trust God to provide anything you lack and BE THANKFUL in the
If we allow ourselves to focus too much on other people, we can become
frustrated, envying their talents and wishing we were more like them...instead
of looking to JESUS and allowing Him to complete that work within us so
that we will be like HIM. We should ask Him to reveal our areas of
giftedness and to enable us to use those gifts to bring Him glory.
Mrs. Yates encourages us to "Look first to Him [Jesus!], then we
will be able to view ourselves, our circumstances, and other people with eyes
of appreciation. Whenever we feel discouraged, it is helpful to run an
"eye check" and ask on whom are we focusing. Usually, we will find
that we are concentrating on one of these three areas, and we must cast our
eyes back on the Lord in order to rejoice."
The Lord has unique homeschool plans for each of us. Let's take time to
seek Him each day and recognize what He is doing in our lives. Whether
we're experiencing trials or triumphs (or something in-between!) remember our
"Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that
you do be done with love." --1 Corinthians 16:13-14
"...we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation
produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now
hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our
hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." --Romans 5:3-5
"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding
us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily
entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith." --Hebrews
[Note--If you don't know the Lord in a personal, saving way--find out how
you can be set free from all condemnation and receive Eternal life, as well as
His daily help and guidance! (Knowing God)
© Copyright Tamara Eaton 1994-2000, all rights reserved.
Permission is given to reprint any of Tamara's articles in non-profit
publications as long as the article is reprinted in full and contains the
copyright information and website address. Please send a copy of the
publication to :Deeper Life Family Ministries, P.O. Box 909, Killen, AL 35645.
We have always homeschooled our six children (elementary through high
school and beyond!) and enjoy encouraging other families in their
homeschooling, parenting and in the Lord! For more help and information,
please join us on the Christian Homeschool
Fellowship Message Board.
[ Please don't forget to include your email address within the body of your
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"And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord;
and great shall be the peace of thy children."