This blog has several purposes
. One is to discuss and share resources and ideas relating to home education, particularly Christian home education. A second is to be a more personal reflection of the challenges and the joys that are encountered - with the aim of encouraging others in what can be an amazing adventure, but also at times a lonely and less travelled road. Thirdly, when life is busy (as it tends to become for all of us) I find it helpful to stop and reflect - to reassess priorities, to celebrate progress, to set goals and to learn and gain encouragement from others. This is one reason why I tend to blog on a Sunday evening - it is a helpful discipline for me to pause and consider.
This week has brought encouragement from several sources. In no particular order....
1) Today we invited some students who had recently started attending our church for Sunday lunch. Two of them had been home educated. It was encouraging for us to see young adults who have been home educated, and I think encouraging for them to enter a home which reminded them of their own childhood. Sunday lunch at our house is not often peaceful. My husband is an excellent cook, and there is always an interesting variety of food, but there is noise, mess and then a walk in a nearby park. I used to feel a bit ashamed of not having a model house. However, over the years I have come to realise that what people in our society lack most of all is a welcoming family home. For these students, I think they felt very at home, and I hope left refreshed and encouraged!
2) Earlier in the week I was introduced to a family who work as Bible translators in an area which is not all that safe for Christians. They are enjoying a short furlough in here, and it is also the first visit to the UK of their toddler son, with whom they are in the process of adoption. Again, it was so refreshing to meet with others who live with their greatest priority being the Kingdom of God. I have noticed that sometimes, once children are on the scene, even well meaning Christians can subtly (or not so subtly) undermine attempts to live sacrificially. Risk taking is seen as negligent, rather than a bold step of faith. I've written more about this recently
. The Bible speaks of the importance of choosing our companions wisely. We are taught to be 'in the world but not of the world'. 'Do not be decieved: Bad company corrupts good character' (1 Cor 15:33)
- sometimes it is not the really obviously bad company that I find such a challenge (it can be relatively easy to avoid this), but rather the lukewarm, compromising, worldly Christian company. Proverbs 27:17 reads 'as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens the countenance of his friend'
- as Christians we can challenge, exhort and encourage one another to walk along the narrow path. That does not always need to involve 'deep and meaningful' conversations; for me, sometimes it is simply spending company with those whose priorities are clearly not of this world.
3) On Wednesday we took our two five year olds to a concert (Peer Gynt by Grieg, then Sibelius then Tchaikovsky). My more restless son was utterly transfixed - I don't think I have ever seen him so still or quiet. This reminded me that children all have their own interests and strengths, and that we shouldn't stereotype them into boxes. (It was also an advantage of home education that we had no issues with them being out until 22:30 on a 'school' night).
4) Yesterday we enjoyed a long hike (well, long if you are three years old - 7 Km and 450 metres of altitude) with a family who also have three boys. For me, one of the greatest pleasures is being outside in the fresh air. We can enjoy the beauty of God's creation and all the small hassles of day to day life can just be forgotten about for a time. We have been very blessed to meet other families with similar attitudes and interests
, because for quite a long time we felt very strange for spending so much time out of doors!
It is also encouraging when you see other parents who have similar standards of discipline
, and who will appropriately reprimand their children should the need arise. I would make similar comments to those under item number 2 above - that often we can encourage one another simply through sharing our lives together. This is an important point - one of the challenges my Christians friends have made regarding home education is that I would not have enough time for 'ministry'
- and often that refers to spending one on one time with younger Christians or those in need, perhaps reading the Bible together or working through a Christian book. I would agree that I don't have the ability to do those things during this season of life. but I do think a whole set of new opportunities open up. I was really persuaded of this during several months in a West African village
5) And relating to that point, we for a walk by the river with a couple of home educating families that we know from the local group. A friend of mine who is a student was having a tough day, and so we invited her along. It was probably the best thing for her - to be outside with eight young children enjoying the early spring sunshine, fresh air, building sandcastles, getting muddy and just enjoying some freedom. In fact, she told me afterwards that this was more encouraging and helpful than it would have been to sit down and talk about the things that were on her mind.
So in summary, this week has reminded me of several things:
1) The importance of living first and foremost for the Kingdom of God
, and of modelling that to our children
2) The joy of Christian fellowship, and how we can encourage one another through sharing our lives as much as through our words
3) That our children are intrinsic to our Christian lives and service, and have a vital role in ministering to others. We do them a great disservice if we ever consider them an inconvenience or to be 'getting in the way'
4) That our children continue to surprise us with their learning styles and aptitudes - that it is not right to try and define them too precisely (yes, I know understanding a little about learning styles can be helpful, but I am meaning that we should not put them into boxes).
How have you been encouraged this week?