A Beautiful Redemption

Today as we were riding in the van, Felicity suddenly piped up with, “I don’t like this sinful world, Mommy. If Adam and Eve just hadn’t sinned, everything would be okay.”

I half smiled to myself, ready to agree and thinking that just about everyone must have  had that thought at one time or another, but Violet spoke up before I could.

“But if they had never sinned, we wouldn’t have the beautiful Easter story.”

Think about that for a moment. If they had never sinned, we wouldn’t have the beautiful Easter story. 

I, too, wish that Adam and Eve had chosen to trust God and follow Him in obedience, that their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren all the way down to the present would have chosen to trust and obey. I wish that there were no sorrows, no pain, no sin to tangle with in my own heart or to help my children root out of theirs. But they didn’t.

And yet God did not cast us aside. In the very same breath, He handed out the consequences of the first man and woman’s tragic choice and then promised a glorious redemption. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us…” Romans 5:8

Trust is the best choice. Holiness was the plan. We look around and see the unintentional echoes of this ancient truth reflected in the constant pressure to pursue perfection in every part of our lives. To make only the right and best choices in our marriage, in our jobs, in our parenting, in our homeschooling, in our relationships with others, in our pursuit of ministry, and so on. But the reality is that on our own, we can’t even reach the shirttail of holiness to hold on to. And even after being washed by the blood of the Lamb, mercifully and undeservedly dressed in His righteousness, we still wrestle against our flesh. Hopefully, we are growing in our understanding and our trust, but we will never be perfect this side of eternity.

We lose patience with our children, speak in anger to a co-worker, react in fear to a situation where we should have stood strong and steady. There are real consequences for these things. Words spoken can never be taken back, money foolishly spent can never be saved, actions can’t be undone and choices can’t be unmade.

We wish we were perfect in all our ways. But we’re not. Yet still God does not cast us aside or despise us for our failures. The truth is that there’s a beautiful reality of consequences + God’s merciful redemption. And when we have a grasp on that, we can walk in the wisdom and freedom of one who understands the gravity of her choices but does not bear the impossible weight of perfection.

When you’re ready to torment yourself with all the ways you’ve failed in the day to day difficulties that come with homeschooling, remember that God’s grace is more than sufficient to redeem any shortcomings this year. Look to Him. That beautiful Easter story of redemption is still being played out every day.

– Katie

Homeschooling Like A Principal

One of the first responses I often get when I mention that I homeschool is “Well, I couldn’t do that, because I could never teach my child _______ (fill in the blank).” I understand exactly why they say that, as my husband and I both agree that neither of us is strong in biology or chemistry and we both know that I’m not teaching math past algebra. However, this fact has never concerned us – and wouldn’t even concern us if we had a child wanting to go into the medical field. Here are three reasons why I’m not worried about teaching my kids all the subjects I’m not strong in.

Reason 1: I Don’t Have to Teach Alone

 Why? Well, because homeschooling doesn’t mean that I’m my children’s only teacher for all subjects – it just means that I get to pick all of their teachers for each of their subjects. Now, I’m not saying that as a homeschooler my goal is to leave all my children’s education up to the tutors I choose – legally, you do have to teach the majority of subjects to your child in most states. However, I do have the ability to purchase video curricula, online classes, or even real life classes for my kids to learn certain subjects. I live within 20 minutes of two different sets of high school science and lab classes that are part of inexpensive homeschool co-ops. I can name three different total video or computer software-based curricula off the top of my head as well as an online school – and I know Google would probably show dozens more. I’ve also heard firsthand of a handful of tutors that are proficient at math or science within an easy drive.

My kids currently learn math from a video curriculum (that I watch with them) and have learned reading and writing from a well laid out step by step program that I literally just open and follow the directions to each day. I can easily get a curriculum that lays out every step of the way for every one of their subjects if I want to, and as it gets harder for me I have other options like videos, online school, co-ops, or tutors.

Reason 2: I Can Still Focus on Their Interests

 Part of my reason for homeschooling is actually so that my kids can focus on their interests in school as well as find out what they are good at for their future jobs. So I have a girl that adores art and crafts, one son that is all about math and engineering, and another son that loves sports and puzzles. I’ll tell you right now that I am not the least bit good at ANY of those things. Since my kids are in elementary school and we live in a great homeschooling area this still is not hard to do at all – in fact, we have free and cheap resources that aren’t even affiliated with homeschooling that focus on my children’s interests. Lowes and Home Depot often have free classes to build stuff, there’s a kids art studio and community center with art classes, there’s a good amount of sports teams that aren’t associated with the school system, and so many other things that my kids can do. And I don’t even live near a big city!

This semester, my daughter is taking art, music, and nature study classes. My oldest son is going to take extra math, PE, hands on science, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), and games and strategy classes. My youngest one gets to do art, music and PE classes. I’m not teaching any of these fun extra classes focused on their interests, but they still get to take them with friends and with awesome teachers who love those subjects!

Reason 3: Someday My Child Will Teach Himself

 I was homeschooled and also saw many of my cousins being homeschooled firsthand and I know for a fact that my machinist husband, university math teacher cousin, computer programmer cousin, and engineer cousin didn’t learn all their math from their parents. Granted, three of them went to college and took a lot of higher math there but all four of them worked through math books on their own through the bulk of high school. I saw three of them pouring over Saxon Math on their own and I’m told my husband actually was given the answers and then taught his mom how to do the algebra lesson.

Like a homeschooling friend mentioned to me once, “The end goal of homeschooling is to teach our kids how to teach themselves anything they want to know.” Even in early elementary school I can work towards this goal by letting my kids do more and more independent work while they still know I am there to help if needed. I can also focus on the way my kids learn by turning on a video or audio book for my son, helping my daughter find some way to create things with her hands, and letting my youngest son build his puzzle of numbers.

With the other tutors and curricula that are around me, the extracurricular choices I have, and the independent spirit I can nourish in my children I have no worries that I can’t teach science, math, art, or anything else because the resources are there if you just use them.

– Charity

Encouraging Compassion in My Children

     Recently, one of my daughters, Felicity, got a splinter in her foot. It didn’t hurt too much, but the skin around it was red and irritated. She asked me to get it out for her, and I asked one of her sisters to bring me my tweezers.

     Felicity heard the word “tweezers” and began crying. I hadn’t even touched her foot yet, but fat tears rolled down her cheeks from the very thought of the pain she would soon endure.

     As soon as she started to cry, my third daughter Merideth began crying too. I asked her what was wrong and she responded, “I just hate to see my sister hurt, Mommy!” Violet returned to the bedroom, tweezers in hand, and Merideth ran from the room, wailing.

     Felicity was already crying on the floor in front of me and jerking her foot away, so I decided to deal first with the splinter and check on Merideth later. The room wasn’t very bright, and I asked Violet to hold a flashlight for me so I could more easily grab the little sliver of wood that was causing so much trouble. But when I looked up at her face to see her response, her eyes were already tearing up and she backed away, shaking her head. “I just can’t be here when Felicity is hurting, Mommy! I’m sorry, but I just can’t stay in here!” And she ran down the hall after her sobbing sister.

     I looked down at the sniffling daughter whose foot was in my hand, then over at my son Benjamin, just three years old, kneeling beside his sister and looking on with interest. “Could you hold this light for me, buddy?” He nodded solemnly and held it up high for me. Of course, the scream-inducing extraction took only seconds, and I held up the hated splinter triumphantly for Felicity to see. She gulped a few times, took a couple of shuddering breaths, and told me, “It really didn’t hurt at all! Not even as much as a shot!”

     One problem down, two to go. I praised Benjamin for being a brave helper and went to the other end of the house to tend to the crying sisters. Violet had managed to compose herself and determined that as long as Felicity was okay again, she was fine too. She skipped happily away, but Merideth remained burrowed beneath the blankets on my bed, crying her eyes out. I tugged the quilt back gently and pulled her onto my lap.

     “She’s okay now, Mere-bear. I got it out and she said it didn’t even hurt like she thought it would! You can calm down, honey. She’s okay.” It took longer than I care to admit (and a phone call to her daddy), but my hysterical daughter finally calmed down and was able to stop crying. My heart broke for her, and for the extent to which she’d fallen apart at seeing only the smallest amount of discomfort. I don’t know if the girls are more sensitive toward each other’s feelings because they’re triplets and have spent nearly every moment of their lives together, or if this is a completely normal response for a six-year-old, but either way I didn’t want Merideth to be paralyzed by fear.

     I took her tear-streaked cheeks in my hands and smiled into her troubled blue eyes. “Merideth, I am so proud of you, honey. That sadness you’re feeling because your sister was hurt? That pain over seeing her so upset? That’s called compassion, Merideth, and it’s a wonderful thing.”

     Her eyes opened wide. “Jesus had compassion,” she whispered.

     “That’s right, honey; Jesus had compassion.”

     “Addy had compassion too. She cried when she had to leave baby Esther behind. She left her doll for her.”

    “That’s right, Mere. Addy had compassion too. But you know what? Having compassion for others is wonderful and right and exactly what God wants, but when you feel this way, you have two choices: you can choose to be scared by all those big feelings and run away from the pain, or you can choose to be brave and try to help the people who are in pain. Do you understand that?”

     She nodded quietly, her face thoughtful.

     “Merideth, think about Jesus. You were right when you said He had compassion. Do you remember some of those stories? When Jesus had compassion on the people, did He run away from them?”


     “No, the Bible says that He had compassion on them, and He healed their sick. He had compassion on them, and He fed them. He had compassion on them, and He sent out His disciples to minister to them. Compassion is a great place to start, but that’s not where it ends. Always let your compassion remind you to be courageous and to help. It’s hard and it hurts to be with people when they’re hurting, but it’s wonderful too.”

     Her face had cleared while I was talking, and she smiled at me as she nodded slowly. “I know I can be brave like Jesus and Addy, Mommy.”

     “Yes, you can! You can be brave; God gives us the courage we need when we ask Him for it, honey. Remember that I am SO PROUD OF YOU. I love your heart, Merideth, and I’m so glad to see it caring for others.”

     She gave me a shy smile and a bear hug, then went to check on Felicity.

     I groaned when I stood up from my knees (did I mention it was past bedtime?) but I was glad to have seen my little girl learn something so important amid all the noise of the evening. I don’t know what God has planned for her life, but I know that it is good, and I’m grateful for the task of helping to shape her heart while she’s young.

I want my children to be compassionate and to think of others more than themselves. A splinter is such a very small thing, but I’m glad the Lord could use it anyway.

– Katie