New Year Joy
By Kari Lewis
As one year is winding down and a new year about to dawn, I love to sit in the quiet dark of a winter evening, cozy and warm under my favorite fuzzy blanket, with a cup of steaming cocoa warming my hands and Christmas decorations glowing around me, and spend a bit of time reflecting on the past and looking ahead to the future.
I have to be careful, though, because sometimes when I look back, my failures loom depressingly large and ugly. And as I try to peer into the misty future, it seems to hold fears and problems, as yet unseen, but somehow almost able to be felt.
This world is not a perfect place, and I’m certainly not a perfect person—not by a long shot! I have failures aplenty, both in my distant and not-so-distant past. And the future can look pretty scary: the political situation, the economy, health issues, relationships, and more. Much more!
But God is always good, faithful, and true. I have accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior, and He has redeemed my past; He is with me now; and He is already in the future! Therefore, there is no need for me to beat myself up over my past failures (though I should try to learn from them), and there is no need at all to fear the future!
So as I sit thinking this year, comfy and cozy, I want to focus on some praiseworthy thoughts about homeschooling. Tell you what: grab your favorite fuzzy blanket and a steaming mug of cocoa and reflect with me about some of the wonderful blessings we as homeschoolers can enjoy at the beginning of 2012 and beyond!
Because we homeschool, we have the blessing of being able to give our kids a truly Christ-centered education utilizing all of life! Through the curriculums we use, the discussions we have, and the things we do, God and His Word can permeate our days, giving our kids a strong foundation on which to build their entire lives.
We have the blessing of instant prayer. At the very first inkling of a problem, whether big or little, we can seek the Lord—with our children or on their behalf. We don’t have to wait till the evening or weekend hours to try to delve into everything that may have happened while we were apart and try to deal with it after the fact.
Children are constantly learning, and their thoughts and attitudes about life, relationships, politics, education, and even God are being shaped all the time by what goes on around them. But children frequently don’t recognize when they are being shaped, and therefore, they don’t even realize they should share with us about what has happened in their lives.
As homeschoolers, we’re with our kids all the time, and we can protect them from many bad influences. When we come across something sinful (and that will happen), we can pray together and address it right away, while it’s fresh—before it becomes ingrained, before it shapes our kids’ lives for now and eternity. That’s a huge blessing.
We also get the blessing of building strong family relationships and enjoying true quality time! The homeschooling lifestyle affords the most excellent opportunity I know of to build relationships and impact our kids for the Lord.
When we spend massive quantities of time together, lasting bonds of love, friendship, and understanding can develop. Those relationships are a tremendous source of joy and blessing, but they take time to cultivate and grow!
Over the years, I’ve heard so many parents talking about scheduling in “quality time.” But quality time isn’t an event that you can plan or schedule. We can’t just go about doing our own thing the majority of the time and then make true quality time happen Friday evening from 7–9 or Saturday from noon to 3.
True quality time happens unexpectedly in the midst of living out ordinary days together as we are open to the Holy Spirit and accessible to our families for large chunks of time.
Homeschooling also gives us an excellent opportunity to raise leaders! I don’t know if you’ve noticed it or not, but this world is in a mess! We’ve got corruption in high places, diseases running rampant, the economy is out of whack—you don’t have to look very far before you see some area of society where godly Christian men and women could make a difference for good.
But principled, good, godly leaders are not, by and large, coming out of the public school system. Statistics show that up to 85 percent of public schooled kids from Christian homes leave church by the time they finish high school, and that figure doesn’t even take into consideration the number of children who have never even had a Christian influence in their lives. So good leaders most likely aren’t coming from public schools.
Homeschoolers, on the other hand, because of strong family relationships, less peer pressure, godly curriculum, and other factors, are in a perfect place to raise future leaders. In fact, statistics are showing this to be true. Homeschoolers are strong, reliable, happy people making a positive difference in this world! (An encouraging statistic, by the way, is that 94 percent of homeschooled kids keep the faith of their parents!)
Those are just a few of the blessings that can be ours as Christian homeschoolers, but there are challenges to face as well. We always need to remember that the way we look at things is vital.
The eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews is often called the “hall of fame.” It’s a list of heroes of the faith. By faith Abel offered an acceptable sacrifice, by faith Enoch was translated so he would not see death, by faith Noah prepared an ark, by faith Abraham went out looking for his inheritance, by faith Sara conceived and had a son when she was past age.
Then, right in the middle of that list of heroes, is verse 15: “And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.”
The heroes of the faith, just by being mindful of the option of going back, could have “returned.” But returned to what? They could have returned to where they were before stepping out in faith. That’s a sobering thought.
In other words, if Noah had been mindful of the wrong things, he could have stopped building the ark and perished with the rest of the world. If Abraham had been mindful of the wrong things, he could have gone back and not received his inheritance.
Like the heroes of old, we’ve got to keep our focus right, because if we’re mindful of the wrong things, we’ll be more likely to get off track and “return.” We’ll be tempted to quit homeschooling or not homeschool as victoriously and joyfully as we otherwise could.
We’re Christian homeschoolers. We’ve stepped out in faith to raise and educate our kids for the Lord. We’ve gone against the tide of this world like the faith heroes of old did. As we stand at the beginning of a new year, may we embrace with joy the full importance of our blessed opportunity—the high and noble calling of motherhood and homeschooling!
Joy to you this New Year!
Kari Lewis is the mom here at Home School Enrichment. She and Frank have been married for 34 years and homeschooled their two sons, Matthew and Jonathan, from their early elementary years through their high school graduations. Together, the four of them started Home School Enrichment in late 2002. Recently, she’s been enjoying her new role of mother-in-law and first-time grandma! You can reach her at kari@HomeSchoolEnrichment.com