7 minutes with your teenager

Parenting

There is a seven minute time span that I love with my teenager…it’s the car ride to and from school. These are the best power-packed seven minutes of our day! I used to feel as if I were just “taxi mom”, and I used to complain sometimes about driving my teenaged kids around. Let me be brutally honest: There have been times that it’s just been plain exhausting driving to and from activities and I’ve even resented it or dreaded it.

I’m beginning to see it differently. The seven minutes we spend driving together to and from school are times that I now treasure.

Remember when they were little? All kinds of cuddly moments and nap time, tons of car rides, playgroups and crafts abounded. There was no need to look for power-packed moments. In fact, both mom and kiddos got excited about preschool days. Mom ran errands and talked to grownups, and the little ones had fun with their peers.

Since we’ve shifted this school year from home school to public school, I am on the hunt for opportunities to spend with my daughter. Car rides are my favorite!

Strangely, our morning rides are probably good because I’m so groggy that I don’t pepper her with questions. We ride in comfortable silence for a bit, listen to music, and conversation ebbs and flows. She’ll usually tell me about something that’s upcoming that school day. We pray together as she heads to class.

Afternoons are completely different! We’re both awake, and Danielle usually has anecdotes or triumphs or frustrations to tell me. Now I love these driving times. If I can force myself to be quiet and not try to pry information, it can be my favorite seven minutes of the day with my teenager!

His strength is perfect

Christianity

Our homeschool desk, aka our kitchen table. Note the hair products among the academics. That’s how we roll!

One of the things that I love about God is how He does incredible things through ordinary people. I am one of those ordinary people. This has been my very favorite year of homeschooling. We have homeschooled on and off for about 5 or 6 years. Our youngest is an 8th grader, and to be brutally honest, I had become more unattached as I allowed her to be more independent with her schoolwork. (Can any of you homeschool moms relate?) Last year we started a more vigorous curriculum with more accountability, and we continued on with it this year. The reason this year was so amazing is that God made it our most spectacular!

Last summer, I got a phone call. Crazy adventures with God often start with a casual conversation. The call was from our daughter’s teacher from her one-day-a-week class with a homeschool group called Classical Conversations. Every Monday, we’d go to a classroom and this dynamic lady, Wendy Lawhon, would present all of the coming week’s material in each subject to our students. However, she was pregnant and asked if I would consider taking over in the late fall when she left to have her baby. I ended up saying yes, and it turned out to be a great yes.

It was pretty intimidating for a woman like me to think about tackling Latin, Logic, Math, & Debate. Those were the big bad subjects that I was pretty sure would do me in. I knew that I was completely inadequate for the task. You are talking about a woman who barely made it through high school because of drug and alcohol addiction. I was able to graduate because I ended up living in a residential rehab program the second semester of my senior year, and I was required to complete my work in a homeschool setting. Ironic, huh? I am pretty smart, but beyond going to real estate school in my early twenties, that’s the extent of my formal education.

Fortunately for this group of ten 8th graders that I’d be teaching, God is a God who uses foolish things and people of this world to show His power. I was certain that God wanted me to do it, so with the encouragement of my family, I resolved to study hard and give it everything I had. And what I didn’t have, I was continually asking God to do for me and through me. He has done it! I am certainly far from perfect and I won’t get an award for presenting academics, but it has been an amazing year. It makes me think of something God said to the apostle Paul said about his insufficiency:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Do you ever wonder, why don’t we get to see God at work doing miraculous things as He did through the apostles? What about the parting of the Red Sea? Then maybe it would help to broaden your understanding of what a miracle is, and what the working of God’s power looks like. We often overlook extraordinary displays of God’s power in our daily modern lives, but I can confidently tell you that I’ve seen it in my life every week this school year. That’s why I’m so giddy and excited to tell you something that should be embarrassing. However, it’s so wonderful that I’m telling you about it on the world-wide web! I see what Paul meant when he said:

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships,  in persecutions,  in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Here I am, boasting to you about my foolishness, inadequacies, and weaknesses. Joyfully! Because when you understand how unqualified I am, you see the mighty working of God’s hand to impact lives. It’s important to emphasize that I clearly haven’t been persecuted and gone through the type of hardships Paul is speaking about  here as he suffered for the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a hostile environment. However, I can agree with what Paul says, that for Christ’s sake, I am delighting in my weaknesses and difficulties because it’s a joy to look back on this year and say that He has done it!!

In the fall, I began asking God to show me each student through His eyes. That way, I could see their gifts, strengths, and needs so that I could encourage and teach them. What He gave me was a joy for teaching and a love for each of these ten kiddos. He’s made me practically giddy every week to present new topics in these subjects that I feared before. How annoying for my students; as we begin almost every subject I tell excitedly tell them how fun this week’s material is! I can barely contain myself and I know that it’s the power and joy of God oozing out. When we are weakest, His power is displayed in a beautiful way.

If you are a parent of one of these students, rest in this truth from 1 Peter 4:8:   Love covers over a multitude of sins. I haven’t been a perfect teacher this year. One thing I have done is to love these students deeply. I’m better for it, and I pray that they are too!

The culmination of our school year was a mock trial to wrap up our debate/rhetoric class. We went to a downtown Harris County courthouse and had a real judge!

Here are some of the students. They had two teams, consisting of a prosecution side, defense attorneys, witnesses, and the bailiff. He’s the one in front. 🙂

Dynamic duo, Danielle and John Phillip look over their prosecution strategy.

The defense team works hard to protect their client. She was a battered woman accused of murder. (in the middle)

Our bailiff swears in witness for testimony.


Why we homeschool

Uncategorized

Because it’s what all the cool people do.  Not really.  I feel like education is a personal choice for each family.  We have done it all with academics: public school, home school, private and international school.  Did I leave any out?  With our oldest starting his sophomore year in college, and youngest going into 8th grade, we’re learning a lot but there’s still several years to go.

Back to answer, “Why we home school”, there are several reasons.  The most important one is because we feel it’s what God wants us to do this year.  I’m not a hard-core “If you’re a real woman, you home school the whole way through” kind of chic.  I prefer to think about the following things as we look at our education choices:  What does this child need right now: in their academics, character, confidence, people skills, and spiritual life?  The other big question is this:  What’s going on in my life as a mom?  Can I commit to homeschooling, or do we need to look at other options right now because of our family situation, finances, or other personal matters?  And of course, we pray.  A lot.  And wait to hear what direction we feel God is taking us.

When people discover that we home school, they’ll often ask me, “Did you home school Christian, your oldest, all the way through?”   It makes me smile when they ask that, because I feel like they’re asking me, “Do you have x-ray vision?” or “Did you make that entire quilt by hand?”  (By the way, the answer is definitely no)  Because I know that many, many days, I feel completely inadequate as a home educator.  I know that in my own self, I could not do it.  But this is where God has us right now.  It’s really fun and really challenging.

A couple of years ago, I really struggled with the question of whether or not we should home school that year.  As I prayed about it often, God spoke to me clearly through a song.  The lyrics repeat over and over again “I don’t wanna gain the whole world and lose my soul”, reminding me of the verse in Mark 8:36- What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?  I remembered that years ago I had planned what I would do when my kids reached school age.  I would take tennis lessons, have a lot of cute tennis outfits, and lunch with my girlfriends.  Wow, has it turned out different from what I planned!  I felt like God was asking me if I wanted to “gain the whole world” with those things that I had planned, or give up that for a while and pour life into my child’s soul.  I still think about how fun the tennis thing would be one day…Maybe later!