Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thoughtful Thursday

On a particularly dark day, when Satan was having a heyday making me feel hopelessly judged and desperately alone...(unworthy, unloved and purposeless), I Googled "christians that choose not to homeschool" and read Sarah's LONG post.  I found a perfectly struck chord in my heart, played LOUDly...and tears continue to pour down my cheeks.  As I told her via e-mail, I won't try to re-invent the wheel...I'll just link obnoxiously to her post...and share some quotes from her and Grace Based Parenting by Dr. Kimmel....that she shared in her post.  Toldja I'd link obnoxiously!

I know it's surprising to many who know me as strong and opinionated...extroverted to the max...but sometimes I hurt and I need encouragement and a loving reminder why Darren and I follow God's personal call to us to public school our children...and why following God is ALWAYS the best choice!

These following words could have come from my own lips...REALLY!  But they came from Sarah...HERE...

I’ve wanted to write this post forever, but it’s hard to figure out how to word it.  Homeschooling vs. Public School is such a touchy topic in our culture these days.  I read SO MANY blog posts – especially in adoption circles – of people that tell why they are homeschooling and share their passion for it.  I think it’s great that these moms have a calling from the Lord and the courage to obey. 

The only thing that bothers me in some of these posts are the varying themes of how horrible public schools are, homeschooling is the only option if you are REALLY a Christian mom or want REAL Christian kids, if you REALLY love your kids and want to spend time with them you’ll homeschool, if you’re not a lazy mom you’ll homeschool, etc, etc, etc.  Those aren’t verbatum quoted messages, but they are kind of an underlying tone of many of the pro homeschool posts.  I think most homeschool moms don’t intend for that to happen, but I’ve talked with LOTS of public school moms who get that message.  I don’t understand why it seems to be okay to put down public schools when pointing out the positives of homeschooling.  When reading someone’s “Why I Homeschool” post, I occasionally think I’m supposed to feel that I’m an ”inferior” mom after I get finished.  I know that’s not what ANY of those moms intend (I hope).  I do believe that 95% of them are just so passionate about what they are doing that they would like everyone to grasp hold of it.  Or they want to encourage those wannabe homeschool moms that think they can’t do it to show that they really can.  And I totally get that.

But somewhere in there, I’d like to speak up for public schooling.  I have some good, solid reasons about why we are NOT homeschooling – some will agree with them and others will not – but I feel like moms who are choosing to do public school should have the encouragement that it can be a great choice for your kids.  You don’t HAVE to homeschool to be a great mom or to have kids with a strong faith.  In fact, there are lots of benefits in sending your kids to public schools.  So, I’d like to try to share those reasons for those that may feel a little guilty for not homeschooling.  But my intention is NOT to bash homeschooling either. 

All this is my little intro to say that I’m just giving another perspective.  I have MANY close friends who are also wonderful mothers who homeschool.  I have seen successful homeschool situations produce some effective and insanely wonderful Christian leaders in our society.  So please don’t think I’m against homeschooling.  I’m not.  But I do want to share the pros of public schools.

Then the examples she gives are so eerily like mine that I won't even elaborate.  Much.

She addressed the "wasted time" premise that schooling can be done in less time at home...

But those extra 3 hours aren’t just sitting around doing nothing.  Yes it would take me longer to do my lessons as a teacher of 30 kids than it would if I was teaching 1 child (or 5!).  But, a lot of the “extra” time involves some serious life lessons.  It’s time spent with other kids who MIGHT NOT be just like my kid.  They may have vastly different backgrounds, vocabularies, and (gasp!) they might not even go to church.  That’s okay!!  Kids have to learn how to work with people who are NOT like them and who DON’T share the same beliefs as they do.  I know when I went off to do my first jobs, it was not with people who were all white Republican Christians with godly language and godly lifestyles.  Some of them I downright didn’t like, but I knew how to work with them because I’d had 13 years of public school to figure out how to deal with those that are different from me BEFORE I entered the real world. 

She addressed the "greenhouse your children" thang...
Some on the homeschooling side argue that Kindergartners to 4th or 5th grade is too young to be salt and light.  But, [my kid] is not having to be salt and light to drug dealers and gang bangers who party and drink it up in their parents’ basement in 1st and 2nd grade.  Her big differences now may be some different words or seeing that someone’s home life is different from hers or a child who hasn’t learned the same manners or values about how to treat one another.  I’m okay with her being exposed to that in an age appropriate dosage.  I pray regularly for her mind and heart to be protected from the things she isn’t ready to hear.  Do we believe in the power of prayer??

On fear...and oh am I ever feeling the fear mongering ya'll...

“Speaking of fears, if your child attends the public school system, a grace-based family makes it easier for him or her to succeed because you aren’t intimidated by the inherent shortcomings inside the public school system.  And if you aren’t afraid of what’s out there, it’s a lot easier for your children to thrive spiritually inside the antagonistic environment they might encounter at school.” 

Dr. Kimmel believes today’s postmodern society has caused Christian parents to allow their fears of losing their children to the world to define how they raise their kids.
“Many families see how corrupted the culture is, how evil Satan is and how fragile the kids are,” he explains. “That’s when your fears define your strategy. But it is a bankrupt plan: it’s a contradiction to everything we say we believe. If we are followers of Jesus Christ, we should be the last people afraid of just about anything!”

He says Christian parents are “scared to death” of public arenas like Hollywood and the Internet and he believes the detrimental message this fear sends to kids is that God is not big enough to protect them.

His alternative? Raise kids in the midst of the world, instead of teaching them to fear it. The most important way children learn to exercise grace with those around them is to see their parents do it with confidence that the Lord will follow through.

“Your actions should say, ‘We love our unbelieving friends,’ ” Dr. Kimmel prescribes. “When kids are younger, we protect them more. But as they grow, we need to bring them up to speed and trust that ‘the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world’ (1 John 4:4). We want to raise our kids to glow in the dark and show people how to love others and be gracious.”

And Lastly...if you don't read anything else read this...
I know some people are called to homeschool because they are passionate about it and they have kids that have some special circumstances where they need to be homeschooled.  I support many of my friends that are doing it.  But, I think there are many valid reasons for public school too.  I think there should be more mutual support between the two camps.  Do what you’re called to do and recognize that others are called to do different things.  Don’t judge if someone is not doing it “your way” or doing what you’re called to do.  And let’s all be careful about how we voice our beliefs about our passions.

I’ve been really working on this verse this week – working on it permeating my heart – and my mouth.  Proverbs 12:18 “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”  I pray our words regarding our passions (homeschool vs public school, adoption, politics, stay at home vs working moms, etc) will bring healing and unity and not hurt and dissension.
I feel utterly sensitive about this right the comments....if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.  Yes, this from the girl who gets tons of comments, right?  


Beverly said...

Very well said Bobbi and Sarah. We were forced financially to make a change from Christian school when our second daughter was ready to start school. We couldn't afford it and got many comments about "trusting God"...none of those people lined up to pay the school bill. At some point, one of my best friends started home schooling and I got the "encouragement" to home school. I totally agree that she never intended to make me feel bad, but her strong personality and many comments did make me feel like I had chosen something inferior. I was absolutely terrified to send our children to the public school even thought I KNEW that was God's plan for our family. I went to the Christian school principal in tears sure that the public school was going to eat my children alive. She was so graciously supportive and told me to trust God with my children. I will never forget her kindness. We should all be so gracious with others. We are not all called to the same arena. I am such a fan of public-school education that I have to be careful of my words not to discourage those who have chosen private or home schooling.

Anonymous said...

I find myself in the same boat as Bev. I have to be careful about my passion for public education especially when others are treading on it. I do believe that I and my children and made a difference and I'm making one everyday! It's truly personal. Thanks for your courage in posting. Love, Mom D.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this thought-provoking post. I am a homeschooling mom, and it is a reminder to me to be sensitive to others who have chosen different paths.

One of the reasons my husband and I chose to homeschool was because we *rarely* have seen anyone come out of the public school system at age 18+ still loving the Lord with all his heart, soul, and mind. I was homeschooled. When I consider my public school friends, I can think of maybe one out of a dozen who are still walking with the Lord years later. This is NOT to say that homeschooling kids will always turn out loving God and walking with Him . . . by no means. But from my observation, the success rate is higher! And how can anyone reach the world for Jesus if they have abandoned him?

I hope you don't consider this a mean comment. Just my two cents. I see that you are a young momma. Perhaps someone can give testimonial who has graduated their kids from 12 years of public school and their kids are going strong for the Lord?? I would be interested.

The way things are going in this world, I know homeschooling won't always be legal or even feasible in this economy. It gets harder and harder. Someday I may be putting my kids in p.s., too. And I will trust God with them - even as I am trusting him with them now. But for now, I am glad to be walking this road.

Bobbi said...

Thank you for choosing to gain sensitivity from my post. I do indeed disagree with your somewhat pragmatic reasons for choosing to homeschool. To a certain extent, we see what we wish to see.

It might interest you to know that I'm not simply a naive young "testimonials" are the lives of my husband and myself who were public schooled for 13 years and are very dedicated to serving the Lord in all we do and say. My data and support come from 90% of our family who are serving in full time ministry and public school teaching, some for over 30 years. But, as I said in my post...I simply want encouragement from other-schoolers in trusting God in my happy walk too.

Among Christians this issue cannot be a tolerance of only those who do it our has to be Christ focused reasons for doing all we do...and not getting so tangled in our own passionate purposes that we forget to be sensitive to those with different convictions and different God-given life purposes.

Thankfully, you said your thoughts were provoked and examined...and that encourages me that you will strive to love those who aren't making the same choices as yourself. May God bless you as you seek to serve Him.

Pastor D said...

I think this post is very good, but it is also a sad commentary on the state of affairs in the Christian body. Here we have people who send their children to public schools BEGGING that the homeschoolers show a LITTLE respect for their conscientious and deliberate decisions.

In my experience, which spans both the modern Christian School movement and the modern Home School movement, people from both of those movements have often been the most prideful, snotty, unkind, fear-mongering people I’ve known. Their pharisaical legalistic holier-than-thou attitudes have been enough to convince me that something was very wrong at the heart of their systems.

Furthermore, both the modern Christian School and Home School movements are premised on a modernistic reading of the Bible, rather than on a faith in the sovereign God of the Bible. By this I mean that the pragmatism and humanism of modernity has infected their interpretation so that they think they can manipulate spiritual results through human programming. The world does teach determinism, but the Bible does not. Salvation is of the Lord.

It is outrageous that the one mom rarely sees someone come out of the public school still deeply committed to Christ. For her, homeschooling seems necessary to create committed Christians. But in fact, God is able to save and is saving people who grew up – not only in public schools – but in non-Christian families. And these new converts love the Lord with heart and soul and strength and mind. And they are excited about Christ and working to reach their loved ones with the gospel!

Why don’t you know any of these people? Are you avoiding them? Is your church not reaching the lost in your community?

Around the world God is currently doing a great work of salvation. In China alone, Christianity was almost wiped out by persecution as recently as the 1970’s. But today there are close to 100 million Christians in China. They have been saved in spite of a deliberately anti-Christian atheistic education. They have been saved without gospel tracts, with minimal Bible’s available, without media advertising, without Christian TV and Radio.

They have been saved by the power of God to save and they love God with all their heart and soul and strength and mind. They follow Christ and witness for him in spite of the very real threat of physical persecution by the government.

I truly believe that people should do what they think they must do in raising their kids… Public, Christian or Home School. But whatever you do, don’t let your DOING be the basis of pride. Remember that God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

Anonymous said...

i love this post. we send our kids to public school and was so happy the other day when my 6 year old came home and told me that her friend didn't know who God was. She told me she told her friend who He was and invited her to come to church with us. Even at 6 she understood that she had something that she wanted her friend to have as well. - G