My first job out of college was at a domestic violence shelter.I was twenty-one years old, newly married, and the ink on my college diploma had barely dried when I took the job as a counselor for women who were caught in violent relationships. Though I had the heart and desire to help these women, I was sorely prepared. Though I had learned a lot about the helping field in college, I had little experience.I was underqualified. I knew it and the women I helped knew it.Fast forward a number of years later when I was expecting my first child. I had read dozens of parenting books. I had taught parenting classes as part of my counseling work. I had talked to every mom-friend I knew to get their advice on various aspects of motherhood. But when I held my newborn son in my arms, I knew it. I think he knew it too.I was underqualified. Incapable. Insufficient.Underqualified MomI’ve always been an independent sort. When I have a goal, I work hard and pursue it. I may seek advice or assistance along the way, but ultimately, I know if I want to get to where I’m headed, I have to do the work that’s required. I faced motherhood the same way. I’m not a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of person; I like to be prepared. So I bought all the books, studied all the methods, and read all the research.I applied myself to motherhood the same way I did a project or paper in college. I put everything into it the way I did my work. But unlike other things in life, motherhood did not fit so neatly into a box. My children did not always conform to what the books said. The methods often failed. The research often turned out meaningless.As a result, I was humbled. Like the stretch marks forever etched in my skin, motherhood stretched me beyond what I was capable of within myself. I learned that I was weak and insufficient and couldn’t rely on my own resources or strength. I had to face the truth that I couldn’t depend on my own wisdom. I couldn’t find help and hope in methods. I couldn’t make life work for me.If there’s one thing motherhood has taught me, it’s that I can’t do it on my own. I need help from outside myself. I need Jesus.
Homeschooling was a lifestyle I never dreamed I would tackle. After all, aren’t homeschoolers the type that sew their own clothing, study dead languages, concoct their own toothpaste formulas, and name all their children obscure Bible names like Beulah and Festus? I was certainly not outfitted for such an undertaking. I can’t sew in a straight line. Crafting gives me hives. And spelling is a struggle, so there’s no way I’m teaching Latin or working with names more challenging than Tom or Pam. Bottom line – I would never homeschool my own kids. Until I did.God has used this journey of homeschooling to grow me. I have learned many creative parenting skills and life lessons. I have learned how to hide for indefinite amounts of time from my children. (I spend A LOT of time with my children. Don’t judge.) I have discovered under-appreciated celebrities like Bill Nye, the Gator Boys, and Barney. I’ve also learned how to sneak an extra half-hour of sleep in the morning by leaving Pop Tarts and juice boxes outside my bedroom door.In all seriousness, homeschooling has given me the opportunity to disciple my children day in and day out. There have certainly been days when my crew acts like their own cut-throat reality show, “Survivor: Homeschool Edition.” But then there are other days full of warm snuggles, delightful books, and heartfelt conversations in which I praise God for these moments I have to pour into my children.Discipling our children is not a separate task from the discipline of parenting. To disciple our children is to teach or train them. No matter how we choose to school our children, no matter whether our children live full-time with us, no matter the age of our children, our primary job as Christian parents is to teach our children to follow after Christ. There is not a separate category devoted to teaching our children the things of the Lord. In Deuteronomy 11:18-19, the Lord gives his people this command:You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.Reaching our children’s hearts for the sake of the Gospel should be the primary focus of each day. The Lord never tires of seeking after us. We should be no less diligent in pursuing the hearts of our children.