In this chapter, Sally really moves away from the more touchy-feely, theoretical talk of motherhood and her lofty ideals and gets into the practical, rubber-meet-road issues. The crux of the chapter for me is found in this paragraph:
There is no doubt in my mind that personal ministry is the missing measure of Christian maturity in the evangelical church today. Truth and character alone do not fully define a mature Christian. God has convicted me of this personally, but I also believe that the Christian homeschooling movement has unintentionally adopted a ministry-less measure of maturity for our children. It is so easy to be busy all the time, to focus on academics, to be intent on character training and yet neglect to give our children specific ways to work out in the lives of people what God is working in their minds and hearts. (102)
Yes! I get what Sally says before: that our children must be taught Truth and we have to be intentional about shaping their characters. But so what? What if they know the Truth and grow into Godly adults, and yet neither of these things has a personal outworking in their lives? (Perhaps even more to the point, what if these things never have a personal outworking in my life?) This is very important to me. I was talking to a friend last week, and we were discussing our college years. She expressed some regret over her rebellious ways, and I commented that I didn’t do anything “wrong” during college. And then I said something that I think encapsulates what I’m trying to say here: I didn’t do anything wrong, but I didn’t necessarily do anything right, either. Yes, college was a difficult time for me developmentally (difficult in that I was really still in the middle of a lot of adolescent angst then, despite my age). No, I really was in no position, probably, to Do much of anything–I was still working on Knowing and Being. I want my children to grow into Christians who don’t just Know and Be–they Do.
Just earlier this week I wrote about a goal of mine and Steady Eddie’s for our homeschool: to find some sort of useful, life-giving project to involves ourselves in on a regular basis. What occurs to me to do right now is to visit a local nursing home at least on a monthly basis. The girls can play the piano, we can talk with the residents. I’ve learned how much the elderly usually enjoy seeing kids and babies, so I might even take the DLM and Benny with us (if I’m brave). Another idea is to let my girls, especially Lulu, take off with her dream of making something to sell. After the tornadoes that struck the midwest a month or so ago, she wanted to have a bake sale to raise money for the victims. She is also constantly thinking of sewn or duct tape creations she could sell. Honestly, the thought of organizing something like this is exhausting to me (organization and administration are NOT my strengths), but I don’t want my children to remain stunted in what might be their areas of strength or gifting because of my weakness. I’m realizing more and more, though, that I can’t be a one=woman show when it comes to raising and educating my children. Maybe this will require help: from Steady Eddie, from grandparents who have more time and talent in these areas, etc.
Once again, I find I’m walking that tightrope between ideas and realities that Sally wrote about in chapter one. If I’m honest, my reasons for being interested in homeschooling to begin with were a little more academic than spiritual, but as my children mature I’m seeing what a natural process home education can be in that we are simply living life, not just “doing school,” with our children. Sally writes about regaining her spiritual focus for her homeschool after the death of her uncle. I get that, but I don’t know how to do both, the academic and the spiritual-put-into-practice, well. Maybe as Sally says, balance isn’t even a Biblical concept. I must learn to accept the limitations of what I’m doing and do what’s important at the time. One trick that I think helps me in this area is to not view our homeschool/homelife in terms of what we do in one day; instead, if I look at the week or even the month, I have a better sense of what we’ve learned and accomplished.
How do you manage to make time for both the academic and the spiritual (or practical) in your homeschool?
I am blogging through Seasons of a Mother’s Heart by Sally Clarkson this summer for my second annual Homeschooling Mothers’ Bookclub. You can read more about it here. Won’t you consider joining us? Here’s the link-up schedule:
- Monday, July 8–Spring, chapters 1-3
- Monday, July 22–Summer, chapter 4-6
- Monday, August 5–Fall, chapters 7-9
- Monday, August 19–Winter, chapters 10-12
- Monday, August 26–final thoughts (Notice this is one week after the last post, not two.)