Finding what you’re looking for


We sat at the kitchen table sipping coffee and eating breakfast. Our daughter has been homeschooled through junior high, and our visiting friends were talking to her about starting 9th grade this fall at our public high school.

Our friend, Mark, told us the story of when he was in college. He said that his college was ranked the number three party school in the U.S. by Playboy magazine. He continued on, explaining that one night at this very school, he had a life-changing experience: He went to an outing with a friend and came to know Jesus Christ. He learned that he was in need of a Savior, and Mark has never been the same since. He later married Pam, had children, and has served as a missionary Bible translator in Nigeria for about two decades.

Mark explained to our daughter, “You will find whatever you are looking for as you enter public school. I was at a school with a nationwide reputation for partying, and I found Jesus. If you’re looking for Him and like-minded people who love Him, you’ll find it. If you’re looking for the party scene, you’ll find it. Decide ahead of time what you will look for.”

Great words of wisdom for all of us. What are you looking for?

His strength is perfect


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.

Are you tired?


My schedule is better when I realize I can't be Supergirl

Today I am thinking about excellence. I am often doing many things, but not so well. Few things are done with excellence. In fact, I am usually SUPER busy with very little margin built into my schedule.  The things that fill our days are almost always good things, or at least necessary.  I can’t skip ortho appointments, can I?

Bondage of business and captivity of activity. These are phrases that I’ve heard churchy people say a few times throughout the years. But yesterday I really saw that I frequently exhaust myself with MANY activities. Few of them are excellent. Few of them are done to fullest potential.  If you ask me, that’s really lame, because here’s how it plays out:  Always busy running doing stuff, then things get put off till later or not done, other things are done poorly, and then comes guilt.  Ah, guilt.  The great UN-motivator.  It weighs me down until I feel utterly useless and unmotivated.  Then lack of activity spirals downward to more guilt, and it goes on.

It's time to reevaluate when my to do list looks like this!

Many people make resolutions at the beginning of the calendar year.  Homeschool moms tend to make beginning of school year resolutions.  So here’s mine:  Instead of committing to 5 or 10 good activities this year, and feeling bad about doing them all poorly, I’d like to keep first things first.  That might mean only doing 2 outside things this school year.  And that’s a good thing.





Why we homeschool


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!