To celebrate the launch of our new website and blog, we’re giving you a sneak preview of September’s presidential article! We hope it encourages you as the school year begins.
By Todd Kangas, MPE president
One of my favorite all-time movies is “It’s a Wonderful Life,” starring Jimmy Stewart. The story shows the power of a choice and all of its implications. It shows how a man should live in a difficult time. I would highly recommend renting this video and watching as a family.
As we are beginning a new school year, I want to reflect on the ramifications of a fateful choice my wife and I made just over 30 years ago. My wife heard Dr. James Dobson interview Dr. Raymond Moore about home education on his “Focus on the Family” radio broadcast in 1983.
I got home from work that day and we had a conversation about what Pat had heard. She wondered if we should begin homeschooling the next year when our oldest, Corrie, was ready to begin kindergarten. We knew a couple families in our church who had just started homeschooling but didn’t know much about it.
After prayer, we decided to give it a one-year trial for our family. At the time we began our trial, we had 3 children ages 5, 3 and 1.
George in the movie was all set to launch on his world tour. He had scrimped, saved and dreamed of all that his future explorations held. Just before he was to leave, his father died. The family business was now at risk. Who would run the business?
George, who had some experience with the business, made the difficult choice to stay and run the business and not shut it down as suggested by the “villain,” Mr. Potter. The movie shows the difference this choice made in a community.
If I were to now write the story of our 30-year history of homeschooling, what would it tell?
First, I think of how God has used this choice to shape our family. I’ve learned much from people I’ve met, heard and read. Each has helped me develop a vision for being the type of father God designed. They spoke of investing in my marriage, family discipleship, developing a spiritual legacy, leading family devotions, and a self-sacrificial love like Jesus had.
Their truth resonated in my inner being. They knew the heart of God and stirred me to desire the truth in Malachi 4:5-6, “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.” It was this group who was challenging me to have my heart turned to my children.
I can also look at how this journey has sharpened my wife. She has been desperate for God in many family situations, doing her job 24×7. She was carrying a burden greater than she was designed to manage.
Pat had to draw near to Jesus. She is learning this truth, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30. The choice of homeschooling has developed a solid disciple in my wife who has been formed in the fiery trials of testing.
The verdict on how we’ve done as homeschool parents may not be fully evident during our lifetimes. Homeschooling is a choice for family discipleship. We’ve chosen to invest in a lifestyle that we have believed will produce disciples of Jesus, because that is His command, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations … teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20.
You and I may not live long enough to know if our efforts were successful or not. We can review early results of our homeschool choice for our children, but our judgments may be clouded by the appearances that we see. The Pharisees looked good, but they didn’t lead people to Jesus. The prodigal son didn’t look good, but he returned to his father.
The seeds we’ve planted, watered and watched will hopefully produce Christ-like fruit for many generations. Unless we have an apprentice angel like Clarence, we may never know how our efforts panned out for our children and future generations.
But if I look at the impact in my personal life and marriage, I can say the choice of homeschooling challenged me in truths that have strengthened me in Christ to live for my wife and family in ways I hadn’t previously imagined.
A fateful decision 30 years ago has allowed me to share with you over the years the joys, sorrows, challenges and growth that I’ve experienced as a homeschool dad. I can’t imagine a better life.
May it be so for you too! It is a wonderful life.
How has the choice of homeschooling affected your family? Let us know in the comments!