Last summer I had some time to step back from homeschooling and think about the big picture goals of our family. During the CC year it was easy to get sucked into the rush of tutor preparation, drilling the memory work, science projects, and presentation topics and lose sight of why we were doing it all. Some days I would get into bed and realize that, although we had been very busy, I had not taught my kids anything about my Lord that day. For us, discipleship is the heart of homeschooling, and the academics are secondary, when prioritized correctly. I knew this was true, but it was hard to keep it in front of me when I was tempted to default to a more easily quantifiable checklist.
One day a friend was keeping the kids for me so I could have some alone time, and I was praying for God to give me a theme verse for our family homeschool. I read Genesis 18:17-19 and felt my mind being blown as I tried to understand its implications.
The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have chosen him, that he may command [NIV direct] his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”
This is so crazy if you try and map it out. God says Abraham is going to be a great and mighty nation, and will be blessed in order to be a blessing to all the nations. That part I already knew (and love!). Then God explains this complex mechanism: God chooses Abraham to get this amazing promise, which in turn should lead Abraham to teach his family about God’s ways, and because Abraham does that, God fulfills the promises He made at the time of choosing. God starts and finishes the whole chain. All Abraham needs to do is teach his family to keep the way of the Lord, and God covers everything else. It’s like election. God chooses him, makes him persevere, and then blesses him and others because of that perseverance. What a sweet deal!
This is so encouraging for homeschooling! Discipleship is the centerpiece of the chain that He begins and ends. I don’t have to earn God’s attention to get chosen, I don’t have to make enormous commitments as to what my family can accomplish or become, I don’t have to fulfill heroic destinies or stress out over me or my kids producing a huge amazing end result. I just need to focus on my part, which is directing my kids to know and follow God and do what pleases Him. Just like with Abraham, He will start and finish the rest.
In the age of Pinterest and a thousand mommy blogs, it’s easy to feel the urge to rush down everyone else’s path for parenting and homeschooling (or just feel inferior and lame). I decided to try and uncover the things that make us Gjertsens, to try and define the identity of our family based on our values. That way I could hold up each possible activity or undertaking against the list and see if it matched what we wanted to support or spend our time on.
I brainstormed a list of what we want our kids to know by the time they grow up, and the kinds of activities we could do to teach them. I organized them into similar themes, then wrote theme sentences, then cut those down to parallel phrases, and with some helpful tweaks from John, boom, we had a family mission statement. Maybe ours will inspire you to try one for your family in the new year. Don’t feel like it must look like ours!
Our family mission statement is not meant to be a bunch of boasts, but rather an enumeration of what we value and aspire to, that, without God’s grace, we would utterly fail at. We are challenged mightily in all these areas in different ways, but they are precious to us.
John had it printed on a canvas with his fingerprint in the background, and we hung in the playroom/homeschool room so we can see it all the time. Now, as we press on after Jesus in a new year, it helps me refocus again. It sure helps to know that He’s chosen us, so that we will disciple our kids, and that God will be gracious to bless us on the grounds of His faithfulness and not our performance.
Happy New Year from the House!