Special Mother's Day Article
He Shall feed His flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs in His arm, and carry them in His bosom (close to His heart), and shall gently lead those that are with young. Isaiah 40:11
I was home taught by my mother. Even though I attended a school (mostly christian schools), I was homeschooled in reality by my mother. I remember very little of what I learned during the 12 years I sat behind various desks in the school system. In fact little of it really has any saving value on my life now. More of what I have learned in years following high school has stuck with me than anything previous. But the things I learned from my mother . . . I can remember . . . and remember way back to things from when I was very very small.
I remember, when I was little, my mother taking leftover dessert and dishing it out to everyone at the table. With five of us in the family there wasn't always enough "leftover dessert". She handed everyone at the table a small piece, except herself. She went without (so the pieces wouldn't have to be cut any smaller). That made a deep impression on me. I remember my mother working hard. She always did. She would get up early and make lunches for the day and "extras" like apple pie, blueberry buckle or pie, clean the house and I remember her studying her Bible for a few minutes (when I happened to get up earlier). She always amazed me at her ability to do so much and organize so much. She always seemed to think of everything - and still does!
There are so many things mom taught me. Mom and dad sacrificed to put us in Christian school. This was before the grand advent of homeschooling. I am sure it never crossed their mind to homeschool us. But they really sacrificed to educate us kids. They started a fledgling business in the garage of our home. They would purchase unfinished seconds in furniture and fix them over and finish them to resell. They did this after dad got home from his factory job. And I remember mom always helping him. It never seemed to cross her mind that she "needed her own time". She, with us kids too, would accompany dad to cut down trees for firewood (that dad sold for extra money).
It never seemed to me that my parents struggled financially while I grew up. But now looking back I can see (through a different set of eyes) that indeed they did. But that didn't occur to me then. I remember warm summer mornings how mom and my older brother and I would trapse out in the early morning and pick blueberries (wild ones) before the July sun made it's presence. Then mom would take those blueberries to the store with her. (By then dad and mom had started a small furniture store on the lot next to our home (which the banks told my parent's "would never materialize because we lived too far out in the country". . . were they ever wrong!). Mom would sort all the sticks and green berries out of our pails and gently put the blueberries into the quart baskets. These my brother and I would sell in front of our home. The money we put aside for school clothes. And watching mom buy school clothes was an art that should've been documented by the "Tidwad Gazette". I caught her "dollar stretching" techniques. I remember by the time we (my brother and I) were in highschool we really had to stretch those dollars. Mom and dad wouldn't think of sending us to Public School so they sacrificed (probably more than I will ever know) to put my brother and I in Christian Highschool (which cost them somewhere around $300 to $400 or more a month each) and my little sister in Christian elementary school. How they did that amazes me to this day. But mom always said that "God would provide" and God certainly did. One fall as we were getting ready to head back to highschool, mom and I were shopping in the mall. I knew things were tight. The entrance fees for highschool were about double what the regular monthly payments were and my brother was in college by then and my parents were struggling to help him as much as they could, also. Mom and I were looking over racks of clothes and we noticed those "discounted" racks. She'd say, "Oh Joan, here is a skirt for only $3 or $5". I wasn't offended. By then her financial "wizardry" had bitten me and I couldn't pass up "bargains" either.
Years later, when Rob & I became engaged and mom and I went Bridal Gown shopping and wedding planning, mom said, "Joan you can only spend a few hundred dollars on your gown and viel". I never thought of that as a problem or a unfair suggestion. I knew mom and dad had alot of financial burdens and it seemed silly to me, to spend more (mom had really trained me well . . . in some areas). We were able to find a gown I loved and I didn't get a veil . . . I hated those things. I wanted a hat - and that turned out to be cheaper anyway. We created a wedding as cheaply as possible and it was one of the most beautiful weddings in that church (of course, I am bias a bit). My wedding memories are even more special because I had to use the ingenuity and creativity I inherited from mom and dad to make it beautiful.
I wish I could tell you that I always saw how lucky I was to have the mother God gave me. But I didn't. In fact through my highschool years I was a rather selfish person (and allowing God to root that out has been painful). It wasn't till I had children that I realized that my mother was a blessing more than I could ever ever Thank God for!! But by the time I had my 2nd child my mother slipping from me fast. My mother became seriously ill shortly after we had Randy (thirteen years ago). Within a couple of months, the doctor sent her home to die. She had a rare kidney disease that the doctor treated with every medicine he could think of (even retired cancer drugs). Nothing worked. I remember standing in front of the mirror combing my hair one morning before going to see mom and crying. All the years of love and time and meaning that mom had put into my life came before me so vividly and I thought then that I had more than most people do in a mother. I was so blessed and I hadn't really ever told her how much her life had blessed mine. Well, my mother didn't die. She did some "natural" things and we prayed and prayed and prayed (much to my mother's doctors surprise . . . even he had to admit it was a miracle!). Mom got better and though she was still wobbly and weak, she was able to attend my little sister's wedding several weeks later. An awesome God we serve. That was 13 years ago!!!
Life wasn't bliss in our home. I don't want you to think it was. My mother came from a home where there was little love and much fighting (my grandmother could yell!). My father came from a physically abusive home and love, I am sure, was more than lacking. My parents struggled to yeild their lives to the Lord but they kept plugging along. They wanted a christian home. My mother would never raise her voice. I can never remember mom raising her voice. She never argued (not even with dad . . . unless she did it in private, because I never saw her do that). In fact if there was a problem she would back down (and I believe she prayed) and would wait till things settled. Years later I learned that because of all the yelling she heard in her home growing up, she made up her mind that her home wouldn't be that way and she wouldn't participate in that. My mother to me is a model to follow. In recent years I've watched with love as she stands by dad and is his right hand in his ministry as a lay pastor to a small church.
Oh, mom made her mistakes and I believe that if she were raising her brood of children now she would homeschool. Our family situation was perfect for that (with our family business, and dad making wood products, furniture finishing and furniture fixing). My mother constantly affirms our decision and my sister's to homeschool our children. Mom & dad value what we put into our children's lives and see the importance of it. Mom is even known to help us buy homeschool materials. She is a wonderful affirming person and believes in us. Our children love her. And No, she isn't for sale!!!
Why do I share this? Well, for one thing I am writing this on Mother's Day. But, I say this also, because I want each of us to realize that we are having deep affects on our children's lives. The affect my mother had my life is deep and I was schooled away from home. I believe that if I had had those high school years with my mother as my mentor it would have made an even richer relationship between us and been a deeper blessing for me both in my character and my spiritual life. However, because that wasn't an option for my parents then, I believe that God blessed it.
Sometimes while I am mothering these little ones God has entrusted to me, I get bogged down and can't see the purpose. Sometimes I get discouraged and feel I am not making a real "big" difference in their lives. Children take years to grow. It took me to become a young adult before I realized the blessing God gave me in my mother and the Spiritual Life she desired for me. I think on that alot these days. When I see a character defect in my children and I can't see how to remedy it, I remember back to my childhood and I remember the years and seasons of growth and I PRAY! I believe mom prayed for us and still does for each of us kids (and now the grandkids). I also see and feel that homeschooling has been God's way of streamlining the process of growing children in Him and bringing about a better finished product - not only in our children but in us as parents, as well. I believe that the Lord is coming soon. As I look around and I see things in this world disinegrating literally before our eyes, I tremble. I don't feel smug that "my kids are homeschooled so they will be saved because. . . ".
I realize each moment how much I need Jesus - I can't Mother alone!!
Just a few weeks ago two teenage boys rampaged a highschool in Colorado. That is the fifth of it's kind of shooting in less than a few years. That doesn't even bring into account for the less "media" hyped stuff that goes on - not to mention that little learning takes place either. Family lives are falling apart. Children are growing up on TV, Computers, drugs, and a kind of religion that teaches them to serve self because no one else will. This doesn't even account for the other strange things going on with our nation and our weather patterns and economic situations. It seems to me that everything is in agitation. I believe strongly that God is calling families home. I believe He is working in the homeschool movement, even, getting our eyes off the academics enough to realize an even higher purpose for why He has lead us home. I don't believe we have decades left ahead of us in this world (I could be wrong). But I feel that one of the biggest reason's that God has brought familes home to homeschool their children is to "get ready" to meet and live with a Holy God that desires to spend eternity with the people He so lovingly Created. Everything else in homeschooling pale's in significance to this thought.
Our children aren't our own. And when I have trials with my children, I pray for them and for me that I will be to them the Mother, mothering them, as God would have me to. I realize I stumble and fall - but I know in Whom I believe and I know He holds of the vast treasures of His love and power out to me . . . . to let go of self and let Him be God in our family and in my heart.
Recently I was talking with God about a situation I wasn't overly happy with with one of my boys. I felt so lost as to how to handle it. It seemed to me that Satan would triumph in this issue. The Lord brought to my mind a text in Isaiah 49:24 &25 "Shall the prey (my children) be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered? But thus saith the Lord, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I WILL SAVE (notice it doesn't say "might save") thy children."
What a precious and powerful promise!!!!! And this made even more of a deep impression on me when I saw recently the video "That the World might Know Set 3 - tape #1" from Focus on the Family. (This is a wonderful must see series by Ray VanderLaan -we've been blessed by it). In this video Mr VanderLaan was talking about the civilization that lived just before Jesus birth and settled beside the wilderness area of the dead sea. This people (Jews) had settled there to come into a wilderness setting (to get away from the worldliness common to their people) to preserve their faith (they were the ones believed to have written the dead sea scrolls). They wanted to follow the "way of the Lord". They wanted to be where they could raise their children in a setting that was totally "God's way" not just a strange mixture of world and God. They wanted to pull aside all dross and have only God and His way.
I thought how interesting that was because I see homeschool families really settling into this same type of seeking God and His Ways. I see that families are looking for more than the status quo and the good grades and the scholarships to harvard (which are fine things to have, but really are nothing outside God). I believe (I will say it again) that God has a deep and rich and beautiful purpose for each of us homeschooling our children. And satan will try and throw things at us and keep us from seeing this purpose - he will try and shift our focus onto the problems instead of on the Powerful God we serve that already has Victory in His plan for us.
As you mother your children today put it all into perspective through God's eyes. Our children are like plants (the Bible even likens them as so). We can't expect red ripe tomatoes on a tomato plant just put into the garden. We can't even expect that a green tomato while being the right size and shape will taste anything like a ripe red one does. We must be willing to wait for the "Fruit" while tending our gardens faithfully. Don't get sidetracked outside your garden. Be faithful!!! God has promised to save our children not because we homeschool but because He is faithful as we step aside and allow Him to be faithful to us. God Bless you each!!!
And Happy Mother's Day!!!
"In the book of God's providence, the volume of life,
we are each given a page.
That page contains every particular of our history;
even the hairs of the head are numbered.
God's children are never absent from His mind."
The Desire of Ages page 313
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