I thought that this was worth passing on to you. It is so important to keep the vision of your family & homeschool before you so that you don’t lose sight of why you are doing what you are doing. It really makes a huge difference!
Recently in church, a homeschooling friend testified that she remembered the difficulties of rearing a household filled with small children, but it was a “whole new ballgame” once some of those children began to grow into teenagers and young adults. The challenges at this point, as anyone who’s been there will agree, are constant and relentless–and the devil gives no quarter.Moreover, once our children are finally grown, whether they’re still at home, off to school, raising families, or simply “doing the next thing,” we are foolish if we think that we are now off the hook and our parenting is over. Here’s news: it’s never over. In light of that, we need to keep a vision for our families’ futures clearly set before us. We must define our vision, prayerfully teach toward our vision, and seek encouragement in the process.
Defining the Vision
Scripture tells us that without a vision, the people perish. A vision of hopes, goals, and dreams for how our families are to be molded and shaped for the future is essential. Christian families should take their vision seriously. For homeschooling Christian families, that mandate takes on extra dimensions. To begin analyzing your own vision for your family, ask yourself some basic questions: What are your long-term lifestyle goals for your children and your home? What specific spiritual and character goals do you hope to see your children practicing by the time they reach adulthood? How do you envision their futures in the workforce or in their own homes? How do you hope to see them use and develop their attributes and skills? Be specific.
Here are a few ideas of what I mean. I want my grown children t
• seek the Lord’s guidance whenever they make decisions, large or small.
• be faithful, no matter what circumstances they may find themselves in.
• love their spouses.
• be devoted parents.
• have compassion, looking to the needs and concerns of others.
In practical skills, I want them to
• demonstrate godly character and self discipline in the workplace.
• be handy.
• nurture an appreciation and enjoyment of the outdoors, art, mechanics, etc. (These goals should be individually defined according to the loves and enjoyments we’d like to pass on.)
This is a minuscule list, of course, but enough to give you the idea. If you sit down with a paper and pencil and begin to ask yourself these questions, you will see a list of goals popping out onto the page, perhaps even some goals you hadn’t considered before. You will begin to clearly define where it is you want to go.
Sometimes our vision for the future is undefined simply because we are caught in periods of discouragement or feelings of being overwhelmed. Sometimes the blatant distractions of keeping up with daily life can keep us from feeling that our vision for our family’s future is attainable. It is never too late, and there is no wrong time to sit down and try to lay out a clearly defined plan–or at least some of our hopes for the future.
We may not be able to see the big picture for the years ahead. In fact, it’s almost certain that we won’t. But like an artist, we can begin to sketch an outline for the final vision. We can daily take our disillusionments, our frustrations, and our failures to the Lord and to His Word. He will give us the pep talk we need, the love we cherish, and the strength we long for to keep our eyes on the prize. Finally, we can begin today with an organized plan to conquer the distractions that threaten to invade our lives so our vision does not become cloudy.
Teaching Toward the Vision
Of course, none of these things just happens because we want them to. While we are fond of thinking that traits like devotion, faithfulness, handiness, and godly decision-making can be caught instead of taught, I’ve not found this to be a reliable way of reaping a desired outcome. Unfortunately, “catching” poor character and worldly, unsatisfying habits is just as likely, if not more so, as catching that which is good and upright. Therefore, teaching toward your vision is not only necessary, but must be persistently and steadfastly done.
In 1 Thessalonians 2:20, Paul reminded the spiritual children he was teaching how he felt toward them. He said, “For ye are our glory and joy.” As parents, we feel the same way toward our earthly children, and we easily feel crushed by disappointment when our children turn astray or make wrong choices. Sometimes we feel as though our ability to teach and mold our children resembles a scramble in the dark, a wild groping for the right way to lead them, train them, discipline them, and love them. But they are a glory and a joy to us, and because God has made them so, we must never lose sight of our vision for them–no matter how far adrift we feel. When we feel weak and exasperated by trouble or setbacks, when our vision dissolves into the hazy and intangible, that is all the more reason to “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).
Sometimes it is the difficult or chaotic times that shake us up and help us realize that big changes are in order. We can then take those times to reevaluate whether the things we are doing are pushing us toward our vision or away from it. We can restructure our schedules, our priorities, and even our attitudes to fall back in line with our vision.
Encouragement For the Vision
Reviving our vision takes constant effort and vigilance. It takes clear definition of our goals. And sometimes, in all of life’s challenges–and on the homeschooling journey in particular–it takes support and encouragement.
In the book of Exodus, chapter 17, the children of Israel were engaged in a battle with Amalek in Rephidim. God wanted to bless His children; it was His will that they succeed; but it still took effort on their part. This would be no easy battle, quickly won. Particularly, it took effort on Moses’s part. While Joshua led the fight, Moses was given the task to stand on the mountain with the rod of God, holding his hands high.
The day lengthened. The battle raged on. Aaron and Hur brought Moses a rock to sit upon, but his arms grew weary. Heaviness, like lead weights, pulled at his shoulders, and his hands began to droop. When they did, the tide of battle turned against Israel. With supreme effort, he pushed his hands up again. As he did, the battle surged in Israel’s favor. As long as Moses could hold his hands steadily aloft, Israel prevailed.
But Moses’s arms burned. His circulation buzzed in agony. Finally, Aaron and Hur “stayed up” Moses’s hands, one on either side of him, giving him the strength to keep his eyes on the vision of victory God offered. As the weary hours passed and the sun began to set, the Israelites finally triumphed over Amalek. God had blessed Moses as he remained steadfast with the support of others.
Like Moses, we often need support as we aim toward our vision for our children. Mental and physical fatigue, childish rebellion, medical conditions, jobs, extra-family relationships: all keep us engaged in battle continually. We must actively seek support, first from God Himself, our shield and defender, and then from those He places in our lives to uplift and challenge us.
Your encourager may be another homeschooler. It may be a family member, a close friend, or a pastor. It might be someone you can enlist as a prayer partner. Sometimes God places people in our lives who do the job of challenging and uplifting us without even realizing they are being used by Him. Look for those people. But if they don’t seem to be around you, remember God first. He is always there, and He always desires to be your strength.
At the same time, we must try to be that encouragement and support for others. Look for those families around you who may need to be “stayed up” for a while. We are living out God’s Word when we heed His admonition to “bear one another’s burdens.”
Praying to Strengthen the Vision
One of the biggest realities that ever hit me was when I began to grasp just the edges of the magnitude of the ministry God has given me in training my children. I have often heard other parents say, and I’ve said so myself, that my children are my mission field. Yet, that entails so much more than I can fully understand. I need to be constantly aware that my children are only mine to train for a season. It goes by as fast as a warm summer day! Suddenly, they’re grown. Maybe this will sound like an echo, but if you do nothing else, pray, pray, pray! My vision must be ever renewed and bathed in vigilant, fervent prayer. Oh, to be ever mindful of that!
The time will come when our homeschooling will be complete, but our parenting will not. We made a sacrifice to teach our children at home, so let us not grow weary at this juncture. Let’s examine the fullness of the role we’ve been given. Let’s set aside our daily encumbrances for just a bit, while we revive our vision and seek God’s best for the lives and futures of our families.
Naomi and her husband Jeff are the parents of two teen and three adult children. They have homeschooled for 15 years. She has a website dedicated to the encouragement of homeschoolers which can be found at Apples of Gold News
This article was originally published in the May/June 2008 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. Visit http://HomeSchoolEnrichment.com to request a FREE sample issue today!