“If you make homeschooling an ultimate thing instead of a subordinate thing in service of the truth of God and the love of God in Christ Jesus for sinners, that kind of truth and knowledge that homeschooling itself will be perverted.”Missy Andrews
In a captivating and thought-provoking interview on the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast, host Yvette Hampton delves into a transformative conversation with homeschooling advocate and leader Missy Andrews. This interview explores Missy’s personal journey as a homeschool mom and delves into the deep significance of knowing one’s true identity in Christ. With years of experience in the homeschool community and a passion for discipleship, Missy Andrews shares her insights, struggles, and growth, offering a beacon of hope and grace for moms and dads walking the homeschooling path.
Exploring Identity and Searching for Love:
From the very start, Missy Andrews emphasizes the importance of understanding one’s identity and seeking validation from the right source. She poignantly remarks, “Whatever we look to besides God to define us is too small to meet our needs.” Missy describes how people often search for love and acceptance in the wrong places, such as success in jobs or marriages, only to find themselves unfulfilled and weary. This important lesson forms the foundation for her journey and perception of homeschooling.
The Homeschooling Journey:
Missy candidly reflects on her 26 years of homeschooling, acknowledging both its noble purpose and the challenges she encountered along the way. With heartfelt honesty, she confesses that she made the mistake of intertwining the virtue of homeschooling with her own personal virtue, leading to a skewed understanding of her own identity and struggles with sin. She recounts the pressure she felt to succeed as a homeschool mom and the heartbreaking recognition of unintentionally making her child a means to her own achievements.
Lessons Learned and Grace Discovered:
“Education can’t save you, but it can put you in the proper mindset to see that you need saving.”Missy Andrews
Through hardship and self-reflection, Missy Andrews shares a beautiful transformation. She learned the importance of self-recognition and the acceptance of her own personal sin, leading her to the liberating understanding that true identity and grace come from God alone. Missy recounts the transformation her child experienced after wrestling with their own identity and ultimately finding value in Christ. She affirms, “Our hope lies in the historical life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, as well as in the daily presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.”
Quotes that Illuminate the Journey:
“Whatever we look to besides God to define us is too small to meet our needs.” – Missy Andrews
“Our hope lies in the historical life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, as well as in the daily presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.” – Missy Andrews
“Identity is received…from God, who created us as we are and who has a purpose for our life.”Missy Andrews
The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast episode featuring Missy Andrews is a powerful exploration of identity, redemption, and the homeschooling journey. Missy’s story serves as a reminder that even in the noble pursuit of homeschooling, it is imperative to recognize the temptation of idolizing our own achievements and instead find our worth and purpose in God’s love and grace. By openly embracing personal flaws and redirecting focus to God’s guiding hand, homeschooling becomes a delightful journey of learning, character development, and spiritual growth.
As Missy Andrews poignantly expresses, “Our hope lies in the historical life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.” It is through the transformative power of Christ’s love and daily reliance on the Holy Spirit that we find true fulfillment and freedom. Whether you are a homeschooling parent or simply seeking wisdom and inspiration, this episode of the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast offers a refreshing perspective that resonates deeply with all seekers of truth and purpose.
Want to use this interview for a co-op meeting or small group? Here are a few discussion questions to keep the conversation moving in the right direction:
1. How has your understanding of your own identity been shaped by societal expectations and the search for validation in the wrong places?
2. In what ways have you observed parents, homeschooling or otherwise, conflate their own personal worth with the success or failure of their children’s education?
3. Have you ever experienced a situation where you unintentionally made someone, whether it be a child or someone else, a means to your own success? How did you reconcile and rectify that situation?
4. How can we create a safe and transparent environment with our children where they feel comfortable admitting their own flaws and mistakes?
5. How do you personally understand and navigate the tension between aiming for excellence in education and guarding against turning it into an idol?
6. Reflect on a time when you felt pressure to succeed in a particular area, and how that impacted your sense of self-worth. How were you able to find value in something beyond the pursuit of success?
7. Have there been moments in your own parenting or educational journey that served as a wake-up call or learning opportunity, revealing the truth about your own character or need for God’s grace?
8. How does the concept of recognizing our sins and repenting impact the way we approach our own personal growth and development as parents, educators, or mentors?
9. In what ways can our failures and mistakes as parents or educators actually become opportunities for growth and transformation, both for ourselves and for our children?
10. How does understanding the historical life, death, and resurrection of Jesus inform and shape the way we approach our homeschooling or educational endeavors? How does it bring liberation and delight to the learning process?
Read the full interview transcript:
Yvette Hampton [00:00:00]:
Hey, everyone, this is Yvette Hampton. Welcome back to the schoolhouse rocked podcast. I am back this week with Missy Andrews, and if you guys heard my last episode with her, it’s been several weeks, maybe a couple months since we released that one. You are going to be so encouraged once again. I’ve told you guys before that one of the ways that we find our guests for the podcast is oftentimes you tell us who you want to hear from. And other times, there are people I just know of who are in the home school world, and they’re speakers and leaders and influencers and people that I just think, oh, they would be amazing on the podcast. And a friend of mine told me about Missy, and I had heard of center for lit, and I had heard of Missy Andrews and Adam Andrews, and I thought, okay, I really want to find out more about this Missy Andrews. And so I started doing some research, and I thought, oh, she has so much good stuff, so many good things to talk about. And what we’re going to talk about this week is really her homeschool journey. And as I was looking at her topics and just her passion for moms and for homeschooling and for discipleship, I just thought, this is in addition to the last episode we did, which, of course, we’ll link in the show notes. This was something that I really wanted to have her come back and talk about. For those who may have missed my last interview with you, would you quickly introduce us to your family and who you are?
Missy Andrews [00:01:19]:
Sure. I’m Missy Andrews. I’m married to Adam Andrews, and we started a little family business to help homeschool families teach literature to their kids over 20 years ago. Now, I guess Centerforlit.com is where you can find us. We do an online school, but our major focus from the beginning has always been equipping parents to do the work of homeschooling. We think it’s a really noble endeavor, and we just want to help. It’s a difficult thing to do, this homeschooling thing, and it takes a long time, a lot of concentration and focused effort, and the Lord has provided plenty of people in the community to help us with the work.
Yvette Hampton [00:02:02]:
Yeah, it is a great community of speakers, leaders, families, everyone who really comes together. And it’s so neat to see the Christian homeschooling community come together, really as the body of Christ, to encourage one another. And one of the ways that we do that is that we can look to those who have gone before us, which you have, and learn from some of your mistakes, learn from your successes. And you wrote a book a couple of years ago called My Divine Comedy a Mother’s Homeschooling Journey. And I thought, well, is it a joke book? How in the world do you get divine and Comedy in the same title? I love it. So much as I started reading the book, I was so moved because what I realized in this book and I’m going to let you tell your story of your home school journey, but this thing that really captured me was that, Missy, you are an intellect, you are well educated, you are one of those type A people. You are valedictorian, you married the co valedictorian. You are a scholar. You love books, you love learning, you love all those things. I am, in many ways, the complete opposite of you. I mean, I love learning and I love books, but I am much more simple minded. And it’s so funny. I told my husband that the other day. I said, I’m so simple compared to people, and I don’t mean it in a way that I’m dumb or stupid. I didn’t grow up as an intellect. I didn’t grow up digging into the classics and all of the things that I think as homeschool moms, we think, well, if we’re going to be a good homeschool mom, we have to know all of these things and be able to teach them well to our children. And I just didn’t grow up that way. And so as I was reading your story, I thought, you know, we are polar opposites. You’re a type A, I am a type B. I’ve said that many times on the podcast. Not even a B plus. Like just a B. I’m just a type B. Sometimes I can be super organized and have my life altogether, and other times I’m just walking around scratching my head, going, what in the world am I doing today? I’ve learned to just accept that that is how God created me to be. But as different as we are, Missy, we have so much in common when it comes to homeschooling in that we have very much the same fears of messing up our kids. We have the same fears of feeling like we’re not enough or we’re not doing it good enough, and all the worries that come to us as homeschool moms, I just thought, we’re really no different. God just in that aspect, God created us differently. But we have very much the same focus in that we want to raise our kids to know Jesus and to love Jesus. And ultimately that’s the goal. And so I would love for you to take us through your journey of how you started on this homeschool journey, what that looked like, what your expectations were of yourself. Because as I’m reading your book, I was laughing to myself because I thought, well, she really had it nailed down. And I am still trying to nail lit down 13 years later. But it’s a beautiful story that you have of how the Lord has really transformed you and your family and your home school through this journey that he’s taken you on. So I just want to kind of sit at your feet. I want to learn from you. I want to be encouraged by you and I want the same for our audience. So I’m going to let you start. Just share with us kind of how your home school journey began and what the Lord has taken you through for these past. How many years was it how many.
Missy Andrews [00:05:42]:
Years ago was it that you started home plus years? It’s been four years now since I graduated my 6th from our home school and have been getting used to an empty nest scenario around here. But yeah, absolutely. The book itself is a retrospective of my it was 26 years of homeschooling proper and everything that I learned. People say that if you home school, you get a second chance at your own education. And I heard that along the way, and being a kind of bookish sort, I thought, hey, that sounds great, go back to school and fill in all those gaps from along the way. And it’s really true that you get a second chance at your education, but it doesn’t mean what you think it means, because education is not what we think it is. Most of us, especially those of us who grew up in a public school environment, really do understand education to be data acquisition, right, mastery. And very few of us grow up in an environment where we understand education to be a little more philosophical, the opening of a mind to contemplate its self thinking and to come to understand what manner of creature it is and what manner of creature it’s not. I like to say that education can’t save you, but it can put you in the proper mindset to see that you need saving. And I think we don’t know that when we say we’re getting a second chance at our own education that that’s what’s going to happen to us, that we are going to be forced to consider what man a creature we are all over again. And it is a kind of Divine Comedy. That title is actually an allusion to Dante’s Divine Comedy, which comes to us in three parts or three books. He says we get the Inferno purgatorio and paradesio, and it’s the story of a soul’s journey to God, essentially. And in the story, Dante makes himself the protagonist, and he says that he finds himself lost in a dark wood because the straight path has been lost. He’s been trying to climb up the mountain to God, and his path has been obstructed again and again by these three beasts that represent his sins and he just can’t seem to get around them. I don’t know if any of you can relate to this, but I certainly could. It is the struggle of the Christian to overcome the sins that plague him in his attempt to find the Lord and to behold his beauty and inquire in his temple, as the psalmist would say, right. The good things and the ultimate things is what the Inferno is about. And all of the lessons that he’s learned in the Inferno about what sin is and what life is good for and the role of reason in guiding us to an understanding of those things and to a reliance on the grace of God instead of our own feeble attempts to perfect ourselves. Dante is confronted not just with the ideas of sin and death and idolatry, but with the fact of it in his own life. And this is what my title alludes to is this kind of journey of the soul and the impediments to any kind of real progress that we experience in our real time lives that plague us. That is our own sin. Not just man’s sin, nature. Yes, we all ascribe to this, but our own sin. And the truth of the matter is, we learn in the Scriptures that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, that we don’t even know the depths of our own sin. And oftentimes, in the very act of doing something that we think is so, so good, we find that we’re in the midst of deep, deep sin. And that was what happened to me in my Homeschooling project. I was born to a couple of academics, two teachers and lifelong learners. And so I grew up in a house filled with books where education was really important. And so I really valued education. Adam, my husband, also really valued education. We’re both book nerds. We graduated from Hillsdale College, which is a great book school with a really fine liberal arts education. And four days after graduation we got married. And it wasn’t too long after that that, as Adam always likes to say, the stork began to pay regular visits to our house, dropping off little bundles. And before we knew it, we had six children of our own and my parents had been involved in public education. I was educated in the public school. And initially before Adam and I got married, when we were talking about how we would educate our future children, that at that point were only ideas and hopes in our hearts, we argued about how we were going to do this. And I think I said something like, public school is fine for me, it’ll be fine for my children. And what could you possibly be saying about my family? What’s the matter with my family? And that kind of nonsense. And I don’t remember that argument really ending. But I can tell you that when my oldest son, Ian, was about two years old, I came to bed one night with a magazine that laid out all of the different approaches to homeschooling. And Adam looked at me and said, what are you reading? And I told him and he said, well, I thought public school was fine for your children. And I said, oh, no, my children are going to be homeschooled. So the Lord had clearly taken care of that by turning my heart towards homeschooling. And the type of homeschooling that appealed to me most as I surveyed all the different options was classical homeschooling because it smacked at the liberal arts, liberal meaning the arts that we study that make us free, right? And the idea of the freedom, not just political freedom, but spiritual freedom, was really important to me that my kids would grow up knowing the Lord and walking in the liberty of the Lord understanding what that meant. So this means was very familiar to me because of my education at Hillsdale and also very attractive to me because of my Christianity. So we decided that’s what we would do. I started Homeschooling Ian when he was about four years old. It was way too early and I was, as you said, very type A personality. It was really important to me to do it right. I had to do it right and I was willing to do whatever it took to do it right. I was terrified I was going to do it wrong and mess my kids up. So I spent hours and hours of preparing. Initially when I started, I was using a phonics curriculum that scripted the lessons. And I remember I’d have it open on my lap and I would read word for word everything that this woman, bless her heart, had written down for me to say. And it was a long time before I went off note off book the theater people would say and had any confidence that oh yeah, this isn’t rock and science, I can do this because I just really wanted to do it right. It was so important. And that is the way I approached the education project with my kids from beginning to end with ardor and earnestness. And I really was willing to sacrifice whatever I would do, whatever it took to give my kids the education that I wanted them to have. And Homeschooling draws that kind of personality. Whether you’re type A or type B, the earnestness of the parents involved in the homeschooling process, you can’t overstate it. We are doing this on purpose and it costs us something. It’s a really noble enterprise. The problem is that I guess I conflated the nobleness of the enterprise with nobleness in myself and that was the beginning of the problem. I was the fly in the homeschooling. Ointment that is the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. Who can know it, right? We don’t know the depravity in our own heart. And so I latched on to this homeschooling idea and imagined that in some way the virtuousness of the project made me virtuous that the goodness of the project made me good and lost sight of the fact that I was a sinner going about this business on any given day. I was about the business of discipline and instruction and preparation and grading and all of those kinds of things that everybody is engaged in. It looked pretty ordinary around here. But what I was doing constantly and earnestly was trying like mad to be good enough. Everything depended on it, as far as I was concerned, that I was a good enough teacher, that I had prepared well enough, that they were prepared well enough. So pretty soon, because of the nature of the beast that is homeschooling, when my child got an A on their report card, I got an A on my report card. When my child failed the test, I failed a test. Because you’re so involved in the process, you begin to conflate issues if you’re anything like me. And it’s so subtle that it’s almost unacknowledged, right. Nobody’s messing up their kids on purpose. All of us want our kids to be well and to succeed. It’s just that there’s this impulse in our hearts to save ourself, right? And we grasp at the things around us in order to try to do that, to secure identity and name and security. And we look at this homeschooling project, which, when I began the homeschooling project with my kids, homeschooling was like swimming upstream in the culture. There’s still a little of that, but it’s become much more mainstream than it was 25 years ago, right? And so there was this deep need to validate the project through success and successment results, successment A’s and high scores on achievement tests and scholarships to colleges and high paying jobs. And you can fill in the blanks. It looks the same, I think, across the board. And all of those things are great things, but they’re not ultimate things. When we look to those things to validate our work, we do violence to the work itself, right? Though they might give us some good information, they don’t actually have the ability to name us for to judge us in those things, but I was pretty quick to allow them to. The role of the homeschool mom in education is to facilitate the learning process and their kids. And as I mentioned before, education is not what we think. It’s not just, let’s learn about states and capitals and see if we can’t get 100% on the test. Those are the things of education that we work on. But the real educational moment comes when Johnny gets an F on one of his papers and comes face to face with either his laziness or maybe it’s a real impasse. He’s just not wired up to learn that thing that way. And maybe, like for me in mathematics, math was never going to be my thing. And I was pressed all the way to the end to work as hard as anybody could just to make the grade, to move on to the next level and progress. I was never, ever going to solve the problems of the world mathematically. And I remember working in the subject of mathematics brought me up against myself so that I realized that though I was created in the image of god. And I could learn to reason. I wasn’t God, I was just a creature. And there were some things that were never going to be my thing and that those things were gifts to me so that I would never make too much of myself, so that I would never come to think that I was a God instead of beloved of God. They were like road signs to help me figure out what a creature is and to redirect my impulses in a large way. So sometimes the F’s that we get teach us more than the ace that we get, if that makes any sense. But if you’re conflating the success of the Enterprise with worldly Success grades and data and entrance exams that get you in the door and give you Hefty scholarships, you lose sight of the real purpose of education in that regard, and you begin to conflate ins and means. And suddenly the Identity Project is written all over the surface of the Homeschooling Project, both for the child and for the mother. Because the child learns from the mother, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Yvette Hampton [00:19:23]:
I want to get back into your story because what you’re talking about really, and it’s kind of the beginning of your book. Your book is called My Divine Comedy a Mother’s Homeschooling Journey. And in this book, you’re talking about our identity as moms, as homeschool moms. And I think no matter where we are in life, whatever our career is, we always link our identity to what it is that we’re doing. And so as homeschool moms, our identity is always linked to the performance of our children and how are they performing. At least we think it is. That’s how we feel as moms. Like if they’re performing well, then we are performing well. If they’re performing poorly, then we are performing poorly. Instead of realizing that, like you said, we’re sinful people raising sinful humans, right?
Missy Andrews [00:20:11]:
Yvette Hampton [00:20:12]:
So continue on with your story because it is such an incredible transformation in you and what the Lord taught you through your journey of homeschooling and helping us mamas, who are still trying to figure out this really what our identity is. And really our identity, of course, is in Christ. But continue on with what the Lord was teaching you in those early years.
Missy Andrews [00:20:35]:
It’s true that whatever it is that we’re doing, we look to that thing as the thing that’s going to name us. But theologians have suggested that whatever we look to to name us besides God, is too small to support the demands that we’re placing upon lit. And those things actually turn into idols that turn around and devour us and everyone that we love. And that’s true of homeschooling, too. I’m here to tell you that if you make homeschooling an ultimate thing instead of a subordinate thing in service of the truth of God and the love of God in Christ Jesus for sinners, that kind of truth and knowledge that homeschooling itself will be perverted. It will become an idolatrous demon that devours you and your kids wholesale and you will have a stillbirth on your hands. So the Lord was really gracious and kind to us to teach us this lesson while we were working with our oldest kids and to wrest the driver’s will from us through a kind of severe mercy in our experience with our oldest. As I said, one of the beautiful things about homeschooling is mom is so invested in the success of the children. But the side effect is that mom is getting her identity. So if Johnny gets an A, mom gets an A. If Johnny gets enough, mom gets enough. And so, over time, the mother that really wants to succeed, who is striving to succeed as a homeschool mom, I’m going to be the best homeschool mom there ever was. I can do this. We can do this. Right, is going to put her foot in the back of that kid and he’s going to be on a treadmill just like she is to try to pump out A’s. And the A is going to be the thing at all times, success. The college application is going to loom large, and whether or not they get a scholarship or get into the right school or what have you, or end up with the career that pays big bucks or you name it, right? This ends up being the end goal for homeschooling, and that really ought not to be. But all the same, this is what happened in my own experience. And so we get to the senior year with my oldest, and they’re six now. By the time my oldest was in school, all six of our kids were involved in our little home school. And I was really, really busy that year that Ian was a senior in high school, I taught 36 works of literature in our home school co op, and that was just literature. I was teaching worldview and French and history and Latin. I mean, you name it, I was teaching it. And I was completely worn out and so were they. The kids were exhausted. And so it comes time for Ian to take his Sat tests. And he scored very well the first time. And my husband looked at him and said, I think we should take that again. And studies show that if you take it a second time, scores go up, so let’s do it again. And our son said, well, okay, if you think I need to do that. And so he took it again, and lo and behold, his score went up just like statistics showed.
Yvette Hampton [00:24:05]:
Missy Andrews [00:24:05]:
And my husband rocked at him and said, you know what? You did so well that second time, let’s take it again. And so he took it a third time and guess what? His scores went down. And that was the beginning of the end because the truth of the matter is, he began to sniff something in that moment that didn’t smell good. He began to doubt the altruism of our project in homeschooling. And we hadn’t even watched ourselves thinking yet enough to sniff that in the air or to notice that the emphasis was on the wrong things suddenly, and that we had subtly made our child a means to our own success, put our child in the role of making us successful. And wow, that’s an awful lot to put on a kid. Your success, I mean, their own success is a question mark in their own mind and heart, and that’s enough of a burden for them to carry, let alone heaping on that mom and dad’s success. Right? But I think it’s subtle. It’s there in the homeschooling project. It’s a temptation, and the results are not good. This is what happened in our life when Ian began to sniff that rebellion within the air. He did get into a school. He got into our alma mater where our teachers were still teaching. And in my fantasies, he was going to go sit under those professors that I admired so much, and he was going to answer the right question, and they were going to say, Where did you learn that? And he would say, I was homeschooled. Right? Isn’t that ugly? I mean, it’s embarrassing to acknowledge that out loud. It was really hard to put it down in print. It’s getting easier as I exercise, saying it out loud to acknowledge that, but it was there in my heart. And there was a little something at night when you sleep, the Lord talks to you sometimes, and there was this little sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop. And simultaneously, when I looked at the project, it was so noble. Surely this was noble, this was good, and everybody wants their child to be successful. I could rationalize all of it. But when this went down, the jig was up. Ian got into school. He got a Hefty scholarship, and about a month before he left, a couple of weeks before he left, he sat his dad down and said, you know, I think I hate you. I don’t think I ever want to see you again. And my husband said what? What happened? What do you mean? And bless his heart, he had the humility to say, ian, I don’t know what I’ve done, but whatever it is, I want to repent to you right now, please tell me, what have I done? My response was a little different. I said, how dare you say that? Poor you. You had a mom and dad who cared. Let’s go over what we’ve done over over the past so many years to make you to set you up for success, right? This is where I was in the whole in my heart about this issue. And thank God it’s not where I would stay. And it wasn’t where Ian would stay either. The severe mercy in this moment was the Lord took him off to school. We really struggled to know whether to keep him home and say, well, we’re not sending you because your heart’s not in the right place, or if it was time for him to leave our protected classroom and go out into the schoolroom of life and take some hard knocks and learn on his own. And he did. And he has a wonderful story to tell about the Lord capturing his heart, him seeing his own sin, and figuring out for himself that actually this whole idea of identity, he had it wrong, too. He’d learned from us the wrong things, and that his identity was in Christ Jesus, and that made him suddenly want to get an education and to do well and to show up for class and study hard. And he graduated from a really difficult school after starting with well, you could just say a big fat goose egg, because he wasn’t even showing up to class. Turned that around to a 3.0 by graduation, but that’s hard to do. Anybody who’s ever tried to go from a zero average knows you’re doing a lot of backfilling before you can even make progress. And I just want to stress again, this is not because he wasn’t academically prepared. This is because of a misunderstanding of his identity and what made him valuable and the nature of education. Okay. Simultaneously at home, adam and I were learning some very similar things. We were getting a second chance at our education. Just as I said, your story is.
Yvette Hampton [00:29:07]:
So powerful, and I want to continue on with it, of course. But the thing that strikes me most about it is that it wasn’t just the academics. Oftentimes, I think, as parents, we want to turn our children into robots, right? We want to determine how they’re going to live their lives and what they’re going to do. And again, it sometimes goes back to a reflection of us, but not always. I mean, in a sense it does, but sometimes it’s just we want what’s best for our kids, and so we think that we know what’s best for them when the Lord’s like, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute. I created them for a purpose, and their purpose is not necessarily your purpose. And so instead of our kids robotically doing what we’ve wanted them to do and it’s not just academically, it’s character, too.
Missy Andrews [00:29:55]:
Yvette Hampton [00:29:56]:
I mean, I find that our girls are different, as I’m sure all six of your kids are. I have one who likes academics a whole lot more than the other. My one daughter, who’s not I mean, she’s super smart, but she just doesn’t love academics. She’s the one that I find myself oftentimes like. I want to make her character into what I want it to become. And so whether it’s character or academics or trade or whatever, it. Is that we’re trying to focus on for our kids and with our kids. You’re so convicting me because I’m just realizing it’s not about me. It’s about her, and it’s about the Lord. And how did God create her? How did he create each one of my girls to be and all of our kids? How did he make them and why did he make them? To impact his kingdom. And so finding that road to walk alongside of them, not pushing them from behind and helping them to understand really where their identity is.
Missy Andrews [00:30:56]:
Yes. And the identity project is the main thing here, right? We’re all about this identity Project, and the good news is, God’s about it, too. He really wants us to know who we are, and he wants us to know our real names. And the thing about identity is we’ve believed a lie. We believe that identity is created especially in our culture now, right? You can be whatever you want, male, female, whatever. But the truth of the gospel is that identity is received, right? We receive our name. We receive our gender. We receive our identity from God, who created us as we are and who has a purpose for our life. And the name that he gives us all, the ultimate name that he gives us is beloved. We’re the beloved ones. And that identity is the real identity that we’re all striving for. We want to be validated and known and loved, but we look in all the wrong places for that identity. We try to secure it through success in our jobs, for in our school or what have you, through our marriage or our children’s affections for us and pleasure with us. We try to secure it through our children, through their success. I’m the good parent, right? I’m the good mother. I’m the good parent. I’m the good wife. I’m the good employee. You fill in the blank. Everybody’s searching somewhere, but all of those things are too small to name us. They were never designed to do that. And when we try to force them into that role in our lives, they turn on us and do damage both to us and to our children. That’s what I experienced with the homeschooling Project, a very good and noble calling. But when it’s made an ultimate thing, something that does a lot of violence, did a lot of violence to me. I did a lot of violence to it and through it to my children, which doesn’t gain say, I still say homeschooling is a blessing from God, and I want to help anybody who wants to do it. One of the ways I want to help is by saying, don’t make it ultimate. It is not ultimate. It doesn’t name you. Look to God for your name, root down into the grace and mercy of God and discover who you really are. And that’s twofold A. I think it’s Timothy Keller who died recently. That said, I am more sinful than I could ever imagine, the hardest, deceitful and desperately wicked who can know it? And I’m more loved than I could ever imagine, more sinful than I know and more loved than I can imagine. You see, this is the truth about human beings. God sees us. He knows us. We’re fallen. We are bad, bad to the bone. But God in his love redeems us from death, names us, calls us out of darkness, into life, and he wants us to live in his grace. When we do that, suddenly those things that we were looking to, to name us, that had become demonic in our lives, they become what they were always meant to be, which is blessings, activities. You see, homeschooling is a wonderful activity through which our kids can learn that they are both rational creatures, made in the image of God and fallen, deeply flawed, desperately wicked. That is the stuff of a fine education if that is not in the forefront of our minds as we go about reading, writing and arithmetic. We’ve missed the boat. We’ve missed the boat and all of those other things, those good things that we want them to have a college education, a job that supports their family. God wants those things for them too. He is committed as a loving father to providing for us and all of our needs. Sometimes he does that through things that look to us like disasters. But in those moments, those idols that we’ve been leaning on are rested out of our hands and he puts something much center into our hands in its place. And that is a relationship with Him, an understanding of our Savior grace. When I learned this, there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth initially until I saw, I think this is all my fault. And then the grace of God rushed in and there has been well, I can say there was a sea change in my own understanding of the educational project and a a graciousness that penetrated our homeschooling experience. That is not to say that I never went back like a dog to its vomit, as the Old Testament would say, and went about trying once again to establish myself and my children through work, through conquering this, that or the next thing, right? Performanceism. I’m a type A. What do I do? I perform. I’m trying to get my kids to it’s not that performance is a bad thing. It’s good to do well. But when it was the ultimate thing and when our identity hinges upon it, it has great destructive force. So this was my story. Realizing the love of God for me caused me to root down into that love and created graciousness in my homeschooling endeavors. There was an opportunity for the kids to admit things that they didn’t already know because they started to pick up on the fact that knowing wasn’t everything and that maybe an admittance of ignorance was a precondition to learning anything at all. That if knowing wasn’t the thing that named you and secured a good life for you, then admitting that you didn’t know was okay, right? You didn’t lose. You only gained. Yeah. That made a big mark in our homeschooling experience and a big mark in my children’s lives. It also put them in a position where they could actually admit alongside me their need for God, their need for forgiveness and reconciliation, for redemption, wholesale redemption, and then redemption. The little r redemptions in their daily lives. They could admit when they were wrong. They could accept responsibility. All those character things you were talking about being so important. We used to talk about how we wanted to teach our kids to read, to respect authority, to esteem others as better than themselves, to admit wrongdoing and to be diligent in all things, to read right, respect authority, esteem others as better than yourself, admit wrongdoing and be diligent in all things. Those are good things. We wanted them to be people of character. But doesn’t that begin with telling the truth? I don’t have any character. I am flawed, fatally flawed. And apart from the grace and love and mercy of God, I’m lost. I’m irredeemable without the Redeemer, right? But the Redeemer calls me beloved and he’s invested in me. And he promises he’s going to make my life fruitful and good as I do the work, the hard work of believing on Him, not believing in myself, but believing on his name. And as I do that, confessing my sin, repenting, then he’s going to do his part, which is resurrecting me to newness of life and causing fruitfulness to abound out of my life. And through my even my sin, he’s going to use he’s going to make the wrath of man to praise Him. That’s what the scriptures say. That has been my experience. And I’ve watched the Lord liberate not only me, but my children from the bondage of performanceism that had pervaded my household. And lest do you wonder what happened to Ian? Ian has grown up to be a wonderful, godly young man. He and his wife have been married eight years. They’re expecting their first child in October. He’s currently getting an MDiv from Knox Theological Seminary. He walks with God. He has his own story. And he has given me consent. When I was writing this, he asked me to write this story. That’s the reason my Divine Comedy came to be is he said, mom, please write this down. Please write this story. And through the course of writing the story, I realized together with Him, that just because I’d worked this out in my own heart and the Lord had shown me things, that it didn’t mean that he knew what I had learned. And that the act of Narrating back my own debacle, my own sin, what the Lord showed me, how he confronted the sin in my heart and showed me his grace. How I see and narrate the story in retrospect. Now, boy, that was a gift. That was a gift to give to my son, because what was he doing simultaneously? He was taking responsibility for everything. He was the one who failed. He was the one who misconstrued his parents intentions. And it was all his fault. He was the loser, he was the screw up. He was the guy that got a zero. You see? He misunderstood everything about identity, too. He was still attaching identity and performance, except he wasn’t a can. He was a can’t, you see?
Yvette Hampton [00:40:25]:
Missy Andrews [00:40:26]:
Two sides of the same coin. That is not his name. That’s one thing he did along the way. And it was the adverse work in his life that the Lord brought to bear to get his attention and to draw him to grace. And the result was he’s liberated. He’s able to do what he was created to do, which, incidentally, is very academic. He’s a book nerd. He loves school and learning, and he wants to be a preacher, so he’s going to spend a lot of time in dusty, dry tomes. Right. Education was really important for him, the academic kind. But it doesn’t make him who he is. The love of Christ makes him who he is, his value in the eyes of God. So that was my Divine Comedy and I had to go down to come up, right. And I have to remind myself of this. I’m grateful for opportunities like this one to rehearse this story out loud and to remember what the Lord showed me. I pray that I would never forget that my identity is never the work of my hands, that lit is not created. I do not create my identity. I do not create myself. The Lord who made me knows me, names me and loves me, and I am secure with Him. And that’s what I want you listeners to hear. The Lord knows you. He made you. He called you by name. You are his beloved and he is invested in you. He is invested in your children. You have nothing to fear, and that liberates you to just do the work of homeschooling.
Yvette Hampton [00:42:04]:
Missy, this is amazing. I love that you always bring it back to grace. The grace that God showed you, the grace that you showed to your son, the grace that your son showed to you, the grace that you and your husband have shown to each other. And you’ve been able to share that grace with all of us so that we can hopefully take this and internalize this on our own so that we don’t make some of those same mistakes with our own children that you made. Because how heart wrenching to have your child say to you, I want nothing to do with you. But then to have God redeem that whole story is just absolutely incredible and something that only the Lord can do. So. Missy, I know as you’re talking through your story, you often get asked by people because you speak, you do podcasts, you talk to homeschool, families all over the world. How do we avoid this? How do we avoid starting out and ending up the way that you started out? To get to the point where children are just like, this is just too much. You’re putting too much on me. This is not what I want for my life. And putting these unrealistic expectations on ourselves and our children as well. How do we avoid these things?
Missy Andrews [00:43:15]:
Well, I have two answers and the first one is a little tongue in cheek and it’s, why would you want to do that? Why would you want to avoid this? What I just explained is that I got knocked off my donkey, I got pushed out off the treadmill, I was delivered from the hamster wheel right of performanceism. And with that, that would happen to you all. But I hear what you’re asking and what you’re saying is, how do I avoid the pain and the suffering involved in sinning against my children? And I wish I could tell you that there’s a surefire way that you can protect yourself and your kids from you, but there is not. You are a sinner and you will sin against your kids no matter how hard you try not to. I just want to go back to the beginning and say, nobody screws up their kids on purpose. The reason we’re homeschooling in the first place is because we love them with all our hearts and we are willing to sacrifice our lives for them in some very real ways. So let’s just start there. But it’s still us. It’s still us doing it. And we’re mixed bag satan sinner live together, bound together in one flesh in this lifetime. And so I think our greatest weapon against the enemy as we endeavor to do this well, is repentance quickness to examine ourselves and see if we be in the way to say, is it I, Lord? Have I sinned? Have I today, this day, misconstrued the project and made the good thing into the ultimate thing and communicated to my child that his identity depends on his success and that my identity depends on his success? And if so, if the answer is yes. In the Secret heart of Hearts, don’t gloss over that I just taught this morning in our online class. We were doing CF. Lewis’s the Great Divorce, and it begins with this beautiful quote that I just want to read to you. He quotes George McDonald, the great father of fantasy literature and his own mentor. He says, no, there is no escape. There is no heaven with a little of hell in it, no plan to retain this or that of the devil in our hearts or our pockets out. Satan must go every hair and feather. And really, isn’t that what the Lord is about as he deals with us graciously exposing our sins so that we can see them in real time? Not theoretically. Yes, we’re all sinners. Yes, we are. Oh, yes, we’re flawed. We’re fallen. The fall of man affects us all. But no, like Dante, we need to be brought to the top of Mount Purgatory on a daily basis so that we can see our sin in real time and remember that we are not saving ourselves. The Lord saves us, and our gaze is lifted to the one who saves. And then the project is animated with a newness of life as we go to our kids and say, look, I’ve done it again. I’m sorry. Don’t be afraid to walk in the light with your kids. I think sometimes we think that in order for them to respect us, we have to convince them that we don’t sin, that we’re always right and we never do anything wrong. Really? Repentance is the greatest gift the Lord’s given us. It is a weapon that we have in our arsenal. We can walk in the light and confess and say to our kids, if I had had the presence of mind to do what my husband did in the moment when Ian said, I smell a rat, instead of, hey, poor you, you have parents who care. Oh, honey, yes, you do. And there’s more that I hope you’ll never see that’s in there as well. The heart is so deeply and the wickedness goes so all the way down that I depend on God daily to resurrect this old man. That is a gift you can give your children, because what it tells them is that they’re just like you. You’re just like them them. And suddenly there’s no need for pretense between the two of you. You give them permission as you walk in repentance with them and are real with them, to look at themselves, and when they find sin there, to confess and to repent. Because if you really think that your perfection is what’s necessary in order for you to get into Heaven, that you, through your own good behavior, your own virtue and character quality, can somehow scale the walls of heaven. Boy, oh, boy, you’re never going to repent. You’re never going to repent because everything depends on you being right. You’re never going to admit that you’re wrong. I think sometimes because of our desire to look good in our kids eyes, we prevent them from learning this lesson that there is no ladder to heaven. There’s a door, and his name is Jesus.
Yvette Hampton [00:48:04]:
Missy Andrews [00:48:04]:
That’s it. And that all of those virtues, they’re good. And he promises to work them into our hearts as we look at ourselves, acknowledge our faults, and repent before Him and learn from Him His ways. He’s humble. What does he say? My yoke is easy and my burden is light. What is the yoke that yokes us together with Him? But the the way of the cross suffering. And there’s a little death involved in admitting you’re wrong. So I would encourage you. How do I avoid this? Well, first of all, you won’t. You may avoid it in all the particulars, the way that I have, but you will experience it in your own way, in your own time, in your own story. And thank God for that because it’s a severe mercy in your life. Sometimes I think that the only way the Lord could really get our attention is through these children that he gave to us because they’re so important to us that maybe for that, maybe for that relationship, we would be willing to look at ourselves.
Yvette Hampton [00:49:02]:
We’re talking about our children not being a reflection of us and their identity, but in so many ways, our children are a reflection of us in that we oftentimes, I think, see our sin through our children. I want to dig in just a little bit deeper with you because one of the things that you said that I thought was really important was that nobody screws up their kids on purpose. And I appreciate your transparency in that. We’re going to screw stuff up. I’ve often said my goal in parenting is to get my girls to the end of our home when they go off into their adult lives with me having as few regrets as possible and them having as few regrets as possible. That is my greatest desire. But I still continue to sin. I screw up, my husband screws up, they screw up. I mean, we’re just a bunch of simple people living together, right?
Missy Andrews [00:50:00]:
Yvette Hampton [00:50:01]:
And I know sometimes people don’t want to hear that. But where I want to dig in with you for these last few minutes that we’re together is how do we as moms and as dads who might be listening, but mostly moms who are listening, how do we come to that point where we can really truly recognize our sin? Because I think as humans, we think, well, the way that we’re living our life is the right way, right? Or else we wouldn’t be living it that way. So how can we truly recognize, like, oh, this is where I have been screwing up. How do we see that reflection in the mirror? And this might be kind of a weird analogy, I don’t know. But the other day I was looking at a picture of myself and I thought, do I really look like that? Because when I look in the mirror, that’s not the picture that I see. But then when I looked at this picture, I thought, is that what everybody else sees? It just looks so different to me. It looks like a different person. And I want to be that person who spiritually and emotionally for my children especially, and for my husband, that I see myself clearly as I see myself in the mirror that I don’t see one thing in the mirror and then everyone else sees something different. Does that make sense? So how do we get to that point, Missy, where we just are able to recognize this is who I really am and these are the things that I really need the Lord to work on in me?
Missy Andrews [00:51:32]:
Well, we have a good and loving Heavenly Father. And in your own experience with your children as you’re trying to do character training, situations and circumstances present themselves that are ideal teaching moments. We call them teachable moments, right? And we grasp the opportunity and we work on character in those moments. And we’re just fallen human parents. We have a good Heavenly Father and he never fails to grasp the moments in our own lives in order to turn the mirror on us so that we can see the truth about us and our need for Him and kindly bring us to repentance. I don’t think we have to go searching very hard. The Lord is good. So that’s probably not a real practical answer to your question, but I think it’s a true one. The Lord’s more invested in you figuring out your need for Him than you are, so you’re safe. He will do it. He will do it from first to last, and you want Him to. I tell you what, there’s so much freedom and rest in the gospel of Jesus Christ. You want Him to and your children want Him to. Look what we all have in common. You and I are very different. You started out the podcast saying you’re a type A, I’m a type B, you’re bookish and I’m not. That may be true. Those are incidentals about our personality that have to do with the different work that the Lord has called us each to do. They’re not identity, they’re incidentals. The thing that we have in common is our sin and our need for Christ and our belovedness. Those are the things that we have in common. We’re all marked with that. And that’s true not just from peer to peer, but from mother to child. Our kids are not all just like us. We all have one that probably is. And usually it’s that child that we have the hardest time with, right? Because they show us our sin continually. But then we have other kids that are so different from us that we can’t quite figure them out, you see? But we do have in common with all of them is sin need and really because of God’s goodness. I think that there’s an Old Testament verse that talks about the sins of the fathers being visited upon the next and next generation. And I used to look at that as a curse from God. But I’ve come to see lit as maybe a severe mercy because the nature of my sin, I can see it. I understand it in the light of the grace of God and redemption. I can own it. And thank God that he used it in order to direct me to himself so that I didn’t go on perpetually thinking that I was a god and could save myself. And when it’s redeemed, I can come alongside my child and say, yeah, I see that. Me too. I understand. Let’s pray together about this. And that becomes an amazing, powerful strength in the relationship itself that you’re down in the ditch with your kid, but you know exactly how to get out. You know that it’s not through dent of your own efforts scrabbling up the hard sides of the rock that you’re going to make it to God. It’s his hand reaching down farther than ours can reach up. That is our only hope. And we have it historically. We have it in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. And practically we have it every day through the life of His Holy Spirit dwelling in us and animating us to do the things that we do and revealing to us. What does the Bible say? All truth. And that includes, here you are in sin, abandon it. It’s a self salvation project. Lay it down. You don’t need it. I’ve already saved you. They don’t need it. I’ve already saved them. This is working out our salvation with fear and trembling. And when we do that, homeschooling becomes delightful, right?
Yvette Hampton [00:55:33]:
And so ultimately what it comes down to is that homeschooling our kids is not an academic journey. No. For them, for for us, it’s a spiritual journey for all of us together. And we’re on this journey with one another, learning and teaching and showing grace to each other and really understanding God’s forgiveness and his plan for each one of our lives. And what a beautiful thing. People can argue all the points about why they should homeschool or shouldn’t homeschool, or why they should have their kids in traditional school or shouldn’t have their kids in traditional school. And the fact of the matter is that homeschooling is a different kind of journey. It is that you cannot take ever in any way when your children are apart from you for their whole childhood, their whole academic childhood.
Missy Andrews [00:56:24]:
I will say that’s absolutely true. I agree with you. I will say that a lot of people say, wow, after listening to you talk about this, why would I ever want to home school? And my words to them are, well, you can’t avoid this because the Lord is after you. And if you say, well, because I would try to find my identity in homeschooling, I’ll go ahead and put them in the public school and be on the PTA. Well, then you’ll turn the PTA into a means to an identity or you’ll turn your nine to five job into a means for identity. Whatever you do, it’s what we do. We’re really good at it, human beings. Was it John Calvin that said, our hearts are idol making factories? If you don’t turn one thing into an idol, you turn another one into the idol until the Lord gets a hold of your heart and demonstrates to you his magnificent plan to redeem you and to call you his own.
Yvette Hampton [00:57:16]:
Amen. He is so faithful. I can’t think of a better reason to homeschool than to be on this.
Missy Andrews [00:57:21]:
Spiritual journey absolutely together.
Yvette Hampton [00:57:24]:
So it’s a beautiful thing. Missy, thank you so much. This book is fantastic. Thank you for your transparency and your honesty throughout this entire book. It’s called again? My divine comedy. A mother’s homeschooling journey. And you guys need to get a copy of this book because there’s so much more to be said and I have highlights throughout the book. I mean, it’s just amazing as I was reading it and just thinking, oh, she has so many good points here, and, oh, she’s talking directly to me. I mean, there were just so many parts that I felt like the Lord was using this book to reveal so much of my insecurities as a homeschool mom and kind of just hugging me through it and going, it’s going to be okay, it’s going to be okay. Please keep trusting me. So thank you for your obedience to write this book and just for sharing your heart with all of us. And thank Adam, your husband, and Ian, your son, for their willingness to be part of the story, because they are such an important part of the story as all of your children are. So we’ll put links to the book in the show notes. Missy, is there any last word of encouragement that you would like to leave for our audience?
Missy Andrews [00:58:36]:
Oh, God bless you. God bless.