Salt and Light in the Public Schools?

“I became passionate about this topic because my daughter was taking some leadership training classes to help prepare herself for working at our local Bible camp, and the conversation turned to how she would be less equipped to work with some of these kids because she was homeschooled. She came home really bothered about that, and at the same time actually, our youth pastor made the comment about the kids needing to be the salt and the light in the public school system, and how that’s one reason he had never homeschooled is because he wanted his kids to be the salt and the light… She felt like she wasn’t doing what God wanted her to do because she was homeschooled instead of being in the public school system.” – Misty Bailey

Listen to Misty Bailey talk about salt and light in the public schools on the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. (8-13-2019 episode)

Yvette Hampton and Misty Bailey recently had the opportunity to discuss whether our kids have the responsibility of being “salt and light” in public schools. Are we missing an opportunity to evangelize when we remove our kids from public schools, and if they do not have the responsibility of being “salt and light” there, who does?

Yvette Hampton:           Misty Bailey is a blogger, a podcaster, and she is a homeschool mom. I recently had the opportunity to discuss an exciting, and maybe a little bit controversial, topic; “our kids being salt and light in the world.” We often get that question. People will say, “well, we’ve got to have Christian kids in the public school system so that they can be salt and light.”

Misty, welcome. Tell us about your family.

Misty:                           We have been homeschooling since 2009. My kids, right now, are 14, 11, and seven. I was a former public school teacher and I kind of went into homeschooling begrudgingly. I didn’t really want to do it. Kind of went kicking and screaming, but God just started laying it on my heart when my oldest was four, as she was entering into those preschool years… You have to send your kids to preschool, right?

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At the time, I was teaching in the public school system. So I ended up quitting when I got pregnant with my second, but my husband at this point was against homeschooling, even though the Lord had been laying it on my heart. So we sent her off into public school, and shortly after she had entered public school, we started noticing changes in her, changes in her personality. There were some issues that had come up with the public school system at the time, and so my husband said, “If you could teach her to read, you can homeschool.” So no pressure. But I did it, I taught her to read, she was actually the easiest of my three kids to teach.

And here we are. We’ve not looked back. My husband now is my biggest cheerleader. So he is pro, pro, pro homeschooling. Like I said, my kids are 14, 11, and seven. My youngest son does have special needs. He has apraxia, ADHD, dyslexia, and dysgraphia. So we are also homeschooling with special needs which has opened up a whole new world for us, for homeschooling. I’m passionate about helping homeschool moms on this journey. Just encouraging them and being that mentor to them that I needed when I first started homeschooling.

Yvette:                         I’ve really enjoyed listening to your podcast and you’ve had some exciting guests on there, and you are just full of so much encouragement. I appreciate your ministry so much.

You said your husband was really against you homeschooling in the beginning. What was it that caused him to feel so negative about homeschooling?

“I was a former public school teacher and I kind of went into homeschooling begrudgingly. I didn’t really want to do it. Kind of went kicking and screaming…”

Misty:                           Yeah, so he thought homeschoolers were freaks. He didn’t want our kids to be weird or just stand out, and at that point we only knew one other family who homeschooled, and their kids were really good kids. It’s not like they were freaks at all. That mom ended up being my biggest homeschool mentor, but they were the only other homeschoolers he knew. So it was kind of funny because as the Lord was dealing with me to homeschool our kids, God kept putting homeschoolers in his path. From the mechanic who were fixing our van, to where he’d be at quiz bowl and he would bump into somebody and they would start talking about how they homeschooled their kids. So he started to see that our kids wouldn’t be the only weirdos out there, and I just thought that was so funny because I mean, I think God has a sense of humor, especially. I think if you ever say the words, “I would never homeschool.” You know, he’s going to come along and very likely change your mind and that’s what happened to us. He’s my biggest cheerleader now. He talks to everybody about homeschooling and I really couldn’t do this without him so.

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Yvette:                         I love that so much and that was our story too. We said, “We would never ever homeschool.” Now we’re making a movie about it! So I think we need to just stick on this never train and say, “I’ll never ever, ever make it to Europe.” “I’ll never ever, ever go back to Hawaii.” Let’s use those nevers to our benefit, right?

Misty:                           Yes, absolutely.

Yvette:                         Well I love that he is now really on board with homeschooling, and that is a big part of why we’re making this documentary. We want to open the eyes of parents to see what homeschooling really is and, because we had all those misconceptions too, like our kids are going to be weird.

You were actually one step ahead of us. You had a van it sounds like, because you said you were having your van worked on. So, every good homeschool mom has a minivan, and I didn’t have a minivan, but I still call myself a homeschool mom, so it’s all good.

If not, you have to have some kind of other bonus points like really, really long hair, or something like that. I’m not exactly sure what all the requirements are.

Misty:                           Denim jumpers.

Yvette:                         Right. Anyway, there all of those stereotypes. we think that homeschooling should look a certain way and it doesn’t. It is so individualized and so different for every family, and it’s what makes it so beautiful, is that every family can do this and do what’s best for their family, and every family looks differently, they act differently, they have different methods and ways of schooling, but it all points back to doing what’s best for your kids and your family.

Misty:                           Yes, absolutely.

Yvette:                         So, let’s talk about this whole salt and light argument. I know this is something that you’re really passionate about, which is why I was excited to have you on to talk about this because often times people will talk about the argument well we can’t take our kids out of public school or even private school because they need to be the salt and light of the world. There are, you have, I mean, we have so many great arguments against this, but I really want to talk and focus on what scripture says about this. What does God say about our kids being salt and light, and are we being unbiblical by taking our kids out of that public school system and not allowing them to be in there as salt and light and telling other kids about Jesus, or are we … Is there a benefit to having them out of the public school system? I know parents teeter both ways on this.

Misty:                          I became passionate about this topic because my daughter was taking some leadership training classes to help prepare herself for working at our local Bible camp, and the conversation turned to how she would be less equipped to work with some of these kids because she was homeschooled, and that really, she really came home really bothered about that, and at the same time actually our pastor, our youth pastor had made the comment about the kids needing to be the salt and the light in the public school system, and how that’s one reason he had never homeschooled is because he wanted his kids to be the salt and the light. So at this point my daughter felt very negative about, not negative about homeschooling like she wanted to go to public school, but she felt guilty. She felt like she wasn’t doing what God wanted her to do because she was homeschooled instead of being in the public school system.

“I cannot find anywhere in scripture where Jesus goes and he tells kids to go out there and to preach the Gospel, because throughout scripture whenever children are mentioned, even Jesus as a child, they’re learning. They’re not out there discipling or teaching other people.”

Misty:                           So she and I were talking about how it’s just not our kids’ job to be the salt and the light, and I say that because if you look at scripture, a lot of times when people talk about that verse, or they talk about being the salt and the light, they are referring to in scripture where in Matthew 5:13-16 Jesus tells his disciples that they are the “salt of the Earth and the light of the world,” and that they need to go and “let their light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your father which is at heaven.” But I think a lot of times what people don’t look at is whenever he’s talking about that and talking to his disciples about them going out and being the salt and the light, he’s talking to adults. He is not talking to children, and I cannot find anywhere in scripture where Jesus goes and he tells kids to go out there and to preach the Gospel, because throughout scripture whenever children are mentioned, even Jesus as a child, they’re learning. They’re not out there discipling or teaching other people.

Schoolhouse Rocked producer, Yvette Hampton, recently appeared on the Joy in the Journey Podcast to talk with host, Misty Bailey about overcoming the feelings of inadequacy that so many homeschool moms face. Click here to listen to this encouraging episode of the Joy in the Journey Podcast.

They’re learning under their parents; they’re learning under people within the temple. He’s telling the children to come to him, but he never, I can never find a place in scripture where he’s telling people to go, telling children to go out and be missionaries because that’s not their job.

Yvette:                         Yeah, that’s right. It’s not their job.

Misty:                           Yeah.

Yvette:                         It is their job to be salt and light wherever they go, but that doesn’t mean putting them in a system that is teaching everything contrary to the word of God and expecting them to be strong enough to defend that, and kids don’t … Kids can understand God’s word of course, kids are really smart and they are usually in that process of trying to figure out what they believe in and why they believe it, but a child does not, I would say even many middle school and high schoolers, they don’t completely understand yet what they believe and why they believe it. They’re still in the stage of asking questions and trying to figure out okay, this is what my mom says, this is what the world says, this is what my dad says, this is what my neighbor kids, my neighbors say, and where do I fit into all of this and what do I really believe. So expecting these kids to be able to say, “Well this is exactly what’s true and this is what I believe, and here is how I’m going to defend it.” They haven’t been taught yet how to do that.

Now, there are some amazing Christian parents who of course teach the word of God to their kids on a daily basis, and they have their family Bible time and stuff, but it’s very different when you’re not being able to teach them that day in and day out in a home setting where it’s you and it’s them, and you get to observe their struggles, and their victories, and all of the things that your kids deal with in their childhood, and you get to be the one to instill truth into them. When they’re apart from you for 35 hours a week, it’s not possible to be able to do that.

Misty:                           Yeah, and I think that that’s exactly it. I think that particularly when our kids are young, their job is to be trained up by their parents. It’s to hide the word of God in their heart so that when they’re older they can go out and serve him. Now, that doesn’t mean that our kids can’t be a positive witness to those around them, but it also doesn’t mean that we need to place them in a spiritually hostile environment at a young age just because we think our kids should be the salt and the light to the public schools because I think that our public schools are set up to where really our kids, our Christian kids are failing in the public school system. They’re not set up to where they are a place where our kids can even be a light to an extent because everything around them is so anti-God, and particularly I look at my two younger kids, and they’re seven and 11, and I don’t feel that I have had the time to fully prepare them for the world, to prepare them to be missionaries, to go into an environment full of people who are not Christians and spread the love of God.

Misty:                           Now, they can do it with me. We can go out somewhere as a family.

Yvette:                         Sure.

Misty:                           And they can be that light. They can be that light on a sports team. They can be that light if we go out as a family and serve homeless people, or serve at funerals. There are ways that they can still be a light, but it does not have to be within the public school system, and I don’t feel at that, at their age that’s really what they should be doing anyway.

Yvette:                         Right, yeah, and I agree. I think that’s a huge responsibility that we put on them, and to be quite honest, most wouldn’t do that. Now, that’s not to say that there are not Christian kids in public school or in private school who are really impacting the lives of other people because I’ve known them personally.

Misty:                           Yeah.

Yvette:                         There are certainly are kids out there who are, they’re hosting Bible clubs, and they’re leading Bible studies, and they’re inviting their friends to church, and they’re inviting their kids to youth camp and things like that. There are definitely kids out there who love Jesus and who are very solid and confident in their walk with the Lord, and they go out and they can really make a difference. So it’s not to say that that doesn’t ever happen, but I.

Misty:                           But it’s a rarity.

Yvette:                         It’s a rarity.

Misty:                           And those are the rare cases.

Yvette:                         Yes.

Misty:                           And a lot of times how old are those kids too? I mean, I don’t think they’re elementary age students or even early middle school. Most of the time they’re high schoolers, right?

Yvette:                         Right, right, yes, yeah. I definitely would think so, at least at the very youngest usually middle school.

Misty:                           Yeah.

Yvette:                         Yeah, and you know we’ve talked a lot with our girls about foundations, and you just use the structure of a building. You wouldn’t, we were driving by recently some houses that were being built and they were pouring the foundation and I said, you know, they would never build those walls around that house and start putting the roof on before building that foundation because the house would not be able to stand. You have to build that foundation and it has to be a strong solid foundation in order to hold up the walls, and hold up the roof, and be able to protect the family that’s inside of that home. So why do we do that with our children, with their hearts?

We think oh, let’s just ship them out there and then we’ll undo everything that they’ve learned, and we did a great interview with Bryan Osborne for Schoolhouse Rocked and he had been a public school teacher for I think about 13 years, and one of the things he said is he said, “If you are a Christian parents and you have your kids in a public school.” He said, “You need to be prepared to know everything that they’re being taught and then be willing to undo all of the lies that they are being taught.” And he, I mean, this is, he taught public school. Our kids are going out there in these schools and they’re learning lies, and so to have to bring them home, and it’s not even possible to know everything that they’re being taught, but to bring them home and then have to undo it all, well, you may as well just homeschool them because that’s, it’d be much easier to just teach them the truth in the first place. But talking about the foundation and our kids being able to build that solid foundation.

That’s our job as their parents, is to build that solid foundation of what they believe and helping them to understand why God’s word is truth, and then they can go out and defend that. That’s what apologetics is all about, and so I love that. One of the verses that constantly comes to mind is Luke 6:40, that, “A student is not above the teacher but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.”

Misty:                           Yeah.

Yvette:                         So first sending our kids out to these schools that are teaching untruth and we’re telling them okay, your teacher is telling you two plus two is four, believe them, that’s true, and your teacher is teaching you that evolution is true, okay well don’t believe that. Okay but believe this, but don’t believe that, but believe this, but don’t believe that. How confusing is that?

Misty:                           Exactly.

Yvette:                         For any child.

Misty:                           Yeah, exactly, and I think if we look back to when we were kids, I was never taught to question my teachers. I was never taught to even remotely doubt what they were teaching me, and particularly when we send our kids to public school we want them to be respectful to their teachers, we want them to listen, we want them to learn, but like you said, they’re filling their heads with all of these untruths, and I don’t know about where you guys live, but where we live, our kids really they’re not, we live in pretty much the Bible Belt, but at the same time there are so many issues as in our public school system where God has been mocked, where religion has been mocked, and to where even Christian kids that my daughter is in youth group with have all said that they feel uncomfortable being a Christian within the public school, and these are teenagers, and I don’t remember. I was a church bus kid. So I grew up, my parents were divorced and I was one of those kids who was not raised in a Christian home but I had a friend who invited me to church, and the church bus took me to church every week.

So, I was a Christian in high school. I felt I had a very good grasp on my faith, but I also remember being tempted on a regular basis within the school system. I remember being mocked for having Christian T-shirt. I remember being one of those kids who felt like they didn’t fully fit in, and even though I had that good grasp on my faith, I don’t remember teaching or talking to other people within the school about God. They knew I was a Christian, but I never felt comfortable ministering or being that light within the school system because it did feel so dark, and if it felt that dark 20 years ago.

Yvette:                         Right.

Misty:                           What does it feel like today? And I don’t know any of us that can look back as a child and say that we really had a good enough grasp on our faith, a good enough grasp on scripture that we could have really made a huge difference in a world that was so, so, so dark, and I think one-on-one ministering with our kids, one-on-one going as a family and doing those mission-led activities, it’s just a much better way to train our kids up in the word of the Lord, and to train our kids to be ministry focused and mission focused, than throwing them into the dark system of the public schools so.

Yvette:                         Yeah, and I love that you said that because that’s one of the questions then is if our kids are not going to be salt and light in a public school, how then can they be salt and light? How can God use them? Because certainly God can still use our kids. We’re not at all saying well, kids are kids, they can’t be used at all to impact the kingdom of God, certainly they can. How does your family do that?

Misty:                           So, for us, I feel that our kids are able to be the salt and the light by going out, and our church as a church we do back to school bashes every year and we give free backpacks to kids. My oldest took leadership training like I said at our church camp, and she was able to work as a cabin leader this past summer with eight, nine year olds, and six and seven year olds, and so many of those kids came from rough homes and they would talk to her about things that they had experienced within their home, and she was really able to pour the love of God on those kids, and there was one scenario where one of the girls was talking to her about some things about her home and she didn’t know how to respond, and I wasn’t there, I wasn’t at camp with her. So, she went to a good friend of ours and she was able to talk to her. Okay, one of the kids in my cabin told me this. How can I help them? And that right there, that mentorship relationship is exactly how our kids need to be trained up in the mission field and in the ministry.

So they were able to talk together and then she was able to go back to this child and talk to this child and really be the light, and I saw those kids when I came in and watched her at camp and how they just loved her and how she had just poured so much of herself into these kids.

Yvette:                         So cool.

Misty:                           Other ways that we do that is as a family, if there are people within our church or people within our community that we knew that passed away, I’ve always told my kids if somebody dies, take them food. Take their family food, go serve that family, and that is something that we as a family have always done, and we counted a school. That is going out and showing our children how to be servants, how to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Yvette:                         Yeah.

Misty:                           So, we do that. My middle is a huge, huge animal lover, and while I would love to encourage her to love people more, she prefers the furry four-legged creature, but I feel God can still use that gift.

Yvette:                         Sure.

Misty:                           God can use that gift and that passion she has for animals. So we have went and worked with abused dogs. We’ve went and walked the dogs at the animal shelter. We have, she did one year for her birthday instead of getting birthday gifts she took up donations for the animal shelter and then her and a couple of friends went and worked for the day on her actual birthday at the animal shelter, and they spent the whole say scooping poop. But she was still being the light of God. Those people knew she was a Christian within the animal shelter. She had talked to them and said, “I’ve been praying for these animals.” And there are ways our kids can make an impact without being in the public school system.

Yvette:                         Yeah.

Misty:                           And I think that one thing we don’t talk a lot about whenever it comes to the question about our kids being the salt and light is, we don’t talk about the aftermath of some of these Christian kids who go into the public school system. Is the public school system changing, or are Christians in the public school system changing the public schools or is the public schools changing our kids?

Yvette:                         Yeah.

Misty:                           And I think that’s something too that we need to ask ourselves whenever the question about the salt and the light comes up.

Yvette:                         Yeah. Yeah, I agree, and statistically more kids are walking away from the faith coming out of high school and more of the public schools. I’m not going to say every kid who is in public school is going to walk away from the Lord, and certainly not every kid who is homeschooled is going to continue walking with the Lord. We’ve known both sides of it. We’ve definitely known-

Misty:                           Yeah.

Yvette:                         Public school kids and private school kids who are strong in their relationship with the Lord and they’ve gone on to do ministry and serve the Lord in amazing ways, and we’ve known homeschooled kids who have just said, “No, this God thing is not for me and I don’t want anything to do with it.” And they completely go off the other direction, but statistically there have been studies done that have shown that a larger majority of kids who are raised in homeschool families continue down that path of serving the Lord, and many, many sadly who are raised up with a Godless worldview are walking away.

Misty:                           Yeah. The studies that I found show that about 80% of Christian teens walk away from the Lord when they enter into their college years, but I’m thinking that the statistic of homeschoolers is somewhere around 10%. It may be 20%. I know it was no higher than that, but the difference is phenomenal to me and I think it goes back to making sure, like you said, with the house. With that they have that foundation.

Yvette:                         Yeah.

Misty:                           They have been raised in a biblical worldview. They know how to discuss other cultures. They know how to discuss the Bible. They know how to talk about all these questions that they may get asked like well why do you believe in God? And well why would a good God let so many bad things happen? They’re raised to talk about bad influences and how can they can turn away from those bad influences, and they also have more Christian examples. They have more influences around them that are biblical and they get that more solid foundation, and I don’t think if our kids are away from us for six to eight hours a day, how can we do that? How can we teach them diligently? We can’t, and if we can’t teach them the word of God, and teach them those biblical principles, and those foundations in the little bit of time that we would have them if they’re in public school, then how do we expect our kids to go out there and to be a salt and the light in a world full of darkness, which is what we are doing. We’re expecting to send our kids into these public school systems as missionaries but they’ve never been properly trained.

Yvette:                         Right. That’s right. That’s exactly right. And it’s not like they’re not going to have opportunities to do that. They’ve got neighbors most of them that they can go and talk to and just be a good witness to. In our house that we left in California, we had a great neighborhood that had so many kids in it, and we didn’t keep our girls from playing with the kids, but there were many times, I mean, our girls would invite them to church, and they would invite them to just do all kinds of different things, and they would talk to them. They gave one of our little neighbor girls a Bible, and so my girls weren’t afraid to talk about those things, and so there were still plenty of opportunities for them to tell others about Christ.

Let me ask one quick question because we got to wrap here in just a minute, but if we’re not sending our kids out to be the salt and light in a dark world, who then? Who do we send out? Who goes to be the salt and light to tell these kids who desperately need to hear about the love of God?

Misty:                           Yeah. So I think that there’s a couple different ways we can do that. First of all, I want to say real quick or that something that had come up recently with the salt and the light is my daughter has been doing cross-country for our local school system, and she had ended up inviting a bunch of the kids from cross-country to a recent youth night. So even though she’s not in the public school, she still has this association with the public schools through sports teams.

Yvette:                         Yeah.

Misty:                           And she was able to lead one of those little girls to Christ actually this past Sunday night.

Yvette:                         Wow.

Misty:                           She was living that example of being the salt and the light even though she’s homeschooled to these public school kids.

Yvette:                         That’s awesome.

Misty:                           So, I think that is one way right there, particularly as our kids get older. My kids where we live in Ohio, they are able to participate in sports teams. So even though they’re not within the public school system, they can still have those relationships with some of those public school kids, and my kids always invite them to church. They always invite them to church. They always invite them to Bible school, but they’re able to do that more in a controlled environment. They’re not being thrown into a school system without me. I’m able to be at practices, I’m able to know these kids through games and different kids. So there is that.

Also within, one thing that has happened that I’ve heard a lot of is something called the Good News Club. They are actually a Christian organization that go around and set up Bible schools or Bible clubs within the school system, and anybody can do this. I’ve actually thought about looking into starting one in our area. There’s programs like that. Also one wonderful example that I know personally, actually my homeschool mentor. So, her name is Janie and she raised her kids, she homeschooled them and they grew up to be wonderful, wonderful adults. They’re all serving God in the churches where they’re at. Her son is actually a missionary in the Middle East. They’re in the process of going over there. Wonderful, wonderful family, but after her kids were grown, she’s now working in this, in the public school system, and I think that is something to consider too. Public schools, they do need that light, but it doesn’t have to be our children, and when I look back on my school days, I do remember the teachers. They might not have been able to tell us about God, but I could tell the ones that were different.

I think that you can still be that light. You can even get involved as/us homeschool parents, we can get involved in the PTO. We can still get involved in our public schools without sending our kids into those environments to be the missionaries.

Yvette:                         Yeah. No, it totally did and I think that’s perfect. We have a good friend who is our public school math teacher and he’s a cross-country coach, and he is just, he always finds opportunities to talk to his kids about Christ, and he has led some of his students to the Lord and it’s just been such an amazing thing. He’s a homeschool dad, but he’s an adult who knows what he believes, and no one is going to shake his belief. So he goes out. He uses the platform that has given him to be able to be a light to these kids in a very, very dark world, and so it’s really exciting. And there are things, Young Life is another organization that goes out into public schools and has Bible clubs and tells kids about Jesus, and you’re right. I mean, there are a lot of ways that we can get involved as parents and then just pray. I think pray for the kids in the public school system and pray for the Christian teachers and administrators who are in the thick of it because it is a huge battle that they’re fighting right now and they really need our prayers, and I so respect those Christian men and women who are leading these kids in a very, very difficult time and in a very dark world, and everything is against them and they don’t have the freedoms to tell these kids what they desperately need to hear. But God can still open up opportunities for them to do that.

You can find Misty at https://www.findingjoyinthejourney.net and on her podcast, Joyfully Homeschooling with Misty Bailey.

For more on this subject, pick up a copy of the excellent book, Already Gone by Ken Ham, Britt Beamer, and Todd Hillard.

 

 

The Joys of Motherhood and Homeschooling

Yvette Hampton:               This is the type of interview that I love, though I love all of my guests. Sherri Seligson is one who has been through homeschooling with her kids. And she has a really neat story about where God has taken her and where she came from, and what he’s done through her homeschooling. So, I’m excited to introduce you to her. Welcome, Sherri.

Sherri Seligson:                  Hi Yvette. Glad to be here.

Yvette:                                      Yeah, tell us, tell us about you. Tell us about your family.

Listen to Sherri Seligson on the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast (5/13/2019 episode)

Sherri:                                       Well, my husband and I have four children. We homeschooled them K – 12. They are all out of school. I still have my hair and most of my sanity. They’ve made it through college and are actually productive adults. And before we had kids, I worked at Walt Disney World’s Living Seas Pavilion as a marine biologist, and then left that to what I consider a promotion, to become a mom. Yvette:                                      Oh, I love that you say to a promotion because marine biology is a pretty amazing career to have. I love the ocean. You got to really experience God’s creation in a whole different way that most people don’t get to. Sherri:                                       Yeah, it was amazing. It’s definitely not as glamorous as people tend to imagine it, but it’s definitely fun, definitely fascinating. And the more I studied it, the more I saw God’s creative hand in our world, just a beautiful testimony to Him. Yvette:                                      That’s awesome. And so God has used that in some pretty amazing ways, for you as a homeschool mom, but for you also as just a homeschool leader, as a speaker, as an author. You’ve done some pretty neat things that help Mamas like myself who are in the middle of homeschooling right now and in the thick of it. We’re always looking for good curriculum. We’re always looking for the best thing to direct our kids’ hearts towards Christ. And so, you have been able to do that. But one of the things that you love to do is to encourage moms who struggle with the feeling of putting their lives on hold. Because some may have seen what you did as that. I would love for you to tell that story of you, “putting your life on hold” even though, like you said, you actually ended up getting a promotion. Sherri:                                       Yes. You know, it’s something that we have as our… we imagine as a young parent or a young single person, before we have kids, we have this career, because society is telling us that it’s valuable to have a career and that being a stay at home mom is lesser, is settling for less, is not good enough. That is completely wrong in my opinion. Completely wrong. One of the best mission fields we have is our children, our family. One of the best ways to impact the world is through that.

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When I left my job, most of the feedback I got from coworkers, friends, even some family members was, “You’re nuts! What are you doing putting your career on hold like that?” And we tend to do that. We kind of think that we’ve got this plan that we’re going to do in our lives that’s significant. And then we become parents. Then we decide we’re going to homeschool. Which, you know, again, that reinforced the fact that my friends and family thought I was nuts. But then we kind of see that as a sidetrack to what maybe God has for us, what we’re going to do that’s great and mighty in this world. And so, we take this time, we count down the years, we mark off the calendar. “I’ve got five more years.” “Four more years until my last one’s graduated.” Or we even feel the pressure of, you know, putting them in public school or private school, or part-time. Because we just want to do something so that we can say we’re significant. But in my experience, if I did nothing else but… like people say, “What’s on your bucket list?” – and I’ve been to lots of fun places. I’ve been in New Zealand, I’ve been to Iceland, I’ve been to all over. My bucket list top check-off box is being a mom and being with my kids. So I’ve been able to check that box as I’ve been doing it, because that’s the best experience I’ve ever had. That’s the best place I’ve ever been. And God used that time to build skills in me, both spiritually and academically. I learned so much about history that I never learned when I was in public school. And that’s a whole entire topic right there. How much I believe homeschool moms and dads are some of the smartest people I know because we get the enjoyment of learning with our children and filling in a lot of those gaps that we had with the excitement of teaching them. And so He taught … God used this to teach me grammar that I did not have, writing skills, speaking skills, at encouragement, talking with my kids, teaching other kids. Because once you get pegged as a scientist in the homeschool community, you just kind of get volunteered to do co-ops, and to teach this class, which I loved. But it built skills in me that now I’m using every day. So, I’m able to have the blessing of writing curriculum for Apologia educational ministries. I get to teach. I get to film instructional DVDs that help go along with those courses. So we go on location. We talk about the science that’s happening wherever we are. And those skills that I learned going through that process of being a homeschooler, being a mom, were built in me because of that. I could not be doing what I’m doing today if it wasn’t for that amazing experience. And so, I believe that God uses His plan A. It’s not His plan B or our plan. It’s a plan A of bringing the children He has into our families, and then utilizing that experience to build in us humility, to build in us- Yvette:                                      Patience. Sherri:                                       What are those? In real ways … but then also building in us skills, whatever those skills are, that we can use to not only pour into our children, but prepare us for the next chapter that He has for us. Because, believe it or not, you may not believe it at certain times in your life. They will be grown one day. They actually will graduate. They actually will become adults. And then, what does God have for us at that point? And I know he’s got great things for all of us. And it doesn’t mean we’re all going to be like involved in politics or becomes famous whatevers. But we have a responsibility to use our time well and pouring into our extended family, pouring into our children and their children and then whatever it is God opens up to us. And so, I count the experiences that I had as a homeschool mom as part of that preparation, that it wasn’t a sidetrack, it was part of His plan A. And I continue to see, “Oh, I’m so glad I learned that. I would not have learned that had I not homeschooled.” So just as an encouragement to moms to continue building yourself as you’re building your children. Yvette:                                      Yeah. Oh I love that so much. I love that you call it plan A too. Because I think oftentimes we feel like, “Oh, you know, we wanted to do this, we wanted to do that. And now, I’m stuck at home with these kids and I’m having to homeschool them.” And we feel like our work is insignificant and it’s not. Sherri:                                       And it is not. Yvette:                                      And the time goes by so quickly, which I’m sure you will relate to that. You know, our oldest is 13. And I cannot believe that she’s already 13 years old. I mean she was just born yesterday. How can she be 13? And I realize more and more how short our time is with our kids. I mean, it goes by in a flash. And I’m sure you experienced that with your kids. And now, God is using all of the things that you did before you had kids and took the things that you did from being a mom and homeschooling them. And now, he’s done something different with you. But he’s still using all of the gifts and talents and abilities that he created you to have to impact His kingdom. And there’s just no greater work than that. Sherri:                                       Yeah, it’s not wasted time. It’s not. It’s the best thing we can do. And again, it’s the top of my bucket list. I have, you know, things I’d like to do, places I’d like to see, but that’s my bucket list topics. So yeah, it’s worthwhile. And there are days … I mean, I don’t know, I’m going to ask the Lord one day about this, but how time can feel like it’s fleeting, and then there are days or weeks or months where time feels like it’s standing still. I mean, there were those moments with our kids during those little years and I felt like time was not moving. There was no progress. There was no … like I was going to be in this moment forever. Yvette:                                      Yes. Sherri:                                       You know? I think that that’s when we need, even if it’s an hour break, or a perspective change, a friend we can chat with. Because within that tiny little moment of that little parenthetical moment in our life, where we feel like all we’re going to do is clean up liquids coming out of children … they do. That we feel like that’s going to be our life forever. And that’s a tiny little moment within the tiny little period of those young years, within the tiny little period of having them at home, within the tiny little period of my life that God’s eternal timeline … and He’s placed us in this spot for this time, for this period. That perspective helps me to say, “Okay, one more diaper. Okay, one more whatever it is, spilled honey with glass.” Yvette:                                      Oh gosh. Honey is the worst. Oh no. It’s so sticky. Sherri:                                       It is, especially in the glass containers. Come on. Yeah. And so, I think that a lot of it’s our perspective. But if we can get a vision of it, that God’s got a plan for us. And he doesn’t say, “Whoops, well this is happening, I’ll change the plan.” Then, it helps us have that right direction, that right perspective to keep moving, keep moving forward with what He has for us today. Yvette:                                      Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. What are some things since … So you’ve homeschooled your kids from kindergarten through 12th grade, all four of them. How many years apart are they? Sherri:                                       They’re each two years apart. I married an engineer. So, we had four kids in six years. And then God just … We didn’t know how many we were going to have and God just said that’s your four is your number. And so yeah, we started with preschool with our first one, and thought, “Well, I can’t ruin preschool. I know my colors, I know my numbers.” And every year we would just pray and we assessed. And it’s usually like this time of year. We’re recording right now. It’s just now February. This is that. I would like check the computer, “How much is it for private school?” But every year, we’d reassess and we would pray and God just said keep going. Eventually our children said keep going. They enjoyed it, they caught it. And so, yeah, we went all the way through k through 12. And it was … They were lumped together, but the spacing was enough to where I could only teach certain groups. I mean, I had older and younger enough to where you couldn’t do everything with all of them. It was like spinning plates sometimes. But it was okay. Yvette:                                      Which life is spinning plates anyway. Sherri:                                       Yes. Yeah. Yvette:                                      How did that build relationships between you and your kids and between your children and them as siblings? Sherri:                                       I could tell you the perspective I have now watching my kids, watching ourselves with our kids, that that’s one of the best benefits of homeschooling is they are building relationships with you as parents and with each other. You know, if you think about the artificial environment of a brick and mortar school where kids are parsed into grades, and the fifth grade class goes on a field trip to the zoo, and they watch the elephant give birth or something. And they’re with kids that they’re probably never going to seek in the rest of their lives. And they’re not … When you’re as … as a homeschool family doing something like that, and the van breaks down and it’s raining and mom’s crying and the kids end up getting lollipops at the store because they’re waiting for the to truck to come. My kids have memories of that, that they share, the shared memories that built were their relationships. Oftentimes, I get the beauty of watching them come home for Christmas and we’re all sitting around having something to eat or something to drink. And they’re just chatting and reminiscing about their experiences. And some of them are misadventures and some of them are just, you know, inside jokes, movies they’ve seen together, things that have happened in their lives. They have shared memories that they get to enjoy together and relive together and that builds their relationships. They’ve been guided gently, sometimes not so gently, to get along. And even with us, we get to spend time with them through those challenging years, through those questioning years, wrestling. And so … And it’s not been easy, but it has been beautiful to see the pursuit. You know, God pursues us, He doesn’t let us go. We need to pursue them. Sometimes they don’t want it. Sometimes … At least, they don’t look like they want it. You know, when you give them a hug and they kind of go, “Oh mom,” they still love it. Tell them you love them, even though they may kind of give the eye roll. They, “I know that mom.” Well, I want to tell you again because they need to hear it. They need to know that we’re pursuing them. And it builds a relationship that is just beautiful, that’s wonderful, that never ends. And again, they’ll call each … When I hear that they’re going out together, two of them are going to go get dinner. I’m like, “Oh, I’m just so excited about that.” So, that will happen. And there were days where, you know, stop touching me, he’s touching me, that was our life a lot too. You know, my children, just like me, were sinners. So, we have to learn that. But just it’s a beautiful thing. The relationship building is such a blessing. And because we homeschool, we’re able to foster that. Yvette:                                      Yup. I love it. I often tell our girls and you hear it all the time, we’re raising adults, we’re not raising children. And I desperately want my girls to grow up to have a great relationship and to be the best defense. ‘Cause I tell them, right now they’re almost five years apart, and so they feel like there’s such a big gap in their age. And it does seem that way, you know, between eight years old and 13 years old. There is a big difference. But I keep telling them, “When you’re adults, when one of you is 25 and the others 30, there’s not going to be a gap there. That gap completely closes.” You know, I’m friends with many, many moms who are 10 years younger than me or five years younger than me and it doesn’t matter. I don’t ask first, “How old are you?” You know? And if you’re five years younger than me, “I’m sorry. I can’t be your mom friend.” And so, that is one of our greatest desires for our girls is that they will grow to have a deep, deep bond with one another because they share life together. That’s what they get to do because of homeschooling. Sherri, I want to talk about how you transitioned your kids from the elementary grades into middle school and then into high school because it seems a little bit overwhelming to me. Yvette:                                      Brooklyn, my oldest, she is in seventh grade right now, if we must label her with a grade. And I’m … that part didn’t seem as overwhelming as it does transitioning her into the high school years with transcripts and all these things that need to be taken care of. How did you deal with that with your kids? Sherri:                                       Besides panic? You know, we … we … each child is different. You know, we actually, after having gone through the process with our oldest, everybody would say to me, “Oh, you’ve completed this transition. You’ve done it all the way through. You’ve got it figured out.” And I realized no, because each child is so different. Their direction was different, their giftedness is different. And so, the mechanics of how our courses that we had them doing and their experiences, whether they would work or not, whether they would dual enroll, it was different with each child. So, that’s going to look different. And that’s what we want. Because remember, we’re homeschooling them. We get that opportunity to adjust their needs, based on their needs, their direction, what God has for them. If we want to do the same thing with all of them, let’s just put them in a big classroom full of 25, 30 kids and do the same thing. And so it’s going to look different. But there are some things that we can do to help our kids in the transition that’s kind of across the boards the same, at least in theory or for the most part. Like as they exit elementary school years and enter the middle school years, we’re talking about adolescence. And it’s interesting that adolescence kind of falls at the same time as … I mean, physically, emotionally, mentally, developmentally, academically, there’s a lot of changes going on. And so if you imagine your child having that, it’s kind of like, I mean, we have to cut them some slack first of all. Their bodies are growing. Their bodies are doing things. They’re like, “What’s happening to me?” They’re having to … Developmentally, their brains are being able to transition from understanding only concrete information to understanding abstract ideas. And they’re questioning more, which is good, sometimes not so great, but good because they’re trying to process what this world is. Who is … what’s truth? How do I fit into this? So they’re going to have awkward feelings. They’re going to have questions. They’re going to be maybe inward. They’re not going to know how to respond. And we have to have that dialogue. That’s when we pursue them gently and give them space. And we also work on academically the transitions that are occurring. They are becoming more able as they enter sixth, seventh, eighth grade to become more independent. They want that. That can cause some of those issues in your household. They’re maybe loading the dishwasher differently than you want to because they see it as a better way to do it. And there’s going to be those questions or those, you could call them clashes, but it’s more of just really trying to see how everything fits. And so, academically, we want to help build those independent learners in them. And so … Like I love doing that as we design curriculum for the kids. Because, in those middle school years, we want to train them walking through it step by step, here’s how you do it, in the same way that you would show a child, let’s say, how to fill a dishwasher. You do it for them and show them. Then, you do it with them. And then, you let them try a couple of times. And you give them good feedback. And then, you’re ready to launch. And they’re going to make mistakes. And they’re going to put the non-hand-washable thing in there and ruin a couple of things. But that’s a process. And it’s the same way with learning. You’re going to give them … sometimes they may have access to solutions manuals or they at least know where they are. And sometimes they may kind of be tempted to find them and use them when you’re not aware. And those kinds of trial and error … This is the time to be addressing those things lovingly, gently, the temptations that they experience in that. They’re also spiritually going to be going from following mommy and daddy’s beliefs, belief system, to making it their own. And so, they’re going to ask questions that might shock us, you know, “How is it fair that a person over in wherever is born there and not hearing the Gospel like I am? Or how do we know that what they’re believing is not true and what we’re believing is true?” And if you don’t know the answer to that, that’s fine. Seek out the answer to that with them. Walk through. It’s not that they’re challenging you necessarily. They’re challenging questions. And we want to walk through that and it’s harder. And that, you’re going to find that in academics. You’re going to find that in how the household is run. You’re going to find those questions. But if you have an understanding that this is a child who’s maturing, this is a child who’s developing, and this is expected. We don’t want them to be elementary aged in their minds all the way through. Right? You don’t want an 18 year old like that. So, we want them to become thinkers. We want them to reason. And we want them to do it early on like this so that they have the benefit of dialoguing with us, of having those hard concepts. We started putting our kids in a co op that met one day a week for certain number … certain classes, not all of them. But I wanted my kids to experience external deadlines. I wanted them to take on that responsibility of communicating to me, “Well, you know, this is the way this teacher is doing this and how do I deal with that?” Or “Mom, this is not how we’re supposed to do it.” Okay, well let’s talk about that. We want them to be able to start navigating that a little bit at a time so that we can walk with them through those harder concepts, or how they manage their time. Let them fail sometimes. This is a safe place at home to fail versus a college environment or a career environment where they’re not knowing what to do and they fail something and they just fall apart. We can’t be … you know, we talk about helicopter parenting, when you’re all involved in everything. It’s really hard to do as homeschoolers because we know who their friends are. We know what they see, what they do, what their learning. And we tend to be helicopter parenting. But we also don’t want to be what I’ve heard as lawnmower parents. Like just push them on through. Just get them going. We don’t care what we’re mowing over. Let’s just get it done and check off the boxes and say, “We’re done.” We have to have … be somewhere between those two machines. I don’t know what we are. I haven’t come up with a metaphor for that. But it’s … We did it. I want to say we did it perfectly, but we didn’t. We did it vary fallibly. We made mistakes. We had lots of times where we would have just, you know, “Let’s have a family meeting and let’s talk about this.” Lots of tears, lots of apologies on our part and my part. But helping them to see that you’re navigating this process with them, through all of those arenas in their lives, helps to build conversation, helps to open up those doors for talking about those things, and helps them to identify that your heart is for them. You want the best for them in the same way that God wants the best for them. And it helps them to navigate those new experiences. I had the blessing. I’m right now working on my master’s in education and science design and science curriculum design. And I get the opportunity to talk with lots of teachers in the public school arena. Yvette:                                      Oh, okay. Sherri:                                       Part of this classroom. And it’s been so eyeopening to see what these dear, dear people have in their hearts for their kids that are in their classrooms and the challenges they face. And most of those who are in middle school, in those middle school years are just hitting their heads against the wall because they can’t influence those kids in the short time they have. They’re not the parents. We had that beautiful blessing of solving that problem, because the kids were home with us. We had those teachable moments. And you can’t have that quality time without quantity time. Yvette:                                      Yeah. Sherri:                                       ‘Cause you can’t just say, “Okay, sit down with me and have coffee. We’re making this appointment one day every month and let’s just talk about something important. Go.” And they just look at you. You know? It has to happen as I mess up, as they mess up, and those natural conversations occur because you’re with them. You’re with them all the time. Yvette:                                      Yeah. Sherri:                                       I mean, I don’t know. Does that help answer some of those- Yvette:                                      Yeah. Oh, it totally does. And I love so many things that you said. You know, you talk about how they’re, at that age, kind of processing, what is truth? What is this life around me? What do I really believe? And what better way to navigate that with them then to be able to be with them day in and day out? Sherri:                                       Absolutely. Yvette:                                      Because we get to see … I mean, you know, no one knows our kids better than we do. No one. They can have teachers. And there are teachers, public school, private school, universities, there are teachers who love their students, truly genuinely love them. But they can’t … They just don’t have the ability. They don’t have the time. They don’t have the ability to know our kids the way that we do. And so they cannot walk through them … through life with them, and help direct them in every single way and, like you said, just allow them to figure it out. And one of the things you said really struck me as you said it. And it reminded me of Ginger Hubbard, if you’re familiar with her. She’s a sweet, sweet friend of mine. She has a book called Don’t Make Me Count to Three. And she talks a lot on parenting. And one of the things that she talks about is do overs and we do them with our kids. And so, you know, if you’re child disobeys and they … and we’re talking, you know, a toddler, maybe they hit their brother or sister because they’re mad for whatever reason. Instead of just saying, “Don’t hit your brother and sister.” And scolding them and then walking away, you show them the right way to act. So let’s do it over. If your sister took your toy, instead of hitting her, let’s figure out the best way to respond to her. And so, you take them by the hand and you walk them through how to respond properly. And I love that you relate that then back to our children and their life and their education. And that, even at the age of 13, 14, 15, you know, 18 years old, we can still take them by the hand and say, “Let’s do this together. I’m going to show you the right way to do it. And then, I’m going to let you do it on your own. And you may or may not fail. And if you do, then we’re going to do it together again.” And let them practice, but coming alongside of them. Because I think as homeschool moms, oftentimes we just assume that they know how to do things the right way. We assume they know how to write a paper. We assume they know how to do these math problems. We assume that they know how to, you know, make a speech or whatever it is. We just think, “Well, of course they know how to do that.” Well, maybe they don’t. And so they need mom to be able to come alongside of them, show them how to do it. Or if we don’t know how to do it, find someone else who does like the marine biologist mom. And you know … and that … I mean, that’s a whole nother topic, but that’s the importance of community in homeschooling. You must have community, you must seek out people. Don’t wait for people to come to you. You seek out people because there are people who are waiting to be sought out. And build community. And then, you come alongside of one another’s children as well. And you do this together, you do this life together. And it’s such a beautiful thing. And so I love that you talk about that as a great way to just transition them. Sherri:                                       Yeah. Well, understanding also that what you do with one kid … you know, you may have … like we had this phenomenal lady that was homeschooler and she’s great for educating our kids on how to write. And I kept thinking to myself, “Oh please don’t retire next year. I’ve got three more kids. Oh, two more kids.” And yet, we have to realize that … I really believe God’s got His plans for our kids. And so, what He makes available for one child, He may not make available for the others, but for His good purposes. And so, we can’t rely on a curriculum or a human or a friend who’s doing something to have to be there for us, as long as we realize that God’s got it. You know, I can tell you example after example of things He did that with our kids. I mean, one of our children is a musician, full time musician, makes a living doing it. Yvette:                                      Awesome. Sherri:                                       And I’m thinking to myself, “Oh Lord, how is he going to feed my future grandkids?” But he has been gifted in that from the beginning and God opened up opportunities beyond what I knew to do. Yvette:                                      Yeah. Sherri:                                       To give him these experiences that he had during his growing up years to prepare him for what he’s doing today that I could not have done. He didn’t make those opportunities, the same ones, available to my other kids. It was just … And so, I see His hand throughout that and we have to trust that, that that’s going to happen to you. It’s going to look different. And as like you were talking about, the sharing thing or the hitting my child and having a navigator, maybe they don’t know how to write a paper. Maybe they did know how to write a paper. But now, as a hormonal 15 year old, they don’t, or they’re questioning it, or they’re saying, “Why do I have to use an ly word here?” I mean, the gamut. It’s there. And so, we have to walk through them… through the questioning season based on everything they’ve learned. “Why is this called red? Does everybody see the same red that I see? Can I call it something else?” I mean, they like to challenge, because they’re trying to reformat their world with their mature brain. And so, it’s just fascinating to see how the brain works, and how God in his amazing design coincided those adolescent years with their … all of that transition time, which makes it fun for homeschool families. Yvette:                                      Oh, what a beautiful reminder that they’re not just crazy. Sherri:                                       No. Yvette:                                      You know, we’ve all been through it. But I think we forget. I mean, I honestly … I remember my junior high years and my high school years. But I don’t remember going through the insanity, sometimes it seems like these kids go through. But I’m certain I did. But I’m sure my mom remembers. I’ll have to ask her because I’m certain she’s got stories. But it’s such a good reminder to just show them grace because we were there once too. It’s how God created them. They are doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing and not to always see it as them challenging us, which I think sometimes we always feel like they’re butting up against us. They’re challenging us. They’re being disrespectful. And sometimes, that’s the case. And then, we need to redirect them and their attitudes. So, I’m not giving permission for that, but sometimes they are really just trying to figure out what this life and this world is all about, so I love your encouragement. Sherri:                                       Absolutely. Photo by Dakota Corbin on Unsplash

A Firm Foundation

The longer I homeschool, the more I realize that establishing a proper foundation for education is critical. While teaching knowledge is important, we are told in Proverbs that, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”  It is critical that we teach character and worldview, but we know that if character and worldview aren’t based on truth of God’s Word they are worthless.

Hannah Leary is a 2015 homeschool graduate and serves as the cohost of the National Bible Bee competition. As the winner of the inaugural National Bible Bee Game Show and a competitor in the National Bible Bee competition for six years, through it she’s been encouraged to study scripture on her own and has memorized 12 books of the Bible. I had the chance to talk with Hannah about her experiences with the Bible Bee, Bible study, scripture memorization, her homeschool education, and more for the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. (4/29/2019 episode)

Yvette Hampton:               Hannah, I am so excited to talk with you. I’ve been really looking forward to this conversation. I heard you several months ago when you did an interview with Dr. James Dobson. You were talking about the National Bible Bee and I actually looked you up because I was like, “who is this girl?” Such an amazing testimony and you are one of those girls, I’ve met you personally briefly, but just reading through your bio and just doing some research on you, you’re one of those girls that I look at, and I just think, “Oh, if my girls could strive to learn to love God’s Word the way that you love God’s Word…” That is our whole purpose in homeschooling them. So I would love for you to tell your story. I know you have a pretty neat personal testimony, just about how God has used your time and his Word during your middle school years and high school years specifically to prepare you and equip you for your adult life. Tell us your testimony. Tell us about what you’ve done.

Hannah Leary:                    Thank you for your kind words. Praise the Lord for what he’s done. I guess just to start off, I’ve grown up Christian home my whole life. My dad’s a pastor. I was homeschooled all the way through, and so the Bible and the gospel were nothing new to me growing up. I’m very thankful to have known the gospel and the Word of the Lord at such a young age and to come to know him personally as my savior at the young age of four. Often times people are like, oh, when you’re saved at a young age you don’t have this exciting testimony, but I’m very thankful that, and I’m very excited that the Lord gave me the opportunity to know him while I was young and that he even spared me from a life of hardship and figuring it out later and just giving me that amazing privilege to know him in the days of my youth.

Hannah:                                  That started at the age of four personally for me and really as I was getting into my middle school and high school years, specifically around the age of 11 and 12 is when I really started to understand that I needed to make my relationship with the Lord something that affected all of my life and to surrender the entirety of my life to him. It was around that time when I heard of the National Bible Bee. We just saw an ad a paper and I had done spelling bees and geography bees in the past and I saw this and I was like, “Oh Mom and Dad, I would love to, could we do this, is this something you think our family could do?” And so we signed up, but we didn’t know anything about it or what we were getting ourselves into, but we jumped in. I had just turned 12 and that summer we received all these verses to memorize and these books to study. That was the first year the National Bible Bee was even in existence.

It’s changed a lot since then, but that first year for me, as a 12-year-old young person, I memorized probably 1800 verses in preparation for the competition. It was just amazing to me to realize, and I’m a competitive person so I maybe didn’t have all the right motives at the time, but it was really amazing to me to see through that study how much, how exciting God’s Word can be and how immersing myself into it for such long periods of time the benefits of that could reap. Once the competition finished that fall, I was looking at some of what I had studied and realized, oh, I had a little bit of Ephesians 1 memorized and a bit of Ephesians 2 and some Ephesians 4 et cetera, I was like, oh, I might as well memorize the whole book.

Yvette:                                      You might as well.

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Hannah:                                  Yeah, exactly. I went ahead, in the off seasons of Bible Bee, went ahead and memorized books of the Bible on my own. It just became, it became a passion of mine and the competition and the program of the National Bible Bee as it developed, it was just a really fun, motivating way to get into the Word of God and to develop friendships around it and to study alongside my family and my siblings. It was something that was definitely a huge part of my life for most of my middle school and high school years. Throughout the competition, my junior year of high school I was competing and I advanced to the semi-final round of the National competition and at that time I was really, very motivated by the competition, really wanted to do well, didn’t make it past there and was kind of like, oh, like, I don’t know if I should do this anymore, I’m almost a senior, there’s a lot of other things starting to vie for my time.

Backstage Pass members can watch the full interview with Hannah, which includes 15 minutes of bonus content.

During that off-season, I started studying the book of Ecclesiastes and digging into that book and really struggling as a junior in high school with, “okay, what is my purpose in life. What am I here for? What’s this all about? Is the Word of God, is studying his Word worth it? What am I doing with my life?” And Ecclesiastes just has such an interesting answer to that is, Solomon goes through and says everything is vanity and knowledge and wisdom are vanity and riches and wealth and work and all those things, are all vanity and so as I’m studying this, I’m realizing, okay, what am I supposed to do, how is this supposed to affect me in my life and that summer I started working and I was getting close to graduating high school and trying to think, “okay, what should I go into when I’m done” and just had a lot of different questions in my mind and I was kind of getting distracted from the possibility of doing Bible Bee and when that season rolled around again, I was like, I don’t know if this is something I want to do, especially in my senior year. And my dad’s like, “Hannah, you should do it, you should do it one more time.”

And so I decided to sign up and that year, one of the passages we had to memorize was Ecclesiastes 12. Long story short, I ended up in the final round of the National Bible Bee Game Show and I knew it was last time going to be competing and that fall I really had been struggling a lot with like I said, my purpose and what I was here for what the purpose of studying God’s Word was. Like, was it worth it to spend so much time in God’s Word, to know so much of God’s Word if I’m not going to win a competition, or you know, all these different things. My heart was really struggling and I was just asking God, “God please show me what’s the purpose in all this. Why do I need to know your word and what do you have for me next?”

Listen to Hannah on the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. (4/29/2019 episode)

It was in the final round of the game show that year and I knew it was my last passage I was going to be reciting and they asked me to recite Ecclesiastes 12:1-14 and even though I had studied it in the past and of course I had memorized it for the competition, as I started to recite it there in that round, the words just, the full impact of them hit me and the words spoke to me through them. It starts off by saying, “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth. Before the difficult days come and the years draw near where you say, I have no pleasure in them”, and then it goes on to describe some of the hardships that you’re going to face in life and how eventually we’re all just going to die and a lot of this life is vanity, but then it concludes by saying, “This is the conclusion of the whole matter, fear God and keep his commandments for this is mans all. For God will bring every work into judgment including every secret thing whether good or evil.” And as I was reciting those words, the conclusion of my Bible Bee competition, just realizing that that was what it was all about.

I was supposed to remember my Creator in the days of my youth so that I could fear him and keep his commandments, and besides that, that is a very simple answer to a lot of our complicated answers and the weight of those words just hit me and I was in tears just thanking the Lord for the opportunity he had given me. Even though I didn’t always appreciate it in the moments of those six years studying God’s Word, but the grace he had given me and the opportunity he had given me to lay such a foundation in his Word throughout those six years, I was just incredibly overwhelmed with thankfulness. I still don’t know all the answers, I still am asking what’s next and all those different questions that any young person may struggle with, but even though I don’t know my future, I know the one who holds it. I’m just so thankful that I have that foundation and even though I’m not perfect, I feel confident in looking ahead because I know the truth and the Creator, the one who created this life and has my purpose planned out and planned for my life.

Yvette:                                      Wow. That is seriously the most amazing testimony I think I’ve ever heard. That is so incredible. I love what God has done with you and I love your just transparency in that even though in the beginning maybe you didn’t feel like you were in it for all the right reasons, even if you didn’t win, it was okay. It’s one thing my husband, I have an amazing godly husband who leads our family in family devotions every day and I have a 13 year old and an 8 year old, and they’re both girls, and so both of them we really are working to help them to understand that they need to own their faith and their relationship with the Lord. It doesn’t what we tell them, it doesn’t matter what believe, it matters what they believe cause when they come face to face with Christ, he’s not going to ask them what did your mom and dad believe about me, and what did your mom and dad do to serve me, he’s going to say, what did you believe about me and how did you serve me?

We really are working especially with our 13 year old and it’s so funny, I think I’ve told this story on the podcast before, but when she turned 13 she really wanted to start wearing a little bit of makeup. We felt very convicted, not about her wearing makeup, I mean, obviously, just a small ounce like mascara, but we felt like she needed to become beautiful inside before she became beautiful outside. And the way to do that was to be immersed in God’s Word every day and so my husband said, “I’ll make you a deal,” he said, “You read your whole Bible cover to cover and you can start wearing makeup.” And so we let her wear it on occasion if there’s something special coming up or something like that we’ll let her wear a little bit, but before she puts one bit of makeup on, she has to spend time in God’s Word that day. That’s our deal with her. You spend time with the Lord first, become beautiful inside and then you can become beautiful outside.

So even though, there are times I’m certain where she’s not doing it so much to learn about God’s Word, she’s doing it because she wants to wear makeup, that’s okay because God’s Word does not return void. And we know that her being in God’s Word is going to transform her life more than anything else will. More than my husband reading the scriptures with us, more than her hearing about it in church or at youth group or anywhere like that, her being in it personally, is going to be what is going to impact her life the most.

It’s so exciting to hear your story about being involved in the Bible Bee and about what the Lord has done through that and I want to talk definitely more about that and I actually in a little bit want to talk with you about how you have dug into God’s Word. But first, for those who are not familiar with the National Bible Bee, can you kind of walk us through that? What did that look like for you? How do you get involved? What does that whole process look like?

Hannah:                                  Yes, definitely. The National Bible Bee, its mission is to get kids into the Word of God, to know God’s Word, and then to be able to make him known. It starts out with an eight week summer study. It’s a little different then the first year I did it, how it’s developed now, but it starts with an eight week summer study and it’s designed for families to be able to do together. The ages are for ages seven through 18. There’s also a beginner level for ages five and six. But it takes them through a specific passage or book of the Bible. So last years study was in the book of James. Eight weeks you’re diving in, you’re getting an inductive study, teaching you kind of how to study the book, giving them context, allowing them to answer questions on their own and to really think through what it means, how to get into God’s Word and be giving them those tools and then there’s also two memory passages every day, every week I’m sorry. So 14 passages throughout the entire summer that they’re memorizing along with the study that kind of correlates with the study.

The great thing about the summer study program is that families can do it together because there’s three different divisions or age levels of the discovery journal, but they’re all studying the exact same book at an age appropriate level. I know personally in our family, we still use it during the summers for our family devotions and it’s something that we all can do together and read through the book and compare notes about what we’re learning and memorizing the same passages together. If you’re located near a host group, there’s also host groups, hosted by churches or homeschool groups, or just a family who’s like, “hey, I want to do this with other families in my community.” There’s that opportunity for those who are interested in doing it in a group study.

At the end of the summer, for those who are interested, there’s a Proclaim Day where students can come and celebrate what they learned, share some verses that they’ve memorized with an audience, and that’s kind of the start of the competition aspect. They can go on to take an online test, which qualifies them for the national competition where the top 360 across the country come at a national event this year it’s going to be in Covington, Kentucky in November. That’s when the competition kind of kicks into gear a little higher, there’s quite a bit more memory passages given, and another book to study on their own without the guide and discovery journal aspect. At the end of the competition there’s over a $100,000 awarded in prize money.

Yvette:                                      Wow. You basically don’t get the information until summertime? For the November competition? So you can’t spend a whole year studying for it, you have a fairly short amount of time, so like you said, you really have to be dedicated to doing this through the summertime.

Hannah:                                  Exactly.

Yvette:                                      What better way to spend your summer though?

Hannah:                                  And it works so well, because of course throughout the summer there’s a little bit less structure when it comes to school and so having that structure of a Bible study and memorization program, just a fun and engaging way to keep kids in some sort of structure in one of the best curriculum possible, the Word of God. It’s a wonderful way to spend your summer.

Yvette:                                      So cool. There are 10 kids in your family right? Where are you in that lineup?

Hannah:                                  I’m the oldest.

Yvette:                                      So what a great precedent you’re setting for your younger siblings. That’s so cool. So there’s 10 of you, and you all study this together. How, have other of your siblings participated in the Bible Bee as well?

Hannah:                                  Yes. All of my siblings who are within the age of being able to join the actual study, five through 18, are always in involved in the summer study and then I also have three of my sisters qualify for the National competition as well. I love being able, of course, I’m not competing any more, but I love being able to come alongside them and help them study, encourage them, and we’ve had opportunities to be able to just to recite God’s Word together and church settings and ministry settings and that’s probably the biggest blessing to me, is just the opportunity to take what we’ve been given, what God has entrusted to us and blessed up with and be able to bless and inspire others with it. It’s one of my greatest joys.

Yvette:                                      That is so incredible. I have a friend, I don’t know if I’ve told this story, but I have friend who I grew up with and she really had a hard time after high school. Her mom was very insistent on her learning the Word of God and just memorizing scripture and after high school she kind of went off the rail for a little bit and just made some poor choices and got to the point in her life where she felt like she couldn’t even open up the Word of God. Like she knew that she was living in sin, she knew she was struggling, but because of that she could not physically open up God’s Word and she said she just prayed one day, she’s like, God, you’re going to have to help me through this cause I can’t even open up the Bible right now.

And at that moment, all the scripture she had memorized starting pouring back into her mind and she’s like, I didn’t even know that I still knew that scripture. She had genuinely and literally, hidden it in her heart and it’s so cool, I mean, that was a huge turning point for her and she loves the Lord now and is serving him and it’s just so neat to see how God used what her mom had required of her when she was younger that she probably complained and fussed over, later in her adult life to bring her back to the Lord. It’s just so important to know scripture. We’re a family who’s very, very big on scripture memorization and I think people think that it’s too hard, you know, they, your kids can only learn John 3:16 and you know, or they just have to learn one little piece of scripture at a time and it’s not that hard. How do you go about memorizing all of that stuff cause obviously everyone has different learning styles, so not everyone’s going to do it the way that you did it, but how have you gone about and maybe even some of your sisters, how have you guys gone about memorizing these things?

Hannah:                                  Yeah, that’s a great question. Honestly, for me personally, it’s just the discipline and the consistency of being in it every day. I will often say, your memory is a muscle, and so just like any other muscle in your body, it’s going to hurt when you exercise it the first few times and it’s hard to stretch it out and it’s going to be sore for those first few days or weeks, but then as you get into a consistent habit and pattern, it becomes more natural and it becomes something easy, easier to do as you go along. For me, I didn’t have any specific techniques that I used besides just being it on a consistent basis and reciting it over and over and over again.

Having my family involved was absolutely critical and huge to your point of just getting your family, just the Word of God that’s probably the biggest motivation I had and the support and encouragement that I received. Being able to memorize scripture as a family together, whether that was through family devotions or especially the competition aspect of my memorization, my dad would quiz me or my mom or siblings, but mainly my dad, and he would just listen to me recite. And so having someone there to recite back to, having that accountability, was a huge part of memorizing for me as well. Then I think a lot of those same things my sisters have used. My one sister, she really enjoys writing it out and so that’s one thing that she’s used. She’s a lot more artistic than me so she loves to see it.

My other siblings who, and especially my younger siblings I think, my youngest brother is almost two, there’s quite the range of kids, but I think even just having them hearing us older siblings reciting God’s Word, and so in family devotions, we might have a five verse or a 10 verse passage that we’re working through as a family, and the little ones might not be able to recite the whole 10 verses, but after hearing those first few verses, over and over, and over, and over, and over again, they can recite them just as well. So I think listening to God’s Word and especially for the younger ones, that, even without trying, you’re getting into their hearts and they’re picking up on it. They’re like little sponges.

Yvette:                                      Yeah. You think about how easily kids can memorize songs or even books. You know, if you read them a book and you read the same book over and over and over again, they can read the book back to you without even reading it. They’ve just memorized it and they know every word that’s on every page and if you try to skip a page, you get in trouble cause they’re like, no wait, you forgot this part. But kids have an incredible ability to memorize and we’ve seen that with our girls. My oldest, Brooklyn when she was in fourth grade, I think, she did the AWANA a Bible quiz and it was really a neat thing. She was so excited about it and she and her friend placed second. The way that she ended up memorizing everything was she, she’s not a visual learner, she’s an auditory learner. She can hear a song one time and remember it seems like forever.

She knows songs. I’m like, how do you even know this song cause we don’t listen to this song and she’s like, I heard it in the restaurant. Okay. What I did was, I just recorded all of the things that she needed to memorize for Bible quiz on my phone and I just read through them and then she listened to them and she would be playing Legos or with her dolls, or drawing or coloring, or doing something with her hands and she would just listen to it over and over and over and over. So she didn’t even read it. I mean she could read it, but she didn’t. She didn’t enjoy learning it that way and so she would just continue to memorize it that way and she did great. I mean, it was a fantastic way for her to learn. Let’s talk about your homeschool journey. What was it like for you being homeschooled? Did you enjoy being homeschooled? Did you feel like it was a good thing for you or did you feel like you were missing out somehow on the amazing things that life has to offer to all kids? What was yours like?

Hannah:                                  Honestly, it probably was one of the biggest benefits of my life and I can’t thank my parents enough for the time that they invested into my education through homeschooling and just taking that to a personal level and that they wanted to do that themselves and I am so thankful of, just as a general statement, I loved being homeschooled. Looking back, especially with my middle school years, I don’t know if I would have survived any other way of schooling, spiritually even. Just because being in a more sheltered environment really allowed my faith to flourish and I know God uses all environments and all stories, but I’m so thankful that he allowed my story to include that and being homeschooled. I really in just speaking to the missing out, you know the thing that people talk a lot, especially when it comes to socialization, people asking, “how are you being socialized?” I really appreciated it growing up. My dad’s a pastor and so we are very involved in our local church and community that way.

I’m very thankful for the opportunity that homeschooling gave me to interact with all generations and people and I definitely was blessed with some amazing peer friends, but also to be blessed with being friends people who are five years older than me, 10 years older than me, older people in our church who invested time and energy into informal mentoring and education that they gave me. At the same time, being able, as the oldest of 10, I was able to invest into those younger than me as well and so I’ve always grown up surrounded by kids and infants and babies, and those different things. I’m just so thankful for the opportunity to get a rounded zero socialization and to be surrounded by all sorts of people and given all sorts of opportunities to interact and to learn with so many different variety of opportunities.

Yvette:                                      Yeah, that’s so cool and I love earlier you talked about in your off season from Bible Bee, you got to spend time memorizing God’s Word and if you think through that, you know, if you had been in traditional school and you had this very steady flow of homework that you had to and you were sitting in the classroom all day, you would not have had the time to press into God’s Word like you did and so what a blessing that was and what a gift that was for you to be able to spend that time just studying God’s Word cause that is absolutely amazing.

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Becoming an Eternally Minded Mama

Yvette Hampton:               Hey everyone. This is Yvette Hampton. Welcome back to The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. I have a really exciting guest on with me today. Her name is Katie LaPierre, and you are going to be super encouraged by her. She is a mama of seven. I’m going to let her tell you a little bit about her family and … She’s a homeschool mom, who is in the thick of it right now, and just has some really neat advice and stories to share with us. She has a new devotional that just came out recently. So we are going to talk about those things today. So, Katie, welcome to the Podcast.

Katie LaPierre:                   Thank you so much for having me, Yvette.

Yvette Hampton:               Yeah. Yeah, I’m so glad to have you on. We got to meet you and your husband Scott when we were back in California still. But we went to Washington to film you guys for Schoolhouse Rocked, and you were a couple of our very first interviews that we got to do and I got to meet your amazing family. So, tell our listeners about your awesome family that you have.

Katie:                                        We are in Washington, and my husband is the senior teaching pastor at a church, and we have seven children ages 11 and under. That’s about it.

Yvette:                                      Well, you’ve got a sweet, sweet family. We have really enjoyed getting to know you over the last couple of years. We were just talking about social media and how amazing it is. Because you and I, we’ve only met one time in person. But it seems like we’ve been friends for a really long time. And like we actually kind of … do life together, like we know one another.

Katie:                                        Yeah.

Yvette:                                      That is much due to social media.

Katie:                                        Yes.

Listen to Katie LaPierre on the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast.

Yvette:                                      So, I am excited about this conversation today. We have some fun things to talk about. Two things that I want to … kind of go down two separate roads with you, but I think they’re going to kind of bring it all back together is … We have asked our listeners, and we often get questions that come in from our listeners. One of the questions that we get, hands down more than any other question is, “How do you home school with multiple kids? How do you deal with younger siblings when the older siblings are doing school? How do you homeschool in a large family?” Just … organizing and trying to figure out how to to subjects with all the different kids. And so I know you are in the middle of that. You’ve been homeschooling for sometime now. Your oldest is 11. How old is your youngest?

Katie:                                        She’s eight months old.

Yvette:                                      Wow! I can’t believe she’s eight months already. That’s amazing.

And so you’re there. You are in the midst of that very thing right now. So, I would love to start by you sharing with us how you just kind of balance your day out, and then the second half of the Podcast let’s talk about this new devotional journal that you have that came out.

Schoolhouse Rocked Backstage Pass Members can watch the full video of this interview here.

Katie:                                        First, I would say it’s not balanced. I don’t … I cannot find balance to save my life. So, one thing I do though that I recommend every wife does is that she asks her husband, “Honey, what is important to you? What would you have done?” Because aside from homeschooling we’re also keeping the home, meal planning, there’s a whole bunch of things. I cannot believe all the things a mother has to do. I mean keeping track of everything is crazy and I consider myself a multitasker but this is like a new level of multitasking.

Yvette:                                      Yeah.

Katie:                                        So first, you go to your husband and say, “Honey, what is important to you? What do you want done first?” And as wives we’re called to adapt to our husbands. So, my husband does not care about food. He will eat popcorn for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I will slave away making lasagna or something and homemade bread and he goes, “Can I have popcorn?”, you no, are you joking? So he doesn’t care about food. So, I’m like okay well one less thing. I can push that off to help me find balance, right? So then what’s left? Well we’ve got homemaking and homeschooling.

Katie:                                        Now homemaking’s super important to my husband, so that’s part of our homeschooling. We do jurisdictions and chores throughout the day, and I … at this point the seventh child has really thrown me for a loop. It’s been probably the hardest. This is my first time having four kids five and under, and so it’s a lot harder. So, to keep the house clean we have to incorporate that into our schedule. I think you’ve done a Podcast with Durenda Wilson.

Yvette:                                      I did.

Katie:                                        I love her, and I love listening to her, and she just talks a lot about how important it is in our homeschooling that we are teaching work ethic. That should be a class all on its own, and so I incorporate that into schooling. We have a 30-minute schedule that starts at 8:30 actually. We don’t start breakfast until 8:30, because my husband’s a senior pastor at a primarily homeschooling church, these people stay up forever! So we’ve had schedule to stay up later and then sleep in later. So we don’t start breakfast ’til 8:30, and at 8:30 everyone sits down, we pray, eat breakfast and that’s when I do some kind of Bible thing with the kids. Right now we’re going through Wisdom with the Millers, and that’s like, my idle time with the children. After that, I have a 30-minute schedule that’s up on the fridge. We set the timer, and every time the timer goes off each kid knows what they need to be doing. I sound off, “Okay. Ricky has piano, Rhea needs to be doing creative literature and writing, Johnny’s doing Bible” … and that’s one way we do that. Another thing is, I actually started doing online videos for my five year old.

I will never do anything with kindergarten. You just need to throw some letters at them and some cards, have them look at colors. She is excelling, and I feel like I’m kind of shoving her in the corner because I’m trying to focus with my other kid that needs more help, and then she’s losing out.

This transcript is provided by MakeCrate. MakeCrate provides your homeschooler with the STEM skills they need for the future! Fun, hands-on electronics kits paired with an online learning platform teach your middle or high schooler engineering and coding fundamentals right at home! No technical expertise is required. Order your MakeCrate today at MakeCrate.Club/SR. 

Katie:                                        So I have one child that’s doing video learning, I have one child that needs a lot of one on one. Two children that are doing ACE curriculum, and they’re very … like totally good on their own. They know what they need to be doing. While they’re working, I have … He’s just turned four, two and eight month old. So I might be nursing the baby while the kid that needs work is sitting with me reading to me, and the other two we have what’s called pattern tiles … And so, they can be making patterns with their tiles, the two year old and the four year old. They play together really well. So I’ll often have some kind of activity for them, Duplos, race car tracks … Just as a side note, it’s really important when you have a bunch of kids that you have toys organized. You can’t just expect to send your children downstairs, or wherever the toys are … go play with toys. It just doesn’t work for big families.

So I have been sorting out my toys by category, and I am finding they are playing so much better. So I recommend that for moms with big families. Get your toys organized; categorized together and say, okay today you’re going to go play with the Hot Wheels. Sometimes they just need simple direction.

And they do have screen time sometimes. I don’t want to give this impression like my kids never look at a screen. They can do screens, but it’s purposeful. It’s often learning. My two year old now can count to 14 or 15 and that had nothing to do with me. That’s from a lot of these wonderful learning videos that are out there. And so they do that too. But it’s very parent directed and overseen. Does that kind of answer the question?

Yvette:                                      Yeah it does. That’s helpful, and I like that gave very specific things. So when they’re playing with toys, I like that you give a specific like, go play with this toy today. Now do you keep some of your toys and activities set aside so that you can bring them out, you know, every couple of months so that it’s kind of a new toy. Because I’ve heard of moms doing that too, and I think that’s a fantastic idea. Then it’s like a brand new thing, instead of having all of their toys out.

Katie:                                        Yeah that is a great idea. What I have done is I’ve organized them and labeled them in totes, and so I don’t go hide them. But like, right now we have like … I forget the word, a variety of toys in this tub. Random I guess … Miscellaneous. The Hot Wheels stacked on top of that, and then we have the Duplos. And so, right now the one that’s on top is the one they’re playing with the most.

And then I’ll switch them and move them around in that way. But we eliminated our toys down to Legos, Hot Wheels and puzzles. That’s pretty much it. Because I … What are my kids actually playing with? I don’t have time, energy or personality to go with organizing all this stuff all the time, keeping up with it. So that’s what we’re down to right now, and I find eliminating tons of choices, like little random toy over here … little random toy. The kids just get like distracted, overstimulated. They don’t know what to play with. So Scott would rather have us invest in one category of toy and spend a lot of money in that category, and so you should see our Lego collection, and now we’ve color-coded them. So all the red ones are in a tub, all the white ones, and then they can take them and build, and the boys will completely organize this Lego section that looks like … out of a store.

But that really helps, and I’m a huge proponent of if just because you have a shelf, or just because you have a closet or cabinet does not mean you need to fill it. I think we feel that way, like ugh, there’s this empty space I need to put something there. We don’t have to do that.

And so, books of course. I mean, books to me kind of fit in the toy category ’cause they’re fun. So books are a huge investment too that we love to have, and I just say go grab two books and sit on the couch. Nobody talk. Like three times a day, and that is a great way to gather everybody. If someone’s screaming they got hurt … Go grab two books and sit on the couch.

It’s a very easy go to. So, toys should be for our convenience and help. They should never be a burden like many other things in our home. But they become a burden. You know, I love that God says in James, “Pray and ask me for wisdom and I’ll answer.” There are not many prayers God says that about. I don’t know many other ones where He says ask me for this and I will answer.

And so, even as moms so we can say, “Okay Lord I need wisdom, even with toys. What do I do with these things?” Or I need, especially since we’re talking about homeschooling, “I need wisdom with homeschooling. This child’s falling behind. What do I do?” And I feel like God answered that. And always go to your husband. Seek his counsel too.

Yvette:                                      Yes. I am right with you in regards to simplifying because we have … I remember when Brooklyn was born, you know your first kid, and we had so many things. I mean clothes, her closet. So I had three baby showers for her.

Katie:                                        Oh wow!

Yvette:                                      Her closet was ridiculously full of everything pink, because she was the first girl who had, we had … I mean we were married 11 years before she was born. So we had waited a long time. There was a big celebration of course.

And then as she grew into where she could play with toys, she had so many toys, and it was so overwhelming, and we got to the point where we started just getting rid of things that were not necessary, and I realized she’s not … she’s never played with this one thing. So, what I started doing with her from a very young age was I would say you know, honey … I know a lot of parents will … Well, and I will say I have done this before. But a lot of parents will try to kind of sneak those toys out of their home, and their kids pretty much never notice that they’re gone because they don’t play with them anyway.

But oftentimes I would say, you know let’s see what other child we can bless with these toys. And then it became an exciting thing for her, like oh there might be another kid who doesn’t have as many toys as me and we can go bless them, and so what a great way for them to learn from a really young age that it’s not all about them, and they can serve other people, and other children by providing them with their toys that they don’t play with.

And then, of course, we sold all of our stuff. For those who don’t know our story, about two and a half years ago we sold our house, all of our stuff in it, had to basically get rid of everything, and we loaded up in an RV and started traveling across the country, kind of road schooling and filming the documentary.

But we had to get rid of pretty much everything, and so we really had to decide, like what is really important. And we kept the Legos. We have lots of Lego still, and there are a few other things that we held on to. But honestly my girls haven’t needed a whole lot. You know, they’ve got dolls and Barbies. I mean Brooklyn’s 13 now. So she doesn’t play with those as much anymore. Except for with her little sister. But it seems to just kind of clutter your life when you have so many things and it just makes more work. It creates more of a burden for the whole family.

I want to ask you because you talk about, how well you know, you’ll say well this child is to go do Bible, this child is supposed to go do piano, this child is supposed to go do math or whatever. I imagine that with a family of seven kids that doesn’t always fall perfectly in line, and they all go their beautiful way without fussing and complaining and they’re completely compliant and say, “Yes, mommy,” and they all go do exactly what they’re supposed to do. Because I know kids are kids. How do you deal with making sure that they’re all doing what they’re supposed to be doing and trying to just keep from it being completely chaotic?

Katie:                                        I would say that actually they do pretty well with schoolwork at this point. Going and doing the stuff that they’re supposed to do. That has not been much of an issue. My husband was a public school teacher for eight years before he became a pastor and that’s why he wanted me to homeschool is because he’s a public school teacher. And he said, “Routines and procedures. Routines and procedures”. I know I’ve heard that from him so many times, and often we expect our kids just to like fall in line.

Just do what I said. They have to practice it. So he will literally do things like, if a child forgets their plate at the table, you have to pick the plate up ten times, go to the kitchen put it in the sink. Pick it back up. Go back to the table. Because we are all like that, we all need … So we practice things. But this schedule at this point, it’s probably been about a year that I’ve been doing it, and they are on it. Now, at the beginning, yeah it’s messy and you just have to expect that. But I … if you have a personality like me that’s just kind of scatterbrained and all over the place, you need a schedule.

No matter how much you want to fight it, and set a timer. And no matter what that person’s doing at that point, they go to the next thing; even if they didn’t finish piano we go to Bible. And something really important, like there’s been a few times with math where they just are not getting it, and I’m like alright we have to stay on this subject. You’re going to skip creative literature and writing and do math for the next half hour. And we’re actually looking at doing more reading and writing. We’re considering changing our schedule to hour increments instead of 30 minute.

It makes a huge difference, and children want to know what to do. They’re looking to us to tell them what to do even if it seems like they’re fighting it and I’ve found there’s so much more peace in my home when we just do exactly what the schedule says and they want that ultimately. So I actually haven’t had that much resistance. It’s when chores come along and I say go get your chore, and they’re like flailing around in the kitchen and you’re not sure … what are you doing? That part gets a little bit messier.

Yvette:                                      Yeah. Well the Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go.” And we’ve talked about this on the Podcast before, and I love that you and Scott do that with your kids, that you train them to: “Okay you didn’t put your plate away. Go do it ten times”, because it’s training them in how to do it the right way. It’s not a punishment for them. It’s training them.

Katie:                                        Yes, exactly. “Train them up the way they should go.” They don’t know which way to go. We have to train them.

Yvette:                                      We do, and so often I think as parents we think that they know what is expected of them because we’ve maybe told them a couple of times … and we have to remember they’re children. They don’t always remember or naturally think, okay what is the most logical next step, is to put my plate in the sink, or put it in the dishwasher … and so they do need to be trained to do those things and that’s our job as their parents, to train them that-

Katie:                                        Yeah, I’ve actually … in my devotional I have one where I talk about how our kids are new here, to planet earth, and we forget that, and so I tell parents, or mothers, look at this as if they’re on a new job site. You’re not going to like scorn some employee ’cause they forgot something and they’re brand new. Our children are new.

And then, like if we look at things in five-year increments, compare that to a month on a job. You know, so you’re training them. They’re new. You’ve got to expect that. You have to expect them to forget, you have to expect them to probably do [inaudible 00:17:00] them out. And if you are expecting these things, you’re not as offended, you’re not taking it so personally and you can have like, a more like work mindset. Okay, picture they’re your employee. You’re not going to get all fired up and emotional ’cause you’re the mother.

Sometimes it helps to separate ourselves like that. So that’s something else I’ve done.

Yvette:                                      Yeah. Oh, that’s fantastic, because it’s not an offense against you personally. Though I think we take it that way sometimes.

Katie:                                        Yes. We can see why we’re in charge. But ultimately they belong to the Lord. And they’re ultimately not working as unto Him. They’re not called the workers unto mommy. Although they do work for mommy, we try to tell them this. They’re working for the Lord. But it’s always unto Him.

Yvette:                                      So Katie, you actually have a new devotional and journal that came out. It’s called Eternally Minded Mamas. Talk to us about that.

Katie:                                        Okay, great yeah. First on the title: why I chose that title. Colossians 3:1-2 calls us to set our mind on things that are above where Christ is. And as moms, I don’t know about you but I find that harder to do than any other season in my life because we’re doing dishes. We’re getting up or … for me right now I’m getting up for the baby still at night, and I’m like, Lord how am I going to set my mind on things that are above?

I think sometimes we have to remind ourselves when we’re reading the Word, is this a command? Is this a suggestion? No. It’s … God’s commanding that, set your mind on things that are above, where I am. Don’t forget, and so, okay Lord I’ve got to continually do that. So my heart behind Eternally Minded Mamas was Lord, I want to help moms. Mother in the midst of the temporal mundane while keeping their minds set on You, on spiritual things. So, that’s where the heart was born out of was Colossians 3.

Katie:                                        And then so I just have 31 daily devotionals that I tried to filter out any junk, and just make it a meaty, good thing for them to be able to sit down and be able to chew on all day. But it not take 40 minutes, and then I left a spot where they could write notes and gave some suggestions for questions on how they can apply what they read.

Yvette:                                      One of the things that I’ve heard you talk about is that you don’t feel totally adequate as a mom, as a homeschool mom and we have seen that over and over as we’ve talked to moms, as we’ve interviewed moms for the Podcast and for the movie, is that none of us feel like we’re perfectly equipped to raise these children. We feel like we’re just … somehow we’re messing it up, and we can’t always put our finger on why we feel that way. But we feel like we’re just not enough, and I think sometimes it’s society telling us that. I think often times it’s social media. You know, we see the things on Facebook and Instagram and these perfect families that it seems that everyone else has. So it makes us feel like, “well we’re not doing this right. We’re not doing it as well as so and so.” And so, talk to that mama who’s just feeling … ’cause I know you’re in this place yourself, where God is really teaching you a whole lot of things about … You’re not enough. He is enough. You know, none of us are enough. None of us are big enough to do this. But with the grace and mercy of our savior we are enough to do this through Him. So talk about, just the season that you’re in and encourage that mama who’s feeling that way.

Katie:                                        Oh it’s so good. I feel like I could talk about this for five hours. I think being in ministry too, everyone is so messed up. I don’t know if … I cannot tell you, even when I go to the grocery store, if I’m anywhere I’m like what’s their problem? They got a big mess. I don’t know what their name is but I’ll tell you they’ve got a big mess at home, and it’s just … Everyone is such a mess but we’re all so busy trying to make it look like that’s not the case.

So my husband and I are known in our church body in particular, for being very transparent about the mess we are. In fact, he just did a marriage conference like three hours east of here, and we talked in the Q and A about a big fight we had right before we came … and I think that’s just so important, and the more we’re putting on this façade of, you just need to discipline your kids right like I do. And so it ruins moms. It makes them feel like, ugh … like you said, “I’m never going to be like so and so. I’m never going to measure up.” So I’m just very transparent about how I tell Scott I feel like I’m in the wrong calling. I feel like a fish out of water. I had a woman come to me the other day. She’s a single young lady, she’s in her late twenties and she’s not married and she said, “Sometimes I wonder if I want to get married and have kids because I want to be in control.” And I’m like, “ugh it’s a nightmare being in control.” I just … I want to be their friend. I’m like, “can we hang out and play together?” I … just, nothing fits for me in being a mom … is what it feels like. But that’s why I’m so comforted when God says in your weakness I am strong. I’m so glad He never said, in your strength Katie, I’ll show myself strong. He says your weakness. You feel pathetic. Perfect, that’s exactly where I want you!

Katie:                                        And I’m crying out to him constantly. I feel like I’m unorganized, I am inconsistent, I am all over the place, these different things that people say you can’t be that way and be a good mom. But I’m called to be their mom. I am Rhea’s mom. That is the position that God has put me in, and so I have to trust like David did, or Moses. All these men that felt like, Lord you’ve got the wrong guy.

You know, he’s called you to mother your two girls and He’s like, designed that. As messy as it may feel sometimes, or, is that inadequate? And I would say that to any mom, Yeah you’re a total mess just like everybody else. But God’s called you to this. He’s going to equip you and be like, don’t be like Moses and say, “Lord please send somebody else.” I don’t want to do it. And just embrace the messiness.

I tell people that. If you embrace the messiness and stop fighting it so much, it gets a lot easier.

Yvette:                                      Oh, I love that. I was thinking this morning actually that I have days sometimes … I don’t have days where I feel like I don’t want to be a mom. I love being a mom. I waited a long time to be a mom, and I genuinely love being a mom. But I have some days where I feel like I just don’t want to do this adult thing today. Like, I don’t want to do … It’s not that I don’t want to do anything. It’s not like I want to sleep all day. But I just don’t want any responsibility for anybody or anything. I don’t to want to homeschool, I don’t want to have to train my kids, I don’t want to have to podcast. And I love everything that I do. I love my life. But I just want to check out for a few days sometimes. And so sometimes I have to be brought back to the reality of, “this is where God has me.” He has me exactly where He wants me to be. I have the perfect family that God has put in my life, and I’m so grateful for that, and I think so much of it is keeping perspective of how God can use us and will use us if we will allow Him to. And … But it’s not always easy. Sometimes it’s really hard, and like you said, we’re all a mess in our own different ways and that’s hard to admit sometimes for people. I just did a podcast with Karen DeBeus and we talked about getting real, and we were just talking about this very thing-

Where we feel like we need to put on this pretty show for everybody and always you know, just look a certain way and act a certain way and that’s hard. It’s hard to show your mess to people. But I think there’s so much freedom in it when people see that we’re not perfect. We’re … you know. There are so many days where every single one of us because we’re humans, are just kind of falling apart. And then we have days when we’re not. You know… Hopefully this is not an everyday thing.

Katie                                          But I think this is so important that our kids see this too.

Katie:                                        I’m not saying our children’s salvation depends on us. I think they have free will. I know God’s sovereign. But I have seen a common theme especially in homeschooling families where kids are walking away ’cause they’re sick and tired of putting on a show. I don’t want to be that. So we’re a mess with our kids. We talk with how mommy just messed up again. We actually … I don’t know if any other family does … we go round the table and talk about our weaknesses. About how so and so’s controlling and needs to work on that, and it’s not a question of if you’re messed up. It’s just a question of what they are. So getting our kids used to talking about that stuff early on. Our kids have a large voice in our lives. Some people think that we border maybe on disrespect. But we really want them to be able to talk to us. And sometimes you’ll see in the homeschooling circle, it’s like, you act like this when we go in public, and you look like this. So and so’s going to be there. They’re going to be watching us. That stuff ruins our kids. So we let them talk to us. We let them confront us. Hey, daddy I didn’t like how you said this. I wish you wouldn’t have done that.

And it is so important that that transparency goes into the home. So that our kids, when they’re struggling with their faith, when they’re struggling with whatever … purity that they can come to us.

Yvette:                                      Yeah, absolutely and being willing to apologize to our kids when we’re struggling with things, and they have you know, unfortunately been the victims of a hard day. You know, going to them and just saying you know, “Honey, we were wrong in our attitude. Please forgive us,” because then they learn to do that in return.

Katie:                                        It’s so beautiful when you hear your kids saying that to each other, because they’ve heard you do it.

The other day I’d snapped at one of my boys, and I asked him, “Please forgive me. I’m sorry I did that,” and the other boy said, “Good job, mama.” Like, you know we call it spiritual weightlifting in our house. When you apologize and your flesh is like, no! You know, you picture your like flesh shriveling up and like getting stronger and we call it spiritual weightlifting. When you apologize saying I’m sorry and then the next step saying, will you forgive me? That’s like an extra five pounds.

Yvette:                                      I love it. Really quickly, we’re almost out of time. But I want to ask you from your devotional that you just put out, do you have a favorite entry in there that you would like to share with us?

Katie:                                        Yes, I’d love to. This one is on Day 18, it’s called, “Small Things Mothering.” And I start from a few verses in Zechariah … and God says, “Do not despise the day of small things.” And I love this, especially because I’m a stay at home mom, and sometimes it just seems like our day is filled with small things. And the Lord was encouraging Zerubbabel though the prophet Zechariah here, and he was actually laying the foundation for the temple where people would worship God. And so we look back at that and we say, oh that is not a small thing. That’s the big thing. But guess what mama, you’re doing a huge thing.

You’re laying a foundation, but it takes small things, daily being faithful, and even the beginning of great things like building the temple for the Lord can be despised. And we can despise these things. And I’m just thankful God knows that, and God has called us mamas to build a mighty thing, which is our home, and we are laying a mighty foundation daily even though it seems small. Moses wrote, “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us. Yes, establish the work of our hands,” and this should be our prayer too. And so in the journaling entry I said, I consider what it is that makes us despise the day of small things.

So I want moms to analyze, why do I despise this? And often it’s a root of pride. Is there a sense that you’re above it? And then I ask the simple question, “do you enjoy small things?” Maybe there are some small things you enjoy. Why do you think you enjoy those, and write down your thoughts and search your heart. Pray for the Lord to give you a heart to enjoy even the smallest things today. And then I close with Colossians 3:23-24, Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as a reward.

You are serving the Lord Christ. So when you’re doing the dishes, when you’re changing a poopy diaper, when you’re separating siblings squabbling again, you are serving the Lord Jesus Christ and that is no small thing.

Yvette:                                      Yes, oh Amen, I love it. That is the absolute perfect way to end this. Our job is not a small job. It seems like it is sometimes, and it seems like it’s just the mundane, everyday … changing diapers, doing dishes, you know, homeschooling, teaching spelling once again, having your kids sound out C A T, you know? But it is no small thing because we are raising up these children to be ambassadors for Christ, and to be the future of this country, and we’re raising adults. We’re not raising children, and it is a very big job, and it is a very important job.

Thank you Katie. You have been such an encouragement to me. Where can people find you?

Katie:                                        You can find me at KatieLaPierre.org. It’s my name, and the book is on Amazon.

Yvette:                                      Okay, and we will link back to both of those things in the show notes. If you guys have a chance to pick up this devotional, I would highly recommend it. It is really encouraging. I love the journal part in there. I’m a journaler, and so I love to … I’ve got my journal. Every day I sit and write in it, and so I love that you’ve got the devotional on one side and then the journal on the other side. So you can really write down what you’re feeling for that day, and just how the Lord is moving in your heart with each of those devotionals, and I do want to say … I think Scott had said it took you two years to write this devotional, right?

Katie:                                        Yes, yes.

Yvette:                                      I mean, this was a process. Because … and I want to say that because I don’t want moms to think, well she’s got seven kids. Her house is run perfectly and she wrote a devotional. Like how is that even possible?

Katie:                                        Yeah.

Yvette:                                      Because again that’s one of those things that will make moms feel like they’re inadequate. This is something that has been a part project for you for quite sometime.

Katie:                                        Yeah, just to give you an idea, my husband wrote a book. It was 80,000 words. This is 9000 words total. And this was just, you know what, I would write about stuff, and when women would react like positively, like, “Oh that’s me,” that’s the stuff I would write about. So I just wanted to write what would speak to women’s hearts.

Yvette:                                      Well, thank you for sharing your heart with us. You are a great encouragement and a blessing, and thank you guys for listening to the Podcast today. We love having you with us. Please continue praying for us and sending us notes of encouragement. We always like to know how we can encourage you, and how we are encouraging you. So that we know that we’re doing the right thing here. Let us know what other topics we can tackle on the Podcast. If you have any suggestions for Podcast guests or anything like that, let us know. You can send us an email at podcast@schoolhouserocked.com and just let us know how we can serve you. And Katie, again thank you for your time today. You are a huge blessing and I appreciate you being with me.

Katie:                                        Thank you, Yvette.

 

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Overcoming Feelings of Inadequacy in your Homeschool – Yvette Hampton on the Joy in the Journey Podcast

Schoolhouse Rocked producer, Yvette Hampton, recently appeared on the Joy in the Journey Podcast to talk with host, Misty Bailey about overcoming the feelings of inadequacy that so many homeschool moms face.

Click here to listen to this encouraging episode of the Joy in the Journey Podcast.

Married for twenty-three years, and a homeschool mom for seven, Yvette has a heart for building up other homeschool moms. She has heard the stories of how unprepared many moms feel to handle the education of their children, in fact, she has shared (and shares) many of those same insecurities. Now, she has embraced the idea of slowing down, focusing on what is truly important, and enjoying the privilege of investing in her children every day.

I am sure you will be encouraged in your own homeschooling journey when you listen.

 “Salt and Light” in the Public Schools? 

Yvette and Misty also talked recently, about another important issue. In a recent episode of the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast they talked about whether our kids have the responsibility of being “salt and light” in public schools. Are we missing an opportunity to evangelize when we remove our kids from public schools, and if they do not have the responsibility of being “salt and light” there, who does? Finally, they discussed how, when, and where our kids should be “salt and light”, and how we can prepare them.

You can find Misty at https://www.findingjoyinthejourney.net.

For more on this subject, pic up a copy of the excellent book, Already Gone by Ken Ham, Britt Beamer, and Todd Hillard.

Wallbuilders Live!

Eight years ago, Yvette and I were at our first homeschool convention trying to make heads or tails of this whole homeschooling thing. We had said for years that we would never homeschool, yet here we were considering it. The keynote speaker at that homeschool convention was Rick Green, a former homeschooler and Texas state representative, and host of the Wallbuilders Live! radio show. He made a huge impact on us that day, and we left that convention convinced that homeschooling was for our family.

Today, we were blessed to appear on Wallbuilders Live! We were privileged to be able to discuss what God is doing with Schoolhouse Rocked and through homeschooling.

“This is not an exaggeration to say, this is the movement that is needed to save this country. These kids in public schools are not getting the civics, they’re not getting the things they need to be patriots, to be good citizens, to keep our nation from going down the road to socialism, and all the things that we know are bad. The homeschool community is a critical part of this movement in raising up this remnant of young leaders.” – Rick Green

“And there was a time even I remember very clearly when homeschooling was a fringe movement, literally. They were arresting parents who were daring to homeschool their children. I remember the big standoff at a church in Nebraska where that a bunch of homeschool parents took refuge inside a church and the officials coming to arrest all the homeschool parents.

So, there was a time even 25 years ago when this was not tolerated in America. This was fringe. But today is a whole different thing. It is now part of mainstream. Nearly two million children are being homeschooled at this point, six million in private schools. There is a huge philosophical rift occurring on what students should know and they’re not getting it right now public education. Informed citizenry is coming out.” – David Barton

The Best Accident Ever! Listen the Heidi St. John Podcast, featuring Yvette Hampton of Schoolhouse Rocked

On Episode 656 of The Heidi St. John Podcast, Heidi had a great conversation with Schoolhouse Rocked producer, Yvette Hampton about being an “accidental homeschooler”, and how homeschooling was the best accident that ever happened to them. Don’t miss this encouraging show!

For those of you who can’t get enough of Heidi St. John, don’t miss her on next week’s episode of The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. She will be appearing, Monday, September 10th in episode 11.

Schoolhouse Rocked Backstage Pass members can see Heidi St. John’s full interview for Schoolhouse Rocked. Subscribe for free and get immediate access to great video clips, featuring helpful homeschooling tips and encouragement from the cast of Schoolhouse Rocked. You will also get a free gift when you subscribe! Download 90 minutes of exclusive videos from Heidi St. John, Sam Sorbo, Andrew Kern, and Colleen Kessler – yours to keep!

Garritt and Yvette on Israel Wayne’s Family Renewal Podcast

Garritt and Yvette Hampton, director and producer/host of Schoolhouse Rocked were recent guests on Israel Wayne’s excellent Family Renewal podcast, where they got to talk about homeschooling and the production of this important homeschooling documentary. Listen to the show here.

On the monthly Family Renewal Podcast Israel Wayne discusses life, theology, Christian Apologetics, education, family and cultural issues from a Biblical worldview. Israel is a national speaker and the author of several books including Education: Does God Have an Opinion? and his newest book, Answers for Homeschooling: Top 25 Questions Critics Ask. Israel appeared in the excellent documentary, Indoctrination, and we were very excited to interview him for Schoolhouse Rocked. The Family Renewal Podcast is featured on the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network.

We are giving away a two copies of Answers for Homeschooling: Top 25 Questions Critics Ask, by Israel Wayne. Listen to Episode 4 of the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast, where we interview Israel about Godly parenting and the blessings that homeschooling brings. This special hour-long episode is a filled with practical advice and wisdom from the original “homeschool guy”!

 

Yvette Hampton Discusses Homeschooling on the Common Sense Podcast with Dr. Carol M. Swain

Yvette Hampton recently appeared on the Common Sense Conversations podcast with Professor Carol M. Swain, Ph.D. to talk about homeschooling. Dr. Swain is an award-winning political scientist, a former professor of political science and professor of law at Vanderbilt University. Before joining Vanderbilt in 1999, Dr. Swain was a tenured associate professor of politics and public policy at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Her new podcast features conversations with thought leaders from around the country about the issues we face, and how we can use common sense to solve them.

We met Dr. Swain on our recent trip to Nashville. We were privileged to spend many hours getting to know her, then we were able to interview her for Schoolhouse Rocked. You will be blessed by her wisdom.