Monday, June 3, 2013

Public School vs Homeschool

Unfortunately, I have noticed in the last couple of years, that homeschooling is as hot-button a topic as any other parenting decision. When I was pregnant, the raging debate was natural, unmedicated birth vs medicated birth vs c-section. Now, all these years later, does it matter? No, because we move on. The next debate is breastfeeding vs bottle feeding. Then attachment parenting vs traditional parenting. Cloth diapering vs disposable. Co-sleeping vs cribs. Homemade baby food vs store bought. Natural foods vs processed. Organic vs not-organic. Vaccines vs not. The list goes on and on and on and one would think that by the time our children reach preschool, kindergarten, grade school, middle school or high school, we would learn that every family is individual and makes the decision that is best for the family, right?! It appears, not so much. The hostilities on both sides of the "Public School vs Homeschool" debate are huge!

There are so many educational choices for parents today, that we should be grateful for the diversity of decisions parents can make to educate our children. You can choose public school, private school, charter schools, virtual academies, public online academy, coops, immersion, homeschool, unschooling........ {taking a breath} It is no longer "just" public school vs homeschool. It's so much bigger than that and we should be excited as parents by all the options that are available to teach our children! Choosing one way over another does not mean we love our children less, same as choosing to bottlefeed instead of breastfeeding means we don't love them. Or eat organic. Or not eat organic. Or cloth diaper. Or disposable diaper. Nor does it makes us a better parent, choosing one option over another.

I have noticed one difference in the schooling debate that, I believe, may very well be unique to schooling verses any other parenting decision. It seems that in almost all other debates, the moms are the ones who are the most emotionally-charged and can be the hardest on each other. That is not true with schooling. Moms are passionate, but so are dads. Dads can be as passionate and emotionally-charged about the education of their children as moms.

Our family went about homeschooling very gradually. I had toyed with homeschooling Austin from the time he was in 3rd grade, but was never confident enough to do it. I didn't do a lot of research on it, because it was just a thought and something I knew I couldn't really do. More of a pipe-dream really. By the time Aidan was in preschool, I knew I didn't want him to go to public school when he got to kindergarten, but still was a little uncertain if I could seriously educate him and how it may harm him socially (ha!). I prayed about it and had found plenty of scripture to back it up (will get to that in a moment), but my husband was not on board. Because I strive to be submissive, which for us is actually that we both agree on decisions, and that Steve has the "ultimate" decision, I was willing to wait on him. My prayer had to become that God would work on Steve's heart and move him towards that decision. That decision came when Austin was a freshman. By that time, we knew we would homeschool the others, but that we would wait until Austin graduated, so I could fully focus on his education. God moved quickly by the time Aidan was in 2nd grade and, by December, we knew we would be homeschooling all of our children the next year.

For us, it was never a decision we made lightly, and it was something we searched scripture and bathed in prayer. If it was only our will and not the Lord's, we would fail miserably. One scripture that was very important to us, and I am sure is important to many homeschooling families (but is definitely not exclusive to homeschooling, as it was important long before we did homeschool), is Proverbs 22:6 "Train a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it."  Another important scripture about seeking the Lord that came to us was from Poverbs 3:6 "In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." Another important verse for us was Acts 5:29 "But Peter and the apostles answered, we must obey God rather than man."

In these verses, we found comfort knowing that we would be training our children the way that we saw the Lord guiding us to do so and in a way that was appropriate for our family. But to do that, we first had to submit to God to make that clear to us and have our hearts open to whatever He directed us to do, and, if that included homeschooling, it would be counter-cultural and we would be obeying God and not just "going with the flow" of public schooling. Which would be difficult in some aspects, but God does not ask you to do something that He has not equipped you for (Hebrews 13:21 "[He will] equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen."). He is always there to guide us, if only we seek Him.

There are many other verses about educating your child. How you discern it for you and your family is how the Lord reveals it to you. For us, each of the following verses directs us to educate our children at home ourselves.

11:19 - "You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise."

4:9 - "Only take care and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children's children..."

6:5-7 - "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your  might. And these words that I command to you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit down in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise."

Isaiah 28:8-11 "To whom will he teach knowledge, and to whom will he explain the message? Those who are weaned from milk and those taken from the breast? For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little."

Psalm 78: 5-7 "He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments."

2 Timothy 3:16 "All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work."

Colossians 2:8 "See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to elemental spirits of the world, and not of Christ."

Ephesians 6:4 "Fathers do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."

God showed us that each of these verses was, for us, about teaching our children at home, where we are able to choose the curriculum we desire to teach our children, and rely on Him. But not a single one of those verses says anything about only homeschooling. All of these same verses may be taken differently by others and speak to how they are to raise their children generally and not specifically to the education of their children. To us, it speaks to how we are to raise our family in general, which includes their education. Each of us has to rely on God to discern His will for their own family. God has made each individual person unique and each family unique with unique purposes in life.

Finally, a few verses for all of us. We all are created by God and it must break His heart to see such division among His followers. We need to remember Who we serve and why.

Colossians 3:23 "Whatever you do, work at it heartily, as for the Lord and not for men."  God wants us to do whatever we do - stay at home mom, homeschooling mom, work at home mom, working mom, divorced, single, married, everyone - to do it for Him, and not anyone else. If we do that, we are doing exactly what we are designed to do. Serve God in everything that we do, all the time.

2 John 1:9 "Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son."  We are all to abide in Christ and the teaching of scripture - homeschool, public school, private school, coop, unschool, charter school.....

I am closing with 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 because I feel like sometimes we forget that we are all created by God for His purpose ultimately and we all must have love for each other. If we do not have love, how can we possibly love anyone else? How can we at all realize that we are not all cookie-cut people who are exactly the same and expect everyone to only do what we do and if they do not, they are wrong or don't love their children? When we love as Christ first loved us, we are able to see each other for who they are in Christ and not judge each other so harshly. Every single parent makes decisions constantly for their children that are based on what is best for their children. We all need to learn to respect each other and not think that one choice is "better" than another. Because it's not. Every decision made by parents for their children guided by the Lord, is the right decision for their family. Parenting is hard. Let's all come together and not divide ourselves so much, in every aspect of parenting. The Lord has given us fellow believers to have for fellowship here on earth...let's not lose that and divide it further!

1 Corinthians 13:1-8a;13
"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind, love does not envy or boast, it is not arrogant, or rude. It does not insist on it's own way, it is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice at the wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. ... So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

You might love someone with autism if.....

April is Autism Awareness Month. There are tons of facts about autism....the rate is skyrocketing and is now at 1 in 88. When Austin was diagnosed, it was 150. Less than 10 years ago. Shocking. Something needs to be done. When it's your child, though, maybe the numbers and facts don't matter as much....because ONE is too many.

Today, I thought I'd share a few things that loved ones may be able to relate to, if they have someone on the autism spectrum.

You might love someone with autism if...

*He is {rightfully} upset and on the verge of a meltdown and you say, "It's going to be OK." He replies: "It's NOT ok!" and your heart breaks equally in sadness for his hurt and in joy that he has expressed an emotion and verbalized his feelings appropriately.

*You overhear your 9 year old go over a particular day's schedule social story....that he's made up on his own.

*You know what a social story is.

*You know the power of a social story.

*The same 9 year old, and other siblings, thank God for a "nearly meltdown free" day for his brother during bedtime prayers.

*You've ever been asked where the "good one" or the "non-crazy one" of your children is.

*You've ever consoled, and cried with, a broken-hearted child because his social story explains that if he's nice to people, they'll play with him....and they still don't.

*Your child really doesn't care if people play with him or not, and would be just as happy off on his own, but you're heartbroken they don't want to.

*You've ever cut tags out of clothes; turned socks inside out; washed the exact same shirt/pants/hoodie every single night for three months straight; bought 3 identical shirts or pants to try to cut down on laundry only to discover there is still just one that works.

*Your child(ren) wear short sleeves and shorts well into November and hoodies and jeans well into June.

*You own a weighted blanket or vest.

*You own a therapy brush.

*You own hand fidgets.

*You know what a weighted blanket, therapy brush, and hand fidget is and you know how to use them and why they are so important.

*You've driven your child over an hour for a social group.

*You regularly drive almost 2 hours for medical care because you want the best you can find for your child.

*You understand how important occupational and speech therapy are....the earlier the better!

*You feel more over-protective over a couple of your children.

*You want the opportunity to explain things to people so they don't judge your child.

*You've ever thanked God for autism because it gives you a tiny window into His ultimate, unconditional love for all of us.

Monday, April 15, 2013


I knew I was not posting here hardly at all, but didn't realize it's been almost a year. Oops! I keep promising myself I will, because so much happens and I want to remember it, but I seem to never find the time. Well, here's to trying again!

Thursday, June 14, 2012


I am getting really bad about keeping up....which is not good because this is how I am supposed to remember the day-to-day life during these fleeting years!

 We have been busy with the end of school - finally all of my children are homeschooled! Yay!! For now, we are figuring out our daily groove. We're easing into things and doing only science this summer. So far, everyone has been very enthusiastic, excited, and are really enjoying it!
The triplets graduated from preschool! They are now kindergartners! I cannot believe we are out of the baby stage, none the less baby, toddler, and preschool stage! They will miss their teachers and the friends that they have made, but new ones are sure to be made! The most exciting part of all is not only did they outgrow their need for an IEP before kindergarten, but they are in the top 90th percentile of their same-aged peers! Way to go, boys!!!

Ethan, Nathanial, and Noah with their teacher, Mrs. Millius.

 We have been talking and talking about getting a nice playset for a while and finally promised everyone one at Christmas. My dad, Steve, and Austin worked their tails off and had it completed in two days. Everyone has so much fun on it! Noah of course was the first to end up with stitches - about a week after it was up! He was trying to do the monkey bars by himself and fell instead. Poor little guy had 10 stitches in the back of his head. He was a trooper through it, even though Mama may have shed some tears. :-( It's very hard to see our babies hurt or sick.

Grandpa, Daddy, and Austin working hard

everyone loves their new playset!

The pool has been calling our names almost daily. It's been great that they are finally at an age where they are respecting boundaries. That is a huge step forward for all of us. The triplets are old enough to go down the slide themselves if I catch them at the bottom. So thankful, as this momma for one hates heights, which lends itself nicely to a terror of waterslides. Hannah is still not quite big enough, but Austin and Aidan are (usually) pretty good about taking her down. It's been a more relaxing year by the pool without worrying so much,  therefor much more enjoyable and I'm more willing to go everyday!

Aidan celebrated his 9th Birthday!!! I cannot believe he is already 9!! I will do another post altogether for that one! He has had his friend party and that was a blast. The boys are all really good kids and they get along, so they had a lot of fun. His family party is this weekend and he's looking forward to seeing his cousins.
Aidan with his friends
  Once again, we enjoyed free fishing weekend as a family....and this year we didn't even have to fish anyone out! (It's the little things.....) Everyone caught (very small) fish eventually. Ethan had to wait a while to catch one, but he finally did!

Noah has the first catch!
Hannah's the second - but too scared to hold it up

Nathanial and Aidan are next - within seconds of each other
Finally Ethan's turn!

 Aidan also had Camp Invention. He enjoys it so much, but I think the days were a little long for him. It doesn't seem like much to an adult, but he's there all day every day for five days and by Thursday, he didn't want to go anymore. Not because he didn't have a blast, but just because it is a long, hot day. I made him go (mean mom that I am) and he had so much fun and was thankful he didn't miss that day!

Aidan's last day at Camp Invention
 Austin is taking driver's ed! How is it even possible that he's old enough for that?!? And, he's already older than most since he's already 16. He's still very tentative to get behind the wheel, but I think as he gets more confident in his own ability, he'll be less so. The youth group had a weekend Serve and Praise retreat in early May at one of our churches in North Minneapolis - City Life Works. It was a lot of fun for everyone who went and a great time of renewal and getting deeper in the Word.

Tim Lemmons leading worship at Praise and Serve Retreat
 Austin did a speech for Communication Day (4H) on Alzheimer's and Granny. It's something that has been increasingly on his mind as he sees Granny a lot and is really close to her. I think it's as hard on  him to watch her as it is on me. He did an amazing job and received an "excellence" ribbon. He was disappointed he didn't make it to State, but only three went out of all of them.

Austin's Alzheimer's Speech

We are looking forward to the rest of our summer - the kids and I are going to my sister's the first week in July while Steve  has year end going on at work, and we're all excited for that! Then we come  home for a week and Austin goes to church camp. I wish we all could go, but right now, financially, that just doesn't work for us. We also are looking forward to the Siegert family reunion in July. We used to have them yearly but it has been several years since we last had one. Fair is in the beginning of August. Although Austin has chosen not to show any rabbits this year, he will still do photography and consumer savvy. Maybe others, but he's not sure what else yet!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Chicago Mission Trip: Day 1


Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is about to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which he is to bless us now.
St. Teresa of Avila

While this is a new quote to me, it is appropriate to my prayers while we were in Chicago. Originally, I "wanted" to go to Chicago to be there for Austin and to experience something special with him - just the two of us. As we got closer to the trip becoming a reality, I realized that if my motivation was simply to "tag along" with Austin and not really do anything other than be a chaperone, maybe I wasn't meant to go. So my prayer during the fundraising part was that Austin and I would be able to raise enough support that we could both attend and not have to worry about the trip financially at all. If that happened, then I knew that I was within God's will to go. If it did not, then it was God's will for Austin to go alone. We sent out support letters to family, friends, and acquaintances. We laid out exactly what the trip was about and what we had planned to do. God made it abundantly clear that I was to go along, for myself, as much as to be there for Austin and as a chaperone for the rest. Not only did we raise enough support for Austin and I to go, but we made enough to send a third person and make a dent in a fourth person! The letters and support flooded in and it was absolutely awesome to see God's power and the way he used our family and friends - and to see their obedience to the Father. God fairly screamed that we were both to go.

We had several fund raisers, but even up to a week or so before the trip we had no idea if, financially, the group would be able to afford the trip as a whole or if parents would have to quickly make up the difference. I continued to abide in Christ and trust Him that He alone would provide the means. One plus we had was that there was never a deadline for the entire amount; we had to make a deposit (which we were able to do), but the rest of the money was not due until we actually arrived at the Dream Center in Chicago. How appropriate that it was literally up to the day that we left that we not only had enough money, but suddenly had a surplus! God was already showing us how powerful this trip was going to be, but many (all?) of us didn't recognize it at that point yet.

I was a nervous wreck prior to the trip. Looking back, I see that it was definitely Satan messing with me - in some huge ways and in other, smaller ways. The day before the trip, the kids were being awful and I was having a very difficult time getting packed and everything ready to go. Much to my dismay {and embarrassment} now, I had the worst adult tantrum ever. It was awful. And like other huge moments in my life, I was ready to throw in the towel and not go. I said it a few times. Thankfully, I didn't let that stop me but for an hour.

I was a little nervous about where we would be staying and knowing what Global Expeditions had told us about the location (it wasn't the safest place - and especially nerve wracking when you are used to a very small town). But one of my biggest fears was the youth. I hadn't been exceptionally involved with the youth in our church up to that point (I was still trying to tell myself I didn't like high schoolers much). Other than the fundraisers (which were fun), I had minimal interaction with many of them and I had convinced myself that they all hated me and it was going to be miserable. Now I know that was also Satan, but wow was I concerned - overly so - about that! 

We all gathered in the church parking lot at about 6 am Sunday morning. Everyone was filled with a nervous energy and excited to get going. Everyone was also surprisingly well put together for that hour! We all gathered around and prayed over the trip, our travel, and each person going. Then we said goodbye to our families, got into the van and didn't look back! 

There was a lot of chatter on the way and everyone had a great time. We were staying in the Humboldt Park area of Chicago - which is a Puerto Rican area. We ended up getting to Chicago earlier than expected. We hung out in the heat for a while and then were able to get together with everyone in the Dream Center office. We waited for what felt like hours, but once everyone was registered, paid for, and ready, they took us to our dorms.  The girls to one and the boys to another. The poor boys went to a hard gym floor to stay for the week - but they had air conditioning. The girls got a pretty nice - but sweltering - apartment. We were about 10 blocks from each other; both in buildings owned by the Dream Center/New Life Covenant Church. We (the girls) actually had much nicer accommodations than I had anticipated.

Because we were the first youth group there and our activities didn't start for a while, we had some time to just hang out in our apartment and relax. It was great and a lot of fun to get to know these girls a little better.

Later in the evening, we had supper provided for us by the Dream Center/church. All I can say is WOW! Every meal they made us was amazing! It was authentic Puerto Rican food (not to be mistaken with Mexican). I discovered I could survive on that the rest of my life! Following supper, we had a service to get us right and ready to go. We spent a lot of time in prayer and I was honored when two of the girls came to me to pray over them. Austin sat struggling through the service and was not really approaching anyone to pray with. I knew that he was close to Dustin (our youth pastor at the time) and began praying that he would go to him. I felt an urgency, so prayed harder, when he suddenly got up....and came to me! It was very powerful to be able to pray over my own son and whatever it was he was struggling with and something I will never forget (it was very different than any prayer I had prayed over him prior to that trip - but not since).

After the service, we were given a brief time of teaching on how to evangelize and the different ways to go about it. Then they had the kids practice on each other. Because it was already pretty late, that was the extent of our Sunday night. We went back to our dorm and relaxed in preparation for the next day.