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Timothy Palla - Christian Homeschooling, Home Education

A Reward Worth the Pain

  • Timothy Palla
  • 2004 7 Jul
  • COMMENTS
A Reward Worth the Pain

If I've heard it once, I've heard it a hundred times: "I could never home school MY kids . . . Why in the world would anyone want to home school?" And every time I hear it, my heart grieves more and more. People tend to see only the inconvenience of it, the extra discipline it requires, the additional expenses, the intense personal involvement, and the unappreciated sacrifices. How I wish they could see what my wife and I see—looking beyond the immediate hassles to a prize worth more than all it could require.

I have pastored a small country church in southern Ohio for several years. I love the things God has done in my life through this congregation of believers, but it has not been without some moments of intense pain. There have been many sleepless nights, many tears, and periods of heart breaking loneliness and abandonment. While there have been many times I wish I could quit, go somewhere else or go back to working a secular job, I have had to learn to trust God and rely more on facts than the dictations of my emotional state. I know that God called me into ministry. I know that He called me to this little church (my first and only), and I know that His work requires pain, toil, discipline and sacrifice. I know, too, that the ground must be tilled, seeds sown and crops maintained before the time of reaping and the harvest.

No, it's not always a bright picture, but bear with me for just a moment longer. You see, I'm discovering a secret in the dark threatening valleys that is not always evident in the brilliance of sunlight: People value things that require the most personal sacrifice and endurance. Suffer through something and you communicate to others that it is worth the pain and agony to have it. Discard or leave something when times get tough, and you communicate that it held little value to you. A good shepherd gives his life for the sheep; a hireling sees the wolf coming and flees. Toiling in the wilderness over one lost sheep communicates more love and value than taking care of ninety-nine that are safe in the sheepfold.

Many patriots have fought for freedom, giving their lives, leaving their families, exchanging the comfortable and convenient for restlessness and vulnerability all because they believed that life, liberty and pursuit of happiness were a worthwhile cause. They were right.

The apostle Paul was beaten, put in stocks and unmercifully stoned. He suffered shipwreck, was robbed and suffered injustice at the hand of his own countrymen as well as the heathen. He experienced weariness, pain, hunger, thirst, cold and nakedness. And beside those things that happened on the outside, he had to deal with the emotional and spiritual burdens of all the churches. Can you believe that, rather than give the poor guy a break, God went even further and gave him a "thorn in the flesh" too? How . . . or maybe I should ask, why in the world would Paul have chosen to continue in such a life? Something made it worth it.

How wonderful that Jesus Christ gave us such a clear and simple example of how to view the inconvenience, discipline, expense, involvement and sacrifice of worthy causes. He, "for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame . . ." (Heb. 12:2) He had faith in the joy that would follow. He looked past the cross and into eternity. The glory His Father would receive was worth the suffering He had to endure.

Now, back to the issue at hand; why do my wife and I choose a form of education for our children that most others see as too demanding, too inconvenient, too constricting, too expensive?
 
First of all, this is not just an "education" issue, it is a lifestyle issue. Educating our children is just one aspect of the life we have chosen, or rather, have been called to. The Lord led our parents to raise us in church, involve us in missions, in sacrificial giving, and in the rigid discipline of our own Christian education. As we grew into adulthood we chose for ourselves these higher standards. It so happens that when you begin to yield to this mindset, it bleeds over into every other part of your life. You no longer evaluate your eternal priorities (or opportunities) in terms of what's easier, what demands less time and effort, or what costs the least. You toil and strain at it because you are convinced the rewards God offers are worth it.

Secondly, you do it because you have been called to do it. Neither my wife nor I were home schooled. We had no experience in this realm. All we knew was that, however possible, we wanted to have the maximum amount of godly influence over our children's education and character development. We sought, asked, and knocked. The answer and the means followed. There have been brief times of frustration in which we have considered discontinuing our home school. Those times were quickly countered with a confirmation that we have been called to do it and that God has blessed us with this opportunity and answered our prayers. It was for our good, our children's good and for God's glory.

This brings me to my third point; the desire to bring God glory. My wife and I have seen the Lord do great things through our family simply because we were willing to embrace discipline and endure hardship. Our heavenly Father has opened up many doors of opportunity to testify of His power, His love and His provision for us so that we may raise our children in the way of the Lord. Christ-centered education was not optional for our family. We wanted to glorify God by dedicating our children to Him and then follow up by raising them in His nurture and admonition. After all, we are His workmanship, created for His pleasure and our children are a heritage from Him. Surely He is worth the honor and glory.

My wife and I are committed to more than just an educational system. We are pressing "toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Enroute to the "mark," the "pressing" will include building godly relationships, passing our faith on to our children, developing biblical ministry, trust, respect, steadfastness, and Christlikeness; each requiring its own time and pressure. We believe it's the method God uses to mature His saints. Moreover, our children are being convinced that—although Christ calls men to a difficult life—the blessings, power and joy He gives to those who choose it will abundantly surpass the challenges. The price isn't too high, it's not too inconvenient, the demands aren't too rigorous, the involvement isn't too time consuming and the sacrifices aren't too costly. For the "joy" that is set before us makes it all worth it!

Timothy Palla is the pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in the Lucasville/Minford area of southern Ohio. He and his lovely wife, Jennifer, have five children: Drew, Dane, Aidan, Ethan, and Meghan. They have been involved in home schooling for eleven years. You may contact him at: tpalla@rocketmail.com.

This article was originally published in the Jul/Aug '04 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. For more information, please visit http://HomeSchoolEnrichment.com.

 

"YOU HAVE HOW MANY KIDS?" As a mother of six, there is one context in which I would love this question—to hear it said in amazement that six kids can behave better than the family of two in the next aisle.

Unless the children's behavior is a fluke due to total exhaustion or fear of bodily harm, this kind of compliment will be a direct result of the amount of thought, effort and consistency we are able to invest.

SO WHAT?
Whose business is it anyway, if our family wants to dress like refugees and act like escapees from the juvenile correction facility? Technically, it's nobody's business but mine. But it is important to consider the statement we may be making to a world that desperately needs light. If we want to bring the fragrance of Jesus with us wherever we go, we're going to have to put some thought and effort into it.

FAMILY PICTURE
A picture of what we're aiming at is essential. Dads and moms can brainstorm with each other, and draw input from the children as well. Good questions to ask are, "What do you want our family to look and act like?" and "How do you want people to think about our family?" Then dig a little deeper and find out why those things appeal to us.

A little more in this vein: Jesus warned against cleaning the outside of the cup but leaving the inside full of all manner of uncleanness. If the best thing that someone can say about our family is that we dress nicely, we're not a testimony, we're an advertisement for a clothing store or a washing machine. If we've got to choose only one aspect, let's go for the behavior/attitudes.

HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT TOO
With a certain amount of "intention-ality", our families can be both well clothed and well behaved. By way of a general synopsis, aim for clothes, shoes, hair, and faces being clean and neat.

A word here for moms… Men aren't the only ones who can be won without a word. When other women look at us, what they see will either encourage or discourage them regarding a mom's potential and lot in life. So if we've got to choose between doing our own hair or someone else's, let's do ours! We may have silver threads among the gold, but at least they can be brushed.

PRETTY IS AS PRETTY DOES
The next aspect of a perfect picture is behavior. Logically, the only reliable way to have well behaved children in public is to have well-behaved children at home. If we have one expectation for them in public, but don't hold them to that standard the rest of the time, guess what comes natural?

So at the Wyatt household, we insist on obedience with a good attitude and work at eliminating bickering amongst the troops. (This is definitely still a work in progress, by the way). We cultivate normal volume, and continually target a loving way of relating to each other.

When we draw up our concepts of how we'd like our families to be, our children have something to shoot for. Once we know what we're aiming at, we can formulate ways to achieve that picture. These are the practical things that can help to put our best feet forward.

For example, we may institute a rule of staying together as a group, rather than scattering to all points of the compass when the car doors open. Older children hold younger children's hands. Family phrases and key words can also be an effective way to obtain desired behavior. If we use these phrases or words at home regarding standard situations, they will have power in public as well. A few we utilize in our family are: "Gentle—gentle." "Is that edifying?" and an all time favorite, "Mellow out, guys."

MARGIN
Call it a breathing space. Visualize it as the peace that comes from being early instead of late. It is possible, but it isn't just going to happen by itself. If you've got to leave for music lessons at 2:00 p.m., try getting ready an hour ahead of time. It only stands to reason that it is much more relaxing to have children washed, dressed, shod, and quietly reading on the couch for the final ten minutes than rushing around with one eye on the relentless clock, trying to gather everything and everybody into a semblance of order, shooing everyone out the door and barreling down the road ten minutes behind time.

Some families pair up older children with younger to help them get ready. Others have someone assigned to make sure the diaper bag is stocked and in the car, water bottles, snacks, etc. We try to gather library books the day before. In fact, anything we can do the day before makes the outing that much more relaxed.

Using the same concept of margin, we try to leave "slop" time between lessons, practices and errands. If you can avoid it, don't dovetail your chauffeuring so tightly that you will be late if one appointment runs over into the next allotted time. I don't know about you, but being late is too hard on my nerves to have it be the norm!

ENJOY
"Enjoyment" and "outing" may seem like mutually exclusive terms, especially if there is a long list of things to do, and the trip conflicts with naptime. So much the more reason to focus on enjoying our children. There we are, all together in one place. Sing in the car. Laugh. Tell funny stories. It's a perfect time to let the kids know that I think they're wonderful. Then when I'm in the store, their emotional tanks won't be running on empty and they are much more likely to behave according to family standards.

There will be those inevitable times that one or more of our children behave in a less than desirable way. We need to not let embarrassment or anger be our primary response. That child is mine and I love him. I need to forget the tarnished family image, correct him, hug him, and go on.

A word here on attitudes… If we don't have time to fix our hair, we can still get by. But we should try not to leave home with a bad attitude. If we're seriously frustrated with the kids, worn-out from a busy schedule or feeling sorry for ourselves—maybe we should consider staying home until we get over it. People won't know that we've had a hard week. They'll think we look the way we do because of "homeschooling those children, poor dear." And we won't be much of a light to a darkened world, either.

DECORATION DAY
If we've done our child training "homework," done our best to make sure everyone is fed, washed and dressed, then we can smile at our crew and head out. Maybe today will be the day we'll hear those magic words, "You have HOW many kids?"

Leslie Wyatt has been married to her husband, Dave, for 20 years. They have six children ranging in age from 4-18. They have been homeschooling for 14 years.

This article was originally published in the Jul/Aug '04 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. For more information, please visit http://HomeSchoolEnrichment.com.