I am so encouraged by talking with other homeschool parents about how their families are growing closer together and towards the Lord. Long before I ever considered homeschooling, a woman talked about how God is continually growing us as we are growing our children. While homeschooling can be very rewarding and enjoyable, it can also be very humbling and demanding at times. Homeschooling pushes us towards God as we pray for guidance about character issues, curriculum choices, and His will. I believe that God can use other homeschool families to encourage us and affirm homeschooling. Many times an encouraging word has been just what I needed to hear to fight off discouragement. It takes time to cultivate friendships, but the encouragement and affirmation that my family and I receive from other homeschool families makes it worth the effort.

Time and time again God affirms His will for us to homeschool through the rich relationships He's developing among my family. I am so blessed to witness how my boys love and care for each other, their father and me. When you spend as much time together as we do, you learn to get along. It isn't always easy, and I know that we all have bad days, but I can't imagine how different our family would be if we were all apart from each other for 8 hours a day! I was raised pretty much as an only child and I can remember dreaming of someday having a house full of children. I thought my friends with siblings were so lucky to always have someone to play with and talk to, but they usually thought I was the lucky one! Most of them didn't really enjoy their time with their siblings and always wanted to get a break from them. While I know everyone needs time alone occasionally, I love watching siblings choose to play and work together. 

One of the things that stood out to me, as a young mom attending my first homeschool support group meeting, was how well all the children got along! After teaching in public school for a few years and hearing students complain about younger siblings, it was great when I saw the older kids happily helping with the younger kids while the parents were in the meeting. The parents trusted their children to be responsible and the kids rose to the task. I knew then that I desired for my children to get along well and to have willing hearts that serve happily. God used those other families to affirm homeschooling for me.

Beyond that, you can just look at the statistics. Homeschooling is growing by leaps and bounds. Research is showing how homeschoolers are succeeding on standardized tests, in college, in the workforce, home life, and more. I believe more families are seeing the fruit of homeschooling and are considering it as an option.  Even many public and private school educators see the value of homeschooling. They know how hard it is to teach a whole classroom full of students. They know how important it is to have parents involved. Schools are constantly trying to find ways to get more parents involved. They may not want to acknowledge that parents can teach their own children just as well as (or better than!) the public schools, but we don't really need their affirmation or permission. We have God's!

When you are going through the tough, crazy times and feel you're in survival mode, look for God's affirmation and grace for your homeschool. It's always there if you just look for it. God loves all of us so much and has a wonderful plan for our families. Trust Him to lead you through the tough times, even when things aren't the way you hoped. Don't focus too much on what you aren't getting done or give in to discouragement. Keep things in perspective. While academics are certainly important, eternity is the most important. God sees the big picture and is in control. His grace can cover all of our mistakes or shortcomings. Ultimately He is actually the one doing the work and has promised to complete it. As your children watch you walk in faith, they will learn to walk in faith as well. Isn't that yet another wonderful affirmation of homeschooling?

"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."  Proverbs 3:5-6

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Nancy, Tony and their three boys enjoy learning on their KY farm. God called Nancy away from teaching public school to homeschool their children seven years ago. Now she seeks to encourage other parents to homeschool, to enjoy a lifestyle of learning as a family and to find God's wonderful plan for their family. You can email her at tn3jcarter@peoplepc.com.

This article was originally published in the May/Jun '05 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. For more information, visit http://HomeSchoolEnrichment.com. To request a FREE sample copy, visit http://homeschoolenrichment.com/magazine/request-sample-issue.html.