Where there is no vision, the people perish, says Proverbs 29:18. To cultivate Amber's vision and ambition, we sent away for a catalog, ordered a Spartan pennant for her room, and encouraged her to watch the low temperatures reported in Michigan. When it came time to seriously consider colleges, MSU was still an option, but no longer first choice and ultimately didn't make it to her short list.

Next, be confident. Proverbs also says, Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will be established, (Proverbs 19:21). It is true God will accomplish His plan, but if that includes law school or medical school, we must give the necessary foundation in social studies or life sciences. Amber spent her summers abroad doing short-term mission work, preparing for her Inter-Cultural Studies major.

The explosion of the home education movement means more options are available than ever before. From co-op classes and enrichment centers to Internet courses and charter schools, there truly is something to fit every lifestyle, learning type, and budget. We took advantage of a wide variety of opportunities including co-ops, social and extracurricular activities, and community college courses. God provided the educational opportunities; we just had to make use of them.

Another aspect of being confident means keeping complete and accurate records of everything your child does in school. I bought books on record keeping and transcript preparation. As I read them, I wondered how believable a transcript would be if the admissions counselor knew Mom or Dad made it. It's taken very seriously. If you have the conviction to educate your child yourself, you must have the confidence to do it right.

Last, be content. It's a cliché, but these years truly do fly by. Make ice cream by rolling a coffee can back and forth across the back yard. Collect foliage for an autumn collage. Spend an afternoon cloud watching to teach the water cycle of evaporation and condensation. Don't let the pressure of goals and plans sap the joy from teaching a child the trick for memorizing the nines in the multiplication table.

It's been well said that time you enjoyed wasting was not really wasted. I used to feel guilty for reading fiction until I realized that after finishing a book, I felt refreshed. Now, I'm never without a novel.

Since identifying the four C's, I've known we were called to home school. This allowed me to cultivate my children and their dreams and gain confidence that God would meet their academic needs -- which made contentment easier.

Just a few years after that afternoon of doubts, I had the joy of standing with my husband on a platform and awarding a diploma to our first high school graduate. Amber continued her education at a Christian university, graduated, is now employed and a productive member of society -- all in spite of the fact that she was never a member of the chess club.

Carrie Padgett is a wife, mother of two home school graduates, freelance writer, and computer mahjongg-addict living in central California. Contact her at padgett@madnet.net.