An Unlikely Candidate for the Job
- Vickie Farris Home-Schooling Mother of Ten
- 2002 9 May
But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong. (1 Corinthians 1:27)
The grocery checkout line didnt seem to be moving. I looked impatiently at my watch, thinking of my children who were waiting (and probably fighting) in the van. It had been a long day, and as I finally approached the checker, it was difficult to return her friendly smile. My 2-year-old son Peter, however, greeted her with a cheerful, "Hi!"
Smiling at Peter, the checker turned to me. "How old is he?" she asked. "Is he your first child?"
"No," I said, smiling in spite of myself. "Actually, to tell you the truth, hes my tenth.'
'Your tenth!" She looked at me more closely, shaking her head in amazement. "I dont know how you do it. I only have two children, and they drive me crazy! You must be the most patient, organized woman in the world."
I laughed to myself, reviewing the day's events in my mind. First, I had woken up later than I had planned, due to the fact that I had stayed up too late the previous evening. Walking downstairs and into the kitchen, I had discovered that Peter had emptied half of the Cheerios box on the kitchen floor, and that Joey had a slight fever.
The day had continued in a similar fashion, with multiple quarrels between children, a frantic search for the van keys, and a scraped knee in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Now, standing impatiently in a grocery line listening to the sound of my head throbbing, I was faced by a woman calling me the most patient, organized woman in the world.
"No, not really," I smiled. "It's not that I'm all that patient or organized. It's pretty much just the grace of God that gets me through." It was a simple answer, but a complete one.
It is common for outsiders to assume that a home-schooling mother of a large family must be naturally qualified for the job. Contrary to this assumption, however, I have never had any asset except the grace of God. I started my married life with no natural abilities as a housekeeper, seamstress, cook, or even as a mother. In fact, as I look back, I believe I was probably the least likely candidate for this job.
I grew up an only child. My mother ran her house with innate German orderliness, providing our family with excellent meals and immaculate surroundings. I was somewhat spoiled and a little bit lazy, enjoying the outdoors and play much more than housework and helping my mom. I never had the desire to learn cooking or sewing, and I left for college without knowing how to prepare a meal. (When I was married, however, I quickly saw the benefit of such knowledge. I remember calling my mom in desperation, asking, "What do I do with this raw meat?") Even today, cooking is not my favorite activity, and I never did pick up sewing.
In addition to my lack of domesticity, my childhood provided me with very little experience handling babies or young children. I clearly remember visiting my cousin Nancy shortly after the birth of her first son. I was in my early teens, and I looked at my new little second cousin with a mixture of fear and bewilderment. I nearly panicked when he was placed into my arms (it didn't help that he began to scream almost immediately). "What do I do with this baby?" I remember thinking. "I'm afraid I'll break him!" It was Mike who first taught me how to fold and change a diaper, after the birth of our first child!
My organizational skills have never been particularly exceptional. Although necessity has taught me to become fairly organized, our house is still often a place of frantic searches for keys, warranties, Lego men, and soccer shoes (all very recent examples, by the way!). I have been known to write letters and promptly leave them lying untouched on my desk for months. I have yet to master the skill of training my children to pick up after themselves without continual prodding from me.
Neither do I see myself as being innately qualified for the job of a lawyer-politician's wife. I have always been naturally shy, and it is somewhat of a stretching experience to attend political functions and dinners with my husband. I never had a natural interest in law or politics - my least favorite subject in school was government. (To Mike's great credit, he made the political process come alive for me in later years.)
I also tend to be somewhat of a scaredy-cat when Mike is traveling overnight, policing the house to make sure that all the doors and windows are securely locked. I have even been known to look inside the clothes dryer for hiding intruders, much to the amusement of my husband and children!
So just how did I go from being a shy, non-domestic, only child to being the mother of ten children and the wife of a nationally-known home-school leader? The story starts and ends with God, and God alone. He changed my direction, re-channeled my desires, and brought success instead of defeat. The words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 seem to describe my life perfectly:
"Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things and the things that are not to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him. It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: Let him who boasts boast in the Lord." (NIV)
Today, I find myself in a unique position to fully experience the truth of this passage. With so many young children still at home, I am daily reminded of my own weakness and foolishness apart from God. Like other home-schooling mothers of young children, I doubt my capability as a mother and a teacher, and I worry over the weaknesses I see in the lives of my children. I am fully able to identify with the lowly things of this world and the despised things.
However, with three grown daughters and two more rapidly approaching adulthood, I have also been able to clearly see the other side of the equation: that God's power can nullify the things that are and produce extraordinary results. I can look back and remember the weaknesses and failings of my three oldest daughters, and see first-hand how God was able to transform them in answer to my prayers.
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