We could quite possibly bring our family number to seven again in a few months (we have had seven of us at one time before) , making us an official ‘large family’. Our local foster care agency just contacted us about accepting a child, who in all probability, will be coming up for adoption. Foster parents are never given a guarantee as to how long a child could be living in their home, and they learn quickly to simply enjoy the time that has been given by God. No seasoned veteran ever allows themselves to think, much less be vocal about forever, until the ink is dry on the adoption document which has been signed in person before a judge. We currently have two foster cuties, and so far, neither are on the table for adoption as of yet. Our own two biological teens round out the figure.
This scenario is very far from what is typical of the large homeschool family. We are still relatively small for a ‘large family’, but anything over four is considered big (we will just get in under the wire with the fifth) and more than half of our children are not legally ours. Yet, large we are, no matter what our last names are.
After hearing God’s voice, first telling us to close down my mural company to homeschool our kids, and then telling us to grow our family through the foster care system, we have gotten really good at going against the norm in His name. Strolling through the store when we first received June Bug (our African-American cocaine baby that has since gone to relatives) proved that I am up for going against the tide. Lots of people before me have reared a child that is not of their race, but for me, this was my first time in public as such a parent. Needless to say, the reactions ranged from stunned to curious. My reaction was always the same, that of silent humor, because I feel like I have an inside joke with God. What’s the punchline? We are all children of God, so who cares what color we are…………but, try telling this to some people, of all races.
It is not easy being a large Christian homeschool family, and the large part is not the most difficult. The homeschool part is not all that bad either. It is the Christian part that can test everyone in my family, right to their limits. Following Christ’s example and giving your will over to God is not an easy thing at times. It is only through God’s grace, our faith in Him, and oodles of prayers about strength and patience, that we are able to keep going.
When you watch these shows on TV, about large Christian homeschool families, it looks as if they have it all figured out. The moms are ‘meek and quiet’ and they encompass the whole Proverbs 31 woman in everything they say and do. The dads are all very hands-on, always close to home, and are also pretty quiet and patient. The teens do not rebel openly, the middle kids are rowdy, but obedient, and the little ones are all sweet and adorable. That’s not quite the life that we lead. Here is a peek into my real-life large Christian homeschool family:
1. My 17-year-old son is finally passed the horrible 15’s so he is pretty obedient, trustworthy, and diligent. His weakness however, is getting him to do his schoolwork , which is like asking a cat to willingly take a bath. He takes care of all of our outside work, and is amazing at his task. He tries hard to be patient with my oldest daughter as she goes through her 15th year, because he just went through it 2 years ago, and because he is actually friends with her now……….something that I never thought I’d see! He is kind and caring, and is trying to be faithful in handling his temptations and His walk with Christ. He is going to be an amazing husband, and I love watching him grow from a teen to a man.
2. My 15-year-old daughter is smack-dab in the middle of the terrible 15’s and we are trying not to kill each other. See? We are the complete opposite of those famous families, as I just said that my daughter and I are trying not to kill each other! Not really, but we are having to make some serious efforts not to hurt our relationship as she goes through this trying age. I am constantly correcting her, totally forgetting about the suggestion of praising 10 times more than you point out flaws, and it is not done quietly, or meekly. I sometimes have to count to a zillion to keep the top of my head from exploding, especially after asking her to do something for the third and fourth time.. Not to worry though, yelling in my house always gets doused fairly quickly with one look from my youngest son. He was so severely abused, physically and emotionally, that he cannot tolerate ‘angry’. Have you ever tried to be mad at a teenager with a fixed ‘pretending-to-be-happy-so-your-mistreated-toddler-won’t-have-a-horrible-flash-back’ face on? It’s not pretty, as it sort of looks like a comical, yet maniacal clown. Hopefully, she is almost done with this phase, as she turns 16 very soon………which could not come soon enough for the both of us. Her true self is in there somewhere, as she is still one of the most kindest and generous people on the planet. She is already a very accomplished cook, she can make a mean pot of Stroganoff, and there is no one better for soothing what ails you……she will be the best nurse one day! I know that once she is done with this cycle of her youth, she will blossom into the gorgeous butterfly that lies beneath.
3. My 3-year-old son has learned the word ‘no’…….need I say more? Probably not, but I will. He is a pretty cool kid who has been through the ringer, but after a year in our home, the time to discipline and teach obedience is at hand. Being firm with a child who a.) could not sleep without holding my hands in a death grip all night long, b.) had night terrors, c.) could not handle separation, even if I was just going to the bathroom, d.) would melt into a blubbering mess if he was asked to eat certain foods, like a particular sandwich, because he was beaten in the past for not liking them, e.) would not say one word when he arrived and didn’t speak for a very long time afterward, or f.) finally let go of all of the horror and accepted us as his family………faults and all. Hopefully you can see that giving him the ‘firm face’ is a bit difficult for all of us……..but, we know we have to do it now and we are doing it. But it stinks 😦
4. My 2-year old looks like an angel from Heaven……..but, she acts a little differently. White blond curls, gorgeous blue eyes, and a pretty pink pout worthy of a porcelain doll. Yep, she has got all of that going on, but then she will tilt her head and give you “the look’ when she has made up her mind not to do something that you want her to. Yet, she has also come a long way. When she first came to us, the daycare that she had attended were working toward a few goals with her……..one being that she could sit during circle time for at least two minutes without biting another child (they never got to that goal). Let’s just say that it took us a while to settle her down, but now that we have, she is a sweet and obedient child who tries very hard to please. She has gone from semi-attached to us as her care-givers, to thinking that this is her forever-family. That is the hardest part about fostering……….you can love them and kiss them and show them what it means to be a part of a God-loving-family, but you can’t promise them forever.
5. My husband is 42 and I am 40. He is the sweetest and most loving husband a girl could want, along with being a great provider. But, he used to be head strong, easily angered, and a procrastinator……….the strides that man of mine has made since we decided to follow Jesus and His callings to us, has continued to amaze me. I am a recovering yell-o-holic, and I had (and still have, but have finally managed to control it) a serious case of ADHD that could drive a saint insane, but I am caring, loving, and loyal. Sometimes, I cannot believe that we were ever those people that we used to be. Christ has really worked on as, and has walked us through how to serve Him. We will never be all that we want to be for Him, but we are sure giving it our best shot.
If you saw us, you would not instantly know that we are homeschoolers…….something that I struggled with for a while. My daughter and I even went on a personal exploration with wearing skirts 100% of the time, which proved to be not for us, but we learned a lot about modesty and about ourselves. Yet, once you are within earshot (which doesn’t necessarily need to be that close…..remember we are all still working on being meek and quiet), or even observed us for a while, you would definitely know that we are Servants of Christ. At the end of the day, that is what it’s all about anyway.
Coming soon: Part 2. OUR HOMESCHOOL RESOURCES