If you’re like me, you can think of a million things you’d like to have time to do. Worthwhile things, too. I’d like to learn to play a musical instrument, be more involved in politics, be more active in my church, and read a lot of good books. (Some of which have been on my shelf for years). Many times, I’ve thought how I could improve myself if I only had time. But God reminds me that He is improving me through the very common responsibilities that I think are keeping me from my chosen pursuits.
God knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows what challenges, responsibilities and opportunities to bring into our lives as He builds a life curriculum for each of us. It is when we kick against the pricks and are constantly looking for something else more fulfilling that we miss fulfillment. I used to think that I was wasting my potential by not being in a full-time ministerial position. These days, I’m coming to see that there’s no more important ministry than the stewardship of little lives. We moms and dads hold the keys to future generations. We mustn’t get bogged down in the daily grind and forget to smell the roses, on one hand, and revel in the prospect of future achievement on the other.
There will be different seasons in the lives of our children, we’ve found. There was a time when we were living in our little yellow house in Concord and had two, then three, then four little boys. I was young and eager, wanting to get into full-time ministry work and leaving no stone unturned looking for God’s big opportunity for me. I was eager to get into the Lord’s work and out of painting. My wife stuck close to her home and children while my eyes were on the ends of the earth.
In the early days of our parenthood, it sometimes seemed that life would go on forever as it was going then. We’d never have any money, we’d never have a child who was old enough to babysit, we’d never have air conditioning. I was so tense as a young man that I made life harder for myself and those around me.
I’ve heard Marilyn say that when she had three children, life was tougher than it was with eight because when she had only three, there were no big helpers. Two were in diapers, and Rickey was a bundle of energy. Now, of course, we have some good help trained and that is a blessing, but the extra needs of the family are felt, too. It takes a tremendous expenditure of time, finances and effort to do what we do.
But by now we know that it won’t always be this way. There may be tougher times with a sick child or persecution such as when we were in court over home education. And there will almost certainly be easier times, too, when more of our children are mature teens and ready to carry their own weight and somebody else’s, too. All we know for sure is that everything that comes to pass, passes.
In the last post, we were talking about the ups and downs of parenthood- the good and the bad times, and I mentioned that one of my favorite passages of Scripture is Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. It’s a good reminder that good times and bad times come and go and that we need to be prepared to experience some of each.
In honor of those in the trenches of parenthood and especially those younger than my wife and myself, I’d like to offer some thoughts on this passage as it might apply to parents……
Ecclesiastes 3, verse 1: “To every thing there is a season, and time to every purpose under the heaven.” God connects times with purposes. He doesn’t promise to tell us what the purpose is while we’re in the time, and He may not tell us before we enter Heaven. But remember in the tough seasons, and the peaceful times as well, that God has His purposes. Especially in the season of pressure, use minimal energy trying to discern God’s reasons. (He may not want you to know them yet.) Learn to rest in the fact that your Father never wastes suffering.
Verse 2a: “A time to be born, and a time to die”. You were a newborn yourself and it wasn’t so long ago. The time will come when you will be called away from this planet. Between those two times, there are many seasons. The one you’re in will end and another will begin. Remember that life has a beginning and an end, and let that humble and motivate you. Your children are your bequest to a needy world you’ll be leaving. Verse 2b: “A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.” There are times to sow good seed in the hearts of your children. The time you spend reading his or her favorite Bible story for the umpteenth time isn’t wasted. There is also a time for pulling weeds. Be alert to pluck up unworthy attitudes or false philosophies the enemy tries to sow in your wheat.
This series of posts is excerpted from the book, Yes, They’re All Ours and were written by Rick Boyer in 1996…..
If anybody ever invents a time machine, I want the first one off the assembly line. I’ll have a thousand things I want to do. I’ll explore history and find out what really happened on a number of occasions. I’ll return to my childhood and try to make peace with some of the painful things that happened to me and revisit the happy times at Granddad’s farm with my cousins. But the very first thing I’d do, is go back to when my children were little.
Oh, what I’d give to see my big boys small again. I used to get bored sometimes with pulling them in the wagon or pushing them on the swings, but I’d give a lot to be able to do it again. I don’t think I’d ever tire of it. To carry them on my shoulders again; to tickle them ‘til they screamed. To have nobody around who knew that Dad wasn’t perfect, that is, except Mom. To be able to hug and kiss my boys without embarrassing them.
Close to 40 years later, we have never experienced a moment of doubt as to our choice. That little boy in kindergarten is now a college graduate, a lawyer and a married man with five children, all of whom he and his wife plan on teaching at home. He is also the eldest of our fourteen sons and daughters. His younger siblings, some of whom are also the parents of our 16 grandchildren, are homeschooling as well. Obviously, our children are as pleased as their parents are with the method of education we chose.
Over the years, of course, curious people have asked us why we made the decision to begin and continue homeschooling our children. There are many reasons we love it, but for the sake of brevity I’ll share just a few here.
*We are starting a new ongoing series of posts…Family Memories…where we will share with you some of our favorite memories and stories from our family through the years. Having 14 children, you can be sure we have collected books and books- worth of stories worth sharing! I sure do love my family. And I hope you’ll enjoy reminiscing with us throughout these posts……
This first story is about a night where the call to protect my family knocked at my door. It definitely sent shivers down my spine!…..
The Night Our Dog Saw a Man In Our Yard.
It was late on a cold and snowy winter night that I was awakened by my dog’s insistent barking. The family had had a full and busy day; snowstorms aren’t frequent in our part of Virginia and one that dumps enough snow to play in is always welcome….for the children, that is.
On this particular day, the boys had enjoyed the white stuff to the fullest. There had been rides on the toboggan, courtesy of Daisy Belle, my faithful Bloodhound who didn’t mind being harnessed to the sled as long as she had me run beside her for company. We’d enjoyed snowball fights, built a snowman and eaten snow ice cream. Bedtime had come and we had all been ready.
But now my sleep was interrupted by Daisy with her barking. And it wasn’t normal barking. Daisy had different tones of voice for a variety of occasions, and I could usually tell right away whether she was challenging another dog, a human intruder, or trying to get the attention of someone in the house to order room service. This bark, delivered in the funny, baying tones of the Bloodhound sounded like her people bark but something was different. I lay listening for a minute trying to wake up enough to figure it out. What was she doing out of her kennel behind the storage shed? And what was that strange sound of doubt in her bark? She sounded uncertain somehow, not quite confident as she usually was when she accosted a stranger.
Just thought I’d remind you of that, in case you’re like the average homeschooler who hears it said – or at least insinuated – frequently. I often tell my listeners at conventions that the reason we go to those things is that after having been told we’re crazy all year long, we need to get together once a year to remind each other that we’re not.
In the first place, it’s not crazy to teach your own kids if you’re not a ‘professional’ teacher. No school can match the individual attention each of your children gets from you. Not to mention the love you put into that relationship. Nor the freedom you have to individualize the program for the needs and interests of each child.
In an airport recently I happened to see the final seconds of a televised basketball game. Because our family doesn’t have TV at home, it isn’t often that I see the mass hysteria that accompanies a close athletic contest. This particular game was a cliffhanger and the crowd was frantic as the seconds ticked off the clock and the buzzer sounded the climax. Then the field house erupted with noise as the clock decided the hard-fought contest. The fans were on their feet screaming, and the cheerleaders were leaping and doing handsprings at the edge of the court.
I remarked to Marilyn later what strange creatures we humans are. Two teams of five men each, selected from the best of the best and prepared by thousands of hours of training, throw an air-filled ball around a gym and through a net hanging from a metal hoop. All the while, thousands look on as though the fate of the world was being decided on the polished hardwood floor in front of them. We do love our play.
I have no quarrel with those who like to play. I like to play myself, and when work permits I’m always ready for a good time. Nobody denies that there is time in a Christian’s life for rest and recreation. Still, it seems that we’ve overdone it a bit. Isn’t there something wrong with a society in which professional game-players are worshiped while accomplishments of eternal importance go unnoticed?
As a parent advocate, I’d like to see more cheering for parents. I think what moms and dads do is worthy of some applause. In fact, a whole lot of applause. After all, which is more important—throwing balls through hoops or forming little souls who will live forever? Where are the cheerleaders who do handsprings when a frazzled young mom puts her preferred activity on the back burner for the umpteenth time in a day in order to read a story to a three-year-old child?
Who’s waving the pom-poms for the dad who works long hours at a job that’s not all that much fun, in order to provide a home for his wife and little ones? Not to deny the hard work and sacrifice it takes to excel at sports, but what group is more important and less appreciated than parents?
I was chatting one day with a teenage boy who worked for me and somehow the conversation turned to the subject of studying history. Young Sam didn’t see the point of it.
“Why,” he reasoned, “should I care about things that happened before I was even born?” Now, I’ve heard it said that there’s no such thing as a dumb question, but..well, as I said Sam was young.
Personally, I love history. Especially American history. I believe that it is the most important academic subject we teach our children. That’s why my wife and I wrote our elementary (Providential) American history text books. That’s why I saw very little of Marilyn except the top of her head for a year and a half—it took eighteen months for her to write For You They Signed, a book of character studies from the lives of the great men who signed the Declaration of Independence. That’s why I spend so much time recording great old books for kids in my Uncle Rick audio book club. History matters far more than most people think. The only reason you were bored with in school is that it was poorly taught.
As I tried to explain to my friend Sam, certain things could not happen in the present if certain other things had not happened in the past. For instance, if Sam’s mother had never met Sam’s father in the past, there would be no Sam in the present. Just little things like that.
The events of the past made the world in which we live for the present. Today, things are happening that will determine what will happen tomorrow. “Now” is the meeting place of eternity past and eternity future and it is not possible to separate the three time periods. They are siblings; in fact, conjoined triplets.