As private Christian homeschoolers, you have chosen the road less traveled. You have chosen to go counter culture. That is not an easy thing to do and requires a lot of boldness. You may have in-laws who think you are going to ruin their grandkids. You may have siblings who will question you all year long for the choice you have made. And you may well have children who will give you a hard time at some point during the year about your choice to homeschool them.
You have a choice as to how you will respond.
Even if you won’t encounter some opposition, you may hit other challenges this year. You may have a child who just isn’t progressing the way you had hoped or you may be gripped by anxiety and doubts or you may get filled with resentment of the loss of “me time” you long to have.
When you hit those moments of opposition or difficulty, I want to encourage you to stop and ask yourself a question.
“What am I yoked to?”
You may wonder what a yoke on a pair of oxen has to do with homeschooling. Hang on with me! I think we can make a connection. We know that Jesus shared the scripture on the screen behind me to help explain the truth of the gospel message.
Here is the verse in full context.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Jesus was explaining that salvation in Him is easy and light compared to being yoked to the heavy requirements of trying to satisfy the Jewish law.
A yoke holds two oxen together as they plow the fields. The stronger ox leads the weaker ox. The Jews had been yoked to the Law and they were exhausted. Jesus said we will find rest for our souls if we take on His yoke.
In addition to this message being about the truth of salvation, I think this applies to our Christian life and therefore our lives as homeschool parents. Whatever we are yoked to will lead us.
If we are yoked to worldly priorities, then they will cause us to make certain decisions and spend our time certain ways. But if we stay yoked to the Lord, we will go down a very different path.
There are a lot of things we can yoke ourselves to which will make our homeschool experience a struggle.
But if we yoke ourselves to the Lord, we will keep the perspective that our homeschooling is all about discipling our children to grow up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
This will cause us to be more loving and patient, to accept the fact that our child may not be a math wiz but instead loves to write song lyrics, it will help us deal with the fact that our living room isn’t going to look like Martha Stewart designed it. It will help us to pause and be more creative in coming up with a new idea about how to explain long division. It will help us to take joy in our child when they turn in a thoughtful and carefully written book report and even though it is 2 days late because you know they’ve been helping their elderly neighbor with their yard work.
When we yoke ourselves to the Lord and yield to him, he will set the priorities for our homeschool. Pursuing academic excellence is great if it is a means to bring glory to God and to learn how to read His Word and learn about His world. But, It will cause you much anxiety if it is just to impress the neighbor with our child’s progress.
The yoke will be much easier and lighter if we let Him lead. Most of our struggles come from putting ourselves in charge and trying to carry the heavy load uphill all alone. Instead if we adopt a posture of surrender by being yoked to the Lord, we will be filled with a spirit of trust and humility and as Jesus told us “we will find rest.”
A pair of oxen who are well matched can do a great work clearing a field and I know that if you take on the yoke of Christ and walk closely with him leading, you are going to have a great year! You have a great tool to find rest for your soul! I can’t wait to hear the success stories in June. Just remember when hit those road bumps this year to stop and ask yourself “what am I yoked to?”
So you’ve made it one month! Congratulations! You are 1/10th of the way through the year! Does that sound discouraging? Does the fact that you have 9/10th of the year to go seem daunting?
This is a good time to remember the words of Zechariah to the elders of Israel who were discouraged about the rebuilding of the temple.
“Do not despise these small beginnings,
for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” (Zechariah 4:10 NLT)
The Israelites remembered the glorious temple of the days of Solomon and the rebuilding of the temple under Zerubbabel’s leadership was not measuring up. While they were weeping over the small beginnings, God was not.
Despite God’s big plans for his people, he is not afraid of the small. Nor is the small any sure sign of his displeasure, as we so often are tempted to think: If God were really in this, things would be bigger by now! No: God had rescued the Israelites, God was with them, and God’s plans would prosper — even through a day of small steps.
Consider this lesson from Zechariah as you make your way through your homeschooling journey: if you are genuinely faithful in the day of small things, your small obedience will become big. You may not see right now how your child’s mastery of something small will fit into the big picture, but God does! Your kindergartener will only learn to read by learning the sounds of each letter one by one. Your teen will only learn how to write a term paper by learning to write a good solid sentence with great vocabulary. Progress is made by a series of baby steps. Your 8 year old is only going to learn how to be responsible for caring for a car someday, by successfully putting away his Legos and protecting them from his little brother’s clumsy hands. And your middle school daughter will only develop into a compassionate trauma counselor someday by making card for a friend today and spreading her art supplies all over the dining table.
Set big goals and dream big for your year ahead, but relax and let God work in the tiny baby steps. Don’t get discouraged about the pace of your child’s progress. Trust Him in the small things and remember that “the Lord rejoices to see the work begin!”
This was the Back-to-School Night message as we began our 2021-2022 School Year.
ell, that’s our theme for tonight – "You are the Champions for God’s World!" Before we get into business, I want to take a moment with you and talk about what it takes to be a champion. Typically, when we think of the word “champion” we think of it in reference to war heroes, or sports heroes, or sometimes, we think of people who are “champions for a certain cause.” And what makes those people champions over other people?
They usually persevere against the odds, they take on a tough task (otherwise everyone would be a champion if it were easy, right?)
So what does it mean to be a champion in regards to homeschooling? Our silly little song said “You are Champions for God’s World.” Well, you have chosen to impact the world by discipling your kids for Christ through the vehicle of homeschooling. The Latin word for disciple means to learn. We know children are going to learn whatever they are exposed to. So as homeschooling parents, you have decided that you will be the ones to choose what your children learn. And you have chosen Christian homeschooling as opposed to public homeschooling, because you want to impact them for Christ and teach them that their faith is a part of every aspect of their lives.
So, there you go! That is the first step of being a champion! You have chosen a hard task. You’ve chosen to go against what everyone else is doing. You have made the decision and you have taken the first step by being here tonight! Congratulations!
Now how are we going to turn your decision into that of the life of a champion? A champion trains, he stays the course, and he keeps his eye on the prize. These things apply to the veteran homeschooler of 10 years or the new parent who has been doing this for 10 days.
So how does a homeschool parent train? A sports champion uses a coach. A successful homeschool parent starts with a humble teachable spirit and gives themselves room to fail. To be a champion homeschool parent, you need to stay flexible, try different styles, reach out, ask others for advice, listen to podcasts, attend our Parent Ed Coastal Connect sessions and most of all PRAY! Be diligent in your prayer life.
How about staying the course? What does that mean for the homeschool parent? It means a lot of discipline and dedication. When you have a rough day or your child struggles with a concept, staying the course means you don’t give up and question your choice. It means you go back rethink your approach and start fresh the next day. Staying the course means when grandma gets sick and you need to take some school time to help her or get her to the doctor that you get back on track when you are able and get pick up your routine. For the veteran homeschooler, staying the course means not getting complacent, letting your child slack off and stop making progress, but instead staying vigilant and being perceptive to what is causing their boredom or lack of interest.
And to stay the course, you’ve got to keep your eye on the prize. Remember your “prize”, your end goal is to raise children who love the Lord and dedicate themselves to His purposes for their lives. In Coastal Connect, Karen usually talks with you about developing a Mission Statement for your homeschool. This is so important so that you know what you are working toward. Christian homeschooling is not just about running away from something, but it is about running towards something different. If you don’t have a clear finish line, you are going to wander around pursuing all different kinds of goals and lose your way. A champion keeps his eyes fixed on his prize. It is our prayer that your homeschool will be about helping your children find out who they are in Christ, who He created them to be, what their gifts and talents are, and helping them develop into powerful adults who can impact the world for Christ.
The enemy is out there and working hard to steal your children away from the Lord. You know the scripture 1 Peter 5:8 “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone whom he may devour.”
You need to adopt the mindset of a champion to fight against that and to protect your children.
The theme verse that I put on the screen for tonight summarizes the things I have mentioned – staying the course and keeping our eyes on the goal.
“…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” Hebrews 12:1-2
I can’t wait to talk with you all in June when we meet back in this room for graduation and hear the amazing testimonies of how you became a champion for God through the fun and creative and challenging road of homeschooling.
And remember …… “We will, we will help you!”
We are in a season where we are surrounded by continual discussion about the importance of staying healthy. Every news story, every email, every Facebook post seems to be focused on the topic of health. It has become the ultimate goal and objective of everything we do from the minute we wake up til we go to sleep.
My question to you this month is “What are we going to do with our health?” We watch what we eat, how much we exercise, what our blood pressure and cholesterol numbers are etc. Why? Just so we can “feel good?” As most of you know, our family has been in a health crisis with my husband and health has been a primary focus of our past 4 months. As we have been resting in whatever path God has prepared for us to follow, we have spent a lot of time talking about what actually is the value of health. We know God can use our lives even when we are ill for His purposes, but He also calls us to be good stewards of our bodies so we can do His work. Our lives have meaning when we dedicate ourselves to do His work. It is not enough to just “be healthy.” We need to do something with our health.
One area of possible service to God is volunteering at our school. Coastal Academy functions as a co-op program. There is a team of parent-teachers who serve as your Board of Directors and oversee our many activities but much of our programming is done by you. There are many opportunities for you to get involved and make our school what you want. Look at the article below for a partial list of needs. Please don’t hesitate to get involved! You won’t regret it! Volunteering at school will build wonderful connections and provide opportunities for making potentially life-long friends.
Please contact me or any of your board members about how you might like to “use your health for His Kingdom” by getting more involved at Coastal. We’d love to talk to you!!
“For we are his workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand,
that we should walk in them.”(Ephesians 2:10)
In His service,
We are now living under the COVID-19 reality and we all have a CHOICE. How are we going to react? Are we going to choose to live in fear or in faith? The Spirit is constantly reminding me of the story of Job. It might be a good time to reread it. As you know, everything was stripped away from his life and everyone told him to lose his faith in God, but he held onto his confidence in who God is and continued to bless His name. We are in the midst of so many of our idols being stripped away – idols of health, financial security, kid’s sports, shopping freedoms, routines, even gathering together with loved ones. All we can count on is our Heavenly Father. What a sweet time to be alone with Him and focus on His truth that He loves us. We know that He can be trusted, no matter what the outcome.
“We know that all things work together for good to those who love God,
to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
We have a CHOICE if we are going to respond like we really believe that Scripture or if we are going to be fearful, doubt God’s goodness, and try to keep control. Are we going to be like Job’s friends and wife who scoffed at him and told him to “Curse God and die?” (Job 2:9) Or are we going to be faithful and trust our Heavenly Father both when He gives us good things and when He allows adversity? (Job 2:10)
My prayer for you as homeschooling parents is that you rise up during this time, be leaders in your home of what faith in adversity looks like, and be an example of peace to your community during uncertain times. Nothing has changed; God is still on the throne, and nothing will enter our lives that hasn’t passed through His hands first.
I pray this newsletter finds you with a peaceful heart. If you are struggling though, please know that your Coastal brothers and sisters are here for you. We are more than a school. We are the family of Christ. Please reach out. Our Mentor Parents and Board Members would love to talk with you and pray with you. Connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. Do not let the doubts of the enemy creep in and let fear grab your heart.
I pray for you every day.
In His service,
There are so many names of Christ in scripture! The one that means the most to me right now during this Advent season is The Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Everywhere around me I am seeing an absence of peace. I see stressed mothers and fathers worrying about their children and frantically trying to give them the “best” experiences and education. I see stressed teenagers who are crushed by a friend’s careless and thoughtless actions. I see stressed grand parents fretting over health issues and financial insecurities. And saddest of all to me are the stressed elementary age kiddos who are trying so hard to please everyone and earn their praise.
This is not the life Christ wants for us. He came as the Prince of Peace, not a little lamb of peace or snowflake of peace, but a Prince of Peace. There is power in being a prince. His peace has the power to squelch anxiety and stress – pretty powerful anti-anxiety medication.
One of the last words of Jesus to his disciples were… “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
That is a powerful statement. Jesus came on this earth to bring this special peace - a spiritual peace, a supernatural peace that has the power to transform our thinking and our lives. It has the power to take away our fears if we claim it and learn how to rest in it. When we truly understand who God is and His nature, we can relax and have His perfect peace in the midst of the challenges of this life. When we lose a job, get a difficult medical report, enter a rocky time in our marriage – we can maintain a peaceful spirit as we rest in the knowledge that God is in control and rest in the confidence that He is our good, good father.
My prayer for you this Christmas season is that you take a firm hold of this gift of peace that the Prince of Peace is offering and you share it with your families.
Peace be with you,
That seems to be the trendy word of the day. Style and design in 2019 have definitely taken a “minimalist” turn. Simple lines, few colors, and functionality have dominated interior decorating styles. Marie Kondo’s philosophy of tossing anything that doesn’t “bring joy” has spread far and wide. Fashion and cosmetic trends are also reflecting this minimalist influence. Basic colors prevail with a distinct absence of frills and fluff.
So with this emphasis on simplicity and the elimination of anything extra and unnecessary, why is everyone still running around stressed giving the standard answer of “So busy!” when asked how they are? It seems families have packed every minute of their week with some critical activity that they just can’t possibly cancel. Dinners are eaten in the car in between events. Weekends are scheduled weeks if not months ahead and no time exists for impromptu gatherings. No one dares call a friend for fear of interrupting some special event, so brief text messages have become the common mode of communication.
Is this what God wants for us? Is this “busyness” the pattern that the Lord wants for our time? Does it leave time for us to hear His voice? Does it give our children opportunities to learn how to make decisions about time management? Or does it keep our eyes so focused on the GPS that we miss the gorgeous colors of the sunset? Does it keep our schedule so tight that the thought of taking dinner over to a sick friend, becomes a huge burden and annoyance?
My understanding from Scripture is that the Lord wants us to simplify, focus on the things that He values, and leave the rest up to Him. . As the school year starts, I would encourage you to take a good hard look at the activities you are adding into your schedule and evaluate whether they are the “best” use of your time or only a “good” use of your time. Many things which you can choose to be involved in are “good,” but have you prioritized your calendar for those activities which are the “best” use of your time? Filling your lives with so much “busyness” keeps you blind to other things God might be calling you to. Filling your lives with “busyness” keeps your eyes on worldly goals and accomplishments and takes them off of Jesus.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
If you follow the “pattern of this world,” you will be very busy and your eyes will be taken off God’s best for your lives. You are in charge of what extras you add to your lives. You are in charge of whether you plan downtime into your family’s day. You are in charge of whether you put God’s priorities first over worldly goals and aspirations.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:22
So let’s start applying that “minimalist” trend to our calendars this fall!
Christ tells us to come to him like little children (Mark 10:15, Luke 18:17, Matthew 18:4).
At this time of year when we are so focused on making plans to help our children grow and develop, I think it is interesting that Christ challenges us to become like little children. What does that mean? Does that mean it is ok for us to be irresponsible and self-focused as little children? Does that mean it is ok to not want to share or to focus on how “life isn’t fair?” I propose that there are a couple of other child-like qualities that I think Jesus is referring to, that we would do well to adopt during this new school year.
Trusting – A young child is instinctively very trusting of the adults around them. They innocently trust that Mom and Dad and Grandma and Grandpa love them and are going to take care of them and provide them with food and shelter. We would do well to come to our Heavenly Father with the same open and innocent trust. What freedom there is in trusting that God knows best and that nothing enters our lives that hasn’t gone through His hands first! There is no need to worry and fret about the school year ahead. He is right there with you and will equip you to be the teacher your child needs!
Teachable spirit – A young child is naturally curious and wants to learn everything about their world. They ask questions non-stop. What if we let down our “know-it-all” attitude and came to our Father with a hunger and eagerness to learn new truths from Him? Humility is at the foundation of growth. Scripture tells us “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.” (Psalm 25:9)
As the gift of this new school year approaches, I’d like to encourage you to stop being “so grown up” for a moment and think about how transformational it might be for you to become more like a child this year. Ask the Lord to help you develop the trusting faith of a child and an open teachable spirit. I think you’ll find that it will not only have a huge impact on your relationship with Him, but also with your family and community.
Let’s be kids together this year!
In His service,
Our church is finishing up an 8 week read through of the books of Judges through 2 Kings. We have just been reading about when Solomon asked God asked for Wisdom. It got me thinking….what should I be asking God for? What should I encourage our Coastal families to ask for? I decided that we would all do well to follow Solomon’s example and ask God for wisdom on a daily basis.
What does it mean to seek wisdom? Wisdom has two basic connotations. At first thought, we think wisdom means a vast amount of knowledge. Upon deeper thought though, the word wisdom implies using that vast amount of knowledge to make well thought out decisions. We, as parents and especially as homeschool parents, need to be seeking both aspects of this widely sought after quality. We know from scripture that God put a high priority on the role of parents and we see how often children suffered at the hands of unwise and ungodly parents. If we are to take our job as parents seriously, we should be begging God for wisdom daily.
To be a life-long learner requires humility. It requires a clear understanding of our imperfect nature and limited knowledge. It requires a clear understanding of our desperate need for a savior. It demands that we run from the trap of becoming prideful . Proverbs is full of warnings against pride and its detriment to obtaining wisdom.
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom." (Proverbs 11:2)
A prideful arrogant parent will be the destruction of their family. This will result in a hardened unteachable spirit which resists godly counsel for course correction. It causes a parent to oppose seeking advice when they enter a new stage of parenting thinking they know it all already. A prideful arrogant person while not being able to see the sin in their own lives often becomes a fault finder in others. Jesus warns us about that danger with his comments about removing the plank in our own eye in Matthew 7. The children suffer from living with this kind of harsh spirit. A child of an arrogant parent grows up feeling insecure and unloved knowing they can never measure up to receive their parent’s approval. And worse yet, they aren’t taught to go to their Heavenly Father and miss the blessings of His protection and love.
My prayer for us this month is that we follow Solomon’s example and seek wisdom from the Lord and avoid this warning:
“In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” (Psalm 10:4)
In His service,
Who would have thought that those chalky tasting pieces of candy would be in the news so much this year?! People seem so upset that they won’t be able to buy the Necco brand of the little Valentine Sweetheart Conversation Hearts for the first time since 1886! It got me to thinking about what makes them so special??? Why are they such a special tradition over M&M’s or even See’s candy??…… It’s the words on them!
Words. They are very powerful! God used them in the creation of the world. He chose them to be the means of communicating with mankind. And He gave them to us as a beautiful way of communicating with each other. A carefully crafted sentence with rich vocabulary can communicate in ways that non-verbal communication never can. As the mother of a non-verbal autistic son who has never uttered a word in his 24 years of life, I have learned how precious the gift of communication with words is. Don’t get me wrong, I treasure the deep eye contact he gives me where it feels like he can see straight through to my soul and his habit of leaning in with his forehead to touch mine with his and I know that is his way of saying how important I am to him. But to be honest, I long to be able to communicate with him in words – to hear him describe his thoughts and dreams. How precious that will be when we are together in eternity!
Perhaps it is my experience with Nicky that fills me with such grief when I hear spouses share harsh words of irritation with each other or a parent speak crushing criticisms to their child. Words are a beautiful gift and as so many verses in Proverbs tell us, they have amazing power to build up, and the deadly potential to destroy.
Proverbs 15:4 “Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”
Proverbs 16:24 “Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”
Proverbs 18:20 “Words satisfy the soul as food satisfies the stomach; the right words on a person’s lips bring satisfaction.”
Proverbs 15: 1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but hard words stir up anger.”
Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Proverbs 12:18 “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
My intention is not to do an exhaustive Bible study about how we are to use words, but just to cause you during this Valentine month where we are focusing on how to share love with others, to stop and weigh your words carefully. Ask yourself if they will be edifying and loving or if they are rooted in a selfish desire to just “say what you want to say.” Harsh and cruel words can never be retracted. As James 3:8 tells us “no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” Thankfully, we as believers have the help of the Holy Spirit to get control of the things we say. We CAN have victory!
Think about those candy hearts. Think about the pain of receiving one that said “U R STUPID” instead of one that said “U R SPECIAL.” Let’s give out loving candy hearts this month to our friends and family in the form of beautiful loving words and throw the mean selfish ones away!
In His service,
This is a collection of the reflections our principal, Susan Truman submits to our monthly newsletters. She is married to her college sweetheart and is a mother of three. She graduated two of her children from Coastal with her third child attending a special needs school.