Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.
One of my favorite lines from a favorite movie — You’ve Got Mail.
I love the pulse of back to school season. Here at home, I’ve been reshuffling books, moving last year’s books to lower shelves and replacing them with this year’s stuff. Backpacks have been reorganized. I’ve replenished our stockpile of spiral notebooks and lined paper. And I’ve begun laying out this year’s school schedule.
We are, amazingly, going into our 16th year of homeschooling. When God called us to homeschool, I really struggled with the decision. My oldest two were in a sweet, small Christian school and although I was used to being at home with my kids, taking on their education was a huge responsibility.
I remember telling Dan that I’d do it, but he’d have to let me get out of the house a lot because I’d be a crazy woman by 5:00 p.m. every day! But as I prayed through the summer, God clearly called us to home educate. The verse He continued to set before me was Deuteronomy 6:4-7:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
And so we plunged into the great unknown. I had no idea what my homeschool philosophy was and I certainly had no long-term vision, thinking we’d take it one year at a time (O ye of little faith). And I had little clue what the routine of our days would look like.
The one thing that I did right that year was to start our day with Bible time. God must have steered my young heart to set aside the first part of our day as a sort of first fruits. And so I gathered up five little children, putting the baby on my lap, and we opened the Bible to Genesis 1. I didn’t have any curriculum. It was pretty simple. We read and discussed and applied the fresh Word that God had for us that day.
Slowly we worked our way through Genesis and then through the next book and the next.
On many days, I woke up preoccupied with the day’s long to-do list. Math and other book work loomed. And as the years of homeschooling went on and I developed a schooling philosophy and long-term goals, the lure of pressing academics pulled even more.
But – thankfully, naively — I protected that Bible time. And something happened as we gathered each morning. It became my favorite part of the day.
After getting up and dressed, eating breakfast and doing chores, we pushed pause on the day’s rush to open the Word together. Those mornings turned into months and then into years.
Those shared experiences with my kids remain the highest point of our days. Big kids who went off to work independently most of the day snuggled with the littlest on the couch during our Bible time.
We memorized verses, we worked through a catechism, we read and discovered and discussed and applied. We prayed for missionaries, looking up their countries on our globes. We prayed for family and friends and people groups across the world.
With a houseful of young children where no two days looked alike, I realized that if nothing else got done that day except our Bible time, it was a good day.
There have been days when we got the phone call and dropped everything to tend to an immediate need. There have been days when academics stopped altogether to work on character and times that science doesn’t happen because mom forgot to buy insulted copper wire and a 6-volt battery.
But if we’ve gathered the family together to open the Bible together, it’s a good day.
And actually, when we give God the first part of our day, I believe He blesses the rest.
Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33