Name:
Location: MICHIGAN, United States

Thank you for stopping by. It's my hope you find glimpses of my Savior interwoven thru my writings. I am the wife to one husband for over 25 years, a blessed mama to a dozen children, yes each born from me ~ two of which see Jesus face to face & ten at home, all of us yearning to see Jesus someday. We have been home educating for over 18 years with . . . well, another 15 years to go (the youngest is 3, the oldest 23!) I have walked through rejection, to continually learning I am CALLED, LOVED and forever KEPT by God - never, ever to be rejected by Jesus! (Jude 1:1) I've walked through deep sorrow to find that joy does come again, though the night may be long; I've witnessed God orchestrating miracles with my children still beyond my comprehension, & I am seeing new love forming as we begin a new road of older children finding life mates. My life has and is a journey, from the deepest, almost rock bottom pit, to stumbling through my faith and looking towards the ultimate climax of everlasting life in heaven. Will you be joining me here and there? ~ Loni

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

HOMESCHOOLING is MEMORY MAKING

(This is my article for the "on-line" homeschool convention)

HOMESCHOOLING is
MEMORY MAKING

I never really thought of our homeschooling years directly as memory making time. Oh, I knew it in the back of my mind (I take lots of pictures), but our main focus through the years, was to teach our children “differently”, to be able to focus on them individually where their strengths and weakness are, to guard their hearts and minds, and to be able to work with “our schedule” which with my husband working second shift for most of our homeschooling years, he would not have seen them during the week had they been sent away to school, and we know how important a dad’s influence is on a family.

The last four months, however, I treasure our homeschooling years as I never imagined. I certainly do not regret for one minute we chose to homeschool. These years have made special memories, and am so thankful for all the time our children have been home and not spending more time away from us rather than at a school. I’ve been catching up on two scrapbooks, one for my oldest son, Stephen, who just turned 18 and may be graduating soon, and the other for my second son, Matthew, who died on December 11, 2004. Though there are such mixed emotions putting these two scrapbooks together, many of our memories are focused around our homeschooling years – from the first day each child “did school”, to pictures of our special family fieldtrips, to the precious growth in their writings – these are my treasure pieces.

I am a blessed mom with 9 children on earth, 3 miscarried babies, a stillborn daughter, Angela Hope, and our “forever 16” year old son, Matthew, forever in God’s glory. I remember starting school with Stephen and Matthew, when I was not stretched as thin, and loving all our “unit studies”, many trips to the library, and science experiments. I loved it, yet, there were struggles, and remember clearly when I was ready to give up. Matthew struggled more with math than Stephen did. Both Matthew and I were in tears - both of us ready to tare up the math book. I called my husband at work, clearly distraught. He encouraged me to put the math book away – possibly for even a year, and work with Matthew’s other strengths. At first that went against me – I was not being a good homeschool mom, not teaching my child math! But we are homeschooling – we are suppose to be flexible, and I listened to my wise and understanding husband (probably not cheerfully at first!). Many months later when we got Matthew’s math book out, it “clicked” with him, and he understood the concepts so much more clearly, and even caught up to his older brother in a short amount of time. The look of joy in his face that he could do it was rewarding for both of us. Another advantage of homeschooling – instead of being labeled “slow” or put in special education classes.

As I go through hundreds of pictures over the last 18 years, 13 of these years homeschooling, what precious memories. How thankful I am for our “family” homeschool fieldtrips, that we could enjoy learning together with our children. The bonds that were made with the children as they helped each other (and me) with their schooling and correcting some of each others work, are memory keepsakes. After Matthew died, we had so many things to go through, including his 11 years of schoolbooks. How precious to find his little “love notes” in some of his earlier years of books to me (and mine to him). How many teachers can write “I love you son” on their school work? There was also another very special note we found to his sister, Jessica (now 8). Jessica had two open heart surgeries after her first birthday, and spent 10 weeks in ICU. Matthew spent many days reading to her at her bedside, and also doing schoolwork either in the Ronald McDonald House or in her room. In going through his notebooks I found a big, red colored heart, with “I love Jessica” printed on it. Oh, what a treasure for all of us, but quite a treasure for Jessica to know his love for her. He prayed so much for her.

One of my favorite verses in Scripture is Luke 2:19 – “But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.” As we get so involved in the busyness of life, homeschooling, laundry, discipline, making meals, do we have the joy in teaching our children, cherishing the time God has given with each child, and treasuring and pondering these things in our heart? I challenge you to bring the joy into homeschooling, make memories, hug your child when he does great on a page or is frustrated with learning how to write a hard cursive letter. Take pictures. Go on more fieldtrips. Are you a tired mom who did not get much sleep last night? Have a snuggle reading book day – just sit with the children, low stress and see how many books you can read together. You probably can cover several subjects! Start planting a garden with them, and enjoy God’s beauty in life and treasuring with them the new life in plants and flowers. Encourage your children to write a journal. Oh, how I treasure my children’s journals – seeing the changes in their writing, and growth in their lives and spirit. Even if they write one time a week, what memories you are storing away, for generations to come.

Our main goal in our homeschooling is raising our children to be godly men and women, “That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, that they may arise and tell them to their children, that they should put their confidence in God and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments.” (Psalm 78:6,7). Through our homeschooling years, we are helping mold our children’s hearts and minds, and prayfully they will follow God. So, someday, if you are putting a scrapbook together for your child’s special birthday, graduation, wedding or sadly, even a memory book as we are doing, you can thank God for the treasured memories and all the time you spent with them and what can be passed on from generation to generation.

©Loni Vander Stel 2005

3 Comments:

Anonymous Justine said...

What a great article! I appreciate your viewpoint. I also read many of your other blog entries and your website about Matthew. My husband died very suddenly two years ago leaving me with an almost-three-year old and 8 months pregnant. I think scrapbooking is a wonderful way to preserve memories and to walk through the grief process. God has been so good to me and has healed my heart. I know He will do the same for you. Your wisdom absolutely flows through your words. Thank you for sharing. You and your children will be in my prayers.

:)
Justine

4/22/2005 12:03 AM  
Blogger Teena said...

Beautiful, beautiful article Loni.
You have touched my heart in a mighty way~ I am still praying and thinking of all of you.

blessings,
Teena
mom to 1/2 dozen

4/28/2005 1:31 AM  
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