Katy, TX – MKT Railroad Park Caboose and Depot, 2017
Hi, I’m Penney Douglas. I have been married to my precious husband for 30 years. We have been exceedingly and abundantly blessed with 10 children. They all belong to me and my husband. And to think that I was afraid I would never get married! I got a late start (married at 25 and first child at 27), but I guess late bloomers can blossom profusely once they get started.
I blog for several reasons. I like to keep a record of what we’re doing in our homeschooling and share ideas for other homeschoolers or moms who like to work and play with their kids. I try to encourage families to keep Christ first in their homes so they can be all that they were made to be. I want to help others to draw closer to God. I hope to glorify God and give Him praise for all that He does for us.
I am constantly learning, changing and growing. Sometimes I feel like a beginner even though I’ve been a Christian since I was 4 years old and I’ve been homeschooling for about 21 years. And I’ve been living for __ years (long enough!).
But the Lord has been faithful to keep me and my family on an upward climb drawing nearer to Him in spite of our weaknesses and mistakes.
He has led us on a crooked path across the United States and back and then some. (From Ohio to Kansas City to Arizona to Colorado, back to Kansas City to Illinois to Pennsylvania and now to Texas!) We are still looking for that place to call home. We hope to find it before the oldest chicks are ready to fly from the nest! But our desire is that they land somewhere near us even when that time comes.
We are believing God for miracles of provision. We have already seen many. We suffered the loss of our home 13 years ago. Now we live in a different state, and my husband is making more money than ever before. But the money is beside the point. What God did in each of our hearts, convincing us of His reality and His love for us, is worth more than all of the houses or money in the world. But now He has enabled us to help others in need, and we are grateful for the opportunity to bless others.
Our children are truly gifts from God. They learn from us and teach us so much. I would never have known even a fraction of how much God loves me if I had never had the opportunity to be a mother to my precious children. They are teaching me even more as they grow in wisdom and understanding and we share together what the Lord is teaching us.
Family was God’s idea.Marriage was His idea. God has good ideas. His ideas work.
He wants our families to be training grounds for children (and adults) to learn His ways and right ways of relating to God and to people. We learn how to die to ourselves when others are dependent on us, and when we have to learn to get along with the people around us in order to experience peace and harmony. The rough edges are rubbed off as we care enough to be honest with each other and humble ourselves to receive correction even from those younger than ourselves.
God created us because He wanted a family. That’s more than a trite saying. He created us in His image so that He could have sons and daughters that would look like Him, act like Him and love Him. He wanted to be a father.
He created you so He could love you. Receive His love for you. Let Him be your Daddy.
The second post on this page tells more about me and why I write this blog. If you’re a homeschooler, please read this post and do whatever you can to preserve our homeschool freedom in this nation.
I would like to challenge new homeschoolers to carry the torch of homeschooling without government interference. Please learn the history of homeschooling in the United States. Find out about what happens in other countries when people desire to teach their children at home so that they can impart their values to their children. See this story, for example. In most countries, they are persecuted and their children are taken away from them or forcibly taken to public school.
We have the freedom to homeschool in every state in the United States – now. But it didn’t used to be that way. Chris Klicka and the wonderful people at HSLDA helped the early homeschool pioneers to fight to make it legal. Before that, people in the U.S. who felt that God was calling them to teach their children at home were treated just like those people in other countries are treated now. They were persecuted by truant officers. They were even thrown in jail. They had their children taken away from them. They had Children’s Services called on them. They had to hide in their homes and never go out during school hours, or they would get “caught” homeschooling. This was in the 1980’s and ’90’s. It wasn’t that long ago.
There are books that tell some of these stories of the hard-fought battle to make homeschooling legal in America. One of these is Homeschool Heroes by Chris Klicka. There are interviews with early pioneers that tell of the harrowing experiences of being taken to court and threatened with jail time if they continued to educate their children at home. One that I know of is at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/watchtalk/2009/09/01/cultivating-your-childs-potential. This is an interview that Diana Waring did with Zan Tyler, who began homeschooling long before it was cool or accepted. The Lord led her into homeschooling and led her through the fire of legal battles and real threats to her freedom. Her stories are amazing and hard for us to believe in the atmosphere we live in now with the acceptance of homeschooling that we enjoy.
But there are threats to our freedom to homeschool in the way that we feel led of the Lord. Many times there has been legislation brought up to try to regulate homeschooling. This has happened in state governments and even in the federal government. The homeschoolers of my generation knew that we were the beneficiaries of great sacrifice and work by the generation before us. Our local support groups and state organizations made sure that we knew that homeschooling is a privilege to be cherished. They told us to guard that freedom and not to be fooled by any attempts of the establishment to infringe upon our rights or to curtail them in any way.
There have been several attempts to force homeschool parents to get a teaching certificate. Education falls under the auspices of state government, so the rules vary from state to state. Each of us needs to watch our state governments and see what legislation they are considering regarding our right to homeschool freely without any government interference. Each homeschool family should join HSLDA and keep track of legislation and threats to our freedom and cases where freedom is already being challenged by public schools and legislators. We all need to stand together.
Please be vigilant about this precious right that we have and don’t hand anything to your local school district that is not required by the law of your state. Be careful and cherish homeschooling as the gift of God that it is.
I linked this post at the BIG Family Friday Link Up at Holy Spirit-Led Homeschooling
Have you ever tried to find a new church? What did you expect to find when you walked in the door of the church building? Were you warmly greeted? Were you treated as if they were glad you were there? Then you were lucky.
Not every church is so welcoming.
Many people have to go looking for a church when they move to a new place. They hope to find a place of love and acceptance, and a place to worship the Lord with other believers. Sometimes, they find very gracious, kind people just inside the doors welcoming them and acquainting them with the way their church operates. But other times, they walk into a big room full of strangers, and nobody comes to their aid. They are left on their own to try to figure out where the children are supposed to go, and all of the other little idiosyncrasies of that particular church. And no one asks their name or anything else about them.
But the thing I find the most disturbing is that even when a new person attends a church several times, even for weeks or months, some have an extremely difficult time becoming accepted or gathered in to the church family. I have experienced this many times. We have moved 5 times in 13 years. We have tried many churches. We have only found a few who welcomed us with open arms and continued to cultivate a relationship with us.
It seems that many have judged us by the number of children we have. They have acted like we were going to be too much work for them. We haven’t turned our kids over to their care. We take care of our babies and toddlers ourselves. The only time we let our children go to children’s classes is when they wanted to go. We tried to keep them in the sanctuary with us unless they were just too energetic for that.
Many times I felt judged by my brothers and sisters in Christ at the churches we attended. Our children were well-behaved, especially compared to others. We wanted to participate and contribute to the ministry of the church, but we were closed out. I remember one meeting in which people were to sign up to help with the various ministries of the church. I had prayed about it and felt that the Lord told me to help with Children’s Church. When the pastor called for people who wanted to help with Children’s Church to raise their hands, I raised my hand. The pastor called out the names of all the people who had their hands up – except me. We had been attending there for several months and had spoken to the pastor and his wife several times. But he was intentionally ignoring me. Finally some people around me started pointing to me and calling out to the pastor that someone else was volunteering. By that time, I had figured out that he was ignoring me on purpose, and I put my hand down. When the people around me started pointing and trying to get the pastor’s attention, I started shaking my head and telling them to never mind. He finally looked straight at me, and slumped and sighed and asked for my name and phone number. He just did it to keep his people from knowing what he was doing. I knew I would never get a phone call from him. I was right.
I had the same thing happen at two or three other churches we went to. I guess raising 10 children and having a teaching degree were not enough qualification for teaching children in their churches. I didn’t rush in to try to get involved. I actually didn’t want to do it. I felt like I was doing so much for my own children, and I wanted that Sunday morning time to just soak in the presence of God in worship and the teaching of the Word. But I felt like the Lord was telling me to volunteer to help teach the children. If it had been only one church, I would have thought it was just a fluke. But it happened over and over again.
Not only did these things happen that felt pretty unfriendly, but I was not able to make friends with many people in these churches. I used to have lots of friends when I was in the area that I grew up in. People knew my family, knew my history, knew of the school district I went to, and we always at least shared that common knowledge. But when we moved out of state, we didn’t know anybody. We had no family or friends at any of the places we moved to.
The people of the church were usually people who had known each other for years and had shared many experiences together. They seemed to think that they had “enough” friends. They didn’t need any more. I tried to go to some women’s groups. Not much success there, either.
I was closed out of one group because I was too old. I had 2 babies, 2 toddlers, and 2 elementary-aged children, but they said I was too old to attend that particular moms’ group whose purpose was praying for families. They were all younger moms in that group, and the leader felt that I would not fit in.
Where is the Love?
Seriously, where is the love in all of that?!
My husband and I finally threw up our hands and said, “That’s it, if we don’t feel the love of God when we walk into a church, we will know right then that it’s not the church for us.” We decided that if God isn’t there, we don’t want to be there, either. So that has been our measuring rod.
I have been trying to make friends at lots of different churches, but I have been largely unsuccessful.
Another problem is that all of the women are so busy! I have found a few who seemed interested in forming a friendship, but they worked at a job, or they lived so far away that it was hard to get together.
So, from my experience, many churches need to change their perspective of new people and the way they treat them, or they will not be gaining any new members. We are supposed to be the Body of Christ, all members of the same body. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. I should be able to walk into any church building and feel at home. People should know by the Spirit that I am a fellow believer and that I love Jesus with all my heart. Unfortunately, I have seldom had that happen.
This has made for a lonely life as we have moved from one region to another. I have reached out to other women in many different ways. A few have responded. But I have not found a bosom friend in all of my wanderings.
I detect a serious problem in our churches, and in the attitudes of many believers. There is a lack of love that really cares about fellow believers and befriends them and embraces them, if they haven’t known them for 10 years, and “they’re not from around here”.
I think that God wants His children to play together nicely. I think that believers should be able to visit among other gatherings of believers and feel like instant family. Am I expecting too much? Maybe.
But I think we can do better than this.
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Contrary to popular opinion, there is no such thing as behind in education. Hence, there is no such thing as behind in homeschooling. I want to take some pressure off of you if you have felt guilty or stressed or incapable of teaching your children correctly.
Don’t feel like you’re behind. Who says you’re behind? Whose standard are you not meeting up to? The individuals who developed the scope and sequence or the order of skills taught in a curriculum were guessing the average ages and stages of readiness for certain skills and knowledge. It’s arbitrary. Don’t think it’s set in stone. Don’t act like it’s a law. It might help as a general guideline for what you want to introduce to your child and when, but remember to look for readiness. You can tell if they’re ready for it or not. Look for the signs.
So if your child is “behind” in math, maybe you should evaluate how you’re teaching math and see if you can get through it more quickly. I’m going to, that’s for sure! I have heard great things from Dr. Melanie Wilson, aka psychowith6, about a curriculum that cuts to the chase and helps you learn math fast. In fact, that’s what it’s called: Learn Math Fast! You can find her reviews of this curriculum here.
What about the other subjects? Language Arts does not have to be broken up into 5 different topics, such as Reading, Spelling, Vocabulary, Handwriting, and Grammar. And let’s not forget about Literature, Composition, Speaking, Creative writing, prose, poetry, and research papers. We can easily combine those first five topics as we do those last seven subjects. We use all of the basic skills when we study Literature. We use the basic skills when we write stories and research projects.
Of course we need to teach reading first of all. And handwriting must be taught before the other subjects can be adequately studied. But when the basic skills are mastered, they don’t need to be singled out in workbooks with contrived, irrelevant, and unrelated sentences and exercises to continue practicing them. They should be used, put into practice, with real writing. By teaching language arts this way, your student may be able to accomplish the objectives much more quickly and efficiently than by using workbooks.
There are quicker, more efficient ways to let your kids study science and history, too. Let them study the topics they want to learn about. They may not cover all the topics in a typical textbook, but does that really matter in the scheme of things? What will be relevant to their lives after they graduate? Are the typical topics vital to their lives after high school? Probably not.
If there are certain subjects that matter to you and that you feel your child absolutely needs to know, then make sure he studies them.
But don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself or your child to cover everything in the book or finish by a certain time.
Deadlines help to make sure we get things accomplished, but keep expectations reasonable and look for the quality of the work and the results of the efforts more than the quantity or speed of accomplishment.
If you will change your mindset to one that says, “We are not behind. We are learning what my child wants to learn about, while using skills that he has learned and honing them even more”, homeschooling will become more enjoyable, productive, and relevant to real life.
And you will no longer hear the voice of that terrible taskmaster screaming at you that “you’re behind”.
In a related topic to individualized instruction, a goal that we as homeschoolers should be endeavoring to attain is self-education.
“Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.”
“I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.”
“Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.”
– Isaac Asimov
“Real education must ultimately be limited to men who insist on knowing; the rest is mere sheep-herding.”
– Ezra Loomis
“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth learning can be taught.”
— Oscar Wilde
When we think about teaching and learning, we think of a dispenser of knowledge standing in front of a group of students who are soaking up everything (?) the lecturer or instructor intends for the students to absorb into their brain.
But is that what learning is really all about? Is that how you learn best? Think about how you learn. If you hear a speaker, and even if you are enthralled with what he is saying – even if you are hanging on every word – if you never think about their speech again, do you really remember it? What helps you to remember thoughts, ideas, and concepts? Don’t you have to keep thinking and meditating deeply and for long periods of time, engaging your whole brain. Don’t you have to use different learning faculties, such as writing, rereading your notes, discussing your thoughts with others, and even imparting the information to another person (teaching) in order to make the knowledge your own and embed it deeply into your brain so that it becomes a part of your memory?
There really is no such thing as teaching. There is only learning. Learning depends on the person who is trying to gain new information. If they are trying to make it their own, then the knowledge will most likely sink in. If the learner is not putting forth the effort to learn deeply, then the teacher has no power to cause learning to take place. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. In the same way, you can lead a student to knowledge, but you can’t make him think.
So in your homeschool, make sure that you are giving your children plenty of time to think. You may ask questions to encourage further thinking. But give them time to think deeply about the answers to those questions. This is a missing element in the school-style of education. The students are given all of the information that the teacher wants them to spew forth on the exam, but real learning doesn’t occur, because the time to reflect, process, and meditate is not given to the students. That process is not even addressed or encouraged in most classrooms. Students are told that they have to memorize certain facts that will be covered on the test, and then they are evaluated on how well they memorized all of those facts.
We want something more for our students. We want them to be able to think deeply, and to ponder all sides of a matter. We want them to develop their own relationship with the information. We want them to care about it and make it their own knowledge. So, in order to make this happen, we need to lead them along to further thinking and questioning. We need to give them time to think and time to put in their own words what they are thinking about. Give them good mind food. Give them lofty ideals and hopes and aspirations to dream about. Give them books to read that inspire courage and conviction. Read stories to them about people who made a difference in the world – people who were honest and generous and filled with love for God and their fellow man.
When we do these things at home – when we give them great ideas and concepts to think about and then give them time to think about them and a way to express what they are thinking, we will help them to achieve a deeper, more lasting learning that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
This is self-education at its finest.
And you have the perfect opportunity to kindle this in your children when you homeschool them in this way.
Can you imagine walking with Jesus when He lived on earth? I would have loved that! I should have been named Mary.
I could have been Mary, the mother of Jesus. Now there’s a woman who played no small part in Jesus’ life. She carried Him in her womb, gave birth to Him, nourished Him, and taught Him to walk and talk and use good manners. She probably taught Him to pray and instructed Him in the ways of God and told Him about the things God did for the children of Israel. She may have led Him to faith in God!
There’s no doubt that she had a great influence on the greatest Man who ever lived.
For instance, there’s the time that Mary insisted that Jesus do a miracle at the Wedding at Cana when they ran out of wine. That turned out to be a good thing – the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry.
She had a mother’s influence over her son. I’m sure she loved Him as no other. Her love probably gave Him strength and courage to endure all that He went through in His life. His mother had extravagant love for Him.
What about another Mary in the life of Jesus? Mary Magdalene? What would it have been like to be set free from the control of seven demons by this Man who did miracles wherever He went? She was radically changed.
She became one of His most loyal followers. Her name is mentioned prominently in the Bible any time the women followers of Jesus are mentioned. She used her money to support His ministry and followed Him wherever He went. She served Him and ministered to the needs of Jesus and His followers. Her love for Jesus was extravagant. She must have left all to follow Him. She was forgiven much so she loved much. Her extravagant love, devotion, and gratitude were obvious to all.
And there’s this other Mary who made such an impact on Jesus’ life that He said her story would be told wherever the Good News is preached. Mary of Bethany gave away her life savings, her dowry, her chance for a “happy” life when she broke the alabaster jar and poured out the expensive perfume to anoint Jesus.
Some accounts say she poured it on His head, others on His feet, but we know that oils work well wherever they’re applied on our skin. We women know these things. She really ministered to Jesus at a time when He surely needed it. He knew He was headed for the cross and that a harrowing ordeal that would end in His death was fast approaching. She exhibited extravagant love, giving, gratitude, and worship by this act. And he was touched by her devotion.
These Mary’s were spiritually sensitive women. They knew that Jesus was the Messiah and they treated Him as such. They honored and revered Him. They gave Him their all.
And Jesus honored them. He took care of His mother and made sure that another would take care of her after He was gone.
He honored Mary of Bethany by proclaiming that her story would be told wherever the Gospel is preached.
He honored Mary Magdalene, who believed in Him all the way to the cross and even to the tomb by appearing to her first after He rose from the dead and sending her as an apostle to the apostles. He gave her a message to deliver to the apostles that He had risen and would ascend to the Father. He showed that He respected her as a witness even though the custom of the time said that a woman was not a credible witness.
And in this story we see the personal nature of His relationship with her. When He said her name she recognized His voice.
He also elevated the status of women by speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well. She, in turn, testified to her whole village about Him, and many Samaritans believed that He was the Savior of the world.
Through the experiences of all these Mary’s – and there were other Mary’s! – and through the Samaritan woman and the women who supported Jesus’ ministry we see that women are very influential. We women can use our influence for good or for evil. These women influenced many men – including Jesus – for good.
They were spiritually sensitive and recognized Him as the Messiah. they helped men to see Him as the Messiah. Women of today can do the same thing. Churches are filled with women. Studies show that Christian women are more devout than Christian men.
So what should we do about that? I believe we should use our influence to bring men to Jesus. Women who walk with Jesus become women who lead men to Jesus. But we should do it in the manner described in 1 Peter 3 – by our kind conduct and godly life win them without a word. The job is to show them Jesus not tell them they have to go to Jesus. We must learn how to tell them the message without telling them what to do about it.
Men need women to show them Jesus. God has made women in such a way that men are attracted to them, and the best and highest purpose for that is to help men to find their way to Jesus.
To bring it home, we wives should truly be helpmeets to our husbands by showing them Jesus and behaving in a way that attracts them to Jesus and impacts them for Jesus. Our extravagant love, devotion, service, and giving are sure to make an impact on our husbands. And our extravagant belief, worship, and intimacy with Jesus should stir up a hunger in their hearts for more of Jesus in their life.
If he’s captivated by our love, he may be captivated by our Lord.
This post was originally written for a blog series at https://www.angelpenn.com called Biblical Women of Influence.
Follow me on Instagram at www.instagram.com/penneymaried
Mother and Child
"Oh that God would give every mother a vision of the glory and splendor of the work that is given to her when a babe is placed in her bosom to be nursed and trained! Could she have but one glimpse in to the future of that life as it reaches on into eternity; could she look into its soul to see its possibilities; could she be made to understand her own personal responsibility for the training of this child, for the development of its life, and for its destiny,--she would see that in all God's world there is no other work so noble and so worthy of her best powers, and she would commit to no other's hands the sacred and holy trust given to her." -JR Miller