Uncertainty makes it really hard to buckle down and concentrate and focus. It’s really hard to make plans when everything is in a state of limbo. It’s hard to even think straight when you don’t know what you will eat that day or where you will sleep that night. That’s the condition we found ourselves in about 14 years ago.
We had lost our house after my husband lost his job because of 9/11. We felt like the Lord was telling us to move to Arizona. So we left Ohio with just a few possessions. We had 8 children, including 14 month old twins whom I was still nursing! We only took duffel bags with 5 changes of clothes for each of us. We had a few of their favorite toys. Our 7 passenger van was stuffed to the gills! I had to sit in the back to protect our 4 year old, Morgan, from his brothers and sisters who would have killed him along the journey because he was at that obnoxious stage. I couldn’t see out the windows because of all of the bags stacked up on all sides and all the way up the back windows.
We were on the road for 4 months, looking for some place to call home. We were trying to find the place that God wanted us to settle. So doing any kind of school work was tricky, to say the least.
I had brought some books with us. It was the heaviest bag we brought! The kids did some school work in hotel rooms. But it was hard to concentrate and they didn’t have much time once we got into the room.
They did map work and geography by finding out where we were going next. Our oldest son, Shawn, who was 14 years old, learned how to navigate. He was in the passenger seat. Prior to that, he hadn’t done much with maps. But he had to tell Gary where to drive, so he learned really fast how maps work.
I had bought the kids disposable cameras, so they took pictures and did some scrapbooking. Through that, they did some art and writing and got to use their creativity.
We visited libraries in each place. I was able to check out books in some places even though we weren’t residents. I read aloud to the kids in the van.
We really didn’t have money to do anything extra. So we did some free things. We went to Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs several times! We really liked it there!
We learned about the states and regions and cities we passed through. We stopped at the Welcome Centers for the different states and read about the history and interesting facts about the state. We picked up brochures for attractions in the area.
We prayed together every day just to find out what to do daily. We learned to trust God and saw Him provide. The kids learned to take care of each other.
We worked on character and faith issues and taught the children to be givers even when they didn’t have much themselves.
I tried to keep things as consistent and stable as I could. I tried to use every place and situation as a learning experience. I did my best to identify and point out God’s help and provision every time I saw it.
We weren’t able to use workbooks much because they would have gotten destroyed in the press of all of the little bodies. Honestly, when I think back to it, I don’t know how we squeezed everybody into that van!
But we talked, and we sang. We learned how to give grace even when we were hungry and tired. We endured tight quarters, and learned to forgive quickly and not make a big fuss about accidental offenses.
The kids were very creative in their play since they didn’t have many toys or even common household objects to play with. They mostly had their minds and thoughts to occupy them. This was during the days before portable DVD players and such. At least before we had anything like that. There were no smart phones or anything. We only had one cell phone – my husband’s.
The kids did have paper and a variety of writing instruments.
They talked and made up stories.
Every day was a new adventure. It wasn’t exactly fun, because my husband and I were anxious and uncertain. But we knew that we were obeying God and He was taking care of us. Sometimes it felt like we had been forgotten, but God always came through in the nick of time with enough money for another night at a hotel. Or with some direction about where we were supposed to go next.
I prayed about the education of the children and always felt reassured that God was taking care of that, too.
He calmed my fears and set my mind at ease that the things they were learning were preparing them for their future and their callings. They would need this foundation of faith and trust to carry out His plans for their lives.
Continue reading this post at Intentional in Life in the blog series “How to Homeschool in the Midst of Hard Things”.