Homeschooling in the Midst of Uncertainty

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”.

Relationally Speaking – Change the Atmosphere!

Gary and I talked about how we can change the atmosphere wherever we are. Praying and declaring God’s will and commanding the enemy to flee and to stop using the people in the workplace or home or wherever you are makes such a difference in what happens in every situation.

Change the atmosphere!

Posted by Penney Hawkey Douglas on Friday, February 15, 2019

When Your Husband Loses His Faith

Things have not always been easy in our marriage. Actually, things have never been easy in our marriage. We have dealt with depression, financial struggle, conflict, communication problems, health problems, bankruptcy, poverty, and foreclosure, which led to homelessness, to name a few of our challenges.

What affected me more than anything was that he didn’t really have a heart for family when we first got married. He didn’t understand that his role as a husband and father required more than working and making money to support the family. My heart was all about family and Christian marriage. I knew early on that I wanted to homeschool our children. I wanted to have a close-knit, loving family that did fun things together and learned and made memories together. My husband did not come on board the family train. He still lived his life as if he were single. He worked long hours, lifted weights, and played video games. Whenever I asked him to take the kids and me on “field trips” or family outings, he was reluctant, and he was usually so irritable that none of us could really enjoy ourselves. Something bad or inconvenient happened every single time to ruin the day.

I listened to Focus on the Family every day and read lots of books about Christian marriage and parenting. He didn’t.

In spite of his seeming disinterest in family things, he and I still had many values and interests in common. The biggest one being our love for God and His word. We went to church regularly. We discussed things we read in the Bible. We prayed together, mostly because I asked him to pray with me all the time.

He put almost all of his identity in his job. He was brought up to believe that was the most important thing a man should do for his family. He never felt like he was performing well enough financially. He worked as much overtime as he could. He was not home very much. I felt like I was raising the kids by myself. I had 6 babies in 10 years. They were all little and needed me for everything.

I was trying to hold everything together. I was losing that loving feeling, though.

God sent some wake-up calls that nudged him toward understanding how to be an involved husband and father. The biggest one was losing his job.

He found himself at home every day with me and 6 kids. He didn’t know where he fit into the family at first. The Lord worked with him to help him figure out how to pitch in and help with the running of the house and the care of the children. Things were great at first. He had been watching ministers who preached a lot about faith, so he kept a strong belief that everything was going to be okay, even though he felt that God told him not to get another job. We felt that God told us to trust Him and live by faith.

God did provide for us supernaturally for over three years. But some really crazy things started happening that made us wonder if God had forgotten us. We started getting in legal trouble for lapse of car registration, accusation of food stamp fraud (no truth in that), and money started running out, so we had difficulty paying bills. Our electricity was shut off temporarily. We got to the place where we couldn’t pay our mortgage. We seemed to be caught in a downward spiral.

It all culminated in us losing our house. And we had nowhere to go. We had added two more babies to our family by that time. I had twins in the middle of the downward spiral. So now we had 8 children and nowhere to live.


Please continue reading this post at from her series titled I Still Do: Contending for the Covenant