Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ever Wonder How the SAT and ACT Differ?

I am frequently asked how the content of the SAT and ACT differ. This morning I was forwarded this link. Hope the information contained on the blog will help those who may have questions.

Warning! There is an amazing amount of helpful information on the blog. You may find yourself immersed in gleaning wisdom :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Biblical Foundation for Communication: How We Should Speak & Write

A Biblical Foundation for Communication:
How We Should Speak & Write
by Virginia Knowles

Careful, Knowledgeable, Purposeful, and Useful

Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth. (Ecclesiastes 12:9-10)

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel. (Prov. 20:15)

Honest, Accurate, Understandable, and Orderly

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ… Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. (Ephesians 4:15 & 25)

For we do not write you anything you cannot read or understand. (2 Corinthians 1:13)

Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. (Luke 1:3-4)

But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words.” (Acts 25:25)

Pleasant, Encouraging, and Ready for the Situation

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. (Proverbs 16:24)

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. (1 Peter 3:15b-16)

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29)

The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness. (Prov.16:21)

Bold, Gospel-Centered, and Spirit-Filled

This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. (1 Corinthians 2:13)

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:20)

Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus." After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. (Acts 4:29-31)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Making the Transition into Public High School or College

Dear friends,

While many families choose to home school all the way through high school without sending their students to any outside classes at public institutions, these options are increasingly common and even prevalent. In Florida, where we live, the public high schools are required to let home school students take classes and join sports programs, and many families have their kids take one or two classes there. Most of the young people we know, however, choose to take classes at the local community college starting in their junior or senior year of high school. This is called dual enrollment, because the kids can finish up their high school credits while getting a jump start on their college credits at the same time. (I myself did this for my last semester of high school in 1981.) The tuition is free, but books and fees are not. Some families use this to supplement courses completed at home or through a home school co-op, while others use this as the sole source of credits during a given semester or year.

My oldest four daughters started dual enrollment during either their junior or senior years. This has been mostly a good thing for our family. Our oldest transferred to a nearby state university (while living at home) where she graduated in Journalism with honors. The next one decided to work full-time to fund her mission trips rather than continuing with college. Our third daughter is finishing up her AA degree and planning to transfer to the state university for nursing school. Our fourth daughter is currently dual enrolling, and planning to get an art degree from the state university.

Unfortunately, the community college where my older daughters have gone is no longer accepting dual enrollment students for our county, and our own county's community college is more restrictive with dual enrollment. We had already decided not to continue with our home school co-op this year, so my fifth daughter, a high school sophomore, was intending to do classes at home. She was going to continue getting some of her credits on-line through Florida Virtual School, which is free for Florida residents. However, a few weeks into the school year, we realized this wasn't going to work out very effectively. She wanted more structure and accountability than I could give her, since I am also home schooling her five younger siblings. She also wanted someone knowledgeable to actually teach her every day instead of just me supervising her in courses I never even took. We decided to take the plunge and do something new, which was to enroll her full-time in a public high school. She has been there for a few weeks, and so far so good! It has been quite a transition for her, though, but fortunately not too rough of one, and she's glad she is doing it. She's planning to graduate a year early since she started her sophomore year with 10 credits. She may just dual enroll at the college full-time next year instead of going back to the public high school. We'll see when the time comes. Our options are open.

What I have learned from this experience as well as dual enrollment made me think of several things to share with you. This is just a collection of random thoughts, not a comprehensive treatise.

First, if you are thinking about any of these options, you have to weigh the costs and benefits. Some of the potential drawbacks include excessive peer pressure, academic content which may not reflect your family's values and religious beliefs, less flexible schedule, increased homework, etc. These might be "deal breakers" for your family. For us, they were challenges to consider and overcome. Our daughters are pretty solid in what they think already and are not as easily swayed by peers. The contrast in behavior they saw among some of the students from what they have been raised with only served to make them more grateful for our family's way of life rather than making them want to plunge in with their fellow students. If you are only thinking of enrolling your child in one or two classes and then picking them up from campus, the social environment is less of a threat.

When other moms ask me for practical advice on dual enrollment and I shrug and tell them that I don't have a clue. My husband is the main one who handled the logistics for this, and I'm so thankful for his careful attention to detail! I am, however, the one who enrolled our other daughter in the public high school. In this endeavor, it really helped that she had been enrolled in a private school covering through our former church. This spared her from having to take final exams on courses she had already finished. They even accepted two high school credits she had completed during 8th grade. The official transcript paved the way. However, it is not impossible to transfer in credits if you have home schooled "under the county" rather than through a private school. Just check with the school to see what is necessary. My daughter's guidance counselor recommended that she take as many AP and honors courses as possible so she could get the most academic benefit with the least amount of riffraff among fellow students.

A potential student needs to be prepared to adjust to the requirements of a classroom education. For example, they have to get to class on time and be ready with everything they need. They can't just walk down the hall to their bedroom to get an assignment to turn in. If homework is late, they might have points deducted. There is generally a decent amount of assignments to complete each evening for each class. They have to keep up with the pace of the class and have the confidence to ask the teacher for help when necessary. In our case, all of this is exactly what our daughter wanted! We still do help her some with her studies. I heard my husband going over French pronunciation with her the other night, my oldest daughter gave her some pointers on a formal English essay last night, and I helped explain some world history concepts this past weekend. But for the most part, this is her job, and she takes it seriously. This is the same mindset every student needs to take, no matter where they are completing their education. These are the habits we have tried to instill through their years at home. We haven't always been very structured, but they've gotten enough of it that they have survived and even thrived during the transition into the classroom setting.

My older daughters all appreciated having friends from church going to the same college campus. They make a point to either enroll in the same classes or at least meet up for lunch. Right now, two of my daughters drive to campus together, too. There is safety in numbers. If a guy on campus gives one of them any trouble, the young men from church would be happy to settle the problem for them! It also helps reduce negative peer pressure because they already have good friends to hang out with on campus. For them, also, college is not so much a place to socialize as it is to learn. They want to do well and to focus on their classes. They also come home each evening and interact with us. We ask them about their classes and their conversations with others -- not prying, just caring. We can deal with anything that comes up, knowing that they are getting valuable opportunities to learn to deal with the big world beyond our home while still living at our home. In my mind, this is better than sending them off to live on a college campus after years and years of extremely rigid control. We know some young people who have truly gone off the deep end because all of the independence was dumped on them at once with no trial runs along the way. One young man likened it to holding someone tautly with a rope, then letting go all of the sudden. We need to be loosening the apron strings as we go, working ourselves out of a job. We launch them bit by bit into adulthood and work through the issues as they come up while we still have the opportunity to influence them.

I am aware that some families in the home school movement have vehement opinions against public education, whether for high school or college. They believe that God has been banned from campus, and that inevitably all of the students will turn out to be heathens or socialists because of either the secular teaching or the peer pressure. I understand their concern. However, I do not want to make my decisions based solely on fear. I wouldn't send my daughters to campus if I wasn't confident they could handle it, even if there are a few bumps along the way. Some students can't handle it, and they shouldn't go. You have to make that decision as a parent.

Since my daughter started public high school earlier this month, I have often reminded her that she is an ambassador for Jesus Christ, that she represents the King of Kings. I don't say this to make her feel awkward, or with the expectation that she is going to preach at her teachers or classmates every day. I do say it to remind her of her precious identity in Christ, that she is "more than a conqueror" through the love of God. Public schools may leave God out of the curriculum, but they can't ban him from campus! Why? Because there are Christian students and teachers there who are indwelt by the presence of God. The Unseen King walks every step of the way with his beloved royal ambassadors. The radiant life of Christ within them can shine. Yes, the devil can try to quench that, which is why I pray for my kids and try to encourage them and ask how they are doing spiritually. It's not a perfect situation, but neither is home schooling.

I think that we need to actually prepare our students to be ambassadors, too. Last year, when I was teaching middle school English in our home school co-op, I had assigned them to read missionary biographies and write reports about them. Then, to further equip my students for life, I decided to teach them the vocabulary and concepts behind several major religions and worldviews including Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, tribal religions, secularism, and communism/socialism.  (Click these links to read the lessons for Judaism and Islam.)  I know that most of these kids will eventually be in college classes covering these topics or become friends with students within these belief systems. I wanted them to know what the Bible says about each issue and how they can graciously relate to others without being completely ignorant or obnoxious. (What a turn off that can be! I still remember the YouTube clip I showed my students of a high school girl shoving "the gospel" down the throat of a Hindu classmate. She had no idea of what she was talking about, and no sense at all of respect for the dignity of others, no matter what they believe. Why do we then call it "persecution" if someone rejects our message? We bring it on ourselves… But I digress.)

What I most want to encourage you to do is to seek out what God himself is leading you to do each year with each of your children. Listen closely to his voice. Then have the confidence that he has promised to grant wisdom and guidance to those who seek his will. He is not snickering up in Heaven with the angels whenever you mess up. He is eager to show you the way. Teach them the truth. Teach them grace. Teach them to follow Jesus with all their hearts. Do that and you will finish well.

P.S. Just two weeks after entering Lake Howell High School, Lydia made her solo stage debut singing "Not for the Life of Me" at their  Broadway Night. You can watch her amazing performance here: This Girl's Got Gusto! Way to go!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Finish Well Conference Coming Soon -- November 5-6, 2010!

Dear friends,

Finish Well is coming soon!

Have you just started homeschooling in the high school years? Do you need some mentoring?
Are you already homeschooling a high-schooler? Do you need some refreshing?
Are you considering homeschooling your high school teen and need to learn some basics?

Finish Well is a 2-day conference for teens and parents. Bring your husband! Bring your teens! We had an amazing time back in March and are looking forward to another great time of fellowship, learning, and refreshing. The theme of this November’s conference is “Laying a foundation for college and life.” We will touch on some issues that your child will face after graduation, teaching you and your children to lay a foundation that will not be shaken!

We hope you can join us for Friday afternoon, evening, and all day Saturday -- November 5-6, 2010. Mark your calendars, send in your registration, and tell your friends.

See you in November!

Meredith Curtis

Finish Well!  will be held at
Safe Harbor Christian Church
730 Upsala Raod
Sanford, FL 32771

For more information:
(407) 302-7870
The pre-registration is $25 per family.  It will cost slightly more at the door.  Scholarships are available.
Virginia's note: I have pasted in workshop descriptions below, but to get a brochure and registration form, please e-mail Meredith at
Friday Afternoon

Airsoft—Zack Nolette (teens, dads, some moms!)
Teens! Parents! Grab your airsoft guns, goggles, plastic bbs, andbottled water and join the war! From 4 pm to 6 pm, we are holding “War Games” onsite! Waivers will be available online at http:// and must be filled out and signed to participate. Let’s kick off this event with some fun!

Friday Night Session

The Heart of the Problem—Pastor Mike Curtis

Many parents train their children Russian Roulette style: try to train them, but invariably one, or more, will wander from God. Is losing some inevitable? Pastor Mike addresses the heart of the problem and gives some down-to-earth advice on preparing our teens to be world changers, not just survivors.

Saturday Morning Session

Keeping Your Kids Christian Before and During College—Felice Gerwitz (all)

Your kids’ faith will be challenged when they leave home. Felice offers suggestions to shore up their faith with the truth that only resides in Scripture. Whether or not you consider evolution vs. creation an issue, you can be sure secular text book authors and publishers take a no-questions-approach-attitude about evolution. Anyone who thinks differently is not tolerated in classrooms and university campuses world-wide. Felice will show you some simple solutions and explain that the facts of evolution are not always what they claim.

Breakout Session 1

The College Application Process & Going to College Debt FreeJulianna Curtis (all)

Julianna will walk you through the details of the college application process and show you how to go to college debt-free.

High School 101—Cheryl Bastian (parents)

Credits. GPA’s. Transcripts. Where do I start? Cheryl Bastian will explain the nuts and bolts of home educating through high school. Attendees will learn the high school lingo, how to establish goals and create a four-year plan, how to award credits, and how to organize records.

A Christian Worldview of Economics & Government—Meredith Curtis (all)

Does the Bible have anything to say on economics and government? Meredith will talk about Biblical principles of economics, money management, business, government, freedom, socialism, free-market economics, and supply-side economics. She will talk about Greece, Rome, English Anglo-Saxons, and Israel’s forms of government.  Fasten your seatbelts—it will be a fast ride!

Restoring Relationships—Mike Bastian (dads)

Anger. Bitterness. Resentment. Forgiveness. Healing. Mike Bastian facilitates this workshop from his personal experiences, with the purpose of encouraging Dads to initiate restoration and healing with their wives and children.

Breakout Session II

The ABCs of Transcript Writing—Cheryl Bastian & Laura Nolette (parents)

Cheryl and Laura dispel common fears and worries as they equip parents with essential elements of transcript writing which include formatting the document, titling courses, assigning grades, and computing a GPA.

Post-Modernism on the College Campus (parents & older teens)

Post-modernism rules and reigns on college campuses. What is it? How can Christian students stand firm in their faith and contend with this heresy? Katie Beth will help you recognize post-modernism and help you combat this deception with the life-changing truth of Christ.

Raising Real Men in a Feminist Culture—Pastor Mike Cutis (all)

In an age of feminism and same-sex marriages, can Christian families raise sons who will lead their homes and live unashamedly for Christ? Pastor Mike will show you how to raise sons to be proactive, protective providers.

Breakout Session III

Can Families Do Business Together & Thrive? - Felice Gerwitz(all)

We've all heard a family who prays together stays together, but can the family who works together live happily ever-after as well? Felice will share the raw truth, funny and not-so-funny stories of working out of her home. If you have ever considered beginning your own business, you will not want to miss this talk.

Is the Bible Really the Word of God?—Pastor Mike (all)

Today’s critics say that the Bible if full of errors and unreliable. Can we trust the Bible as our source of wisdom, knowledge, and practical instruction? Pastor Mike will share why the Bible is trustworthy and how to base your life completely on the Word of God.

When Personalities Collide—Meredith Curtis (parents)

More than learning styles, personalities tend to influence how students want to learn in high school. Mom and Dad’s personalities affect their teaching styles. Sometimes personalities collide, resulting in conflict, learning problems, and getting off track. Meredith will share ways to homeschool with your teens’ and your own personalities in view.

Put it into Practice!—Joel Walker & Katie Beth Curtis (teens)

Do you want to try your hand at defending your faith in the classroom or standing for Christ with your peers? This workout session will help you put into practice many of the things you learned today. Oh, and you will have fun and have an opportunity to act rather silly.

Afternoon Session

Girl/Guy Talk from the Playground to the Nursing Home— Pastor Mike & Meredith Curtis (all)

There is just no way around it, guys—you have to talk to girls! Girls, we already know you want to talk. Learn to communicate effectively as relatives, friends, in courtship, and in marriage in a way that honors the Lord. Learn to translate, interpret non-verbal communication, and honor your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Evening Session (7 p.m.)

Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up—Pastor Mike Curtis

The world takes Him out of Christmas and the public schools, and declares that He was a good, moral teacher, but He is just too divisive today. The reality is that no single person has changed the world as much as He has. Many have discarded Him as an overly, embellished hero, and look elsewhere for answers. Some say, “Teacher”, some say, “Divine”. Will the real Jesus please stand up and change the world again!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Nations & Generations: Home Schooling to Make a Difference in the World

Nations & Generations:
Home Schooling to Make a Difference in the World
An excerpt from The Real Life Home School Mom by Virginia Knowles


Like James and Amelia Taylor in the 1880s, one of my goals has been to inspire my children to see how they can make a difference in this world for God’s glory. "Nations and generations!" has been the cry of my heart, echoing the cry of God's own heart. We've studied cultural geography to learn about how people live and what they believe, and we've talked about missions, but sometimes reading a biography about a missionary who lived a hundred years ago is too remote. We need to know that is going on the world right now - and how we can participate! Learning about global current events via the Internet, newspapers and TV news has also been quite fruitful, though we have to fight the tendency to be armchair spectators. Just knowing about a crisis around the globe does nothing to alleviate it. I realize that the most important lesson will be personal example. What do they see me doing and what can we do together? We've always made a point to send both money and tangible items towards missions. Please understand that as I write the following examples, I am not trying to brag. Instead, I write to share a testimony of the Lord's faithfulness to our family as we are trying to serve him globally, as well as offer some practical ideas for your own families.

In the summer of 2005, my two oldest daughters, Mary (then 18) and Julia (then 16) traveled to Bolivia on mission trips hosted by our church. Julia returned to southern Bolivia in 2007 on a ten day medical team. She has a real heart for the people of Bolivia and for extending the Kingdom of God. After she returned from there the first time, she hung a Bolivian sugar sack over her bed. Then over the following weeks and months, she did something that I considered most unusual: she taped up a whole bunch of newspaper photos of people around the world who are suffering from war, famine, injustice, and natural disasters. My eyes welled with tears when I realized why she had done this. On her nightstand, heavily marked and highlighted throughout, was the book Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road by Timothy J. Keller. There are a lot of things I wish I had taught my children all throughout their home school years, but I’m glad to see that they are at least developing hearts for compassion, service, and world missions.

When the kids were young, they had so much fun stuffing shoeboxes with small items for needy children around the world, and then delivering them to a Samaritan’s Purse ( drop-off point. This is a worthy ministry organization that I highly recommend. Our children have also helped pack care boxes for pastors in the Ukraine and children in Mexico to be personally delivered by friends.

One year, the girls collected blankets from our friends and neighbors to be sent to Sudan for Voice of the Martyrs’ Blankets of Love program ( VOM has been a terrific resource to us. We've read their magazine articles about the persecuted church around the world, watched their excellent children's video (Stephen's Test of Faith), and subscribed to their children's quarterly, LINK magazine. On the topic of persecution, also be sure to check out the International Christian Concern web site at for information on the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, which occurs each November.

In 2001, we assembled gift baskets for Indian and Chinese students at UCF, followed up by a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner for them at our house. The kids worked hard to prepare the meal and decorate the house. They also had a chance to share their own talents with our guests: one sang a Thanksgiving hymn, one played the piano, etc. We got quite an education about Indian culture that evening as our guests shared about religious pilgrimages, arranged marriages, idol worship, and other Hindu customs. This was a wonderful extension to the unit study on Asia that we had been doing. Since it was Thanksgiving, we jumped on this opportunity to watch an animated video about William Bradford and the pilgrim colony with our guests. This naturally led into a discussion about the stark difference between the American form of government and the Chinese way, and introduced our guests to the Christian faith in gentle and winsome way.

For Christmas the year I was pregnant with Ben, my daughter Mary (then 16) gave me the gift of prenatal care -- for a woman in Africa! She ordered this gift in my honor through Harvest of Hope, an outreach ministry of Partners International. You can "send" such unusual gifts as goats for milk and breeding, native language Bibles, bicycles for church planters, school supplies, sewing machines for cottage businesses, emergency medical kits, well-building supplies and more! Call 1-888-887-2786 or visit to see a catalog of gifts in different price ranges.

One spring, we hosted a whole bunch of missionary kids for a party at our home while their mothers enjoyed an elegant tea at a friend's house. This was a great opportunity for my children to use their creativity to extend hospitality to our little guests.

Another year at Christmas time, some of my daughters helped me distribute little Christmas outreach packets to our neighbors, which included a greeting with an original Christmas poem and a Gospel of John. We hung these on doorknobs with pretty ribbon.

For the past several years, we have been committed to sharing as much as we can with Headson Makazinga, a village pastor and church planter in Malawi and Mozambique. The proceeds from my Learner’s Journal lesson planner go to him for Bibles, hymnals, conference expenses, and orphan care. We also produce and ship Chichewa language tracts for him to distribute. The children have helped with this endeavor.

Some families decide to sponsor a child through Compassion International or another trustworthy organization. This provides the child with money for food, clothing, and school expenses. Your own children can correspond with them, too.

Nations and generations! We can make a difference in the world if we look beyond the borders of our own countries and realize there are billions who haven’t heard of Jesus and his love.


This article is excerpted from the chapter "Aim for the Heart" in my book The Real Life Home School Mom. You can read the PDF of the book for free by accessing it from the sidebar of
The story about Hudson Taylor started a little earlier in the chapter.  Click here read it: A Sense of Calling for Life.

Update: Mary (23) is a writer for Wycliffe Bible Translators, a major missionary organization. (See here: Baby Shower and Bible Translation -- Afternoon at Wycliffe.)  Julia (21) has now been to Bolivia four times.  Last year, she was there for three months.  You can see her blog about that trip here:  Joanna (17) has been to the Dominican Republic, as well as participating in Daytona Beach Week with Mission to Japan a few times.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Sense of Calling for Life

A Sense of Calling for Life
by Virginia Knowles

One big goal of home schooling is to prepare our children for their role in the adult community as they move into the working world. This is not just an academic exercise in career planning, but a matter of the heart. You see, God has designed each one of us for a special spot in the scheme of history. At each season of life, he places us where our unique gifts and abilities can be developed and put to productive use. At times, it seems like our talents are hidden away, but he brings out each one of his treasures as he has need of them.

The saga of Joseph in Genesis 37-50, illustrates this concept beautifully. From Joseph's teen years, God gave him grand dreams for his life -- dreams which made his older brothers so intensely jealous that they sold him into slavery. From there he bounced back and forth between servitude and power. He was ultimately appointed second-in-command of Egypt, in charge of stewarding the nation through seven years of famine. Later, when Joseph had both excuse and opportunity for retribution against his brothers, he realized that though they had intended to harm him, it was all part of God's perfect plan. The Lord fulfilled the calling over a period of twenty years, even when Joseph was oppressed and “forgotten.” His purpose was not just to turn Joseph from a shepherd boy into a powerful ruler, or even to spare Egypt and the surrounding nations from starvation. These events ultimately played crucial part in Jehovah's redemptive plan for all nations in history through the earthly lineage of the Messiah. He also has a destiny for each of us which interlocks with his eternal agenda! He doesn't reveal the details all at once, but neither does he leave us clueless about where we fit in. He expects us to faithfully use the gifts he has given:

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” Romans 12:6-8

Do your children have any idea of what God is calling them to do in life? Are they aware of how he has endowed them with gifts and talents to be used for his service? Do they have any inkling of how to use their spiritual influence to impact the nations for Christ? Not only do we have spiritual gifts, we also have “secular” talents which can be used for God's glory. He has equipped artists, engineers, nurses, car mechanics, chefs, linguists, inventors, receptionists, computer whizzes, bricklayers, research scientists, plumbers, authors, politicians, farmers, bookkeepers, and everyone else. What would we do without them? Where does your child fit in? What will he or she do for a living? Of course, not all of these talents will be used in a paying career. Some will be used in the family, among friends, in the church, and in the community. Perhaps we can't put a price tag on these efforts, but we can still appreciate their worth.

God's gifts and callings are not always apparent in young children, but are illuminated slowly over the years as they explore their interests and aptitudes. Often, God's direction for a person is affirmed by those who know him well. Other times, profile tests can be useful. It is important for us to be more aware of these things so we can plan a logical course of study leading to proficiency and enjoyment in the targeted occupation or ministry. In all our plans, let's seek the will of the Sovereign Lord, who can instantly change the course of our lives in very unexpected ways.

“Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.'” James 4:13-15

“Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

As we think about preparing our children for their calling in life, we can learn some lessons from the life of Hudson Taylor. I once read a biography of Hudson Taylor to my children which gave me some insight into home schooling. Hudson’s parents, James and Amelia, home schooled the children through reading aloud, dictation, grammar, French, Latin, arithmetic and plenty of heart-enriching nature study. More importantly, however, they were carefully trained in the Scriptures, having family devotions after breakfast and at afternoon tea. Next came a time of fervent prayer. James also gathered the children at bedtime for prayer with his arms around them. Then he would dismiss them to their own rooms for a time of private Bible reading, saying, “Learn to love your Bible, for God cannot lie. He cannot mislead you. He cannot fail.” Visiting preachers would delight the children with conversations about theology and missions around the family table.

This sounds like the ideal home school setting for spiritual growth, and indeed it was. However, there were some significant bumps along the way! At age 15, Hudson went to work for a bank, but unfortunately his materialistic and skeptical co-workers had a big influence on the boy. He wrestled with doubt about his childhood faith, and eventually turned away from it. Providentially, after several months, an eye disease forced him to quit his job. He sulked gloomily around the house, which irritated his father, who wasn’t aware of his son’s spiritual struggles. One day, shortly before he turned 17, he picked up a Gospel booklet in the parlor and decided he would read the story at the beginning but close it when it got to the “preachy” part. However, he read it all the way through, and was so taken by the concept of “the finished work of Christ,” that he was gripped with conviction and prayed to receive Jesus as his Savior. Unbeknownst to him, at that very moment, his mother, visiting a relative 50 miles away, was called by God to pray for the conversion of her son. She stayed on her knees in fervent intercession until she received assurance that her pleas had been answered. Hudson’s younger sister Amelia had also been praying every day for a month for her brother.

After a period of spiritual growth and local service, Hudson felt called by God to go as a missionary to China, where the Gospel was virtually unknown. He did not know until many years later that his parents had prayed, shortly before his birth, to bear a son who would bring God’s word to that very country. He did indeed! After going through medical school (while living austerely and trusting in God alone for his finances) he set sail for China. Adopting native dress and hairstyle, he was a faithful evangelist, Bible translator, doctor, and mission organizer. By the time of Hudson Taylor’s death at age 73, the China Inland Mission had recruited 800 missionaries, raised 7.5 million dollars and converted 30,000 Chinese people to Christianity.

I think this story can give hope to parents who are doing the best they can, but they have children who may or may not always “get” the message of the Christian life. Get a vision, lay the foundation, build on it wisely, and as you go, pray, pray, pray! Don’t get resentful if your child seems to reject your faith and values because that will only drive him further away. Wait and see what God can do. It could be that he doesn’t want you to depend on your efforts, but fully on his grace to save and transform your child’s life. He must get the glory!


This article is excerpted from the chapter "Aim for the Heart" in my book The Real Life Home School Mom.  You can read the PDF of the book for free by accessing it from the sidebar of