Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Book Review - Lost and Found

When I first heard of Lost and Found: Losing Religion, Finding Grace, I knew I had to read it. The first paragraph of the description on the back instantly got my attention:
The 'right' homeschooling philosophy. The 'right' brand of theology. Kendra Fletcher had it all, until it all fell apart. In eighteen months, Kendra found her baby in a coma, ran over her five-year-old, and nearly lost her eight-year-old to a ruptured appendix. Discover how God used those events to transform her family's self-righteous religion into freedom in Christ.
Kendra and her family evidently held to many of the beliefs we did while on our homeschool journey. I could easily identify with her fears and misconceptions about how God looks at us and what we think He expects because of that.

I didn't have to go through all the perils the Fletcher family did, nearly losing three of their precious young children, but our family did go through some very distressing dilemmas as a result of our own lost way in religion. Like Kendra, we thought we had it all figured out. Thankfully, as Kendra and her husband finally found, our family also left the "religion" of works-based family philosophy and embraced the grace walk of truly knowing Christ and who we are in Him.

I rejoiced to hear how Kendra saw the unfolding of God's love through all the tragedies they faced one after another. Through the doubts and fears there resonates a deep trust in God borne out of true faith and sustaining grace. It is encouraging to be reminded that God is at work FOR OUR GOOD through even the most trying episodes of life. You don't have to go through what the Fletchers did in order to see the work of God, but you can follow their journey of faith by reading this gripping account.

Lost and Found: Losing Religion, Finding Grace is published by New Growth Press and is available on and other fine book vendors.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Interview With A Veteran Homeschool Mom

I once did an interview online as a veteran homeschooler for the Suzy Homeschooler blog. A few things have changed in the four years since I made the responses to those questions, so I thought I'd bring my "veteran" information up to date.

Caitlyn first asked me to tell a bit about myself and our family. I responded that we completed 19 years of home educating our four children when our youngest son graduated in 2010.

Our oldest, Jonathan, is married to our lovely daughter-in-love Emily and has five of our nine grandchildren. He is currently a tile layer by profession and ministers in our local church.

Our second son, Sam, is currently studying to be a lawyer at the University of Alabama School of Law. He and his wife Hannah live near campus with two of our spunky little grandsons. Hannah is working as a nurse while Sam is finishing up his last few years of school. We are excited to see what the Lord has planned for them.

Our only daughter, Lydia, is married to our CPA son-in-love, Jake. They have two sweet, little daughters and live in Dallas. Weekly Skype sessions help us cope with being so far from one another, but we get together a few times a year along with Jake's family who live here, also.

Our youngest son, Andrew, lives in North Carolina and is studying to be an engineer. He is engaged to the lovely Julibeth Culp, and we are excited to attend their wedding at the end of this year and welcome yet another beloved daughter-in-love into the Wilwerding clan.

 I must add, also, that I have been married 32 years to the love of my life, Les Wilwerding. He works as a granite counter top fabricator and does lay preaching as the Lord provides the opportunities. My 78-year-old father, Robert Sablotzke, also lives with us now. We are excited to see what the Lord has in store for us as we approach our retirement years. Whatever that means.

Caitlyn also asked about our homeschooling. I had to admit my teaching style was both relaxed and eclectic. We began with a regimented schedule and curriculum guide from one primary source, but had to switch to a more blended, eclectic mix of curricula and scheduling after I burned out during our third or fourth year. The first way of teaching worked well until our third child was added, then it all fell apart. I found out it is well nigh impossible to run a one-teacher school like an institutional school. I had to find that out the hard way.

When she asked me how I responded when family, friends, or strangers made negative comments about us educating our children at home, I had to admit we had few problems with that. My step-mother had a few qualms about it, but I think some of it stemmed from a false assumption that we thought our children were better than her children and grandchildren because they attended public schools and we had chosen to separate our children from public education. Also, she had what she considered legitimate concerns that our kids would be behind their peers, especially in the area of what was then the up and coming world of computers. I tried to assure her that her fears were unjustified, and after a time, she began to see that was true.

Another issue Caitlyn wondered about was whether or not I felt isolated or lonely as a home educating stay-at-home mom. I had to admit there were some years, especially early on, when I struggled with thinking I could be doing something more productive and satisfying than caring for and educating my own children. I had been trained as an office secretary, so the pull to be doing that instead was always there, especially when finances were tight. Thankfully, I got past that wrong notion and eventually discovered the joy, beauty, wonder, and real satisfaction of being a mother to those little persons who would eventually become the awesome adults they are today. I realized they would hot be babies and toddlers for very long and that there were some splendid people growing up in our home under my tutelage.

Caitlyn also wondered if I ever struggled to want to take off my "teacher hat" and reconnect with my husband and children away from homeschooling. I must say I never felt the need to take of my "teacher hat," because I never put it on. Home education was not separate sphere in our home. It was part of our daily lives, part of our family dynamic. That meant we could not run it like an institution. (See my post entitled Being at HOME With Home Schooling.) We incorporated our school time into our daily home schedule, along with doing chores, meal times, nap time, having family worship, and bedtime routines. It was just what we did every day, five days a week. However, we tried to maintain a class time between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. with time off for lunch. I suppose you could say that, once all the books and school supplies were cleared off the dining table for dinner, we then connected "outside" of homeschooling.

In light of the fact that so many homeschool moms feel defeated after a bad day, Caitlyn asked if looking back it was worth it to educate our children at home. I gave her a resounding YES!

In fact, it was more worth it than I could have ever dreamed! My husband and I had a vision for our children. We knew what kind of adults we wanted them to be. We took personal responsibility for the outcome of our parenting. We made a decision even before we married that the public and private schools were not the best places to get those desired end results. We took the challenge into our own hands by faith and did what we had to do to make it work.

We had bad days, bad weeks, bad months, and even bad years here and there. But, it was all done by faith. Only God can see the end from the beginning, but we knew He had led us on this path and He would see us through. We just had to keep making adjustments through those hard times along the way, seeking counsel and praying for wisdom, until we found what worked for our own family. Only after we got to the end did we see the perfect way in which God led us through in fulfillment of His promises. Only then could we enjoy the fruits of our labors. And I can tell you from personal experience, that fruit is Sa-WEET!

Caitlyn ended the interview by asking me to sum up in one sentence what I would say to new homeschooling moms.

RELAX! and trust God.

Perhaps you have your own questions about homeschooling or our experience. I'd be happy to discuss it with you. You can leave your questions in the comments below or on Facebook:

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Serving God Through Faithful Child Rearing and Elder Care

My father who lives with us
and his youngest great-grandson

I read this today in Courtney Reissig's book, Glory in the Ordinary: Why Your Work In the Home Matters to God:

"If work is a means of loving God by loving your neighbor, then every act of faithful work that you do is accomplishing just that. You are loving God and the world by caring for the people in your home."

I think that is important to remember when you are primarily at home caring for your own children, your elderly family members, or others who cannot care for themselves. Sometimes the culture sets this type of work on the sidelines as being not important or of little value because it usually doesn't have a monetary compensation.

The stay-at-home mom or caregiver sometimes thinks there might be something else "out there" which would be a better use of her life force and time, but that just isn't true. In fact, we are doing God's work, especially if it is done in faith. I do not mean to elevate it above the work and callings of others, but it is important to at least view it with the honor it deserves in our society.

Our busy stay-at-home daughter with her two daughters:
"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these,...
ye have done it unto me." Matthew 25:40 

Unfortunately, some people elevate church or ministry work above the care of their children and aging parents. This was the mistake of the Pharisees whom Christ openly rebuked for neglecting their parents in the name of service to God.

He said,

"Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

"For God commanded, saying, 'Honor thy father and mother:' and, 'He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.'

"But ye say, 'Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; and honor not his father or his mother, he shall be free.'

"Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition." (Matthew 15:3b-6)

What He was saying was that if someone dedicated to God the money or provisions they could have used to help their parents in need, then they would be free of the guilt of their neglect. But, what if we said they had dedicated their lives or their time to the service of God when they have parents who are in need of their care? Do you think they would be any less guilty? I believe this is something we need to seriously consider before heading off to Timbuktu to do "the Lord's work."

I was so blessed to hear Regan Martin, missionary to the Western Cape, South Africa, share with our church what his wife Mellie is planning to do once they get to the mission field. He made it a point to make it understood her primary ministry would be caring for and home educating their five children. I could have just jumped for joy!

Indeed, I believe one of the tragedies of foreign missions has been the felt need to ship the children of missionaries off to boarding school during their formative years so they won't be in the way of their parents' ministries. However, so much abuse, heartache, and emotional damage has been done to these children, it simply breaks my heart. The first responsibility of parents is to their children, and some well-meaning missionary parents have inadvertently neglected to love and care for the nearest neighbors given to them by God.

I am glad the Martins are able to see the true value of Mellie's work in their home, even on the mission field. No one needs her ministry more than her family does. Furthermore, what better example of the love of God could Mellie give her neighbors in South Africa than that which she ministers to her nearest neighbors, her husband and children?

Jesus said, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples if ye have love one to another." (John 13:35)