We asked the Fitzpatrick family of Elizabeth, Colorado, to share some wisdom from their decade of home education. Hugh is married to his best friend, Heather, and is a manager for LGI homes. Prior to that, Hugh was a pastor and teacher. Heather is proud to be Hugh’s wife and a homeschool mother to their overactive 5-year-old and sci-fi fanatic 17-year-old.
Please share the story of your background, marriage, and family.
I (Hugh) grew up without Christ and without the church. When I was in college, I attended Bible study to get closer to a girl I’d met. That girl became my wife, Heather. In those initial meetings I only pretended to understand the Bible, but I knew that something inside me was changing.
After a few months I was reading the Bible regularly. One day I realized I believed what it said about Jesus and with tears streaming down my face, I confessed my sins and put my faith in Christ. I have never once regretted it.
After marriage, I wanted to finish both of my undergraduate and graduate degrees before having kids. That was a massive mistake! Six years later we had Colin and loved every second of being parents.
We knew we wanted more children, but that was the time we began a gut-wrenching roller coaster of emotional highs and devastating lows with both infertility and miscarriage. We wrestled with all the “Why?” questions. “Lord, why us? Are we being punished for some sin? Why won’t You give us another child? We don’t understand.”
After three years on the emotional roller coaster, adoption was conceived amidst the grief. And in 2005, we officially began the adoption process. But adoption is about waiting. Waiting for paperwork, waiting for the fees to be processed, waiting for the courts, waiting for a match. After seven years we finally got “The Call!” A birth mother selected us to be the parents to a baby she just delivered.
Two weeks later, we brought home our beautiful little girl, Abigail. Now we can finally say, it is SO WORTH THE WAIT! God’s plan for our family was worth every tear we cried, every training session, every fingerprinting, every inconvenience.
What led you to consider homeschooling and what were your priorities as you began?
I think some couples have always known that they will homeschool their children. We were not one of those couples. Rewind to around 10 years ago. When Colin entered kindergarten at the local public school, I started to have a growing conviction that morally and biblically speaking, something was seriously wrong with public education. What I saw alarmed me. Even the best public schools in the state had too many unwholesome influences to ignore. They couldn’t measure up to the plumb line of God’s Word.
The problem was that my wonderful wife thought she was not cut out for homeschooling, so she was adamantly opposed to it … until the day we met with Colin’s kindergarten teacher. The way God wired my wife, when it comes to our children she wants to be there for all those first moments in life: first word, first step, first tooth, etc. When Colin’s teacher began to rattle off all the things Colin would be learning for the first time, that’s when Heather had her change of heart moment, and on the drive home Heather announced out-of-the-blue that she thought we should consider homeschooling.
That’s all I needed. We pulled Colin out of the public school immediately, and we’ve never looked back. In summary we started homeschooling for two reasons: First, we felt homeschooling was the best avenue for us to be able to pass our values onto our children; and second, we have a strong conviction that parents have the primary responsibility for our children’s education.
How has God guided your years of home education? What adjustments have you had to make to follow His leading?
A Heather was swayed by some nagging fears. Fear that she didn’t know enough. Fear that she would ruin our son. Fear that she wouldn’t have enough patience. Fear that she would choose the wrong curriculum. But after 11 years of homeschooling, Heather realized that pleasing the Lord trumps everything else. She doesn’t care what others think anymore because she came to the realization that walking obediently with the Lord is her chief responsibility.
Heather researched curriculum, but finding the right curriculum also means figuring out what works best for our children. And if that means ditching one curriculum for another, then so be it. Not surprisingly, our oldest child loved Heather all the more when she was willing to try a different program for him.
We have made our share of mistakes to be sure, but we try to learn from them and grow from them. The lesson we learned is that our job is to be faithful to the Lord, and ultimately, the results are in His hands.
View the rest of this interview and more in the CHEC Update Magazine.