By Shari McMinn
On that day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took Him with them in the boat, just as He was. And other boats were with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And He awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” (Mark 4:35-41 ESV).
A squall quickly enveloped the three of us offshore of Hilton Head, South Carolina. My Dad had chartered a boat to take us out about 20 miles into the Atlantic, beyond sight of the shoreline. Just as we had called it a day, pounding rain and heavy winds suddenly overcame the 35’ center-console boat. We huddled together under the small canopy that sheltered our captain at the wheel.
The boat squarely hit never-ending white caps with such force we had to hold on tight to the railing, so as not to be knocked flat, or worse, tossed overboard. I was 12-years-old, scared, but reassured by my God-fearing Dad that we would be safe in the hands of our loving Heavenly Father who cared for us that day and every day.
After an hour that seemed like a fortnight, we made it safely back. I have fished many times in the years since, several again at sea. To this day, I love the ocean and am not afraid of the dynamic power of it. Instead I praise God for His incredible creation and majesty proven through it.
During the very challenging years of homeschooling my unique learner children, my most difficult students had not only learning disabilities, but several also had trauma-induced labels that included Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Whew! Our days were long, and some made even longer when arguments erupted during our over and over repetitive learning of the 3 R’s that sometimes had such trouble sticking. After my good husband passed away very unexpectedly while my five youngest — all adopted with special needs — were still being homeschooled, I did not know how I would survive!
Yet, I did know how — God’s faithful, never-ending grace and ability to calm the stormy seas of our lives would keep us alive and moving forward. He held us, in our undersized boat with an oversized family, in the palm of His hand while He controlled the raging within and without. Time and again I saw His mighty power bring calm to our homeschool during turbulent parent-child relationship squalls.
It seemed like every day, every week, every year, another storm hit us out of nowhere, swamping our fragile “prairie schooner,” yet God met our needs. My children learned to not only read and write, but to discover their God-given talents and passions. Though they still struggled emotionally and academically, they grew physically healthy on our remote farm and spiritually stronger as they came to trust Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. God stayed in the boat with us, calmed the seas, and brought us peace between the storms.
Somewhere along the nearly capsizing boat ride of our lives with a large, imperfect family, God showed me that strengthening our relationships was a crucial part of our family’s “hull” to avoid sinking while homeschooling. These are some suggestions that worked for my late-husband and me:
- Parents need to live out their Christian faith in front of their kids; cheerful disposition, daily personal Bible devotion, forgiveness of sins against us, grateful heart, joy and other fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), personal relationship with Jesus, and repentance of our own sins.
- Parents need to teach their children that all of us sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23); we need Jesus as our Savior who willingly pays for our sins so we can be in a relationship with God now and for eternity.
- Parents need to spend time in connected relationships with their children; do enjoyable things with them to make memories and build trust (Matthew 7:11), just as we trust in our Lord who does good things for us as heirs to His Kingdom.
- Parents need to set reasonable boundaries with clear expectations for their children; also called “house rules,” these should be explained to the family during calm moments, restate them gently when crossed, and kindly and consistently enforce direct consequences (Ephesians 6:4).
- Parents need to love their children unconditionally; as God also loves us (1 Corinthians 13:1-13).
- Parents need to view the raising of their children as training future brothers and sisters in Christ; our children will eventually become fellow citizens of our society, and hopefully heirs to God’s Kingdom; we need to keep this in mind as we parent — remembering the kind of sinners we once were and that our children need the same saving grace, so we can live in fellowship, harmony, and peace (Ephesians 2:1-10).
- Parents should not live in fear of their own or their children’s worst failings and sins; there can be some scary times, but have great faith that God cares for us as parents and loves our children even more than we do; Christ is our advocate, and also is for our children (1 John 2:1-2).
Wow! That’s a lot of burdens we carry while raising our unique children. It can be overwhelmingly difficult and arduous. So, look to the Lord who cares, because even the wind and the seas obey Him.
You are not alone in homeschooling your unique learners, because CHEC also cares and is here to assist you. Please email me at Shari@chec.org when you feel isolation overwhelming you. My September post will remind you that only Jesus can save your children from their sin — not you — so focus your teaching and their learning on the Gospel this coming school year.