Sunday, June 08, 2008

My Graduation

My homeschool graduation ceremony took place last night on June 7, 2008. It was an amazing night of uplifting music and prayer, and I felt God's hand over our celebration. Our community of homeschool families rally together to celebrate our graduates, and there were six seniors this year as well as 8th grade and kindergarten students.

Pastor Dennis Gundersen was our invited guest speaker, and he spoke powerfully about making Christ our desire and not conforming to the world. Mr. Gundersen is the author of Courtship & Dating: So What's the Difference? (among others), and I highly recommend his books.

Dear members of my family and friends were able to attend my graduation, and those that were unable to come made the day special with phone calls and cards. I have wonderful support as I enter this next stage in my life! They made it so special!The most exciting moment of the evening (and nerve wracking) was the short speech I spoke to the gathering. I am posting it here (below) for you all to enjoy. It was fun to write, and I pray that the homeschooling families and their guests were blessed by it.

When I Began to Learn

Homeschool Graduation – June 7, 2008

I remember the day my parents brought out my box of first grade books. It was so exciting I wanted to get started right away. The fact that it was Sunday, and I could do no more than glance at my books, only added to the anticipation I felt.

I wanted to be a big girl like my sister with real books at a real desk. The first few pages of math looked like child’s play, and I knew I would speed through the simple counting exercises.

The first few pages did go by quickly, but soon enough, school became difficult. I began to realize that learning is not all fun and games. I tolerated handwriting and spelling, but I learned to look forward to phonics and history. I was growing up slowly, and it was sometimes a painful process. There were times I wasn’t sure school was for me.

One day in particular sticks out in my mind. I don’t know how I did it or what persuasive arguments I used, but somehow, I convinced my dad to give me the day off from school. I was overjoyed! I had nothing to do all day! The delight did not last long. I became bored. Susanna couldn’t play with me; she was doing her schoolwork, and Mom was busy doing Play ’n Talk with David.

Play ’n Talk is the preschool program that my Mom used with all three of us when we were learning to read. It was fun, educational, and a great time with Mom. I remember coloring pictures to illustrate stories such as, “The man had a cat. The cat sat on a mat.” I would jump on the trampoline while shouting out the A, B, C song, and I would snuggle up next to mom to read the words she pointed out with her finger.

Play ’n Talk had been so much more fun than first grade, so naturally, I joined in with David – probably while showing off my superiority in skills I had learned two years previously.

Dad found out about it, and I was promptly sent back to my own books. He said that if I wanted to do school, I should do it at my own level. This was all a part of growing up. It wasn’t always fun, but it had a purpose.

My parents were teaching me to work hard, do my best, and apply myself. The best part about learning at home under the covering of godly parents, however, is the fact that these lessons were not restricted to reading, writing, and arithmetic. It encompassed every aspect of my life.

My mom and dad took Deuteronomy 6 seriously. Verses 4-9 say:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

My parents know that their God given responsibility in life is to train me and my siblings in the way of the Lord. Education for its own sake is not enough. The ability to read and write loses its purpose if we fail to use it to read God’s Word and submit our lives to Him through the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

Home education has enabled my parents to train me up in the way that I should go without the conflicting messages and opposing ideologies taught in the government schools. My parents taught me God’s Word as I sat at the breakfast table, did my chores and school, had nightly devotions, and, at the end of the day, when they tucked me into bed.

Glorifying God did not have its moment or hour. It was our goal throughout the day, and if it wasn’t (since glorifying God is often the last thing on a child’s mind) Mom and Dad brought the correction needed to remind us of the truth.

My family has a joke that we were not homeschooled to save ourselves from the influence of public school kids; the public school kids were being saved from us! But seriously, educating at home enabled my mom and dad to take immediate action against our sinful natures, and I feel blessed that my parents had the vision to give me their attention, time, and correction – in the secure environment of a loving family. The best place to learn really is at home.

God exacts excellence from His people, and He wants us to follow His plan for our lives. He doesn’t want us to be mirrors reflecting the people and culture around us. Rather, we are to reflect Christ. Learning at home has enabled me to work on the things I feel the Lord calling me to, and a more focused approach has allowed me to develop skills that a traditional education would not have afforded.

I don’t know all the answers, and I can’t say what will happen in one year, three years, or five years in the future, but I feel prepared to face life after high school. The Lord is with me, and He will be my help as I continue to follow Him and make Him the center of my life. My education did not start with that box of first grade books; it began as an infant in my parents’ arms, and it will not be complete until I join my Lord and Savior in the skies to spend all eternity with Him.

Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.