This time of year finds many home educating families gearing up for a new school year. Supplies, curriculum, and organizational tools are being purchased. Schedules, routines, lesson plans and copies are being made. All these things are being done in order to ensure a good year is had by all. But what kind of preparations are being made to ensure your focus is on Christ and His will for your children? I recently received a copy of How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. For Your Kids by Rachael Carman, who is a veteran homeschool mom to seven children. This book has blessed, encouraged, and challenged me to keep my focus on Christ, His Word, and His plans for our family. This book will help you make the most important preparations for a new school year - it will help prepare your heart.
There are five chapters in this book. Each letter in the word "heart" is an acronym for lessons the author wants to share with her readers.
H - Have a Heart for the Things of God
In this chapter, the author shares how she learned "another co-op or a different curriculum wasn't the answer - He (Christ) was" (51). She asks the tough question: "Do you want to have a heart for your children? Then first have a heart for God. And don't be afraid to show it" (56).E - Enrich Your Marriage
God wants to "show Himself to the world through our marriage relationship" (64). In this chapter, Carman will teach you the importance of investing in your marriage so your children and the world see the hope of Christ lived out in your relationship (71). I know how important this is. I grew up in a home where I never saw my parents show affection towards one another (and the divorced when I was in college). My children like to see my husband and I lovin' on one another. My oldest son likes to act like it grosses him out when we're caught kissing, but the girls both giggle and smile. Children need to see how much their parents love each other, and they also need to see the love of Christ modeled in their parent's marriage.
A - Accept Your Kids
This is my favorite chapter in the whole book. I could share quote after quote I have underlined in this chapter with you. I have a son that many people simply don't "get." I think he's pretty amazing, but sometimes even I struggle to truly understand him. He could talk about the animal kingdom, football, and Star Wars all day long, without much pause to take a breath. Sometimes I think if he could just be like other kids, his life would be easier. In reality, I am not loving him and accepting him fully as the young man God has created him to be. On page 105, the author writes, "When we attempt to rewire our children, we are actually rejecting them, even if we do not verbalize it. They can sense it. They feel it." Carmen also shares: "It is essential that we study our children and ask God to show us who these kids are for His glorious purpose. We need to learn their strengths and weaknesses so that we can equip them to be on guard, stand firm, and not grow weary in doing good" (105). I thought I was doing a pretty good job accepting my kids until I read this chapter. I'm thankful for how the Lord spoke to my heart.
R - Release Them to God
I think releasing our children (even to God) is a tough area for most parents. Carmen describes releasing our children to God is a lot like a "huge blank check on which you sign your name and wait for God to fill in the rest. It's total surrender...It's a holy 'whatever.' A 'whatever' of epic proportions with life-changing power" (128).
T - Teach Them the Truth
Teaching our children Truth is quite possibly the #1 reason Christians choose to home educate. This topic is vitally important due to our society saying there is no absolute truth. Carmen shares: "There are two important indications of the value we place on God's Word: the personal time we spend in it and the time we spend reading it with our children" (165). It's not enough to say you're a Christian homeschool family, and attend Sunday school and church. Carmen shares how it is vitally important we live out loud what we are reading out loud (168). We must be intentional and teach our children Truth. This quote from the book stepped on my toes: "We live truth as we teach our kids math by exhibiting patience, perseverance, gentleness, and hope" (171). This school year when one of my children is struggling with a lesson, this is not an opportunity for me to get frustrated at them and lose patience (or my temper), but rather, an opportunity to live out Scripture before them!
I was actually a little sad to see this book end. I felt like an encouraging friend had packed up and moved away. However, I can pick this book up from my bookshelf anytime I need to be encouraged and reminded of the lessons learned. I highly recommend this book. You will want to purchase a copy for yourself and one for a friend. If you are like me, your copy will have lots of underlining and notes written in it, which makes it hard to share my copy with others.
You can order by clicking HERE.
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*I received this book at no cost for review purposes only. All opinions are my own.*