real encouragement for real homeschool moms

A group of my speech students ready to hear the proceedings during the Senate Education Committee hearing on February 15th.

“Plenty of people miss their share of happiness, not because they never found it, but because they didn’t stop to enjoy it.”


I am feeling a bit like this writer as I watch the amazing videos and photos that were shared today from yesterday’s historic day in Springfield. 4000 homeschoolers gathered outside our state capitol to express their opposition to proposed SB136 which would require registering all homeschooling families in Illinois. In the immediacy of the moment while trying to accurately share what I was hearing from the Senate floor via my Facebook page, somehow I had missed the loveliness of what I know to be our central value: families committed to each other and committed to homeschooling! Now seeing these precious families lining the hallways under that beautiful rotunda and hearing their sweet voices singing, laughing, and sharing the freedom we have as homechooolers, I am a little wistful that I wasn’t outside!

I will be blogging about my personal thoughts about this in the days to come but wanted to first share my overall impression of the actual hearing and the possibilities I think it could offer to us along with some of my concerns.

There is some confusion today and it is being reported that Senator Maloney withdrew SB136. Actually, he had decided early on that he did not want to include private school students, as originally planned, and to place these restrictions only on homeschooling families. Yesterday’s Senate Education Committee meeting was for the purpose of hearing testimony on both sides of the idea of mandatory registration of homeschooling families. There were several things that came out of this meeting that were disconcerting to me and give me pause as to the direction this might take:

Many of those who make laws that affect homeschoolers are fairly ignorant of the actual laws and court decisions involving the education of homeschoolers.
One senator even stated that homeschoolers have no standards required by the state, ignoring the very ones outlined in the actual law. This was handily corrected by one of the attorneys present. Frankly, I was amazed at the lack of coherency in some who spoke. I had several of my speech students with me who were amazed that elected officials who run for office weren’t better prepared, both in content and in presentation.

Bill Reynolds, a truant officer from southern Illinois testified that he believes all homeschoolers need to be registered so he can know where there are problems because he “wants to help” homeschoolers. Wasn’t it Ronald Reagan who said “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are I’m from the government and I’m here to help?” When asked how that would be accomplished, Reynolds said only by registering all homeschoolers and having the authority to enter all homes. He went on to say that he would be able to recognize those who were doing a good job when he walked in the door by the fact that there were books around the house, etc. He was clear to differentiate between the “cream of the crop,” ie those demonstrating yesterday, and those who “fall through the cracks.” How much sense does that make? How does he know we are the “cream of the crop?” He hasn’t been in our homes or talked to any of our children or looked at our books! The best part of his discussion was when one of the senators asked him “How do you expect us to write all that into law?”

Another school administrator told one anecdote of a child from his school district who was supposedly homeschooled but he had no way of knowing it was true because he couldn’t find the family. He pushed for registration for this reason! He was quite emotional and concerned “for the children.” He also suggested that there should be qualifications for parents who homeschool but all those in favor of registration agreed that that would really be difficult to do. After hearing his testimony it is clear to me that the real problem, if, in fact, it is a real problem, is NOT homeschoolers. It is impostors who use the word “homeschooler” for whatever reason. Why should there be restrictions on all families because someone is choosing to use our name? Perhaps this is a situation of identity theft. And how did he know the family missing from his system wasn’t actually homeschooling if he couldn’t find them? This was the “evidence” that caused Senator Maloney to call for this discussion.

One of the senators stated that she doesn’t personally know any homeschoolers, which prompted an open invitation from the entire hearing room for her to get to know us!
I believe many school administrators and legislators have no personal stories of their own that make a case for homeschooling because too many people have been fearful of taking the time to get to know those they perceive to be the enemy. We need to change this. I am not talking just about showing up with a cherry pie on legislative days where we stop in to meet a representative or working on someone’s campaign. This can be difficult and in some situations might not be wise, but I think we could make a better effort to engage with those outside of our homeschooling circles. I know that our own family has been exceedingly blessed by becoming friends with a variety of people who share different life experiences and perspectives. Some of those people are now our greatest supporters and some have even offered to write letters and testify on our behalf if need be. We know how charming homeschoolers are. Let’s share this knowledge!

I left with the distinct impression that there were three senators on the committee who supported our position
. I know of several others who also oppose the registering of homeschoolers as well as quite a few members in the House. While some of the questions that came up during the hearing are disconcerting and will perhaps invite more people to want to look for bad stories to support their views, I keep remembering what it would take to actually get this placed into law! We need to pray for the legislation to be stopped before it goes any further and prepare to continue fighting if it is isn’t!

As the meeting closed, Senator Maloney’s final remarks came with some obvious emotion. Perhaps he was feeling the pressure of the 4000 homeschoolers in nearly every square inch of the capitol building and on the lawn. Maybe he was moved by the sweet presence of babies and delightful children of every age alongside moms and dads of conviction and courage. And then there’s the fact that numbers make a great deal of difference to politicians who like to be re-elected. Maybe he was pondering the 2 hour discussion he had just heard where those testifying on his behalf betrayed an agenda of further control and bureaucracy, aware that the Illinois electorate has reached their limit of big government and taxation. Maybe thoughts were going through his head about how they would pay for these new regulations. (My elderly mom asked me if they would charge us for registration, like they do for license plates. Shhhh, don’t give them any ideas!) For whatever reason this man was visibly moved, I would encourage us all to pray for him and for the other members of his committee, that the Lord who holds the heart of the king in his hand will move them to do the right thing.

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10 Responses to homeschoolers victims of “identity theft” in Illinois SBC136 debacle

  • Pat says:

    Yes, a better effort to engage with those outside of homeschooling circles would be a worthy goal. I followed Karens day on
    FB, and was so impressed by the passion of those involved and appreciative of the democratic process that made that all happen. Then, I read a response to a post….it felt like a rude and disrespectful slam to my 31 years in pubic school teaching, that one of your friends didn’t trust ANY public school teacher with her children…..Would you appreciate it if I said that I didn’t trust any homeschooling parent to educate their children properly???? No one can afford to make blanket statements like that. Even in the heat of the arguement. I had so much respect for your cause until I came to that sentence.

  • thatmom says:

    Wow, Pat, I missed that comment! They were coming so fast and furious that I still haven’t caught up with all of them. I totally disagree with that as do the homeschooling families I know. In fact, I have homeschooling friends who are also public school teachers!

    I offered written testimony yesterday and chose just one point to make and that is I believe homeschoolers and public school teachers agree that the number one thing that makes education successful is parental involvement. I think teachers are expected to be moms and nurses etc. to children whose parents think “Its their job.” I find that appalling. Teachers are there to teach and inspire and even mentor. They are not there to take the place of parents who aren’t willing to do their jobs. I will post my written testimony. And I am so sorry for this offense. It certainly doesn’t speak for the homeschoolers I personally know!

  • Pat says:

    Thank you for easing my hurt feelings. : ). yes, things were fast and furious, and most impressive with your support system yesterday. There are many important points in this debate, and isn’t it wonderful that we are free to define and share and discuss what is best for the children. You do a great job as flag bearer and spokesperson.

  • Darcy says:

    I know tons of great teachers that I would trust any day. It’s the system I don’t trust. The system that these great teachers fight with every day to ensure the best education for their students. My own mother, after homeschooling 5 kids, is now a public school teacher. I even know public school teachers whose wives homeschool their own kids because they know how broken and ineffective the system is. I have great respect for these people. They are probably the sole reason that the entire government school system hasn’t imploded completely.

  • Perhaps it’s because I was thinking about this yesterday, but here’s what struck me: If some of these lawmakers don’t know the law, don’t know a single homeschooler and are unaware of the success/failures of homeschooling… what’s coloring their view of homeschooling that they would push for this law? I hope that they begin seek out the answer to that question. My hope is that once they discover the source of their distrust for homeschoooling is most likely not tied to homeschooling at all, they will abandon this kind of legislation.

    ~Luke

  • thatmom says:

    Luke, this is a good point. I am a people watcher and was really studying those who were asking questions of those representing both sides. I believe there were some who already had their minds made up and I was hoping that they would hear some new information that might give them pause. If you look at the contributors to the campaigns of those senators, there are tens of thousands of dollars being paid to them by the teacher’s unions. Senator Maloney was asked on a radio interview on Monday (WLS) if he had discussed this issue with any of the teacher’s union reps and said he had not, which I find hard to believe since they are his single biggest campaign contributors.

    But I also think there were others there who honestly don’t get us. I mean, if you looked around and were totally unfamiliar with homeschooling, you would have been blown away. Here is this beautiful old capitol building with the most amazing architecture, very prim and proper and governmental, and all the hallways lined with moms and dads and strollers and toddlers and so many excited and sweet children! The children were polite and oh how I love to see teenage sons carrying toddler siblings! Even one of the senators said that when she arrived that morning and walked through security, she wasn’t fearful as she is when there are other groups! I think we are just foreign to them. And that is exactly why we must engage.

    Another thing that I have learned this week is that if I really want liberty, I cannot depend on any outside group to represent me or be the one watching to preserve those liberties. A homeschooling mom discovered this was in the works and HSLDA sat on it with a “wait and see” attitude, even telling families not to contact legislators until they said to do so. After watching and seeing how this was moving forward, she repeatedly called and asked for help. When she got no response, she called a homeschooling mom in the media who got the word out. We have got to build relationships with our own legislators if we want to preserve our rights!

  • Anthea says:

    I hope you succeed, Karen. As you know, the UK home educators saw off a similar attempt to limit our freedoms by the previous government. Sometimes other events help you: the UK bill never made it because parliament had to stop for the election — an election which the Prime Minister was forced to call, because the recession was making his government look bad.

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truth from the Word
"Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73: 25-26
Phillip E. Johnson says:
“When pressed in interviews to name my heroes, I have spontaneously responded that they are homeschooling mothers! To me, the heroic mothers who nurture the next generation of faithful Christians are among the leaders of the church.” ~ Phillip E. Johnson
John Stonestreet says:
“C.S. Lewis said that for every new book we read, we ought to read three old ones. But I think for every latest, greatest new homeschooling book you read, go find three old homeschooling moms and ask them what happened and what worked.” ~ John Stonestreet
Oswald Chambers says:
"If we simply preach the effects of redemption in the human life instead of the revealed, divine truth regarding Jesus Himself, the result is not new birth in those who listen. The result is a refined religious lifestyle, and the Spirit of God cannot witness to it because such preaching is in a realm other than His." ~ Oswald Chambers
Carolyn Custis James says:
“The power of our theology comes alive when we take the truth personally. Holding God at arm’s length—no matter how much theology we think we know—will never make us great theologians. We have to learn to write our own names into the plot. God will always be the subject of our theological sentences but our sentences are incomplete until we make ourselves the direct objects of his attributes…..Simply knowing a lot of theological ideas, no matter how orthodox and sound they are, will never turn us into great theologians. Theology isn’t really theology for us until we live it. Not until we learn to make explicit connections between what we know about God and the race we are running will we taste the transforming power of our theology. Fixing our eyes on Jesus means reminding ourselves of all that He is to us now. He brings meaning to our routines and energizes us to tackle the difficult tasks at hand. Fixing our eyes on Jesus gives us hope to offer disheartened husbands and hurting friends, and the wisdom we need to raise children who will fix their eyes on Him, too.” ~ from Carolyn Custis James in When Life and Beliefs Collide
William Carey says:
"Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter."
Tim Keller says:
"God’s love and forgiveness can pardon and restore any and every kind of sin or wrongdoing. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. It doesn’t matter if you’ve deliberately oppressed or even murdered people, or how much you’ve abused yourself… There is no evil that the Father’s love cannot pardon and cover, there is no sin that is a match for his grace." ~ Tim Keller
Tim Keller also says:
“The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself nor less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less.” ! Tim Keller in The Reason for God.
Anne Ortlund says:
“So what do we do to encourage them to grow inwardly, to become resourceful and creative, to think, to meditate, to lay the foundation for growing up well? Don’t push, but affirm them! Give them the sense that all is well, that their rate of progress is acceptable to you, that you like them just the way they are…..Guide them but be delighted in them. Let them know that life is to be reached for and drunk of deeply…..Enthusiastic, that’s how you want them to grow up! The word comes from “en Theo,” or “in God.” Support them with words of faith, hope, and love, and in that framework “in God,” they’ll be ready to tackle everything. Fears and cautions are built in at an early age but so is courage! Tomorrow’s world will be different if your child has been released to experiment, to risk, to lead others, to pursue righteousness, to be an affecter for good in society, to go courageously after God.” ~ Anne Ortlund in Children Are Wet Cement
J.C Ryle says:
"Kindness, gentleness, long-suffering, forbearance, patience, sympathy, a willingness to enter into childish troubles, a readiness to take part in childish joys, these are the cords by which a child may be led most easily, these are the clues you must follow if you would find the way to his heart." ~ J. C. Ryle in The Upper Room
Kathy Thile says:
"I say this gently, as the parent of grown kids, knowing *insert parenting guru* is also the parent of grown kids: we have wonderful children — he does, I’m sure — and so do I. But without even knowing his children I can know this about them: they are not perfect. They hurt. They make mistakes. They struggle. They are prideful and overly simplistic at times; and crippled by shame and hesitancy at others. Yes — they are beautiful examples of human beings, his children (I assume), and mine (I know.) But they are not perfect. If they were, they would not be human. If it were possible to raise children to perfection, then God would have sent a parenting method, not Jesus. Our marching orders are not to raise our children by a method to be like *insert parenting guru* children. Our marching orders are to be Christians to and with our children." ~ Kathy Thile
Clay Clarkson says:
“Many Christian parents, myself included, tend to speak to children as though they were Pharisees. We can speak harshly and with judgment, implying by our manner that their hearts are hard and resistant. But this attitude is not justified by Scripture. There is no record of Jesus ever speaking to a a child in a harsh tone. When the Gospels record Him speaking to a child, it is always with gentleness. Our children are not our adversaries. Though our children’s hearts are corrupted by sin, they are not hardened sinners who have made conscious choices to reject the Savior. Our children are simply immature and childish. That’s why children need love and compassion, not harshness and guilt.” ~ Clay Clarkson in Heartfelt Discipline
Tim Kimmel says:
“Grace can’t be some abstract concept that you talk about in your home. It has to be a real-time action that ultimately imprints itself in your children’s hearts. To talk about grace, sing about grace, and have our children memorize verses about grace – but not give them specific gifts of grace – is to undermine God’s words of grace in their hearts. Grace means that God not only loves them but that He loves them uniquely and specially. The primary way to give our children grace is to offer it in place of our selfish preferences.” ~ Tim Kimmel in Grace-Based Parenting
Chuck Swindoll says:
"You want to mess up the minds of your children? Here's how - guaranteed! Rear them in a legalistic, tight context of external religion, where performance is more important than reality. Fake your faith. Sneak around and pretend your spirituality. Train your children to do the same. Embrace a long list of do's and don'ts publicly but hypocritically practice them privately...yet never own up to the fact that its hypocrisy. Act one way but live another. And you can count on it - emotional and spiritual damage will occur. "
Anna Quindlen says:
“The biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less." ~ Anna Quindlen
Winston Churchill says:
“My education was interrupted only by my schooling." ~ Winston Churchill
John Taylor Gatto says:
"The shocking possibility that dumb people don’t exist in sufficient numbers to warrant the millions of careers devoted to tending them will seem incredible to you. Yet that is my central proposition: the mass dumbness which justifies official schooling first had to be dreamed of; it isn’t real." ~ John Taylor Gatto
Fred Rogers say:
“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” ~ Fred Rogers
thatmom says
"The truth is that the way a marriage becomes truly heavenly is for each husband and each wife to pursue, really pursue, a relationship with Jesus Christ, to commit to obey the Word of God, to set aside each of their own agendas and paradigms, and then as they walk in the Holy Spirit, as they are sanctified, a little at a time each day, they will grow closer to one another. Godly wisdom will manifest itself in purity, peace, gentleness, mercy, a willingness to submit to one another, the fruits of the spirit, and no role-playing (the true meaning of hypocrisy). (James 3:17)" ~ thatmom
thatmom says:
"We need to approach our children not as character projects, but rather, we must see them with hearts of sympathy, with compassion and understanding, and with ears that listen. You see, homeschooling is not about lesson plans and research papers and standardized tests. Homeschooling is about building a relationship with our children, friendships that will last our entire lives on earth and clear into eternity. Homeschooling is merely the tool whereby we build those relationships." ~ thatmom
thatmom knows:
As a homeschooling mom, I have realized that everything, ultimately, is outside of my own control. I have learned that the unique circumstances that happen in my family have occurred because God’s plan is so much bigger than my own. It is knowing this truth about God and in experiencing that truth with those in my home that has enabled us to face past challenges and that will prepare us for all those difficulties that still lie before us.
thatmom says:
"Real books from the library, a tub of art supplies, being read stories rich in vocabulary, a variety of good music, the daily discussion of God’s Word and how it relates to the world around him, and the attention of a loving parent who includes him in all the activities of real life are the secrets to a great learning experience for children." ~ thatmom
thatmom realizes:
If I think about nearly 40 years of marriage, times the number of loads of laundry I have done for 2 parents, 6 children and 1 grandma, I am amazed to know that I have washed, dried, folded, (sometimes ironed) and put away roughly 27,526 loads of laundry. That is over 215,000 socks! Or, in that same amount of time, provided 38,324 meals for a family and sometimes guests. Or that I have overseen nearly 21,500 hours of education of one sort or another during that time. Just thinking of these numbers takes my breath away. ~ thatmom
thatmom says:
"Being a mom is sort of like being all the people who crowd into a basketball arena all at once. Sometimes we are the players, the ones who are responsible for everything that is going on and our presence is front and center. Sometimes we are the coaches, giving comfort and encouragement, instructing with a clipboard in hand. Other times we are the referees, no striped shirts required but whistles are a must to break up the disputes when the game isn’t played as per the rules. Still other times we are the fans, cheering wildly from the stands, shouting from a distance but not from the floor. And then there are the days when we are the cheerleaders, the ones who scream 'Yeah, you can do it.' " ~ thatmom
thatmom says:
“The beauty of homeschooling is building relationships within our families and inspiring our children to become lifelong learners, gently leading them into the truth of Scripture and trusting that the work we have begun will be brought to completion by a sovereign God who has a plan for building His heavenly kingdom.” ~ thatmom
thatmom also says:
“After parenting for 36 years, I have come to realize that all paradigms are basically a list of do’s and don’ts that someone has created. Instead of embracing a list, I have discovered that it is best for me to run all ideas, philosophies, and paradigms through my “one-anothering hopper.” I ask myself if the suggestions or ideas I am hearing will serve to build my relationships or will serve to tear them down; will they reflect the one-anothering commands of Scripture? I ask if they are a picture of Christ and His relationship with me as His needy daughter. If not, I am not interested, no matter how much appeal they might have for any number of reasons.” ~ thatmom
thatmom says this, too:
“The word wisdom is used in Exodus to describe the knowledge that the Lord gave to the skilled artisans so they could make Aaron’s garments for worship. We are told that these workers “were given wisdom and understanding in knowledge and all manner of workmanship.” I have never had to sew any garments for a priest to wear for worship. I have not had to sew any draperies or build any walls or prepare any inner sanctuary as per the Lord’s instructions. But I have been called to give all I can toward the goal of building up children in the faith, preparing children for life outside my home, children whose bodies, we are told, are called the very temple of the Holy Spirit, children whose job it is to worship in spirit and in truth." ~ thatmom
what does thatmom believe?
" What is thy only comfort in life and death? "That I, with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who, with His precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him." ~ Heidelberg Catechism
What does it mean to be a Christian?

1.We must acknowledge that we are all sinners. “For we are all become as one that is unclean, and all our righteousnesses are as a polluted garment: and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. (Isaiah 64:6) and “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

2.We are all accountable for our own sins before God. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)

3.There is only one way to be forgiven of these sins and that is through the blood of Jesus Christ. “Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

4.If we confess our sin to the Lord and repent of it (not allow it to rule in our lives) we can be forgiven and be in right standing with God. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousenss.” (1 John 1:9)

5.Genuine salvation will result in living lives of good works but none of those works contribute in any way to our standing before God which is based solely and completely on the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God. (Hebrews 10:12) and “Not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to His mercy He saved us by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:5) and “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)

6.We all, men and women, boys and girls, have direct access to the throne of grace because everyone who is a born-again believer in Jesus Christ is called a “priest and king” in God’s economy. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (I Peter 2:9)

I believe that many of the false teachings within the patriocentric movement are in direct contrast to these Scriptures and I would encourage each of us to first examine what we believe about Jesus and His work on the cross, its implications and its marvelous power.

Secondly, I would challenge anyone reading here to examine your own heart and ask yourself whether you have been trusting in good works….baptism, homeschooling, church attendance, modest dress, the list goes on and on, or if you have placed ALL your faith and hope in Jesus’ blood and righteousness alone.

And finally, I would challenge you to examine the teachings within your own church system, whether it is Protestant, Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, etc. Ask yourself what your church teaches about ecclesiastical authority and family authority. Does it line up with the Word of God? It is a top down system that requires certain works in exchange for a relationship with Jesus Christ or do you have the assurance that you are saved for eternity by His death on the cross in your stead? Does it teach that the fruits of the spirit and obedience to all the one anothers is what our lives will demonstrate or is there a list of man made rules?

If you desire to talk with me about this, please send me a note to shesthatmom@gmail.com. My desire is that no one who visits this website will leave without knowing the glorious truth that we can have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and can enjoy a life filled with His goodness and grace!

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Adoration of the Home was painted by regional artist, Grant Wood. The original hangs in the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. Ben Campbell and Lon Eldridge deserve extra cookies for writing, performing, recording, and mixing Mom’s Prairie Song for the podcast intro and outro. Great job, guys. Garrison Keillor would be proud.

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