Stephen and I have been married for 17 years and have traveled in what we call “the evangelistic field” for all of those 17 years. Part-time for the first 5 years and then full-time for the past 12 years. So…we’ve see alot of asphalt, pavement and beauty across this great land. We are a family of red-heads – all 5 of us, from one shade of red to another. Contrary to what people like to joke about – you will never see any steam rising from our travel trailer as a result of cramming together all of these fiery tempers that supposingly come from being red-headed. Blake is our oldest son, 12 years old and is currently finishing 6th grade. Our daughter, Chloe, is 9 and finishing up 3rd grade. Ashton is nearly 4 and is currently in….everything…Smile. My husband preaches and we sing together as a family. We are on the road about 38-42 weeks out of the year.
Many readers may not know how traveling music evangelism works. Could you describe your ministry to us?
Pastors of churches, presidents of camp meetings and/or leaders of conventions will invite us to come and minister to their people. We have never asked to go anywhere – we wait for the invitation and for 17 years, we’ve never had to worry about trying to fill our calendar. We typically pull into a church parking lot with our 39′ fifth wheel trailer and call that parking lot home for the next 6-7 days before moving on to the next place. Generally speaking, for a revival meeting, (which is the primary thrust of our ministry) we will have evening services Tuesday through Sunday night. Camps can vary from that schedule. We usually take care of all the music for the service and Stephen preaches. Our desire is to glorify God and spread the Gospel. We always pray to “light a fire” under the Christian and to inspire him to re-focus on his purpose in life and that his own personal relationship with Christ would be strengthened; also to share the Gospel with those who may not know Jesus as their Savior. We always hope to accomplish these tasks…but realize we cannot accomplish anything without the help of the Holy Spirit. We are just vessels that we hope the He is able to work through.
How does homeschooling on the road look different than it might for more “stationary” families?
Wow. It’s SO totally different homeschooling on the road than in your home. However, I’ve never known anything different so it’s very normal to us. I often wistfully dream of a perfect little school room set up in a cute little cottage home with the room decorated in posters of apples and school buses and arithmetic charts and the ABC’s circling the top of the walls and everything neatly in its pencil perfect place. Frown. That’s NOT what you would find in our little school environment. But it’s good! It really is! When Blake first started kindergarten, I tried. I really tried to decorate our small little space we called school. I soon realized that those things were all very nice and sweet but not mandatory to give my child a thorough education. So…I’ve advanced to the very basics of what it takes to “have school” and we get along just fine. In the trailer, the children have TV trays as their “desks” with folding chairs, both of which can be easily folded up at the end of the day and placed between the couches and the slide out walls of our trailer. Their DVD players fit nicely on their dresser area and their book bags sit by their feet. But many times, school has convened in the back seat of our truck as we are crossing the country. I believe God gave us special children “custom-made” for the ministry…as they can do full days of schoolwork in an old bouncy truck and never get car-sick. I know numerous children who just simply couldn’t do that. My own husband gets sick reading a book in a vehicle. Maybe 5 times out of 7 years of homeschooling has one of the kids stopped for a little bit to calm their queasy stomach or light head. For the most part, Jesus has kept them focused and able to complete days and days of school in the truck while we travel to the next meeting. They use clipboards to write with on such days and if there is a test, they will wait until we’ve stopped for the day before taking that test. Otherwise, they can complete full days of school even while on the road. I will admit to letting penmanship slide a little on those days…it’s extremely difficult writing neatly bouncing down the interstate at 70mph!
How would you describe your homeschooling style?
I would consider myself very traditional in my homeschooling style. I use the ABEKA DVD program and have since Blake began kindergarten. I believe it offers a thorough and outstanding education. I send their tests in and receive a report card through ABEKA and operate very “hands on.” I check their papers basically everyday to make sure they are understanding concepts and listen through the day to make sure they are participating with the DVD class. They read aloud to me most everyday, and I’m an all-around tough teacher when it comes to doing things right and on time. 🙂
I’m also a firm believer in a schedule for the children. They set their alarm clocks and are up by 6:30-6:45. They have their personal devotions, eat breakfast, make their beds, get dressed and are in school by 8:15. I’m so alarmed at mothers training their children (just by allowing it day after day) that they can sleep till 10:00 or whenever and get up whenever they want and start school whenever they want…this kind of free spirit for school will most certainly hinder these children when they become adults. It will be very hard for them to keep a job if they have never been trained to get up and get going and to be at an expected place at a certain time. We are training tomorrow’s leaders and we don’t want lazy, undisciplined leaders. So – I take very seriously the task of making sure they are learning to get up when they are supposed to and get to the job they are expected to do! We have regularly scheduled breaks. Early on, I found both the children and myself became frustrated and aggravated at a continual begging for breaks. I thought, “This is a frustration that is not necessary!” So we now have break at 10:15-10:30; 11:30-12:15 and 1:30-1:45 every day. There is no constant nagging whether or not it is break-time because now everybody knows when break is. And believe me; they watch the clock like a watch dog! I never have to remind them it is break!
I would be foolish to say that this is our day and we never have anything happen that mars our perfect little schedule. Plenty of times, things come up and I try not to stress when unexpected things happen that mess up our schedule. I really do try to roll with the punches. But when we can and if we even have to work for it a little harder on some days, we try our best to stick to what the kids would follow if they were in an actual public school system.
What would you tell a ministry mom who was considering homeschooling?
I would say a hundred times over – “do it!” There is simply no other option for me! I am appalled at the education so many of our innocent children are receiving. Our kids are our greatest ministry. Before anything and anybody else, we were given a mandate by God to train and raise our children. It is a difficult task but oh, so rewarding. Some days it’s tough and I sigh. But, at the end of the day, when I pull myself together and snap the lid down on the box that holds all my score keys and teacher’s manuals…I know I’ve done what is right. Who said it would be easy? My goal is not “easy” – my goal is to give a sound, complete, Biblical and thorough education to the ones who have been placed in my charge for such a time as this. If that is your goal, then even if it seems cloudy and tumultuous at times, you can rest knowing you are doing what is right. Persistent plodding along gives a deep sense of satisfaction because you know you are doing your best. By all means, take the job and remember it is just “that” – a JOB!
You have probably heard the “how do you do it all?” question more times than you can count. While we all realize that no one mom can “do it all” nor always perform perfectly, what are some things that help you juggle your responsibilities?
I sure don’t “do it all” – I’m ashamed to tell you how often I fail. I want to learn to “let the little things go”, but it’s a work in progress for me. I do juggle many tasks simply by having a schedule. It is just what works best for me. I take one day a week and plan out my meals and look for easier meals on heavier scheduled days, and if it’s a day of heavier laundry loads, just get up a little earlier! Cleaning days, I try to look in advance and get up earlier or plan to stay up later or make sure there is no running to town on days that I need to spend extra time at home completing tasks. Never procrastinate. Putting off things just makes a pile of mess to clean up when you finally make yourself get there. Probably the 2 main ingredients that helps me keep my head is simply “looking ahead” and “writing schedules”.
What do you struggle with most as a mom and teacher in full-time ministry?
I like everything perfect. When we leave for church every night, I feel out of sorts if the everyday clothes are not put away or if shoes are out that shouldn’t be or if the toys didn’t get picked up or if my husband’s socks are still on the floor (close by the laundry basket :-)) or, if worse yet, school is not completed for the day. Groan. Like I mentioned above, a work in progress, but I struggle with simply loosening up a bit and “letting the little things go” – I should have learned by now, that it’ll all be waiting for me when we get back home!
I also constantly focus on…and it’s not really a struggle, but more of an awareness…making sure our kids are our top priority. I’ve seen many ministers who have innocently reached out to save the world and in that consuming passion lost their kids. Our greatest mission field is our homes and our family. Let’s stay focused on this most wonderful and important God-given calling.