This series was initially written for The Homeschool Post at the request of one of their editors when they heard our story. The Homeschool Post has since gone by the wayside, but I saved our family’s testimony fortunately. I have made a few minor corrections. Part one below was originally published on August 19, 2012.
My name is Christine Miller, and I was an imperfect homeschooling mother. My husband was an imperfect homeschooling father. Our family was not the poster family for the perfect Christian homeschooling family that you might have pictured in your head.
I’m certain that in telling this story, I’ll be reaching out and embracing the hearts of many a discouraged homeschooling mother who has similar failures and difficulties. My message to her, and to YOU, is hope in Christ. Miracles still happen today, in the most ordinary places, just like the ones that have happened in our family. I pray that you can look beyond your circumstance and see that God is on the other side of it.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Rom 5:1-5
Today, my husband and I have been married 30 years with three wonderful children, whom we homeschooled. Today our oldest daughter is 29, married, and mother of two beautiful children, ages 8 and 5 whom she homeschools. Our middle son is 27, a successful branch manager of a regional retail chain who is on his way up in his company. Our youngest daughter is 25 and newly married to a wonderful man who fulfills everything we ever prayed for in her husband. She’s establishing her own small business niche on Etsy and Ebay.
Sounds like the perfect homeschooling family, doesn’t it?
It was not always this way. It is only this way today because of God’s faithfulness in the midst of our failures.
This is our story.
My husband and I, like you, dreamed of raising children who loved God and were filled with His Spirit and with zeal. We began homeschooling in 1988, before it was legal in our state, when our oldest was ready to enter kindergarten, for many of the same reasons you probably did: we wanted to foster academic excellence for them and protect them from the blatant ungodliness of the public school system.
We had ups and downs, like any family, but thirteen years after that first foray into school at home our world came crashing down around us.
That year, our oldest daughter graduated from homeschool and started dating a young man she met at work. I remember the day she asked me if I thought he could be the one she was meant to marry.
“Honey, I can’t answer that, because we don’t know him that well yet. But he is not a believer, and so, just based on that alone, you cannot even be thinking of a future with him, because you know the Scriptures: ‘Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.’”
Three months later, she pulled her Dad and I aside privately, and confided that she had eloped with him. They had been married three weeks previously at the justice of the peace. We were shocked, stunned, and devastated. She had continued to live in our home as if nothing at all had changed! I cried rivers of tears for six months. I had been married myself for twenty years at that time, and had counseled plenty of other women. I know how hard marriage is to a believer who is trying, with the help of grace and the Spirit of God, to walk toward their family in self- sacrificial love and forgiveness!
The hardest thing for me to accept was the fact that we had just endured fifteen years of unbelievable sacrifice to give our daughter and her siblings, not only a superior education, but a solid, loving, and involved family, a firm foundation in biblical knowledge, and a church culture of life and the presence and Spirit of God — none of which I had growing up – for what? So she could be the wife of an unbeliever? It crushed me. She did not understand my grief, nor could she, at eighteen years of age.
A few years later, our second child, our son, graduated from homeschool with honors. He spent his first year out of school working to save money for college. During that year he met a beautiful homeschooled Christian girl, and in the course of time he asked her father for permission to court her. Her father enthusiastically gave his approval, and my son’s life was filled with bliss for the next month, until the day his fiancé was killed in a horrific traffic accident.
He preached a strong evangelistic message at her funeral, which was attended by the entire town. But six weeks later, a callous youth pastor, who did not have an answer to the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people,” who was exasperated with my son’s grief, trying to walk through his difficult new normal with God, told him it was high time he got over it and moved on with his life.
My son didn’t set foot in a church again. Perhaps he felt, “Hey, I did everything right, unlike my sister, and not only did God not show up and protect my betrothed, but then the church turned against me, too. Why bother?” The threads of Christian homeschool seemed to unravel in his life as he followed after the world.
Now at the same time our son was betrothed, our youngest daughter, unknown to us, was given marijuana at a church youth group event. She did not even know what it was. The girl who gave it to her was one of the popular youth group girls, who everyone looked up to and pointed to as an example of a remarkable Christian young lady. (Don’t even get me started on church youth groups.) Our daughter became hooked on drugs and went from marijuana to all the harder drugs. She became an addict to hard drugs in a very short time.
The greatest damage that was being done in my sweet youngest daughter’s life, was not the damage the drugs were doing to her body. It was the damage that the enemy was wreaking on her heart with guilt and condemnation. “Look at you, you were raised in a Christian home and know better, but in reality you are no better than any of the rest of these low-life drug addicts who come from broken homes and abuse,” he would sneer into her ear. “How can God forgive you now?”
Her craving for the drugs kept her on a cycle of using, and the shame of using drove her from home. She ran away at 16 to go live with a church youth group friend who felt better about her own sin and rebellion because she had gotten someone else to share it with her. We didn’t know where she was, or even what was going on… much less why this was happening, at first.
The crisis unfolded the same month that our son’s fiancé was killed in the traffic accident. During all this, our oldest daughter was living on her own with her husband. We were close before, but now the distance stretched between us.
Little did I know, my nightmare was just beginning…
Note from hsbapost.com: Join us next week for more of this story … a story that a LOT of homeschool mamas need to hear. Honestly, I needed to hear it. I was so very thankful that Christine shared it with me and I asked her personally to please consider sharing it with all of you. It is such a blessing to have the shoulders of giants to stand on – women who have “walked this way before” and have come out on the other side with good fruit to show for it. I thank you for this awesome legacy of faith and perseverance, Christine!
Title picture from the original series published at The Homeschool Post.
This bio appeared with the original series at hsbapost.com in 2012.
Christine was raised in the Lutheran church and was born again and baptized in the Holy Spirit at the height of the Jesus Movement in the 70s. She and her husband David have been married 30 years, and have three children, whom she homeschooled, and four grandchildren. Soon after she began homeschooling, Christine discovered classical education. She is the author of Classical Christian Homeschooling. Her search for an interesting and accurate history curriculum led her to H.A. Guerber’s 19th century narrative histories. In order to reprint these books for homeschoolers today, and to offer other original homeschooling resources, she began Nothing New Press.
David and Christine recently left Colorado where they raised their children and relocated to Florida to be with David’s family. Shortly after this move, Christine was hit in a terrible traffic accident and suffered a debilitating injury. Her recovery has taken time and effort, but she has progressed enough so that she is once again writing. Today she blogs daily at Christine’s Bible Study.