Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Book Review - Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit

Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit


Teri Maxwell

Category: Nonfiction: Parenting & Families; Faith; Homeschooling

Synopsis: Homeschooling mother of eight, Teri Maxwell, shares how to homeschool children with a meek and quiet spirit.

Date finished: 5 July 2013

Rating: ****

I’ve been following the Maxwell family for years now. Theirs was one of the first blogs I discovered, and I’ve enjoyed seeing their family grow. I love their intense faith, and their witness has been instrumental in the deepening of my own faith.

Now, what you must know about the Maxwells is that they are a very conservative evangelical Christian family. They are literal-Bible, “the earth was created in six days 6,000 years ago,” Christians. They are “children are a gift from God” and we’ll take all the blessings he’ll give us Christians. They are “Jesus is God” and “memorize the Bible” Christians. They are fire and brimstone, “nonbelievers go to hell,” Christians. They are “the husband is the ruler of the family” and the wife is his help meet (the husband is not hers!) Christians. They can make you very uncomfortable or encourage your spirituality, depending on the state of your heart. I don’t agree with many of their doctrinal arguments. I believe in a loving God, not a punishing one. I believe in the equality of the genders because I know God as Father/Mother. I don’t have a dog in the race when it comes to the questions of the age of the earth or life after death. And yet, I’m drawn to their strong faith.

All that by way of saying, when you pick up their books, know what you’re getting into and take what you read with a grain of salt.

I picked this book up because I’d always been intrigued by Teri’s insights into mothering and homeschooling, even though I don’t have school-age children or homeschool. Also, I’ve begun teaching a Sunday School class consisting of one willful high-energy student who’s new to church and faith. And he happens to by my grandson. Teaching children in your family is always harder than teaching stranger’s children. I began to see behavioral issues pop up in Sunday School that weren’t present in the time we spent together before and after class. And I knew disappointment and strong admonishment on my part weren’t going to foster the best environment for sharing his heart and opening his life to faith. In short, I began to think I needed a meek and quiet spirit.

A meek and quiet spirit, however, does not mean that the children rule the mother/teacher. Mom is still in charge, she still disciplines when it’s needed, she just rules with kindness rather than desperation, frustration, and anger. Teri shares practical advice such as the use of schedules and if/then infraction and discipline guides as well as Bible verses that helped her regain her meek and quiet spirit while dealing with difficult situations. She also emphasizes the need for quiet Bible study and prayer time.

This is not a book about homeschooling. There’s no talk of curriculum or state testing or homeschooling being better than public schooling. This is not a book about admonishing moms. At the same time, it doesn’t coddle moms. (She’s of the “your free time begins when your kids are grown” camp.) It does offer encouragement and the promise that through prayer, a mom can change her heart, soften her spirit, and bless her family.

She also addresses depression as a mother who spent 15 years in its grip. This was helpful to me. She writes, “The more my thoughts are on the Lord, the more I am able to love my family with a meek and quiet spirit. When negative emotions come over me, it is usually because I am thinking about myself.” (page 108) While this can be read as one of those “look happy, be happy, don’t think about it” statements, I think if you put the emphasis on the first sentence, rather than the second, you’ll get to the heart of healing.

All in all, this slim book was a refreshing encourager to “run the race without weariness,” whether in Sunday School or homeschool.

Would you recommend this to a friend?
This book would appeal to a very narrow audience, but could be adapted by most Christian mothers.

You might also enjoy:
The Duggars: 20 and Counting!: Raising One of America’sLargest Families—How They Do It and A Love That Multiplies: An Up-Close View of How They Make it Work by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar             

Check out their web store for other titles for the Christian family.

(image from the Maxwell's Titus2 website)

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