Our story is simple. Our lives collide in grace with one another on a daily basis, as the ordinary becomes the extraordinary when life is viewed in light of the finished work of Jesus Christ.
Our world changed one summer when we began our home education journey. This was a decision born out of a simple desire to produce a family that loves to spend time together and learn more about what it is to love God with all our hearts. Naively, we plunged into the waters of home education without an inkling of the depth or brevity of the task. Treading water, we began. Slowly, our strokes became stronger and firmer and we began to have a rhythm of learning at home that suited our family. Five children, several re-locations, family missions trips, umpteen field trips, Awana, serving together, learning games and preparing meals together, it became impossible to separate where schooling stops and life begins.
Beginning our home education journey comes complete with all the right terminology. It began as home schooling, then the terms that flooded our world as we learned how to define our journey. Home schooling, unschooling, scheduled, eclectic, workbook style – the words flurried around while we settled in our heart and in our home what defined our family.
Kevin and I were both unsettled on how we wanted our family to look like and so we literally devoured books that taught us how to be parents, how to be married, how to set up our home, and how to do pretty much anything you wanted to buy a book about. These books encouraged, inspired, discouraged, and confused us as we bounced jauntily on the rocky path that we would make our family trek on.
Learning to discern the Lord’s sweet, still, small voice we gleaned from each book and endeavored to build the values and qualities that made up “The Bays.” The values we wanted to instill were simple: each heart to be captivated by the love of the Lord Jesus Christ and what He has done for us and to bless others corporately as a family and individually because of that love He had shown for us.
Some simple things we forged in our home over the years included the building of traditions including family dinners with devotions and discussion. Now, our goal is every night for devotions and we probably make it to twice a week average. So, if you PLAN to have devotions 12 nights a week, you may end up with a 5 night a week average!
The biggest thing I learned about family is that we all have our own dynamic. Embrace the dynamic the Lord is cultivating into your family and express it regularly to your children. After devotions, we would end in prayer and Kevin would ask the kids the question, “What is our family mission?” The kids would all answer, “to be a blessing.” We could still do this and they would remember our family mission from our younger family days.
Over the years, our family evolved from parenting five young children, to being parents of budding teenagers, to being “almost grandparents.” Through it all we have learned one vital thing: He will faithfully supply all our needs according to His riches and glory.
We chose the route of home education and it served our family to build a rich intrinsic family dynamic that is uniquely ours. Watching our family work as a team when we set up the house for events or to welcome new neighbors into our community is a reward of a value we sought to instill in their hearts, “to be a blessing”.
The road was rocky at times and tear-filled on occasion, yet we are confident the Lord had His hand on every aspect of our lives as we sought to make His glory known through our dysfunctional little family of seven. He uses broken things to make His beauty known. The most beautiful people I know are ones He has gathered in His loving embrace and filled the gaps with His person. The bigger the gaps in who WE are means more of HIM in us.
In the beginning era of bringing our kids home for their education, we soon realized the magnitude of the task. I was working full-time to care for the kids, be their teacher, driver, tutor, mom, and supporting wife to Kevin. It was daunting and many days were physically exhausting and lonely. Downtown, I would be rewarded for my efforts at the grocery store with penetrating questions that would criticize and question the validity of home education. Questions like: “What about socialization?” “Who tests them?” “What makes you think you are qualified to teach?” “Don’t you think you are putting them in a greenhouse?” “You have HOW many kids?”
The culture and society of northern British Columbia had yet to see the benefits of choice in the arena of education and many of the homeschooling parents were fielding many of the same questions.
About the third year into homeschooling, a handful of moms joined together to pray and to support one another. We had different needs from moms that were at work or sent their children to school; we formed a Home Education resource group. As president of this group for a number of years, it was my privilege to come alongside some families and assure them of the value of their choice when it seemed there was a lot of opposition to the choice they had made. We forged through these pioneer days together and became confident in how to address questions, supported one another, put out a newsletter, and started a lending library. This was a huge means of grace in my life as a young homeschool mom. The other HUGE means of grace was my supportive husband who loved having us learning at home and worked hard to make our lives as comfortable as possible.
Our family chose home education to cultivate the emotional, spiritual, physical, social, and academic areas of our lives. It has been the most rewarding journey we have ever been on with our children and afforded us many wonderful perks that include off season holidays, meals shared and chatted over, celebration of victories in academics, and immediate insight into issues of the heart that make our family who we are.
What I have seen is that as parents, we have the richest privilege to speak into our kids lives and be part of the fabric of who they become by our involvement in their lives regardless of our schooling choice. Ours happened to be home education.
Our homeschooling journey of close to twenty years has been of building a family who loves the Lord, serves together, prays together, laughs together and ultimately lives to glorify the One who made it all possible. It is by His strength that we kept our heads above water and I am eternally thankful for the privilege of teaching all five of our children at home to branch out into very different careers and lives.
We look back over the years and are so thankful for our journey. Today we have a daughter, Mikayla who graduated from TWU with distinction with her Honors BA English and went on to SFU to attain her Bachelor of Education. We have Jenna who is an Esthetician at a renowned spa and reached platinum level in record time. Zachary is a business student at a local university and an entrepreneurial thinker and strong leader. Alexandria is preparing to attend TWU and major in Theatre and English, and Meghan is preparing to embark in her own journey of working with animals.
All of them were given the wonderful gift of being able to hone their specific love and gifts by being at home. For this we are eternally grateful for the opportunity to bring our academics home, to be grafted into our communities, to open our home as a place to learn more about Him, to serve faithfully where the Lord directs and to be part of the community of Christ on a global scale. The common thread in our family is a passionate love for the Lord and for family. Our story is simply one of gratitude to a God who makes all things possible.