"Mike, I think I'm pregnant," said my wife, Rachelle.
Four months into our marriage, we were settling into a routine as a new couple. We had found a small apartment and furnished it, and were learning how to manage our finances as a couple. We had discovered how wonderful marriage is and how much we loved it. Now God was giving us a new gift: he was allowing us to raise a family.
Suddenly, all of our talk about having children and raising a family moved from the purely theoretical to a vivid reality, and we felt a sense of joyous awe at the tremendous responsibility of bringing a new life into this world. We were humbled by this blessing God gave us, and as we prayed over our tiny child, we came to understand, in a very new and personal way, the verse that says: "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord."
No matter how much talk, prayer, and study goes into anticipating parenthood, I think that the excitement is also mixed with a small sense of trepidation. We found ourselves wondering: "What will our baby be like? Will we be good parents? Will we have all the answers?"
One of the things that has given us confidence in this next stage of life is the path our parents have walked before us.
I am a homeschool graduate. When my parents began homeschooling me in 1983 we were the only homeschool family in our county in western New York. The school superintendent had no idea what to do with us. I was educated at home all the way through high school. My wife is also a homeschool graduate. When I look at what we have been given, both academically and spiritually, I am overwhelmed by God's grace.
The trailblazing generation of homeschool parents have done great things. You are not perfect, but you never claimed perfection. What you have is heart - commitment to God and to your family. It is my generation's responsibility to take what we have been given and to pass that on to our own families.
What have we homeschooled kids been given? Most meaningful to me, my parents gave us commitment to each other. They have more than a stable marriage; they love one another. Last year at Christmas we were giving gifts as we usually do and I noticed that the highlight of the morning for all of us kids was to watch mom and dad give their gifts to each other. There is something so comforting for a child, no matter what age, to see love celebrated between his parents.
My mother gave me a love of knowledge and of books. Mom has three wall-to-wall bookshelves in her home and now I wonder why I don't have enough space for my own books in my apartment. My dad gave me a strong work ethic, through his example and companionship. Dad built his own sales company from the ground up, and he did more than put food on the table. He let us work with him. Now I look forward to seeing my own son or daughter carrying tools around with me while I work on a project.
Our parents, by homeschooling us, gave us involvement. Whether it was our education, our interests, our friends, or our faith, my parents were a part of it. I believe that this is what makes homeschooling more than a passing fad. This will be the element that motivates us homeschool graduates to go out and take an active role in the lives of our children - we have experienced first-hand the benefit of our parent's involvement.
Rachelle and I pray, more than anything else, that our baby will love Jesus. Our parents did not merely pass on the Faith of our Fathers; they introduced us to Christ Himself. I always knew that my parent's faith was real. For years, Dad has been the first one up in the home and spends time in Scripture. I cannot count the number of times I have walked into a room to find my mom bowed in silent prayer. Now we pray that our child will develop a rich faith of his own.
Give your children your confidence. Tell your children, like my parents did, that they can accomplish anything they want in life. When I got married, I gained another set of wonderful parents who have encouraged me and trusted me with their daughter, even when I did not think I deserved their encouragement. Children live up to the life goals you give them.
We now understand the motivation that compelled our parents to defy cultural norms when we were children. Our hope is to pass on the legacy that our parents gave us - the courage to live for God and respect for our fellow man. As we anticipate our baby's birth, I know that I will be a better parent because of the model my parents gave me. And I realize that the legacy does not end; I must take it up, and pass it on to my children.
I can hardly wait to meet my baby and get started.