Educational Philosophy, Home Education

Time Will Tell: A Reminder to Take the Long View

August 30, 2017 by Brandy Vencel

I share this story as a reminder to all of us, including me: what we see now is not that all that is, nor is it all that will be. I think we know this, but Today is often discouraging when you are homeschooling. This thing, it went wrong today. Woe is me and all that.

Two years ago, A-Age-Twelve was doing AmblesideOnline Year 5. One of the books assigned for that year is Oliver Twist. It was an absolute joy to read Oliver Twist with my oldest child. This probably set my expectations too high; I was disappointed when she didn’t seem to connect with it.

I am not one to drop books, so we continued, despite the apparent lack of connection. Or perhaps I should say lack of apparent connection? Doesn’t matter — I kept reading and she kept listening and narrating.

She struggled with the book. It was slow going. We were only about two-thirds of the way through by the end of the school year. I asked her if she wanted to continue over the summer, she said no, and that was that.

I tried not to make a big deal out of it. Not all books will get the same responses from all children. It’s okay, I told myself.

But it turns out something was happening. It was just underneath the surface, where I couldn’t see it.

And life is like that sometimes.

I was thinking about this verse last week:

But the Lord said unto Samuel, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”

Some use this verse to say that men should never look at the surface — aren’t we just horrible, judging those books by their covers all the time?

But really, that’s not the point. It’s more a statement of reality: man looks at the outward appearance because that is all he can see. It’s not good or bad; it is what it is. We must be humble and realize that we can only see externals. We can know people deeply and see not just their clothes but their actions and words, but still we are only seeing externals. Sure, some of these things are good indicators of internal heart conditions, but the point remains that we don’t really know what is going on inside other people.

Do you see this photo?

Don't be discouraged: homeschooling requires patience and taking a longer view of things.

I found my copy of Oliver Twist this way yesterday morning, and so I snapped a quick picture.

You know what is significant about this?

I brought this book out of my boxes when I pulled books for Q-Age-Ten to do AO Year 5. A-Age-Twelve quickly cornered me and asked me if she could read it. I said yes, as long as it was done by Christmas. Daughter Q. would need it beginning in Term 2.

She grabbed the book and ran out of the room.

She devoured that book. It only took her about a week to read it. She pestered me with questions about it when she was done. She continues to bring it up, and the book is still out in my living room (see photo) because she is still picking it up and flipping through it to re-read certain parts.

It feels like a tiny miracle.

Here I was, feeling sorry for myself that my ten-year-old didn’t appreciate Dickens. It seems so silly now that she’s grown into a twelve-year-old who volunteers to read it in her spare time.

I didn’t give the relationship any time to germinate; I wasn’t patient enough before making my judgments.

In homeschooling, we’re often initiating relationships. We’re not finalizing them. We don’t get to say what takes and what doesn’t, nor dictate the timeline. We’re growing persons, not programming computers.

I think the important thing to remember is that things are not always what they seem. We can continue to be faithful in spite of our children’s responses. And who knows? In time, we just might be surprised.

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16 Comments

  • Reply SS #28: Education is a Life | Scholé Sisters December 14, 2018 at 10:06 am

    […] Time Will Tell: A Reminder to Take the Long View […]

  • Reply Mary September 10, 2017 at 6:34 pm

    We’re initiating, not finalizing, relationships. I love this, and I need to remember it. Sometimes a seed we plant may not sprout until our children are even well into their high school years — or we may not even see it sprout, but at least we lovingly planted it. 🙂

    Great post.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel September 11, 2017 at 2:41 pm

      Aw, thank you, Mary! That means a lot, coming from you. ♥

      And I love that thought: “lovingly planted.”

  • Reply Kristin G September 9, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    Thank you for sharing this, Brandy. You just made it into my commonplace today ? :
    “In homeschooling, we’re often initiating relationships. We’re not finalizing them. We don’t get to say what takes and what doesn’t, nor dictate the timeline. We’re growing persons, not programming computers.”

  • Reply Andrea C September 7, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    Wow, I love so many Afterthoughts posts but I think this one is my absolute FAVORITE. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Reply Crystin September 6, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    God’s timing is amazing. I typed something similar to your last paragraph in my newsletter this morning….although, you said it better. 😉 Such a lovely reminder, and such a glimpse into your heart for homeschooling. <3

  • Reply Laura September 2, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    Brandy, I absolutely love this post. It’s so encouraging. Thank you so much. 🙂

  • Reply Rebecca September 1, 2017 at 9:52 am

    Brandy, I think I might want to blame hormones for this, but as I read this I found myself tearing up. (You might want to blame the fact that I’m an ENFP…so there’s that.) Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply Mama Rachael August 31, 2017 at 7:03 pm

    These reminders are needed. When we with littles are in the midst of diapers or contest of wills (when one is in the midst of tiny rage and I must hold firm) or even the child who just doesn’t get why he needs to ______ (name just about anything) hearing these stories is encouraging. And being reminded to take the time to consider where this child has come from and how he has progressed… I need that when the day has been full of struggle.

    Remembering that He is faithful, even when we aren’t (2 Tim 2:13)

  • Reply Ann-Marie August 31, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    Oh my goodness, Brandy!
    I so needed to see this today. You do not even know what’s been going on inside of my poor, overwhelmed, homeschool momma mind today :/ Let’s just say it’s not been the best of days for me, but, it was so Providential that I saw your post filled with so many blessings 🙂 Thank you so very much for the hope filled post just when I needed to read it. I just need to say that I am really missing CMBC too…sniff, sniff! Take care and have a great long weekend!

  • Reply Leslie August 31, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    Thanks you for this timely reminder. I think as we all begin a new school year, and are starting new books, this is an important thing to consider. It is such a joy and a wonder to watch our children’s thoughts and ideas grow as they grow. Your blog is always such an encouragement. By coincidence, my son started Olive Twist last week. So far, it hasn’t been his favorite, but I’m not concerned, because their relationship is just beginning to form.

  • Reply Judy August 31, 2017 at 7:59 am

    Funny how God orchestrates things, I was just now trying to read and have my ds-yr 4, narrate. It was going nowhere fast. Even with me reading only a paragraph at a time, he was struggling to connect. I stopped altogether and asked him to just sit there and do nothing for a bit; I needed to get myself under control. I turned to the computer and there was this writing from you, or perhaps God???

    So Poor Richard is not working very well for my young one, we will just keep on keeping on, going slowly with this one, trusting God to make all the connections He in His infinite wisdom always accomplishes.

    Thanks Brandy for allowing God to speak to me through His wisdom He as imparted on you. Many blessings!!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 31, 2017 at 11:00 am

      A divine appointment! I’m sending up a quick prayer for you, Judy. Hang in there! ♥

  • Reply Hayley August 31, 2017 at 7:20 am

    This took my breath away, Brandy… for more reasons than one.

  • Reply Virginia Lee Rogers August 30, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    “Initiating relationships, not finalizing them.” Thank you, that was a reminder I needed this week.

  • Reply Anna August 30, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    Love this reminder, Brandy! ❤

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