Claire Pienaar in Australia - 7/23/20
I wanted to homeschool shortly after becoming a mom. I was listening to David Eells' teachings in 2011 and he was sharing a testimony of a family who’d gone through a medical trial with one of their children/birth of their children and it hit home as I had a major trial of faith with my first child’s birth. In the testimony, the family explained that they lived by faith and they homeschooled their children and I remember my spirit being lifted up, knowing that it was the right thing to do. I quickly shared my enthusiasm with my family members (both mine and my husband’s) and my excitement was quenched and I was told many things like “homeschoolers are weird”, “what about all the money we spent on university for you?”, “what about your talents?”, “what about working?”, or “you didn’t study teaching”. I put the idea aside, and continued in my editing and writing business. (James 4:17 To him therefore that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. Hebrews 10:26-27: For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more a sacrifice for sins but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fierceness of fire which shall devour the adversaries.
My life and slavish desire to work to appease relatives, to feel worthy and useful worked well while my little child napped three times a day. It continued to work while my child napped twice a day and slept through the night. It continued to work when she finally had a solid 3-hr nap midday. Then her sister was born within 19 months and I worked at getting them on the same nap schedule and my work continued unhindered. In 2013 I could be full time mama and put in 6-hour days of work for the world. In the work portion, I’d listen to UBM in the background and I had the faith that my spirit would receive what it needed to receive. I was always distracted in the other hours though – checking my phone for emails from clients, etc. It was not a restful period. It was not a joyful period. As a result, I resented my children for being the reason I could not work more.
In 2013 I went through a process of deliverance where the curse was broken from Adam all the way through to my children’s children and there were many things that changed. There were many persecutions and trials we endured, all to the glory of God. But the revelation of living completely for Christ was not yet manifest in me.
Why did I desire to work? We had debt that we wanted to squash (that’s another miraculous testimony – but in short: God is more effective than a working wife. Infinitely so). I wanted “nice” things. The Jezebel spirit was still at work in me. I was lured by the promise of greater financial gains if I put in more time. I sent my 2yr old off to a little Montessori school for 3.5hrs a day. This lasted for about a year. Midway through 2014 I sent the next little one off at about 16months for the same amount of time each day. I reasoned that they’d be home for meal times and naptimes so it was only 1 portion of play time I was “missing” so I could work. Oddly, the work paid for the play-school. If I stopped working, the playschool would stop and that would be to God’s glory. But I was not completely ready to submit to that kind of life. God was very patient with me. I was editing school textbooks, MBA dissertations, consulting new recruits in the financial and government space on how to write well in their reports and emails. I had read in the textbooks the evolutionist/Darwinian agenda that permeated all subjects in all grades and I did not want my children going to public/state schools where those textbooks were being used.
In 2014 I went through a process of seeing demonic manifestations and one even tried to persuade me to sell out to him, and worship him, as he promised to make my children and my husband well and healthy forever. I knew this was Satan and cast him out of my house, and threw all medication down the toilet. My children were miraculously healed in Jesus’ name. I knew the work was bringing a curse on my life, but I did not know how to get rid of it (these demons make you dumb to being nimble to change). Jezebel was cast out in Jesus’ name and she left, taking Ahab with her. Many other deliverances occurred. I felt like I couldn’t see real fruit in my life even though I was walking differently, and in faith. However, those dark spirits left gaping holes that were filled with the Holy Spirit, and the tiniest seed was (and had been) growing (and continues to grow) that I could not notice in the natural, but it was all happening spiritually. Sanctification is a wonderful thing. I needed to be cleaned before I could be “let loose” on my children to keep them near. It’s not like this for everyone. Some people aren’t that dirty or sullied by the world and their flesh, I guess?
In 2015 I fell pregnant with my 3rd child, and I was so ill I could not work. We managed to get the children to their little play school, without much stretching of the budget. I was realising that my work was inconsequential to God’s provision. He did not need me to provide. We started looking at education options for our children, and we quickly realised that the public schools wouldn’t work. The Christian schools, oddly, sometimes used the same textbooks. Or they were so expensive that we needed to decide if we’d ever own a home or send our children to private school. Both ideas seemed ridiculous to both Riaan and I. I suggested homeschooling again, and it stuck in our heads.
During that 3rd pregnancy I kept the children out of their preschool regularly. Their health improved as well as their behaviour. Once Daniel was born, the children never went back to school in South Africa – homeschooling happened all by God’s design. It was an intense period of transition, but it worked well.
In 2016 we moved to Australia with a 5yr old, a 3.5yr old and a 4month old in tow. We knew almost no-one, but the smattering of people we’d managed to connect with via facebook all suggested the same thing: get your children into school as soon as possible – it’s better for them to be immersed in the culture and make friends right away. We took on this advice, and placed our oldest child, Micah, into a state-school because people had said “the best school is the nearest school”. Wow. Nothing could be further from the truth. I cried non-stop for the first three days, thinking this was “normal”. Within three weeks our child came home blaspheming, but when I gently questioned her about her use of words she said, “they all praise God and Jesus all the time mommy. They all say ‘oh my God!’ and ‘Jesus!’ all the time” (bless her naïve little heart for trying to turn man’s sin into something she could recognise). And that sums up the post-Christian experience of living in the secular western world quite succinctly. There’s no way any parent can outwork or unteach 6 hours of daily exposure to the beast kingdom. Those precious tiny souls don’t stand a chance against the education system.
I was tired, as the napping and sleeping did not go well with the third child, and even though the school was literally 500m away, it seemed an impossible task to get there for the opening and closing times. Within 7 months I told Riaan, “If I have to put food into lunch boxes, worry about clean uniforms and stress about the school bell for 17 more years, there will be nothing left of me. I will lose all my joy”.
I Googled homeschooling, and came across a broad-brush-stroke-kind-of-Christian homeschooling website in Australia which advertised a conference for Christian Homeschooling Moms in 2017. It was a flight away, in another state of this still new country, and I was still breastfeeding. Riaan and I prayed and asked God if I should go and we received confirmation. I expressed as much milk as I could (Daniel was 13 months old), and off I went. And my soul rejoiced. I was blown away that there were other moms who loved the Lord, followed Jesus, believed in biblical account of creation, respected their husbands, and loved their children. It felt like a twilight zone. Other people lived like this? I wanted in! I received a flurry of information about curricula, homeschooling methods and styles, learning styles, books, etc.
I went back home, bought the books that were recommended from a Christian worldview/perspective, kept the younger two as close to me as possible and prayed for a way to get Micah out of the school as soon as possible. With many school holidays, another big move to another city an hour away and family visits, we transitioned out of the school system within 60 days. Then we moved to another state five months later (Tasmania) and we’ve been homeschooling for almost 4yrs. No social media distractions, no work distractions, no TV, no weird music creeping in. It’s been wonderful! My little boy has never known another option except this one, and he’s so “advanced” for his age – he’s 4 yrs old and can do simple maths sums, sound out the names and letters of the alphabet, etc. God is so good and as Romans 10:11 says: For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be put to shame.
Even at this point, 4 years later, I still receive (almost daily) requests for me to edit work or to start a project. The first few months it was tough to say “no”. Now, I have an automated email reply set up for that, and there’s no incentive for doing any other work than that to which God has called me. I still believe I have a gift of editing and writing and it’s used to teach my children daily.
God’s hand was over Micah (the first born of new Christians receives so much grace, I believe – as God works in the parents’ hearts he protects that precious soul from so much! Thank you Father for your goodness! 2 Cor 1:9: And he hath said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my power is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me). The Lord has helped me correct behaviour from both girls that was learned outside the home. He's also allowed me to correct my own bad behaviour learned from luke-warm upbringing and over-exposure to the sinful world. I’ve learned to get to know my treasured children, and to value them as God’s creations more than when they were in school. We are so blessed. They are sinful in and of themselves – they don’t need to be exposed to school or other children for that sin to come to the surface. Just this morning Daniel popped a blueberry in his mouth after he’d asked and I’d said no (breakfast was three minutes away from being served) – so he went round the corner and did it secretly. And then confessed, repented and said “I should have more self-control”.
I find that even when we’re laying down our lives for those we love, as Christ commanded, us homeschool moms are still attacked. Some common things include:
- Badly behaved children (sometimes sinful nature, sometimes a stubborn will and unrepentant heart Eph 2:2-4: wherein ye once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the powers of the air, of the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience; among whom we also all once lived in the lusts of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest:— but God, being rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,)
- Badly behaved moms (sometimes sinful nature, sometimes yearning for the fleshpots of Egypt if it’s a new trajectory for the family, sometimes a heart of unforgiveness)
- Lack of sleep (common in early child rearing years and in times of hormonal fluctuations. Psalm 91:13: Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: The young lion and the serpent shalt thou trample under foot.)
- Lack of direction (it’s unchartered waters and there’s as much bad so-called Christian curricula as there is secular curricula; Satan can try to frazzle a mom with different teaching methodologies, learning styles and the like. Psalm 46:10: Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.)
- Threat of competition (competing against what is expected in the traditional western model of education, competing against our own expectations for our children, competing against others. There is no competition when we’re in service to the Lord – Isaiah 40:31 but they that wait for Jehovah shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.; Gal 6:9: And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.)
- Questioning whether we’re doing it right (the enemy is good at casting doubt, casting uncertainty. Well – I cast that DOWN in Jesus’ name! James 1:6-19: But let him ask in faith, nothing doubting: for he that doubteth is like the surge of the sea driven by the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord, a doubleminded man, unstable in all his ways.)
- Questioning whether we’re doing enough (again – the enemy’s tactics)
- Consumerism and “needing that new thing” – it’s a HUGE industry and you can get sucked into buying curriculum to make your homeschool peaceful/holy/joyful because someone on YouTube has given it a glowing review, or because it works for another homeschool family (Ecc 1:9: That which hath been is that which shall be; and that which hath been done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun)
- Feeling lonely, even when we’re never really alone. Every mom knows what I am talking about! To that I say, “What a friend we have in Jesus”
I have had to come against these attacks in the spirit so often. But there’s no new thing under the sun and the enemy’s been found out, and found wanting.
In my independent reading Matthew 4 and Mark 1, I have found solace (when Jesus calls his disciples). My children’s bible discusses this portion of the gospel like this: “Do you think they went to school? Yes; and the greatest school there ever was. For they learned, or they were set to learn, that love is the greatest thing in the world; that to be humble is to be great; that to give is more blessed than to receive; that to minister to others, instead of asking for service, is the greatest and noblest mark of the Master’s disciples”.
Further along in this retelling from the children’s bible, there’s this portion about Zebedee:
“Zebedee stayed with the business. He hired men to take the place of his sons and of the other two brothers. And when his wife, Salome, the mother of James and John, after a while wanted to go with Jesus, along with the other women, Zebedee let her go, and through her he gave much money to the cause. Zebedee was surely a giver. And don’t you think that when the Lord Jesus comes in His kingdom, Zebedee will be rewarded as much as his wife and his famous sons?” – Is this not what our husbands do when they allow God to provide for us through their employment/obedience to the calling on their lives, so that the wife and children can follow joyfully after Jesus?"
The men are the heads of the homes, the headmasters of the homeschools, and the benefactors of the children’s education – both spiritually, physically and financially. It’s a beautiful way to see how the family unit is set up to glorify the kingdom. It is my hope that Riaan will be able to be with us more in the future, but I trust God’s leading in his life, and am so grateful for what he does for us through God's provision.
Suffice it to say that when I read this passage with my children this morning, I wept and could not stop. The realisation that the greatest learning does not come from the curricula but instead comes from the Word and the redemptive work of the Cross and our Saviour Jesus Christ is the most freeing during this season of challenge within the mechanical, “nuts and bolts” of my homeschool - the how-to-teach, the what-to-teach. The Holy Spirit will guide if I will only listen. Get to the bible. Get to the word. Get to all of it. More often than you think is necessary. Cultivate a culture of being led by the Holy Spirit, not by man’s suggestions or requirements.