As a homeschool family here in New Hampshire, we have the unique opportunity to educate and train our children, without much interference. As a Christian homeschool family, we have the joy of discipling our children according to our beliefs and convictions, without much interference. These two statement’s impact are not lost on me, as we needn’t look far to find cases where this is certainly not true. But here we are, a family of six- living and contributing to our community in the most free country in the world. Our little homeschool, Best Life Ever Homeschool, (BLEH) has, at its core, a philosophy that revolves around Jesus and how He interacted with people in need. Physical need, emotional need, and spiritual need- it doesn’t matter. Jesus Himself has much to say about how we are to interact in the Book of Matthew, however this part of Scripture is important:
The Sheep and the Goats
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
Matthew 25:31-45 (NIV)
Without getting into a whole Bible Study, basically the people of God are to care for others. We care for “the least of these,” because in reality, Jesus tells us in this passage that what we do for them is what we do for HIM. So we draw closer when other people run away. We go out of our way instead of looking the other way. We sacrifice, in order to serve. We do all of this with JOY, and this is a foundational purpose of our homeschool. (This is also a foundational purpose of my parenting, but alas, that is another post for another time!)
We are an eclectic homeschool, and I piece together curriculum that suits the strengths of my individual children. I have a child with significant special needs and most of us are non-neurotypical in ways that promote our love of being together and learning. So, yes. We do use curriculum. We “do school,” and probably a few too many social events during the week. (You know that lack of socialization is rough! Hahaha) We also make sure that we are purposefully serving others during the week.
We currently visit Rochester Manor regularly, which is a nursing home with a not-great reputation near us. We started visiting when our church volunteered for Sunday Service over two years ago. We have visited, brought treats, clothing, cards and flowers. We’ve had parades, done crafts, filled bird feeders, sung songs, prayed with, fed, decorated rooms for, wheeled around, laughed and cried with residents and family members. We show up for holidays- ANY holiday, to acknowledge and celebrate Veteran’s, Mother’s and Father’s Days. Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, Easter and of course, Christmas. I’ve run out late at night to buy someone underwear. I’ve snuck in a bucket of wings on SuperBowl Sunday. I’ve bought blankets, socks, coats, for humans who have nothing but the gown on their backs. Some of whom are very, very mean.I’ve had to explain to my children why we can’t go near certain residents because they might get hurt, and why residents aren’t there anymore. I look at the obituaries to see if anyone we know has died, so that I can prepare my children. Sometimes we cry about all of the loneliness, the lack of visitors, the way that life just goes on there as if (whoever) never existed at all. Loving the least of these can be hard, but it is who we are.
We are involved in many other ways to serve those in our community, but the Manor is our favorite. We gather clothes for Foster families, we donate food and clothing to area shelters and transitional living. We make delicious food for friends going through tough times. We volunteer frequently alongside our church, True Memorial Baptist in Rochester. Our church feeds hundreds of people on Thanksgiving alone, collects clothing and food for various charities, makes Operation Christmas Child boxes and much more. Our homeschool has made a habit of serving together, day in and day out, week after week. It’s not a “once-a-year” thing.
Don’t get me wrong, there is immense value in the hundreds of hours and dollars spent each Thanksgiving and Christmas in our communities to serve others. There are countless opportunities to give to people in need. Everywhere one turns, especially during Christmas, there are good people and organizations collecting, sorting, donating, showing up, and its GOOD. It helps to shoulder some of each other’s burdens, and makes us feel a little bit better about this sometimes-harsh world.
BUT, can you imagine what New Hampshire would be like if we tended to “the least of these” as a HABIT? What would your homeschool look like if you were to get involved in new ways in the community? Here are some tips to make that happen!
- Look around you. Scratch that. Have your children look around your community. Children have this ability to see the beauty when all we see are germs! Ask your kids who needs help.
- Call an organization that already helps. No need to put the pressure on by figuring out what to do all by yourselves. There are probably multiple organizations just waiting for volunteers!
- Draw closer to other humans. Slow down, talk to people. Look them in the eyes. Throw out compliments like you are the Lindt sample-giver. You know who I mean, that gal lurking right at the door to give you a little morsel of sunshine! Be like her, but with words.
- Be willing. There’s an Isaiah 6:8 reference here! “Here am I. Send me!” Have a willing heart. Jesus, the cosmos, the force, whatever you believe to be TRUE and GOOD and LOVING will make a way.
- Don’t be afraid! Fear is not TRUE and GOOD and LOVING. It sucks, actually, because it keeps us from growing.
By Amanda Weeden