"Does It WORK?!?"


by Barbara Edtl Shelton


Susan Hitchcock


with gems from

Rosann Evans and Marsha Wolfe


      I receive many questions about various aspects of my message. One of the "biggies" is "But does it work?!?"  The following letter took the prize (had I given one) for covering many concerns in one email and expressing oneself quite eloquently! Do you identify with this precious homeschool mom?


Dear Barb,


Thank you for your website.  I've been on it every day for a week, and I've read almost everything...
O.K., how do I know your program and suggestions are really going to work?  We've been homeschooling for several years. I have purchased and read many books on homeschooling.  I'm still floundering!  I change things every year. I have tried to mimic the examples/ideals set up in the numerous books I've read only to end up disillusioned and frustrated. My kids are unhappy and dislike homeschooling. We've become a very unhappy family. Negative, critical attitudes plague us. My children are not learning the way I want them to learn. (I understand what you mean by "true education."  You have put my feelings into words.)  They do not enjoy learning nor do they have a desire to want to learn. I 'm failing my kids!  I feel I could write a book titled How I Failed at Homeschooling!
I need some concrete answers and directions. I don't want to give up. I understand your viewpoint, but how do I do it? Time is running out. We told our two oldest children we would homeschool them up to high school (something I know you don't agree with). They're just putting up with homeschooling until then. I'm worried they won't be equipped. This year is their 7th grade. I want to renew their minds and our relationship, too.  We have 3 other younger children. I don't want to fail them, too.
All of the articles I've read on your website are great reading, but how do I put the ideas into practice? What guarantee is there, after purchasing and reading your books, that your ideas will work?




The first thing I want to say is that there's really not anything that "works" or "doesn't work."  It's a matter of you becoming aware of what God wants you to, (i.e. what *true education* is, biblical principles for raising children, etc.), and then you applying what you learn to your own family. Mostly God will start changing your vision and understanding, and that will have no choice but to start changing the things in your life, how you deal with your children, how you deal with how they deal with each other, how you do "school," and most specifically for this article: how you define "success."  Here's what one homeschooling mom, Rosann Evans, had to say about that very thing:


        "We need to redefine "success".  I spoke at last year's Florida (FPEA) homeschool convention on that topic and got an amazing response from people who didn't think to look outside the "norms" for their definition of success. We need to see success from the eyes of eternity; from the eyes of service in this world ~ whether our children serve as tradesmen, skilled surgeons, ministers in the traditional sense, pilots, missionaries, nurturers, scientists, authors, etc., etc. ~ the focus is to minister in the area the Lord directs. Therein lies true happiness and success. People are hungry for validation. They want to know they're on the right track. Let's help them redefine "success" so they can pursue with joy and excitement the track the Lord prepares for them. ...  I have a passion to encourage people to redefine success because I feel that, even "homeschoolers" put one another in a box. So many of us still judge success by the world's standards instead of the Lord's. ... Also, I've learned that success to one child  may not look like success for another child ~ or even success for one of my other children. The Lord has been faithful in keeping us from falling into the trap of comparing our lives and our children to others and I just love to free others from that."


What you see as "success" depends completely on what goals you direct yourself (and children) toward.  I love what Albert Einstein said: "Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." If we see "success" as merely getting good grades or being accepted at a prestigious college, I personally think that we need some "vision adjusting."  We are preparing our children for LIFE!  Not just grades, scholarships, or college!


To help you adjust the focus of your goals, I'm going to share a letter from a homeschool mom who had the above questions, and who shared her process of getting answers to them from the Lord.  I could share until I was blue in the face, but nothing I could say would be richer than what Susan Hitchcock shares right here ~ in blue!  I have left all her punctuation and all-caps just as she wrote them (a woman after my own heart!) because it will help you "hear her heart" just as she expressed it!  (And I that saying "she's bursting at the seams" is putting it mildly!)  I put the scriptures in burgundy just for clarity.


(From Susan:) I have been feeling very stressed and anxious about schooling the boys. It seems difficult to figure out how to juggle the home educating needs of six young boys, make the meals, do the laundry, clean the house, LOVE MY HUSBAND, nurture my children, be a thoughtful friend and sister and daughter, etc. I struggle so much with thoughts that I'm unable to give them everything they need. We've had some very tense moments lately. I felt so hopeless on Tuesday.  I just WEPT before the Lord!!!!!  I locked myself in the bathroom and CRIED AND CRIED AND CRIED!!!!!!  Well, the Lord heard my cries for help!!!!!!  "The Lord also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble" "For Thou, O Lord, hast not forsaken those who seek Thee."  "...He does not FORGET the cry of the afflicted." "Answer me, O Lord, for Thy lovingkindness is good; according to the greatness of Thy compassion, turn to me." Praise the Lord!!!!!
Anyway, when I awoke on Wednesday morning, I felt led to Isaiah.  Isaiah always seems to revive my spirit!!!!!  I just love that book! 

Isaiah 54:11-17; starting with verse 11:
"O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted, Behold, I will set your stones in antimony, And your foundations I will lay in sapphires." ~  That was DEFINITELY ME!!!!  Afflicted, storm-tossed and NOT COMFORTED!  

"I will set your stones in antimony." Antimony is a crude metal that is used as an ingredient in concave mirrors, giving them a finer texture.  In bells, it renders the sound more clear; it renders tin more hard, white and sonorous, and gives to printing types more firmness and smoothness. (From Webster's 1828 dictionary.)  It was as if the Lord was saying He will take my CRUDENESS ~ my unpreparedness, my immaturity, my inabilities, my roughness and my harshness ~ and RENDER me beautiful and refined.

Verse 12:
"Moreover, I will make your battlements of rubies, And your gates of crystal, And your entire wall of precious stones."  Verse 13: "And all your sons will be taught of the LORD; And the well-being of your sons will be great." -  I couldn't believe this VERSE!!!!!!!!!!! Now maybe the fact that I have SIX SONS created an even GREATER IMPRESSION... BUT THE LORD WAS SPEAKING LOUDLY TO ME!!!!!!  My boys ~ Nicholas, Nathaniel, Andrew, Jonathan, Daniel and Stephen ~ WOULD BE TAUGHT BY THE LORD HIMSELF!!!!!  And NOTHING would be lacking!!!!!!  They wouldn't be destitute of an excellent education....they wouldn't starve mentally; they wouldn't be FAILURES!!!!! Because the Lord of all creation  ~ THE GOD OF HEAVEN AND EARTH ~ would TEACH MY BOYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  You can't believe what a comfort this was to me!!!!! What a relief!!!!  What JOY!!!!!  This was the verse that would FREE ME TO ENTER THIS LIFESTYLE OF LEARNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!  To light fires in my boys!!!!!!!  To set me on a path where I don't SECOND-GUESS everything *BUT* I TRUST IN THE LORD MY GOD TO BE THEIR PERFECT TEACHER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Verse 14:
"In righteousness you will be established; You will be far from oppression, for you will not fear; And from terror, for it will not come near you." - Oh, what comfort!!!!!!!!  "SEEK FIRST HIS KINGDOM AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS and ALL THESE THINGS SHALL BE ADDED TO YOU"!!!!!  I would be established in Him. I would be FIXED ON HIM!!!!!  My face would be SET TOWARDS THE HEAVENLY KINGDOM!!!!!!  And HIS promise is that I would be FAR FROM OPPRESSION!!!!!  Those feelings that I'm not doing enough!  Those feelings that they aren't learning it FAST ENOUGH!  Those feelings that I'm failing!!!!!!!  NO, PRAISE GOD, I WOULD BE FAR FROM OPPRESSION!!!!!  And FAR FROM FEAR!!!!!  So they didn't get the math concept this year; well, I will be faithful and patient, and IN GOD'S TIMING, THEY WILL GET IT because he promised that THEIR WELL-BEING WOULD BE GREAT!!!!!!!!  


Does a great well-being include knowing Math?????  If it does, then GOD WILL DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh, Hallelujah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I feel like bursting out crying as I'm typing this because God is SOOOOOO, SOOOOOO, SOOOOO FAITHFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Verse 15:
"If anyone fiercely assails you it will not be from Me. Whoever assails you will fall because of you.  Behold, I Myself have created the smith who blows the fire of coals and brings out a weapon for its work; And I have created the destroyer to ruin." 

"No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their vindication is from Me, declares the LORD." 

Then I went to Isaiah 48:18: 
"If only you had paid attention to My commandments! Then your well-being would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea." - What is HIS COMMANDMENT?  What is the GOAL OF OUR EDUCATION???  Cindy Rushton, in Time For Tea, quotes 1 Timothy 1:5  "But the goal of our instruction is LOVE from a pure heart, and a good conscience and a sincere faith"  LOVE IS THE COMMANDMENT!!!! To love my children is the HIGHEST COMMANDMENT for EDUCATING THEM!!!!!! Oh, I've been SO BLIND!!!!!!!  


If my children KNOW EVERYTHING THERE IS TO KNOW, if they can play classical music on the piano, if they can win art awards and identify beautiful paintings.  ...  IT MATTERS NOT IF THEY HAVE FORGOTTEN THE MOST IMPORTANT COMMANDMENT!!!!!!!!!!  I have tried to build a house with a weak foundation. They have some 'outward' signs of education but that which will support the 'LOVE OF LEARNING PROCESS' is very shaky!!!!!!
Finally, Isaiah 66:12-13:
"For thus says the Lord, "Behold, I extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream: And you shall be nursed, you shall be carried on the hip and fondled on the knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem."

The bottom line is God wants to give me PEACE!!!!!  He wants our home to be a place of peace!  If it's not going smoothly then what do I do???  I MUST go to the ONE who has promised to TEACH MY BOYS and cry out for His peace and strength and wisdom!!!!!!  And He will give it!!!!!!!!



(Back to Barb now:)  "All the above" will make no sense to you until and unless you allow the Lord to speak to your heart!  You can't get this revelation from anyone else second-hand!  You have to "Seek the Lord with all your heart!"  Susan's story can only urge you to seek the One who is willing and able to do the very same work in you, but you must seek...  and knock...  and ask yourself!    :-)   


Where and how to begin?  Well, this is precisely what my "season of re-education and renewing of the mind" is all about.  Did you think it was more "studious"?  More "academic"?  Dry?  ...  Nope!  Susan has captured in words the "heart and soul" of what this season is about!  In fact, the reason I chose the waterfall background (isn't it lovely?!) is because of how refreshing her heart and words are!  It is evident that Susan is drinking from the Fountain of Living Water!  The River of Life!


I suggest you continue reading everything available here at my website, even things that you don't necessarily think apply to you ~ it may very well be that it really does, but in a way you didn't expect.  If, half-way into an article, you find it really doesn't apply, then feel free to move on; but at least give it a chance because it may be the very thing you need. 

If, after you've exhausted the material here at my website (which is going to take some time), you feel you connect with my message, then start with putting yourself through the "Season of Re-education and Renewing of the Mind" that I suggest.  Or just let the Lord lead you personally!  There's nothing "magical" or "official" or "right" or "best" about what I suggest!  It's exactly that!  And only that:  What I, Barb Shelton, suggest!  Don't buy another stitch of curriculum until after you do this. 


If you need to get your kids going on something else, that's what my "jumpstart plans" are for. There's one in the very beginning of Form+U+la if you have high schoolers, and then for children age 12 and under I have a whole book called the "Homeschool Jumpstart Navigator for Younger Children." (See the "Resources for Parents with Children Age 12 and Under" section of my online catalog.) 


The overriding "theme" of our family is redeemed.  That means "to take something of little or no value and exchange it for something of great value." God has done this in just about every area of my life!  Including my marriage!  And my ideas about education!  So do not be ashamed or embarrassed if you, too, are in need of God's "redeeming" in your life!  It's the joy and privilege of being a Christian!!!  In fact, it's the only place to be where the Lord can start to have His way in you!  So let God have His way!  Surrender!  You have nothing to lose and everything ~ oh so much ~ to gain!!!


So back to the original question:  "Does It Work?"  Susan already answered it thoroughly and eloquently, not to mention enthusiastically.  And now to sum it up, here's what another homeschooling Mom, Marsha Wolfe, shared with me:  "I think I must be weird. I do not fret over the future of my children as to whether they will go to college or not. I don't have energy now to spend on it. If college is in their future, then God will make sure we have covered what we need. With strong godly character they can do anything they set their hearts and minds to do. Success is defined individually."


If that's "weird," Marsha, then Susan and Rosann and I are right there with you!*





Susan Hitchcock is the wife of Dennis,

and the homeschooling mom of, as she says, "six SUPER boys"!

They live in Wisconsin in a log home. Our sweet cyber-friendship started

out with her asking me some questions about my "season of re-education

and renewing of the mind" and blossomed from there! I'm so grateful

God brought her into my ~ and now your ~ life!




Rosann Evans is the mom of 9 children,

and they have been homeschooling for 11 years! They

live in Leesburg, Florida.  Here's another

little "gem" from her:

"I have a passion to encourage people to redefine success

because I feel that, even "homeschoolers" put one another in a box.

So many of us still judge success by the world's standards instead of

the Lord's. Makes me sort of crazy. <G> (Of course, I

don't have far to go.)"




One more quick 'n' fun thing!

When I asked Marsha for permission to use her

above comments in this article, she, of course had to read it first. 

And this is what she had to say about what Susan wrote:

"Susan's comments were so uplifting.  It puts me in mind of

the picture of an eagle when it's settled in a thermal;

flying yet resting at the same moment."

Isn't that a lovely and very accurate

way to put it?!?!




(*Speaking of "weird,"

you might want to read this article!)





I got the background at:


and the house at:

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