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I wake up every day and like clock-work, I see the gardener from our small, gated community, fast at work. He seems to pass by my home about a dozen times each day and each time he does, he glances inside our windows. He has a young son about the ages of my youngest two, so I feel he is constantly curious how I am possibly educating all of my children at home. He even will ask one of my children from time to time if they are “really learning?” Which follows with him instead accusing my children of “just playing around.”
It doesn’t bother me that our gardener doesn’t think that what my children do each day is learning, because I know that he is comparing my children’s daily activities to his son’s public school activities. But the joy, laughter and smiles he mistakes for “just playing around” is actually pure evidence to me that my children are truly learning and so much so, that they are enjoying it.
My growing up school days did not fit the norm. I wasn’t interested in sports or student government, I wasn’t the kind of person to join an exclusive group of friends (even though I tried, I found that I disliked it greatly). I also wasn’t the type to be the teacher’s pet or work with other struggling students because I felt I was just barely understanding things myself. For years I just thought I was an odd duck in a pond full of more graceful, naturally intelligent ducks and even some swans. Thankfully, I did find my place in school . . . I was the one who tried to find the other odd ducks and help them not feel so alone in this world.
School became more of just make it to the finish line type of experience, rather than an educational one. I honestly didn’t retain much of what I learned in my classes but I did learn enough that I did feel I could at least get a job one day and take care of myself in the most basic of ways. I wasn’t planning on getting married, nor having children, so all I needed to do was figure out how to take care of myself. That isn’t so hard. People have been doing it since the beginning of time; so I could do it too. But something school did teach me was more HOW to conform to the whole, rather than learn HOW to be myself. So after leaving High School, life became a whole new, shocking world to me. What to do now?
The idea of waking up, getting dressed, going to work, coming home, eating, bathing, sleeping and doing it all again was maddening to me. I couldn’t succumb to THAT lifestyle. My life NEEDED more, so I started searching for it. I was encouraged to attend college, even though I was afraid that college would be a repeat of High School. I quickly discovered that college was a whole new adventure that I actually enjoyed. I got to choose the classes, who would teach me and when I would be taught. I LOVED IT! But it still wasn’t enough. I wanted a purpose for living and learning all I could wouldn’t fulfill that passion I was searching for.
So I researched ways I could serve others and help the world be a better place. After looking into the Peace Corps, volunteer organizations, and charity work, I was drawn to religion. Although those other organizations were nice, their work NEVER seemed to truly meet the needs of the people. I wanted something that would take me and those I served to a finishing point, but what would that be?
Although I was a member of a religion already, I didn’t like the past I had with the people I knew from my neighborhood congregation. I decided I wanted to find something new, something that helped me feel like I belonged. I also wanted the feeling of starting with a clean slate. After looking into several different religions and not feeling “that feeling” I needed to commit, a friend-of-a-friend invited me to read the Book of Mormon.
I had taken a class while in High School that discussed the book but I hadn’t actually read it for myself. I realized that my sweet grandmother loved and cherished this book and after all she had done to help raise me, I felt it was the least that I could do to read it. That way if she ever asked me why I didn’t attend the religion of my childhood, I could honestly tell her that it “wasn’t for me.” I would also be showing her the respect that I felt she deserved. Well . . . after many hours reading this book, I was overwhelmed with feelings that I had been searching for ALL my life. In this little book that had sat on my bedroom shelf since I was a little girl, I found answers to questions I didn’t even know that I had.
This was the feeling I had been searching for. I had been searching HOW to help others (Peace Corps, Charity, etc.) and now I found an outlet. It felt GREAT to feel needed and included because no matter what the local members thought of me, I had learned that Jesus Christ was the leader of MY religion and HE wanted me to be apart of His church. This fulfilled my desire to belong somewhere and be able to help and I LOVED that feeling.
Years passed, I did get married and 4 children entered my life. As each one grew to become school age, my heart was troubled not knowing HOW to help my kids find their way. My first reaction was to do ALL I could to help them “fit in” at school. I did the homeroom mom thing, the PTA thing, the volunteer 100’s of hours a year for the school thing, the reading specialist helper thing, the private tutoring thing, the Joy School/Preschool thing but NOTHING seemed to bring my children the kind of happiness that I heard other families express about education.
What was I to do?
Each new school year brought about immense stress and panic. The kids and I dreaded school beginning because we knew that it was going to be a battle. I had been tenderly warned years earlier, through a special experience, that my kids would not fit on the bell curve of today’s educational system. Because teachers are taught to teach to the majority, and my kids would not easily be taught because they were the minority. So the teachers would not know how to teach my children. How true those words would ring true kept me awake at night more nights than I would like to count.
Sadly, my oldest child even knew this to be true and as a little 1st grader, he came home from school one day and SINCERELY asked me to homeschool him. I literally laughed in his face and said, “NO WAY! I am NOT one of THOSE moms!” His face crumpled and he walked away feeling lost and alone. I prayed someone like I was in school would reach out and help my oldest child. I just never thought that that person could ever be me.
Now, that comment could instantly come across in a negative way, as if I was attacking homeschool mothers but that wasn’t what I was meaning. I was meaning that I didn’t feel I was smart enough, talented enough, patient enough, wise enough, loving enough, creative enough, etc. to be able to be a teacher to my own child. I said no to homeschooling because I thought I was “saving” my child from me making a mess of his life. I was not trying to save myself from any work because if you looked at our crazy schedule of tutoring, homework and hours of panic and anxiety, I was DEFINITELY putting in the hours. They were just negative hours spent.
Thankfully, Heaven intervened and had a different plan for our family, one that had begun before Paul and I were even married. Right after Paul and I were engaged, he talked about living outside the United States. It was something Paul LOVED about his childhood and wanted his own children to experience. So we set a goal to accomplish this and one day Paul had a job that could make this possible. But Paul’s company wasn’t looking to move anyone to their foreign offices. So Paul and I had to find a way to make it in a foreign country with our own resources. Without the support of the company, Paul and I didn’t know how we would afford private school, let alone living expenses in an expensive country. So we considered Homeschooling as a way to make this dream FINALLY happen.
But I chickened out!
We decided to use our work bonus and enroll our kids into a private school. It IMMEDIATELY became a living nightmare. Adding this new school experience to our already painful educational experience in Utah, made it CLEAR to me that ANYTHING would be better than what my kids currently were receiving for an education. Homeschooling didn’t seem as scary anymore, nor did I feel inept. But taking that LEAP would take a miracle.
As I spent countless hours translating and then re-translating my children’s homework from Spanish to English to Spanish again, on to of hours spent re-teaching them what their homework was asking them to do, I realized that IF I were to homeschool my children, I needed a program that would not only be EASY to use, affordable and encouraging but it NEEDED to teach the truth. One of the BIGGEST red flags that I was seeing over the past few years were ideas my kids were being taught as TRUTH, rather than opinion. I wanted to put that to an end, but how?
Thankfully my mother-in-law had passed onto me a c.d. she had received about motherhood by Jenny Phillips. I had been listening to it on my drive to and from carpooling my kids to school and was so impressed by her testimony of motherhood that I wanted to share this c.d. with my friend LeAnn. As I looked up how to purchase this c.d. and send it to my friend, I just happened to see that Jenny Phillips had a NEW HOMESCHOOL CURRICULUM coming out and it was called “The Good and The Beautiful”.
Immediately I was touched. I had been listening to this mother for months, I had been touched by her inspiring style of motherhood and I had wished I could be intimate friends with her . . . and now she just happened to be putting out a homeschool curriculum? How could this be?
I opened up the curriculum examples and read her goals for her curriculum and I felt as if she was reading my mind and just putting it into words for me to read. This curriculum would be centered on our love for God and then THAT FEELING came over me. That SAME feeling I had had reading the Book of Mormon. That SAME FEELING I had had that CHANGED MY LIFE FOREVER! I realized in a flash that “school” hadn’t taught me to accept myself and learn how to be happy, THAT FEELING that came from The Book of Mormon had. If I could have one thing for my children, it was giving my children THAT FEELING, in as many forms as possible, so they could have experiences with THAT FEELING day after day after day, and slowly, gently, and lovingly learn to enjoy THAT FEELING as much as I did.
But HOW would we afford this program?
A program like this had to cost a fortune and after spending nearly $14,000 on private school for our 4 children for only 7 months, how could I ask Paul to invest in something so new and different and even terrifying to think about?
But it was easy. The program was FREE!
How could this be? The very next day I looked at the curriculum once more and saw that Jenny Phillips had launched her new homeschool curriculum. Although she had intended to charge for it, she felt PROMPTED to offer it for FREE.
I literally began to sob and sunk to my knees. I KNEW that THIS was a gift for ME and for my precious children and for the FAITH I had in THAT FEELING. I knew that the cost of the program wouldn’t be an issue anymore. All I had to do was find the courage to pull my kiddos out of their traditional form of education and take one of the BIGGEST LEAPS OF FAITH IN MY LIFE and decide to homeschool my children.
I knew I couldn’t do this on my own, so I fasted and prayed all day for the confirmation that I needed to do this. I was prompted to download Jenny’s curriculum and look it over. As I did, my heart melted into pure joy. All my fears and worries were evaporating. I couldn’t wait to start sharing this knowledge, joy, love and beauty with my children. Even my oldest son, 15 at the time, would be included because I was being prompted to have him teach my youngest child (6 at the time) to read using Jenny’s Kindergarten program.
Jenny’s program made this HUMUNGOUS LEAP OF FAITH easy because when I sat down with my family to discuss my feelings and desires with them, they ALREADY KNEW that homeschooling was the best options for us all . . . “I” had been the last to find this out.
Now it has been over 2 years and although our family has been through some major ups and downs, Jenny Phillips’ “The Good and The Beautiful” curriculum has been our one true constant in our homeschooling. It has endured frustration, opposition, disobedience, cheating (skipping assignments), laziness, and complete anarchy. I have been amazed how the other programs we use don’t have the same effect on my children as “The Good and The Beautiful” curriculum does. I realized that all the other programs lack THAT FEELING.
Here are two more testimonials to add to mine . . .
Joy Boy (age 10) says: “I like the program because I feel that I am learning the truth while sometimes having fun. I also enjoy how when I use it I feel that I am not being taught the wrong things but the right things. I enjoy her curriculum because it isn’t based on grade levels but learning levels so I can learn where I feel most comfortable. I like that she included tests so that I can go to my parent and ask for help.”
GingerSnap (age 13) says: I started Jenny Phillips by teaching it to Joy Boy. Teaching the lesson to him made it so I could understand things and they would lock into my brain. After trying other curriculums, I am now doing her program myself. I have done my own lessons for about a year. I have learned that I love to watercolor and that I am pretty good at it. I love the feeling I get when I complete one of the lessons. I also have been teaching Joy Boy and Curly Cook Meteorology. There are tons of fun experiments. I just love to learn from Jenny Phillips’ lessons.”
Wendi (Mother of 4) says: “Jenny Phillips’ curriculum has helped me to find a way to bring the Spirit of God into learning. I can feel a difference in her curriculum compared to the others that we use. One of my favorite classes I take each week is her History class. I have come to enjoy seeing the hand of God in the life of man and to learn to trust in Him and His timing. This has given me added courage to trust God in helping me raise His children and to help my children learn to trust in His plan for each of them.”
From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU JENNY PHILLIPS! You are truly a blessing in my life. You have been a lighthouse in the darkest nights of motherhood and you have been the cool breeze of hope, joy and love on the hottest days of opposition as a homeschool mother. Thank you for being my friend, my teacher, my mentor and my example of HOW motherhood can be one of the GREATEST joys of my life. For now it is! I am so excited to continue to watch how your program helps to shape and develop my children into the good and beautiful people I already know they will be.
We love you Jenny! Thank you SO MUCH!
Your grateful patron,
** As a gift from Jenny Phillips herself, here is her downloadable Book List for FREE from now until 11/11/17. We have read MANY of the books she has listed. Feel free to contact us for any additional information you may need.