Those words described my thoughts and feelings when I was selected by TOS Crew to review the New International Version (NIV) of Zondervan‘s new Homeschool Mom’s Bible. I had actually been longing for this Bible since I saw it advertised back in May. REALLY longing. Hoping. Dreaming.
It’s not that I didn’t already have a Bible; I did. And it’s not that I wasn’t already opening that Bible for daily reading and listening to what God’s Word had to say to me. And it’s also not that God wasn’t meeting me there for sweet quiet times, restoration, and grace. Of course He was; He is faithful!
How often is it that a book meets needs that you didn’t know you had?
One of the challenges of the homeschool life for me is that in many ways, I can feel isolated in my work….which can be particularly difficult for an overachieving extrovert. In a regular workplace, a person can weigh her work against benchmarks that are very measurable. Did you meet the goals set by your employer? Check. Did you complete the Powerpoint for your presentation? Check. Did you get a raise for excellent performance? Check.
Homeschool success can be hard to measure. Yes, you can determine whether or not you finished everything listed on your lesson plan. Yes, you can see whether or not your children are understanding what makes a equilateral triangle different from an isosceles triangle. But…how do you measure character growth? Is your child doing enough extracurricular activities? Is she growing spiritually? How are his relationships with his peers and family members? How exactly are you going to measure success in this homeschool life you have been called to? And beyond what you can observe in your child, how are you going to measure success in your own work and life?
Zondervan’s Homeschool Mom’s Bible came along for me at just the right time. It is divided into 365 daily readings (generally of 3-5 chapters) of the Bible, accompanied by a daily devotional written by Janet Tatman. Janet is a homeschool veteran of 25+ years who serves now as a copywriter for Alpha Omega Publications’ homeschool division. She spent a large portion of the last six years at Alpha Omega writing daily email devotionals for Alpha Omega’s popular Daily Focus. The Bible’s foreword, and a loving stamp of approval, is given by Vickie Farris, homeschooling mother of 10, author and wife of HSLDA’s Michael Farris. Like all of us, Vickie knows how deeply our hearts and spirits long for and need the daily encouragement and life of God’s Word and a wise homeschooling mentor or friend. This Bible, together with Janet’s devotional writings, provides just that.
Janet’s devotionals are often (but not always) tied to the surrounding Scriptures. They speak lovingly and instructively to the heart and life issues of the homeschooling mother. At the end of the Bible, you can find a topical index of all the devotionals. You’ll see such areas covered as:
- achievement, birth order, blessings,
- character, diligence, discipline,
- God and His desires for us,
- parents, training children in faith,
- weariness, words, worship
and many others! Mostly, I have just read the devotionals as they’ve appeared in my Scripture reading, but I’ve used the topical index for several specific ones at times of my own need. Janet is able to cover a LOT of ground as she kindly yet truthfully addresses these.
I’ve learned a lot about the value of the whole counsel of God as I have read the the Homeschool Mom’s Bible. It’s so easy to stay over and over in my favorite parts of the Bible and just not make it to the parts I’m not as familiar with. I received the Bible on August 29 and started reading it immediately, first with the devotional for that day and then with the accompanying Bible chapters. In this Bible, August 29 puts you squarely in the prophetic books of the Old Testament; specifically, in Jeremiah 9. It has been a long time since I’ve been in Jeremiah (I have other favorites of the major and minor prophets, like Isaiah and Daniel). But, as Romans 11:33 says, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” I saw God’s heart for His children as I read Jeremiah (which frankly, I’ve avoided for years; as a happy extrovert, I did NOT want to read about the Weeping Prophet!) in a new way; as a Parent longing for His children’s faithfulness, obedience and love, yet as that faithful Parent, having to discipline His wayward children for their good. As I’ve moved out of Jeremiah and into the minor prophets, this theme has continued. And I see God and His character in a new way; as my son (who’s 11) grows older, our need to train and discipline him continues yet our methods are so different than the way we trained and corrected him as a preschooler and kindergartener. Yet we still have to discipline him for his good, even as God lovingly disciplined the Israelites, and us, for ours. I’m so grateful that the layout of this Bible caused me to have to spend time in these areas of the Bible. How rich it has been for me! And I’ve not only learned about myself and seen special things (including corrections) that God wanted to show me; I’ve seen God and His greatness, His tenderness, His mighty power.
As my family continues to journey through this calling of homeschooling, I am learning to look at my daily accomplishments in different ways. Those benchmarks I mentioned above, for assessing my own daily work as well as my son’s, are all important. Yes, we must faithfully teach our children the 3 R’s, and we do. But how is God going to measure my success in this calling of mine? Have I not only been faithful in teaching academics, but have I been a kind and gentle shepherd of my child’s heart? Have I faithfully corrected him? Have I lovingly listened and counseled him though his struggles? Have I just enjoyed life with this kiddo?
The Homeschool Mom’s Bible is helping me answer all these questions and more. For, at the end of the day, how I can measure my success is to define it by what God says about me and what He reveals in His Word. Haven’t we all had moments when we are reading the Bible, and suddenly before our eyes is the answer to something we’ve been struggling with, as plain as day? God is so able to bring the right word…the right encouragement….the right instruction to us at exactly the moment we need it. Using this Bible has instructed me, blessed me, guided me and encouraged me….as if I had my very own homeschool mentor, along with the Holy Spirit, here in my home with me. The combination of the Word of God with Janet’s beautifully written devotionals has been just what I needed to enable me to think according to the truth of God’s love for me, while at the same time helping me to make corrections in my own life, character and homeschool. I’m very grateful! And I can wholehearted recommend it for my homeschooling mom friends!
The Homeschool Mom’s Bible is available in both New International Version (NIV) and the King James Version (KJV). I received a hardback version with a bookcover (which I laminated for durability), which may be purchased from Zondervan for $34.99. (It’s also available from Zondervan in hot pink Italian Duo-Tone for $49.99, or turquoise/blueberry Duo-Tone for $47.99.) It’s a wonderful Bible for any homeschooling mother, regardless of her age. I’m so looking forward to making it all the way through this Bible over the next year!
Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew!