In January my sister and her husband heard an ultrasound technician announce that they would soon be the parents of twins, a boy and a girl. Tragically, their joy soon turned to anxiety and fear as the ultrasound revealed that their little boy had a severe birth defect. A defect in his diaphragm had allowed all his abdominal organs to move into his chest cavity. The initial prognosis was bleak. Their family started doing everything they could to prepare for his coming, and the rest of us started to fast and pray. My youngest daughter, Aneya, is 6 years old. When we told her we would be having a family fast for her cousin, she said she wanted to join. Our family prayed for him every day and when fast Sunday came, all of our children fasted on his behalf. After four long months of fasting and prayer, Samuel and Clare were delivered at Children’s hospital. They were good size for twins and as healthy as they could be, except for Samuel’s life threating birth defect. He was rushed to the NICU where they were able to stabilize him and prepare him for his surgery five days later.
Three weeks after his successful surgery, our children were able to visit him for the first time in the NICU. What really struck me during that visit was Aneya. She’s never been much for babies, maybe it’s being a youngest child, but they’ve never really interested her. Now she couldn’t get enough of her new cousins Clare and Samuel. She spent hours holding Clare and it was a tender moment as she gently stroked Samuel’s head and held his tiny hand in his incubator. As I reflected on the change in her attitude I realized the answer was simple - we love those we pray for.
I know that prayer is not an activity reserved for homeschoolers, but I truly feel that having the time to emphasize prayer and family is a great blessing that we often overlook. I’ve made the 5 hour trip to visit my sister and her babies three times in the last month, the freedom to end our school year a little early allowed me to do that. I have a friend who told me that the high school tried to fine her daughter for missing too many days of school when she went for a week to help her sister with a new baby. When we place more emphasis on academics than family, what are we teaching our children?
The ills of our society, from low test scores, to crime and poverty are all rooted in the weakening of families. Our prophets have told us that. Until we take the time to be with our families, to pray for them and with them, aren’t we ignoring the heeding to strengthen the family? Home schooling gives us the time to teach more than just reading, writing and arithmetic, it allows us to teach our children the lessons of the heart.