Every fall we buy new pencils. We divvy them out evenly among all the children. Some of my kids even go to the trouble of labeling them with colored duct tape or a permanent marker. Invariably, however, the battles begin. “Where are my pencils?” “So-and-so took my pencil!”

Last year I thought I had it all figured out. I bought four colors of pencils—one color for each child. Yet, complaints continued to rise up. “I don’t have any sharp pencils!” “My pencil broke when I was sharpening it!”

We tried all kinds of sharpeners. First we got the cheap, twist-to-sharpen sharpener. Unfortunately, many of the pencils came out lopsided, with lead only visible on part of the tip. That was not acceptable. No, we needed quality for our homeschool!

We purchased an electric sharpener. It was so fun to use! It made such a great noise! It also happened to eat all of the pencils. Nope. Not going to work.

We found a hand-crank wall sharpener. The pencils came out sharp, but the lead slipped out the end. Ugh!

I started to wonder, Is it just our family? Does anyone else have these problems? Then this year, after eleven years of homeschooling, we found the answer!

This year, we purchased four solid brass, hand-held pencil “bullet” sharpeners that are German made: one for each child. We could not find them at the convenience store, the drug store, or even the office supply store. We ordered them online for about $6 each. They arrived in the mailbox. We marked each sharpener with a different color of nail polish.

Guess what? These sharpeners work! We had no more battles about pencils. Until . . .

A few months later, another argument arose about pencils. And that’s when I realized: The problem was not the pencils. In fact, the problem was not the sharpeners either.

The real issue was my kids’ hearts.

As James 4:1–2 says, “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.”

My kids were struggling with the age-old battle: I want what you have, and you are not giving it to me! Translation: my kids are selfish!

This is a problem that the perfect pencil will not solve.

So I had a choice. Was I going to continue to put a Band-Aid on the situation by fixing the outward problem, or was I going to address my kids’ hearts?

As homeschool moms, this is an opportunity we have every day. It seems there is not a day (or hour) that goes by when there is not someone who must give up what he wants in order to promote peace in my home. (Many times, that person is yours truly.) By God’s grace, He has allowed my husband and I to home educate our children. That gives me endless opportunities to address their character. If I don’t do it, who will?

I must be the one to allow my schedule to be interrupted to teach my kids how to love one another. I am bound to be the one to show my kids what it means to run to Christ in their struggle with selfishness. I desire to teach them what it means to repent and forgive. Even if it’s as silly as a pencil war, God has put me here, at this moment, to point these children to Christ.

If you are still reading this, chances are He has done the same in your family. Will you ask Christ now to help you address the hearts of your children rather than focusing on outward behavior?

 

Amy Myers and her husband, Tony, began homeschooling in 2002 while serving on the mission field. Now in the twelfth year of this experiment, Amy is thankful that the Lord led her family down the homeschooling path. They currently have two middle school and two high school students, and they make their home in Columbia, SC, where they continue to serve in full-time ministry.

This article was published in the May/June 2015 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine.

Amy Myers and her husband, Tony, began homeschooling in 2002 while serving on the mission field. Now in the twelfth year of this experiment, Amy is thankful that the Lord led her family down the homeschooling path. They currently have two middle school and two high school students, and they make their home in Columbia, SC, where they continue to serve in full-time ministry.