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How Homeschooling Saved My Son's Life
By Kirsten Strawn - October 14, 2009

The new school year began again with our routine; rushing to class in the morning, juggling homework with after-school activities, team sports, and working. Fondly, I remember a few years ago when I sensed God telling me to stop the rat race to begin a new adventure. At the time, I never fully understood why obeying God would be so important.

I never considered homeschooling in a million years. In fact, as a new Christian I questioned, who in their right mind would do such a thing? But one day I had a “God appointment” with a woman who homeschooled her five kids. She gave me a new perspective on homeschooling. She explained that it could protect my children from the agenda of some teachers who teach contrary to the Bible. It would also give me an opportunity to slow down, enjoy my children, pray in the morning and read God’s word together. She added that I could teach and train my children in the ways of the Lord as the Bible instructs and use curriculum with godly principles.

After researching curriculum and attending a homeschool conference, I started the school year with my fourth and second grade daughters, my five-year-old son, and my three-year-old at home with me. We began our morning on bended knees around the coffee table in the family room to pray and read a devotional together. Each day, my daughters were eager to learn. They beamed with joy, even with the constant distractions of their younger brother.

Connor, my five-year-old, had started throwing tantrums on the floor like he was reverting back to the terrible twos. When I took him to see the nurse practitioner, he was diagnosed as anemic. She recommended I feed him iron-fortified foods over the next two months, but I struggled to get Connor to eat anything, let alone leafy, green vegetables.

Connor, my five-year-old, had started throwing tantrums on the floor like he was reverting back to the terrible twos

Two weeks later with Connor at home, I noticed bruises from playing soccer that clung to his little body longer than usual. I also recognized tiny red broken blood vessels under his eyes where he rubbed. One morning after Connor fell asleep in the car, I felt something was terribly wrong. I called the doctor immediately.

At the doctor's office, our family pediatrician evaluated all the symptoms. He thought Connor might be fighting an infection, but as a precaution he sent us to Children’s Hospital for blood tests to rule out the possibility of leukemia. With the children loaded in my minivan we drove away from the doctor's office. I pleaded with God. Not my son. Please don’t let Connor have leukemia.

I pleaded with God. Not my son. Please don’t let Connor have leukemia.

Then I remembered Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane when He knew He was going to the cross to pay for the sins of the world. He cried out to His heavenly Father to take His cup of suffering, but then surrendered to His Father's will (Matthew 26:38). Jesus' prayer was aligned with what God the Father wanted, not His own desires. Fully human while here on earth, Jesus understood God had a plan to save His people, those who would put their faith in Him and accept his sacrifice on their behalf. Jesus knew there was a greater purpose in His suffering.

With my hands on the steering wheel, I realized I needed to let go of my own selfish desires and plans. I prayed, using Jesus' example. Lord please don’t allow Connor to have leukemia, yet not my will be done, but Thy will be done.

I surrendered my son as Abraham had surrendered his son Isaac in Genesis 22 knowing God’s power. God wanted to see my heart and devotion to Him above all else. I clung to the promise that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 I trusted that God had a plan in whatever happened to Connor, because I knew He loved me as well as my son.

Connor was diagnosed with A.M.L., a form of leukemia. At the hospital, a pastor named Pam gave me the verse in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” A different woman had given me this exact same verse just one month earlier when I requested prayer for my marriage. Receiving the same scripture twice in one month made me realize God had a purpose through my suffering. He wanted to use my struggles for good, to comfort others and to be glorified.

He wanted to use my struggles for good, to comfort others and to be glorified.

With Connor in the hospital, I felt torn trying to meet the demands of teaching my daughters. I cried out for God’s direction of whether to put the girls back in public school or continue to teach them. I wanted to be sensitive not to reject them, yet to continue homeschooling seemed overwhelming. God answered my prayer when my daughters begged me to return to public school to be with their friends.

Confused I cried out, “Why Lord would you put homeschooling on my heart and then allow my son to have leukemia two weeks later?”

In His still quiet voice, I sensed God tell me that I may not have seen Connor’s symptoms if he had been in kindergarten at the public school. By listening, obeying and surrendering to God’s will I witnessed a miracle through Connor's cancer treatment. I saw the hand of God as He led us through the battle for His glory.

By listening, obeying and surrendering to God’s will I witnessed a miracle through Connor's cancer treatment.

Over the years, God has given me “divine appointments” to comfort and encourage others who are struggling with cancer. Being involved in the Cancer Care Ministry at the Rock Church gives me opportunities to minister to other mothers who have children with cancer.

Ten years after Connor’s leukemia diagnosis, I begin another year rushing out the door to get kids to school. I still treasure the memories of two short weeks, when I slowed down to homeschool. I never had the opportunity to homeschool again, but God showed me that I can be a light in the public school. Often at school functions, I share Connor’s story of God's faithfulness to those who need the hope of Jesus.