Welcome to our new monthly feature, Homeschool Moms on a Mission! We believe that ALL moms have a unique mission to serve the family that God has blessed them with, raising their children diligently with God’s wisdom and love. Homeschooling moms are also on a mission to be primary educators for their children. In this feature, we will share testimonies from mission-minded homeschool moms who have a passion to fulfill God’s great commission with and through their family — at home and around the world!
This month’s Homeschool Mom on a Mission is Nina Taylor. I have recently become acquainted the Taylors at our new church, Sapulpa Bible Church, and they really inspire me. The Taylors are homeschooling six children, and they chose to move their family to Oklahoma from California in large part because of the homeschooling freedom here. (See my previous post about Homeschooling Freedom in Oklahoma.)
The Taylors also have a heart for adoption: They have already adopted two children and would like to adopt more. Oklahoma will allow large family adoptions, which were not allowed where they lived in California. I asked Nina Taylor if she would share her family’s vision with me and explain how that vision has directed them — including where they wanted to live to raise their family.
I heard that your family made the decision to move to Oklahoma from California in large part because of the homeschool freedom that we have here. Can you tell me a little more about how you made that decision? Did your husband have a good job lined up here? Do you have family here or did you know people here?
Our choice in moving to Oklahoma was indeed partly due to homeschooling laws, but also the overall conservativeness of the state. We were once part of a Charter School in California. As we learned more about the freedom of homeschoolers in California being jeopardized by the rise in Charter Schools, we decided to go back to private, independent homeschooling. The number of private homeschoolers has slowly diminished over the years in California, due in part to the provocative amenities Charter Schools claim to provide.
We’ve known of Oklahoma’s freedom in homeschooling for some time. Our choices came down to Oklahoma or Idaho: Both have a lot of religious and homeschool freedom (well, more than California). Our choice was Oklahoma, due to the diversity of the state and location. It is equally close to the west and east coast. This makes for better field trips and family vacations for our family.
My husband had a great job in law enforcement and was paid well. We had no jobs lined up in Oklahoma. Everything was taken a step at a time. He applied for different law enforcement agencies in the OKC area. We prayed for direction throughout the process, and HE (the Lord) gave it. We had an urgency to go where a church of like minds was located. We had trouble with this in Oklahoma. The Bible belt holds many churches, but we were looking for reformed churches similar to our previous church and John MacArther’s teachings. After praying fervently for almost six months, God led us to the church, that in return led us to the Tulsa area. We called the church pastor and asked if we could meet him on our visit. He and his wife invited us to stay with them for our week in Oklahoma. What a blessing that was, because it led us to the wonderful people of Sapulpa Bible Church. Also during that week, Joseph (my husband) was hired with the Tulsa County Sheriff, but he felt God was calling him out of law enforcement. He took a job with a local bank and is currently pursuing the completion of his education.
We had no money saved and no job planned before my husband gave his two-week notice in California. God provided every dime we needed, without debt to anyone. We left with just faith in our Great Provider, a small U-Haul full of personal items, two cars, six kids, and three dogs. We have no family in Tulsa. Joseph has a couple of extended family members in Edmond, OK — none whom we see or talk with. We explain to our children that this move was and is a learning tool. It has struck down our innate ability to depend on what we see and can do. We explain that this experience is pruning us, to draw out those fruits, that can and will be used to bring glory to God.
I also heard you have plans to adopt more children. Are the laws here in Oklahoma pertaining to adopting and/or homeschooling adopted children different than in California?
From a young age, I knew I would adopt. With the full support of my husband, we became foster parents and adopted two children who were in our care. They are now our oldest children at 10 and 9 years old. We had always planned to adopt more.
Two years ago, California enacted a law prohibiting families with more than six children from adopting or fostering. By that time, we had six children. We were appalled by this, and began to search for a clause or loophole. We found an agency willing to bring us on as foster/adopt parents in Northern California, but job wise, it didn’t pan out. After researching other states laws, Oklahoma and Idaho were the two that clearly allowed us to care for and adopt the “least of these” once again. Oklahoma was our choice for homeschooling, so we were glad to hear of this.
After moving to the Tulsa area, we learned that not all counties operated and shared the same restrictions. We had in mind that we were moving originally to Norman, OK. Cleveland County DHS assured me there are no restrictions in their county. Concerning Tulsa and Creek County DHS and private agencies, there were family-size restrictions. We were devastated to hear this. We came such a long way from the inland valley of Southern California to northeast Oklahoma. Eventually after researching, I found One Church, One Child, which has no restrictions regarding adoption. We were overjoyed to hear this and are currently working toward adopting in the near future.
What has been the hardest thing about the move? Are you still glad you made the decision?
The transitioning process has got to be the hardest thing about this move. We left great relationships behind in California. I relate this experience to the early pioneers and colonials. They left family and friends for a better future for their own families. We miss our church and family dearly, and there are moments when we feel isolated and lonely. We left weekly get-togethers with friends, homeschool weekly meet-ups and field trips, great women and men of God who studied the word together weekly.
This has been a transition for the kids too. They left my parents, whom they are extremely bonded to, and moved here without seeing family and friends on a regular basis. Although we miss these things, this has been the best opportunity to teach our children about clinging to Christ when we can’t see our own path ahead. God was able to (and still is) teaching us that we need work. We were under the impression that our faith in trusting Him was fine. He strengthened the bond between our family and gave us real-life teaching tools, that not only taught our children, but us as well.
We are so glad that we didn’t lead our own way, retreat because of fear, and miss out on this blessing. We chose to follow where we could not see and trust in Him! It was important to show our children that God’s plan for them is not the same as their parents or family’s plan. He does not want us to cling to comfort, but to be uncomfortable and give our lives to Him. We wanted them to understand that we came here for the freedom to homeschool and raise them as we are led.
What does homeschooling look like at your house? Curriculum types? Co-ops? Are you part of a group? Do you stay home a lot?
Homeschooling looks like a lot of things in our house, ha ha! I make schedules but get bored sticking to them for long periods. Right now, math and language arts are done on separate days to leave room for their interests and practicing their instruments. So I would label our schooling as eclectic. I enjoy vibrant, expressive learning. So I try to incorporate that into our days.
It’s never quiet. Music is always on in our house, probably more than it should be. We watch a lot of videos, and we are homeschooling with their interests in mind. This means that math for one child could be building something specific one day, or language arts would be poetry and short story writing for another. We do all subjects, except math and language arts, together as a family. I aim to consistently incorporate the strengthening of their faith and family circle in our homeschooling. Some days I feel accomplished in that endeavor… and other days, not so much.
We use Singapore Math and Teaching Textbooks for math. We use them together, so all children from ages 10 years down to 4 years use both curriculums. Language arts right now consists of Christian Light Education. I enjoy the curriculum, but we do like to read books together, create discussions and debates over many topics, do poetry and creative writing, all as a part of our language arts curriculum. Science is up in the air: We use Apologia and many field trips. Social studies right now is the Prairie Primer, many autobiographies, and biographical and time-period movies. We also are slowly learning Spanish with Power-Glide and weekly conversation with friends. We are currently not officially a part of any co-ops. In California, we went on at least one field trip per week. My husband’s schedule allowed it. Now it doesn’t, but we hope to continue with that here in Oklahoma. Once I learn the area well, we will start making plans to visit museums and such as a family.
Is there anything that you would like to say to other parents that might be trying to make the decision to homeschool? To adopt and homeschool? Or to move somewhere that provides more freedom to do both?
If God has placed homeschooling on your heart, please go for it. It took me two years to actually pull my two school-age children out of school. I did not move when God declared it. There are always foggy areas that we can’t quite make out. We are not promised to always see the road ahead, but we will always be where God is.
Adoption is such a selfless action. There are so many fatherless children here in Oklahoma. For such a small state, the numbers are astronomical. “If not us then, who?” is a a good understanding of both adoption and homeschooling. If we, as followers of Christ, don’t care for the least of these… then who will? If we don’t raise up our children in the way they should go, then who will? I think those questions yield a lot of answers we already know, but have yet to embark upon.
Have you ever made a difficult move because God was leading your family elsewhere? Do you have a heart for adoption like the Taylor Family, and if so, what have been your greatest joys and challenges? Do you know a homeschool mom on a mission? Nominate her in the comments below!