Tim and Stephanie Irwin have been married for 15 years and are currently homeschooling their four children in the Peoria area. They are actively involved in Bethany Baptist Church, American Heritage Girls and Trail Life.
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Join James and Arkasia Cox, this month's family spotlight. James is the PAACH board president, and they have been homeschooling for 17 years.
Greetings PAACH homeschoolers. I hope your family is doing well and has found your groove for this school year. I also hope you have found other like-minded families to be in community with. Even though I have spoken about community in previous articles, I want to dig a little deeper into our need for community. This article will address three questions: Why do I need community? What are the benefits to my family homeschool? How can I get more involved?
In the beginning, God created man in His image and then said, “it’s not good for man to be alone.” (Gen 1:26, 2:18) Part of the theology of the Trinity is that God has always existed in community; three persons in perfect relationship. We have a relational God who has created us for relationship as well. We are meant to thrive in marriage, in family, and in community. He even gave us the ten commandments to teach us how to relate to Him and others, how to live in community. Jesus summed them up in two commands: Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus also set an example for us by gathering around himself a small community, not only because they needed Him, but also because He needed them. Paul wrote several of his epistles from prison expressing his desire to be in community and appreciating those who brought community to him. The author of Hebrews also emphasized the importance of community when he warned believers not to forsake gathering together. (Heb 10:25) God’s Word is full of examples and commands regarding community, so it must be a priority for us.
For starters, this same passage in Hebrews says that community is an opportunity to “stir up one another to love and good works” and to “encourage one another.” (Heb 10:24-25) We all need encouragement and stirring up on a regular basis. Homeschooling is difficult (Can I get an amen?), but as the proverb goes, “many hands make light work.” Solomon wrote that “two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.” (Eccl 4:9-10) Another great benefit of community is that you get to learn more in a shorter time when you are pooling your successes and failures. You learn more together with others than by yourself because you are learning from one another’s experiences. Your children also get more diverse experiences and socialization. These benefits can be summed up in this: you and your family will be served in community. On the flip side of this, you and your family will also have opportunity to serve others. Jesus set the example for us to serve others when He washed the disciples’ feet and told them to serve each other and serve others. (John 13)
Look for opportunities to gather with other homeschoolers. PAACH has tried to plan an event once a month to get together with others in the Peoria area. Also, join a co-op, a choir, a debate club, or robotics club that meets regularly. If you get to the stage where you are ready to get involved in serving, PAACH has several volunteer opportunities available. Most of our events are dependent on volunteer service and offer benefits or scholarships to all who volunteer their time. We also have open positions on our Convention Committee. And if you are an experienced homeschooling couple who have a passion for serving the homeschool community, you may want to consider joining the PAACH Board. These are all ways to get involved in building up the homeschool community. There is also the opportunity to financially support PAACH by donating on the website. These donations help us to pay for some of these events so we can offer them for free or at a low cost. However you choose to be involved, your support and involvement is vital to building the homeschool community.
As always, the PAACH board desires to help and support you throughout your homeschooling journey. We also want to see you become a part of a growing community that enables your family to thrive. We pray that your family learns together, grows together with others in community, and glorifies Christ in everything you do.
James Cox PAACH President
Meet the Kellys! Bryan and Kim have seven children and live in Mendota, where Bryan is pastor of a small local church.
Greetings Peoria area homeschoolers. Summer is here and it is burning hot. I hope your family is enjoying some exciting summer activities. One of the big summer activities at our house is reading. Reading is great way to learn and enjoy new experiences without leaving the house. It’s also a good way to stretch your mind, explore theology, and shape your worldview. I am currently reading an excellent book entitled Brave by Faith written by Alistair Begg. Trust me, you will want to put this at the top of your must-read list for this summer. Through this book, I have been reminded that times of crisis reveal the truth about us and challenged to rethink what it means to walk out my faith in today’s world. I want to offer a few of my thoughts and invite you to consider getting this book. I also want to encourage you to read books together as a family.
Over the last year and a half, I believe the church has been facing a crisis. It seems that “the covid” has exposed several major weaknesses in our American churches. What weaknesses am I referring to? I am talking about an unpreparedness and perhaps even an unwillingness to love others above ourselves. I am talking about the fear that seems to have become the primary motivator for so much of our decision making. I am talking about the widespread lack of faith in the sovereign God who rules over and sustains the entire universe. I realize that I am generalizing and that this may not describe your church. This crisis has also been an opportunity for spiritual growth. I have watched several church leaders rise to the occasion and take stands that have been costly. I have even sat with my own pastor and listened to him reason that the need for Christian community is greater than the risk of getting sick (which I whole-heartedly agree with). Alistair Begg asks this question: “Is there anything I would die for?” What a great question. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his book Life Together (also worth reading), believes that true Christian community is worth dying for.
Another thing I have been challenged on is what it means to live a Christian life in today’s world. Alistair states that we live in a post-Christian time and the evidence is quite overwhelming. He suggests that Daniel is a great example of a believer living in a pagan society while following God’s command in Jeremiah 29:7 to “…seek the welfare of the city in which I have sent you into exile…” Perhaps we should be reading Micah 6:8 with our children and discussing how we can “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly” in our current circumstances. After all, we are charged with raising our children to walk with God and stand for Him through adversity, which happens to be growing rapidly. If we want our children to be servants of the Most High God and effective Kingdom builders, then we must lead the way and be godly men and women who walk out our faith. How can we do that? Well, you could start by making prayer a consistent daily habit. For Daniel, the key was going to his room and praying “as he had always done.” Want more? Get the book.
Finally, I want to encourage family reading time. My wife likes to read a book aloud to our family on a regular basis. Recently, we have read through Uncle Tom’s Cabin and The Hiding Place. These fantastic books stimulated some good questions and great discussions about issues like slavery, prejudice, evil, suffering, and more. Other books we have read through together include The Chronicles of Narnia series, Little House on the Prairie books, and The Castle in the Attic. This is an excellent way to learn together as a family. There are so many good classics, take some time to adventure or experience history together.
The PAACH board desires to help and support you. We hope that your summer is filled with fun learning activities and memory-making experiences. We pray that your family learns together, grows together with others in community, and glorifies Christ in everything you do.
Hello, I’m Lucas Rassi, the son of Andrew and Sandy Rassi. A few things about myself: I love the outdoors, singing, spending time with friends, and food. I’ve been a part of Peoria Cooperative Academy since 7th grade and it’s been a great experience.
I’m currently enrolled at ICC and plan to go to school there for another year and then transfer to the University of Illinois College of Engineering for computer science. I’m very thankful for my family, and the friends and teachers I’ve been blessed by God to have throughout high school, who helped me grow into the person I am now. Mathew 25:40, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”
Kinsley is planning to attend Olivet Nazarene University this fall and majoring in communications. She has been homeschooled the past 10 years and in her free time she loves coffee shops, being with family and hanging out with friends. We are so proud of you Kinsley and excited to see all the Lord has planned for you.
Daniel Kelly graduated on June 6, 2021 and is looking forward to full-time work at a manufacturing company in Mendota. He’s worked there part-time for the past 2 years learning valuable trade skills like welding and heavy machinery operation. In his spare time, which he’ll now have much more of being assignment free, he likes knife-making, 3D computer modeling, and hanging out with Dad, Mom and his 6 brothers and sisters.
Meet the Brocketts! TJ and Nicole are unschooling their 4 kids after trying several different area public schools. Hear them talk about their homeschooling journey.
This month our PAACH family spotlight is the Unsicker family. Marie and Gary Unsicker have 7 children, and have been homeschooling since 1998... here's their story.
Greetings Peoria Area Homeschoolers. I’m sure you have heard by now that APACHE is no more and PAACH has been born. What better time for an organization to have new life breathed into it and be reborn than in the Spring. I hope you all experienced joy and hope growing your faith as you celebrated Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. Our family enjoyed a Passover meal and some encouraging fellowship with another family from our church. Our Holy Week experience is different every year and this year was the most encouraging we have ever had. This month I want to encourage you to look for new ways to encourage your kids’ individual gifts through your family experiences.
For those of you who missed the conference, PAACH is returning to our roots by refocusing on family discipleship. However, we are also looking for fresh new ways to serve the homeschool community towards family discipleship. Sometimes we get used to an idea and because of our familiarity, we end up putting that idea in a box that limits our effectiveness. Too often we limit and even stifle our creativity and get caught up in routine which create “ruts” in our lives. I believe we have a creative God that takes joy in watching us be creative. I believe this because of my own experiences of joy while watching my kids be creative, especially my 5-year-old with her extremely active imagination. I’ve heard it said that we all have a creative muscle with the potential to grow the more we use it. Randy Stinson, in his book Trained in the Fear of God, points out that King Solomon modeled a pattern for all good teachers in the book of Proverbs. Solomon not only obeyed the words of God, but he also reformulated the teaching of these words in new and memorable ways while illustrating the joys of obedience and the anguish that results from disobedience. We would also be wise to follow this pattern of teaching. Take a few minutes and ask yourself how you might apply a little more creativity to teaching and training of your children. Have a discussion or brainstorming with your spouse and even your kids (that’s right, tap into their young creative minds too). Keep in mind that you will need to adapt as your kids grow up.
The most important and rewarding benefit of homeschooling is spending time building relationships with each of your children. I hope you have begun to demolish the idea of “cookie-cutter kids” in your minds; and instead you are tailoring each child’s learning towards encouraging the unique gifts that God has given them. We get to teach them from a Christian worldview without the many negative worldly influences that saturate the public schools. The best part is that throughout the process we have the privilege of introducing our children to Christ. Remember, your job as their parents goes beyond academics. You are preparing them for the life God has for them. This means they need to know how to handle in a Godly way the adversities they will face, the failures that they will experience, and the successes they will enjoy. Much of this they will learn by watching you walk out your Christian faith. I know, I know… the very idea of this can make the hairs on the back of your neck bristle. Don’t worry, we have help. God has given us community in the church and with other believing homeschoolers. More importantly, God has given us the promise that His Holy Spirit will be our helper and given us the wisdom and patience we need whenever we ask.
PAACH is here to do our part by providing a safe and encouraging community to help you along your journey. One of the ways we are doing that is by posting a short Facebook live video each week called “The Tiller.” Like a tiller tosses the soil to stir up nutrients, we are hoping to stir up ideas and start helpful discussions where we can share some of our creativity with each other…and maybe even stir up some excitement within your heart as you love and train your children up into a relationship with Jesus Christ. We pray God’s blessings on your homes and in your families.
This month our PAACH family spotlight is the Amborski family. Steve and Cher have five kids and have been homeschooling for fifteen years. Here's a look at their experience.
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Mailing Address: PAACH | P.O. Box 5203 | Peoria, IL 61601