Can You Imagine This Happening to Your Family?!

Johansson Family Hopeful After Favorable Court Ruling—You Can Help!

In a major breakthrough, a Swedish district court ruled in June that the parental rights of Annie and Christer Johansson would not be terminated. Many of you have closely followed the tragic story of the Johansson family and have diligently responded to our previous calls for action. Thank you for advocating on behalf of the family! The recent court ruling is a victory, and we are hopeful that the court’s decision is the beginning of the end of the nightmare for this family.

Christer recently expressed his gratitude for all the support his family has received.

“I don’t think we’d be here today if it weren’t for the support of many thousands of people through their emails, telephone calls and letters,” he said. “We know many people have been paying attention to this, and we are so grateful for their constant and consistent support. We want to say thank you to all of our supporters!”

This ruling dealt exclusively with whether or not the Johansson’s parental rights would be terminated and could pave the way for the restoration of the family. In a 23-page detailed opinion, the court stated it could not ignore the unanimous and extensive testimony of firsthand accounts of friends, family and others that Dominic Johansson was being properly cared for by his parents prior to Swedish authorities seizing him on June 26, 2009. Testimony after testimony affirmed it would be best for Domenic to be reunited with his parents, including expert testimony provided by psychologist and Professor Trevor Archer. Archer stated that for Domenic’s health and well-being, it would be best that he be returned to his parents’ care right away.

The Johansson family previously filed a request in December 2011 with the family court overseeing the social services case to ask for review of the order that put Dominic into foster care. Swedish law requires that such motions be acted on within four months, but it has been well beyond that time frame without any action by the court or the social workers in the case. It is our hope that this new ruling will cause the family court to readdress Christer and Annie’s request. Noted human rights attorney Ruby Harrold-Claesson who is representing the couple has asked the court for the immediate return of Domenic to his parents.

“Based on the information in this verdict, there can be no justification for keeping this family apart,” Harrold-Claesson said.

The recent court case also brought to light Domenic’s medical records, which indicate he has had health issues since being placed in foster care. I cannot imagine the confusion and heartache that this now 10-year-old boy has gone through, nor the frustration and helplessness that Christer and Annie have suffered during the three-year separation from their only son. Please continue to pray earnestly that the family will be reunited soon and for their strength and endurance.

Now is also the time to contact the Gotland social services authorities on the family’s behalf and call on them to do the right thing—return Domenic to his parents now! Please visit the link below for email addresses for the social workers and the head of the social board and take a few moments to email on behalf of the Johansson’s today.

Send an email to Gotland social services authorities

*Taken from HSLDA’s International News Around the Globe Vol II/Summer 2012

Homeschool Co-op Lessons

Okay. So I started a co-op this week – my two homeschooled children and I. I have to admit I had a great deal of anxiety going into this new endeavor. All of the contact I had had with the board members of the co-op leading up to this first week of classes led me to feel overwhelmed, unprepared, unqualified, and just plain anxious. I knew that being a part of this co-op was what God wanted me and my kids to do – never doubted it. But what a huge life change for us! My kids had no idea about due dates, doing things in a certain order, keeping pretty notebooks, and lots of other things that seem to be so very important to so many in the co-op.
I was signed up to teach 2 high school writing classes. Now, I have written since – well, ever since I can remember. But I’ve never actually taught a writing class per se. I’ve taught writing as a part of an English class that included literature and grammar, but never just writing. Oh, and I was informed that I would have to pick a text, write a course description and have a syllabus ready over the summer. A couple of weeks before co-op officially started, my kids began getting assignments emailed for them to have completed before the official first day of class. Yikes! I didn’t even really have a clue what I was going to teach and here were other teachers who not only knew what they were going to teach, but they knew exactly what day it would be – and quite possibly before classes even started.
I rolled up my sleeves and composed a letter to send to parents and future students that I thought might get me off the hook a little. I started it with the idea that writing just isn’t like math and science, and so my class would be by it’s very nature a little looser. And because I didn’t know anything about my students’ writing skills, we would deal with problems as they arose. Not to mention the fact that I had 9th through 12th graders in class together. . .
Well, I thought that might appease everyone involved. Basically, what I was saying was that I didn’t know what I was doing and I might not know what I was doing several months down the road. I was able to include a list of some different things we would be attempting to write (which was quite substantial, I might add). No, we’re not planning to write a novel – but just about everything else.
I elicited advice from my newly graduated son (who’s headed to college next week). Should I do the fun, fiction writing first and leave the possibly boring essays and research paper for later in the year or get the blah stuff out of the way first and end on a lighter note? He suggested doing the nonfiction first and leaving the fun stuff for later in the year. Actually, I’m hoping that all of it can be fun.
Oh well, I can truly say that I had a great time with my first 2 writing classes, and I hope my students did too. My goal for this first year is to encourage my students to view writing as something that can be an enjoyable way to express themselves; and that they will feel confident with their writing skills no matter what situation they find themselves – whether it be in college, a career, or in another high school class.
I’m just waiting for the mom to come to me and ask exactly when we will be composing a Shakespearean sonnet and how many outside sources her child will need to cite for the research paper. I may have to answer her in all honesty that I have doubled up on my anti-anxiety medication and that maybe she should think about doing the same. Do you think I might not get invited back to the co-op next year? I really do hope that they do ask me to come back, because I truly do like teaching kids to write. I just think it needs to be fun.

Do Not Throw Away Your Confidence

Hebrews 10:35-36 says, “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”  Have you thrown away the confidence you once had for homeschooling?  Have you been told that your children would be better off in school with professionals who have been trained to teach?  Have you been thinking that your children are missing out on what other kids are getting in school that you can’t offer them at home? Let me assure you that you’re not alone.  We all have our moments of questioning whether we’re really doing the will of God.  None of us is exempt from Satan’s attacks.  He doesn’t like it when we are confident in doing what is right and good.

Let me also assure you that confidence is not tied to a feeling.  We don’t have to feel confident to be confident. There are many times that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am doing exactly what God wants me to do, but I might be feeling anything but confident.  There have been plenty of times that my level of confidence has more closely resembled a plate of soggy, cold spaghetti rather than a tall, strong oak.  And it is just as likely that I will feel this way with other homeschool parents as with non-homeschoolers.  The past few years I have battled with fibromyalgia, and there are days that I can hardly drag myself out of bed much less perform exciting science projects and guide my children through the complexities of English grammar.  Believe it or not, there are days that my kids just have to muddle through and fend for themselves almost entirely on their own.  Those are days that I don’t feel confident at all.

The good news is that our confidence does not need to be in ourselves and our human abilities (or lack thereof).  Our confidence rests on our all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present God.  Our job is to keep our focus on His will and to persevere in doing His will.  Scripture reminds us that if we do not throw away our confidence we will be rewarded.  We can be confident in a God who keeps His promises.  We don’t have to second-guess our decisions.  We don’t have to question whether we are able to give our children what they need.  God is able.  Our confidence is in Him. Ephesians 3:20 reminds us that “God is able to do far more than we could ever ask for or imagine. He does everything by his power that is working in us.”

Oh, Yes, You Can!

Have you ever said to yourself – or anyone else, for that matter – that you could never homeschool? Okay, so there are a few of you skeptics out there. I’m not going to try to persuade you to homeschool, but I would like to examine some of the reasons parents give for not homeschooling. First of all, let me dispel some of the myths about homeschoolers.

  1. Homeschoolers are crazy. This is simply not true. Many of us are extremely sane – at times.
  2. Homeschoolers don’t have social skills. Not true. We have parties and outings quite frequently, but not so frequently that it cuts into school time.
  3. Homeschoolers are just trying to be smarter than everyone else. What’s wrong with that?
  4. Homeschoolers spend a lot of money on all their books and supplies. As long as we have a public library and internet access we’re good to go.
  5. Homeschool parents need to know everything. No way, Jose! Teacher’s books have all the answers.
  6. Homeschoolers have shorter school days than everyone else. Oops, that one’s true.

Take the following quiz to see if you could be a successful homeschooling parent. Answer each item with True or False.

  1. I have at least one child.
  2. I can stay awake for at least 3 hours.
  3. I have taught (or am teaching) my child how to do something new.
  4. I love my child.
  5. I want the best for my child.
  6. I am responsible for my child.
  7. I enjoy torture. Oops, sorry. That belonged on one of my other quizzes.

If you answered True to any of these statements (except #7), you’re ready to homeschool. Still not convinced? Believe it or not, you’ve been homeschooling since the day your child was born. Some of you even started teaching before your child was born – thanks to those headphones that fit around a pregnant belly. All parents teach their children (some of us teach them not-so-good stuff, but we’re teaching all the same). Just think about a few of the things parents teach their children: how to brush teeth, how to go potty, how to tie shoelaces, how to button and snap, how to ride a bike, how to whistle. . . See what I mean?

Teaching your child how to read and write; how to add, subtract, multiply and divide; what the difference between a noun and a verb is; how to read a bar graph; why a spider is not an insect, etc. . . is not that different than the other things I mentioned. So, let’s cut to the chase. I know that there are those of you who are thinking that you can’t afford to quit your job and teach your child. In the time that you are sitting with your child in the evening doing homework, you could actually be teaching them yourself instead of reteaching what the teacher taught that day in class. You say, but what would I do with my children during the day? Are you really sending your children to school because you need a babysitter? Aren’t children important enough to make a few sacrifices, rearrange a schedule, be inconvenienced, compromise, be creative while they’re still living at home and you still have them in your care? Homeschooling isn’t easy, but neither is being a parent.

A Bump in the Road

My family has hit a bump in the road in our homeschooling adventure. Unfortunately, I have been having health problems and I cannot count on having the energy to “do school” everyday. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia about 6 months ago. I have good days and not-so-good days. On not-so-good days I am unable to do much of anything at all. The kids are able to keep up with the subjects that they do on the computer, but what we miss most is our reading together time. I end up feeling guilty about that and the dirty laundry that piles up, the dishes stacked in the sink, and supper not being ready when my husband comes in from work. Invariably, I feel as if I need to explain myself and make sure that no one thinks I’m just being lazy.

I have thought about placing my homeschool kids into public school – but that thought passes by very quickly. I know that is not the best option for us right now. I have had to revisit our reasons for choosing to homeschool in the first place. I love the flexibility that we have. I like that my kids can work at their own pace. I love teaching my children. After much frustration and prayer, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I simply can’t do everything I want to do.

I decided to research some other options and I’ve chosen an online homeschooling program for my 7th grader. He will be be completing all of his school work on the computer. I will be here to answer questions and to give guidance, but much of the teaching responsibility will be off my shoulders. My 3rd grader has already been working on an online program that I’ve been very pleased with. I can still teach all of my children the really important life lessons – even on my “not-so-good” days.

We all pass through trying times and different seasons of life. Well, this is one of those times for me and my family. I must admit that it has not been easy for me to accept that I cannot be Supermom. But I do serve a Super God, and He is ultimately in charge of everything concerning me and my family. I hold tight to Proverbs 3:5-6 which says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.”

Working Mom

When my husband and I got married, I was in my 3rd year of teaching and he was in his 4th year as an engineer for a local manufacturer.  We weren’t rich by any stretch of the imagination, but we had plenty.  We have said more than once since that time that we wish we would have put more money into savings for the future.  Instead of saving, we ate out at least twice a week. I bought pretty much whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it.

My husband began to see signs of trouble in his company and when he was offered a position in a company on the other side of the state, he just couldn’t let it pass by.  We had just found out that we were expecting our first child and we had only been in our new house for 6 months.  We put our house on the market, packed up, and moved.  I did not have any doubts about finding a teaching position.  Teachers could find work anywhere.

Well, I didn’t find a position right away.  When I was finally offered a position (sight unseen), it was at a public junior high  school in a very tough part of town.  When my husband inquired with his coworkers about this particular school, they all agreed that they would never have their wives working there.  It was too dangerous.  So, I began looking at private schools.

I was called in for an interview with the headmaster at a Christian private school.  My tummy had grown quite a bit by that point and it was obvious that I was expecting.  The headmaster asked what I planned to do when the baby was born.  I told him that I intended to put the baby in daycare and continue on with my career.  That didn’t seem to sit well with the headmaster.  Before I left his office, I knew where he stood on the topic of working mothers of young children.  I don’t think he ever had any intention of hiring me once he realized I was expecting.

Before our son was born, I did take a long-term substitute teaching position, and I was actually needed longer than I was able to stay.  Times were tough with buying a higher priced home and having a baby to care for on one income.  But, you know what?  We did it.  We never lacked anything we needed.  We learned to cut some corners and live more frugally.  We even used cloth diapers to save money.  By the time I could have gone back to work, we had already realized that I didn’t have to work.  I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving my baby boy with someone else all day long.

That was over 16 years ago and I’ve been a stay-at-home mom ever since.  It’s the best career I could have ever had.  If I had it to do over again, I would major in home economics instead of English.  That would have been more practical; however, I do use my English teacher knowledge a lot in homeschooling.

I might get back to my career after my children leave home, but something tells me that I’ll probably have other interests by then.