A Patriarchal Vision for a Daughter’s Graduation
Home School Visionary Blesses Her Parents Multi-Generational Mission in Graduation Speech
Editor’s Note: The following remarkable testimony was shared by Rachel Short at her 2004 homeschool graduation ceremony.
I am truly humbled that each of you have come today, and grateful to the Lord for His mercy and grace in my life. He has given me salvation and eternal life through Jesus Christ and has changed my heart to one of gratitude and love towards Himself and my family. I am completely undeserving of the many ways in which the Lord has blessed my life, and I desire to give all honor, glory, and praise to Him alone, and to serve Him all my days.
One of the greatest blessings that the Lord has placed in my life is the gift of two wonderful, godly parents who have unconditionally loved, trained, and taught me from the scriptures with incredible patience and wisdom.
Daddy is the most faithful, godly, wise, self-sacrificing, and principled man that I know - the true leader and Biblical Patriarch in our home. He rises early in the morning to study and meditate on the Scriptures and puts into action what he learns, seeking to applying it to every area of life. I am so thankful that my Father has taken the Biblical commands regarding families seriously, and laying aside all else has made us his mission. Part of that mission was fulfilled when the Lord brought Ryan, Ruth and myself to salvation through Jesus Christ. Throughout our lives, Daddy and Mama have continually discipled, taught, and prayed for us that we might be faithful to serve the Lord.
Before Ryan was born, Daddy told Mama that he wanted us to homeschool someday. We began homeschooling a few years later, and I consider it a great privilege to have been homeschooled. Homeschooling should not be about simply academics. It is based on relationships, as parents disciple their children and train them to fear God, love His Word, and be fully equipped to serve Him. It requires that parents be with their children in order to teach them throughout the day. Daddy has always taken the time to be with us, teach us, and know our hearts. I cannot ever remember Daddy or Mama having a hobby or anything that did not involve our whole family. We have a saying in our home - “Where one goes, we all go.” It has been Daddy’s vision for our family to be together as much as possible, so that we are united in serving the Lord and others as a family. What a blessing it is to be part of a family who loves to be together!
Daddy has invested in our lives in many other ways. He has taught us to love history, and learn from it, that we might know how God has worked in our family and our nation’s past and use these lessons in the future and teach them to our children. Daddy has directed us to read true stories as much as possible instead of getting carried away with too many fictional books, and we have greatly benefited from that decision. Our house is full of good books and each of us children are now building our own libraries for our future families enjoyment. We have not only read about history but we have gotten to experience it as a family on several trips together. History comes alive when one can see where it happened and be reminded of how God has providentially worked in the lives of those who have gone before us.
I am very grateful for the time that we children enjoy with Daddy on our early morning walks. We are free to discuss anything and everything with him, learn from his wisdom and example, and simply be with him. In this day and age when many fathers reject their responsibilities as leaders in the home, and are not willing to be with their families; I rejoice to have a father who does lead us and care for us.
As I have observed Daddy, I have seen what is most important to him, and although I haven’t always understood or embraced, at first, those things that he has taught us, I obeyed him because God commands it and because of Daddy’s love for me. Now, because of the Lord’s working in my heart, I not only hold the same convictions for myself as Daddy, but I love them, rejoice in them, and trust Daddy with all my heart.
I am very thankful for Mama who exemplifies before me, the godly example of a loving, submissive, wife, and keeper at home whose heart is completely given to her Lord and her husband. She is the perfect helpmeet to Daddy, willingly supporting him in whatever plans he has for our family, and does him good all of her days. I love seeing Mama’s delight in serving her family and others. Mama is a great teacher. She’s made learning fun and interesting for us with creative ways to encourage scripture memory and fun rewards such as tea parties and making snickerdoodle cookies for a task well done. Under her direction, I have learned much about how to run a home, and I hope to continue to learn more. Mama has also taught me how to cook, sew, play the piano, and many other skills that are useful in our home. When we were little Mama would often let Ruth and me sit in her lap while she sewed and let us “help” her guide the fabric through the machine. Mama also had us help her in the kitchen, where I’m sure we made more of a mess than anything else at first! Her enthusiasm and patience encouraged us to learn, and these things have become my great delight. I am thankful for all of Mama’s many virtues and pray that I will follow in her footsteps.
Ryan is a great brother and friend, from whom I have learned much and need to learn more. He loves the truth and is always willing to take a stand for it. I am always thankful for Ryan’s protection of Ruth and myself and his kindness and leadership. Both Ryan and Ruth are my dearest and best friends. We love to talk with each other and have a lot of fun together.
All of our family loves history, but we each have certain aspects that are of particular interest to us. One of mine happens to be the War Between the States, so my very miniscule knowledge of military history is usually back in the days of muskets, cannons, and infantry. Whereas Ryan’s, as most of you know, is airplanes, tanks, battleships, and WWII in particular. Never having had a brother to share these interests with, Ryan has involved his sisters. :-) When we were younger, Ryan had a lot of WWII American HO scale soldiers that he and Daddy had collected. Somehow, Ruth ended up with some HO scale British soldiers of her own, and I ended up with the Germans! The three of us spent many happy hours building elaborate trenches in our garden complete with underground pipes so that the walkways wouldn’t be flooded. You see, it served two purposes since we could automatically water the entire garden through our web of trenches, and we found out that tomato plants make perfect trees for HO scale soldiers. We actually got so involved that I built a couple of model airplanes myself. Of course, they were German Fockewulf 190’s, and although in reality my favorite airplanes were the American P-51 and B-17, I loyally insisted that the Fockewulf could beat any airplane that Ryan’s Americans could send against it!
I am amazed at how well Ryan can identify airplanes. Sometimes when we are in the car, Ryan pulls out his thick aircraft identification books and gives us aircraft recognition quizzes, or asks “Which airplane do you think looks better?” Oftentimes that last question is in order to figure out which airplane he could carve as a gift for our next birthday.
All of Ryan’s enthusiasm for WWII history has been a great blessing to our family. We have spent many hours together with WWII veterans and have had opportunity to learn from them, witness to them, and thank them for their service on behalf of our country. And what we have learned from Ryan about WWII has enabled us to ask more intelligent and meaningful questions. Other times Ryan has gotten to share what he has learned with others through reenactment and living history presentations, and we have been privileged to get to help him. I know that I have learned a lot from these times, and gained a great deal of perspective on what it was like to go through that time in our nation’s history.
We enjoy doing many other things, such as playing our violins, piano and ocarina together. Ryan is so patient with us and with me in particular. I am thankful for his encouraging me to be consistent, to keep perspective, and to love the Lord more, and am very glad that the Lord gave me such a wonderful brother in Ryan.
Ruth is a wise, gracious, sweet, and godly sister. We are very close, and it is impossible for me to imagine what life would be like without her. We believe exactly the same things and almost don’t need to talk about anything to know what the other person is thinking. We can discuss anything together, and there are no secrets between us, except at birthdays, and those are next to impossible to hide since we are always together. I suppose it is because we do everything together that our identities are often confused. So much so, that Ruth and I will often answer to either name. We have occasionally confused matters further by switching name tags to see if anyone notices, or given a questioning look when somebody actually gets our names right! Ruth is almost like a second mother to me, but neither of us appreciated it when on two separate occasions, complete strangers asked us if Ruth was my mother! Mama liked that one even less than we did. :)
Ruth and I have so much fun with each other! We play duets on the violin, piano, and ocarina and love to sew and cook together. We share just about everything we own, excluding our collection of books, and often tease that when the first one of us gets married, we will have to spend more time dividing our property than preparing for the wedding!
Ruth has taught me many things and is very patient and forgiving with me. The frustrations of certain aspects of my schoolwork would have been multiplied greatly had it not been for Ruth’s patient and clear explanations. I have always looked up to her, valued her wise counsel, and tried to imitate her ways. She points me to the Lord and to His word and challenges me to live for Christ. I could not ask for or imagine any better sister and friend.
Many other people have influenced my life, and I am very grateful for each one of them. Mrs. Hamby gave us violin lessons for many years, and I am very thankful for the labor of love that she put into blessing us with the ability to play the violin. Mam-ma (Mama’s mother) and many other ladies, particularly in our church, have been wonderful examples to me of godly womanhood. I thank the Lord also for the good teaching, sweet fellowship, and godly example of the families in our church.
By God’s grace, I have completed the requirements for graduation that Daddy and Mama have set before me, and I look forward with great joy to what the Lord has in store for me, as I continue seeking to be a faithful daughter and keeper at home and Lord willing, someday also a wife and mother.
The Bible clearly states what young women are to learn. In Titus chapter 2, young women are instructed to “be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children. To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” I know that I have much to learn in order to obey these commands, and I have no time to waste on anything that will distract me from this goal. I am delighted to be at home under my father’s authority, serving him and Mama and our family, and in doing so preparing to someday serve a husband and children. I have learned from God’s word and Daddy and Mama that there is no better or more fulfilling role for a woman than to be a keeper at home as God created her to be. It is a joy to be a helpmeet to a husband, and an honor and privilege to be given the task of helping to raise precious children for God’s glory and train them in the way that they should go. Children are a gift from God and their lives will affect future generations that a mother may never even know.
I am so thankful that Daddy and Mama desire these things for me also, and I know that the Lord is working through them to lead me in the right paths.
There is a verse in the Bible that says, “For unto whomsoever much is given, to him shall much be required.” The Lord has given me wise and godly parents, who have taught me the scriptures since I was a child, a wonderful heritage, and most of all salvation through Jesus Christ. I pray that I will be faithful to carry on the great legacy that I have been given, by looking unto the Lord who is my help. There is a verse in the Bible that I think sums it all up very well, and it has become one of my favorites. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”