Outside the Compound

You will be blessed when you get your home school family out of the home.

“Larry says his mom calls our house the ‘compound’ because you never let us kids go outside the back gate.” My son True (11) told this to my wife Belinda after he spent time one afternoon with a neighbor kid. When Belinda told me this story, I knew about Larry’s (not his real name) mom and what she meant by “compound,” and it wasn’t a compliment. Corleones, polygamists, and Branch Davidians all live in compounds.

I confess I was hacked by Larry’s mom’s ignorance. You know, we did let her son jump on our trampoline and even drink our Kool-Aid! My defense shield went way up because, obviously, she didn’t know our family for who we were. Well, that, and I’ve wondered lately if it is time to be more involved in our neighborhood.

Recently I’ve been impressed with this idea that God really is sovereign; meaning He is in command of absolutely everything. It’s a crazy idea, I know, but I’m going to run with it for a while. You see, I’m finding that if I start my day with the wild presumption that God really is in control, I’m astonished at how well the rest of my day goes.

When we moved into our home almost five years ago, we had a vision to reach out to our new neighbors for the Lord. And what have we done about this vision in five years? Almost nothing (forgive me, Lord). We became so wrapped up in our own good world that the vision blurred. See, when your lifestyle results in four kids needing to be in three places, with only two drivers at one time, you are now running a trucking company, not a family.

Sometimes I wish there were some terrifically useless activity in which my family was involved so we could drop it and become more available to our neighbors. I’m still looking for it. Instead, each workday I drive home from the office, duck into the garage and dive into my portion of my kids’ Bible, music, math and other schoolwork.

Normally when I write these articles about a problem, there is a solution I joyfully share with you. This is not one of those articles; but I do think I have a lead.

Each winter my co-workers ask me, “Is there such a thing as a home school snow day?” I chuckle and tell of this horrid home school family who makes their kids do math and science no matter the weather. Well, then the Great Ice Storm of 2011 struck, and we were stuck in the compound for four days. (There’s that sovereign God thing again.) My boys got sick right before the storm as Story (13) had strep throat, True had pneumonia and Ever (7) had influenza. My wild boys are so individual they couldn’t even share an illness! We didn’t pass five seconds without somebody coughing, sneezing or sniffling.

After our four-day confinement, the ce turned into snow, and my attitude about “snow days” also turned. Scout (17) presented her vision for a snow fort, so we put on the winter gear, collected our shovels, and escaped out of the compound and into the local park.

It was a winter wonderland! The ground shimmered with smooth powder. Trees wore blankets of pure white. People gathered in the park to enjoy the snow.

We took our individual talents and threw ourselves into the work. Scout stomped out a blueprint for the snow fort’s foundation. I filled five-gallon buckets with fresh snow. True transported buckets to the job site. Story carefully dumped snow cylinders onto the blueprint. Ever found his niche in making snow angels and watching us work.

Soon another group of kids started their own snow fort near ours. Their dad walked up and introduced himself to me. His family had just moved back into their home after being washed out by a recent flash flood. I was humbled by the missed opportunity to help them.

After a long conversation with my new friend, I noticed my kids’ fort-building efforts were lagging. I excused myself and returned to snow shoveling. Then another dad walked by and spoke with me about the fort. His son took my shovel and began filling buckets for me! As I visited with this dad, he shared a key piece of information that will help my company be successful this year. He lives only one block away. Why hadn’t I gotten out and met him before? Then I felt the Lord smile and remind me how good it was to be outside the compound.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14-16 (ESV)

I appreciate Scout’s vision and how that snow fort became a good work for the Lord. It’s not easy to admit this, but I guess Larry’s mom was right.

If you have a moment, please send an email to ImperfectFather@Gmail.com. I’d love to hear about your adventures “outside the compound.”