Meet the McKissick Family
When Doug and I married in 1989, I am not sure either of us had heard of home education. We met while pursuing our degrees at Texas A&M. Doug earned a degree in engineering; I earned a degree in health education, which was to be a stepping stone to a degree in nursing. At the time we married, I fully intended to have both a career and a family. I was a relatively new believer, and through God’s Word, Doug’s leading, the examples of some godly women, and a series of circumstances orchestrated by the Lord, God soon made it clear to me that my family was to be my career.
Doug’s first job of his professional career took us to Lufkin, Texas. It was there that our boys, Andrew and James, were born. It was also where we were introduced to home schooling. There were two families in our small church who homeschooled, and I also heard a bit about home schooling from Marlin Maddoux’s program Point of View. We later learned there had already been many courageous families paving the way for us to freely educate our children at home.
Our journey to educate our own children had begun before we even realized that was what we were doing. Although we had not yet made the decision to formally homeschool, when Andrew was only two, I was teaching him the letters and the sounds they made. Doug had taken a new job that moved us to Grapevine. James would soon be one year old, and we were expecting our third child, Rachel. We were not thinking much about school at that time, but after Rachel was born, our lives seemed to have become quite busy. Before we knew it, Andrew was about to turn four, and we put him in a Mother’s Day Out program at a local church so that he could have some regular interaction with others outside the family and so I could get a break while James and Rachel napped. After all, he needed to get used to being in a classroom with other children and away from Mom for a while, right?
Doug and I began to feel the pressure to decide where our kids would go to school. Having both attended government schools and knowing they had been steadily declining over the years, we thought we would put our children in private Christian school. That idea quickly faded with the realization that we would soon have three in private school, and that was just not in the budget; we were a single-income family. When we were out of the options we believed we had, God, in His perfect timing, introduced us to the possibility of educating our children at home.
The church we attended at the time had a large number of home schooling families. They were holding a book fair with curricula and workshops, so we decided to attend and find out more about home education. That day the Lord opened our eyes to Deuteronomy 6: 6-9, a passage that is etched on the hearts of many home schooling parents:
And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
The Lord used these words to convict our hearts that the best way we could fulfill this mandate was to educate our children at home. Although I knew almost nothing about home schooling, I felt comfortable that we had a healthy support system in our church. With some godly direction, I ordered a pre-K book to begin teaching Andrew some formal curriculum at home. Then came one of the many lessons in learning to trust God and not man—a move to Houston. I was a bit unnerved that God took us out of our newly found comfort zone, but I also knew that He was faithful to provide just what we needed, in His timing.
We sold our home and moved to Houston. After we settled in, I knew it was important for our family to get connected to a home school support system, so I got in touch with West Houston Home Educators (WHHE), a support group in our new area. We had now “officially” (at least in my mind) begun our home schooling journey!
The first few support group meetings I attended were spent as a wallflower, just taking in information and trying to figure things out. However, I knew there must be something we were missing. One evening I walked into the monthly meeting and was greeted by Sarah Singleton, who now serves on the Board of Directors of THSC. She had been homeschooling for a few years at the time and was quite involved in WHHE. Sarah encouraged me to get to know other members and get involved in the group in some way. I thought I could handle organizing a field trip, and so began a new adventure for me as home school support group volunteer!
That encounter got me “plugged in,” and our family’s journey of involvement has been evolving ever since. I began to help with other activities, and in a few years we realized the Lord was calling us to lead the group. Leadership opened a whole new world of experiences for us. We have met such wonderful families and had the opportunity to learn from and work with a large number of them. Many lasting friendships have been formed. God has stretched and grown us through our involvement in WHHE; our family has been blessed.
For many years WHHE has had a strong relationship with the Texas Home School Coalition (THSC). As a result of our place in leadership, we were privileged to get to know Tim Lambert and his family. We have appreciated beyond words the work that THSC has done on behalf of home schoolers in Texas and have taken every opportunity to hear Tim speak and learn from his experiences. Prior to knowing Tim, our political involvement basically ended with voting on Election Day. Through the encouragement of Tim and others who were involved and our fascinating experiences at Capitol Days, we attended our first precinct meeting and later our first state party convention. We have been politically active ever since. Capitol Days is a regular event for our family. We have worked on campaigns, and the older kids have been pages for our state senator. All of our kids have been to political conventions with us, and Andrew was a page at the last state convention. Our kids know more about the political process now than we knew when they were born!
During our tenure as local leaders our fourth child, Mary Grace, was born. What an interesting and full-to-the-brim year that was! Two years later, after being out of support group leadership for a year, Abigail was born. We were reintroduced to the busyness of having little ones. Our children are now 16, 15, 14, 4, and 2. I can honestly say our lives have never been busier, and I often wonder how in the world we will get it all done. God has had a work in progress in us for many years now, teaching us how to live and work for His glory as a family unit and as individuals. My teaching style has evolved from an institutionalized method (which was all I knew) to one of a “lifestyle of learning.” Through time and experience, God has gently directed me “out of the box” and shown me how His ways are higher than man’s ways.
Over the years we have remained active with THSC, helping where we can. For the past few years, Doug and I have had the privilege of running registration at the THSC State Convention and Family Conference. Each year seems to be a new adventure, as we work with Stephanie Lambert to streamline the process. We have enjoyed this work immensely. In 2007 Doug began serving on the THSC Advisory Committee and is now in his second year of service on the Board of Directors of THSC.
One of the greatest joys we have received throughout our years of involvement in home education has been meeting people and forming friendships. It is truly encouraging to meet like-minded individuals whose goal is to fulfill God’s mandate to educate their children and bring them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. With the education of our youngest having only just begun, we look forward to many more years on this journey!