Ray Ballmann

Meet the Ballmann Family

It is hard to believe how far home education has come since my wife and I started homeschooling some eighteen years ago. We learned much through trial and error as well as the counsel of godly friends. In spite of our mistakes, we grew through the process, and our children have become astonishingly educated.

In our early days of homeschooling there were few choices in curricula or support groups, and the legality of homeschooling in Texas was under attack.  We literally kept our shades drawn during school hours.  We thank God for the early pioneers in Texas like Virginia Baker, Kirk McCord, Shelby Sharp, and others who were leaders in promoting and defending Texas home educators. They fought for the rights we so abundantly enjoy today. I am forever grateful for the work they did and do not want to take this freedom for granted.

This is one of the reasons I willingly serve on the Board of Directors of the Texas Home School Coalition. Tim Lambert has taken up the mantle of THSC leadership and fights tirelessly to keep our Texas home school rights unrestricted. But we must not depend on Tim alone. Each of us must be ever vigilant if we expect to retain our freedom to home school in the Lone Star State.

For my family, homeschooling is not merely a desirable option but an unwavering conviction. I define a conviction as a strongly held, personal belief rooted in Biblical principles and guiding every aspect of your thinking and decision-making. A conviction is part of the fabric of your belief system. It is an unalterable truth you firmly believe is of divine origin.  Convictions compel us to a distinctive lifestyle.  We must do it!  We have no other choice but to follow our convictions.

On the other hand, a preference is a simple desire or want. It is a belief subject to change. For example, you may prefer that your son or daughter not go to public school out of concern for their academic development.   However, in the end that thinking will be a weak glue, for it does not get to the heart of what I consider to be the best reason for homeschooling.

My wife and I believe that God has given us, not the government, the responsibility and the authority to educate our children. God’s Word clearly establishes that the mental and spiritual development of children is to be a parent’s highest priority.  The injunction in Proverbs, “Train up a child in the way he should go…” was not given to public school teachers, but to parents.  It is an awesome responsibility.  We parents are charged with this duty and held accountable for our children’s education. Scripture is replete with Biblical counsel regarding parental responsibility for their children’s education, like Deuteronomy chapters 4 and 6 and Proverbs 22. Educational duties can be delegated to others, but not the final responsibility for what they are taught. Public or private school teachers–even tutors if you participate in a home school co-op — are but proxies, substitutes, surrogates for those ultimately responsible — the parents.

Let me give you an example of another kind of conviction. From our country’s inception the founders of our nation were concerned about the Lord’s Day. The Pilgrims on the Mayflower were blown into Plymouth Harbor and landed on Clark’s Island, right across from the rock where they finally came ashore. When the storm lifted, it was Sunday morning. They were delighted to see where they were. They had been at sea for months and months in crowded quarters. They would have been eager to rush across the bay, to land and get off the ship, but they did not. Instead, the first thing they did was to honor the Sabbath Day, to hold a worship service and praise God. The next morning they landed on Plymouth Rock. I am sure their preference was to go ashore, but their conviction placed an internal prohibition on it.

I think of Eric Liddell, the hero of Chariots of Fire, who did one thing that has made him forever famous; he refused to run an Olympic race on Sunday–even the trial race for the final event. God blessed his effort. He ran instead the 400-meter race (which he had not run before), and he won a gold medal!  Of course, later he became a missionary for Christ.

The founding movement of home education was mostly based on conviction. However over the years, I have seen people homeschool for many reasons, some which have nothing to do with conviction. Holding to a conviction sets you apart from those who are seasonally committed, from those for whom it is a passing fad. Those with conviction find homeschooling has deep meaning and purpose, and they are more likely to stay the course and not become victims of attrition down the road. May I encourage you to consider your convictions and, having done so, to throw your whole heart and self into your children’s education?

Now let me tell you a little about my family. God blessed us with some beautiful land outside of Glen Rose, Texas, which we have named Providence Ranch. Glen Rose is headquarters for the world-renowned Creation Science Museum, which incidentally is a great spot for home school field trips. Glen Rose also is home to Fossil Rim International Wildlife Park, Comanche Peak Nuclear plant, and the outdoor drama on the life of Christ called The Promise.

My wife and I have been married twenty-five years and have seven children. Christie (21) is our oldest.  Since her graduation she has been in pursuit of a wide variety of opportunities and training that will benefit her in the future. Presently she is working with me in the office.  She and I are planning to start a local debate club so we can send some debaters to next year’s state tournament.  We hope to meet quite a few of you there next year. Christie also teaches piano and ministers as a Gospel chalk artist–drawing a picture and sharing a Gospel story at the same time. She has had opportunities to draw in churches, camps, nursing homes, leadership retreats, schools, jail, city sidewalks, and even other countries.

Karyn (18) graduated last year.  She has been glued to the computer this past semester while enrolled in a few college courses through a distance-learning program.  Her long-range goal is to apprentice as a midwife and then use this skill as a ministry to reach out to unwed mothers.

Matthew (15) is in ninth grade and recently took up a hobby of bee keeping; we are looking forward to an abundant harvest of golden honey this fall.  Matthew is looking forward to participating in the regional debate club and hopes to enter in the Texas Home School Debate Tournament in the coming years.  Matthew is a licensed amateur radio operator (KD5IIN).

Nathan (11) likes facing challenges, moving about, and learning. If you would search his dresser drawer, you would find all shapes and sizes of little mechanical gears, springs and wires, which he has dissected when he is not at the table working on school with Mom.  We look forward to seeing what God has planned for him in the future and how God will use his interests for His glory.

Next we have the three little girls who are growing up all too quickly: Rachael (8), Elisabeth (5), and Sarah (3).  Rachael is learning to take over the family bread making from her big sister, Christie. Elizabeth finds delight in helping to do anything and everything, especially cooking.  She has the makings of a real hostess, as she loves to take the initiative to prepare picnics and tea parties. Sarah’s favorite pastime is chasing and catching chickens to carry around and pet. She is a songbird, so with her continual reminders we have taken up a new adventure of trying to memorize some hymns as a family. She has all of us beat in getting the songs down first.

Cindy is a wonderful wife, mother, and homemaker. She has really taken to country living and enjoys gardening and working with animals. Of course, she spends a good percent of her time teaching the children, cooking meals, and parceling out hugs and kisses. She is a rock to which the family anchors.

Finally, I wear many hats which include being a father to seven children, serving as pastor of small church, serving as a consultant for Character First!, writing, public speaking to home schoolers, counseling, and ranching. My responsibilities with THSC include chairing the Leadership Support Committee that oversees the state debate tournaments, the annual regional leader’s retreat, and some of the publications of THSC.

God has certainly provided the strength and guidance we have needed over the years.  Home schooling our children in Texas has been a delight, and we thank God for the privilege to participate in this holy calling.

May God bless you as you consider your own convictions and serve God in raising your family,

(This article is from 2000 and the picture from 2005.)