Sarah Singleton

The Singleton FamilyMeet the Singleton Family

I now drive a smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicle. My denim jumpers are long gone, and my multi-passenger vehicle is now parked in the driveway, waiting for better fuel prices or a family trip. I have even begun to clear some from our bookshelves. I know, I can hear the audible gasp across Texas, “No, not the books!”

But driving in a smaller vehicle, I cannot help looking in the rearview mirror, nostalgic for days past and wondering what lies ahead. I am soon to be a completed home school mom. What exactly is “complete” supposed to feel like? This is new territory. Many days I just prefer the view in the rearview mirror to the uncertainties of looking ahead.

You might be asking yourself, “What’s a car doing in a home schooling article?” Much of our schooling has been life in the fast lane. My husband and I have been blessed to travel through almost half of the United States with our children. This experience has added a dimension that made our home schooling unique.

I thought I would take this opportunity to share some of our favorite home school memories. To do that, I need to introduce you to our crew. Travis and I have four children, James (22), Ashley (21), Alex (19), and Emily (17). In 2005 James married his high school sweetheart Lynne. In July 2007 our grandson Isaac was added to the family.

I believe our earliest and most treasured memory of home schooling was a unit study on Christmas. This was our very first year of officially home schooling. There were paper chains looped across the ceiling. We made houses from milk cartons and graham crackers. We had the most fun creating green icing, painting sugar cones upside down, and adding red hots to decorate the miniature Christmas trees. We had a wonderful time.  I can still go back to that memory as if I am watching a videotape. Little did we know that we were starting a cherished family tradition. Even now, we get together with James’s family during the holiday season to make gingerbread houses.

When I asked the children, for this article, about their home school memories, they commented on the relationships they have with their siblings. I am not sure what the poster family of ideal sibling relationships would look like, but my children enjoy “hanging out” together and certainly consider their siblings to be wise counsel for the rest of their lives. I have noticed that when one raises a concern about another, they will listen and consider the comments. What more could a parent ask?

There were certainly some potholes along the way, days we struggled. I have one child who was challenged with math, and another with reading. It was not always easy. I recall one day when I was just feeling so overwhelmed with the responsibility that I went up to my room. I have absolutely no memory of the circumstances that led me to that place, but I do have a vivid memory of feeling completely inadequate as a home school mom. I was truly ready to give up and in a mood to feel sorry for myself. I cried out to the Lord, “Why Lord? This is too difficult. I can’t do it.”

I was still in the midst of complaining when I heard a voice in my spirit interrupt me and say, “I WILL EQUIP YOU.” Umm … excuse me? How? Where? Me? My questions were met with dead silence. Though still wanting to complain, I could not argue with the Lord. I pondered the thought in my heart and mulled the words again and again in my head: “He will equip me.” I could certainly trust the Lord, even in times of frustration. It was weeks later that I stumbled across Hebrews 13:21. Someone must have added that to the text. Surely those words were not there before. I felt as if I had read it for the first time and that He had put it there just for me. The Lord had given me a promise, and I intended to hold fast to it: If you are struggling, seek the Lord and you will lack no good thing. He is trustworthy and faithful.

As I view the road unwinding behind me, I realize that we pursued good citizenship as a family calling. We participated in AWANA, Girl Scouts, VBS, Sunday school, and various community organizations, including the home school group, the fire department, and Friends of the Library. While not a family mission statement, we did develop a family motto: “We are Singletons, and Singletons serve.” It has always felt so natural for us to find a place in an organization and contribute through service.

James certainly exemplifies that life of service. He was always looking for ways to give back to those around him. Our home school group had organized a teen group, complete with student council. James realized we would never leave that life in the fast lane unless we armed ourselves with a commitment, and so he ran for a position on student council. It was there that he got to know Lynne, also a student council member. Years later they were married, and our family has been blessed by their relationship. They still make time for the siblings and families

Travis and I will never forget one of our earliest trips to THSC’s Capitol Days. (See p.17.) We arrived in Austin early that morning to learn how to effectively lobby in the Texas legislature. Mr. Lambert told the group about a bill that would address the double standard in college admissions for graduates of nontraditional secondary education. After lunch we arrived at the Capitol, to visit various legislative offices. Our young family was committed to informing legislators of this discriminatory policy for admission into Texas state universities, which affected both the home school community and the 3,000 unaccredited private schools.

After visiting the first two offices, we were walking in the basement of the Capitol when Ashley turned and looked at Travis and me to say, “Do you mean to tell me just because I’m home schooled, I need to get a higher score on some test just to go to college?” We watched in amazement as the light bulb clicked above her head. All the civics books in the world could not match the connection being made by Ashley. She realized that the people who run for office back home, for whom her parents vote, come here and make decisions that affect her life. We decided then and there that we would make every effort to attend Capitol Days in the future.

Capitol Days opened a new road for our family’s involvement in politics. We have participated in elections and the political party processes, as well as our continued lobbying in Austin. We have even traveled to a swing state, New Mexico, during the last presidential election.

Due in part to their work in New Mexico, Alex and Emily won the THSC Ranger Award in 2005 for volunteering the most hours in campaigns. A memory that will stay etched in my mind is watching Emily and Alex hear their names announced at the THSC Awards Banquet; they had no idea they would be receiving awards. They walked to the stage arm in arm, with enormous smiles on their faces. Their efforts in New Mexico had an impact on the election, and it provided the special memory of having fun with their family that will remain with them forever.

As I mentioned earlier, we have almost completed our home school journey. Our involvement in campaigns led to an unexpected change in our family. I first met Senator Dan Patrick on the campaign trail in 2005. We block-walked for him—at times in the rain—made phone calls, and introduced the candidate to other home schoolers through community coffees. It was a great campaign, and at the end we went back to life as we knew it, school and speech and debate. When the legislative session started, I received an unexpected call from Senator Patrick’s office. They were in need of someone who could assist with constituent services. I was certain I could not possibly fit that into our life at that point. However, my husband and my family encouraged me to accept this opportunity. As with any new venture, it has created changes in our family—but it does offer flexibility with my other home responsibilities.

While the rearview mirror brings comforting memories, I cannot drive forward while looking back. The view in the windshield ahead is wide open and undefined. Who knows what exciting memories we have yet to make as we embark on new lives? There are weddings, births, and likely a few moves on the road ahead. Home schooling is not necessarily about home or schooling, but rather it is a lifestyle that does not end at  twelfth grade. I hope the memories in your rearview mirror are as precious to you as these are to me.

Sarah is among the newest additions to the THSC Board of Directors and lives in Houston with her servant family. The Singletons have homeschooled since 1990, and Sarah and Travis served for ten years on the board of directors of the West Houston Home Educators, Inc. Sarah is also the Texas state representative with the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association (NCFCA) and works as district coordinator for State Senator Patrick.