From Hollywood to Homeschooling
By Cyndi Simmons
I love slumber parties, don't you? Recently, I participated
in a slumber party of the most unusual sort. Snuggling
between the covers one winter evening, I delved in to the
book Facts of Life and Other Lessons My Father Taught
Me . My task of tackling these pages to prepare for
an interview was suddenly transformed into one of the most
pleasurable reading experiences I have had in a long time.
Like the cherished moments during a slumber party, I had
a most enjoyable even with what felt like, a new found
friend. Through the pages of Facts of Life and Other
Lessons My Father Taught Me, the author provides snippets
of her life through an amazing gift for writing. She has
a way of delivering words that tease you into thinking
she is sitting across from you chatting over a cup of hot
chocolate and a bowl of popcorn. Her sense of humor is
interwoven throughout the pages and more than once I found
myself breaking the silence of the room by chuckling out
loud. For me, that takes a book right up to the top 10.
The real jewel of this book lies in the author's love
for the Lord and how she so gracefully takes each chapter
to the artist's canvas and eloquently unfolds the Master's
strokes. In one chapter, she shares how the Lord brought
her husband to her. It is nothing short of hilarious but
more importantly, it is such a tremendous testimony to
the gifts that await us when we allow the Lord to work
in our lives.
This author that I have been referring to is Lisa Whelchel.
You will remember her from her role as "Blair" in the television
shot The Facts of Life . Today, she is a Pastor's
wife and a homeschooling mom of three children, Tucker,
Haven and Clancy.
While most may associate Lisa with the snooty character
of "Blair", in person one finds she is actually on the
opposite end of the spectrum of her television personality,
She is as charming in person as the persona that readers
find overflowing in her writing. After being in her company,
the harbored "Blair" associations quickly disappear.
I had the great opportunity to watch her "at work" as
she spoke to a large group of women on afternoon in January.
The audience was filled primarily with middle-aged women,
who as girls, had watched her on television, week after
week for nine years. With the resurgence of The Facts
of Life reruns on cable, there was also a fair share
of young girls sharing this time with mom. It was a delightful
afternoon filled with stories what were initiated by Lisa
opening herself to the audience through an "open-mike" forum.
She was truly at ease with their audience of several hundred
women and spoke as if she was amongst friends.
My heart quickens when I have the opportunity to get a
personal look at the tapestry God weaves into the life
stories of His children. Lisa's story thus far, is particularly
intriguing. Through many journeys that have taken her from
a young Texan girl, to Hollywood, onto being a Pastor's
wife, a mother of three children, to homeschooling and
now and author and speaker, people want to come and meet
her. After all, they're curious. What they find is a woman
who loves the Lord and has been give the platform to share
the message of Good News to an audience that grew up with
her in their homes. Today, she is simply a wife, mother,
and homeschooling patent just like the rest of us. She
finished her time with these ladies by sharing the salvation
message and leading some to Christ. Later, as I reflected
on that afternoon, I was thinking about those women who
made a change their lives on that winter day. These women
made an eternal commitment that was orchestrated through
a woman they knew through television many years ago. A
woman, who today is willing to step out to a calling for
this time and place. His work is amazing, isn't it?
Last July, Lisa and her family began what will be a year's
journey across America in a 40 foot motor home. For many
of us, we yearn to use the freedom we have in teaching
at home to take our classrooms on the road. If you family's
classroom isn't going mobile any time soon, this is a great
way to enjoy your dream through their journey. You can
visit her website at www.lisawhelchel.com where she provides
visitors with her daily journal and photos of their adventures.
I'm hooked. I encourage you to visit.
I was anxious to find out about Lisa's approach to homeschooling
on the road. What she shared with me is that she has chosen
to use teachable moment through their daily experiences,
as her provision for education this year, along with the
mainstays of language arts and math. For Lisa's children,
they find themselves learning and inspired to reach for
more each time the wheels come to a halt. For example,
they visited the Clara Barton museum, which sparked an
interest in her girls to read anything about Clara and
her time in our history, that they could get their hands
on. They have also been to several National Parks, where
they have participated in the Junior Ranger program. This
program provides a booklet on park facts and upon completion
is turned into the Park Ranger, who checks their work in
addition to a wonderful learning experience, the children
are awarded a Junior Ranger patch. Lisa also shared a special
learning experience they had with friends in Oregon, who
took them out to lay under the stars. Equipped with expertise,
their hosts were able to point out constellations, satellites
and many interesting facts about the heavens. To Lisa's
children, who live in Southern California and aren't accustomed
to the night sky without the glare of city lights, seeing
the details of God's masterpiece above, was a fantastic
experience. Her children will come off the road next summer,
loaded with vast amounts of learning experiences in addition
to the most important aspect of their travels - family
memories that will last for a lifetime.
Lisa is also the author of Creative Corrections. This
book is filled with sound ideas that have been tested in
her own home to correct unappealing behaviors that we all
have to address in our children. Keep an eye out for Lisa's
upcoming book on homeschooling due out in Spring 2003.