Homeschooling Parent March - April 2002

Lisa Whelchel
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.


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