Because I am the mother of teen sailors, Zac and Abby Sunderland, I am often asked what it was that made it possible for them to attempt to sail around the world alone at the relatively young age of sixteen. How did they come to have such vision and perseverance? That is the subject of today’s blog post.
What ever you want to call it; vision, purpose, calling – we all have one, or more, given by God to live out for His glory.
In our family, we sailed. A lot. We lived on boats, traveled on boats, made a living off of boats. Our older kids were sailing sabots and snorkeling before kindergarten. It wasn’t a burning passion of theirs, it was just what we did. In fact, at one point when Zac was about 15 he made quite the announcement that when he grew up he would never. do. anything. with. boats. ever. Don’t you just love 15-year olds?
Long story short, not long after Zac made that declaration of independence, he began to get into trouble. Hanging out with the wrong crowd (at the expensive, Christian high school he attended at the time), slacking off on his studies, resisting our authority at home. We were perplexed. This good-natured, adventurous and intelligent kid was turning into a lazy, unmotivated rebel. A wise mom friend of mine gave me some of the best advice I ever received: Pray that he would find a passion that would consume him. And that is what we did. Never underestimate the power of prayer.
The rest of Zac’s story is history. Several months later, Zac came to us with the idea of sailing around the world, alone and being the youngest to do so. Because of the many sailing books he had read in his youth, he had a large base of knowledge about world sailing routes. Because my husband brought him to work regularly as a kid, he knew much of yacht repair. Because of his years training to play football he had learned the benefits and discipline of persevering through the severe hardships of training. Because of the lifetime of sailing experience that he had, he knew boats, sailing and all that that entailed. Amazingly, it was as if he had been preparing for this trip his whole life. Or as if God had been preparing him… Zac went on to become the world’s youngest solo circumnavigator. (That record has since been broken and he is now the youngest American solo circumnavigator.)
Abby’s story is a bit different. She dreamed of sailing around the world alone from the age of 13. She talked about it all the time. She planned and schemed and begged us to let her go. Of course, we discouraged her but she persisted until circumstances were such that she too had the opportunity to make a go of it. Similar achievements yet totally different approaches.
Factoring in God
Obviously, I am writing this post from a Christian worldview. Many tips for homeschooling are generic; graduation requirements, college entrance, record keeping, etc. are pretty standard across the board. As a Christian, however, determining my purpose and helping others (including my kids) to find theirs, will require looking at what God has to say about purpose.
“We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18)
Our lives are meant to give glory to God. Not all that exists (or that is important) is visible. In determining purpose we must keep an eternal perspective lest the vision becomes an idol.
God has gifted everyone with talents, desires and passions.
What are yours? Consider the following questions and make a list.
- What brings me joy or satisfaction?
- What would I do with my time if I didn’t have to work?
- What would I do with my money if it were unlimited?
Brainstorm thoughts about the following areas:
- Social Life
Talk About It
When I was growing up, I knew that I would go to college, graduate and get a good job. That was my parents’ goal for me. It was a good goal but that was the plan. There was not much more in the way of discussion of options or of what I might be good at or enjoy. I am glad that I went to college and am very grateful to my parents for their vision and sacrifice that saw me through. To build on this framework make an effort to point out areas where your child seems to excel. Learn about, remark and wonder at the achievements of others. Speculate on how they accomplished their goals. Read widely of adventurers, scientists, artists and business people. Encourage dreams and possibilities.
With six more unique kids in the ranks, my husband and I are always looking out for our kids’ interests and talents. We keep on the look out for either opportunities or other people who can speak into their lives. Our daughter Abby was fascinated with animals as a child. We had a dog but she was clearly wanting more. We found an excellent 4H group in our community where Abby learned to raise and breed pedigreed rabbits, raised and ‘processed’ chickens and turkeys and entered these animals into the county fair. There she won several Champions and Grand Champions awards which funded her new desire to own a horse. She bought her own horse at the age of 14 with money she had earned doing something that she loved. It is possible! Invite interesting business people, missionaries, pastors, teachers, anyone who has a good story to tell over to our house for dinner. Look for opportunities for more exposure to their interests.
Above all – pray for your child to find his or her God-given purpose. Never, ever underestimate the power of prayer. In all of your child raising, homeschooling or any other schooling that you do, prayer should be the first and last course of action.
Our family story is surely unusual. Your story is yours, written by God. Seek Him for the wisdom and hang on for the ride!
How have you helped your older kids find their purpose in life?
There is so much more to say about homeschooling in high school than can be covered in a 5-day series. Hopefully, you have some good basics and leads on resources from this series to get you started or get you motivated to carry on homeschooling your high schooler. If you have enjoyed this series and want to receive more posts like this, you can receive future posts in your inbox by subscribing by email or by RSS feed. Find out what is going on outside the blog by following me on Facebook and Twitter.
If you missed any of my earlier posts in this Homeschooling Through High School 5-day series, here are they are:
Homeschooling Through High School: Pros and Cons (Be sure to read the comments. There are some real treasures!)
Homeschooling High School 101: What you Need to Know
How to Build a College Portfolio for Your Homeschooled High Schooler: Awesome Recordkeeping
Homeschooling the Dyslexic High School Student: Preparing Them for Real Life
This series is part of the iHomeschool Network’s January Hopscotch. Click on the image below to find links to more excellent encouragement for your homeschool!