00:15 Sonja Wood: So Brenda what have you got to share with us today?
00:18 Brenda Rayner: I’ve got a husband, been married for 23 years, and I’ve got a nearly 17 year old son, a 14 year old daughter and a 6 year old daughter. And been on this home educating journey since the beginning. [chuckle]
00:33 Sonja: Wow.
00:33 Brenda: Yeah, my son went to school for a year and hated it. He was four years old and he lived under the desks ’cause it just wasn’t his thing. So we let him do the year ’cause we also… I just felt sometimes persevering in life at certain things. And I work alongside teachers, in a lovely small school. They love God and everything and then we took him out. And what was my motivation for home educating was that my dad, my brothers, my husband, they’re all very practical people, and none of them got their metric. And I just thought one of my children is bound to be a very practical child and that is so. I’ve got a very practical child and it was lovely just to be able to hone in on their interests, their delights, and there’s a whole lot of talk about this de-schooling, if you take your children out of school and they have to de-school.
01:27 Brenda: I had to de-school myself because I’m a teacher. I taught for eight years and even at college I just thought, “Now, there’s something more than this. Just sitting in the stereotyped rows and I’m too creative for that.” So I did go into preschool teaching so I could be as creative as I liked. So with home educating I just thought, “This is fun.” We live by the mottos. We do life. And wake up every morning. And I wake up at 4:00 AM because I get my strength from being alone with God. As Jesus climbed the mountain, I climb into my cup of coffee and my Bible every morning at 4:00 and spend at least two hours just really seeking Him because it’s quite a journey. I’ve always seen myself as a doubting Thomas and over the years God’s teaching me how to be a trusting Thomas, to really trust Him. And another thing is I’m “tick the box” kind of person, and He’s taught me… I think I’ve been the biggest student in this journey.
02:32 Sonja: That’s often the case, right? [chuckle] Parents spinning all the way along the line.
02:35 Brenda: Yeah. And there’s a song that goes, “Step out of your comfort zone into the unknown where Jesus is.” And that’s been my biggest thing on this journey.
02:43 Sonja: That’s where you live, out of your comfort zone?
02:47 Brenda: Big time. I love lists. I love to know what’s gonna happen. I love to wake up in the morning and, like Cath did with the history lesson, and plan it all and teach about heart. I love teaching what I see and study and none of my family’s wired like that. They’re all creative, artistic, and out the box thinkers. So God’s had to teach me a lot to walk with Him, to go with Him, that He is my comfort and to trust in Him. And like you ladies have been saying about… Just are we enough and that we’re not enough.
03:23 Sonja: But He is.
03:26 Brenda: But He is, yeah. So that has been a big thing. And then another thing that God’s really taught me is to dig deep and we all know that treasures are deep in the ground. You have to get past the dirt.
03:38 Sonja: Down in the valley.
03:41 Brenda: Dig deep.
03:42 Sonja: Scrub and dig deep and find that the gold nugget’s in the river.
03:43 Brenda: Yes, absolutely. And you get dirty along the way. Sometimes there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.
03:47 Sonja: It’s nice down there in the valley.
03:49 Brenda: It’s… Yes, afterwards.
03:51 Brenda: When you find the treasure and you look back and then you realize, “Actually, this was all worth it.” And then we tend to go through it again. And what God’s reminding us…
04:01 Sonja: ‘Cause there’s more nuggets there.
04:02 Brenda: Yeah. And especially this year, God’s reminded me to look back on the treasures we found along the way already.
04:08 Sonja: Yes, exactly.
04:09 Brenda: To encourage us to keep digging and to keep getting dirty and to do it together.
04:14 Sonja: Well, I’m just gonna have to share this little picture that I had. I was standing in a parking lot, not long ago, and waiting for somebody who was very late ’cause they were lost. And I was looking at the time and looking at my watch and phoning and trying to guide them and so it was one of those sort of moments. And a car drove past. This car was bursting with joy. It was coming out the windows, literally. And I told you why, because it was your car.
04:45 Brenda: Yes.
04:45 Sonja: Right? And you were driving along, looking for parking place. And the car was packed with children. And all the windows were down. And there was singing on the tops of their voices. So what a gift. There I was, standing on the pavement at a parking lot and there’s all this… People coming, and parking in and out, and all their shopping, and there your car arrived.
05:07 Sonja: And you could hear it coming.
05:09 Sonja: Not because of the sound of the engine but because of the sound of the singing. So it was such a beautiful picture. It was just such a blessing to my day. Because as you can hear, I’m waiting for somebody, late, lost, all this going on. And your car drove past and you’re…
05:23 Brenda: Twice. [chuckle]
05:25 Sonja: Twice, yeah. You’re looking for a parking place. And it was really full. And the children were singing on the tops of their voices. They were having… And they spotted me, or you spotted me. And their was like, in the middle of the song…
05:38 Sonja: “Oh we know you.”
05:38 Sonja: And they carried on with the song.
05:40 Sonja: It was so lovely. And I thought, “Now, look at that.” I mean, Is God not smiling on that? Is that not just blessing Him. Look at that picture?” And it made me think of another picture of when Gerda was talking about the school she went into, the classroom picture. Well, before we even had children, Greg and I, he was traveling around the country and I was looking at education, just looking, because I had this conviction in my own heart that there’s something wrong. This does not fit in. And I suppose it’s because how I was raised as well ’cause my mother raised me also with a whole entrepreneur, and teach at home, and all of that. And so this school room-ed picture of education didn’t feel like it was right, it wasn’t fitting. Greg and I would speak about it, and it also wasn’t fitting for him, and he would just say, “Well then, there’s another way. There’s gotta be another way or different to what society dictates or demands or suggests or whatever.” So I was going with him on his traveling around the country and we were stopping at different places.
06:46 Sonja: And I would go look at the different education available. And I looked at all the different kinds of education that were being presented in that particular place. And I went into one education system that just alarmed me because the children were very… Looked to me… They weren’t happy and they looked as though they were… I’m trying to avoid saying the words, I’m just gonna say it because it seemed like they were little robots. And they were just lined up, like Gerda was saying. Everything was perfect, okay, but they were lined up at their desks, and they weren’t happy. And it really disturbed me, this picture. I thought, “This doesn’t look like a child… ” I’m maybe referencing to my own childhood, and my mother always doing all these crafty things, just so much practical activity and living and life happening. There seemed like there was something wrong with this picture. And then I went outside, it really disturbed me, it hurt my heart. I was looking and thinking about the children.
07:56 Sonja: And I went outside and in the park next door, it was like a public park, there was a mom sitting on a blanket with about four or five, maybe more, children around her, next to a tree sitting in the shade. And there was two children up the tree, and there were some around her. And she was giving this one something to eat and something to drink and she was calling to the children. Whatever she was saying, “Be careful” or whatever it was. But the joy. So I relate the story now to you because of the joy from your car. The joy of this picture, they were laughing and the children were running around. There was just like happiness.
08:35 Brenda: Yeah.
08:35 Sonja: And it was in the middle of a school day, and there was this picture. And I’d just come out of this room, this building, with the picture that I’d seen and it was just done. I just right then and there knew. That’s when it started with the tree and the picture. There’s a lot in that with the Oikos. The tree as being the symbol and then it came again when we were in the berg. And there was a very specific tree and God just spoke to me from that, about that. And the calling that he had regarding home education and being at home with your children, raising them for Him and all of that. I’m just sharing that with you now because you talk about how you like your lists and you like… But you are actually creative and back to Cath and Gerda’s sharing as well. Just about what’s important to God and what pleases Him in the day. And it was so clear and obvious to me, the two stark differences. I don’t want people to misinterpret or be offended in any way that I’m saying that a classroom is a not God thing because you get very dedicated teachers, that are really…
09:39 Brenda: Absolutely. I was very dedicated.
09:41 Sonja: Right. You’re a teacher yourself.
09:42 Brenda: When I was in a classroom those times yes, I was…
09:45 Brenda: And also, you know what excites me, this past week we’ve had a very challenging week, with a sick child and many other challenges. But I just love the way that God speaks. He’s speaking all the time, and we don’t always listen, but He’s speaking. And He spoke to me in a really funny way this week because I was really feeling drained, exhausted.
10:04 Sonja: Well, thank you for being here after all of that.
10:06 Brenda: Yeah. And yesterday, I was off to the toilet and I left the toilet lid, and one of my children… I won’t mention names because they might say “No, mum, don’t mention names” but on the toilet lid they had drawn Olaf. Those who know Frozen the movie, Olaf is a little snowman, and he’s quite a cute snowman.
10:25 Sonja: He’s very entertaining snowman.
10:27 Brenda: Yes. And she’d written three words, “Let it go.”
10:32 Brenda: And for me, it didn’t speak about what was needed at the toilet, it just spoke to me about sometimes we just got to let things go and let God.
10:39 Sonja: Yes. Let go, let God.
10:40 Brenda: Just let it go. And so there we were singing around the house, “Let it go, let it go” and for me it was…
10:45 Sonja: Singing again.
10:45 Brenda: We were singing again and I was just saying, “And let God.” I love the way that God speaks in those little moments, in joyous ways and special ways.
10:53 Sonja: And through our children.
10:54 Brenda: Absolutely.
10:55 Sonja: So much of the time. And that’s something I will always try and encourage parents, to stop and listen to your children because the kingdom of heaven is stored up in them.
11:03 Brenda: Absolutely.
11:03 Sonja: They’re not all tripped up with all the things that parents are worrying about, and so let’s listen to them.
11:10 Brenda: Absolutely.
11:10 Sonja: Because we hear from God.
11:12 Brenda: And that’s joy of being around at home with them.
11:13 Sonja: Exactly. Exactly. And we don’t wanna miss that chance.
11:16 Brenda: I think we are the biggest students in all of us.
11:19 Sonja: Most of the time. Yeah. We’re learning all the time.
11:21 Brenda: Absolutely.