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Caring for the Least of These

Original Air Date 05/06/2015

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Author Lorie Newman describes how serving those less fortunate than ourselves can become a regular part of our everyday lives in a discussion based on her book, A Cup of Cold Water in His Name: 60 Ways to Care for the Needy.

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Episode Transcript

Opening:

John Fuller: Today we pause as a nation to remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who left an indelible impression on our country, and the world and set the stage for social change that continues to this day. Here’s Carey Casey and some other Focus on the Family guests reflecting back on Dr. King’s contributions.

Carey Casey: Dr. King knew who he was. Now what am I saying? Daddy went to Washington D.C. on a hot, sweltering, August 28th day 1963, and 250,000 other people were there when Dr. King shared “I Have a Dream.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: I have a dream that one day, this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creeds. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.

(CHEERING)

Carey: Right there in his message that day, he said, “I hope I live in a country one day where my children, my four little children, would not be judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.

Woman #1: Dr. King talked about segregation. He also talked about what it would mean if those laws were dismantled. On a very personal level and on a very elementary level, dismantling segregation might mean that I could go to the library, that I could go to Kitty Land, or to the zoo. Uh, that if we went shopping, we could try on the clothes, we could get on the bus! And we could sit wherever we wanted to sit on the bus. I-If you think about it, those are really small things to ask for.

President John F. Kennedy: This nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal. And the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.

Man #1: For me, when I think about him, I think about somebody who answered the call, and somebody who was willing to be ostracized and eventually murdered for what he knew was right.

Man #2: I think that what we need to do moving forward is to look at the foundation. Uh, Dr. King was motivated by love, the love that comes from Jesus Christ.

Kay Coles James: Think about this, if we couldn’t demonstrate to the rest of the world what it looked like when we came together and made the effort to understand each other, and to love each other, how could we expect the entire country to do it? So I think we as God’s people have a responsibility to tackle this issue with our kids and lead the way.

John: That last reflection from Kay Coles James, a former Focus on the Family board member and now president of the heritage foundation, as we look forward and carry on that Christian message of love and hope.

Jim Daly: Uh John, it’s been more than 50 years now since the tragic assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. His courage and his convictions lead the way to healing and opportunities for our African American brothers and sisters. So we wanted to open the broadcast with some reflections on Dr. King’s message and continue to learn from it. And as Christians, we need to empathize with others and their experiences and remember, that all men, women, and children are made in the image of God and deserve to be treated with dignity. Here’s the challenge, let’s live that out every day.

John: Well that really does lead us well into our recorded conversation today with our guest on focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller, your host is Jim Daly, and we’ll talk about reflecting God’s heart to others and making a difference in their lives.

Jim: There are a lot of practical ways to put an arm around somebody. I can remember being without a mom and dad and how good it felt when someone expressed kindness toward me, It felt like an avalanche of love, even though to them it may have been a small thing. I remember someone putting an arm around me at a church as a 15 year-old boy and telling me, “You know, God’s got His eye on you.” What a difference that made for me. We never can overestimate what some small little act of kindness can do for a person’s spirit.

John: I’d agree Jim, and our guest does too I’m sure. Lorie Newman is a wife, a mom of 8, and a speaker. And she’s written a wonderful book called, A Cup of Cold Water in His Name: 60 ways to Care for the Needy.

Body:

Jim: (Chuckling) Lorie, let me say, welcome to Focus on the Family.

Lorie Newman: Thank you. It’s good to be here.

Jim: You know, at first, we say, “60 ways,” okay, I’m already tired. You’re not talkin’ about wowing people with a number. There are probably thousands of ways that a person could express God’s love to those around them.

Lorie: Absolutely and so many of us hear, “Help the needy; help the needy. Help the poor. Do this. This is what we should do in our Christian walk.” But I wanted to write a book that was practical, that gave literal ways that people can jump right in and start helping the needy in their everyday life.

Jim: Well, and like in the Christian community, we so often get these metaphors. And the “cup of cold water,” I’ve used it here to express how Focus wants to be there to help people, to give them not just recovery, but inspiration in God, etc. When you did this, why do we need a book to tell us how to show acts of kindness to people?

Lorie: Well, in this world, you can get overwhelmed with those numbers. Nineteen million right here in America are considered the working poor, 1.1 billion with a B lack access to potable water. Every five seconds a child dies of hunger, not tuberculosis, hunger, lack of food. And if you think about those numbers, you can get completely overwhelmed. But, Jesus rarely calls us to masses of humanity. And my focus in this book is Matthew 25:40, a very misquoted verse.

Jim: Why is that?

Lorie: “Whatever you’ve done unto the least of these, you’ve done to Me.” That is not what that verse says. It says, “Whatever you’ve done to one of the least of these, you’ve done it to Me.” Whatever you’ve done to one, the smallest act of kindness, even a cup of cold water done in His name just to one, it’s done to Jesus Himself.

Jim: Let me ask you this. Why and we struggle with this, the boys and I’ll be goin’ to the local grocery store, runnin’ an errand for mom and sure enough, there’ll be somebody on the corner with a sign that says, “Need help, out of a job.” And I’m always struggling with, okay, I don’t know if these are the guys that in the newspaper they’re talkin’ about, that are workin’ day jobs, but also doing that or it feels awkward now. And the boys are asking me, “Should we help ‘em? What do we do?” Why are we in that position where we don’t know when to help?

Lorie: It is awkward and sometimes even at the corner when you pull up in your car, do I make eye contact? Do I not? Should I stop and help? It is hard to know, but a little idea that I give in the book that you can do today, is to buy little bitty gift cards, $5 gift cards from McDonald’s or Walmart. You know, there’s a McDonald’s on every corner in America.

Jim: Yeah. (Chuckling)

Lorie: And be ready with those in your wallet or in your purse and in the cup holder in your car, to hand those out. That way, you’re not giving out cash to people on the street and not knowing what they would do with it.

Jim: Let me ask you this, because I have thought about that. I’ve talked to my boys about that, but there’s still … like there’s a lingering in my heart and I guess in some ways its coarseness. You know, I’ve just become a bit thick-skinned about that, but to keep a handful of those around, you know, for what, those 20 bucks.

Lorie: That’s right, price of a bag of dog food.

Jim: Is it better to err in doing that, especially modeling it for your kids, rather than saying, “Well, you know, I read an article in The Wall Street Journal, these people might be rippin’ us off?”

Lorie: Absolutely.

Jim: I mean (Laughing)—

Lorie: Absolutely.

Jim: --that’s what a lot of people will talk about, you know, because we don’t know. But it’s better to go ahead and make the mistake of helping somebody—

Lorie: That’s right.

Jim: --rather than holding back. Is that what you’re saying?

Lorie: I absolutely agree with that 100 percent, yes, especially teaching that to your children.

John: That’s a tough one now Jim, my - my wife told me the other day she said--

Jim: Are you guilty of this?

John: We were-- well I, the problem was, she said, “I met this guy, and I decided that I would give him some money.” And immediately I think, okay so how do you know if he was telling the truth and what if and what, and honest I-I got a little convicted cause I thought, well okay... she said, “But it’s God’s money, and I just decided to let God take care of it.”

Lorie: Yes

John: --wow

Jim: You don’t see that in Scripture do you, He doesn’t say, “Well once you did the background check on this guy--”

Lorie: Right

John: Yes!

Jim:”--and check his, you know, his FICA score and all that, then you realize he’s really in trouble.” He said, “No, just help them.” That’s what Jesus said.

Lorie: And He really may be in trouble, you really may be passing someone who has a legitimate need. And let The Lord decide, whatever he does with that money, let The Lord decide that, but you-you’ve done what The Lord has convicted you to do.

Jim: Well, now we started with an example that probably is most difficult, although it’s also the most prevalent. I think people on the corner, that’s become in some ways a- a business. You know, we do want to help people in that way and they’re looking for help.

But you had an experience reaching out to something that, you know breaks my heart. When I went to school, living in foster care, I didn’t have a lot of lunch money. I didn’t get lunch money. So, often I then say, “You got a nickel? I want to buy a cookie.” I know it shows today, John (Laughing), but I didn’t have money for lunch in seventh grade, eighth grade. I mean, and I didn’t … I don’t know why, you know, I didn’t get lunch at home, uhh, but you also talk about feeding the hungry when you first became a teacher. That relates to me. What happened?

Lorie: Well, whenever I was in college studying to be a teacher, I remember one of my professors saying, “Always keep a jar of peanut butter and crackers in your desk drawer.”

Jim: Now there’s practical—

Lorie: You just—

Jim: --advice.

Lorie: --never know.

Jim: Yeah.

Lorie: And I thought to myself, okay, I’ll take that advice, tuck it away. And I taught in a very affluent area, thought I’d never need that, but I did what she said. I kept a jar of peanut butter and crackers in my desk drawer.

And sure enough, there was a little boy, came to school every day and he was a little fuzzy in the mornings with math and that sort of thing and about six weeks into school, someone brought in some cupcakes. Mid-morning I let the children have those cupcakes. And boy, he did great on his math that day.

And I called him to my desk when everybody went to recess and I said, “Did you eat breakfast this morning?” “No, ma’am.” “Do you eat breakfast any mornings?” “No, ma’am.” Found out with some more prodding, there was very little food in the home. So, every day at recess, it was our little thing. Everybody would scoot out to recess and he would come to his drawer and get some crackers and peanut butter and that was just our little secret and that would kind of pep him up for the rest of the day.

Jim: Your parents had a heart for service and I think in that environment, you encountered hunger at a young age. Describe what happened and how it impacted you.

Lorie: Well, I was probably about 10 or 11 years-old. My dad was not home from work yet and my mom was cooking at the stove. My brother and I were sitting at the kitchen table and we were doin’ our homework. And we lived way out. I mean, we lived at the end of a dirt road in the middle of nowhere, out … cow pastures surrounded us.

So, whenever our doorbell rang, it was not a comforting sound. I’m not even sure that I knew we had a doorbell until it rang that night and the sun was setting and it was getting dark and our hearts dropped to the floor. We went to the front door and there on the other side of the door was a man dressed like one of the hoboes in my storybook, almost frightening a little bit, like he hadn’t bathed in a long time, dirty clothes.

My mother did the unthinkable. She opened the door to this man and I will never forget what he said. He fell to his knees and he said, “Ma’am, I am so hungry. Could I just beg you for food?” And my mother went and got a plate of food that she was cooking on the stove and gave it to him. Wanting to protect us, she did shut the door.

Jim: Yeah.

Lorie: But my mom and my brother went off and did their thing. I stood at the front window, pulled back the living room curtains and I watched this man inhale that food, just scoffed it down in probably 10 seconds flat. And my heart broke for the first time for someone who was hungry. I’d never seen someone who was truly hungry, truly in need, and I watched that man walk off down our dirt road into the silhouette of the evening, but his silhouette has never left my heart.

Jim: Wow.

Lorie: Every time I see someone in need, I think about that man. I don’t know where he came from. I have no idea, but the impact he made on me, I’ll never forget that.

Jim: --you’re saying. Let’s get to the practical nature of it, ‘cause your book, A Cup of Cold Water in His Name is so filled. I mean, it is 60 ways to really reach out and touch people. So, let’s get down to some of that. What are some of those small ways in this area of hunger? You’ve talked about the $5 gift card that you can hand out. What are some other things that we can do?

Lorie: Well, the book is broken down into the five areas in Matthew 25—feeding the hungry and thirsty, inviting the stranger, clothing the naked, caring for the sick and ministering to the prisoner. And in that area of hunger, there are so many ways that we can help. And the book is also broken down into simple ways, kind of medium ways and then very deep ways that you can go if you’ve got some more time or some more resources. I have a friend, who when she was a little girl, her mom was a single mom and one Wednesday night, they came home from church and there was a cardboard box—

Jim: Yeah.

Lorie: --full of groceries right there. But here’s what brought her mother to tears. It wasn’t just groceries. At the bottom of the box, there were fun foods for the kids. Someone had thought about those children and you know, when you’re a single mom and the kids at the grocery store say, “Oh, mom, can we have this? Can we have that?” There’s just usually not money in the budget for that.

Jim: Right, those are the luxury items.

Lorie: Absolutely, those- those “fun foods,” I like to call them. Someone had bought fun foods just for those children. That’s something that you can do with your children. Hide in the bush and then watch when she comes home and see what happens. Be little ninjas about it. That would be just something fun for you to do with your family.

Jim: And you know, so often we’re just saying, “Well, the church can do that,” and we don’t engage it. And that’s another way to do it. Go to your pastor and say, “Who can I help in the church?

Lorie: Absolutely.

Jim: And I’m sure they’ll have a list of people.

Lorie: Through that benevolence, you’re right.

Jim: It’s really moved me to do that. The other benefit of something like this is your kids seeing you do this and them participating in it.

Lorie: Right.

Jim: It gives ‘em a different heart for the needy, doesn’t it?

Lorie: It does. It begins to mold and shape their heart into a heart like His.

John: I think it’s interesting, Lorie. You’re talking to folks, a lot of whom get this. They understand. But some of our listeners, their kids are a little isolated. I mean, my kids have never been around truly needy people in our community beyond a few special projects. So, it’s a little challenging for you. I mean, you’re trying to bump me out of my comfort zone, it seems.

Lorie: You have to get out of your suburban neighborhood and you might want to go downtown, serve at a soup kitchen with your children. They really do need to see that it’s not “us and them.” That we are all God’s people and God wants us to touch the hearts of people who are truly needy.

But another way that we have … my family and I have helped and this is under “stranger” in the book. And sometimes strangers are in the pew next to you. And they may need some help, as well. We have a wonderful couple in our church who were never able to have any children of their own, and we have sort of adopted them.

And while they’re not needy in that they’re hungry or thirsty, they’re needy in that, we come along and help them mow their grass. We come along and check on them every day. We call them. We Invite them over during the holidays. We love on them and we have considered them our “grand friends” and that’s something our whole family does together and it’s not easy.

We used to travel to Georgia when we lived in North Carolina and bring them back up to our home in the mountains, and that was not easy to do, because the wife is in a wheelchair, but our children pick up the pace with that and they help us and that’s somethin’ that we can all do together.

John: My hope as a parent is you’re catching the vision here for ways that you can kind of instill and open heart, and a giving heart in your children, and if you don’t have kids, I hope you’re challenged and inspired as well, to uh, to do these kind of simple things that Lorie’s talking about. Lorie Newman is our guest on Focus on the Family today, and her book, A Cup of Cold Water in His Name. You can find more about that at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast..

Jim: Lorie, we’ve talked about a few things here, gift cards you can hand out. Don’t over analyze where a person’s at. Just do it in the name of Christ. Say something about it. Let’s move it to now things you can do, which I think your mom had this situation, where I thought it was beautiful what she did with an elderly woman from the church in bringing her flowers.

Lorie: It was actually a very dear friend of hers who was dying of cancer, and I was a little girl at the time. I would sit in the living room while my mother would visit with her and she always brought her flowers, always. And she would tell her, “I want you to enjoy these flowers while you’re here.” And she knew she was dying and she knew that she had a very short time on earth and my mother would always say to the nurse as she left, “Now put these in some water and I’ll be back in a few days to bring some more. I won’t be sending any flowers to the funeral, because I want her to enjoy these while she’s here.”

And here’s me, little girl, sitting in the living room, hearing all of this and that’s just another way that God used those early experiences to mold me and shape me to have a compassionate heart like Him, but it also shows us that our children are watching when we do small things like that. There is no small thing done to a needy person that God does not see.

Jim: Lorie, also you talked about something close to our heart here at Focus on the Family and that’s the pregnancy resource centers, being able to do something for them. They’re so typically underfunded and stressed to meet the needs of the local women in their community. And you know, we certainly lift them up through our efforts here at Focus with actually free resources like booklets and other things that they use. I think we give away about three to three to four hundred thousand dollars of materials to the pregnancy resource centers every year and Option Ultrasound machines that we help sponsor in these clinics, but in a more practical way and perhaps in a simple way, you can do something. Talk about that.

Lorie: Absolutely. Today, you can organize a baby shower for a crisis pregnancy center, very easy.

Jim: How does a person do that though? Jean and me, how do we go about doing that?

Lorie: Well, you could probably ask Jean about that, because I just bet you she has been to a baby shower.

Jim: She’s been to many.

Lorie: And if you know what a baby shower looks like, how …

Jim: John, do you know what it looks like?

John: Actually yes.

Jim: Okay, good (Laughter).

John: For one of our kids—

Lorie: There you go.

John: --there was a baby shower and it was sufficient to say, one time.

Jim: Okay, good. That was a test; go ahead.

Lorie: If you can go to the grocery store and buy a cake and you can send invitations or put a little blurb in your church bulletin to say, “Hey, we’re gonna collect formula, new clothes, diapers, diaper bags, gently used cribs and other baby items. We’re gonna collect those on a Wednesday night during the prayer service. Bring them to room so and so. It’s that easy, maybe have a cake, some refreshments, not even a cake if you don’t want to, but have a baby shower. You’re … if you give one to a new mom, how about give one to a crisis pregnancy center. How easy that and—

Jim: And really—

Lorie: --what a blessing.

Jim: --you can contact them to find out who needs that—

Lorie: Right.

Jim: --kind of touch of love.

Lorie: And they may need some more specific things, a certain type of formula or that sort of thing and you can definitely get in contact with them. I assure you, they will say, yes, please, that is a welcome thing for us.

Jim: Now you are, I can’t believe this, but you’re a mom of eight.

Lorie: I am.

Jim: And you are very youthful (Laughing).

Lorie: Thank you.

Jim: Talk about your kids. You saw this as a young lady, a girl with your mom, showing you so much of this love to people. What have you done with your kids and how have they responded?

Lorie: Well, my children’s ages range from 22 all the way down to 8 months. So, I have one in just about every area of growing up, literally one in every department at church—college (Laughter) all the way down to the nursery.

And we’ve done lots of things together. We have gone on downtown mission trips together. My older children have all been on mission trips themselves with mission organizations and it thrills my heart that they want to do that. My oldest daughter is headed to the Philippines again this summer. We like to work together to serve and like I said earlier, that one couple that we serve is probably our biggest thing, that it’s just an ongoing mission for us.

And let me say, when you have adopted children, especially from another culture, I have two children that are adopted—one from Haiti and one from Liberia—that are sandwiched in those other six biological children, that is an ongoing mission that is right there within your family.

Jim: Yeah (Chuckling).

Lorie: It’s a … it’s a mission trip you bring into your home always.

Jim: Well, and the benefit of that again is exciting your kids to do acts of service and giving them that experience, and I think so many are missing it because of the busyness again, but stop and think intentionally, which is what you’re saying.

The ultimate, I think rightful sacrifice, I say that, but I say that in the right way, is that adoption process. I mean, that’s giving your home, your life, your children--

Lorie: It is.

Jim: --opening them up to others, in your case, two other children. Talk about that process and the impact it’s made on you.

Lorie: I will never forget sitting down with a wonderful man in our church who was a psychologist. And he did our psychological evaluation for our adoption when we adopted our little girl from Haiti. And he put the pen down during the interview and he sat back and he said, “Lorie and Duane, your family will never be the same. You will have a different family when you adopt this child, and it will be a good thing” and it has been.

But she has so changed all of us and you know, I tell people that I have eight children, two of them are adopted, but I just can’t remember which ones they are. And of course, they’re of color, so it’s obvious which ones they are, but I really do forget.

When we first went to get that little girl from Haiti, when we were standing on the porch in Pétionville, Haiti, we were leaving that morning and we climbed into the car and all the orphans were waving goodbye to their little friend and she climbed up in the back and waved goodbye to all of them. [It] nearly broke my heart and I knew when I got home, I had to do something. I got on my face and said, “Whatever it is, Lord, I have to do something.”

And an orphan ministry at my church was birthed from that and it’s grown and grown and grown--nothing that I did, just a mom saying, “I’ve seen their faces. I’ve seen it and I have to do something” and He did it through me.

Jim: Well, and what you’re talking about here is so beautiful. It is the act and it’s not … it doesn’t have to be a big stadium; it’s the one-on-one—

Lorie: That’s right.

Jim: --as you’ve noted in Matthew, it’s helping that one that’s right in front of you. And in your case, you now moved that to help many who are without a mom and a dad. We do that here at Focus on the Family with Wait No More, with foster children, as well and just to encourage people to consider, not for everyone--

Lorie: That’s right.

Jim: --but you can come alongside and do relief or respite, as it’s called, to give these foster parents a break for the weekend and you can pack lunches. You can help—

Lorie: That’s right.

Jim: --them. I think they say that an adopting couple, it takes about five to make it a healthy circumstance, it takes about five other couples to come alongside them—families to come alongside them—

Lorie: Right.

Jim: --to relieve them of some of the pressure of that. So, if that’s something you want to do, certainly come to Focus on the Family. John, you’ll give those details, but I would encourage people to consider it.

In the end, Lorie, as we wrap up, the bottom line is, acts of service, acts of kindness, it’s just like Jesus said. It’s like, the more you give in this area and the areas that we’ve talked about, the more alive you feel. And it seems to me, one of the challenges we have within the church is the reason we are not alive—

Lorie: Absolutely.

Jim: --is because the enemy is trapping us—

Lorie: Yes.

Jim: --in the traps of this life, rather than doing these things and seeing God work and leading someone to Christ and seeing a tear fall from a single parent mom’s face, because it was exactly what she had prayed for that morning and you actually ended up fulfilling God’s heart for her. That’s where your faith comes alive and you feel it and you experience it--

Lorie: That’s right.

Jim: --and you want to do it.

Lorie: Think about the last thing that Jesus did before He left this earth. He got down on His knees and He washed the feet of His disciples. He knew what was about to happen, but He got down on His knees and served and that is what He calls us to do.

Jim: Well, that’s so good. Let’s shake the cobwebs off. Your book, A Cup of Cold Water in His Name is as practical as it can get, 60 Ways to Help People, with all the information, websites, ideas, thoughts, addresses, how to contact organizations, prisons, I’m sure to help with writing letters. All of that is right there in a real handy can-do book. So, thank you for being with us.

Lorie: Well, thank you. It’s been a pleasure.

Closing:

John: Lorie has shared so many very practical ideas about reaching out and serving those around us, and I hope you’ve been inspired by the conversation, and that you’ll wanna get a copy of, “A Cup of Cold Water in His Name, which as we mentioned, has dozens of service ideas, and some of those you perhaps have never thought of. Like anonymously, sending flowers to someone, to a single mom maybe, or offering a ride to an elderly neighbor who just needs a hand. This would make a great reference book as well for your church library so, look for A Cup of Cold Water in His Name at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: John, this is sanctity of human life week, and according to recent research that we’ve done, and we do every year, over the past twelve months, Focus on the Family has inspired and equipped over a million people to stand up for the helpless, for those who have no voice in our culture, including the pre-born child and the orphan. Option Ultrasound is helping to save babies by placing ultrasound machines in pregnancy centers around the country. I think the number now is 425,000 babies saved. That is awesome. Wait No More is a project that helps you learn more about foster care and the opportunity to be involved with foster kids. Perhaps even, as an adoptive parent. You can learn more about those two projects when you get in touch with us here at Focus on the Family. And I hope you’ll support these efforts by prayer and by your donations.

John: And when you support Option Ultrasound or Wait No More, with a gift of any amount today, we’ll send a copy of Lorie’s book, A Cup of Cold Water as our way of saying thank you for joining the support team, and thank you for making a difference. You can contribute online or when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459. On behalf of Jim Daly and the rest of the team here at Focus on the Family, thanks for listening. I’m John Fuller, and we’ll see you here next time as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.

 

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Lorie Newman

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Lorie Newman is a freelance writer and a public speaker who frequently addresses audiences at Christian retreats and ministry events. Lorie's articles have appeared in publications such as The Huffington Post, On Mission Magazine, Hearts at Home and Proverbs 31 Woman. She has also authored a book titled A Cup of Cold Water in His Name. A former elementary school teacher, Lorie is now a homeschooling mom of eight children.