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Lessons from Holland, Michigan: Frozen Waves, Heated Sidewalks, & a 15-year-old Pallbearer

Recently I had the privilege of being invited to speak at the Mid-Winter Conference for Home Educators in Michigan.  Designed to encourage families in a place and during a season where most days are snowy and gray, the event drew homeschoolers from many counties around Lake Michigan. I had never seen this Great Lake before and was surprised to see that it actually has the appearance of an ocean – a boundless horizon of water and sand. In winter this “ocean” is covered with snow, and I saw a huge frozen wave of water crystallized around the boardwalk railing.

Another unusual aspect of that part of the U.S. is located in downtown Holland, Michigan.  This quaint, Dutch, tulip-filled-in-spring city is home to another amazing phenomenon I had never encountered: heated sidewalks!  The city’s sidewalks are actually heated to melt the snow and ice and enable the hardy shoppers to enter the downtown stores.

The downtown merchants association in Holland had a dilemma. They needed people to shop in the many months of snow, freezing, and ice there. They collaborated to come up with an innovative, workable solution that would allow them to thrive. So it is with us; whether it is behavior that is unacceptable, curricula that is tired, or scheduling that is splintering family time, we need to formulate new, creative solutions that work for us. We parents not only need to be active problem-solvers, we must inspire our children to think outside of the box to achieve their goals.

The family in MI who served as my hosts (and I do mean served) became instant family to me. All seven children were precious, amazingly intelligent, and operating in their God-given gifts to serve Him, their family, and others. One of the boys had always had a heart for the elderly; when given the choice of a free night out, he has been known to choose—not cross-country skiing, not a movie, not a ball game—but a night of sitting and visiting with an older person. The proof of this devotion was apparent when he was asked to be a pall bearer, at the age of 15, for one of his elderly friends.

God is faithful to reveal our children’s talents if we are faithful to ask, listen, wait, and watch. My new friend watches and prays constantly to discern where she believes God has gifted her children. She encourages and provides opportunities for her kiddoes to serve others. That is why her son was honored to participate in an elderly man’s final wishes.

May we too be found faithful in pursuing
and facilitating our children’s giftings and heart desires!

adventures in homeschooling with Karen Costello