Issue 59 | September 8, 2013 | Investments of a Father


A week ago we asked for your stories about home schooling dads.  Two wonderful testimonies arrived.  Today, we are featuring a very moving story that came to us from Lisa Armstrong Wils of Port Orchard, Washington.  Next week, we have another thought-provoking story to send you.


Resource Advisor Revision

This week we have been having a back-and-forth discussion with Alpha Omega Publishers regarding their Computer Literacy - Microsoft 7 course. It has been listed in our Resource Advisor as a text course worth .25 credit. Information on the AOP website was unclear so we have been on the phone with them. In conclusion, the course is actually worth .5 credit, so you who own a Resource Advisor should note that in your manual. We very much appreciate Alpha Omega for their follow-through with getting this resolved.

Featured Father: Jesse Armstrong

family photoIn this letter, I would like to pay tribute to a great homeschooling dad and husband. He was really just a great dad who invested much in the lives of his sons, but we happened to homeschool as well. From the time the boys were born, Jesse began investing in their futures. He worked, came home, played with the boys, included them in repair projects around the house, patiently tutored them as he fixed the car, and made sure they did their share of work even from a young age.

Just as the boys were starting school, our family moved to Russia as missionaries. This began an 8-year adventure that gave the boys a unique childhood and a well-developed view of the world (much different than U.S.-raised children). Our life was never convenient as we lived mostly in third-world conditions, and worked hard just to survive the rigors of life, especially during the cold winters when pipes and car batteries would freeze at 40 below. As the boys grew, they spent every possible moment working hard at their dad's side. Our family fixed up a house on limited resources, and learned the art of recycling. The old greenhouse was rebuilt into a swing set and playhouse. The back end of a dump truck that we traded with the neighbor who wanted our water tank became a pool in our back yard. family at workThe broken toilet was fixed with an old lock and a piece of bubble gum. We used "Egyptian pyramid-building technology" when lifting a heavy steel water tank onto a platform well above our heads, so that we could water the garden by gravity feed. The boys learned some introductory welding between the ages of 7-10, and could get more cement work done in a day by hand, than a typical adult Russian man. They constructed a brick retaining wall around our potato patch, which doubled as an ice skating rink in the winter. We did self-designed shop classes through NARHS when the boys built their own bunk beds, and got school credit for the work that they would have been doing anyway. All of these projects inside and outside of the house taught the boys many things, but mostly the value of hard work and ingenuity. The experiences built in each of them rich character, modeled by their dad.

poolIn 2006, Jesse began experiencing some odd symptoms. By early 2007, after we had returned home for a planned furlough, our suspicions were confirmed. He was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). We relocated our family back to the U.S. near relatives, sold our home in Russia, and closed out our life there. Jesse's condition deteriorated rapidly, and he was in a wheelchair before we could even buy a house in the U.S. Soon, his communication abilities were declining, and he began using a speech device. There was much to do to fix up our new house, including making it handicap-accessible. Again, the boys stepped up to the task and accomplished many things, by this time without the help of Dad. He sat in his wheelchair and painstakingly tapped out cryptic messages on his speech machine with directions on how to build something, and what to do. The boys learned to effectively interpret his limited communication and with their previously-learned skills, they built outdoor structures, wired our shop from start to finish, and built an attic and cabinets.

sawingFor a year and a half, we worked very hard to make our place functional for our family, and simultaneously cared for Dad who continued to rapidly decline. The boys and I were the 24/7 care team for him, as he bravely endured a terrible illness, dying a little more each day. The therapists could not keep up with us as we rapidly invented new ways to meet our everyday needs and care for our beloved husband and father. Many nights were sleepless and our bodies neared exhaustion. Some of the academics had to be let go for a time, but new skills were being learned each day, and education in real life was continuing. In May of 2009, just a few months before his 40th birthday, Dad was released from his broken physical body and was promoted to Heaven to be with His Savior. The boys at that time were 16, 14, 12, and 8 years old. We still grieve the loss of a wonderful father and husband, but at the same time, we are thankful for the amount he invested into his boys during his short life on earth. He invested more than some fathers invest in a long lifetime. Never underestimate the influence of a father in a child's life. Investments are costly (in time, money, patience, etc.), but they reap immeasurable benefits. Fathers, invest now! You don't know how much time you might have with your kids . . . and you won't ever regret making this type of investment.

By: Lisa Armstrong Wils, Homeschooling mom in Port Orchard, WA