Wednesday, November 28, 2007
a friend sent me this article about the University of Florida’s quarterback. It is about his life growing up with homeschooling. It was encouraging for me to read and thought it may be for other homeschooling moms too. It is a big picture reminder.
Pam Tebow hugs her son,Tim, as he passes through the Gator Walk before entering the stadium on game day.
By BY SUZY A. RICHARDSON
Sun staff writer
In the midst of a stadium packed with screaming fans, Pam Tebow watches her youngest child - the solid Florida quarterback she affectionately calls 'Timmy'- dominate the football field and she knows that she did something right.
Advice: "I really have a heart to encourage moms and women to trust the Lord with all their heart for all their lives."
But for the mother of five, raising Tim Tebow had nothing to do with football and everything to do with faith.
Tim's story begins years before his birth, when his parents, both University of Florida students in the late-1960s, met on campus. Pam was a freshman when she met Bob, a sophomore, who was publicizing an event for a campus Christian group.
They became friends and a year later, Pam went on her first date - to the Florida/Georgia game - with her future husband. The Gators won that year.
Three years later, Pam was a no-show at her graduation for good reason - she was getting married. And in the blink of an eye it seemed, Pam said there were four little ones to care for.
"By the grace of God, I have a high energy level and I love my children, but I let the Lord have the credit because it can be an overwhelming task," she said.
In 1985, the family moved to the Philippines, where they lived as missionaries, sharing their Christian faith with the island's natives and building a ministry.
"It wasn't always easy, but it was a wonderful time for our family," Pam said. "We learned a lot - you always learn a lot when you visit a Third World country. You grow in appreciation for everything you have."
As the couple reached out to families across the island, they prayed to expand their own.
"We started praying for Timmy by name, and then we got pregnant so we just felt like God had a special plan for him," she said.
But while their prayers were answered, the pregnancy proved difficult from the beginning.
Just before her pregnancy, Pam fell into a coma after contracting amoebic dysentery, a bacteria transmitted through contaminated drinking water. During her recovery, she received a series of strong medications. And even though she discontinued the regimen when she discovered the pregnancy, doctors told Pam the fetus had been damaged.
Doctors later told Pam that her placenta had detached from the uterine wall, a condition known as placental abruption, which can deprive the fetus of oxygen and nutrients. Doctors expected a stillbirth, Pam said, and they encouraged her to terminate the pregnancy.
"They thought I should have an abortion to save my life from the beginning all the way through the seventh month," she recalled.
Pam said her decision to sustain the pregnancy was a simple one - because of her faith.
"We were grieved," she said. "And so my husband just prayed that if the Lord would give us a son, that he would let us raise him."
In her seventh month of pregnancy, Pam traveled to the country's capital, Manila, where she received around-the-clock care from an American-trained physician.
For the next two months, Pam - steadfastly praying for a healthy child - remained on bed rest.
And on her due date - Aug. 14, 1987 - Pam gave birth to Timothy Richard Tebow, who she described as "skinny, but rather long." "We were concerned at first because he was so malnourished, but he definitely made up for it," she said, between laughs. Today Tim, now 20, stands at a solid 6'3" and 235 pounds.
Tim was three years old when the family moved back to the U.S., where they settled on a small piece of land in Jacksonville. Pam home-schooled her five children, while Bob, an ordained minister, worked full time running the ministry in the Philippines. Today, the family ministry employs a full-time staff of 50 people and operates an orphanage that houses 50 children.
Pam said the children learned some of their most valuable lessons during missions trips each summer.
"That was very life impacting. It changes your children's perspectives because when you grow up in America, you think this is how all of life is," she said. "But when you see people eating out of garbage cans, it affects everything else you do."
She also points to home-schooling for shaping her children's lives. "It's not all about academics," she explained. "It's about teaching them everything they need to know to be successful in life, and the schools aren't going to teach those things."
But she said love and faith impacted them the most.
"We put scripture to tune to help them memorize it and that has been very life transforming," she said. "I can't always remind my children of the truth, but if God's word is in their hearts, then he himself can remind them."
"A really big factor is to love them unconditionally just like God loves us," Pam added. "Kids will do some amazing things if they are loved unconditionally."
Pam's oldest child, 31-year-old Christy Tebow-Allen, was almost 12 years old when Tim was born. She recalls the lessons her mother taught Tim, beginning when he was just knee-high.
"When he was little, he was always good at sports," recalled Tebow-Allen, who is moving later this month to South Asia, where she and her husband have committed to work as humanitarians for three years. "I remember times when he would kind of get cocky about it and my mom would just really take the time to talk about (Bible) verses about humility; and she would speak about our names and what they meant. With Timmy, his name means 'Honoring God,' and she would always say 'Timmy, does that honor God?'"
Craig Howard, head football coach at Allen D. Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, coached Tim for three years. He recalled a mother who cared more about character than winning touchdowns. "She wanted him to play hard," he said. "But more importantly, she wanted him to play with character and leadership."
"When we lost, he would be really upset," he added. "And from the corner of my eye, there was that momma on the sidelines with her arm around her son, saying 'I still love you.'"
Today, Pam still sits on the sidelines of every single game. And her message remains the same - character before football. It is a message that is apparent in Tim's life today - on and off the field.
"She always taught me that there were more important things than football and to treat people as I wanted to be treated," Tim said in an e-mail to The Gainesville Sun. "For me, every day includes four things: God, family, academics and football, in that order, and that's thanks to my mom."