We all need role models—people to look to as inspiration for the bettering of ourselves. But as I look at common role models in today’s culture, I am sadly disappointed. Names such as Reese Witherspoon, Tina Turner, Oprah Winfrey, Taylor Swift, Kate Winslet, and Justin Beiber are the most common names appearing on top ten lists. And for what reason? Justin Beiber and Taylor Swift made these lists simply because they avoided serious scandal. They have never been caught doing anything terribly wrong. But what about admiring someone for the things they have done, not for what they haven’t?
I have quite a few role models. They range from Biblical characters and missionaries, to simple, yet incredible women like my mom or my speech coach (I love you Mom and Mrs. Cary!) But while I love and admire them all, today I want to focus on the story of a woman who has made a huge impact on my life and on the lives of many others. This woman is Sono Harris.
Though Sono Harris is best known through the accomplishments of her children, she did not always want to be a wife and mother. At the age of nineteen (when she met Mr. Harris), nothing could have been further from her mind. She was a talented ballet dancer and had hopes of a professional career. However, after being forced to step back from ballet because of an ankle injury, Mrs. Harris slowly began to re-think her life. And on February 17, 1973, she and Gregg Harris were married.
In 1981, when Joshua was five years old, they made the then radical decision to homeschool. This was the beginning of Sono’s work in the homeschool movement. As the family grew to include Joel, Alex, Brett, Sarah, Isaac, and James, her expertise in homeschooling grew as well. She became passionate about homeschooling, believing it was a “God-given responsibility to provide [her] children’s education” and began to share her passion with others. Soon Mr. and Mrs. Harris were pioneers and avid advocates of the homeschool movement, publishing several works that have come to be regarded as classics by many home educators.
But her main impact came in the form of her children. According to her son Isaac, “She didn’t think her children would be amazing, she made them amazing. She pushed them to do great things.” Her eldest son Joshua is now the bestselling author of many titles including I Kissed Dating Goodbye and is a strong advocate of emotional and physical purity. Second eldest son, Joel, is a talented musician, heading the Northwest Worship Academy. Her twins Alex and Brett also became bestselling authors at the age of 19 with their book Do Hard Things. And who knows what her younger children will accomplish in the coming years. Because of Mrs. Harris’ faithfulness in raising her children as God called her to do, she left a huge impact upon millions of lives… including mine.
I never had the privilege of meeting Mrs. Harris before she passed away from cancer, yet I love her dearly and treasure the memory and the lessons she left behind. Her life has touched mine in incredible ways. Through her example I have been inspired to be a wife and mother just like her, filled with dedication, drive, and passion for the things of God. From her I have learned to “hustle while I wait” and that, regardless of how things may seem at the time, being faithful in what God has placed before you is all that matters.
Not only did she teach me things through her own life and example, but she indirectly taught me many valuable lessons through the lives of her children. Through Josh I have learned the importance of emotional purity and of saving my first kiss for marriage. Through Joel, I have often been blessed and touched by his music. Through Alex and Brett, my world was turned upside down with the challenge to do hard things for the glory of God. And through a friendship with Isaac, I have learned to laugh at myself.
Two years ago today Mrs. Harris went on to be with the Lord. While many still grieve her loss, she still lives on as an incredible example of a woman committed to Christ, a true role model for young women coming after her. She was a Proverbs 31 woman whose:
“… children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.’ Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” ~Proverbs 31:28-30
Thank you, Mrs. Harris.