Let me start by congratulating you on kicking cancer’s butt. Can you share your experience with us?
ED: When I was 13 years old, I was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, a bone cancer. I am currently cured and have check-ups. The doctors initially said I had a 10% chance of survival and no chance of having children.
Not only did you survive, but you are also thriving with eight children. What is it like for you and your husband to have a large family?
ED: I met my wonderful husband, and he married me knowing I had cancer and “could not” have children. He read me the scripture of Luke 1:13 when Zechariah was told, “Zechariah, your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.” He told me we would one day have a son (probably through adoption), and we would call him John. After four years of marriage, the Lord blessed us with our own baby boy, and we named him John. We had a baby number eight by the time our oldest was twelve years old. I am SO BLESSED to be a mom, and I want to spend as much time as possible with my children. This is one of the reasons I wanted to homeschool. My family is very close. I love that they are there for one another. There is always a buddy to do something with. I know they won’t be here long before they start their own families.
Homeschooling can be a huge undertaking. What advice would you offer a mom considering homeschooling for her child/children?
ED: There are so many resources today for homeschooling. Never think you can not do it. There are many ways to homeschool; you just have to find the resources to fit your family. When my oldest was four years old, I started looking at my school options. I called all the private schools to see the prices and researched the public schools in our area. I also considered homeschooling, and I decided to try it. I figured if I ruined him in kindergarten and did a terrible job, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. I could put him in school the following year. We started homeschooling in 2004. We were very blessed to get into Ridgecrest Christian School, and there was a wealth of knowledge and resources to help with the homeschooling journey. My number one tip is to choose your child, not the curriculum. If it is a tough day, close the book and take a walk with your child. Enjoy them! You can get back to the textbook tomorrow.
You are married, homeschooled, and have eight kids. I imagine it can quickly get exhausting some days. What are some ways you avoid mom burnout?
ED: The Lord knew I needed a great man to keep me focused on what is important. When I start stressing, my husband keeps me laughing. He helps me keep my eyes where they belong and reminds me to lay things down at the Lord’s feet and that I don’t need to pick up the day’s burdens. I also love to listen to 94.3 on the radio. Praise and worship just fill me up again. It gives me precious reminders. Lastly, I am very thankful my husband gives me a kiss and hug every morning. This helps me to get through the day. Each of my boys knows how important hugs are to me, so they also give me a hug in the morning. It is the little things that matter.
What is one piece of advice you would like to go back and give your younger self?
ED: Every day is a gift. Every birthday is another year the Lord has given me. So try to use every day for His glory, no matter what the day will hold.
Elizabeth Duke and her husband, William, have been married for 27 years. They have eight children, six boys, and two girls, ranging from 23 to 10 years old. Her husband is a veterinarian at Care Animal Clinic. They have adopted two dogs and are the proud owners of a turtle, a bearded dragon, and a hermit crab. The family has always been involved with the Boys and Girls Scouts of America and other activities like Taekwondo, Firefighter Explorers, theatre, and piano.