Rebecca, the Well Planned Gal, founded Home Educating
Family Association, LLC. (HEDUA) in 2007.
As C.E.O. of Home Educating Family Association, Rebecca has inspired and supported thousands of homeschool moms each year through her speaking, talk show, daily planners, magazines, and online resources.
Each year Rebecca uses her platform as the Well Planned Gal to share her inspirational story of grace. Challenging women to discover the unique journey God has for them, Rebecca mentors women in their work, marriage, parenting adventures, and life.
Rebecca’s personal journey and day-to-day life can be found in the pages of Family Magazine, on wellplannedgal.com, and through social media.
// Family Magazine //
With a strong desire to see women equipped to raise children and engage the culture, Rebecca created and published Family Magazine in 2007. Joining theologically strong voices such as Ravi Zacharias and Elisabeth Elliott with the experiential voices of veteran homeschooling moms and dads, Family Magazine offers a strong mentoring influence for today’s home educating families.
// Well Planned Day //
In 2009, Rebecca designed and authored the number one selling product in homeschooling: The Well Planned Day, Family Homeschool Planner. Since then, Rebecca has expanded her line of planning and organizational tools to include planners, calendars, lesson plans, and software.
// Well Planned Gal //
In 2012, Rebecca launched the first homeschooling talk show, Life Plus Homeschooling, filming hundreds of episodes and interviewing a variety of guests from educational experts and homeschool bloggers to politicians and former heads of state.
With her extensive background in software design and programming, Rebecca created the first management program with homeschool moms in mind. Tracking everything from chores to lesson plans, My Well Planned Day™ is quickly becoming homeschooling’s most innovative product.
// Continuing to Grow //
Always the innovator, Rebecca continues to assess the ever-evolving needs of the homeschooling community. Launched in 2016, Well Planned Lessons offers homeschool families a simple, flexible lesson plan option for preschool through twelfth grade. Well Planned Start joined the product line-up in 2017, providing parents with an interactive grade-level assessment.
Even as these products join the ever-growing line of Well Planned Gal resources, Rebecca and her staff continue to look to the future, anticipating growth in the homeschooling community and creating innovative, original products to meet the needs of both new and veteran homeschool families.
// My Story //
// Life doesn’t always go as planned, and that’s ok with me. //
An Unusual Childhood
When I was a young woman I didn’t have dreams of getting married and having kids. I had an unusual childhood, spent in a children’s home until the age of twelve when my three siblings and I were adopted by the man who married my biological mother.
My new father had a background in old school ways, as he was significantly older than my mother. Thanks to his Army life, Italian heritage, and rearing on the streets of New York, he expected teenagers to work hard and have respect for elders.
About a year later, he became a Christian. Our lives changed drastically, and we moved from bustling Florida city life to the hills of Tennessee. I remember vividly the sound of floors creaking and the smell of coffee brewing at 4am as he took out his Bible and began to dive into Scripture.
My father’s business dealings allowed me to live for a time in Costa Rica with an amazing Christian family. I learned how to make homemade ice cream for the family business, picked up a bit of Spanish, and discovered how to shop the outdoor market on Saturdays. This was one of the happiest years of my childhood. Living with a family that loved and honored each other impacted me for life.
Homeschool Pioneer Days
Back home in the US, I started to homeschool. I’ll be honest, I hated it. My parents fought often, and my mother and I didn’t get along – and that’s putting it kindly. I wanted nothing more than to go to school.
It was difficult to homeschool in Tennessee at the time, so my father took it upon himself to change what he could. He formed Tennessee Association of Church Related Schools with Rob Shearer of Greenleaf Press, and our family started a homeschool book business.
High School Apprenticeship
To avoid home life, my dad would allow me to go to work each day with him. In those early years of homeschool convention days, I began a shipping company. From there, Dad asked me to program a system for his business and gave me two weeks. I loved a challenge, and I got it done.
My love for computers and programming only grew as I learned multiple systems before the age of eighteen. I continued to work for my dad and learn everything from business management to accounting, logistics, and more. These years of hard work shaped me into an energetic go-getter.
To this day, I credit my father for teaching me to be a planner. He took a legal pad of paper and Velcro and attached a list to my desk. He would write out my tasks, and I would cross out what I finished. When he approved, he checked it off for me. To this day, a mini Steno pad is never far from me.
On My Own & Confused
With an increasing amount of stress at home, I left the day I turned eighteen. Angry and hurting, I didn’t want anything to do with a God who didn’t protect me from the many abuses I had encountered as a child and teenager. If God was in control, why did it happen? How could he allow it? The questions swirled in my head as I launched out into the big wide world in my naïve state.
I was often conflicted. I believed in God, because nature proved Him. I knew He sent Jesus, and only through love could one die for another. But I could not reconcile how the One who could save from hell would not intervene and save me from the hell I was living on earth. One evening, I remember looking toward heaven and saying to God, “If you are really there and you really love me, if you help me understand, I’ll follow you.” I can see in hindsight that, over the next five years, the Lord walked me step by step into an understanding of him and his love.
As I said, I didn’t have hopes and dreams of marriage and family. I wanted to be a corporate woman. I would date and have boyfriends and maybe even live with a guy, but I was never going to get hitched and have those pesky kids! But remember, I was naïve and lost. I met my soon-to-be husband at work, and within a few dates, I was pregnant. Being raised in a good ol’ Baptist church, I knew that I had to marry because // I made the bed and had to lie in it. //
Becoming a Mom
It wasn’t a happy marriage. It was often quite difficult. But when my first baby arrived, my life changed. I didn’t know anything about being a mother, but what I did know is that I wanted to be a good one. I wanted to give my kids a different childhood than I had, and I also suddenly wanted a lot of kids. I didn’t know love like this existed!
I didn’t go back to work after Jenny was born, but decided to stay at home and work on the side. I had no clue what a stay-at-home mom did, so I watched Leave it to Beaver to emulate.
// Yes, I did the high heels and dresses while vacuuming. //
I knew I needed to attend church, not because I knew God, but because that’s what good southern people did. So we searched for a church not based on any theology but on who taught best about staying married and raising kids. We gravitated toward legalism.
In these churches, I sought out women who I thought had it all together. Their kids dressed well, behaved well, and seemed happy. I would shadow these women and ask a gazillion questions. I began to learn to cook, and I loved it. I enjoyed learning the art of homemaking and, with my A-type personality, set out to do the best I could. I had dinner on the table at 5:30, a fresh made dessert each evening, laundry all done, and the house ready for company at any moment.
My Lord Called
I looked to have it all together, and along came baby number two // Abby // and then three // AnneMarie //. By this time, marriage was growing even more difficult. We were both selfish people and had not learned how to disagree well. I was searching for answers. I loved my kids, but didn’t have very much patience. I was trying to love my husband, but didn’t respect him.
When AnneMarie was three months old, I had another all-out fight with my husband and was incredibly low, completely exasperated, and at a loss to know what to do. So, I said a prayer for help. In that moment, although I had known the gospel story and the prayer of salvation all along, it was like a blindfold was lifted and I saw myself as a sinner in need of a Savior. I pleaded for salvation, and a million pounds were lifted from me. My Lord called, and I answered. I was His and finally free.
Before salvation, I often took the messages of the churches we attended and tried to check off the list of things they recommended. I read my Bible and prayed, but it was so hollow. After I met Christ, Scripture came alive. I would spend hours upon hours talking to God, reading his Word and journaling. I discovered a God who not only loved me but would help me become like Him.
I discovered the power of the Holy Spirit as He convicted my heart and I repented, only to feel even freer! I learned to have patience with my children, love them, do for them, and develop amazing relationships. I learned to hold my tongue with my husband and choose the battles wisely.
Should I Homeschool?
Along came baby number four // John // and then my last // Joseph //. By now Jenny was ready for school. Having hated homeschooling, I wasn’t going do that to my kids. However, I realized it wasn’t the method that was the problem. It was the relationship. I began homeschooling and loved it. Like everything else in life, it took practice and patience, but we soon found a rhythm and routine that worked for us. I value the relationships I have been able to build with my kids because of the time homeschooling has afforded us to be together.
With Christ, All Things Are Possible
Time went on, the kids grew, but my marriage did not improve. It became apparent I was married to a fool and had to learn how to navigate and avoid conflicts while protecting the kids as much as possible. I found that I really could do // all things through Christ who strengthens me. //
With a husband who refused to hold a job, I began taking on more and more work, first starting a graphic and programming design company and then an engineering company. Juggling the responsibilities of work, homeschooling, parenting, and laundry, I learned a lot about time management!
Finding Grace in the Gospel
During this time, as I continued to study the Scriptures, I had lots of questions. The legalism wasn’t adding up to the grace of the gospel. We switched churches several times, each time gravitating toward congregations that were less and less legalistic. I developed a passion for wanting to help other women know that truth and freedom of Christ is polar opposite to the oppression often found in fundamental churches, churches that homeschoolers tend to be attracted to.
With a passion to share a message of grace and encourage homeschooling families to embrace the unique life God calls them to, I started Family Magazine. Shortly after, I created the first of my Well Planned Day planners, and my publishing company took off in ways that // no eye has seen, nor ear heard //.
Divorce, My Rescue Plan
For years, I asked God for a better marriage or a way out. For over fifteen years, the answer was no. Although I had Biblical grounds in multiple areas, coupled with children who asked me to divorce, the Lord used those years as sandpaper to form and mold me into a more patience and wiser woman. In 2015, asking God again for a way out, I heard a very clear yes. I filed for divorce.
Although, to most, a divorce is a time of great sadness, I found comfort in my quiet time as the Lord faithfully showed me that, at times, divorce is used as a rescue plan. Over the years, I’d heard advice from friends, relatives, and the church, but I only found true rest in following God’s leadership, for only He knows the bigger picture and the perfect timing.
Danger & A New Low
I had no idea the danger I put myself in when I filed for divorce. Setting a definitive boundary with an abusive person put our lives in peril. The kids and I spent several months on the road surviving. After multiple break ins, threats of harm, and continual stalking, I was advised by the local authorities to get a carry permit, secure my home, and request an order of protection.
My faith was rocked. I had spent 17 years on my knees asking God for safety, provision, and help. I experienced a new low when a homicide detective informed me that 50% of women in my situation did not survive the divorce. Where was God? I thought He promised to protect me.
The kind homicide detective arranged a private lesson to enable me to obtain a firearm and carry permit by end of the following day. I arrived at the location to meet my trainer and parked the car. My hands trembled and tears filled my eyes. I cried out to God. I was afraid of guns and never saw myself having one in my home. Now, it was required for survival. The Lord simply whispered to my heart, “Everything you’ve prayed for is behind those doors.” I honestly believed the Lord was referring to safety and protection.
The class took 8 hours and was given by what I would later describe to the kids as the “kindest man I’d ever met.” Little did I know that, a few years later, I would marry this firearms trainer. Nor did I know that Addis Leroy Farris was top of his profession, a leader in firearms, security and trainer to the elite in the world. The Lord answered seventeen years of prayers; everything I had ever sough in a husband I found in this most amazing man!
New Level of Faith
There are days when I sit in awe trying to wrap my head around the “plan” God had for me. The church often teaches that we should just pray and God will fix the marriage. I had thought for years that was the way it would happen. Little did I know the Lord would take me to new levels of faith by taking me through valleys deeper than I could imagine. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to experience the love, safety, and provision of a good marriage to a good man. There REALLY are marriages that resemble the relationship of Christ and the church.
Enjoying Marriage, Husband and Kids
These days, life is so different. I enjoy waking up and cuddling with my hubby. We enjoy long walks, laughter, and the simple pleasures of life. The kids, after training with Leroy during those dark days, begged me to date and marry him. They love him and are appreciative of a father who loves them. Leroy and I stand amazed at how gracious the Lord has been to our children.
Finding My Focus
My hope and desire is to share with other women the many lessons I’ve learned through navigating a difficult marriage, enjoying an amazing marriage, parenting five distinct kiddos, running a home, and managing a business. I want women to know that, no matter what happens in life – whether pleasant or difficult – there is ample power and grace through Christ not only to make it through, but to use the experience to gain wisdom as we learn to be like our Savior. Through Him, we can take what we learn, become more like Christ, and impact our children and culture with the redeeming power of Christ.
// The Kids //
by Abigail Keliher
Well, now that you’ve read about my mom, let’s move onto us kids. Of course, there are five of us, so this is really just a short summary of who each of us are. If we were to go into detail about each of our lives, we would be here for quite a while.
Jenny the oldest is married to her husband, Holden Sukut, and together they have two precious boys, Clive and Gilbert. They reside in Montana where Holden teaches at a Christian School and Jenny enjoys being a stay at home mom. Jenny is definitely the most gracious of all the siblings. With four younger siblings, she has mastered the skill of resolving conflict and bringing a goofy laughter to the dinner table whenever she is around.
Anne the middle child is attending a local college in pursuit of a physchology degree and law school. Having watched our mom find justice in a courtroom, Anne hopes to make a difference in the lives of families as a family court judge one day.
She is by far the wittiest and sassiest Keliher. With that being said, she is also the therapist of the family. She’s the one we go to when we have a problem and want to talk – and she never fails to lift us up with truth or just make us feel better by quoting John Mulany till we eventually crack a smile. Her passion for Christ and the gospel has especially shown through in the past year. Personally, I can’t wait to see whose life God will let her impact and who she will befriend in the coming years.
John, the first boy, is in his junior year of high school. Being a foot taller than all the girls, he has taken on a major role helping at home and in the business. He always does it with a playful, and oftentimes Olan Rogers-inspired, humor. Oh, and he is about to start driving. The words sound so strange even as I write them. We are all growing up so fast…. Well, moving on.
Joseph is the youngest child and the last of us to turn a teenager. He’s a Star Wars fan, and that’s putting it lightly. He is always looking for a way to earn extra money, and his entrepreneurial ideas keep us on our toes. He has also taken a liking to the newest member of our family, a German shepherd called Hans. And yes, Jojo loves that he takes commands in German.
And lastly there’s me, Abby, the second oldest. I recently graduated Aveda Institute and I’m engaged to marry Zachary Lee.
When my graduation from high school was approaching, I never thought I wouldn’t go to college. I mean, everyone I knew or went to co-op with was going to college. But it just didn’t feel like what God was calling me to do. Instead, after graduation, I pursued a career. I began learning immediately from my mom by sitting in on her work, and slowly she helped me grow my love for design. Being most like her, my organizational side came out. It was not long before she offered me the job of being her graphic designer.
Today, my graphic design experience coupled with my passion for hair color have allowed me to take my career even further. When you don’t find me clicking away at my computer or clipping and coloring hair, I am probably spending time swing dancing with friends and working with local musician friends on their album art and posters.
As you can probably tell, we are quite a funny bunch. We each bring our own bit of humor to the table – quite literally since most of our conversations tend to be at our kitchen table. Being so busy makes it challenging to keep up with each other, but we have all come to love Sunday dinners – they are by far our favorite part of the week.
Sure, some things have been harder than others, especially with the transition during the divorce. However, one thing has become evident – God is always faithful. He is leading and guiding our family in such a gracious way, helping us work through it all with laughs and grace, even when there are rough moments. But, that’s the beauty of it. We have struggles. We have ups and downs just like every other family. But we pull through. We make sure to pull closer to each other when we are hurting or transitioning into a different stage in life. We remember to be patient with each other, to respect each other, and to try and encourage one another to pursue the passions that God has given us.
// The Casual Me //
On a typical day you’ll find me in gym clothes and a ball cap, on my way out the door for a run, weight-lifting, or boxing. If it’s business hours, I’m in my comfy blue jeans and writing sweater, alongside my kids and staff, working on a new idea for homeschoolers.
On my days off and after office hours, you will most likely find me in the kitchen cooking for a crowd. Between friends and family, the open-door policy keeps our home life filled.
I live for quiet mornings, long walks, and deep conversations. I enjoy my kids’ humor and am often hurting because of the laughter. As any good woman, I love my chocolate. My newest favorite is chocolate and coconut ice cream by Graters.
When I’m stressed, I find comfort in taking a Culver’s cheeseburger and sweet potato fries into the movie theater all by myself. When I’m sad, I like to walk on the beach.
I love surfing, turtles, hiking, and driving cross country just for the view. I like to read books on theology, psychology, and anything that makes me think hard.