Friday, April 24, 2015

The Things That Matter.

We were on our second flight home after a long two days of cancelled flights and hanging out in empty terminals. Our group of ten (six adults and four children) was tired, exhausted with the happy-but-crazy feels that accompany a trip to Disneyworld with small children, and we were ready to get home. The plane hummed along as I tapped my husband on the shoulder and handed him my copy of "Love Does" by Bob Goff. "Read this chapter," I whispered, gesturing towards the open page. He read it, nodded in agreement, and handed the book back to me. I smoothed out the page that had the most markings on it, done by my own pen, and re-read the phrase I had circled. And underlined. And drew little stars around:

"And for me, I've realized that I used to be afraid of failing at the things that really mattered to me, but now I'm more afraid of succeeding at things that don't matter."

I looked down at Lydia, my great, big, three year old, fast asleep, and tucked her hair behind her ear. My heart was settled.

Surrounded by friends who homeschool, I have always had the thought of it tucked in the recesses of my mind, wedged somewhere between "Things I Should Try" and "Things That Terrify Me Greatly".  I assumed I would at least attempt to homeschool Cub through his preschool years, but the opportunity arose for us to send him to a Christian school for preschool, two days a week, and we chose that.

Then Kindergarten came. At his school, Cub goes all day, five days a week. The first few months were a little awkward for me, adjusting to a school schedule while I still had littles at home, and I assumed the unsettledness was attributed to this adjustment. I also assumed that it would pass with time.

It didn't.

It was difficult to process. I loved his school. Naomi was in the preschool and we loved that, too. We loved their teachers. We loved what they experienced there. So, why, why was there this restless feeling in my heart? We enrolled the kids for the next year and of course, after doing so, that's when it happened. That thought, tucked back in my mind, started to surface periodically, peeking to the forefront of my brain no matter how much I tried to shove it back:

Should we homeschool?

The thought of it was intimidating. My degree is in Family Studies, not Early Childhood Education. Why in the world would I ever think I could teach my kids? Where do you even buy curriculum??

And, most importantly, I DON'T OWN CULOTTES.


(I kid.)

My mind reeled with endless fears.

What if I fail?

But the thought of it also would not go away, so after making extensive pros and cons lists and talking my husband's ear off and falling asleep at night with homeschool blogs open on my phone, I finally started to pray about it. I pushed the lists and blogs and (slightly irrational) fears aside and brought it before God in prayer, leaving it at that. Confession: I had not been the best pray-er for a while before this. My conversations with God more resembled shop talk than anything raw and honest. Praying about homeschooling opened up that conversation once again and I remember the day, distinctly, that He answered my prayer. After putting the girls down for naps, I laid down for a cat nap. Only a few moments later, my eyes popped open, I sat straight up, and I felt this overwhelming peace. In His fascinating and beautiful way, God had gently turned His desires into my desires and I knew that this was what He wanted for us. And that was that. As usual, God did not show up with lightning bolts on my front door or anvils falling on my roof--instead, He quietly nudged my heart until I released it. I had been so preoccupied with figuring out the logistics and the worst possible homeschool scenarios (if you check my Google history, you will find searches like "terrified of homeschooling" and "why in the world should I ever homeschool"), that I hadn't stopped to listen for His voice. Once I did, He spoke.

Amazing how that happens, right? Why, oh why, do I ever push pause on my prayer life?

He listens, and He speaks.

From there, things started moving forward. I had discussions with the kids' teachers about our plans for the following year and they were kind and supportive and everything I knew they would be. With tears in my eyes, I finally clicked "Send" on the e-mail to formally withdraw my kids from school next year. I truly believe God went before us by opening up slots for my kids at a local Classical Conversations campus in our town. Explaining our decision has been, for the most part, well-received. Some are completely confused--why give up an education at a great Christian school to homeschool? That's a good question. I'm not entirely sure why. I have my reasons why I am looking forward to homeschooling, but, as far as the reasoning behind it, I really feel like we're just taking a step of obedience and we'll maybe find out the "why" later. Or maybe we won't. Maybe God knows I need to experience this for a year before I can finally put it to rest. Or, maybe not. I don't know.

What I do know is that He has given us peace to homeschool next year. Beyond that, it's up to Him and where (or how) He leads us next. If God has shown me anything thus far in my life, it is this: My plans rarely turn out as I expect them to. From working to getting pregnant to staying home to now homeschooling for this next year, He continually shakes up the way I think things should look, and through the struggle of relinquishing control, my eyes are opened to the greatness of His plan every time. He is faithful. Oh, He is faithful.

So. Here comes a list of disclaimers to get out of the way:

-I do not hate public school.

-I do not hate traditional education.

-I do not think I could ever be a teacher commanding a class, so if you are a certified teacher and are utterly confused as to why anyone without a teaching degree would think that they could take your place, know that I COULD NOT TAKE YOUR PLACE. I can (hopefully) teach my own three kids to read and write and maybe learn some history or how to maybe grow tomatoes. I could not command a classroom or deal with someone else's children on a regular basis. Bless it, you are awesome.

-I still do not own culottes. But we do still have the chickens.

My kids will finish up this school year and then we will begin homeschooling sometime this summer. My hope is that I will utilize this (poor, neglected) blog to record my experience. This is an adventure, folks. I know, to some, homeschooling sounds as exciting as dry toast, but, for me, following God's leading almost always results in some kind of adventure. I will be honest here, logging the good, the bad, the ugly. And the beautiful.

As I sort through the kids' curriculum and begin to create a framework for the summer, I still, at times, feel the familiar fear creep into my mind: What if I fail? 

You know what? I might. I just might fail at this. We might get to the end of this and have a good laugh, recalling that one time that Katie decided to homeschool and everyone ended up ripping out their hair and Katie had to be committed and the chickens ran away. But ... I don't think we will fail. There will be challenging days and great days and all kinds of days in between. I know that God has gone before us in this and regardless of what happens by the end of next year, it will be a success simply for the fact that we trusted, and we obeyed. And what joy there is in acquiescing to His plan. 

Praise be to God, Who continually draws us back to Him.

Have a lovely day.