My Plan, or His?
There was a time when I thought I could take care of everything myself. Home schooling taught me otherwise. We have been doing this for three years and the lessons learned have been invaluable. I was a take charge, make-a-plan-and-implement-it type of person. Everything follows a plan, period. I felt there was peace in planning, and if things were orderly then there were high odds everything would go smoothly. I had gotten far enough in my Christian walk to know that I could ask God to bless my needs, but not far enough to know that he doesn't promise the road will always be easy. I had much to learn.
Before I started home schooling, we had a great family life. Loving parents, two kids and a great school district. When my oldest daughter started second grade we moved to a small town with wonderful qualities in which to pursue our dreams. We signed her up for a Christian school and things were going as planned. That is, until our lives started to fall apart.
We found ourselves without jobs, very little money, and no savings. This quickly led to stressful living conditions. We were forced to pull our daughter out of private school and left to consider our options. We felt uncomfortable with the school choices and felt our child needed extra attention. Her wonderful teacher shared privately about what she felt might benefit our child. She quietly told me that her fears were that our child would get lost in the local public school. Having taught there, it was on her heart that our precious daughter would not thrive or develop to her full abilities there.
Life was very scary during this time period for our family. Our children remained happy thinking we were living an exciting adventure. Adventure. Something resonated about that word. Home schooling was something I had always admired, but was sure I could never do. I felt God calling me to trust in Him, that He wanted us to pursue this. At first, I felt I should clean out my ears because He certainly couldn't be asking me to do that! Our family discussed it, and tentatively decided to pull our daughter out in December and give it a 6 month trial period. We figured not much harm could be done, and if it didn't work out, we could always put her back in school.
The library shelves were empty of any home schooling materials as I enthusiastically decided to answer God's call on our lives. Being new in town, I set about to meet some experienced homeschoolers to give me advice. I did not have the support of all my family as I ventured out into this strange new world, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a fantastic Christian co-op with many people ready to help. I made a plan and was ready for action as the New Year arrived.
There was a slight problem. By “ready for action” I should clarify that while I was ready, my daughter was not. She was hesitant at first and constantly talked about her old school, not understanding why she could not go anymore. Our first month was very interesting, as my preschooler thought she was the luckiest kid ever, but my 2nd grader was a mystery to me. It hit me full force that I had no idea what to do, how to do it, or why I should! I must have driven all my new friends crazy with questions those first few months. My teaching insecurities were compounded by the resistance I received from my daughter and other family members. I realized something had to give if this was going to work.
It didn't take long to realize that although I was obeying God's plan to home school, I had neglected to ask His help in planning my days. I was taking on the burden of planning something I was ill-equipped for. Gradually I began to seek what God had to say about raising my children and teaching them. It was exciting to see how that path was going to provide the perfect opportunity to help them learn not only academics but character, compassion, and a passion for God.
Quickly things started turning around. Every day brought a sense of excitement of what the day might hold for us. It took time to “de-school” my daughter and teach her to come back into the fold of our family full-time. When she was in school, every afternoon she came home tired and cranky. What a joy it was to see her bloom back into the sweet ray of sunshine she had always been. Other blessings started showing themselves in many ways. Our daughter lost her feeling of superiority to her young sister, and while they had always played together, now the bonding of best friends had begun.
I saw a pattern in why the word adventure struck me. That was the pattern of our lives! We worked hard to show our kids that life is an adventure, whether we seek it out or it finds us. Although our financial situation was difficult, we were able to use that to create a home atmosphere our children thought was a wonderful change! I knew I was on to something here, why couldn't it be our goal for the home school journey we were starting?
I had always missed the children when they were gone at school and felt like I was getting the leftovers at the end of the day. Now, we were seeing how wonderful it was to see their expressions of joy as they accomplished something for the first time in their studies. Being part of our children's “firsts” seemed like a natural extension of family life. Our children were able to learn by our example, which they had always done at home, but now were able to continue in a broader sense. For example, how do we as parents treat people in our day, how do we approach problems, or embrace civic responsibility? All things began to turn into teachable moments.
What joys we have learned over the past three years of home schooling. We have many happy days of going to the parks to learn by the lake, taking time to listen to the sounds around us and study them, time to meet people's needs when they happen. Sometimes our days are still a struggle, but now I know each day that God is in control, not me. I am thankful for that; it is comforting to know that He blesses our desire to follow Him. And my family? They have become very supportive of our decision as they see the girls happy and progressing. Home schooling has been a great example of how stepping out onto new paths can be intimidating, but God blesses those who obey him. We are blessed beyond our wildest dreams, each day more than the one before. So while the road may not always be easy, I have peace to let my plans go now and follow where God leads us. After all, He has it all planned out, and that is one plan I will surely follow.
Christa Sterken is a freelance writer who feels deep gratitude for the privilege of homeschooling. Her blog address is www.christasterken.wordpress.com or you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org; she would love to hear from you!