14 years ago, my best friend and I were pregnant with our first child at the same time. She was a school teacher by training and passionate about all things educational. I mean a literary genius according to my definition. I was in the business world, at the time. Education was the farthest thing from my mind. All I could think about was being a mommy. You know nursing, swaddling and cooing with a sweet babe in my arms.
I remember having a conversation about schooling our unborn children. She brought up the conversation and I believe God used her to plant a seed in my heart that needed to be planted. Being a product of the public school system, that was about all I knew. It served me well, or so I thought. I worked hard. I got A's and B's, but most of what I learned in school somehow leaked out of my brain after the test was taken and the grade was received. One day, my friend shared with me her dreams of homeschooling her child still but wee small, growing inside her womb.
Let's just say......I thought she was crazy and being such good friends...I told her that in so many words.
Homeschooling....no way. I quickly dismissed the idea thinking "who does that? and who ever would dream about such a thing?" Back to the picture of the mommy holding her swaddled babe.
Well, as God always does with me. He plants a seed and then seems to give it time to germinate. He continues to come back to the same subject over and over again.....Stacy, my way, not yours. Trust me. He knows I am a bit thick and don't always grasp His way the first time. Remember, I have to study hard to get a good grade. I wish I caught on more quickly and pray someday I will. But God is patient. And I'm thankful He is. He waters and He waits and He continues to pursue in ways I don't always understand. All He asks is that I respond with obedience. Over the years, I've grasped that important part. Obedience.
Right before Ben was born, we moved away. A whole new town. Everything was new. And then two years later, pregnant with Seth, we moved again. Ben was 3 and ready for preschool that fall.
And God began germinating the whole idea of homeschooling only I didn't know it at the time.
I did my homework. I researched the local preschools. I talked to other moms and picked the one that I thought was the best preschool in the area. My sweet hubby, was on board. He got up early on registration day so he could be one of the first in line guaranteeing our son a spot that fall. A new milestone....preschool. I couldn't wait.
And then my world was about to be rocked with a new baby: nursing schedule, nap schedule, toddler...I was overwhelmed with the very thought of getting out the door with a new baby and having to be somewhere at a certain time, with some semblance of order. It was too much for me. I forfeited the preschool deposit in lieu of feeding and nap schedules and the heart desire to keep life simple.
And hence homeschooling grew in my heart and in my home. I don't remember it being a lightening bolt moment from God. He gently carried me along. Ben and I started working on activities at home during nap time. Word games, letters, books, songs, counting....while Seth took his naps.
The next year, we worked some more. Kindergarten was beckoning and I just couldn't wrap my mind around not having him with me. About someone else molding his thoughts not only regarding education, but about the world around him. Where would they bring God into his framework of thinking? He was still so young. And after 2 years of sitting and "playing" together, he had his Kindergarten skills down.
I began to ask questions about schooling to some friends at church. As the homeschooling topic was approached, I was accepting of it this time. I didn't think it was crazy or radical or weird. I actually began to fall in love with the notion and idea that I could do this by God's grace and direction. And bit by bit over those years, God changed my heart, bringing it into submission to His plan for our children.
As Kindergarten began, so did our homeschooling days and that was over 8 years ago.
Many have asked over the years, why I homeschool. The basic answer is because God told me to. It isn't anything I ever felt qualified to do. Actually, almost daily, I feel unqualified and inadequate. But I love having them all with me each and every day. I love waking up in the morning, not having to rush out the door, being gathered together. I love hearing their laughter grace our rooms. I love hearing their squabbles as they learn to get along and love one another. I love seeing the light go off in their heads when they "get" a new concept and I love seeing the joy on their faces when a good grade is received just moments before. I love hearing them teach one another and helping the younger sibling. I love the "impromptu" recesses that come up throughout the day. I love the flexibility. I love the conversations that just come up from a topic being learned that grows into a deeper discussion about life and God, as they are learning about who they are in Christ and their role in this world.
There is a lot I don't like, too. As my mother would say, "No choice gives you everything." She is a wise woman. But the pluses far out way the minuses.
And so, as life is being redefined for us again this year. I went back to revisit our educational choices this year. I asked God what I should do. As I looked with my finite vision at what the year would "look like"....again with my own eyes and not the perfect and infinite eyes of my God. My selfish heart told me to send them to school. I played with that idea for awhile in my mind, trying to understand it, picture it and walk through it. But the question that couldn't be answered until I brought it to the only one who held the perfect answer in His hands. And I knew. My older sister said it perfectly, "circumstance would not make my decision...only God."
I don't know what this year will look like. But God does. And while I am feeling sick from chemo, while my body is tired.....I desire my kids to be close by. I want to love on them with every part of my being. I don't want to lose a minute. And I want to stay in the center of God's will.
So this year, God has redefined our curriculum. We have added a lot of new and kept some of the old. We have switched some of our classes (no pun intended) to "Switched on Schoolhouse." I don't know if the kids will love it, but praying they do. It will help to alleviate the burden of daily corrections and planning. When I asked the older children if they would like to go to public school this year, there was a resounding NO! They were more than willing to make some changes instead. This is what God has shown us. This is what works for us. This is what God desires for our children and our home. So, we have made some changes making the year more manageable.
I know it isn't for everyone and in all areas of parenting, I tell people, you have to follow God's leading for your children and your home, and you and your husband should seek God together in these decisions. This is what God asks of each of us, as these children are not ours, but His.
So, this morning, a new school year began.
Here's a sampling of what the kids are doing this year. After 9 years of homeschooling, I've made a lot of changes from when I began. We've tailored the curriculum to meet the kids learning styles. I'm not afraid to try new things. The kids went to bed last night actually excited to begin the new year, and I was too. I'm not too excited about teaching Jed 1st grade material....but I'm excited to have that time to sit with him each day, side by side. Those are moments that, for me, make it all worthwhile.
I still feel like such a novice at this homeschooling thing. By the grace of God, I pray our children will learn and grow into the person God created them to be and that He will be their foundation. As He has called me, I pray He equips me. It is never what I thought or imagined way back when....but then again.....
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways.' says the LORD."
We continue to trust the Lord with each step. And all we can do is take the next step in faith and obedience.....here's to whatever step God is asking you to take next. He never disappoints.