Wednesday, March 23, 2016

How We Got Here

if you would have told me six months ago that I would be willingly and cheerfully planning to homeschool my children the following fall, I would have laughed in your face. Fall of 2016 is the time I have been looking forward to since my son was born; the time when both of my bright, expressive, rambunctious, high-energy children would be in school full-time. After six plus years of having at least one (and for a bit, four, but that's a story for another time) little person home with me all day, it would finally be ME TIME. And haven't I earned it? A few months ago, I would have said not just yes, but hell yes! as I reviewed the lists of books I hope to read in my lifetime, pulled out projects that have been pushed to the side, planned day dates with my husband for restaurants we've been wanting to try, and surveyed the garden and garage that could use some serious attention, all in anticipation of six hours a day (that's thirty hours a week!) all to myself.

"In his heart, a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." Proverbs 16:9

After a joyful, enriching kindergarten year at our neighborhood public school, my daughter started having some trouble in first grade. She was showing poor judgement and getting into trouble in the classroom. After the first semester parent-teacher conference and progress report, we realized that she was not being challenged and was acting out partially due to boredom. At the time, my husband and I joked that she should be homeschooled but didn't seriously consider it because after all, ME TIME was in sight and with our son in pre-K two mornings a week, I was already getting a little taste of next year's quiet bliss.
What ultimately changed our thinking from joking about homeschooling to actively pursuing it, was a matter of the LORD changing my heart.
A few weeks ago, I shared the story of my changed heart at my church's annual Ladies Night Out event. This is part of that testimony:
Many of you are familiar with the song “Ten Thousand Reasons” that we often sing on Sunday mornings. For years, I couldn't make it past the first verse (the one that ends, "whatever may pass and whatever lies before me / let me be singing when the evening comes") without sobbing and if by some miracle I made it past the first verse with my emotions under control, then the opening line of next verse ("You're rich in love and slow to anger") would be my undoing, and I would beg God though my tears to make these words be true of me, because I was an angry mama - fully wrapped up in the circumstances of my small children and my husband's unconventional work schedule and the pressures I felt to be "good enough." I rarely made it to evening/bedtime with a song in my heart; to be honest it was more often a scowl.
Then a few months ago, as the band played the opening chords to this song, I sort of thought to myself, "oh great, here we go again," and tried to remember if I had any tissues packed in my purse, but as we started singing, instead of despair, my heart filled with joy. 
Now, my circumstances haven't changed - my kids are still loud and crazy, my husband still works weird hours, and I am still very often overwhelmed by my role as a mother and homemaker - but as the song played, I realized that my heart has been changed from seeing my children and responsibilities as a burden to responding to these circumstances with joy, and for that I can take no credit, but give all the glory to God. 
The change I realized that Sunday in church was the change that was necessary in my heart to even begin to consider homeschooling. Over the next few weeks, through various sources in my early-morning Bible study, God repeatedly lead me to consider the ideal that I was holding on to for how my life would look with both kids in school during the day, and the idol I was creating out of having time to myself.
After that, I started picking the brains of some of my good friends who homeschool their children and tried to imagine what it would be like for our family to adopt this lifestyle. The more I learned about it, the more excited I got. Our daughter continued to go back and forth between good days and bad days at school and my husband and I became more and more convinced that this was the right thing to do. And now I'm counting down the days, not until the first day of the 2016-17 school year so I can breathe, but for the end of this current school year so I can bring my children home, enjoy the summer with them and together navigate this new path God has set before us.

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