ramblings on education and my sweet baby girl

i have been so quiet around these parts that i am sure you can hear the crickets chirp.

life hasn’t been quite so quiet in my off screen life however.

we just wrapped up our 2nd year homeschooling. there are so many wonderful things we have experienced in our homeschooling adventures. there are also many things that make me know that no one schooling approach is without its hardships and flaws. no one approach is for everyone or for every season.

our family prays about what school is going to look like every year. we don’t have a mandate or direction from the Lord that we feel convinced is the one way we will go the whole way through school. it is interesting because it makes me feel a little awkward as a mom because i don’t fit into either of the schooling (or any, as there seems to be even more than the main 2) camps. i totally see the benefits and shortfalls of the classroom education. i also totally see the benefits and the shortfalls of the home education. neither are perfect, and so often i find people, women in general, want me to take a hard fast line saying i am a ‘believer’ in one of the other. we seem to feel validated in our choices when we form a club around the way we do things.

i just am not a part of a club.

i have taught in the public education system, and i actually had a wonderful experience. i think there are really good teachers out there, really good schools, and a really good education and experience to be found. i still serve on the school board of a private christian school in town, and my kids attended there for 5 years. i have had a wonderful experience there and miss many of the benefits that school had to offer. i have homeschooled 3 kids one year, 4 the next, with little ones in tow and pregnant… i have had great experiences and some that still leave me unsatisfied. we have been a part of a co-op and i have been the lead teacher of many of those classes – again, benefit and difficulties.

i am personally the product of secular schooling through graduation from high school, both private and public education, and had wonderful and hard experiences. for me the good greatly outweighed the bad, and i wouldn’t trade my experience for all the world. i went to a christian university (actually 2!). amazing and difficulty intermingled.

all this rambling is to say, i am probably always going to be a bit of a loner in my hesitation to jump on the bandwagon of homeschool or bust or the club of classroom or bust. i will always be someone who can see both sides. i will probably always feel a bit like i don’t belong because i am not as sold out on most ideas or ways of doing things, especially education, as many of my friends and acquaintances. it really is a lonely place to be in.

but maybe just writing this and putting it out there will make one of you dear readers feel like you aren’t alone if you feel like you also don’t fit into either camp. i love the way God leads our family, even though sometimes it is stressful to not be sure what we are doing the next fall when everyone is asking for a commitment to plan like 6 months in advance. but He is always faithful and has always led us. i know He will continue to. i know that the way we do school may change from one year to the next, even from one kid to the next. i am okay with that.

one beautiful part of homeschooling this year has been having all the boys home with their little sister for her 1st year. this little one has been our absolute delight and icing on the top of our 5 layer chocolate cake. i love that they have had this special time with her… that she has had that special time with them. for me, i feel like i haven’t had as much special time with her and my littler ones as i did with the older ones simply because i have to teach the olders so much. i know that God fills in those gaps for them, but i think it makes it feel like it goes by that much quicker if i can be perfectly honest. i am not ready for my littles to grow all the way up.

the beads are from her brothers for her 1st birthday gift. you better believe she knew exactly what to do with them. our teeny tiny sugar, not even 19 lbs yet at a year old. such a little love. my 3 year old was just telling our neighbor who came to the door to chat this morning, “see our baby girl? see our girl? do you see her? our baby girl?” it is as if all our hearts have had parts unlocked by her that we didn’t realize were even there.

life is full. life is sweet. and, as everyone knows of their own life, the sweet is laced with painful. life is just that way. but, i do believe that the more acquainted we are with the depths of pain, the more the sweetness of life is just that… sweet and full of joy. i have to remind myself in the midst of the busy busy life of 6 kiddos to stop and look at these ordinary moments and soak in the delight… to take those mental photographs that will be etched onto my memories forever.

i guess this is just a rambling of my thoughts. what are your thoughts on education and life decisions? do you have a clear word from the Lord that is steering your direction consistently over a long stretch of time? do you come fresh to Him each year to find the directives for that year? do you see life from as many complicated angles as i do? i think it helps me relate to people… but it makes it hard to feel like i ever fully belong because i always see the other side. i would love to hear from anyone who has still hung around this long while i haven’t been writing much. love you to all!

charis

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even the one

i know of a man who recently went to be with the Lord. about a year before his death, his wife had a dream that when he entered heaven he was greeted by the many many people that he shared the gospel with and led to the Lord. what a beautiful welcome into glory! can you even imagine seeing people in the presence of the Lord who you spent time praying for, sharing with, and discipling? a reward like that makes a life seem so worth all the hardship and sacrifice that surely came with it.

i lay in bed one night after hearing this story so moved by the life of this man who lived his life for the gospel, and reflected on the simple unimpressive life that i lead. my heart envied the life this man lived – a good righteous life that influenced others to walk with Jesus. i thought about my days – so routine, so monotonous, and without much reach or influence. laying there in bed i asked the Lord, “when i get to the end of my life, who will i have i even led to You?”

a sadness filled my heart – not the kind of sadness that is akin to self-pity, but the sadness of a child who wants to be pleasing to her Father and yet feels as if she has so little to show for her efforts. i am reminded of the apostle paul who said that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. i just felt small and weak. my desire to live a life like this man was definitely there – but i wondered where was the opportunity to be faithful as he had been.

then i heard it as clear as if you were speaking to me, and yet it was that still small Voice that one can only hear with her inside ears:

“you are leading your kids to Me.”
the anxious thoughts left. the burden of shame at the smallness of my days lifted. it was enough. the Holy Spirit reminded me that if i am faithful with the assignment that lays before me, it would be counted as righteous and the joy of His reward would be sweet.
i have thought back to that moment several times the past couple weeks. so often we envy others whose ministry and reach look big to us. these men and women are being faithful to what the Lord has laid before them, and He will reward their faithfulness. but the size of the ministry He has given us does not determine the eternal significance of His calling on our lives to lead those in our influence to Him. mother teresa said,  
“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”

i am not sure what the assignment is that the Lord has put before you. it may be so large that you feel small and unable to do what He has asked. it may look so small in the eyes of man that you wonder if it will have meaning in the end.

all i can tell you is this – He will give you opportunity to share the gospel with the one who is before you and encourage that one to live a life faithful in following our Savior, and leading even the one to following Him will have great reward for all eternity. we all have people in our lives whose eternity may be affected by our faithful witness of Jesus. He sees what men do not see. this you can count on.

charis

how is your heart today?

today, if you would hear His voice, 
do not harden your hearts… 
psalm 95:7-8

how many times i cry out to hear the Lord’s voice. right now is a time for me that i am looking for direction; i am looking for answers. i ask the Lord to speak to me in a dream. i ask that He would speak to me through other people. i ask that He would speak to me in His still small voice. i don’t care how He chooses to speak – i just want to hear His voice and know it is Him.

reading my bible this morning i opened to the next psalm as i read through the book of psalms. psalms 95 starts with a exhortation to sing to the Lord, to worship the Lord, and to give thanks to the Lord. then it ends with a warning to not their harden hearts like they (the israelites) did in the wilderness.

i get it. i get how so often we harden our hearts in small inconspicuous ways because of hurts, disappointed expectations, or simply not understanding the Lord’s ways. i know i have hardened my heart in little ways that i thought probably didn’t really matter because i am still serving Him, right? but to protect myself and not completely lose it, i felt i had to harden areas just to survive.

i know that i have questioned God a lot about what it is that He is wanting for my family and me. i have all these dreams and hopes and as good as they are… what if the Lord’s answer to me is -wait- ? what do i do with His voice if He corrects me in the little areas of my life that i have allowed self preservation to creep in? what do i do when i disappoint others expectations of me and carry that burden when it isn’t mine to carry?

i want to be mindful as i ask Him to lead me and speak to me that i check my heart that it is soft and repent of any hardened places. i want His pleasure on my life more than i want everything to go easily my way. i am convinced that the way to soften my heart is to do the things that the beginning of the psalm mentioned – praise, singing to the Lord, worship, bowing at His feet, giving thanks for what. He. has. done.

all the disappointment and entitlement and hurts and confusion melt away when i fill my mind and heart with how faithful He has been to me.

let’s not be so concerned with protecting ourselves, but let’s concern ourselves with worshiping our King and let Him be the One to protect us. i am speaking to my heart this morning – keep your heart soft, charis, keep your heart soft.

charis