Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What God is teaching me as I teach my children...

I have realized that I really don't say much about homeschooling on this blog. Not really sure why that is. I obviously talk a lot about orphans and adoption, sometimes about missions, and definitely about photography- all things that I am passionate about. But not a whole lot about our homeschooling journey, although it is a HUGE part of my life. Huge, as in most of my day, everyday, 5 days a week, 36 weeks/ year, plus all of the planning and preparing during the summer, all of it revolves around teaching my children at home for the past 7 years. Yeah, I guess it must be fairly significant to take up that much of my life. And I guess after spending most of my day teaching and whatever else I'm doing, when I finally get the time to sit down to write about something- homeschooling is not my first choice!

Well, that is mostly true.

But maybe not the only reason.

Definitely not the only reason.

I think it's about time for another honest post. Don't you?

Here we go.

Don't say I didn't warn you!

The reality is that I LOVE to blog and talk about and mobilize others to grasp God's heart for the orphan and the lost and the unreached. Those of you who know me IRL (in real life!) know that to be true and we have most likely had discussions about it all (and you are so sick of me by now I am sure!) It is truly so easy to bring up and share both our adoption story and our testimony of God's faithfulness in our lives with others that I hardly think twice about jumping into some kind of conversation about it. And I know that it is only by His grace alone that I am even here, let alone have the words to talk about these things.
And almost everytime it ends up being a great conversation about the things of God and both parties leave encouraged and even inspired to make a difference for the kingdom of God.

BUT when the conversation turns to where my children go to school or how homeschooling is going... believe it or not, I get a little tongue-tied. And sometimes want to run in the other direction!

For a long time I couldn't seem to put my finger on why I always felt like that. Actually when I'm around all of my homeschooling friends I feel somewhat comfortable and it's wonderful to have park days and meetings and discuss curriculum and talk about some of the struggles and joys that we face each day. I thank God for these women that I am so blessed to know. They have all taught me so much through the years.

No, I realized I seem to get that sick feeling when it is someone other than a homeschooling family who asks me about it. You know, when you are having somewhat of a not too deep conversation and someone non-chalantly asks "so where do your children go to school?" And I usually respond "um... they're homeschooled." And the first response out of 90% of the moms I talk to say something like "OH WOOOWWW... I COULD NEVER DO THAT. MY KIDS DRIVE ME CRAZY. THAT ONE OVER THERE IS MR. SOCIAL- HE WOULD HATE TO HAVE ME AS A TEACHER EVERYDAY. I AM NOT QUALIFIED. YOUR KIDS MUST LOVE YOU. YOU MUST BE SOOOO PATIENT!"

Hmmm. Now do you see why I don't blog about it? Talk about pressure!

So what is my response?

And here's where the brutal honesty comes in.

Ready for it?


Ahhh. There. I got it out! Phew- I finally said it!

Seriously, you want reality? I am the farthest person in the world from being the most qualified or patient or organized to teach my kids at home. I barely graduated from high school, have no teaching experience except maybe a few dance and Sunday school classes, am very impatient about SO many things, completley disorganized, and most of the time just downright lazy. Now that you know that- who wants me to teach their kids?!

Of course you don't!
And that is exactly what my arguement was with God when He was first calling me to homeschool our oldest son. I would look at those "perfect" moms who stayed home to teach their children and I'd say well she is the perfect type to homeschool- so wise and patient and gentle with her children. I will NEVER do or be like that! Nope. Homeschooling is for those super-moms and that is definitely not me. So I'm off the hook. I was SO ready to send my son to school and have a little break for a few hours. You know, to focus on the other boys and ministry and stuff.

And we think the Lord doesn't have a sense of humor?! :-)

Soon after I made that vow, we went through some pretty difficult times with our Austin. We had known from the time he was very little that he had some unique tendencies and some trouble learning. But it wasn't until he went to kindergarten that it really became magnified. After a rough kindergarten year and a terrible two months of first grade, we pulled him out. Now of course it was not without a lot of kicking and screaming from yours truly. We talked to the teachers, principal, tried to switch schools and even districts just to be able to keep him "in school" and of course it was all in vain. God had a plan and it was not to be thwarted!

When I look back at that year all I can remember was a feeling of hoplessness. I felt so alone even though I knew a few others that homeschooled. I just knew I was never going to be that super-mom for him and I felt like all of my plans had just been thrown out the window. We spent endless hours and thousands of dollars on evaluations and therapies and specialists and I was exhausted from the responsibility of it all.
I felt so guilty and responsible that I had a first, then second, then third grader who STILL after 3 years of homeschooling could not read. I was only homeschooling him out of an obligation I felt. Although it was God's calling, sadly I didn't realize it until much later and I missed out on so much of my boys' childhood because I was so focused on what I was missing and being overwhelmed with the responsibility that I did have. And as we began the journey to discovering more about Austin and his special learning needs, something AMAZING started to happen. No, my circumstances didn't change. No, Austin didn't miraculously get cured even though I had prayed that so many times. No, he never went back to school.
But something even better happened.

God changed ME.

Not sure quite when it happened and I am pretty sure He is not finished yet, but over these past 7 years, my heart has had a dramatic change.

Over time, I found myself actually loving and WANTING to be with my children. Cuddling up on the couch with them while we read wonderful living books, going on nature walks, discussing theology with them, and pointing out how God reveals His glory to us in everyday life.
WANTING to spend the absolute most time I could with them each day and making the most of those days. WANTING to find a curriculum that is mission focused and God-centered and seeing school as SO much more than just reading, writing, and 'rithmetic. WANTING to keep finding answers and solutions to help Austin as he gets older instead of just giving up and giving into the culture of him becoming a teenager.
In other words...

WANTING to homeschool them!

Yes, I think I may have figured it out.

Now when people ask me about homeschooling, I don't need to be nervous at all. I don't have to have a comeback when they try to argue and make a point about socialization or even the fact that I have a child that is below grade level. And I most certainly don't need to pretend like I have it all together.

Nope. All I think God wants me to say is the truth.

I don't homeschool because I'm some super-mom. Or because I'm organized or patient or diligent. Or because I want my kids to be little protege's. Or because I want to shelter my kids from the world. Or even because I think its better than public school.

I homeschool because I am a complete wreck that God is in the process of refining and making into something beautiful for His good purposes and will. (Romans 8)

I homeschool because God is showing me that DISCIPLING my children is the part of the Great Comission just as much as going to the ends of the earth is (Matthew 28:18-20) and that I can't do that unless I spend time with them.

I homeschool because He is revealing to me where my treasures lie and I confess they were here on earth and not in heaven. (Matthew 6)

I homeschool because of Deuteronomy 6:1-9.

I homeschool because God has called me to follow Him at all costs and for our family right now, this means teaching my children at home.

I homeschool because while I want my children to be salt and light in a dark world, God has shown me that they need the battle gear on long before they go out into a warzone. (Ephesians 6)

And last I homeschool because I know that I will not have to do it in my own strength. In fact I CANNOT do anything in my own strength, but only through Christ who strengthens me. (Phillipians 4:13)

And because of 2 Corinthians 12:9 "My grace is sufficient for you; My power is made perfect in your weakness."

And oh do I still have such a long way to go!


Sunnymama said...

I absolutely loved your post. What a truly honest reason for the reason you choose to live your life in all aspects. I am beginning to get all the responses that you have probably gotten in the last 7 years. Sometimes it is so hard to try explain to someone your reason for doing something in just two sentences except that God is my reason. I would love to hear more from you on your homeschoolness :) As we begin this journey this fall. I will need A LOT of help from some experienced mothers and from God of course. Thank you for this post.

Ally said...

I love how you are so real! Just wish we weren't on the other side of the states or I'd give you a big hug, so instead I am sending you a blogger ((((((HUG)))))) Thanks for keeping it REAL! I am so glad to know that I am not the only imperfect mom out here!

Allie said...

Nice to "meet" you! I found your blog from the LifeSong article/email/blog thing. We are in the process of adopting a baby girl from Rwanda (with the help of LifeSong!), and are in the waiting stage right now. We have two little boys, ages 3.5 and 2, and are homeschooling/planning to homeschool them as well. How nice to find your blog! Thanks for this honest and encouraging look at homeschooling. Your family is beautiful, and the picture of Elliana made my eyes tear up. :) Oh, and I'm jealous that you went to the Summit - jealous in a nice way, of course. :)

Kara said...

Thank you for your honesty!! I am also beginning my journey in homeschooling and felt the same way. GOD has started to do this amazing transformation in me too and I am so excited to see what he has for us. I am not nervous anymore about homeschooling and I feel in my sould that it is the right thing for us and that it is definitly what HE wants for us to do.

heather said...

Even though I do not homeschool my kiddos, I appreciated your post. It is so refreshing to read of your everyday struggles and how God is refining you....what an encouragement you are to me! My kids DO drive me crazy AND I adore them...it is just a crazy balancing act each day. I am so thankful for REAL mamas, like YOU!

Mel said...

Amen. Our kids go to a school that we absolutely love. If we couldn't do Classical Christian, I would homeschool so we could. I never thought I'd say that and sometimes I feel like God's preparing me for a day (in the not-so distant future) that we will decide to homeschool (shhhhhh...don't tell).
It's definitely a calling. Thanks for letting Him use you and then sharing it with us!

Jessica said...

Candace, I miss being around you. My homeschool journey has been tough and I am thankful for your honesty. I like talking about missions; it is harder to talk about the hard parts of school! Thanks for sharing. If you guys come down our way, please let us know!

Amy said...

I couldn't relate more to your post. I love your reasons to homeschool as they so closely resemble our's. God's perfect plan is so much more exciting than the ones we come up with. Thanks so much for posting that. I would love to just copy and paste it onto my facebook wall to respond to all the people who "don't get" why I do it. You are a blessing, thanks for putting my thoughts into words.

Christa said...

Thank you for posting this. It is beautifully written, and has spoken to me in many ways today. I shared it with a friend that is also contemplating homeschooling.

Jessica said...

Awesome post-again! I've struggled with the decision to home school or not home school and God has made it pretty clear that we are to continue home schooling. I too never thought that I could be one of "those" moms and I surely can't do it on my own strength-thank goodness I don't have to. I'm excited for next year and really feel like it will help with bonding with Rahel and with fostering relationships with her siblings. At the end of the day, if we can teach our children to love God and others and to follow fervently after Jesus, then we have succeeded and the reading and math are just bonus.

Amy said...

Absolutely amazing post. PERFECT. Oh my word if I met you in person I would kiss you! I have a feeling you and I could be sisters- because we definitely share the same passions.Can't wait to read more!!

Brandie and Wes said...

This post really inspired me! Thank you for your honesty! It's so good to know that there are other "not so perfect" moms out there. =) I'm curious about which homeschooling curriculum you use.

Brandie and Wes said...

Your post inspired me! Thank you for your honesty. It's so comforting to know that there are other "not so perfect" moms out there. =) I'm curious about which homeschooling curriculum you use.

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