Monday, August 22, 2011

Another School Year

We were less than a year in and the doubt was thick and I was far from convinced that we had made the right choice. When he came home late one night last April I poured it all out,

"Why are we doing this again? Can we please just put the kids in school next year?"

I hear people say it to me all the time when I hesitantly confess that we homeschool our treasures, "I just don't have the patience to do that." And the truth of the matter is, neither do I.

But I'm starting to think that the beginning of homeschooling is like the beginning of motherhood. I knew very little of mothering until I became a mom. And as each day comes to pass the Lord gives me insight into what I need to know for that day.

That Thursday last April when my Joey found me in tears after a long day of anything but patience flowing out of this Mama's mouth, he answered me simple.

"We do it for family, for our family."

And I mumble it to myself but I know that he hears me,
"Ya, but you're not here all day. And this "family" talk... well if you had happened to be around today while "family" was going on... you just might not have wanted to be a part of this family..."

And in that moment, the reason of "family" felt to simple and over-rated for me. Is that really the only reason I'm doing this to myself all day? Is family a good enough reason to keep our kids at home for another year?

And after a summer of wrestling with the Lord, this Mama heart has finally found rest in the fact that, Yes, for us, that is a good enough reason. Just because we do it for family doesn't mean that family has to be perfect. In fact if I pretended that it was perfect then simply put, it wouldn't be real family. When we do something for the purpose of promoting family to our children, to be authentic and worthy of our time, we have to be willing to take the good with the bad.

The school age treasures, they're five and six. They still thrive off those run and twirl and spin days... those ride your bike till your legs feel like jelly days... those lie on your tummy with your chin resting on those interlocked hands of yours while watching a snake crawl right out of his own skin days. They're still wrapped up in this wildly free innocence, the kind us older folks often times can't even quite remember.

I'm all for academics, but I'm also all for the joy of childhood. Around here we love reading great books... the kind that when read in your very own living room, somehow manage to take you around the world and back in one rainy afternoon.

What do we mean when we say we're in this venture "for family"?
For us, for another year, our aim is each other.
Our hope is that the four little people under this roof would find deep friendship with each other.
Our hope is that together we'll figure ways to love authentically through the mess.
Our hope is that in the thick of it all, He would give us more opportunity to seek Him, and in the seeking, find Him.
May the days spent together in this farmhouse be many small children witnessing the love of Christ in lives lived by a Mama and a Papa who wanna live what they say. May the treasures have opportunity to learn humility this year as they watch their parents offer grace and forgiveness to one another and to their kids, often, repeatedly.
May they come to desire their own relationship with Christ as we rise and fall and pick each other back up again day after day.

Homeschooling for me is a place where I remember how much I need Him in each of my moments. Homeschooling for me is a place where my complete lack of patience finds opportunity to be learned. Homeschooling for me is a place of complete surrender, the place where hate (because there are moments where yes, I have actually said that I hate homeschooling) and love collide and I find myself in that Isaiah 26:3 peace... not the kind that a human heart can muster, but the kind that falls on the bare and helpless woman in her deepest time of need.

He doesn't call us all to the same life story. Not every Christ-follower needs to homeschool their kids, just like not every Christ-follower needs to go to Africa. It's just the place where He has us right now. At the end of each year we've committed to re-evaluate, to seek Him about each child, each age, each personality. And that frees me up as a Mama to know that if this year is just plain awful, well then, we don't have to do the same thing next year. How blessed we are with options! :)

I'm not big on the King James Version of the Bible simply because it is very difficult for me to understand but I came across this verse a few weeks back and it has been my prayer not only for this homeschool year but for all the rest of my years on this earth...

"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Corinthians 12:9

No matter of we homeschool or not, that one little line... That the power of Christ may rest upon me... upon me... me? Lord, what a life the treasures under this roof would have if they lived their days with a Mama who had the power of Christ resting upon her! What a life indeed! :)

I happen to love Charlotte Mason and her philosophy on education... She intimidates me like no other, but I love her all the same. I read through her stuff all summer long and I will always remember her saying this...

Education is an atmosphere.

To me that means that all of life is one big classroom, all of life is a place of learning.

May our home this year be a safe-haven of a lifetime of learning for our little treasures. May the messy moments produce perseverance, then character, then hope. Knowing that... "hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."

And to those who sometimes stop by this quiet corner of the web, could I humbly ask for your prayers for this Mama as she cautiously moves forward into another year of homeschooling? I'm confident that this is where He has me, but I'm not entirely sure that I'm brave enough to obey His voice with joy. :)

And pray for these treasures, that their hearts come alive this year as they discover Him everywhere, in everything.

My Siah on his first day of first grade...

My Hal on her first day of Kindergarten...

My Reesie on her first day of preschool...

What an honor and a blessing to spend my days with these kids, doing this life and seeing more of Him. :)

Today was our first official day of school... I love school supplies almost more than I actually love school. Freshly sharpened pencils, crisp new notebooks... SOOOO FUN!. Today the kids decorated their notebooks. Josiah read to me on the couch. It was such a gorgeous day that we took our read-alouds outside and all curled up on a picnic blanket in the shade and read a couple of our old favorites and a few new ones that might soon enough become favorites. We read about ancient times and spun the globe a few times to find some of the places that we had discovered in our books. And my little artist Hal even inspired me to do our first drawing lesson together. And quite frankly for a kindergardener, SHE DID AWESOME!

I thought just for fun I'd pass along a few of my favorite homeschool reads of the summer.
Homeschooling With A Meek And Quiet Spirit is filled with scripture and practical ways for any mother anywhere in any situation really. I keep it on my bedside table and read the last two chapters several times a week to help me keep my eyes on HIM. :)

And Laying Down The Rails, although there are several sections that I have to read over and over again simply because of the old English, this book is LOADED with character qualities and positive habits that any mother would love to instill in her treasures. The amount of good stuff in this book can be overwhelming at first, but I have just been trying to take one new habit at a time and be diligent in helping myself and my kids to be mindful and growing in these areas. We don't have to master every last quality and habit this year... it's a life long process... one that just might not even be accomplished in this lifetime... but still worth the pursuit. :)

And here are just a few of the books that we're using this year...

At the end of the year, I'll let y'all know how it went.
Until then, pray for me will ya? :)