Here we are, two weeks into the school year. According to the curriculum catalogs from which we ordered, we’re in for a fun-filled trip around the world that will include stops in countries all around the globe. We’ll encounter the diverse cultures of those with plenty and those with nothing, and our kids will be challenged not only to learn the geography but also to consider how they can reach the world for Christ. Our adventures will enlighten our children as to how other kids live and open their eyes to how truly blessed they are to have such luxuries as freedom, education, and safety. All I can say is–we’ll see.
Two short weeks into the year–and already the old ugly demons arise–rearing their ugly heads and mocking me with constant reminders of the many ways I fall short of the calling to raise my children up in the Word and live rightly before them. Five years into the homeschool journey, and still I question whether or not I’m the right one to teach my children. Still I doubt that I have the ability to juggle three grade levels and make it engaging and fun and interesting to my kids. My heart breaks at the thought of sending my kids off for someone else to teach, and yet the daily battles of three strong wills to my one–that is overwhelmed and tired of the struggle–leaves its own mark upon my heart as well. I know homeschooling parents all over can identify with the feelings of–what exactly is it? There’s no one word to summarize this venture. It is at times boundless in joy and other times merciless in defeat. Seeing your child finish a book when you know you taught them every letter and sound brings an incredible feeling of pride and accomplishment since you can remember the struggle of every “A-A-Apple, B-B-Butterfly.” Then your other child tells you how stupid he feels when he fails on an assignment or gives up on a project, and you feel like a failure since you remember yelling like a madwoman and saying “Figure it out already!”
When you decide to homeschool you have these visions of reading in the grass with your kids while you laugh endlessly and pick flowers or something. Even if you live in Nova Scotia–you think you’re gonna just joyfully sit together in the sun and feel the warmth of your kids all around you and just beam from how naturally the learning takes place in this environment of encouragement and love and acceptance. Then you get in it and you realize the warmth you expected is actually just the fact that you’re all flushed and sweaty from running up and down the stairs with a laundry basket on your hip while you chase the dog and try to call out spelling words to whoever’s listening. But wait– no one is, especially not the dog.
Homeschooling seems to be like a –like a, a, horse. Yeah–a horse. You may be someone who knows how to ride and you got all your gear on and you jump on bareback and you ride off into the sunset or whatever–you win the Kentucky Derby. Maybe you don’t know how to ride, but you like a challenge and you’ll try anything at least once so you jump on that horse and maybe you fall off but you just keep getting back on just believin’ you’re gonna get it this time. Maybe you’re interested in riding, but cautious, so you sign up for lessons and read up on breeds and get real selective about who you’re gonna work with and all. You surround yourself with the best in the horse world and before long you’re trotting around the ring, and it won’t be long before you jump. Then there are some who are just downright scared of horses. I mean–have you ever really stood next to one–the things are big, man. I mean– a horse is a really powerful animal. So–where was I going with this? Oh–well you’re looking at this big ol’ horse and you want to feel like that guy that just rode off all “Yippee Ky-ay!” and all, but you’re scared so you sign up for lessons, but you keep falling off and you’re not really like that guy that just won’t let go so you end up laying in the middle of the ring all bruised up with the horse rearing up over you, about to come down-and OH! Well–that’s probably kind of extreme.–But you’re laying there after being bucked off for the thousandth time and you just want to say forget it–I mean–don’t they say there aren’t any more cowboys anyways–so you just hang your head for a minute. But you know you can’t stay there forever–you gotta either get up, dust yourself off and leave the ring with one last pat on the horse’s head, or you get up and look that animal in the eye and grab the reins. Ya’ll know what I mean even if I did take a really long metaphoric path to make the point. Homeschooling is like every other challenge in life–you go hard or you go home, but ahem, not to home-school. (Get it? Ha! Whew–my brain is losing steam fast now!)
The question of how to conquer the challenge in homeschooling is the same as other challenges–What’s your motivation? Why did you ever get on this horse in the first place? I’m sure if you can think back to when you knew in your heart God was calling you to this mission field–cuz that’s what it is–I’m sure if you remember that–you can still trust Him to equip you for the task. I can recall rejoicing at the thought of being able to share the Word with my kids everyday. That was before I started saying, “We’ll do Bible when Math is finished,” then never getting to it. I remember praying and asking God to make a way for our family to do this–and stepping out in faith that he would. That was before I started wondering if I should just go back to teaching in public school to ease the financial burden and purchase a few more of the finer things in life. I remember smiling over a long lunch with the kids even if the day was off schedule, way back before I became a drill sergeant with a kitchen timer alotting 20 minutes for lunch so the work could get done. But like Pastor David said Sunday–“I’m Getting it Back!”
I’m going back to trusting God for passion, for provision, for energy, for creativity, for patience, for compassion, for joy. I’m getting back the desire to serve first my God and then my family by raising up a generation with a firm foundation in Christ who will do the work of the kingdom as they seek out the lost and lift up His name. That’s right, I’m in this thing. Bring on the Justin boots and the wranglers baby, I’m back in the saddle and I’m ready to ride. I’m getting it back and I know the devil is gonna try to steal it as he’s tried for the past 5 years. But I’m getting on this horse “confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work will complete it.” (Philippians 1:6) Homeschooling is a good thing–a garden that needs the proper care to see the fruit that comes later in the season–(don’t worry–I’m not gonna go as far with the whole garden thing)–what I’m saying is-Homeschooling IS a GOOD thing, and I know my God is faithful to complete it. So Yee-Haw! I got it back now!