It’s Your Call

Image

Walking through “Las Piedrotas” in Tapalpa, Mexico. Can you see the little munchkins waiting on me up there? 

Sometimes answers are like walking out of a cave into the bright sunlight. An instant warmth and sense of deep awareness.

Other times it’s more like waking when it’s still pitch black outside, an then watching as the shadows slowly disappear, and the sun takes its’ rightful place in the sky. Blackness fading away to grey and finally a bright yellow of newness and understanding.

Yep, sometimes the answers come very clearly, very forcefully, there is no doubt. But many times, or should I say, most of the time, my answers come with a little insight here and a little more there. Like a sculptor that methodically chisels away at a block of marble to release the masterpiece waiting beneath its’ surface.

I’m dealing with one of those right now. The second method. The slow elimination and determined chipping away. You see, I know there is a God. I know He is there. I know he listens when I pray. I know He answers. But just as any loving parent, I believe He knows that we cannot just be given the answers to all of our questions and problems. Sometimes He answers immediately and clearly. Sometimes he leads us and guides us almost just as clearly. And sometimes I think he says, “It’s your call”.

I detest this answer. I don’t want to make the call. I don’t know that I’m ready to make the call. All by myself? All on my own? But am I really on my own? No, not really. He’s my Father. He’ll tell me what He thinks, but not directly, not obviously. I must search. I must listen. I must quiet my soul in order to hear.

That is what I’m in the midst of right now. It’s actually a question I ask myself every year. Am I still sure that we should be homeschooling our children?

For the first few years, I really felt a calling. I KNEW it was what we needed to do. As our journey embarked I soon discovered that our first child would have significant struggles in any other school setting, which added confirmation to our decision.

Then a few more moves, a few more children, a few changes of employment and a plethora of changes to our homeschooling….I felt I was starting to “get it”. I felt like we could make this work. I felt a culture forming that I craved. I smiled. We can do this.

But as I just told a dear friend who is struggling with the same decision, for different reasons…Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. And just because you shouldn’t now, doesn’t mean you can’t later. There is a plan and a time for everything.

A couple years ago my husband started making the steps and changes necessary to be completely self-employed. At the beginning of this year we made the final and complete leap into the world of self-employment. This means he is working from home whenever he is not attending meetings, giving trainings and/or travelling. It has mostly been a gradual change and we thought that we were figuring it out. I have always tried my best to help with my husband’s work when he was an employee and now even more as we have a family business. But I admit, I am both hesitant and ignorant. Sometimes I just don’t know what in the world I am doing! I really don’t want to mess something up that is that important. Other times I feel like if I put too much into it than I’m neglecting my responsibilities as a mother and teacher. It’s always been a difficult balance, for me.

Over the past few months I have been reflecting a lot on my priorities in order to create a good balance and decide where I need to make improvements. It was amongst this journey that my husband asked one day, “Are you sure we are supposed to be homeschooling?”

At first I was a bit flabbergasted. Though not involved with the process much, he has always been very supportive of my endeavors.

Unfortunately, I continued to react with my natural responses to his critiques….defensive mode on….How dare he… After all we’ve been through? Does he not see I’m trying my best? Doesn’t he see that the kids learn better this way?

Wait….wait for it…ok, now reflection hits….but this is my husband. My eternal companion. My best friend. What if he’s right? What if I’m doing something wrong? What if I need to have my focus elsewhere?…..

Well, very long story short, by the end of the day I was an emotional mess. I have since been spending the majority of my thinking time grappling with this subject. I’ve searched, pondered and prayed….even fasted. I feel my answer is….It’s your call….not really what I was looking for….definitely not the easy route. I have already been guided. For the moment I’ve decided to finish the school year and come to a final decision by our summer break.  I know the answer will come. Hopefully it’s before I become a habitual insomniac 😉

To all of you who’ve struggled with this, or a similar decision….what helped you?

Advertisements

Now or Never?

It’s a commonly held belief, the idea that there is a timing, a destiny, a fate, for everything in our lives. I’ve always been of the mind that there is a time and season for all things. At the same time, I do not think that choosing one thing will mean you have to give up another forever.

For instance, when I was planning my adult life I had everything planned,  which schools I would attend, which degrees I would achieve, what studies and travels I would take, what career plan I would take….My ultimate goal was to eventually become a wife and mother but I figured I’d get all of my educational and career goals taken care of first and then move on to a home life.

Thankfully, I also have great faith that the Lord will guide our paths and decisions and it happened in my life that I was guided to take on the role of wife and mother much earlier than I had planned. Now looking back I am eternally grateful that I was re-routed and know that this was the best timing for me. Does that mean the rest of my educational and career goals are forever lost? I don’t think so. I’ve also been amazed at how my responsibilities as a wife and mother have taught, shaped, and led me to much more knowledge and wisdom than I would have ever thought possible, many times paralleling and supplementing my career and educational goals.

However, I began wondering on this topic the other day when I was thinking of adding another activity into mine and my family’s life. The topic was Boy Scouts of America. My son is of the right age and he already has some of the manuals and has already enjoyed experimenting with the learning experiences offered in them.

The issue is that since we live internationally I would have to either do it with my son as a home-study type course or start our own group. Either way it would involve a lot of extra time and I would have to also deal with the extra paperwork issues of having our meetings abroad. Is it worth it? I think so, I really like the program and I know my son would love it. Is the timing right? Honestly, I am not a high-stress person, I don’t do well with it and I tend to minimize over-scheduling whenever possible. I was thinking logically it made sense, but I was also worried that I would soon find myself off-balance.

Right now I feel like being in my third trimester of pregnancy with my fourth child, homeschooling the rest of my children, helping my husband with his home-based business, keeping up my church and service commitments and then the doings, comings and goings of being a wife and mother is enough for me at the moment. It seems trivial, I know. What’s the big deal, it’s just Boy Scouts?

Well, these little decisions come up all the time in our lives and sometimes one little thing can lead to a bigger thing in the future. So, if I don’t do it now will we never do it? Or is this just not the time and season? This same thought pattern comes whenever I am considering a choice. I’ve found that thinking about it logically and making my decision, then bringing it to the Lord for his confirmation helps me feel I’m choosing the best thing at the best time. I also then feel that if it’s not the right time, right now, it doesn’t mean it won’t work later. Even if it is now or never and I don’t choose now, then never is probably the best choice for me.

So, what are your feelings about times and seasons? Now or Never?

Why We Homeschool

Image

You know, I never really imagined myself as a homeschooling mom. I’ve always been an advocate, but I thought “Oh, that’s just not for me.” In truth I thought I would do some “home pre-schooling” to get them ready but I always imagined myself going back to work once my kids reached school-age. I’m a secondary Social Studies teacher by trade and I love to teach but the idea of teaching small children terrified me (thus the “secondary” choice). And then to add in subjects that I’m not entirely comfortable with (like math!) just made the whole idea of homeschooling seem way out of my league.

To be honest, I still have days when I feel like I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, but when I remind myself of the reasons we started this journey and the benefits I’ve already seen and can foresee, than even if I feel unqualified at least I feel like it’s worth it all in the end.

Whenever I make decisions I always try to research and lay out the pros and cons before I even go to the Lord with my choice. Once I’ve picked what I feel to be the best option then I pray for confirmation that it is also the Lord’s will that I follow that path. This always helps be feel a little more confident as well, because I know I have an expert on my side, no matter the subject.

When it came to the decision of homeschooling, it was good that I did some research and praying because my husband was a bit of a skeptic at first. Once I presented him the facts of homeschooling and my other non-factual feelings on the subject, in regards to our family and children, he was and has been very supportive.

My biggest reason for choosing to homeschool was for morality and unity purposes. We are a very religious family and after having been in public schools both as a student and teacher I know how swaying the pressures of the secular world can be. I also feel that for a person to really understand themselves and their religion it is best that there is not a huge separation of church and state. I think it’s perfectly logical and also creates a coherency when things such as Scripture and virtues and values are included and woven into curriculum just as I feel our religion should be woven into our lives. I also appreciate the fact that our family has more time to study our religious beliefs and talk about how they apply to us on a daily basis, simply because there is less coming and going and we can make the time. All of these habits and practices create a unifying affect for our family, we feel that we are a team because we are learning about every aspect of life… together!

Besides the statistical benefits that I found while researching homeschooling, there were several particular factors in relation to our family that helped me move into the homeschool world. First of all, after both teaching in public schools myself and seeing how limited I was by “the system” I really just didn’t want my children to be limited in the ways and by speeds at which they could learn. I started preschool with my first child when he was 18 months old and even at that young age you can begin to see potentials of learning. I knew that the traditional school system would not tailor itself to my child and his way of learning.

By the time my second child came along I was even more convinced as I watched her methods for learning. Now that we’re preschooling our third child at home I am very grateful that I can spend the time we need or speed up the process. I can teach subjects in unconventional ways and help my children understand concepts in the manner that best suits their unique abilities and understanding. Through our journey I have also had the advantage of being able to slow down on certain subjects or revamp my methods of teaching to help in areas of struggle, without “labeling” my student,  which I would not be as free to do in a public school environment.

Another factor that greatly influenced our decision to homeschool was our living circumstances. We tend to move more or less every 2 years for my husband’s employment. Our moves have thus far all been international moves as well. Besides the language and culture issues that one must adapt to, it is sometimes a challenge to feel security in such a situation. Thus to cultivate a feeling of security and stability in our family life it made more sense that the one thing that wouldn’t change would be our school. Each year we have the same teacher, we have more or less the same schedule, and we have the same people that we are already used too.

Truly, I love the concept of homeschooling. I really do feel it is the best way to educate a child. However, I am also a realist. I know that it is just not possible, nor healthy, for all families to use this method of education or at least not always. We actually did put our oldest child into a private school for a term during my third pregnancy, simply because I felt he was suffering because of my pregnancy issues. This was a very good experience, my son was able to become fluent in a second language because he already knew all the material in his native language. He also was able to open up more socially than before and made some very sweet friends. It was also helpful for me because I became even more convinced that in order to thrive, my son would need more than a typical secularized/rote education could provide. I became aware of issues that I had not noticed before and all in all I am very grateful that we had that opportunity.

I do not know what the future holds, and I cannot guarantee that with every child and during every school year that homeschooling will be the best option for us. But what I do know is that as I strive to follow the Lords will and what my children and our family need, we will end up choosing the best option when that time comes.