Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Many Lessons of Our Journey

     I look back on my family's homeschooling journey and am amazed at what the Lord has done. Although, our voyage is far from over, I have seen God's hand and work in our lives each day. It has been so rich in many aspects, educational and spiritual. Yet, I never would have foreseen what our journey has entailed. There has been a learning curve, steep at points and ever-surprising. I have learned a lot about God, myself, my children and our family. There are some lessons I wish I had been prepared for in advance. Whether, you are beginning your journey or are well-versed in homeschooling curricula and vocabulary, I do hope you draw encouragement.
     First of all, I made a mistake of not listening to God. Not that I was in direct disobedience, more of a sin of omission here, I simply did not seek Him for guidance when we first began to plan for the journey. We heeded His voice to begin, yet forgot He wanted to be a part of it all. John 4:23 reads,"The time is coming when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, and that time is here already. You see, the Father too is actively seeking such people to worship him." If everything we do when done in honor of the Father, including teaching our children, then we would be wise to take the time to discipline ourselves to have such a mindset, to keep Him in focus. The excitement and uncertainty of homeschooling took precedence of my thought process. Subsequently, I believe various aspects could have been a little smoother for God will never lead us astray.
      It is amazing and overwhelming to see the wide array of curricula offered for every possible subject. I chose our first year's curriculum out of sheer exhaustion. This is where His guidance was needed in our planning. By the sixth month, I realized the package I selected was not for us. My son was bored, I was panicking and supplementing for every subject. For this to-do-list-checking gal that simply led me to doubt. my choices and eventually, homeschooling. Finally, I woke up to my slumber and looked to God for more direction. It was one spiritual lesson that was humbling and freeing at the same time.
      Please, if you are the list-maker, box-checker, put down your pencils. Every box does not need to be marked. I learned that checking off lists isn't even close to being important. Expose your kids to as much as you feel they need. Sure it is great to have idea of the direction you want to head, but honestly, if you don't get there right when you want, or even if you never arrive to your anticipated destination, it is OKAY. I promise. God has something in store for you that is beyond your imagination and expectations.( Jeremiah 29:11) When we let go of those expectations it frees us to listen and discern His voice more clearly. Why fight the Expert?
      Let go of your expectations. It will be different than you plan, but God will fill in the gaps you find. 2 Corinthians 12:9 reminds us, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  I found that we weren't early-risers, still aren't and have found that mid-morning beginnings are perfect for our family. I wanted homeschooling to look a certain way, not because I wanted those things, but because I thought that was the normal homeschooling thing to do. Little did I realize how much better things are when we work with our own dispositions and leanings. It really was trying to jam a square box into a very small circle. It simply didn't work!
      Flexibility. I can say without a doubt I am a lot more flexible now than I was a few years ago. As much as I want to influence my children for the Lord every day, He has that exact same thought for us parents. God will use every circumstance to shape us into the men and women we were created to be. One way or another God will find a way to sanctify us. By the way, flexibility here is vital. The learning curve isn't as steep if you are willing to bend.
     Keep your focus on Him. Don't look over your shoulder at other moms and their kids. It is not about trying to make your child a prodigy. It is about honoring God and showing our children His way. (Prov. 22:6) Exposing them at an early age to the world around them is one of the greatest gifts and learning tools we can show them. Life is not lived in a text book, but by the Book. The world is our greatest classroom. (Ps. 19:1) You may find your child thrives in some environments and not others. As we teach our children, we must study our children. What are their strengths? Hone in on those. What are their weaknesses? Acknowledge those, work with them, but never dwell on the negative.
     Leave some wiggle room in there. Even when having margin doesn't suffice, grace can be a welcomed gift. Grace is necessary every step of the way. God provides us with grace, which happens daily. It is a wonderful lesson to allow your child to see you live by His grace, in need of His grace. Equally important, our children need grace. Every day can be a divinely-appointed lesson in grace and love.
      The great illumination came when God showed us that our journey was going to be as different and unique as we are as a family. My journey is not your journey. Your journey is not mine. And that is glorious. Wherever God leads us is where we are meant to be. Sometimes doubt may creep in, questions will linger as the trials come, but God is working in your life perfectly. (Rom. 8:28) Trust in the Almighty. Homeschooling is a process. It's organic in nature and is never pre-packaged.  Philippians 1:6 encourages, "...being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." Each child is different, as is each mother and family and ultimately, your homeschooling journey. Remember most of all to enjoy your travels. The memories made and lessons learned will be priceless.

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