Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Updates On The Journey

Well, I've been rambling a lot here lately. Here are just some practical steps taking place toward this decision.
Last week we met with an elder and his wife (since our pastor is on sabbatical) to hear their thoughts on this decision. Their perspective was important to us because they have done the whole gamut when it comes to schooling for their three girls. One is finishing college now, one beginning college, and one still in high school.
It seems that the root of Rick's concerns have been with the quality of education attained in the public school. They felt their girls were always getting a good education. When issues ever came to a breaking point, through the Lord's leading they made changes.
The root of my concerns have been with the social/moral challenges I will face by putting them in public school. Oh, how God is stretching my faith! See, having them home really keeps us from talking about these things with our kids because we are padding and protecting them from them. This couple made it very clear to us that we HAD to be prepared that these things would come up and we need to know we will be talking about them. Although this scares me, every time I quake inside trying to find a reason to shrink back into my comfort zone of having them home.. it's almost as if I hear the Lord smiling, clapping and rubbing his hands together in expectation saying "alright, let's get it on!" Here is where I feel so inadequate! I said so, when we were sitting at their table and this wise mom said to me just what I needed to hear "You are not adequate Alicia!" How I need to be reminded of that!
Is it possible that God wants us to step out, and for our children to step out so that things will come up that he can stretch and grow us in and we can be forced to come to his feet more!? I had never considered this when the leading to go to public started. It is all unfolding slowly.
This mom was also an encouragement to me that I was not alone in my feeling over being overwhelmed. I was willing to press on in homeschooling even being a crazy woman since I really felt I needed to fit into that mold no matter what. You need to back up to read past posts to get all that. This mom experienced the same thing and her husband was sensitive to her state. This was very effective with Rick and he said on the way home that he was convicted by this husband's leading his wife in this way. It would seem that many of these things just don't occur to Rick and I until the Lord hits us over the head. I guess I'm just glad he does eventually. She said that whenever she had homeschooled, it was never a fit for her. She felt so much better when she took off the academic hat and focused more on being the mommy. That was like a breeze on a hot day for me. That is where my heart is being moved.... to focus on mommy and wife. A mommy still disciples her children with the nitty gritty heart issues of life and a leading in the goal of the glory of God. I am not giving that up, I am actually embracing it more.
So, this is where the Lord answered my question about the burden to lead them in eternal goals. If any of you have been here for a while you may have read my post about wanting to make God's word more of the core of my schooling. So, you can imagine my confusion at first when he started to lead us toward public school. This seemed like an opposing answer. Yet, what he is showing me is that the hat of academics is actually keeping me from discipling them because by the time I'm done with that, and my housework, there is nothing left in me. There is no "hey honey, let's cuddle on the couch and talk about your day!" and from there just listen and then talk about how all things relate to the will of God in their lives. The only places I have done this lately have been in discipline scenarios which can make children shirk at the conversation of the gospel because every time we talk to them about it, they are in trouble!
You see, my daughter is ten. The Lord is showing me a lot about her. I have not had the energy to disciple her with delight. I'm too overwhelmed! He seems desperate to have me open up channels with her now. Start talking about these life things now. Bring them up, hash them out, show her God's word. Do it with delight.
I had got to the point where all I wanted after we got through school, which took most of the day, was to have a break from them. "Go play guys!". I was exhausted!
Having a girl is also a different factor. Girls need to talk, sit, and cuddle. They need to be able to talk to understand what they feel in the first place. They need someone to delight in them as they walk through the insecurities of growing up. They need a mom. They need a dad too. But what they don't need is a dad, and a teacher. She needs a mom. She needs cookies and tea and a loving listening ear. She needs a comfortable place to talk about growing up. I don't know how on earth I would fit that in right now. Some people might. I'm not good at juggling that much.
Remember, I saw NONE of this when the Lord started moving us. Isn't it amazing that he leads and we have to step out in faith, and then he starts to reveal why and it's so loving of Him! I am so blessed that he cares so much about these details of my life that I could not see! He knows where we need to be focusing, what we should take on, and what we should leave to Him. What an intimate God!
The next day was the big day. Rick and I went up to meet the 5th grade teacher. Now, I am not putting faith in this but it's an ironic point. We did not even know where the 5th grade room was. We went during a big open house BBQ and so we found my old teacher (who met us very joyfully and gave my husband a hearty pat on the back while shaking his hand....love that guy!) and asked him where to find 5th grade. "Oh! Yeah, that would be Miss....., Oh, she is a great christian lady, wonderful gal!" I'm thinking no, this is too good to be true. Each kid having a christian teacher? Well, we met her and she gave us her total attention giving us a tour of her room, curriculum and answering all of our questions. We did not tell her we were Christians because we wanted to pull out info from her before she knew our stand point. We did have some pretty important questions about moral discussions in the classroom because we said, we were very conservative. In her reply she said something, something, something, ..."because I'm conservative too so I...." and then she said "In fact, I'm a christian, and my kids know I'm a christian but I don't talk about my beliefs in the classroom, we stick to the academics." Well, I'm all about sticking to the academics! Let us take care of the rest, please! We really liked what she showed us that they did, and I was encouraged as a lot of the math starts to drop into where I drop off if you know what I mean! This has been another concern for Victoria is how much is mommy going to have to study, just to teach her?! Math is not my strength, it's not even close. Get me on Dickens or Hardy and I'm sailin' but get me beyond multiplying fractions and I'm stuck.
Anyway.... Rick was pretty impressed with her academic line up. It turns out that "growing up issues" are not introduced until sixth grade and even then each discussion is under permission signings by the parents and you can opt your child out of them. For now, I don't have to worry about it except what will come from the kids.

Here I want to back up and share the corresondance from Tami Rutledge that my husband and I found so helpful when we first started out. I know it makes this post even longer so you can come back and read it later if you like.
Hello Alicia!! as you know, I like to respond to your words so that your feel that I heard you and am responding to your questions!

soooo.... my words are in color....

I thought it was very nice of you to link me. Thank you.

:) welcome and thank you for the info on linking!

It's unbelievable Tami, God is leading us to actually put our kids in public school next year. I was kinda in shock last week when it started. It's a very long story which I am going to try to start journaling about but can't post on the blog right now.

Love what you said.... "GOD IS LEADING US!" That is my only point in schooling choices, make sure it is GOD, not all the info you get from other people, as wise and Godly as you think they maybe, God wants to have a relationship with you, He is an intimate personal God who wants to lead His children individually. GOD will lead you, you should not lead God.

When I read your letter to me a long while back about homeschooling (if you need me to send it back to you since it was a few months ago, I can), I did not really get it. But, I seem to have stewed on it in the back of my mind and the Lord has used it to show me my living by fear. He started to show me that my motivations right now for homeschooling anyway, were not right.

this is the intimacy of God --- able to reveal! I may have wrote you things but only in God's timing will He reveal what He wants to reveal. Yeah GOD!!! This is soooo awesome!

They were two major fears: fear of what fellow Christians would think, (i.e. friends, church, parents, all the mass of homeschool mom 's who read my blog...etc.), and the fear of what the kids would be exposed to. So, I began to see that I was homeschooling for actually SELFISH reasons! So that I could fit into this "godly" homeschool mom mold I so desperately wanted to portray whether we all hated it or not. What I thought was a noble sacrifice and a wise decision began to look more and more to me like living by works and my own pride, and being driven by fear. Like I said, this is long story that I am trying to condense.

I love this.... even just a seed of wrong needs to be dealt with.

It turns out that my very favorite teacher from my own school years is still up at the school for two more years. He is a wonderful christian and his wife happens to teach kindergarten there too. My husband and I felt led to go up and meet with them and that was even strange to me since I had my whole school year planned out (in outline, not specifics). We really had great joy about the thought when we left.

How intimate God is to prepare a way for your heart...

So, we are praying about it and seeking counsel. We are very unsure still what to do for our oldest. She is going into fifth grade and is our vulnerable seeming child.

Let me tell you something... you know those hand sanitizers bottles that people carry around to squirt on their hands all the time... the ones people use to protect themselves from bad bacteria and stuff? Well did you know that if you use them too much that it actually works against you?

You see, it is good for your body to fight off bacterias because then it becomes stronger in defending itself when bad bacteria comes in. But if it is not used to fighting it actually becomes weak.

It is the same with us. We need to make sure and follow God's leading because then they are exposed to exactly what He wants them exposed to so that they can learn how to fight off the bad.

We like to protect our children, but one day they must leave our home and we want to make sure they are not just knowledgable about the armor but WISE about how to use the armor. The best time to teach them is when they are young. Making mistakes when you are young is WAY less costly then when you are older.

By that I mean, she tends to pick up others behaviors and challenge us more when she is exposed to non-christian kids. Yet, my strength seems to be in talking about life and the Lord to my kids not academics, so I am beginning to wonder if he wants me to clear my slate so that I can actually focus MORE on these heart issues with my kids.

NOW that is the true heart of homeschooling!! Discipleship!! In this life what is more important?
Reading, writing and arithmetic, or knowing how to use all of those to God's glory? If God is leading you to put your children somewhere, no matter where it is just know that it is a part of the intimate curriculum He has intimately designed for them, to begin to prepare them for the ministry He has in store for them. AND TO INCREASE YOUR FAITH!

So, anyway.... I wanted to ask you...
you said you had a time when you put your two in to public for a while. May I ask what motivated that?

Every year we ask God, Where Lord, where do you want your children this year.

How did it go?

Spiritually it went according to God's plan for them and for us! Humanly it increased my faith more then them being home. And it for sure was a testimony to our children of seeking God and not leaning on our own understanding. Prov. 3:5-8

What ages were they?

Kathleen did a partial homeschool and public school when she was in 2nd grade. 3 days at school 2 at home. 6th Grade public, 7th private Christian, 11 -12 Private Christian

Debra 4th grade through 4/5 of 5th. 9th - 10th private Christian 11 - 12 home

Christy 1 - 10 home 11 - 12 private.

Did it become too much after a while?

Obedience never becomes too much when I walk with the Lord.

There is so much more I don't have time to write right now. I am hoping to be able to post some of this shocking journey when I am able to.
I may allude to it until then and you will know what "decision" I am talking about. I was motivated at first not to share out of fear of opinion, but now my motivation is to spare my kids any hearing until the decision is made so that they don't get pulled around emotionally as to what they will be doing next year.

As you walk with God in peace and joy you have to remember too that any responses they get are all a part of God's design to grow them up.

Alicia the key to everything is JOY! Rejoice that God has already determined the responses you will get and they are all designed to do a wonderful work in you. Rejoice that God has already determined who will sit by your children if you put them in school Rejoice that God will never hop off his throne in surprise, nor pace back and forth in front of His throne when something goes "bad."

He is sovereign, HE is loving, He is perfect, He knows the plans He has for your kids.

The concern I have is this..... WHY WHY WHY would anyone ever consider looking down their noses at someone for seeking God's will.

IT is because in our human understanding we have dictated what God's will is. His best has been determined by our human understanding of things.

I know that God has given us a brain and told us to use it, BUT He also said that we are sheep, He is wise, we need to come to Him for the final answer.

No one should say,... but look at the facts, look at all the godly people who say you shouldn't, look at this and look at that... NO - Keep your eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of your FAITH!

What matters most to us? God's "Well done." or man's approval when we do things according to what they think is right. Who do we desire to please more....

And when people question you and say ... How could you... you can reply. I know just what you mean, I asked God the same thing and His reply was.... "How can you? Simply by trusting and obeying and in my strength!"

By the way it isn't as if God plays tricks on us. He doesn't say, "Thank you for seeking my will, but you totally misread me and so I am going to screw up your kids now."

He is a loving God who can lead you. YOu see my friend, God's leading doesn't depend on your ability to hear or see Him, it depends on His abilities. That is why God has no trouble revealing HIs will when we are at peace.

Worry an fear negates who He is so if He were to lead you one way you would negate it as Him and attribute it to some sinful desire.

Be still, rejoice, give thanks.... Your children are always better off when you obey.

AND my children were exposed to sin... GASP go figure. But what is the armor for? The armor is for learning to deal with SIN. God doesn't have us put it on just for a fashion show... it is meant to be useful and used!

So. Whether God leads you to put them in school or at home, the only thing God is wanting you to see is if you are humble enough to be LED.

Isaiah 48: 17 This is what the LORD says—
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
"I am the LORD your God,
who teaches you what is best for you,
who directs you in the way you should go. 18 If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea.

Psalm 23
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,

3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.

4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD

Alicia I am so excited to watch God at work in you!!!



Zimms Zoo said...

It sure sounds like you guys are on quite a journey. I have a almost 10 yo daughter and it has been quite an experience too. I often wonder if I am concerned enough about her day and if she wants to talk about more things. But we ahve instituted several things in the last 3 years that help our kids each get their own time.
I am coming back everyday as your journey progresses.

Alicia said...

I remember you saying a while back how you have each kid have mommy and daddy time and I thought that was so special. That inspired me to talk to Rick about implimenting something similar and Victoria would have a few more nights a week than the littler ones for now. I think this will really help us open up those channels. It's a challenge when their home and I'm sure it will be if they are in school. Either way we have to make time.
Christy, I just want to thank you for getting on here and just saying any thought you have... discussing with me. Today I have been tempted to discouragement because the comments are so quiet right now. God keeps speaking to my heart that I need to only be worried what Rick and He thinks. Yet, it's not good that I have a site meter that shows me all the people that get on and yet it is so quiet. Sometimes I interpret no commenting as someone literally saying "no comment" which we all know insinuates "i don't like what you said but I don't want to be rude." I have to get my mind off it! I should not let my heart make such assumptions!
I just want to thank you for talking to me. You have blessed me just by commenting.....being here.
I know it shouldn't matter.. today I'm feeling emotional about sharing all this. It's hard to be vulnerable....tranparent.

tricia said...

Hi Alicia,

I'm back. I just spent the last hour catching up on your blog. I feel like I have been away forever. I have some of the same concern with HR. I keep telling myself I need to start having time just the two of us. Girls are so different then boys. My boys just start doing an activity with them and they tell me all their thoughts. I need to have some quiet cuddle time with her.

I have not had a chance to hear Shane's recent sermon. I look forward to listening some time this week. I went back and listened on Friday to last week sermon. It was great. I have to think some more I might have more comments for you a little later.

Karen said...

Alicia...Just wanted to know that I'm reading daily and I'm guilty of not commenting much as God is doing the work here and I'm learning as you share your journey. Be strong and proud of your faith and don't worry about the comments or lack of! Quiet things are happening that are just as amazing as when fireworks are going off!

Alicia said...

tricia...love you.

karen...seriously, i'm crying right now.... thank you...

Zimms Zoo said...

Thanks for the warm response. I know how hard this is, just because I know what the response would be from some of my friends.
We let our kids play organized sports, with secular programs (which most have homeschool counterparts) and we get flack just from that.
Also my mom works at a public school now, after homeschooling us and the people there occasionally give her a hard time, but she ministers to those kids with all of her love.
On that note, your kids lunch lady may be a Christian too. My mom is and has sneakily talked to lots of kids about God's love. So perservere in God's will.

julie said...

hi alicia! first off let me commend you for seeking Godly wise counsel as you seek to understand your homeschool direction! God really does use others to speak to us and i believe He is doing that right now with you through your friend tami and the elder and his wife. this is a big decision for you and rick and i think you are going about the process very well.
you know, (and perhaps tami "hit" upon this as well, i don't remember.) but, it often times seems as though many homeschool families do so out of fear. fear of the public school system, fear of government interference, fear of harry potter....on and on and on. homeschooling should never arise out of fear. in our 10 years of homeschool i remember hearing HORROR stories that often times were just that....stories. when we adopted out youngest 2 at different times we had people say to us, "oh but don't you have to promise and agree to do things the dept. of social services way..." NEVER! perhaps other counties and states are different. i am sure there are bad examples out there. (again, EVERYONE has a negative story out there.) but we were so encouraged by our dept. of social services. we still keep in touch to this day with one of our wondeful christian social workers. but we actually had people who wanted to adopt but wouldn't dare consider the county based on their assumptions. often times i would leave our friday homeschool days after talking with other homeschool moms and not feel encouraged but overwhelmed and fearful. NOT good. so, anyway, all this to say, press on and upward as you keep your hand in HIS!

Claire said...

Alicia, I haven't commented either, and I'm sorry you've felt abandoned! :-(

I can see how you are seeking God in this decision to homeschool or not, and that's good. I won't claim to understand; I have believed for a long time that Christian kids should not be in public school. But, I completely respect you and the process you are going through. And, I am praying for you. :-)

Alicia said...

julie...thank you for the encouragement. you are right...fear can be a MAJOR motivator and it is something i spoke of a few blogs back. Sometimes we do not realize that what we think is "wisdom" is actually fear. Tami had a good measure for this. She said something to the effect that if we are motivated by wisdom, we will have joy. God's wisdom that is. I'll have to go back and read to make sure I don't misquote.

First of all, thank you for sharing. I don't feel abandoned...just emotionally vulnerable today. When I give into that, I lose sight of God. I was definately in the battle of it today. Fighting off assuming others thoughts... really, it should not matter. Even if every person in the world got on the blog and told me they thought I was so wrong, I should still remain in joy if I was following the leading of my precious Lord. I have been weak today and was expressing that. In that state, I was blessed to get on here and read gracious feedback. Even though that is wonderful, I have to remember that good or bad response, my joy will only come from obedience and keeping my eyes on Christ.
Thank you for your kindness despite disagreeing and for your love in wanting to pray for us.