Monday, October 6, 2008

My Own Story Regarding School

Thank you for those of you who have shared your stories. If you have not shared yet, please do. It has been fun to read your journeys. Go here to share. I gleaned two things so far from your sharing. (1) We will have joy and delight in what God's will is for us, and (2) Christian women need to be secure in where God has led them and spill out joy and encouragement to their sisters in each path God has for them. I think the second one is profound in our journey to glorify God. We never know where God may lead us, we should always be open to his leading for each child, and each year. Even where I sit, being in the public school, I have no idea where God will have us in the future. I should have had that same attitude while homeschooling. I should have had a bigger view of God regarding those who did anything other than homeschooling. I am thankful God used this journey to show me how boxed in I had made Him.

Brianna asked a good question. Why did we leave homeschooling.(oh, and yes Brianna, that was the book I was referring to..more on that later!) I can answer you in one sentence but it's nutty. God told us to. That sounds so crazy, but it's absolutely true. There is a lot that goes into that that I want to get to this week, but since there are some new readers here, you may want to start with catching up on our testimony.

Alicia It's Time To Share from May 27th, 2008

Sharing Part 2 from May 28th, 2008

Sharing Part 3: One Body Many Parts from May 29th, 2008

Sharing Part 4: "If You Are Living This Way, STOP NOW!" from May 30th, 2008

Pursuing The Beauty of Unity from June 1, 2008

What Exactly Was It I Was Supposed To STOP? from June 1, 2008

Updates On The Journey from June 3rd, 2008

My Story:

My life has always been jumbled. If anyone has run the gamut on school, I think it's me. The only thing I have not done is boarding school.

I entered kindergarten at 4 in a private Christan ACE school. I was in ACE schools from there until 4th grade. I did not really enjoy these schools because I am highly social and the structure of ACE is for kids to be at their desks with dividers and doing booklets called "paces" for each subject. There is no teacher, not group discussion, no activities that I remember. It was as boring as could be for me. I tend to learn hands-on and this structure was anything but hands--on or interactive. There were only monitors who walked around and answered your questions. You put up a little flag if you needed help, you did not even raise your hand.

In the midst of this time my family re-located from Indiana to California. Though ACE was not as common here, my parents unfortunately found one for me to attend. It was worse than all the others. I was always glad when school was out and I could take off my itchy uniform and put on my play clothes. I always felt so free when school was over.

I was only there for one year (not sure why, I'll have to ask my mom) and then they put me in public school. I was elated from what I can remember. It was so fun to interact with other kids and a teacher. I don't remember liking my 4th grade teacher too much, but I liked the school work, and I liked making friends. 5th grade was one of my favorite years. I had a teacher who had two boa constrictors in the classroom and he would let them out, and we could watch them eat mice if we wanted. I was such a tomboy, this was right up my alley. We all sat on our desks and they slithered around going after the mouse. I do like mice though but I've always understood the need for the food chain and that things die to feed another. My dad being really into guns and squirrel annihilation kinda helped with my outlook. This teacher, Mr.Howland I think his name was, had a store for us to spend points we earned. I loved that, and was highly motivated by it. We read "The Phantom Tollbooth" that year, and it's still one of my favorite books.

My parents moved again in this time, and my family was in a very bad car accident in which my mom nearly died. The Lord used school to keep me busy and well adjusted in a hard time for my family. We were living in a motel while waiting for a home to be built in the north part of our county where we would be re-locating to. I was 10.

When we moved, my parents put me in our main local christian school around here. I repeated fifth grade because at the time they were saying that if you started school too early (as I did at 4) then you should take a year again. I hated the christian school. I was more teased there than anywhere I had ever been. The kids were just down right snots. I had one good friend and even she was wish washy. I liked my teacher, but that was it. My mom took me out within a few months. Into homeschool I went.

My homeschool experience was not good. I think my mom would agree. I have to give her credit, she tried with all her might. They both wanted what was really best for me. I was so bored and lonely. My only sibling is six years older than me and he is disabled so I had no one to talk to except my mom, and I think at that age, she could only take enough of me. I use to hang out after doing my school work, in my playhouse and talk to my cat Thomas all afternoon. I hated homeschooling. Every now and then, we would do an outing that would be fun but not often. My mom and I got along worse in those years than I can ever remember. She was trying so hard, but completely overwhelmed. Since we could not get along during school, we did not relate much the rest of the day. We had had enough of each other. This carried on for 6th, and 1/2 of 7th.

Half way through 7th grade, they put me in the school my kids are in now. It was a tough adjustment for me. I was at a different place in my life than the last time I had been in school. My parents did not let me do, wear, or listen to any of the things the other kids (rightly so in many regards) did and I was a definite outsider from the get-go. I had one good friend, Cheryl, and we stayed best friends all through Jr. High.

Diving into this after not having a good relationship with my mom for years and at such a vulnerable time in my growing up, sent me into some real quiet rebellion through Jr. High. I never did anything big, but I was not focused on growing spiritually. I do remember sharing Jesus with my friend Cheryl. I was not close to my parents, and I was not too secure in school either. It was a hard time.

Academically, I developed a love for poetry and literature during this time. I made a challenge to myself to be the one who could recite the longest poem in class. I did "The Highway Man", "The Lady Of Shallot" and when everyone was thinking that was the limit for sure, I topped it with "The Tell Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe and recited it all. Those were fun days. I was not appreciated for being popular but I was known as the poetry queen and that suited me just fine. I began writing too at this time and my teacher Mrs. Rogers highly encouraged my writing. I lost myself in poetry for long time. It was somewhere I could be myself.

It was at this time that I began to struggle in math terribly. It has never been my strong suit. This is where I met Mr.E who is still at the school teaching 3rd grade, and who's wife is now teaching my kindergartner. Mr. E was a christian man full of the joy of the Lord and he encouraged me like no one else. He made me visualize things, and he made me smile. I was still having a rough time at home with my relationship with my parents and he kept me from feeling totally down on myself in some areas in my life. I think my parents were beginning to feel a real loss of how to keep me in the right direction and they just squeezed harder as a result. There was not a lot of joy in our relationships and I grew more and more discouraged with my abilities and how I measured up. Mr. E cheered anytime I got something right and was patient and helpful when I didn't get it. He gave me a real needed boost at the time.

I went on a summer to Teen Missions to Honduras. God was starting to break through the ice. I had developed a real problem with "godly" authority figures when they were heavy on being critical. I huffed and puffed my way through all the memorizing scripture and bible learning on the mission trip. God had a sense of humor though, he knew he would not let His word return void in my life.

The next year was High School. My parents moved me again to another town. A small one, and I went to the public high school. I fell way behind in math. There was no help for me as I did not get the algebra concepts and the class just moved on. This is one big complaint I have against the public school at the time, and still am on the look out for. I was getting left behind. All other subjects were fine for me. Socially I did not get into any trouble or anything. I did scare my parents half to death by having non-christian boyfriends. Thankfully, the Lord kept me from anything big and most of that was because my parents did not let me date. Any interaction between myself and a young man was at school (which was not much) or at my parents house (which I only remember one time having a guy come over).

That summer, I went back to Teen Missions on a Russian team. That summer changed my life. I saw the world as much bigger, and I saw God as much more real. What I had been taught became my own conviciton and from that point on, I had given my own life to Christ. I came home and asked my mom to homeschool me. It was way too much culture shock for me to come form that to the petty High School drama and selfish pursuits of many. I also had grown in my desire for purity in relationships and was no longer interested in wasting my time on boys who were going nowhere spiritually.

My mom had me do my sophomores and junior year in one. By then, it was popular to enter college ASAP! The whole rave were all the smart homeschoolers who could go off to college at eight. I stayed pretty focused on school and I started working. I had no friends except one who was a guy in my Sunday school.

That became really hard my senior year. I did not have time to think about it much though since I was working and doing school. As the year went buy, it started to wear on me though and I wanted out of Dodge. The homeschooling got majorly boring to me again especially without the social outlet. My mom was also working part time so I was left with my school to do list and that was that.

The big element that I lacked at this time was discipline. I did not learn to be up at a certain time, be on time to class, be on time to turn in work. The only thing that was structured in my life though was being to work on time.

I went off to college at 17, to Taylor University. Looking back, that was way too young. I did not care about the academics at all, I was there in my mind, to make up for two years of no social life. I was not good at being anywhere on time, missed many classes, and did not focus on when to have work done. I don't know how I even got through the year now that I think about it.

My parents could not afford for me to go so far away so they sent me the second year to The Master's College. I was much more focused on school this year but not near what I should have been, and my bad accountability habits still ruled my life. I did meet some great christian friends and even Rick while there, but school was not the best.

From there, I got engaged, married, and had a honeymoon baby girl. I have learned more through life and circumstances that I ever did before. I am not an academic to this day. God used most of my school years to bring me to my need for Him. My greatest regret is that my relationships at home could have been better. That is what I really needed. I know both my parents tried very hard. They always wanted to do what was right, but we were not close. They had a disabled child this whole time that took a lot of their energy so our situation was a little different than some. Seeing this happen in mine and my mom's relationship allowed a real alert system when I started to see it happen to me with homeschooling. For a long time I told myself I just needed to pray more, and to try harder. I needed to focus on Christ and the homeschool thing would go right. It did not get much better. So, I beat myself up for a long time. I fell into a deep legalistic motivation for my homeschooling. I never considered letting go and letting God lead. He had to actually step in and turn me away from where I was headed. He called me out of something that seemed good to me for the greater purpose of His will.

I long more than anything, to focus on being a mommy. To have those relationships be the most important thing to me. To put nothing before them, even homeschooling. On the other side of God taking us out of the homeschool arena for now, I realize that my road was becoming much like my mom's. I was becoming so exhausted with the homeschooling, that I had no time or energy left to be mommy. Just mommy. I don't want anything to clog up the channels between my children and myself. I think some moms are good at managing both, and I desperately wanted to. I am thankful that God knew me more than I knew myself. I'm thankful that he humbled me to admit my limits and not blame it on my lack of spirituality. I needed him to move where I could not, and He was faithful to do that.

A lot of my story sounds very negative. It was all used for the good. It was hard though. Overall, I enjoyed public school more but oddly enough, the reasons are not academic. Perhaps God had me go through these things so that I would have a burden for relationships over many other earthly pursuits. My parents and I have had some tough roads together, but they had some even tougher roads that they came from. I know more about that than I ever did growing up and I'm amazed we've weathered things as well as we have. My mom and I are very close now, and I know as mom how hard it really is. I have all grace for her now and hope my girls call me up with the same someday.

Some things that I loved from your sharing:

Daja said:

"I adored being homeschooled and love homeschooling now."

I'm so blessed by this. I love when mom's are "adoring" homeschooling. It took me a long time to get over being mad that I was not adoring it. Now, God has shown me why I was not. I think that when you are in God' s will, you will have joy. Not happiness, not things going perfect, but joy. You will "adore" being where he wants you. I am so glad Daja has good memories of it and is passing that joy on to her kids.

Katy said:

"My mom was very involved both as "room mom" and as PTA president throughout elementary school. I think her involvement made all the difference in my education. "

This again reflected the important involvement of mommy. It's great that in America, a mom can be in the public school, and be very involved. It also keeps that channel between home and school, open and joyful. Loved that, and it encouraged me to press on in the joyful mission to be at the school every Friday.:)

Kristen said:

(after sharing that she did public school and loved it)

"oh, but i did do homeschool (with a tutor and with my mom) during my really sick years, which were 6th through 9th grade, adding some public school in here and there for a class or so as i was doing better. that really, really solidified my independence and my desire to follow God rather than the peer pressure."

This blesses me too. The intimate plan of God to use your illness as a precious time to get your attention spiritually. God did that for me through those mission trips. He can use anything to orchestrate our upbringing. It is good to remember that he will move us where he needs to be at the time of his choosing.

Brianna said:

"God is working in the public schools. No government can take Him out. There are children, parents and teachers who love the Lord and who are following His call on their life. No matter what type of school you do, what is happening in your home will affect the child most."

That is important to remember, and to stay at the forefront of our minds.

Civilla said:

"The sites I go to are SO dogmatic about homeschooling. You MUST do it, or you don't love your children and are not really a Christian. Maybe it is an over-reaction to the criticism they get. I wish we could stop the "mommy wars" and affirm each other and support each other."

I hate to say, that I was one of those women. If I have learned anything, let it be that God works in many ways and by many means. May I NEVER put him in a box again! It's exactly what I had begun to believe..that I MUST do it, and that if I didn't I was not loving my children. That leaves no room for seeking God for what HE wants, for truly, that is the only thing I MUST do unashamedly!!!

I also appreciate the reference to supporting each other. I hope every public school mom with affirm and support her sisters called to school at home. I hope that every homeschool mom will also affirm and support those sisters whom God has called to the public school , or the christian school. We will have great joy for seeking God's good for each other and seeing Him work.

My SIL Joan said:

"I think that really each family must do what is best for them, and if the kids are getting the time, attention, and shepherding they need at home, that's the important thing."

And that, I must say, is the best closing statement I can use!


Gombojav Tribe said...

I didn't read this post yet (I'll probably have time after the kids are in bed....and after Heroes!) but I just gotta say that I love that picture! Your dress is off the chart! Don't you wish you still had it?!

Civilla said...

Hi, Alicia. I think I found your blog by looking at some comments on gombojav tribe's site. I usually read comments on people's blog sites and click on commenters' names to see what their blogs are like. I must have seen that you made a comment on her site or Lady Dorothy's site. Thank you for coming by my blogspot and commenting.
Yes, we women should affirm each other in the choices we make that are best for our families. I said "whew" because I didn't think there were any dedicated Christians out there who blogged who also sent their kids to public school. Nearly all of the wife-and-mommy blogs are by homeschoolers. While there is a lot that I admire about homeschoolers, I hate it when they make me feel like a second class Christian. We love our children, too, and want what is best for them. Thanks for replying. Your blog site is beautiful.

Christina said...

Thanks for sharing your story, Alicia. Maybe some day I'll get around to sharing my story on my blog. If it ever happnes, I'll let you know!

Joan said...

I enjoyed reading your story, Alicia - I didn't realize that you were in school so much. I thought you spent most of your time homeschooling. Fun to learn more about you! Still hoping to get to talk to you and Rick one of these weekends...

Brianna Heldt said...

This was a fun post to read! And no, I don't think it's crazy at all that God told you to stop homeschooling and do public. I've had a couple of times in my life where I've "heard" Him speaking very clearly. And there's just no other way to put it!