|Our most recent family photo, taken by a dear friend at my in-laws 40th anniversary party.|
I make myself a cup of coffee and take it and my laptop onto the deck to enjoy the breeze and sunshine. I nestle into the comfy patio chair and start to unwind. I don't get very far. Brown-Eyed-Girl comes outside and slinks into the chair opposite me, asking coyly if I've gotten her any birthday presents yet. Her birthday is tomorrow, so that sly little smile tells me she knows I have. She asks for a hint.
Mister quickly follows, his mouth stuffed full of the sandwich I just made him. He climbs onto the deck rails and crawls around it on all fours. He and Brown-Eyed-Girl get into a (loving) argument over flip-flops.
Petite is inside and has just discovered I'm outside. That everyone is outside. And she's not happy about it. She's crying now and I ask Mister to check on her and see if she wants to come out. She needs to go potty and though she's able to do it on her own, predictably she would prefer to have help. So I set my laptop aside and go in to help her. I put her shoes on and we both go onto the deck. She almost immediately takes her shoes off again when she discovers the pool has some water in it. I really don't care that she's not wearing a bathing suit and is about to get soaked. So long as she is content and I'm able to sit for a few moments, even if I'm frequently disturbed.
Being home with my three children all day is a precious gift, one I often take for granted. Because it is the norm of my life, it doesn't always or often feel like a gift. Gifts are for special occasions. Birthdays, Christmas, Mother's Day, anniversaries. They're not for every day, not the kind wrapped in perfectly elegant paper with curly ribbon and a flourishing bow and something expensive inside. But isn't it true that often the best gifts are the no-special-occasion gifts? The ones you don't expect.
Being home with my children all day is full of gifts I didn't expect. Observing Petite's growing talent for drawing and the exact moment when she began adding eyes and mouths and arms and legs to her objects. Having heart-to-heart talks with Brown-Eyed-Girl. Seeing my son's attitude change from "I can't do it" to "I can do it by myself" (in math of all subjects!). Their very presence here with me is so special. As popular as homeschooling has become- even in the secular community- it still takes many by surprise when they meet someone who is doing it. It's just so normal and accepted to put your children on a bus everyday. The thought has never crossed the minds of many that there is another way to educate your children- yourself. For me, right now, it would be the strangest thing in the world to say goodbye to my children each morning and not see them again til dinner time. Even the challenges of being together all day are gifts.
The interruptions. Bickering. Exhaustion. Lack of "me-time". The worries and fears that I'm failing my children. These are gifts because they keep me ever-dependent on the Lord. They keep me "in my place", reminding me that I'm not any more patient, loving, or superior to the mothers of the public-schooled children. I am a sinner and nothing has revealed this more than motherhood and the added bonus and blessing of home educating.
This school year, 2012-13, was one of our best ever. I loved our curriculum, My Father's World, and we'll be using it again next year. This is the year my two oldest children asked Jesus to forgive their sins and be a part of their lives. We simply enjoyed learning about each different country. We met another special and wonderful family on a homeschool field trip and the second half of our year wasn't nearly so lonely as the first year and a half of being in our new home. I continue to develop my own philosophy of educating my children. My personal education continues in so many respects, another unexpected gift of homeschooling.
Home education truly excites me. I am passionate about it. When I wonder what God's call on my life is, He often reminds me that this is it! I love to talk about it, help others who are considering it ( or already in the throws of it!), and I love to do it. I try to be ever-mindful that this is not the call of God on all Christians, so I pray that if you're reading this and you don't home educate, you feel no condemnation, just my passion and joy for what I'm called to do. Whatever you're called to do, do it with all your might!
This morning as I read my Bible, the account of King David taking an unauthorized census and the ensuing judgement, this verse spoke to me. David said "I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord that cost me nothing" (2 Samuel 24:24) We no longer sacrifice animals to atone for our sins, but the Lord desires that each of us be a living sacrifice. Alive, but dead. I have found such life as a result of the death-to-self required to be a mom. I can't imagine a better life. I really can't.
Lord, thank you! Thank you so much for six amazing years of teaching my children at home. It has been such a good gift to me. You knew just what I needed to die to myself and just what I needed to truly live. Please, bless this family, and cause all your goodness to go before us, that we may truly know You.