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Saturday, December 24, 2011

It's bittersweet but official

My homeschooling days are over. This season in life is over. Gone are the read-alouds on the couch, daily Bible lessons, and my favorite--unit studies. I have been a working mom for over a year now, and just began selling off my curriculum---I think that's when I really accepted in my heart that this new life might be a forever life. It's that hard to let go of what you know, of what's familiar and comforting.

For eleven years I was "homeschool mom"...my whole identity was wrapped up in my schooling and I loved every minute of it, even the struggling days. I know God had me homeschooling to give my children the best Christian education they could get, aside from private schooling, which was not in my budget. I will never regret my homeschooling days and the training grounds they provided me with; my only regret is that my younger two children will miss out on much of what I was able to give to their older brother. I feel as if if they (and especially my baby girl) have been "jipped" as we Southerners like to say. I will just have to work harder to teach them about the love of God among the worldly attributes they have grown accustomed to seeing every day.

I knew my season was over when my husband got sick, one illness after another, even having heart problems, bleeding ulcers that almost killed him, you name it. He went for a long spell not able to give his physical best at work, and his work demanded him to pull 60-plus hours a week. For 13 years he had pulled those shifts and I think his body just began to rebel, in some very dangerous ways. I began my return to the workforce by doing cleaning jobs while trying to continue homeschooling but more and I more we struggled until I had no no other way out than to enroll my children in school and go to work full-time. We needed my income to grow and my children needed more schooling than I could give at that point. This just about broke my heart, as I had so many plans for our homeschooling. I wanted my younger children to experience scouting, co-ops, field trips, all the wonderful things an active homeschool group can supply. I wanted to have that snuggle time with each of them, a time to really impact them for Christ, and in my heart I had decided there was no other way to really do that than to homeschool. Now here is is, over a year later with me working full-time...how do I feel today? I know I still would jump at the chance to homeschool my youngest children, but I know for this season, and here's where dedicated homeschool mom's gulp--maybe forever--I will be a career mom. My husband eventually lost his job and he has started over working for himself from home repairing car ECU's and game consoles. I am proud of him for taking those old sour lemons life gave us and making some sweet lemonade. I am proud of him for trying to learn new skills. I am proud of the way he has gotten closer to God since losing his job (maybe the job loss will turn out to be a blessing after all!), and I know it it my time to support him, the way he supported me those eleven precious years at home.

I was bitter on many levels at first but I have learned to see God's blessings in the midst of the upheaval. Jarred now has time for home and family, church and growing in God's Word, which was my prayer for a long time while he was pulling 60 and 70-hour shifts. I have a wonderful job in a local daycare where I get to assist and teach a lively bunch of lovable two's and three's, under the guidance of a wonderful Christian boss. I love my class and really enjoy each child. My younger children have a wonderful school with some marvelous, godly influences. And I returned to college this year to finish my Early Childhood Education degree from Western Governors University online.

 I am also taking Joy Anderson's Start a Preschool training. I have always loved working with little ones; even when we homeschooled I found myself among younger children at church and in our co-op. My dream job is to eventually open an in-home Christian preschool--not a daycare--a PRESCHOOL, where I can educate 3-5 year-olds in a love of God and get them kindergarten-ready. I spend much of my driving time praying about and daydreaming about it, from the way my classroom looks to the set up of the playground area. Nothing big, just small classes of about 8 children, two rotations a day, 5 days a week. I can't help but smile every time I start to picture it. I guess that's kind of how you know what you need to be doing...the thought of that "work" brings a natural smile to your face. My homeschooling made me smile, and working with little ones makes me smile too, plus it is a ministry of sorts. Planting seeds in these little hearts for God is a good thing. Now I think maybe I've been making lemonade, too. :)

I guess the point of all my rambling is sometimes God seems to throw a fork in our path, or open a new door, or put some unexpected food on our plate and gently say, "Taste it." We are often resistant to these changes, but they can be for a reason, and we can learn to use them in new ways to serve Him and our loved ones. Not being at home makes it more difficult to counteract all the nasty things my kids see during their day but that just means I have to work harder when I'm with them to show Satan what I'm made of. I have to have a dedication to really raising them right and to keeping them active in service to Him.

Life has certainly changed considerably in only one year, but it's not all for naught. It's just a new road, a new path, a new direction, a new food to taste, and God is still sovereign over all. God may be waiting for you to make some lemonade this year!

Merry Christmas friends, and a blessed and productive New Year,