Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Five years of homeschooling


I didn't even realize it was our fifth homeschool anniversary until earlier this month when someone asked me how long we've been homeschooling. I had to think back to what grades Anna and Ryne were in when we pulled them out of school, and then I gasped in shock.  Have we really been at this for five years?!  Why do I still feel so inexperienced, unqualified, disorganized, ill-prepared . . . have I covered all the negative prefixes yet? 

When I think back on that first month of homeschooling, I'm amazed we even stuck with it.  I had ordered most of our curriculum through Rainbow Resource, but they were moving to a new warehouse and were unable to ship my order for almost three weeks.  We were also waiting on desk chairs to be delivered, but without any books we really didn't need to use the desks.  Ryne was distraught about having to leave his school, to the point where I would have to go out of my way to make sure we didn't even drive near his old school.  I was very busy with a prior commitment to help start up a Bible study in our area, so I hired another homeschool mom to do school at our house one day a week, enabling Grace and I to attend Bible study.  It was hard on everyone to adjust to so many new routines.  Throw in a few days of illness, and it was a poor start for our home school.

Yet, here we are, five years later.  God is so good! It's been quite the journey, with twists and bends I could never have predicted.  And I'm not sure who has learned more, the kids or me.  Here are just a couple of the things God has taught me:

Nothing New Under the Sun
What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 1:9
When that first month of homeschooling was done, I thought, "Finally!  Now we can get down to business."  Funny, I think I said the same thing at the beginning of this month.  The holidays were over, and it was time to get some serious schooling done.  Oh, but first we need to go for a half-day speech evaluation.  Oh, and it's Anna's birthday -- we need to get ready for that.  Oh, and then I'm having a minor surgery -- no school that day.  Oh, and then it will take me a day to shake off the effects of anesthesia.  Oh, and then two days later the girls and I are leaving for the four-day swim team travel trip to Memphis.  Oh, and don't forget Anna's orthodontist appointment and your dentist appointment and your follow-up doctor appointment and the field trip to the Deaf Cultural Center.  What?! It can't be February yet -- we haven't even had a full week of school!  We haven't even touched half our subjects! Side Note: This is my indirect way of explaining why I haven't been blogging this month. : )

See?  Nothing changes.  There will always be obstacles to our best homeschool intentions.  Just like there will always be the temptation to think everything will be better with a different curriculum, an altered schedule, a newly decorated and organized school room, or "If I just read that stack of homeschooling books next to my bed!"

All You Need Is {His} Love
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:38-39

Jesus loves me, this I know.  What difference does it make in my role as a homeschool mom?  All the difference in the world!  It means my value isn't in how well I teach my kids, but that I am loved by God through Christ.  How easy it is to look at myself and see my failures; how difficult it is to see myself through God's eyes.  BELOVED.   Do all Christians have as hard a time grasping this simple truth as I do? *

To take it a step further, nothing can separate me from His love.  Nothing!  Not the days when we get a hundred things done.  Not the days when we get nothing done.  Not the days when they give perfect narrations and recite beautiful poetry.  Not the days filled with bickering and complaining.  None of this -- not even the F's I give myself on my personal report card -- can stop God from loving me.  

A simple truth, yes.  But when we remember how God loves us, and what that love cost Him, we are motivated to love in return (1 Jn 4:19).  In my homeschooling that might mean we snuggle a little longer to read just one more chapter.  It might mean remembering to thank God when someone finally masters a difficult math concept.  Maybe it's biting my tongue when I'm tempted to nag or scold. Perhaps it's taking time to pause and be amazed when our studies teach us something new about the character of God.  Many times it's taking the day hour by hour, even minute by minute, chanting, "Do not grow weary in doing good!" (Gal 6:9).

I am a better homeschool mom when I am a better Christian.  It didn't really take me five years of homeschooling to figure that out.  I'm also a better wife, mom, sister, daughter, friend, blogger, and you-name-it, when I'm a better Christian.

It is taking me forever to write this post (looks like it will be February by the time I hit publish), because my sinful nature wants to dwell on how unworthy I am -- how dare I even try to encourage others in an area where I so often fail!  Of course, one of the primary benefits of writing this out is to encourage myself.  If I wait for perfection, I am going to be very disappointed.  If I open my eyes to what I already have, I am blessed.  I am loved, and I love.  Our five years of homeschooling have been filled with uncountable blessings, and I can't wait to see what God has in store in future years.

Happy Homeschooling!

* If you struggle, like I do, this video is for you.  It's been my theme song this month. : )

(Those using Google Reader or similar programs might need to click over to my blog to see the video.)

P.S.  Anna is still very much a part of BHA, but she was studying with a friend when we took the above pictures.  We love our Tuesdays and Thursdays when she's home with us.