Mom to Mom Encouragment

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,
Ephesians 1:11

Hello.

It’s been awhile; I know. To be honest, except for some few matters that weighed heavily on my heart, I have basically taken this summer off.  After 15 years of the intense parenting  and educating process that is so innocuously referred to as”homeschool,”  I took a few weeks and did some serious resting at the Lord’s feet… with an strong emphasis on rest.

As part of this,  I slept… and slept. As far back as memory stretches, I remember being tired, and so this summer I did not stick to my normal early-morning routine as in years past. I slept as long as I could as often as I could. That is not to say that I went to bed late – in fact, I was often in bed by 9:30 – but for the first time in memory, I did not set an alarm every day.

It was a luxury, and one that I was only able to afford in part because of a tremendous change that is happening at the Davis household. You see, I have less to prepare for this school year.

For the first time in our family history, I will only be homeschooling one of my children; the older two will attend a private Christian school. This is our family’s very first venture into an institutional-style education.

It’s pretty big change.

For years, we have prayed about how long we would homeschool, and this year the surprising answer was to provide the older two with an opportunity to attend a private school in a neighboring town.  I have always known that if my Lord wanted my children to attend private school then He would provide for it.

And He has. And here we are, just days away.

But some things never change. The same questions that have risen at the beginning of each school year still surfaced this time, some with even greater savagery.

Have I done enough with them?

Have I been too lenient, too strict, too careless, too rigid?

Have I gotten so caught up in teaching Bible that I have forgotten to share my love of the Bible? 

Have I impeded their growth spiritually, socially, academically, emotionally, intellectually?

What if I have made a tremendous, hopeless mess out of everything?

These questions and others like them are the particular haunt of homeschool moms, although I am certain they affect all concerned parents in some degree. However, the homeschool community is such that, if you spend even thirty-five seconds on some form of social media, you will be bombarded by other homeschoolers who have just plain done it better. 

They have successfully shepherded all of their children’s hearts to the effect that each one has an obvious love for the Lord that overflows in a passion for some area of ministry. These families have raised prodigies in violin or dance. Their children are mini-geniuses who are fluent in 4 languages, have mastered Algebra by fifth grade, can map their own DNA, have written a successful novel, have formulated a very promising cure for cancer,  whip up five-star restaurant quality meals from scratch for dinner each week, rescue babies from runaway cars as a hobby, made a 36 on the ACT exam in eighth grade, and have once or twice saved the world from imminent disaster with a combination of pure ingenuity under fire and infallible communication skills. They are done by noon. Every. Single. Day.

When I consider all this, it’s not difficult to see why I no longer look around at other people’s Facebook posts  nor why I have studiously ignored Pinterest.

However, all my sleeping and resting at the Lord’s feet did bring about a positive change. For the first time, even though the same old crazy, fear-induced questions did rise up on cue, they were quickly put to rest by one single encouraging thought: It really doesn’t matter.

You see, even if I have made mistakes, there is no such thing as a hopeless mess. Of course I have erred; I am human. However, I have also prayerfully, diligently, even tearfully tried my utmost to obey what I believe my King has told me to do. In years past, that meant fighting battles I did not want to fight. This year, it means letting go a little.

Naturally, I have asked myself, “What if you are wrong? What if you only think you’re doing what God wants you to do?”

And that’s where this gets good. Because, the thing is, my Father does know if I am truly and with my whole heart trying to obey. And He isn’t expecting perfection; perfection is squarely His territory.

But the best part of all of this is that even if I do misunderstand Him, even if I do make huge and heinous mistakes, as Ephesians 1:11 says, He “works all things according to the counsel of His will.”

Oh, there are other verses I have collected along the same lines, but my fellow Christ-loving moms, as we start this school year (whether homeschool, private school, or public school), I pray that you are as encouraged by the Word of Life as I was this week.

So instead of worrying, let’s rejoice! Our God is truly the Almighty, and He works all things according to the counsel of His will. Even our sincere mistakes.

“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
Job 42:2

Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast. By your appointment they stand this day, for all things are your servants.
Psalms 119:89-91

 

Back-to-School Meditations

But Jesus, aware of this, said, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread?
Matthew 16:8

And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
Mark 8:21

 

Back to school. Those words invoke a pretty wide range of emotions, from excitement to dread and everything in between, sometimes all at once.  As a home school mom, I often suffer from a sense of insecurity at the start of each new year. Will I be able to help the children with their subject matter? Will we cover enough information? Will they be well-rounded and well-grounded? Most importantly, are they really getting it when it comes to their Bible studies and their relationships with God?

As usual, I was talking with God about my fears and insecurities before we began our school year and discussing with Him the fact that my teen and pre-teen children seemed to be further than ever from Him. I was bemoaning my failure, asking Him to show me where I had gone wrong. Have I been too legalistic? Too harsh? Too lenient?

As I poured out my heart to Him, God hushed me with the reminder that even the best Teacher the world has ever known did not always get His lesson across to His students.  If Jesus asked questions of His disciples such as, “Do you still not understand?” so frequently, do I honestly believe I can achieve better results?

No, I am not a perfect teacher. I would venture to say fairly boldly that I am not even a good one. Nor am I a perfect role model, especially to these three who have seen the irrational and bizarre moods caused by the prodromal phase of a migraine often enough to recognize and identify it with uncanny accuracy.  However, if God has truly called me to do this — and I am convinced that He has at least for now — then He is faithful and He will surely do it.

Despite my fondest, early imaginings, none of my children are super-geniuses nor are they super-spiritual. While they are all bright and have gifts in different areas, none of them are on track for college graduation before they can drive (which is a blessing since I would be on track for the funny farm if they were!). To my sorrow, not a single one of them shows the glimmerings of an astonishing faith, an especial zeal, nor of deep insight into the things of God.

However, as God  reminded me on that morning walk, the twelve disciples did not exactly show signs of being world-changers during the time of their tutelage, either.  So many times Jesus patiently and lovingly reprimanded them for their little faith or for failing to understand parables or events.  As a matter of fact, there were areas in which the group did not connect the dots until after He had been crucified and rose again:

His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him.
John 12:16

It heartened me to begin the new year with a fresh perspective. This understanding does not eliminate the weight of my responsibility one whit, nor do I take my job less seriously. Indeed, it inspires me to prayerfully seek the Spirit’s help to be more patient when I repeat myself again and again and again and again…

It also makes me resolved to work at home schooling heartily,  as to the Lord and not to men. It reminds me to continue diligently to study His Word and show myself approved, to love the Lord my God with all that I am, and to encourage my children to do the same.

And perhaps most importantly, I will not judge the fruit of my little gardens before the seedlings have even produced proper buds. I will continue to plant, to water with both prayers and tears, and to ask God for the wisdom and strength to tend them well during the time I am given. Then, when I have done all that is within my ability to do, I will step back and watch to see what God will make of my little efforts.

I firmly believe that He who calls me is faithful; He will surely do it. And I pray the “it” I wait to see will be that God will bring all three of my children into a close relationship with Him, loving Him with all their hearts, souls, and with minds that are well-trained despite my inadequacies.

 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
1 Corinthians 3:6-7