But sometimes, it takes a year like that to make you go back to the first things, and to remember what is really important.
I'll be honest. I've done my best to plan and prepare for this year's schooling...but let's just be real and honest for a minute: I don't care.
Not that I don't care about my kids...oh no! I care about them, perhaps even more so. And not that I don't care about their education or their hearts or their character....I care about those things deeply.
But in the midst of appointments and cancer and never knowing what life will look like in 4 weeks or even one week...
I lose my ability to care about math curriculum and checking off the boxes and keeping attendance (when, let's face it, everyone is always here, so do I really need to mark them "present"?)
I am often asked that awkward question, "Why do you homeschool?"
But this year, that question REALLY matters. It has been good and necessary for me to go back and ask myself....why do we homeschool?
And with it, I go back over the many verses God has given me over the years. I go back over the many times I've tried to answer that question by condensing years of quiet times into a cohesive two sentence answer.
And I try to answer that question honestly in a way that communicates that I will never live or die on the hill of homeschooling. I will not ever tell you that you are supposed to be homeschooling your child because that would be presumptive and in His kindness, God has given me enough on my plate so that I don't have time to worry about yours. :)
But reminding myself why we homeschool is crucial for our year this year.
It will remind me not to measure my "success" based on my children's performance...but on our obedience to God's call on our family.
It will remind me that worshipping the One True God is always more important than bowing to the idols of test scores, good grades, and the knowledge and wisdom of this world.
It will remind me that while physical training (including the mind) has much value, spiritual training has much more value-for both this life and the life to come.
It will remind me that what God may have in mind for us to learn today, this month, or this year, may not come from a textbook.
It will remind me that our reasons for homeschooling had very little to do with education and everything to do with discipleship. I remember being awestruck, by the sacrifice Christ made in making disciples of 12 ragamuffin men. By hearing the call to make disciples myself, and thinking....the amount of time that requires is unreal!!
Thinking about why we homeschool, and all the reasons over the years takes me back to the very first call that God gave me in regards to these children...a call that remains, although sometimes looks different through these different seasons.
The call to be WITH them.
I can order the right curriculum, but fail to be present.
I can read the Bible, or play worship music-I could drive them to every available opportunity that presents itself. But if I have not chosen to enter into their world, to see things from their perspective, to feel what they are feeling...
And then call them to something Supernatural, something Greater than themselves...
Then I have not been faithful to my calling.
It is a lofty, and sometimes daunting calling. Being with them can be hard because it is loud and chaos can take over quickly. But it is one that is so necessary this year. If we are to prepare these beautiful children for a life that is so much harder than I ever thought it would be....we can only do so by following the example of our Good Shepherd, our Emmanuel...our God With Us. He entered in, he sympathizes with our every weakness, and empowers us to live in a way that is contrary to culture.
And so, even though our season calls me out of this home and back and forth to the other side of the country in order to take care of Elijah, it just means that I must count on God to show me how to be *with them.* To go back to the first things: to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified...in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. To trust that He is the best teacher, and He will use my tiny loaves and fish, and multiply them. To trust that His purposes for these children are sure, and that He will accomplish them.
And maybe this year, we won't see "progress" in the way of workbooks or curriculum. But, my children are learning that pain and sorrow do not mean that God is absent-they mean that God is NECESSARY. Last night, we talked about Joseph, and his story of betrayal, false accusations, prison.... And how, if he had given up in the middle, so many lives would have been lost-both in Egypt and throughout the known world at that time. We talked about those we have met who have already lost their child to cancer. There is so much pain and sadness and sorrow in this life, but there is also life and hope and beauty.
So this year, I pray that we would discover more of the beauty and wisdom and knowledge that is found only in Jesus Christ. I pray that He would build our character and strengthen our resolve to be ones who would bring as much beauty and joy as is possible into the days we are given. And I pray that we would seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, trusting that all the other things will be added. (And subtracted, and multiplied....well, you get the point.)
This year is about going back to the first things. And while I still don't have an eloquently succinct answer to the awkward question....in a world where tomorrow is never a guarantee, I think I'll start with, "It is my honor to be with them."