Sunday, January 15, 2017

Decisions, Decisions!

Every day we are accosted with hundreds of decisions to make—


Can I hit the snooze bar one more time?
Do I wear the jeans or yoga pants?
Should I eat the salad or the burger for lunch?
Should I tackle the garden or tackle the laundry?
Do I take a break, or should I try to accomplish one more task?


Most of the time we make these decisions without hesitation. Daily decisions are ingrained in our daily grind, and reflexively we decide, move on, and forget as we conquer the next task on our perpetual list of to-dos.


Except on some days, the decision is much more significant, a weighty stone in our thoughts that we turn over, linger over, and breathe upon to polish up the possibilities and ponder the potential. These are the decisions that we remember, accompanied as they are with the gravitas of the implications of our decision. They are Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” and they flavor our lives and even the lives of the people with whom we surround ourselves. They change us.


Lately I’ve been pondering one of those decisions I made a long time ago. Twenty years ago at this very moment, I was carrying my first child. My husband and I had prayed for this child, and we were so excited to meet him. One evening, while standing at our kitchen sink washing dishes, I casually threw over my shoulder to my husband the words, “I’ve been thinking about homeschooling.” I didn’t realize it at the time—well, perhaps I actually did, but I couldn’t fully accept it.  I had already decided. I wanted to homeschool, and now I was asking the partner of my heart to bless that decision.


Pause


In the silence of the few seconds while my husband digested my words, I feared. I worried that he would immediately shut me down, citing fears over socialization, fears over academics, fears over our loss of income. Fears over my hubris that I thought I could actually do it. That I could accomplish something that requires such special training.


Pause


Except he didn’t. He looked at me in love. Yes, I had surprised him, and he had justifiable concerns, some of which he did enumerate. But he also said that he trusted me, and that together we would learn about this lifestyle called homeschooling and make a decision together.
And in that moment, I was reminded again about why I loved him so much. I had surprised him, but I hadn’t angered him. And he hadn’t dismissed me.


I began to read about homeschooling, and when our son was born in the summer, we embarked upon a homeschooling lifestyle. Throughout those years I continued to make decisions, some big and some little, that taken together have shaped our family and crafted our children, as well as my husband and me. I have learned over and over (because I am a slow learner!) that I can’t do it all and do it all well. I have learned to let some things go in order to hone in areas that are more critical. I have seen my children come into their own and develop their own passions free of the strictures of a traditional education. And I’ve made more mistakes than I care to admit along the way.


My children are closer to the end of their educational journey in our home. My oldest is now happily ensconced at Stetson University as an Honors Student and Lawson Scholar studying the nuances of literature and philosophy. My middle child is bridging his homeschooling experiences as he explores dual enrollment at St. Johns River State College. He loves participating in the Rotaract Club and has a 4.0 GPA currently. My youngest is the only one still being fully homeschooled. A true Bohemian at heart, she embraces life through her art and her service to the wolves at Big Oak Wolf Sanctuary.


I have no regrets. I have scars from the experience that I will carry with me to my grave. Most often these have arisen out of my own stubbornness, but my mistakes have also been a part of what has shaped our family, and I wouldn’t undo them. Grace has covered us all, and I am so happy to reflect back on our time as a homeschooling family with fond memories. It is not a lifestyle that everyone can or should embrace, but for our family it has been a source of continued blessing.


Would my own children choose a homeschooling lifestyle? Maybe. Maybe not. Whatever path they choose, I will choose to support and love them. We are all on a journey in this life. My journey happened to be a bit unconventional, and that has made all the difference!












Sunday, January 1, 2017

Still

It's a new year, and I begin again. 2017 beckons. 2016 is put away, along with all its joys and disappointments, pleasures and pains.



At this time of year, our church begins its annual fast. For many in the church, that means a Daniel Fast. I have participated in these in prior years, but this year I am feeling pulled in a different direction.

My life is incredibly busy. Homeschooling, tutoring, and working a part-time job sometimes threaten to overwhelm me. I am instead going to carve out daily time for reflection and meditation. Fifteen minutes of every day, I will disconnect from the world to be still, and wait, and listen.

Psalm Forty-Six, verse ten states "Be still, and know that I am God." Stillness, the quality of being still, is not something I do easily. If I sit down for even thirty seconds, I am looking for something to do with my hands. And even if I do sit, my mind whirls with worldly worries. Stillness is elusive.

Yet, it is precisely what I need. For without being still, God's voice cannot reach me. I become deaf and blind as I spin about my tiny sphere. I starve from my hyperactivity.

Fifteen minutes is my aim. Fifteen minutes where I sit in stillness and contemplate Him Who created grass and mountain, sun shine and dew drop. Such a pathetically small amount of time, and yet I worry I will fail even in this modest goal.

And so I forge ahead, full of hope for a new year, newly inspired by resting in Him. And being still.