Monday, December 3, 2007

A New Season

Alright, here is my conclusion to my gossip post! I really meant to have it written a few days ago, but the weekend ended up being busier than I anticipated.

Many of the commenter's from the last post said they couldn't wait for scandalous revelations. I think my "scandals" might be disappointing if you were expecting something of Desperate Housewife proportion's... sorry.

I DID however promise long and arduous. That my friends, I can deliver on! So grab a cup of coffee and pull up a comfortable chair. This is gonna take awhile!

To restate the original post, we are going to put our kids in public school after the Christmas break. This might not seem like a huge revelation, UNLESS you have been following my blog for awhile.

A brief history....

Gotta go WAY back first! When my oldest was 3 (she is now almost 12), my husband and I felt a calling to homeschool our children. I know this was from the Lord. It brought so much fruit and growth to our family over the years, I will always be grateful for that season in our lives.

During much of this time, we attended a homeschool group with a very strong leader that I would lovingly refer to as a Militant Homeschooler. This woman was amazing, but quite opinionated. She would preach monthly that homeschooling was the ONLY way. She also ran a course that would "qualify" you in the state of Washington to homeschool. The course required that you read nearly 40 books of her choosing. Many of them gems.. some of them not. All of them supported a homeschool lifestyle. A few of the books went into great lengths about the dangers of public schools, and the biblical mandate to homeschool. Add these teachings to magazines like "The Old Schoolhouse" that say to put your kids in public school is a SIN. And a healthy dose of the Pearls, the Cambels, the Maxwell's, and other perfect jumper clad homeschool families, and I was NEVER going to put my kids in school. I would be a homeschool mom FOREVER!

The problem.... I had taken the words of man above God. While God initially called us to homeschool, my conviction had been replaced by fear and performance. I was so brainwashed by the legalistic mandates that permeates much of the homeschool movement, that I was paralyzed to hear anything different, even the voice of my father. My devotions were homeschool based, we would seek out homeschool friendly churches, my friends were all homeschoolers. I honestly do not know when God's call to homeschool ended, but my suspicion is that it was SEVERAL years ago, but I like my slew of homeschool mentors was opinionated, and God just COULDN'T want me to NOT homeschool, could he?

Last Spring, my husband wanted to put our kids into Public school for the last 6 weeks of the year. I was horrified, but obedient. I cried and mourned my children like you wouldn't believe. I mean really, what kind of good homeschool mom would allow their children to even enter the doors of a public school?

I remember coming home after dropping them of that first day, and crying out to the Lord "Why did you make me do this? How could you make me feed my own children to the wolves?" God's LOUD reply "I AM BIGGER THAN THE WOLVES!" Peace.... my soul finally understood that God didn't call us to live in a bubble to protect ourselves from the world, but to go out and be a LIGHT to the world and GOD would protect us! WOW. I had been living in such fear, NOT faith. for SO many years. It took putting my kids in school for the shackles of legalism to finally start to fall off!

That brings us to what made me change my mind over the Summer, and choose to homeschool the kids again. The REAL reason.

Our school experience was actually a good one. My kids DID share their faith, pray for their classmates, and for the first time in years, I felt like we were making a real impact for the Lord. We had taken a step outside our bubble, not to find people that wanted to destroy us, but people ... children, hungry and eager to know what we had!

Somehow over the Summer, fear took root in my heart. With the busy summer days, my quiet time all but disappeared, and I fell back into my old patterns of fear and loathing of the world. My husband and I would pray for answers about the next school year only to spend twice as long rationalizing why homeschool was better.

Then is happened. One of my children had to face temptation over the summer. My oldest daughter asked me to go to the movies with some friends. She asked if she could just be dropped off, because that is what all the other girls where doing. I said we'd have to pray about it with daddy, but we'll see. Within a few seconds she burst into tears. "Mom, they are going to invite BOYS, and I just can't do it. I feel so uncomfortable, and I don't want to lie to you. I am SO sorry, please forgive me."

Now, this was a pivotal moment for me. Rather than me look at this situation and say, "WOW, my daughter was tempted to do something bad, and turned from it, look at what an awesome kid she is turning out to be." I thought "Look... the world is going to get us! See the temptation she is faced with already! After only six weeks! I must shield her and protect her and SHELTER her so she never has to be tempted again!" Talk about damage done to our relationship. "Yeah honey, if you share something like that with me, I'll freak out and never let you see other children again. Hmmm, sounds like lots of other people I know.

Now add THAT to the years of homeschool propaganda, my homeschool peers verbally assaulting my choice to put them in Public School (this is the peer pressure part), and it was easy to dismiss the hard thing God was calling us to do and fall back into our old pattern of fear.

So we homeschooled again. Fear for not just my daughter, but all of my children, that the big bad world was going to get them and God wasn't big enough to do anything about it.

We went into this year deciding that we were going to put forth full effort to make it the best year ever! While I was sad in my heart about keeping them home (maybe that should have been an indication) I went ahead and made it work.

It was going "well". My kids were learning, we were active in the support group, it was probably the smoothest year I've had yet. But, something was off. Very off.

Re-enter quiet time with the Lord. God brought me into a study about Exodus, and the Israelites who kept going back to their old ways (and yearning for Egypt) despite what God had said, the miracles he performed, etc.

Legalism and fear are my Egypt, and I keep going back to it! God wants me finally set free!

One morning after a study, as I went to homeschool my kids, I knew that God's hand was no longer in it. I could go through the motions, even make it look pretty, but God's hand had been lifted. The result? An empty void... Our time did NOT feel like time well spent. Our calling was elsewhere. I felt it, the kids felt it. My husband felt it.

That was a few weeks ago, and my conviction to put the kids BACK in school grows stronger each day. I am not afraid because I KNOW I will be walking in God's will, and it feels GOOD!

I've had many good years of homeschooling. Years that helped form our family in positive ways. I will always be a strong supporter of the homeschooling movement (at least the part of it that isn't legalistic). Yet I feel blessed to be released from it. I am excited to enter into this new phase in our lives. I know that God is going to do some amazing things! It won't always be easy, God never said it would be. But the renewed faith I have is helping me to live passionately for God.... on the edge of discomfort.

Finally, when I look at choosing between living a safe, fearful, sheltered life, or one one that is crazy and faith filled, and even a bit scary, I'd choose the faith filled life every time! Whether homeschooling, or in public school, in the mission field, or in our own back yard, we all need to let God determine our direction. We need to be making a real impact in our children's lives, and in the world around us. If we are not, it's time to take a second look at our choices. Look closely at the source, is it fear or is it God? For me, that choice was hard. But I'm ready. Ready to turn my head away from my comfortable place of mediocrity, and turn it towards my action packed, never a dull moment, amazing God! Bring It On!!!!!


Emily said...

Well I WAS checking your blog every day. Nothing will keep a girl waitin' like gossip. haha

It's SO not my business what anyone else does...right? And you're not looking for opinions, so I thought, why comment?

Well, 'cause it's a blog and it's fun to toss our .02 in the bag. That's why.

I would feel sad for my youngest kids if I didn't devote those special years with them that my oldest 2 had with me.

Has it ever occurred to you to give the two younger kids that awesome educational foundation that you gave your girls?

Remember, that's WHY they're ahead of the

I haven't had the rocky road like you. I've loved every single year. Even the hard, cruddy ones. I'm grateful daily that I get to do what I do. ...and you know me.

I am NOT a follower.

PLUS...I'm not legalistic. I just love hanging with my kids.

But if something ever happened and I couldn't do it anymore, I would totally regret not giving the two younger kids my one on one. The kind of one on one that a mom/tutor can only give.

I know that you usually don't get much opposition on your blog, since, hey, it's YOUR blog. But just wanted to toss that to you and see what you felt.

Ever think about just putting the two girls in, and keep the boys out with you?

You would learn more about swords and fishing then you EVER cared to. :)

Love ya girl,

ConservaChick said...

Oh Emily, my dear friend. You can say whatever you want on my blog and I'll love you.

To answer your question, yes, I considered keeping my boys home, but decided against it. Why? Because God called me to put ALL my kid's in school. If I doubted God's calling here, I might be sad, but I don't.

He didn't say "I'll only protect the older kids, who you have homeschooled for several years". He said he'd protect ALL of them.

This post is NOT about homechooling being legalistic, or bad, it's about ME breaking free of my OWN legalistic garbage to truly follow God.

There is so much more to this story, reasons why my time is needed outside of homeschooling (neglected husband, neglected health, a sick father). Just trust that maybe, just maybe I'm right where God wants me.

It's been a hard road for me Em, so having a friend imply that I should feel sorrow for not homeschooling my younger ones is hard to take, but I'll get over it.

Again, the post was about following God. Following God regardless of other people's opinions, even those who you dearly love and respect. ~K

Jamie said...

I love this post. Your faith is so inspiring. It is very hard to always listen to what God wants, when we think that we feel differently and our way is better. I'm proud of you for realizing that and for following your faith!!

javamamma said...

Good stuff. I so wish we could visit over coffee - we have the same thoughts in this area. People adamantly on either side don't get it but I'm with ya!

This generation of kids has such a calling on their lives. God's got some of 'em going to work early - right in the midst of of the 'wolves'. Or maybe those 'wolves' are just lost people looking for someone to love them and show them Jesus?

Praying for an amazing year for both you and your kiddos. And maybe a little more...daytime, know, for you and your hubby! ;)

Halfmoon Girl said...

I love this post. It is so well said, Karlie. I have had the very same thoughts, but have a hard time sorting out what is fear and what is not. I really believe that we have to follow the Lord's leading. Some seem to be clear that they are called to homeschool for always, I do not have that clarity. Homeschoolers can be really nasty about those who chose to put their kids back in- I am glad that you are looking to the Lord, not fellow men. Putting your kids back in school DOES NOT imply that you do not like being with your kids or that you were a failure. I am up here cheering you on. I hope that I will have your courage to follow God's leading if we come to this place one day.

Melissa Stover said...

i enjoyed reading about your journey.
i felt called to homeschool when i only knew one other person that homeschooled and i did it for years without any other homeschool support. when i did get into a group it wasn't legalistic or pushy. then i found tos and while i loved a lot of it, i got swept away for a while that homeschooling was the only way.

i'm so over that now. if i have to ever put my kids in school or if god tells me to, i will. until then i'm enjoying having them with me.

i have more non homeschooling friends than homeschooling friends.

but i understand Your journey and i can't wait to hear what god has in store for you next.

loved the part about your daughter and that she told you the truth.

carrie said...

WOOT! That's awesome! I love it when you can really FEEL the Hand of God on something important!!!

ByHISgoodGrace said...

Wow, reading what you wrote is amazing because I had the same revelation you had about God being bigger, that's exactly what I went through. I was sickly fearful of putting my boys back in public school, my husband did not have the same conviction about homeschooling--so we made the decision to public school this year. But, I struggled with it. My flesh really battled. After the first teacher conferences this year, I greatly repented for my preconceived judgements on the school and teachers. I realized that God greatly blessed my family with wonderfully nurturing teachers that I couldn't be more thankful for. I also repented to God for thinking He wasn't greater and bigger and that in spite of everything, He truly is in control. I have become very involved in both son's classrooms and it has been such a fulfilling and wonderful blessing. Homeschooling was also a wonderful and fulfilling blessing. I have received great advice from older Christian women who tell me to take it one year at a time and to always seek God about it.
Thank you so very much for sharing your details and being so open with this. I pray that God's hand is upon your children and handpicks the teachers!

Anonymous said...

Go Girl! Follow God wherever He leads you. We all seem to want a recipe to follow when it comes to being a good parent, but that's not God's way. Following God is never easy and there will always be critics along the way. Hold up your shield of faith and don't be wounded by those comments. Have confidence in God's leading. Continue to spend time with Him and watch and expect Him to do amazing things as a result of your obedience.


Chelle said...

Your struggles come through so clearly in this post. Having battled the bonds of legalism myself, I really understand the struggles you're going through, even though we've chosen to continue homeschooling. And I know how hard it is to stand up for your beliefs to fellow believers.

You have a heart for God, Karlie, and it shines through in this post. Praying that God blesses you and your family more abundantly than you can ask or even imagine.


candi said...

I am so impressed by your ability to hear the Lord and drown out the background noise. I firmly believe that the bible does not say, "thou shalt homeschool your kids" I believe that the Lord speaks to each of us as to what is best for OUR kids. He does not tell me what is best for your kids nor does He tell you what is best for mine. I homeschooled my kids for one year then we took in 2 foster kids and decided to send them to public school. They are in their second year there and we are thinking we may bring them back home next year. I have had no problems with the public school in our area and I loved homeschooling. Heck if I could afford Christian School I would probably throw that in the pot too. I feel like it is God's way not to clue me in to His plans for the rest of my life because then it would be too easy for me not to seek Him. But rather each new day, new season He reveals a little more to me. We can trust that His ways are good and His knowledge is endless. I am so glad He is smarter than me otherwise the whole world would fall apart around 2pm every day or when the coffee runs out!!!!!!!
The very best thing we can do for our kids is walk in the plan of God for their lives and teach them, by example, faith in action.

EEEEMommy said...

Fear of man (either within the public schools or the church) is definitely NOT a reason to homeschool, and homeschooling that is motivated by that kind of fear will not be able to endure the inevitable trials. We are called to fear God rather than man.
And legalism is a vile thing.
Continuing to pray for you and your family.

Mrs. Darling said...

I niether advocate for or against the public school. My oldest went to public school 6 years than went to private school. My next went to public school 3 years and now is homeschooled. My son is in first grade in public school.You can easily see I have no real issues with any route. Tink cannot go to public school because of a sensory disorder.

Im not joined up with any homeschool group. I do not have an agenda. But I do want to say this.

I dont really think God called us to put Peter in public school. We just did as a matter of course. All our kids started there.

I guess my question is, "Does God call us to place our childrens education at the feet of immoral and godless educators? Does God call us to place our children in an environment that is ungodly; every day, for 12 years?"

Somehow this doesnt seem like something God calls us to do. It is something most of us do but does God really call us to do it?

When God says, "teach your child when they are rising up and sitting down and when they are walking in the way" how does this equate to sending our kids to public school?

God instituted the home and church but not the school. These are things I ponder.

Because I ponder these things I never say that God called us to put Peter in public school. I dont fault you, of course, for saying that, but I cant bring myself to say it because it seems so contradictory to the child rearing principles set up in the Bible.

So then you wonder why Peter is in public school. It is more convenient for us now. I dont think God called us to put him there but neither do I think putting him there has meant that God has removed his blessing from our lives.

I feel overwhelmed at trying to teach Peter how to read while dealing with all of Tinks learning issues. I guess if I had my way Peter would be at our Christian school at the church. My husband doesnt feel the same way though.

It's a comlex issue but there is one thing I remain sure of and that is that I dont think God calls us to expose our kids to the teachings of this world; the language, the humanism, the evolution, the sex ed, the g*y and l*sbian teachers (which I supsicion Peters might be)I just dont think God would call our kids to that.

But having said that here I sit with my son in public school.

I know Ive rambled. I hope you get that I am rambling in love and still figuring this all out for myself.


ConservaChick said...

Hmmm. Good comment Mrs. Darling.
My first thought was the missionary families who take their kids to dangerous countries to share the gospel. Did God not call them? Is God's hand of protection not over them? Do they not require faith?

I know for a fact that ALL my children's teachers are Christian. It is a tiny school in a tiny conservative town. Would God call my kids into a different, more hostile situation? I don't know. What I DO know is that he HAS called us to put them in THIS school. He has called me to trust him.

I don't know how long we will be there, or what purposes will be served. But, I will choose to trust.

Christin said...

I love your last comment "But I will choose to trust". Isn't THAT what following the Lord is about?! Choosing to trust him even when we don't have full understanding?...even when things don't seem to add up?...obeying that still small voice?! You go, girl!

He is much more concerned about the condition of our heart than our comfort.

...and you have proven the condition of your heart to be desiring to honor Him. And THEN the peace follows. After the decision to obey. (At least in my experience.)

I don't know what the Lord has for our homeschooling journey. All I know is one day at a time. But that's life, eh? One day at a time. Choosing to honor Him. with our daily lives.

And in the process training our little ones to honor Him.

and that is SO what you and your husband have done!! Honored him by homeschooling for a season. Honoring him by not getting stuck in "last year's act of obedience". Honoring him by heeding his NEW instruction.

Blessings! I have a feeling that he has some things for YOU during this new season. Things that you weren't able to do before...

sorry. I wrote a book. But I just wanted to hug you, if only with my words.

Mrs. Darling said...

Yeh, I know. I was trying to think of analogies too. However, going to the mission field might not qualify because there you would not be handing your children over to the natives to be taught. In public school you are letting the "world" teach your kids. Even if the teachers are Christians there are still state guidlines( many unscriptural) that they have to follow in what they teach the kids. Get what I'm saying?

Goodness, I hope you know I'm brainstorming this as much as you. I am not here to pass judgment in any way! How could I? My own children go to public school.

I think we as homeschoolers think about these issues in the privacy of our hearts more than we want to admit. I admire you for bringing this out and being so open on your feelings.


CrossView said...

Great post! =D I get tired of the legalism that says that we MUST do x, y, or z that isn't in Scripture when the truth is just what you've discovered and that is that we must each follow the Lord's path for us. Thank you for the reminder!