Tuesday, February 22, 2011

General Ramblings

So much has been going on in our home lately! I started a class called "Perspectives on the World Christian Movement" that has been amazing, but also very time consuming. A few people in our church took the class last year and then this year, worked very hard to organize it for the class to come to our town. It is an international college class. I always wondered if I could go back to college and now I can say with almost certain confidence that I don't really think I could right now for sure! I am learning a lot and really enjoying it, but it is a lot of work! There were three levels to take: audit, certificate, and credit. I figured I'd take it for certificate - I had no idea what I was signing up for! The timing is definitely not the best with starting homeschooling, having lots of little people at home, etc. - but I am enjoying it. I'm trying not to stress to much and I am learning I am far more of a perfectionist than I ever realized. It is absolutely heartbreaking when I turn in an assignment and "only" get 18 or 19 correct out of 20. I need to get over that - and quick! It brings about a huge amount of stress - both while I am doing the work and again when I get it back.

The triplets turned four!! (I still haven't done their birthday post - I'm getting to it!) They have their family birthday party this weekend and are very excited to see everyone. 

We began homeschooling earlier than we had anticipated. We had planned on beginning at the end of the second trimester so that Austin could get two trimesters at school finished. Originally, I wanted to pull him after Christmas break, but we decided not to. If I was ever unsure of God's plan in all of this - and I think in any huge life decision we always question whether God really told us to do this or not - I no longer do. Through a terrible situation at school, God made it perfectly clear when his perfect time was to pull Austin. We began a few weeks ago. The first week went awesome - albeit a little frustrating for me to see where he really was at. The last two weeks have been rougher. I think the change has been difficult (as all changes are for Austin) and it is, no matter how much we all wanted it, a major life change. We are adjusting and making our way and I have finally come to the point where if it takes him a little longer to graduate, then that is OK.

I have been upset with the lack of knowledge of Austin and the massive amounts of indoctrination he has gotten in his time in public schools. Austin has always been a "strong" student, intelligent, honor roll, high IQ, etc. I am now questioning the standards by which a school grades and passes students. I would understand a subject with "gray areas" being different in my grading criteria vs theirs, but not a solid, fact-based class. Austin has always struggled with Algebra and I knew he would at home. What is so extremely frustrating to me is that he passed algebra - with a C average. As a parent, that tells me that he had an average understanding of algebra and it would be reasonable to expect him to move on to Algebra 2. Thankfully, they have placement tests, so I had him do that over Christmas break. He got 3/20. WOW. I still thought maybe it mostly focused on things he hadn't quite gotten to yet. When he began at home, we started in chapter one and I was going to test him out until we got to a chapter he couldn't understand. Turns out that was chapter one. In his pre-test he got 4/20. After going over it with him, watching the DVD, doing the practice questions and finally the assignment, he took the same test again and got 78%. Seems like a huge improvement. I still don't understand why he passed in the first place. All of his classes have been the same - this was the most concrete example.

Physical science has been a struggle because he's been so indoctrinated by evolutionism and has never spent any time on creationism. As Christian parents, we always said our children would be "different" and it was OK they were in public schools because they had a strong foundation at home and knew the beliefs and were taught those beliefs. We discussed the things they talk about in school - evolution, among other things - and why that conflicted with our beliefs. I really thought he understood it. And he does, to a point. But one glaringly obvious example was the question "It is not biased for a scientist to not study a theory they do not agree with." He said true!

I could go on with example after example of ways I feel he was failed by them in the last nine years in just the few weeks we have done this, but ultimately it isn't even about that. It is more clearly about God using this entire situation to bring clarity to our decision to homeschool everyone - not just Austin. I had read a book lately and thought that maybe it was radical (I loved it) but after just a few weeks, I now realize just exactly how true it is and that it wasn't radical at all. And even if it is, am I not called to a life of radical obedience to God?? Are not all Christians called to such radical obedience?? We are!! Part of that radical obedience is my responsibility to raise and educate my children - and not leave it up to government run schools to do so. If it seems radical to homeschool - it may be because it is! If I am honest with myself, of course my children are getting a secular worldview in the public school system. They are there 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, year after year. How could they not? I even used the excuse that we are in a "Christian" district with "Christian" teachers but none of that matters. What matters is that I have, for far too long, abdicated my responsibility to raise my children the way the Lord has called me to. 

Now I know. And, like in Perspectives, once you know something, you must do something about it. The sin is to do nothing.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A New Creation

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new!" ~2 Corinthians 5:17

As we embark on our homeschooling journey, which began a little sooner than I had planned, I am reminded of the awesome transforming power of God. I had planned on beginning in the end of February, but God took a terrible event and made it His and perfect and within His plan for our lives. I love when He does that!

As I look back over my life, I can see where God has transformed me and I stand in awe of His greatness. When I get anxious about the decision to homeschool or start to doubt whether I can truly take on something so huge, I need to stop and praise the One whom it is all for; who knew long before I was knitted in my mother's womb, exactly what He wanted for me and my family; reminding myself to be anxious for no thing. Because without Him, I will fail. And it is a huge undertaking, but I have been called....chosen....by God to do this for my children. Awesome.

Twelve years ago, I tearily sent Austin off to preschool, completely oblivious to what would happen in his life and, frankly, wouldn't have even cared at that time what he would be taught. I knew that everyone sends their children to school and had never even heard of "homeschooling." He went off to preschool, I cried, but I considered it a right of passage. Kindergarten came and it was a little harder to send him, but I still didn't even begin to question anything about what he would be taught or that it may conflict with our beliefs. At the time, I was a Christian, firmly rooted in my faith. I believed that a part of my responsibilities were gone. I was no longer the one with the greatest influence over him - his teachers and his peers were. I was no longer the one who spent the most time with him - they had seven and a half hours a day, 5 days a week with him. Even when difficulties started to surface, I never questioned taking him out and certainly never thought of homeschooling.

God had begun to nudge me about homeschooling by the time Austin was in sixth grade. Austin was begging to be, I knew all the reasons we should and could argue in favor of homeschool with the best of them, but I was still buying into the lie that I couldn't do it. By eighth grade, I knew I needed to be homeschooling not just Austin, but all of our children, but Steve was still not convinced. My prayer began that God would soften Steve's heart towards being a homeschooling family ourselves - he already agreed with all the reasons we should do it. I needed God to show me through Steve that this is what we, as a family, are called to do.

God transformed Steve's heart far quicker than He did mine. By December, Steve agreed that we needed to homeschool Austin and began looking into curriculum. We met with the school and AEA to discuss whether dual-enrolling Austin was an option or if we would have no involvement. Steve went into that meeting waivering still whether it was a good idea to revoke our consent to Austin's IEP that we had fought long and hard for. I prayed over the meeting and throughout the meeting, and halfway through, Steve told me to hand over the papers to completely revoke our consent to special education services. I watched my husband fight for his children - all of them - in that meeting in amazing ways. God can truly move people and it brings tears to my eyes to watch the power He gives each of us and the words only He can give us, at exactly the time when we need them.

I stand in awe of watching God's perfect timing in homeschooling for our family and the ways he has continued to work through and in our lives - in all areas of our life. I am amazed at what can happen when we step aside and relinquish all control of our lives over to God and stand in complete submission to His will. God will work in mighty ways if you let him. He will direct your path, if you allow it. And He will make His every plan for your life totally and completely clear - in His timing.

If you had asked me twelve years ago if I thought I would ever be homeschooling, have six children, live in a small town, I would have thought you were insane. Today, I am so excited to look over the last twelve years and the amazing ways in which God has transformed me for His purpose, and how he has prepared me for the journey ahead.

How has God worked in your life? Are you willing to give it all to him?

"Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." ~Philipians 1:6