When they were not so young... or, how the girls got their education around the highs and lows of real life.
When our girls were in the upper elementary and Middle School years, life came with a lot of highs and lows. When Emily got to the end of third grade, I switched jobs. It was the right choice to make at the time, but it was difficult for me to give up the all-day time with the girls. Kurt and I went to a new home educating schedule where I would work whatever shift he wasn't working. Whoever was home would work with the girls. Emily would help Arlene read the instructions if she needed them, and we did a lot of their schoolwork in the afternoons after I woke up from working overnights. Was it an ideal situation? From the standpoint of the world - no, but from God's standpoint it must have been the right choice because He blessed it tremendously.
At this point I will stop to say, not every Mom can stay home with their children, I wish we were in a position financially where I could stay home, but that is not where God has us. Please do not look down on Moms who work and home educate. I know some of the homeschooling world does look down on us, although I'm not sure why. I just know I've been there, done that for the past twelve years. It hasn't been easy, but I wouldn't give up educating our girls just because something else would be easier. My friend Liz keeps reminding me that God has me there for a purpose! Go read Mark 8:36 again!
During these years, both girls got involved with 4-H. This interaction along with the fired trips organized by our local homeschool group added a whole new dimension to our lives. I only worked three days a week, so we worked around whatever we needed to in a quest to keep some normalcy in their lives, even when life was far from normal. We struggled financially. God was faithful to meet our needs, but no more. He called us to a life of giving up our own selfish desires in a quest to spend more time with the girls. It was not easy, but I'd do it all over again!
Kurt was in a car wreck and broke his leg in August one of these years. That is something I hope we never have to do again. Our friends and families rallied around us, they supported us, they fed us, and they kept the girls for us for two weeks. Every day became an adventure for the girls as someone new would love on them and feed them. Every evening after work became another time for me to call on bills or Doctor appointments. It was not fun, I was mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted, and Kurt was the one with the broken leg.
I learned a lot about grace in these middle years. I learned about love covering a multitude of ugly words, bad attitudes, and other sins. I learned once again that the body of Christ in action is a beautiful thing to behold, and a wonderful comfort in the storm. I learned that I had to trust God for EVERYTHING. No one else could meet my needs, no one else could hold our family together. I think I cried more in these years than any time since the postpartum blues.
What I learned about education is that kids are resilient. I learned that if I taught the girls one skill really well, they could continue it on their own. I learned just how much God orders our steps, and how much He protects us. Arlene was inside that car wreck with Kurt. There was a space just big enough for her between the crumpled metal and the center of the car. I knew God's angels had wrapped around her and protected her in that crash. Her injuries were minor.
These middle years brought highs and lows to our lives. The challenges of puberty, the joys of friendship. The struggles of coming up with something to make for dinner - again, and the joy of being invited over for dinner. Life happens in all the big and small parts of our days. This was when Kurt first called me a 'sleep camel.' He said it because I would often have three or four days in a row where I'd only get four or five hours of sleep, then I'd make up for it on the weekends.
One of the most important lessons learned in our family's education during this time had nothing to do with a book. It was a lesson about trusting God. The debate has raged for years over whether or not God will give you more than you can bear. The answer is yes. God will give you more than you can bear by yourself, in order to teach you that there is nothing that is more than He can bear you through. Whatever situation God allows in your life, He can and will equip you to go through it with Him. Don't try to do it on your own, trust His hand to guide you.
Your children's education is not a one-shot deal. They have their whole lives to learn. Take each year, each month, each week, and each day and ask God what He wants them to learn that day. Our plans are often so small, yet His plans are so grand. Emily and Arlene not only survived these years of struggle, they learned how to thrive through difficulties. They learned how to study independently. They learned how to keep their own education moving forward, even when Mom and Dad were struggling to keep the family moving forward. They grew up from little kids into young ladies. Now when life throws a curve, they either swing or duck. They are confident that God is guiding them, even when the path is murky. I am confident that God is leading us all down each step of this journey.
Recently I have learned that High School is crazy and amazing all at the same time... but more on that tomorrow!
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