"You, Lord hear the desire if the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry."
~ Psalm 10:17
Its a difficult time to be a parent. Especially a parent of school aged children. Many are left to make indescribably difficult decisions for their families - potentially changing the course of everything they thought they knew to be reality. With this heavy season of embracing (perhaps reluctantly) a new normal, comes a heavy wave of fear - fear of the unknown, fear for our children, fear of what others may think, fear over what might have been and perhaps what will never be, fear if we're making the right choice...
Whether you fall into the "I don't have a choice" camp, or the "I've always felt called to homeschool" camp, or the "suddenly unexpectedly" camp... one factor remains the same between all of us - we're fearful.
I fall into the "I've always felt called to homeschool" camp. We're embarking on our sixth year of homeschooling. I left a career in Christian publishing to pursue being a homeschool mom. I direct a Christian homeschooling community of more than 40 children, 18 families, and 6 tutors. I have a 5th grader, a 3rd grader, and a toddler. And I guess you may say we've gotten used to this lifestyle. Yet I still struggle with fear! While we've been at this a while, there's so much changing for us too. Our homeschool experience is not face coverings, socially distanced play dates, and being quarantined at home. In fact it's wildly different and that's why we love it so much! We too are embracing a new normal that feels very scary and uncertain.
So perhaps I can't speak directly to feeling burdened by a lack of choice, or to the one who feels overwhelmed and grieved by the "suddenly unexpectedly" camp.
But, I CAN speak to the one who loves their child fiercely. To the one who weighs pros and cons until she's blue in the face and no matter the reality of her circumstance is always striving for the very best for her precious ones. I can also speak to the one who is forever second guessing herself and her capabilities... until Her Father reminds her of whose she is.
I can speak to her.
So may I? May I speak to the one who is just so tired and longs for the days to be simple again?
If there's one thing this season has taught me- it's to focus on the heart and not the head. To focus on truth and not a curriculum. To focus on relationship... To help awaken wonder in my children and stir their hearts to worship. To do each day's work as diligently as I can.
Two weeks ago I tested positive for COVID19. I was shocked! Living with an autoimmune disease, I've been incredibly careful and mindful. In fact, when I started feeling ill I simply assumed it was an autoimmune flare up. But much to my surprise, I tested positive and was sent home merely with instructions to take extra vitamin C and quarantine.
The timing felt cruel. This is typically my busiest time of year. Hours of preparation for our new homeschooling year are looming over me... handbooks to be distributed, lesson plans to be finalized, supplies to be purchased, invoices and fees to be processed, binders to be organized, and here I am...
See, I told you fear is a factor no matter which camp you're in!
We are fearful because we forget.
We are fearful because we somehow lose sight of who HE IS and who we are NOT.
We are always insufficient.
No matter which camp we fall in.
But His grace isn't!
It turns out you can cover a lot of ground just simply taking one step at a time! That's what we've done together in this hard season and what we'll continue to do. Heart over head. One foot in front of the other.
I've watched my children step up, utilizing a lot of the "life skills" we've spent time on since the spring - cooking, cleaning, laundry, reading aloud and playing with baby brother so mama can rest!
And in the process of learning and growing together I've seen great fruit bear forth! Not every moment has been perfect with completely willing hearts. In fact, last week there was an ugly and tearful session for ALL of us! But we were able to manage it together. We simply stopped and huddled to pray - remembering a verse that the Lord led us to memorize together at the start of our quarantine months ago...
Love one another with brotherly affection, out do one another in showing honor. ~ Romans 12:10
We gave ourselves GRACE! We realized we hadn't spent a single day a part in nearly 6 months! And we recalled God's goodness in it all. Because no matter what camp you're in, the reality is still very much the same for us all - WE NEED HIM!
These are moments of celebration that fuel the fire of trust in my Heavenly Father and help me to remember IT'S NOT ABOUT ME! Fear dissipates when I realize it's not about choosing the right decision or giving them the best always. I'm actually not that important and not that powerful.
It's about pointing to Him in the every day. It's about staying tethered to Jesus. It's about trusting Him in the storm and letting my children see that faith.
One of my favorite quotes is from the novel Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.
"I'm not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship."
So, mama if you're still deciding which ship to board...
There will be storms. The waves of fear and insecurity will threaten to capsize. But, there's one who calms the storm with a simple rebuke, "Peace! Be still!"
There is freedom for us ALL in this truth!
So, sail your ship, dear mama. And God speed!
He is for you.