Wednesday, October 13, 2010

From Failure to Fruit

It’s almost mid-October and school is in full swing.  For my family, I school my children year round because that has been the only way for me to survive this homeschooling lifestyle!  “No”, I don’t do it because I think my children should always be learning so they can be ahead of everyone else!  I started doing this when my eldest started the second grade.  Originally, my homeschooling schedule was set up just like a traditional school year, but God had other plans for our journey and I am so thankful that He did because He ALWAYS knows what is best for us!  Let me tell you why….
I am a type-A personality; a determined, over-achiever who is borderline obsessive-compulsive along with being highly focused.  Now, this personality may sound wonderful if I was on a job interview for a fortune 500 company, but that is not what I was created for.  Just like you, I was created to be a wife and mother.  And just like you, we have both embraced the biblical commands to raise our children in the Lord, thus, that is why we homeschool.
God decided it was best for my personality to be a chronically-ill wife and homeschool mom for almost a decade.   For a good 10 years of my life I felt like a constant failure as I attempted to school my boys.  What I was physically capable of doing did not line up to what I was mentally capable of, therefore, I felt defeated everyday that I attempted to train, teach and raise up my children.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 I walked through the ‘valley’  as early as when my babes were in my womb up until just last year.  It saddens me to this day to know that I honestly don’t remember much of my time of being a young mommy raising up her little boys.  Health wise, I am now at the point where I am starting to see light at the end of the tunnel yet the chronic pain and the constant inability to teach my children and what I thought they should be learning was overwhelming.  My eyes well up with tears just thinking about what I physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually endured.  The pain is still so real.  Even though I feel that I lost many years of my life and I did not ‘school’ my children enough, my God in all of His sovereignty knew exactly what I needed so I would choose the better part of homeschooling and not get caught up in all the non-essentials.
You see, as an overachiever, I would have had my children down the path of being filled with as much knowledge as time would permit.  Now there is nothing wrong with knowledge, but if it is absent of God’s wisdom, then it is a futile pursuit; a pursuit that I would have embraced all for the sake of ‘homeschooling’.  God literally forced me through my brokenness of an unhealthy body to choose the better part of what to pour into my children.  For most of our young days of schooling, much of my time was spent teaching my children about godly character, them learning to obey their parents and simple Bible stories.  There were a few days during the weeks and months when I would be able to add in teaching them to read, count, etc. but those days were not often!
During the many years in the valley, I was often reminded of the story of Mary and Martha when Jesus came to their house for dinner.  “And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?  Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:39-42 Had I had a healthy body filled with normal energy, I would have been like Martha, but my heart’s cry was to be like Mary who sat at Jesus’ feet.
When I would read God’s word about raising up children in the Lord and training them to obey their parents and teaching them wisdom, etc., of course I would do all of that to the best of my abilities, yet, because I could not add all of the other subjects, like reading, writing, math, etc. to the extent that I wanted to, I felt like I was failing my children and ultimately disappointing my Lord.  However, because I believed God’s Word for what it said, that was where I put my emphasis.  I chose the better part, but honestly it was because of my brokenness that I clung to the Lord and I thus I decided with the small amount of energy I did have, I would teach my children what mattered most; the fear of the Lord and godly wisdom.
So fast forward to today…
My eldest will be 11 years old next month.  He is now in the 6th grade.  We started this school year the first week of July and I have been able to teach my children many of the ‘academic’ subjects.  In fact, I have been able to teach them more in the last 4 months than what I have been able to teach them in the last 2+ years!  I am actually amazed at God’s faithfulness.  (O, ye of little faith!)  All those years when I felt like a failure, God is now showing me the fruit that has taken root in the lives of my children.
Perhaps you are faced with a chronic illness and you are contemplating putting your children in school, I implore you not too!  God has a plan for your life and the life of your children, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29:11 For years, many of our so-called homeschooling days were spent with me just keeping my children at home away from the negative influences.  Life was filled with daily responsibilities along with instilling in them godly character.  They were still better off at home even if I did not teach them anything other than the Word of God and I have the proof today of the fruit that is growing in their hearts!
Maybe you don’t have an illness that you are dealing with but perhaps it is a financial hardship or a difficult relationship, a job change or loss, etc. that you feel is hindering your ability to homeschool….I encourage you to change your perspective and remember the reason why you chose to keep your children at home in the first place.  If it is godly character that matters most to you then GOD HAS YOU RIGHT WHERE HE WANTS YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN!  Let Him do His work in your life and the lives of your children.
As tears come down my face as I look back over the years, my sense of failure comes from me not fulfilling MY PLANS for homeschooling my children.  Although I think I know what is best for my children, I am not sovereign.  God, who is the GREAT I AM is fulfilling His plans for the lives of my family.
He is also fulfilling His plans for your family as well.  Perhaps you need to put your eyes on the Lord more or maybe your need to change your focus or reason for homeschooling your children.  “Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22 Remain steadfast and be determined to teach your children godly wisdom, you will eventually see the fruit.  “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.  John 15:7,8
God answered that prayer of mine to be like Mary, yet, had He told me it would come through a trial like the one I experienced, I am not sure that I would have embraced it!  Even in the midst of what I thought was failure, God was producing in me godly fruit as well as my children.  I assure you He will do the same with you as well!

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