When I was a little girl, all I ever wanted to do was play "school." I had two of the best students in the world, my younger sister and cousin, and I'd spend hours on Sunday afternoon, planning my lessons as they ran around outside for "recess." I made worksheets and certificates and had the best time teaching them the lessons of the day.
When I graduated from college, I went straight into the classroom as a middle school teacher. I absolutely loved my students and spent hours once again creating lessons, games, and anything I could think of to make learning fun and attainable. Soon after attending a workshop on teaching, I knew that I also wanted to share my ideas with other teachers. I wanted to network and help others; I wanted to make a difference. . . and I wanted to become a writer.
Somewhere in the mix of it all, I also wanted to have a family and work part-time in order to stay home with my children when they were young. I was very much a "Dr. Laura" fan and strongly believed in being "my kids' mom," only I wanted to have the best of both worlds, and I thought that a part-time career would be a happy medium. Shortly after I met my husband in the summer of 2004, many of my dreams began to come true.
The very next year we were married, and I had just landed a job as an educational specialist, providing workshops to teachers across the region. When we had our son three years later, I quit working full time and was able to start my own educational consulting company, working part time in order to be home with him most days of the week.
I was also offered the opportunity to lead a state curriculum project, adopted by over 750+ districts. My days began to fill with writing and revisions, meetings, and phone calls. . . and then, three years later, we welcomed our daughter into the world. I stayed home with her for a few short weeks before presenting once again. My "window" to make money was soon closing as teachers began to prepare for tests and end-of-year routines, so I had to get "out there" as soon as possible.
My business began to take off during this time, requiring me to travel across the state at least 2-3 times a month--if not more. I got to the point where I had to turn down business quite a bit, but being the "people pleaser" that I am, I still managed to say yes far too many times. The income was more than I had ever expected to make, but it didn't come without a cost.
Most of my contracts were over an hour and a half commute each way, and after juggling the presentations, local commutes, overnight travel dates, and the business side of things, including the bookkeeping, research, website, meeting dates, conferences, print, marketing, etc., along with my family and home, things began to get challenging.
Fortunately, we were able to find a nanny for my outside-of-the-home work dates and had my parents and mother-in-law watch the children when I worked from home. We also found a cleaning lady to help with the house duties and a nearby business to take care of the ironing. My husband's job was also demanding, so we were fortunate to find a lawn care service to take care of the yard. We began to eat out more and more and even though I knew the importance of good nutrition, it was all that I could do to get food on the table after a 13-hour day or overnight trip.
We managed to make it work for a while, but it wasn't long before things started to unravel. My husband and I began to argue more, and I spent most of my nights in front of my computer taking care of my planning and presentations. I grew more frustrated with our children, who only wanted my attention, and did all that I could to free up more time so that I could get back to work.
My overnight trips also began to take a turn for the worse, with all sorts of complications and challenges of their own, including canceled flights, lost luggage, horrid weather, and flat tires. And then my health began to fail me once again as I struggled to get through most work days, suffering from another wave of intense migraines.
The presentations were always successful, the accolades were uplifting, and the money was great, so it took me a good long while to look past the "success" to see what was really happening in my life. It was an overnight stay in north Texas where The Lord finally got my attention.
I was miserably sick with a horrible migraine, missing my family back home. My husband and I had just gotten off the phone, and he had said something about how I was trying to do the slower and all-natural lifestyle and the part-time mommy thing while living a "fast-food" life.
"I get it," he had said. "This is exactly why they have fast food. You can't do it all."
I kicked off my heels, untucked my blouse, and fell to my knees. . . and bawled. I was exhausted. My body was hurting, and I was failing at all that mattered to me most. I had outsourced my life.
I was at the end of my rope, looking up, and it was all that I could do to ask "Jesus to take the wheel." I prayed, and I cried. I surrendered my will and asked for guidance, direction, and the wisdom to make the right choices. And then I prayed some more before I finally fell asleep, my face wet, my body aching, my nicely pressed business suit in a wrinkled mess.
A couple of months later, I got an answer. . .
It's hard to even remember how exactly I received the answer. Looking back, maybe it was on one of the days I was watching our children play. Or maybe it was the thought of putting my creative and "outside-of-the-box" learner in a desk all day that made me open my heart more readily.
Maybe I was just so very tired of being stressed out all of the time . . . and I couldn't find any good reasons to keep on going in the direction I was going. I'm not exactly sure, but I was finally ready to let go and embrace this idea of homeschooling that was placed on my heart.
My husband and I were outside pushing the kids on the swings one particular evening when I finally had the nerve to tell him.
"I think I need to homeschool our son next year."
I had no list of reasons at the time, no real motive or plan. I just knew deep down what we needed to do.
I wish I could say that we were obedient to the calling, and everything just fell into place, but that's not how things actually happened. Honestly, we were both pretty shook up.
Would I have to quit the business? How would we make it financially with just one income? How long would we homeschool? Would I homeschool both children? What would they need to learn? What about paperwork? What about socialization for goodness' sakes!!!??
Oh, the questions kept coming. And so, we did what anyone else who loved their "life" would do. We decided to grow the business by training consultants to present my workshops while homeschooling for a year just to see how it all worked out. We thought we were being so strategic. "We got this, God!" we convinced ourselves.
It took over a year of craziness and chaos, and I mean a year of craziness and chaos between the business, homeschooling, and home life, for both of us to finally throw our hands in the air and surrender to The Lord's will. Over and over again, I kept justifying why our way was better; why we needed the business; why it just made more sense to keep that extra income; why we could just put our son in school and make life a whole lot easier. What exactly was wrong with a job contract here and there?
A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.-Proverbs 16:9
I didn't want to let go. I felt like I was giving up so much, and I had the hardest time doing it. So much of my identity was wrapped in my work. I was a public school educator!
I had to give up the accolades and trade them in for whining, cleaning, and cooking. I had to give up the money and trade it in for a more frugal lifestyle. I had to give up all I had worked for and just let go of my dreams.
Or so I thought. . .
For you see, in the midst of it all, as I took those first few steps toward obedience, The Lord began to reveal to me His purposes, His divine will for our lives. I began to see how much more a humbled heart can receive His grace and the comfort of His guiding hand. I began to learn (and am still learning!) that what He thinks of me matters far more than what others may think. I began to see my true identity.
I began to gain an eternal perspective, one that has allowed me to see exactly what I am living for and what truly matters most in this lifetime.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.-Matthew 6:33
My husband has been wonderful through the process, and we have grown closer through it all. We have figured out the budget and have been able to live frugally but comfortably on one income. And seriously, who needs cable?
I've learned what an amazing calling motherhood is and how important it is to our family and the legacy we will leave for generations to come. I have learned how to make our house into a home and have embraced my responsibilities as a homemaker. I have learned how to be a better wife, how to grow in my faith, and how to serve as a vessel for His kingdom.
I have also researched and learned many, many reasons why homeschooling is such a perfect fit for our family and have already begun to see the fruits of our labor in our children and family. Homeschooling has become such a blessing to us and has allowed us to live a simpler and more meaningful lifestyle, focused on God, our family, and the wisdom that comes from knowledge and faith.
It has cut out the excess and has allowed us to embrace the beauty in the simple and ordinary. And yes, along the way, I have even learned what it means for a child to truly be socialized and educated.
New dreams have also sprouted in my heart: dreams for the future of our children; dreams for their education; dreams for our family and grandchildren; and dreams for my marriage. I wake up each day "laughing at the days to come," fully trusting in His perfect will.
I've had a heart change; my spirit is renewed. And I am so very grateful.
Now that I look back on it all, I see that I didn't really give up my dreams after all; I simply embraced His purposes for the dreams that He placed in my heart ever since I was a little girl.
Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. -Psalm 37:4
My dreams of writing and teaching are still in my heart; they're just blossoming in new fields. I have three wonderful students with whom I get to "play" school with each and every weekday. I still spend hours on Sunday planning lessons, making games, and certificates, and get excited about teaching the lessons of the day.
I also get to write, on my own time, about the topics I absolutely love and those The Lord puts on my heart (most likely one in the same?). I still get to help others, and I also now have the time and means (and time) to sow the new dreams that have come along the way.
God's ways are oh-so-good. Yes, I gave up what felt like a lot, but I am now happily walking in His will for my life and am more at peace than ever before.
I am a child of God, a wife, a homeschooling mom and grandma. . . and my dreams are coming true in the best possible way. Soli Deo Gloria
He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.