What does it really mean to have faith?
I’ve been wrestling with this question lately, as Jason and I have been thrust into a season that requires a lot more of it than we have ever needed before. In my head, I know that God is more than able to take care of us. But my heart is afraid of doing the brave work of stepping out before I can see the entire picture of our future.
So when God began to speak to me last spring about homeschooling Caleb, our oldest son, I mostly kept it quiet. I knew it was the voice of the Lord, and yet, I was hoping that He would also give us answers to all the other questions we were asking, like “where will we work? Where will we live? Where will we go to church?”
Truthfully, what I wanted was to avoid having to stand on faith, and admit out loud these wild, reckless ways in which God was leading us. I wanted to be able to say, “Well, Jason got this job in Timbuktu, so sorry Ozark Schools, but we won’t be back next year, and since we don’t speak Timbuktu-ese, obviously we will be homeschooling.”
Instead of simply admitting what God was doing in my heart, and seeking him for more guidance, I did what I do best when I don’t feel like I have enough control: I threw myself into researching different homeschooling methods to the point of obsession.
I did privately ask a few trusted friends for advice, and one of them invited me to come with her to a local homeschooling conference. I hoped the conference would clarify some things for me. As in, maybe there would be someone there who would just tell me exactly what to do for the next nine months.
Of course, that did not happen.
What the speakers and workshop leaders did tell me, over and over again, was to seek the wisdom that only God gives for my own children and our unique situation as a family, and then be obedient to whatever He told me to do.
Part of me was a little frustrated by this advice. Just tell me what math curriculum will make my child brilliant! But the rest of me knew these wise advisers were speaking the truth. God formed my children. He knows them better than I ever will. And only He knows our future. Who better to go to for help?
It also solidified my convictions that this was the path we were supposed to take. There are a multitude of reasons homeschooling appealed to me and made sense for our family for where we are right now, but the major reason I was drawn to it was because it was what I knew in my heart God was leading me to do.
I could not deny that still, small voice saying, “This is the way; walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21)
If for nothing else, this process of choosing to homeschool has taught me so much about listening for the Lord’s voice, and stepping out in faith based on only what He said. I want the evidence it’s going to work out before I take those first few steps, but that wouldn’t be faith. I cannot have it both ways.
He has been so gracious to me along the way. Every time I speak out about another piece of our future’s puzzle that God has revealed to us, my friends and family have been nothing but supportive. But God also keeps gently pushing me out into that territory where I must be sure of what I hope for and certain of what I do not see (Hebrews 11:1). So I’m continuing to try and do the brave work of walking by faith and not by sight. This begins by simply saying out loud, “We are homeschooling this year.” Not “we might be” or “we are considering it” like I said for so many months, even though in my heart I knew the truth.
Speaking the truth is saying, simply, “we are doing it.”
So, we are doing it.
We start today.
I am tremendously excited about it, and so are the kids. I’m sure their enthusiasm will wear off eventually, maybe even later today, but I’m grateful for it as we begin. I am also excited about what I’ve discovered in all my research. There are so many amazing resources out there for parenting, teaching your kids about the Bible, and building a strong family culture that you probably wouldn’t come across unless you were homeschooling. I cannot wait to begin sharing them with you.
But for now, I thought I’d just quickly share what resources we are planning to use this year, in case you’re curious.
Singapore Math. We are beginning at the beginning, with book 1A. This will review some of what he learned in Kindergarten, but I want him to have a strong grasp of these concepts, and get into a rhythm of doing the daily work before we cover new material.
For Caleb: Houghton-Mifflin. I’ve tried some more interactive and phonics-based things with him at home before, and he’s never been as excited about any of them as he is about this textbook. So we’ll use it for the next several weeks, and then reevaluate his needs moving forward.
For Garrett: Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
Story of the World, Volume 1.
The biology plan outlined for first grade in The Well-Trained Mind
On top of this, we intend to frequent the library, and read a lot of great books.
Garrett is also in preschool three mornings a week. There he will work on penmanship and his letters and numbers. Moreover, his being out of the house will give me more time for one-on-one teaching with Caleb. When Garrett is here, he’ll get reading instruction, and beyond that, simply listen along to what we are doing, and participate if and when he wants to.
I think it’s going to be a great year!