It was a little over a year ago, in June 2015, that I sensed the Lord confirm that our family was to commit to the idea of homeschooling. I’m sure some of you can relate – when the Lord is speaking and you have some resistance in your heart, whether due to fear or unbelief or just plain ‘ole not wanting to hear it. Well, my resistance had been fear – extreme fear. Palms-sweating-anytime-I-thought-about-it fear. But it was to the point that any church worship service, any sermon I listened to at home, any devotion that I read was all through the filter of homeschooling and surrender. It’s pretty hard to deny when the Lord surrounds you.
So, in a moment of His grace, I finally surrendered to the idea of following Him through this journey, knowing that I couldn’t do it. There was no way. But His Word says that He can, and so I was stepping out in faith to trust that He was not going to abandon me in the middle of the ocean of homeschool.
This happened on a Sunday morning. The next day, I woke up and most of the fear was lifted. It was amazing. The first of my own little personal miracles I have experienced since committing/surrendering to this path. My palms stopped sweating anytime I thought or spoke about it. I was still nervous, and still am some days, but it was not paralyzing anymore. That is what the Lord can do to fear – take away it’s power!
One of the ways that my husband and I sensed the Lord’s direction in homeschooling came through a couple reoccurring messages about the passage in Joshua 4, where Joshua is commanded to cross over the Jordan into the promised land, leading the remnant of the Isrealites that were left after their parents’ unwillingness to believe the God’s promises to take possession of the Promised Land 40 years prior. They were finally being led back into God’s Promises, and so they set out on dry land, just like Moses’ and their parents crossed the Red Sea years before. God was doing it again, what only He can. After everyone had crossed over the Jordan, the Lord commanded Joshua to take stones from the center of the dry sea bed, and bring them to the other side to build a memorial.
“Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’” 4 Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. 5 And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, 6 that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ 7 then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”
I love this story, I love the symbolism of the memorial stones and how God is so intentional to provide for our weaknesses. Despite the miraculous display of parting the waters and leading them safely across – as if that wasn’t enough! – He then calls them to do something in order to remember His faithfulness in it. He knows they will forget, that they will doubt, that they will call into question His power and faithfulness, provision and care for them. And so He provides even in this, a powerful reminder that will call to mind all the ways that He has moved on their behalf in the past. And because He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, to remember that same faithfulness is present with them in each day.
So the hubs and I sensed the Lord telling us that just like these forgetful, unfaithful, HUMAN Isrealites, we needed our own memorial stones. We needed to write down, keep, and revisit all the reasons that we felt the Lord impressing on our heart as to why this journey was for our family.
And I want to take a minute here to emphasize our family. I don’t personally believe that God calls every family to homeschool. I believe, in His Omniscience, that He knows what each family needs, according to the plans and purposes that He has for us to step into.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10
He knows, for whatever crazy reason (because honestly it feels a little crazy some days), He knows that this is what our family needs. And as I walk in, I can begin to see some of the million reasons for it. I can see how the Lord is using this journey to draw me more to Himself, to remind me of my utter need for Him and to keep me dependent on Him, and to reveal more of the sinfulness in my heart that He desires to root out and transform. I could go on and on…
So, whatever the specifics for you – because they will be and should be different from anyone else due to your unique calling in Christ – I think the general principles still apply. The Lord will lead us along paths that require our dependence on Him, that we will not be able to handle on our own if we are daring to live faith-filled lives, and that will constantly expose our weaknesses and sinfulness and need for a Savior. That’s how He reminds us that we are His, that He is enough, and reveals Himself to the outside world as the Capable One. Not Jenny, not ever Jenny.
—-End of Disclaimer
So our family set about starting this list of ‘memorial stones’ that we will revisit often and run to on hard days to remind us that this is in fact that way the Lord has set out for us.
For now, I will refrain from sharing. These are personal reasons, reasons that I desire to hold close to my heart for this season and allow the Lord to really allow to become part of its heartbeat. And I would never want my stones to become a stumbling block for anyone else, because it’s not about my reasons or what the Lord has spoken to me. It’s about your reasons and how the Lord confirms for your path. And so I encourage you – whether it’s through a mission statement or a little informal scrap of paper, to jot down some things you know the Lord has confirmed for you and your loved ones. Hold it tight. Let it become part of your heart, so that it flows out into your story.
But I am choosing today to share some of the amazing benefits I’ve seen so far along this journey, and to acknowledge the ways the Lord has so faithfully revealed His goodness and His ability to change my heart.
You know how I mentioned that almost immediately my fear subsided after surrendering to the Lord’s path for our family? Well, just 6 months later, where once was fear and extreme anxiety, was not excitement and anticipation for homeschooling! Again, a personal miracle for me. And when we started in January ’15 with our little baby steps into schedules and structure, I discovered that I love it. Something that I wouldn’t have touched with a ten-foot pole and probably the offer of a lot of money I know delight in and look forward to. Only God, people. Amazing.
So here are a little of the fun things I’ve discovered so far.
These two – It’s my prayer that as they live day in and day out together that the Lord will build an amazing friendship and support system in each other. I pray that they learn to encourage and sharpen and care for each other.
I had never made the connection between homeschooling and how my obsession with school supplies would collide! I love all this cutesy, fun, creative curriculum that we get to use, and it encourages me to think outside the box as well.
I would have NEVER believed, if you had told me that the first week into homeschooling both littles, that I would have allowed tubs for sand and dirt into my kitchen! But what I have seen, as I have watched them both be excited and inspired by learning through play, that it has inspired and excited me. And I am now okay with messiness, in doses. 🙂 This is a personal miracle for me, as a recovering perfectionist who enjoys specific things having specific places – none of which accommodated sand before!
I have been given the gift of time, time to witness my daughter’s wonder of God’s creation and the ways that He has given her a deep appreciation for it. She inspires me every day. Sincerely. She loves and enjoys life in ways I don’t think I ever have, and it is changing me to see the Lord’s handiwork in her. I am thankful for the time I have with her, to see her grow into the little girl the Lord is shaping her to be, to Lord willing the woman continue to chase after His heart with the passion and adventurousness I see in her now.
I have gotten to see before my eyes how this little one is changing and developing. I have seen the ways that he plays change and evolve as he has watched his older ‘sissy’ creating in her special creative ways. I have been amazed to see the potential that God packs into kids, and how quickly it starts to come out at such young ages. And like I mentioned above, I am so grateful for the time that I get to witness this little man learn and grow. I know that God has amazing things for this one and am thankful to get to watch the Lord’s work unfold.
This was a fun little study we did on the Fruit of the Spirit, something that just flowed naturally out of some other things we had going on and was just one example of how the Lord has directed our steps to what He wants to be speaking to our hearts in this season. It’s been neat to see how the Lord ministers to our family, and I believe all families, holistically – that the devotion we read with the kids isn’t meant just for the kids. He has a way of relating a toddler’s devotional about self-control to my adult-sized issues with allowing emotions to dictate too many of my decisions, and reminds me that His Word is for all peoples in all stages and seasons and ages. And it just so happens that my daughter tends to take after my emotional tendencies (insert sarcastic “yay!”), so as the Lord is showing me how He can change my heart, mind, and behaviors, He is also at the same time equipping me to help her to walk in freedom from emotional chains. Although I would choose for Him to perfect me before the kiddos arrived so that I could perfectly offer them Jesus, He chooses in His grace and wisdom to continue to refine me through the process of parenting, and that imperfectly pointing them to Jesus is His plan.
The above picture isn’t mine, but I felt it captured this last thought I wanted to share. It came up when I imaged searched “Freedom” and was entitled “Ultimate Goal: Freedom from Self-Imposed Limitations.” I think this perfectly describes what I have seen the Lord doing in my life. The past two years, the Lord has reintroduced the concept of His grace in a way that made me realize that I don’t think I ever really grasped it before. I firmly believe that I am saved by grace, that my eternal home in heaven was secured by what Christ (and only Christ) did on the cross and that I am reconciled to God because of Jesus. But somewhere along the way, I started to believe the lie – a very subtle one – that the rest was up to me. The sanctification part, the perfecting part, the obedience and living up to God’s standards after receiving Jesus as my Savior and the Holy Spirit inside of me – well, that was up to me. And so I have spent years under the bondage and weight of a burden that I was never meant to carry and honestly cannot carry. I forgot that Hebrews 12:2 states clearly that Jesus is not only the Author of my faith, but He is the Perfecter of it as well. It is His work from start to finish. And so with this new-found understanding of grace, I am learning to really step into the freedom that Jesus has for me, to let go of the ‘self-imposed limitations’ I have erected and held onto firmly under the misconception that it was up to me to accomplish and earn. Brene Brown says, “When we’re fueled by the fear of what other people think or that gremlin that’s constantly whispering “You’re not good enough” in our ear, it’s tough to show up. We end up hustling for our worthiness rather than standing in it. When we’ve attached our self-worth to what we produce or earn, being real gets dicey.” Yeah, real dicey.
I now know the truth in a deeper place in my heart than ever before, not just head knowledge that is still impotent to transform and change a life. I am fully accepted because of Jesus Christ, that there is nothing I could do to earn it and nothing I can do to repay it, and any attempts is just being yoked back into slavery (Galatians 5:1).
And you know what comes with freedom?! You enjoy your life! Right there in the smack-dab middle of the mess there is joy! Right there in the middle of the imperfection and process and incomplete, there is a sigh of relief and rest because I know that Christ finished the work on the cross and promises to bring His work to completion in me. My job is to obey – the results are up to Him. Finally the pressure is off to perform and I’m literally freed up to do the things that God was calling me to in the first place.
So what is your story? What is your risk that God is calling you to or that you’ve stepped into? What have you learned? I’d love to hear!