In April, I hopped a plane to Tennessee to spend a few days with fellow kidmin Infuse members and the amazing Jim Wideman. During this information packed retreat, I learned a lot of things, including (big surprise), I can’t do it all.
Ever since baby #3 arrived, I’ve been feeling pretty overwhelmed. Even though we brought on a Children’s Ministry assistant in October (who is, by the way, fabulous), I still had the distinct feeling that I was falling behind in everything.
At the retreat, I took at a look at the things that required the most amount of time and energy and the answer was clear: Ministry and homeschool. Even though I love them both, I didn’t think I could continue doing both and be effective in either one.
So, we made an appointment with the local school.
The truth is, we have a great school district and I often feel like I’m doing our family a disservice by keeping my kids out of the school system. It’s my hope to really get to know our neighbors and share Jesus with the people in my immediate community and I think removing my own kids from that community sends a very contradictory message.
I’m afraid I’ve made an idol of my family. I’m so busy protecting them, teaching them, keep them isolated from the world that I have no time to go out into the world and make disciples. I can hardly even talk with the people in my neighborhood because I’m so consumed with my own family.
I was reading through the book Saturate by Jeff Vanderstelt and a particular passage really cut straight to my heart:
What you love most, you also fear losing the most. And whatever threatens what you love most controls you.
Parents love their children. I certainly love mine very much. However, If I love them more than God and his mission, I will build my entire life around them, and then I will be controlled by a fear of anything that could threaten them. I have watched many parents walk away from obeying God for fear of what it will do to their children. They refuse to engage in mission with those who don’t know and believe in Jesus because they have more confidence in people’s ability to influence their children than the gospel of Jesus Christ and his Spirit.
Ouch. That really got me thinking. Then, I read the next paragraph and it got even more real:
I once spoke with a couple who had many children whom they home-schooled. They told me they had become convicted that they had made their children the center of their world. The reason they homeschooled, they confessed, was because they were afraid of the world… They wanted to change and submit to Jesus, and to submit their children to him as well.
Of course, we lose a level of freedom. The kids will have to go to school every day, all day. We can’t skip days here and there and make up for it by working extra hard on other days.
Like this morning, Chipmunk (age 6) and Monkey sat for half an hour at the kitchen table illustrating their daily journal pages and creating an entire story line around the pictures they colored. They bantered back and forth, sang at the top of their lungs, and thoroughly enjoyed the process. I’m not sure she’ll have the liberty to do all that in a school setting. In fact, I’m pretty sure she won’t.
Which is why this is such a hard decision.
But truth be told, I don’t like homeschooling that much. I love having the kids home. I love science experiments, and reading together, and watching them color. But trying to teach a 5 year old how to read makes me run in the opposite direction. I often wonder why I spend hours on Pinterest trying to find “fun and exciting” ways to teach when there are perfectly qualified teachers (living on our street even!) who have terrific lesson plans already made for this purpose.
And I just can’t shake the feeling that I’m not doing the right thing for God’s kingdom. How can I share Christ with other parents if I refuse to be a part of the things they are a part of?
Is the Christian life really supposed to look like a fortress of safety? When do we start to be bold? When do we step in faith? When do we put ourselves (and maybe even our children?!?) at risk, trusting that God is powerful enough to take care of it.
I’m not really sure. But I think this might be a first step for us in trusting in God more.
Nothing is written in stone, of course. But we’re going to give this public school thing a try (gulp again!). Please pray for us as we start on this journey — that God will give us wisdom and discernment and that he will keep the kids’ faith strong as they head out into the world.