It's a rainy Sunday morning and I'm sitting in the midst of what is still a very cluttered classroom. We decided to convert the guest bedroom in our basement into a family workspace/guest room, and as all the projects in our house seem to do, this one has taken on a life of its own. Our first day of school is in exactly eight days, and this place is a mess. Greg and I have been busy hanging alphabet borders, organizing curriculum and workbooks and art supplies into neatly labeled bins, and generally trying to create what we think will be a creative, cozy, inspiring place to learn together. Greg and the kids headed upstairs for some lunch and I glanced around and wondered, Is this what a kindergarten classroom should be? Have I done enough? Have I done too much? The truth is, I really wouldn't know. The last time I was in a kindergarten classroom was 1980, when I tearfully kissed my mom goodbye and walked into Miss Sumner's class at Immaculate Heart of Mary in a green plaid uniform that was two sizes too big. I still remember how scratchy the wool was, and that I was the shortest kid in the room by quite a large margin.
I think that I've become a bit obsessed with creating the perfect little classroom because somehow I've convinced myself that if I can do that, I'll prove to the naysayers that I am indeed worthy of educating my own kids. I may not have a degree in early childhood education, but check out this classroom! Did you see how cute that bulletin board is? Am I made for this or what?!
All my life I've been a follower. It's painfully embarrassing to admit, but it's the truth. I've always been a lover of what is fashionable, what is popular, of going along with the crowd. Homeschooling, therefore, is an unusual choice, because even as it gains popularity year by year, it remains a very countercultural way to educate your kids. It is not something I ever thought I would do. I thought I would be putting my kids on that bus and heading off to Starbucks, or the gym, or to reclaim my pre-mommy identity at work along with all the other mothers suddenly free after the long, sometimes dry season of being a constant caretaker.
God had other plans for me. After years of ignoring the Holy Spirit's gentle nudging to begin seeking God's will for my childrens' education rather than just taking the obvious next step, God got through to me loud and clear one day as I was driving on the highway. I can't even remember where I was going or what exactly triggered the revelation, but the understanding that I needed to pray about homeschooling and be willing to trust and follow God's plan settled over me with a real sense of peace. I kept my mouth shut and prayed for nearly a year before even mentioning it to Greg. By then, God had worked in amazing ways in my heart, and I knew this was what He wanted me to do.
In the first chapter of James, it says that 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind (NIV).
I asked. He answered.
The classroom may not be perfect. I may not have done enough. I may have done too much. I may lose friends who've decided I'm just too weird to hang out with anymore. I may disappoint family members who love us but just can't understand why we're choosing to do something they're embarrassed to have to tell their friends. But our family will joyfully be reading and playing and singing and learning every day all year in this room, and I will not be a wave tossed by the wind.
Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:2 (The Message)