Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sacrifices with Joy

We have officially been homeschooling for 9 years. You would think I should feel very accomplished and proud about this, but instead I have been terribly afraid. Going into the tenth year has been a rough transition for me.  All summer, thinking about the year ahead, with my oldest going into 9th grade and my youngest going into first, has brought nothing but a unnecessary knot of fear and doubt in my stomach. After I figured out what curriculum we would use for the year, I avoided all homeschool planning like the plague, putting it off until I absolutely had to (1 week before school was supposed to begin). In all outward circumstances it didn't make sense--even to me. We had a good year last year, not our best but we finished well, despite some large bumps in the road with health. The kids all tested really well and I have seen a new willingness in helping and a lot of growth in maturity this year. So why was I so afraid?

The week before school began I knew I HAD to get my planning done. I was so hormonal that week and not at all excited about cleaning out the school shelves. This is just not like me; I was cramming for what felt like the test of my life while I tried to figure out the new curriculums at the last minute. Nothing was coming together like it should; finally in frustration, I threw myself on our bed in tears and began sobbing into my pillow. My husband came in and patiently tried to listen to all of my woes. After a little while he got a cute smile on his face like he knew something I didn't and said, "You know you should never mix planning homeschool stuff with PMS-- just relax and take a break. You'll feel better tomorrow," then he brought me some chocolate to drown my sorrows with. Yes, he knows me pretty good by now.

I did feel better after a lot of chocolate and a good night's sleep. The next day I was able to plan what I needed for the first few days but I still felt so nervous and uneasy as if I was the one going into high school! I woke up the morning of our first day of school and came to Psalm 27 and felt lead to read it. Here's what I read:

 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life of whom shall I be afraid?
 ... Though a host (of chores, disgruntled homeschool children, and lofty goals) encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war (of wills and unrealistic expectations) should battle against me, in this I will be confident,  One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple. (I don't need to be afraid) For in time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me on a rock..
And now shall my head be lifted up above my enemies (and my fears) round about me: therefore I will offer in his tabernacle sacrifices with joy; I will sing yea I will sing praises unto the Lord.

The verse about offering sacrifices of joy hit home. I had lost my joy. In thinking about the year ahead, I was only seeing the negative. I had let unreasonable fears of what I thought I should be doing creep into reality. In that last week before we began I was drudgingly sacrificing my time to make room for homeschooling instead of seeing it for the blessing it is. It is a huge sacrifice, I won't lie and its not always pretty but its not about me. God wants a cheerful giver. It is truly a greater blessing to give of my time and see my children grow into the adults they will become than to receive time for myself and a perfectly clean organized life.

Instantly after I read Psalm 27 my unnecessary fear was removed, peace resided. God brought me back to the place of joy--Our first week went well, I found myself so thankful to have the structure of school in our lives after a nice long vacation, enjoying the time spent struggling through subjects and predicates, and happy to be stumbling over arithmetic problems again. I am spending time with my kids and that time will never be wasted.

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