Friday, January 17, 2014

schooling, how our choices changed our hearts

It has been almost two years since we enrolled our kids into our local elementary school. Two years February 6th, to be precise. The other day I read Shannon’s thoughts on hack schooling, and her follow up on how we can, and why we should, support our local public schools. Her words resonated with me, and caused me to do a little evaluating about our own far from perfect schooling choices.

I was often that mom, the one who felt my kids would be disadvantaged by being in the local low income school. I heard the stories. I heard about the lack of English skills, and the low math scores, and the scrap together income of most of the school population. And it made me scared. So we homeschooled, as if we had no other choice. 

I won't say that our homeschooling season wasn't a gift-it was. But I'll be honest in saying that fear of the public school kept my kids home when God was clearly pushing us to send them out. We suffered through a partial school year that way. And then it was clear, it was the local school or nothing. 

Fearing charges of child neglect and creating truants of our kids, we went to the local school; the one in our neighborhood, with our neighbors and friends that lived down the street. Looking back, I am embarrassed at my pre conceived ideas. I was wrong. Yes, the school struggles. Parents are absent, kids are hurting, teachers are stretched thin. But I have no doubt that this is exactly where we are called as a family-it is our ministry and it has become the most important part of our lives. 

Schooling is about way more than education. And we're all learning more than we ever thought possible in terms of loving and serving all of God's people. We feel privileged to be part of such an excellent community. 

Sure, so many in the school qualify for free or reduced lunch that it was easier to make it free for everyone. I am actually quite grateful for this, as it simplifies the whole having to pack a lunch craziness in the mornings. 

A vast number of kids do not speak English at home. 

Some parents are gone, for the long haul. Some are there physically but absent every other way. Kids go to school hungry and come home counting the hours until breakfast is served the next day. 

But there are also parents who are as passionate about this school as they are about their own children. They show up, alongside us, and we work to make it a better place. We read and help with math, but we also pray. Fervently, we pray for those walking the halls because they’re having a hard time staying in the classroom. We pray for the staff, teachers, administrators, and councilors. 

We know this is a place where God has made himself known. And darn it, we believe God is using our family to be a part of that. It's humbling to think about. How God took my preconceived ideas, proved me wrong, and then invited me to be a part of the change I wanted to see. Though we still have three more years of kids attending, part of me is already mourning that loss of community that will happen as my kids grow.

I know we will all do what’s best for our kids and our families. But what if our best wasn’t God’s idea? We want them to be safe, to thrive, to get the best life has to offer. But Jesus didn’t promise his followers any of that. He calls us to a life that is uncomfortable, unrest on the outside with peace on the inside. He asks to take risks, to walk the narrow road. Not narrow because it’s small, but narrow because it’s pressed in and full of trial. When we take that road for our family, he also says he will go before us. He won’t leave us. He’ll gently lead those who have young. And we’ve seen it time and time again in our family. 

I don’t know where we ever got the idea that being a Christ follower meant being safe and secure from harm. Because if you read much about Jesus you see that he took the unconventional path, the path that didn’t make sense to the world around him. 

Die to self? Who does that?

 Deny your family? That’s insane. 

Forgive your enemies? Absurd. 

But it’s what we do. The life of a Christ follower does not come with a guarantee of safety, in fact it comes with a disclaimer of trouble. So why do we think that sheltering our kids all the time, by homeschooling them or sending them to the better schools, is the best way? 

I will admit that for a season, it was for us. But it was a short season, and it made us more aware of the light that is needed outside of our own home. We have an opportunity. We are being light, and taking light to a dark place. Isn’t that what Jesus did? And can I trust the Holy Spirit enough that he will keep my kid’s safe?  

We bought our house before our kids were school age, and now looking back I can’t help but remember the sense of divine providence that God led us right here to this neighborhood. In fact, when we almost lost our house, we were reminded again. If I know that he’s led us here, then I know he’s done so with our kids in mind as well. 

He knew this would be our school. And he has released out into it

This is about what’s better for your kids, we all have to pray through that one on our own. This isn’t about my choice being the best option. I know some schools are in very bad shape, and children suffer by being there. All I know is that God has challenged our assumptions and asked us to be a part of bigger story

If nothing else, let this be a dare to ask God where he wants to challenge you and your family. My family’s school decisions are not for everyone, but I know that God has a place for you and your family. It may be in a homeschooling community, it may be in private school, it may be right were you already are. Are willing to ask if he has something else in mind? Are we willing to be uncomfortable? I would hope that no matter where we land in the schooling arena we would all be prayerfully ask ourselves the hard questions. And then to boldly go when God answers.


  1. I just wrote a post today about how my pride got in the way of making the decision to send my children to school sooner than I did. I held on to my way for a lot longer than I should have. We really have to put that belief of trusting God into action.

  2. I used to be in the homeschool is insurance camp. But now I've found new freedom, and my kids are doing just fine :) It was so tough to quit, but it has been God's best for our family.


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