I had been in a Women's Bible study at our church, going through Kelly Minter's book, Nehemiah: A Heart that Can Break. Throughout the study, the author encouraged us to be seeking the Lord, to be open and vulnerable for that which might soften, open, reshape our hearts.
About halfway through the study, Minter invited us to journal some pretty specific stuff. Stuff like, "Is the Lord asking you to say no to something so you can focus on what He's asked you to say yes to? If so, what?"
I pretended like I didn't hear. "La, la, la, la, la!" I don't have anything to say no to, Kelly Minter! So there! Fingers in my ears. "La, la, la, la, la!" But I heard it anyway. I could almost feel the Lord's strong hands on my shoulders, His deep, kind eyes looking into mine: "Full time homeschooling."
Wait. What? No. I can't say no to that. It's what I do. It's . . . it's . . . who I am.
But the Lord continued His work. I asked friends and family to join me in prayer. In faith (and in fear and trembling), I enrolled the kids in an alternative learning program, just in case that's really what I was supposed to do (and because those things need to be taken care of in May -- I could decide later. Because probably I wasn't hearing the Lord properly anyway).
I wrestled all summer long. I agonized. I just couldn't release my grip.
But the more I thought about it, the more I prayed and sought His Word, the more I came to see the root of my problem.
It was me.
I wasn't determined to homeschool full time because I thought this was the best possible option for this year. I wasn't determined because the kids were begging to stay home or because I saw red flags when we considered enrolling them in school.
I was determined because I wanted to say, "Look at what I did!" And I needed to let go. I needed to live up to what I always verbalized to others but never actually had to carry out in a way that felt contrary to my longings: that we'd take education one year at a time, one kid at a time, and seek the Lord for the answers all along the way -- even if those answers came in the form of a brick building with desks and new teachers.
And I realized that I was hearing the Lord properly, after all. It took me the whole summer, and it wasn't until the very end of August that I finally unclenched my hands and said, "Okay. Even this. Yes."
I asked my friends and family to pray for peace, and it came. My spirit settled and the horizon continued to be free of red flags. We bought school supplies. And last week, they started.
You know what? They love it. And as I've attended meetings and become acquainted with the teachers and staff, I've continued to be impressed and even downright enthusiastic about our choice. (Drew and Bethie were there last year, so I was already familiar with the middle and high school programs.) The kids attend classes for two days a week, have classes at home on alternating days, and have the option to take enrichment classes on Fridays.
I still get to be very involved in my kids' education and I look forward to incorporating many of the aspects I love so much about homeschooling. My kids get to have the classroom experience and the interaction with peers that has, up until now, been somewhat limited.
I also get to wait and see what the Lord has in store for us -- what the "yes" is for this school year. I'm pretty sure He gave me a little clue on the first day of school when I was in 1 Thessalonians 1:8 and read,
"The Lord's message rang out from you . . . ."
This morning as I drove a very eager Little Miss and Big Brother to school, I reminded them, "Look for Billy and Betty!" They grinned, "We will!"
Billy and Betty are the imaginary children that can be found in almost any gathering. They're the kids on the edge, the kids who might need a friend, the kids who are too shy to jump in and start a conversation.
I often remind my kids -- and myself -- to be looking for Billy and Betty. I'm sure there will be many Billys and Bettys as we begin this new venture. And it is my humble prayer that the Lord's message will ring out from these Lawson lives. That Billy and Betty, as they brush shoulders with our awkward, faulty selves, may see a glimmer of Light and Truth, and that they might know how much they are loved.