this was originally published in TEN parts on my blog. i have consolidated it into one massive missive... enjoy. or despair.
you really don't want to start reading this...because it is an endless essay...
oh, you will understand what that means very soon. yes, you will.
it all began quite innocently (as all things do with me). i was on facebook and noticed that one of my facebook friend’s status said “i am praying and stressing over where to send my oldest child for first grade next year. any input, pros/con, thoughts are encouraged here”. well, i made some short little comment about how much our faith had grown by having our kids in public school. and it thought that was all over and done with...
and then i read ALL the other comments left by her friends about different schools in our areas... all glowing reports of great private and public schools. home schoolers. unschoolers. great educations, wonderful teachers, brilliant students....
and i started really thinking about ALL i have learned and all the things God is still teaching me because our kids are in public schools... and the thoughts kept coming and coming and coming...
and i started to write that all out.
and it got really long.
ARE YOU SHOCKED?
and as i reread it, it wasn’t really good writing and it really needed editing. but it was the truth.
and i have put bad writing on the blog before (almost EVERY entry). so why should that stop me now?
and it might make someone stop and think about all the things God is teaching them in whatever stage of life they are in...
and that person might comment. and i love comments....
i am going to publish them in pieces.... so you don’t get overwhelmed. and you can pretend and read one a day and it will be like i am writing once a day. isn’t that fun?
or you can be a greedy reader and read them all at once. and eat your meals in front of the computer. which is still fine with me, because that is what i would do.
dear the facebook friend who asked about where she should send her child to school next year, (who really doesn’t want to read this whole big 10 part series, but hey, it just all came to me in one big fell swoop and too many words to fit in my head and i had to write this all out or my head would explode...)
let me preface ALL OF THIS with i a HUGE lesson i learned years ago from reading this essay by anna quindlen called “on being a mom” (one day i am going to be able to write like anna quindlen)...
this was the part of the essay that i usually quote to all my friends when they ask me a parenting question (yes, people do ask me parenting questions...i don’t know why, i think they are trying to avoid whatever i did...)
“Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one knows anything. One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another can be managed only with a stern voice and a timeout. One child is toilet trained at 3, his sibling at 2. “
which in this case means... for some families, the path of obedience to God leads you to homeschool, to some, it will take you into the public schools, and for some, private school education is where you will find your family following closely in His footsteps (good thing He is omnipresent).
and all of those choices can lead to peace and all those choices are hard in some ways and easy in other ways and it will depend on how God has crafted your mind and talents and what He is doing through you in those institutions for the sanctification of your soul... and your children. see, i am no anna quindlen. it took me many more words to say that...
anyway this whole “endless essay” idea was good news to me because (as you are about to find out) i am really good at “endless essays”. educating children (or yourself) is an endless essay...
and this advice to you isn’t really advice to you, because if you jump to the last entry (i love to read the end first and now i will tempt you all to do just that...) you will see that i don’t answer the original question or even presume to know the answer for you...
it is more like this whole thing is a celebration of being where God wants me to be right now and a resting contentedly (but not complacently) in His Provision for me and an endless long essay for you all to read and to know that this is not a decision to take lightly (which you aren’t) nor is it a decision that doesn’t have HUGE consequences... but it is also really not YOUR decision... it is God’s.
so what does God require of you?
(that is a totally rhetorical question that i will answer a bit non-rhetorically in the next post)...
He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
all of the school choices that you are considering are “good” ones. and aren’t we blessed to live in a place where we have so many “good“ choices? sometime when i am stressing over some of the choices i have to make... i think of the mothers worldwide who struggle to find enough food for their children, or clean water and whose children have no schools to attend and no books to read and i cringe at my own ineptitude to know what really matters...
sometimes i even go to this website and look at the faces and somehow the things i “struggle” with don’t seem so all encompassing...
i will tell you this is what i know to be true about our school “choice” (which wasn’t really a choice, after all...)
over the past 9 years in tallahassee, the public schools (specifically gilchrist elementary school and raa middle school) have been places where my family has learned to “act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God”. God chose the public schools for our family and that has been at times a very difficult place and yet has brought a peace that passes all understanding in the midst of the difficulties...
because you are a different woman than i am (and you should be praising God for that) and your children are not my children (again do some loud praising) and your husband is not my husband (or is he? and that is why he isn’t home until late sometimes...) this makes the answer to your question different and yet hopefully very much the same (i am all about those paradoxes).
i hope you choose the place that is difficult (i do so love people who do hard things) and yet brings a peace that passes all understanding. i hope you choose an education that educates you as much as your children. a place where you can be an instrument of God’s love. a place where you can serve and love and most of all grow to trust God and see His Presence daily. and that may be a private school or it may be homeschool or it may be a public school. or you may ship them to mars... but that program is in the testing phase and my kids didn’t qualify...
let me say one thing...
i don’t think i envy your choices...
because in some ways i am SO glad i didn’t have the choice to send my children to private school or to a private Christian school.
when we moved to tallahassee, we WERE and for the most part still WAYYYYYYYY too poor to even consider that option without me going back to teaching. and in no way did i want to go back to teaching. i know the time and energy that took from me and with 3 kids under the age of 5- i could barely make the bed, much less make lesson plans. most days, i was barely civil to my own kids, how could i deal with 25 of them?
so that wasn’t even a choice. and i am glad it wasn’t.
because i would have wanted that option.
it would have looked easy, and safe, and comfortable for a private school k-12 girl (maclay school class of 1985, though not the homecoming queen nor the valedictorian. and certainly not their stellar writing student but they did try to teach me to capitalize letters, really that they did). i loved maclay. i still love maclay. i think they do an excellent job teaching and building a maclay community. i also have friends with children at holy comforter and christ classical and community christian and trinity catholic schools. and those parents LOVE those schools and those are wonderful communities of families and sometimes i wish i was one of them. and they all looked SO good to me as a parent and a Christian. i really WANTED a Christian education for my children. i still do...
i just had NO idea how God would provide that with my kids in public school....
ok, back to the choices of education at hand for one lea marshall and family...
i thought about homeschooling. i did have an education degree and was a much celebrated teacher in gwinnett county, GA (well, we had a lot of celebrations in my classroom). i was THE BEST teacher EVER for the almost 10 years that i taught (i have a small pride issue). and i did homeschool millie for her kindergarten year our first year living at st. teresa in florida.
and i was NO good at homeschooling (don’t tell millie, i still refer to that as her “best year ever” so that she thinks i was a good teacher). why wasn’t i any good? why didn’t i LOVE it? (and i know it isn’t always about how we FEEL about something) i don’t know why it didn’t “fit” with me. but i think God just removed that option from the table. adam didn’t want me to homeschool (he saw how bad i was) and we moved into town and we bought our house in an area where the schools were “good”.
and we moved to waverly... hills that is.... smallish ranch fix’em up houses.
and an area VERY close to downtown tallahassee... a kind of midtown area... lots of different kinds of people than our suburb outside of atlanta. and we attend church downtown as well. and in the years since moving here (to the “hood”) we have developed a kind of urban mentality... i like not living in a “gated” community. i have a crunchy con bit of ideology ) flowing through my veins (though his family is a homeschool family and i am not quite so organic or garden-ny)...
but i do like the idea of being a part of THIS melting pot community, though the liberals OUTnumber my little republican red family, in this neighborhood and in the public schools we attend. and i don’t really miss the more homogenous support that might come at another school setting. i have come to love the diversity and am thankful for the lessons i have learned and hopefully the ones i am able to teach. we are constantly striving to love our neighbors as ourselves. especially those who are hostile to us sometimes...(because really isn’t that the measure of our Christian faith? can we love those who don’t love us? who don’t look like us? act like us? the ones who are the hardest to love sometimes...)
my 8th grade daughter mentioned on the the school bus that her family supported mccain in the presidential election, and she almost got thrown off the bus. and another time on the bus a girl that i take to school a few times a week said that if someone didn’t believe in evolution that she would punch them in the face (which was ironic because that same week she was protesting child abuse by going to school with a fake black eye). millie said that she didn’t believe in evolution and the girl said that since we carpooled with them that she would not hit millie. whew, though i think millie could have totally taken this girl OUT.... and wouldn’t it have been child abuse if she punched my child?
now i do not write all this to totally SCARE you out of sending your precious baby kindergartner off to the school where people will hit him for not believing in darwin (whilst they are protesting child abuse). hey, it is survival of the fittest in a darwinistic environment... so all i am saying is... have BIG kids who are TOUGH and then they can eat the little kids and we will all evolve and who could be mad because they taught us darwin evolution...
but really i wrote that to say that I LOVE IT THAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING THESE KIND OF THINGS TO MY KIDS....
i love a good challenge... bring it on secular humanism... i am ready for you... and so are my kids...
that is the kind of person i have become because of being a public school mom. i have become feisty (really, i wasn’t always this feisty).
i wasn’t always prepared to give an answer for this hope that i profess...
1 peter 3:14-16
But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
i have learned SO MUCH about my faith and the Christian worldview and my faith (and my kids) can STAND up to that kind of talk. i am not raising hot house flowers (thank you jennifer canady for that term). i am raising some sturdy weeds...
and because i love to throw in a good shakespeare quote... “lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds”.
i would rather hang out with some weeds than all the lilies in the world that have festered...
my kids know what it means to have a Christian worldview and an atheistic worldview and how hopeless that worldview is. we have discussions about science and talk about how the same evidence that some say supports their view can be seen in a different light- the light of Christ.
we talk about how NO archeological discovery EVER defied what was in the Bible. and how most discoveries these days are supporting or shining light on areas of the Bible that used to be in question...
and how so many scientists today and finding things are BIGGER than they ever imagined or SMALLER than they ever imagined and they are finding patterns and evidence of design in every living thing.
hmmm, makes one think. and rejoice. and praise.
growing up amongst the lilies, i was never challenged in my faith... and i admit to some festering. but now i have to study, i have to read, i have to cling to Scripture as a life line to teaching my kids that the Bible has the answer for EVERY need (for every weed, like me). i hopefully am no longer stinking like a festering lily.
homeschool moms have become some of my best friends because i am always stealing their curriculum. i even infiltrated their group and attend a homeschool mom book club. i am like a spy and i look much slimmer in black so that all works out well for me....
i have had to learn along side of my children about science in school and through jonathan park CDs and how the science they learn in school can be seen in our worldview as leading to a different AND such a glorious conclusion.
we have listened to these “story of the world” history cds together and i learned things that i had forgotten shortly after my high school exams about history and put it together with God’s sovereignty and i see a picture of a God so big and so in control of this world that it makes me tremble and gives me such comfort...
which totally segues to my next point... (i did learn some big words in my fancy private school education)...
let’s start with God’s sovereignity... (sing along sound of music fans... a very good place to start, when you read you begin with a,b,c. when you live you begin with God is wiser than me...)
i have had to TRUST God in so many ways with my kids in public schools. as we all know, those schools can be a place of danger these days. millie and maxx go to an inner city middle school. i know that. i know the risks. i walk the hallways. i talk to my kids. i hear the stories. i know the feeling of fear...
and i know God. and i trust His Word when He tells me that His hand is upon them.
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
though there is NO spiritual fruit around them on display sometimes...
i rejoice in the LORD
though no spiritual food be available and given in their classes...
i will be joyful in God my Savior
2 kings 6:14-17
Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city. When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. "Oh, my lord, what shall we do?" the servant asked.
"Don't be afraid," the prophet answered. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them." And Elisha prayed, "O LORD, open his eyes so he may see." Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
though it looks as though the foes are many... have you ever seen a middle school hallway fill up when the bell rings with HUGE middle school kids, have you listened to the talk at the lockers? i have and i feel like elisha, “oh, what shall i do?” and the answer is usually “RUN” fast and far away and take those little sweet babies of mine with me...
but those who are with us are more than those who are against us...
i know the Biblical commandments for us to teach our children to not put them in harm’s way. and i struggle daily with “am i doing the right thing?’ and i will NOT know that i have made the right choice this side of heaven.
millie could be pregnant by next year (unless i lock her in her room all year, which does have it’s strong points).
maxx could be on drugs before high school is out (and he could hide a pot garden in our overgrown yard, no one tell him that).
rosie could renounce her sweet “jesus loves me” faith and be the goth who is agnostic (she does love her black turtleneck, but mostly because it matches my black turtleneck and she likes to be “turtleneck twins”. does that sound like a future goth?).
and they could all be raving liberals by the time they graduate and lead the young democrats club (shudder).
really, i have nothing to prove to me that this won’t happen... and neither do any private school, Christian school, homeschool parents. ok, well the homeschoolers might not have to option to join the YDC, but they might want to (shudder) deep in their little homeschooled hearts...
i am aware that God has never promised safety for me or for my family. but i do know that i have learned to trust Him in a million ways that i wouldn’t have to trust Him if my kids were homeschooled or if they were in an environment that seemed “safer”.
i do know that there is nowhere as safe as in God’s will. there is no fiery furnace too hot for God to be there walking among us. and that fiery furnaces tend to be really good witnesses to kings and very helpful for burning off the ropes that bind us from true freedom...
...and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, "Weren't there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?"
They replied, "Certainly, O king."
He said, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”
Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, "Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!"
So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.
Then Nebuchadnezzar said, "Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way."
Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
i pray that my family may be used in the public school system (which seems a whole lot like babylon sometimes) as examples of those who did not bow down to the idols but as those who were excellent in our work and loved God and others and endured through fiery trials aplenty and that at the end of our time that we will have bodies not harmed, robes not burned, or even smell of smoke...
it is a big request...
but hey, we have a big God.
and more on the burning off of the things that bind us next...
well, where were we? are you still with me? have you gone to sleep? will your eyes ever focus again? will my fingers fall off?
oh, yes we were about to discuss - and by discuss i mean, i am typing and you are reading about... the burning off of the things that bind us.
public school has helped make me a better Christian by making me humble and giving me much more of a servants heart.
humble, because i know that my kids aren’t getting everything they could get at some private schools. and i can’t afford those schools. and because i know all the cool and wonderful learning opportunities for homeschoolers who can spend a year learning all the intricacies of the civil war instead of one week on the civil war... and i do love knowing all the intricacies ...
and God knows me... (better than i know myself)
and He knows that i have a tendency to be long winded (and you know that part)
AND i have a HUGE issue with being proud (you might have guessed that).
pride in myself, pride in my uber-brilliant children. and pride in all of our accomplishments and of all the intricacies that we know (like the word “intricacies”)...
and that pride would have a bigger chance to grow in me if i had my kids at a private school or homeschooled them. it might not be that way for you (dear reader who now has given up reading because you did NOT want to know all of this stuff, you just wanted to know if the schools in tallahassee were any good).
but i am a girl who loves her pride. and her cliques, and her big words, and her legalism.
public school has helped to burn some of that off of me. not all, but we have some years left. a lot of years left.
i can’t brag about my kids WONDERFUL latin lessons, how precious they look in their traditional uniforms, the ritchie rich students that they hang out with or the really spiritual kids that they hang out with. no stunning tropicana speeches on “how the reformation changed my life” or field trips to france or even the creation museum are scheduled for my kids.
this year two of my children did science fair experiments that involved cell phones (very fun science fair experiments but nothing about creation science). and millie’s history fair... i suggested corrie ten boom. she went with alfred hitchcock. i am not proud of that. and i am not sure she is ready to watch “psycho”, but she won’t sleep a wink after we watch “the birds”. and she will wish she had chosen “william wilberforce”...
the upside is that i don’t have to wear nice clothes to volunteer at school and i don’t own a tennis outfit or a grain mill (oh, that was snarky, see how prideful i am? God is never going to be finished with me).
once a well meaning friend tried to convince me to send my children to a certain private school and used this line, “don’t you want your kids to go to school with the finest children in tallahassee?”
and at first i thought, “NO WAY because soon they would all find out that we are NOT the finest of anything in tallahassee, except maybe the finest of sinners” and then our jig would be up because we would be the leastest of the finest AND everyone would know it. oh, the pressure to be “fine”....
and then i thought that if we truly followed Jesus that we should hang out with the kind of people He hung out with on a daily basis. and i don’t think any of them ever described themselves as “the finest”.
yeah, that thought PLUS the idea of being outed as not the finest family in the world kept me from putting my kids in that school....
like they would have even accepted our references....
i struggle with worldliness (wanting to be like and have the things of the world) and being a public school parent helps me put that away (sometimes). i can only imagine my coveting concerns if we went to school with some people who were so much more financial “fortunate” than us. whew... i don’t have that kind of spiritual fortitude... i do so want a nice jacuzzi tub and one of those double ovens and some new shoes and that cute outfit for my child, and i want about a million other stupid things...
sometimes i need need to seclude myself from some of the world in order to not see things to tempt them (like i need to avoid buffets and shopping malls to not be led into temptation)...
but i find that in some areas it easier for me to not ACT and THINK like the world when i see what those ACTS and THOUGHTS lead to in the world... when i see the how dark the dark is and how Light the Light is...
my children (and myself) see all that the world has to offer (or a lot more of it than children in more sheltered environments see) and they see the misery and despair that comes from this fallen world and hopeless worldviews. they may see girls crying because they went “too far” with a boy and broken hearts, broken homes, children without moms or dads that love and care and watch over them. they see that charm is deceitful and beauty is vain. we see a thousand Biblical warnings played out everyday in and every way. romans chapter 1 is always on display for our eyes.
children who are homeschooled or go to private school (and their parents) are no less tempted to worldliness than myself or my kids. really, worldliness comes from within, from our sinful nature. allowing myself and my children to see the consequences of worldliness, witnessing first hand the high cost of not following God’s plan for our lives can be an incredible life lesson. we can see it as a blessing or as a curse. somehow the benefits of doing our lives the world’s way only last for a moment, the eternal joys of following God will in time dim those false lights.
talking about these things, bringing them to the Scripture, seeing them through God’s eyes causes us to be thankful, repentant, loving, and to know that our needs are only met in Him and that what the world really needs (what we really need) isn’t a social plan, harsher rules, tolerance, more money, more education, better healthcare, new jobs, more/less taxes... it needs a Savior.
salt and light, baby. we are just salt and light. in a place that most needs the spice of salt, it’s healing properties, and it’s uncanny ability to preserve freshness. and we need light most of all in the dark places.
i am not afraid of the world... whom shall i fear but the Lord? there is nothing anywhere stronger than the Lord, there is nothing in the world greater than His grace. nothing they see or hear will ever satisfy their soul like Christ.
i am constantly seeking God as to how our family can be IN the world but not OF it...
and i love that i have to do that on a daily basis. like i said, it keeps me humble, and a lover of mercy, and causes me to act justly...
From heaven the LORD looks down
and sees all mankind;
from his dwelling place he watches
all who live on earth-
he who forms the hearts of all,
who considers everything they do.
No king is saved by the size of his army;
no warrior escapes by his great strength.
A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its great strength it cannot save.
i have to remember that no one is saved by a high SAT score or because of getting in the “right” school. even though our culture does think that education and intelligence is akin to salvation. really “being prepared for college” isn’t a sign of spiritual growth.
my children need to be growing in their love of God and their love of man. that is the standard for their progress... not their test scores (which are much beloved by my public school, but that is another issue for another day). and i don’t ever have to worry about having false hope for salvation because of being in a Christian school... see how easy and care free life is for me!
and the public school is a great place for my kids because i have the TIME to be involved (because i am still a stay at home mom and will be until God reveals to me that He has another use for me). and i have learned to be a servant to so many children and parents and teachers who i never would have known otherwise.
in our almost decade of public school life i have seen so much hurt. i see kids who are homeless come into the guidance office at raa when i work there one day a week. i smile and talk to them (and millie and i secretly donate gift cards for target to them so that they can buy some things, ok, now that isn’t a secret anymore which is breaking a spiritual principle since we are supposed to give in secret, but i am not legalistic. and i am prideful, remember that, it is a reoccurring theme). it gives us a chance to feel rich, because we see true poverty... poverty financially and poverty of spirit.
i teach a shakespeare lesson one day a week at the middle school. two weeks ago i crouched down beside her desk and told the goth girl (the one who kisses other girls and calls herself a lesbian) that i love her poetry lines that she just wrote on her page.
the girl smiles at me and says that she loves poetry.
i tell her that i LOVE poetry and ask her favorite poet.
she says that she doesn’t read a lot of poetry but that she writes it.
i tell her my newest favorite poet is luci shaw.
and i think of this poem...
He waits for God
to tell him
who he is.
i plan to bring her a luci shaw book to borrow. i hope i don’t get it back.
this girl has let satan name her but God has a name for her too. He wants to call her beloved. and i want her to hear that name come from my very essence in the way i serve her with dignity and with love whenever i teach her class.
i have learned to serve, i have learned to care, i have learned to listen, to have eyes to see the hurting...
and eyes to see the GLORIOUS things that God does in the public schools everyday...
i cannot even imagine a public school without Christians. without FCA clubs, without the “see you at the pole” prayer days, without the sweet Good News Club that my rosalea attends taught by a grandmother of one of our neighbors (and a very forgiving woman because i am always LATE to pick her up from the Good News Club and the real good news is that they haven’t kicked her out for her mother’s sin of lateness..) i do not want to give up my mission work in the schools or not let my children have awesome privilege of sharing their faith with others. no matter the cost to their popularity, their grades, their status...the pure JOYFUL SACRIFICE of standing up for the things of God when everyone else bows down to idols. standing alone is way hard... and way good.
every year that my children have been in the public schools i have seen God’s Hand move in incredible ways...
the kindergarten teacher who did NOT want maxx in her class because he was “deaf” (he is hearing impaired). yes, that teacher who cried when we went through the days where we thought he had a brain tumor. that teacher who loved him and learned so much about her son from him. and that teacher who is a better and more accepting teacher today because of maxx.
a middle school girls’ Bible study that meets twice a month in my house and has met for 3 years. some of these girls never go to church but they have Bible study at my house. the real attraction may be the snack and the AWESOME crafts (remember my pride issues)... but the Word is spoken and the Truth is told.
the time i swallowed my pride and all the words i wanted to say and to write when a teacher accused me of being racist. and i went back and i took photos of her and i dignified her and served her and forgave her and loved her and she doesn’t even know that there were moments when i wanted to scream at her that she didn’t know me at all... what better way to show her who i am than forgiving her and serving her and loving her and being kind.
the teachers, staff, and principals at gilchrist and raa that have shown my family incredible love, patience, and have been so caring at just the right moments. there are some really great people in those schools and some really Godly people. and i am better for knowing them (and i am not sure they are better for knowing me).
there have been countless moments when i knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God had prepared this moment... this good work... in advance for His Glory.
there is so much work to do in the public school. and i haven’t gone back to a full time job and have the time to do some of that work to help the teachers, the PTO, the students, and other parents.
now, don’t get me wrong- i don’t do a lot of the PTO stuff, i have my niche but that is all. i am not one of those uber-cute PTO moms involved in 100 different things because i really want to serve and love the parents, teachers, and students and having time to listen and love means i have to have a lot of time. free time, for God to fill. and i find when i have that time, He fills it with conversations that seem to spring up from nowhere and end with me praying with a teacher, sending an email and a word of hope, picking up someone’s child while they have surgery, making a meal for a family that needs it, spending one little minute making a middle school kid feel like someone cares about them.
so, to sum it all up i don’t know where you should send your children to school (don’t you wish you had read this part first, so you didn’t waste your time). because i don’t know you. i don’t know where in your weakness God can show His strength. i don’t know your talents, the time you have, or the tenderness you have for the fallen world or how persuaded you are to be worldy when confronted with the world.
i do know that God has taken my weakest areas (pride, non-confrontational, don’t hurt anyone’s feelings) and when i partner with Him i am strong (and humble when i need to be and speak the Truth in love and be an example of His grace).
i know that my talents of speed reading and my love of learning help me to keep up with what my kids are learning and makes me interested in helping them see EVERYthing though the lens of Truth/Scripture.
my interest in pop culture and my inner-philosopher makes me love listening to the kids and the things they see on t.v. , movies, and music. and somehow i am able to interpret that philosophically and ask them about their beliefs about this world and how it began and how we were made, how our world is missing something and why we are so incomplete, and how to make that right...
because everyone has a worldview, a way they see this world and make meaning out of it (Christian, atheist, agnostic, buddhist, marxist, secular humanist, darwinist, jewish, whateverist). and every worldview has three parts... how did we come to be? why isn’t everything alright? how can we make it right? creation, fall, redemption. learn how to defend the Christian worldview and how it is the ONLY worldview that makes sense. see this book (or countless others like it) to learn these things...
or talk to my cousin, jay pichard. he is crazy about all that stuff. as we all should be. but not as crazy as jay or this would be a really weird world.
so back to the ending of the endless essay (which sounds like a book title from the “series of unfortunate events” of which this essay might qualify for a book in that series...)
here is the deal... school “choice” is just one way God daily makes me rely only on Him for security,
only on Him for wisdom,
only on Him for salvation,
only on Him for the answers that He daily provides for me in His Word,
only on Him for the hope i have for a future for myself and my family,
only on Him for approval,
only on Him to be greater than anything that is in this world,
to be grafted and rooted only on Him.
i hope that whatever your choice that you never look upon anything you have done or your children do as being “enough” for them... only God is enough for them.... an education cannot redeem them... only God can do that.
so look at where your family will be day and what you will be doing and the people you have around you that God will put in your life at each school choice... will that daily life make you love God and love man more and more each day? will you have a peace in the midst of the fiery furnaces? will there need to be a guy standing in with you that wasn’t there before? will the ropes that bind you be burned off? will your “choice” make you and your children trust God in new and exciting ways?
there... did i answer your facebook question...
are you still reading...
PART 10... the end. finally...
and in the five days since i originally wrote this whole she-bang... i think i realized why i wrote it...
not so much for the facebook friend who asked the question... and not to have the massive 10 part blog-a-thon to entertain you all over the thanksgiving break...
but to satisfy a question that i have been asking in my soul for a while... something that i have been worrying about as my children get older and closer to high school...
what about the future?
i really have this desire for my kids to go to this wonderful college.... where some wonderful guy and some BRILLIANT gal met 20 years ago when there were college students. i LOVED furman, i LOVE furman, i can just see my kids in purple t-shirts (though they are not allowed to buy the “F.U.” t-shirts, i have a line...)
but it is becoming apparent to me that in NO way will we have the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ required to send three children to a private college like furman or harvard or yale or those other schools where i want the “i am a _________ mom” t-shirt because it will make me feel all nice and smart and special to have that t-shirt and to wear it around town and show it off to everyone (hmmm, did i mention that i struggle with pride? do you believe me now?).
this staying home and not working for a paycheck thing has its disadvantages... like no jacuzzi tub, no nice oven, no trips to england.... and very limited college funds for our kids. like so limited that i could barely buy a complete outfit at “the limited” with the money... from all three kids funds combined...
but after reading ALL that i wrote (and do we have to really talk about HOW STINKIN’ MUCH I WROTE ON THIS ONE SUBJECT), how can i not trust God for my children’s college education? or trust Him if a college education isn’t in His plan? or if i have to buy a “lively vo-tech mom” t-shirt? can i see His Hand in their EVERYday at public school and not trust in His provision and His plan for them for college. do i trust a furman education over whatever He has planned?
no, i don’t.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
Those who know your name will trust in you,
for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.
Who among you fears the LORD
and obeys the word of his servant?
Let him who walks in the dark,
who has no light,
trust in the name of the LORD
and rely on his God.
i trust Him. i have to. i walk in the dark a lot and there is no other source of Light for my steps....
Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it.
Let him declare and lay out before me
what has happened since I established my ancient people,
and what is yet to come—
yes, let him foretell what will come.
Do not tremble, do not be afraid.
Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago?
You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me?
No, there is no other Rock; I know not one."
All who make idols are nothing,
and the things they treasure are worthless.
Those who would speak up for them are blind;
they are ignorant, to their own shame.
I am the LORD, and there is no other;
apart from me there is no God.
I will strengthen you,
though you have not acknowledged me,
so that from the rising of the sun
to the place of its setting
men may know there is none besides me.
I am the LORD, and there is no other.
I form the light and create darkness,
I bring prosperity and create disaster;
I, the LORD, do all these things.
and that is the end of the endless essay. thank you for reading...
and i wanted to add this story at the end. about maxx and mrs. bryars. but mostly about God and His sovereignty...
when mrs. bryars was having a final end of the year conference with me about maxx and his hearing issues and what he might need adaption wise in middle school, she cried. because she had loved maxx so much. she said these words to me, "i just love him so much. he is such an excited learner." those exact words... why do i remember them so clearly?
because soon after she said them, at the beginning of the meeting, maxx's speech teacher opened maxx's VERY THICK folder (hearing impaired, speech problems, and gifted makes for a thick personal folder). she looked down and gave a little gasp and said, "you might not remember this mrs. marshall. but i have notes from our first meeting about maxx when we were deciding where to place him in kindergarten due to his hearing needs."
she then proceeded to read what i had told his future kindergarten teacher when that teacher outlined the reasons she thought he needed to go to another school for hearing impaired children. frankly at that time he looked REALLY bad on paper and she was afraid of trying to teach a new phonics based reading program to a hearing impaired child. she had gone over several things that he "needed" that she didn't feel she could supply. she strongly expressed her "concerns" and then she asked what my "concerns" were for the following year.
i stated these two "concerns". and the speech teacher wrote them down. and the years passed by in the blink of an eye. until the moment when that speech teacher read them out to me and his fifth grade teacher 6 years after i had said them (and quickly forgotten them. i was pretty emotionally drained after that kindergarten teacher meeting.)
i had said to his kindergarten teacher, "my only concerns are that his teacher love him. and that he loves learning."
pretty much what his fifth grade teacher had just extemporaneously stated in her own words summing up her year with maxx.
God is good. God is faithful. God is in control. of this universe. of your child's education. and mine.