Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Why "Abiding Life Academy"?

After several months of researching homeschooling and coming to the conclusion that it could be a very workable possibility for us, I read an article about how important it was to name your home school. Some mom's do, others do not. For those that do not, they are usually already associated with a formal co-op or some sort of umbrella school, so there is no need. But for those in states like mine (Texas), where there are no requirements for registration or state-submitted documentation or attaching yourself to a formal organization, it was recommended that you name your school.

So for several months now, I've had several different school names tumbling around in my head, all perfectly suitable options. But the catalyst for such a huge change in our Life Direction really came back to N and I freshly learning how to walk with the Holy Spirit in our lives and not living our own fleshly lives. While in our heads for years, we understood the terminology "abiding in the Lord", we had no practical head knowledge or life experience of what that meant. In 2013 that all changed. It was a slow and somewhat painful lesson for us to grasp. (Our marriage was on the brink of falling apart altogether.) But with the help of some friends who discipled us, we started to GET IT. And while the road has still not smoothed out completely (we have no expectation of that happening, in all honesty, we are still imperfect humans), we are learning to walk in the Spirit on a daily basis. We still feel young in this process, toddler-ish, vulnerable, but the realization of what to do has been Life Changing for us. Individually, in our marriage, how we parent, how we minister to others, it has changed everything. Learning the wealth behind abiding with the Lord in our daily lives has been overwhelmingly eye-opening. It has humbled us, molded us, helped us see Life afresh, see HIM afresh, and created a desire to live our lives differently than before. Knowing experientially what an abiding life is has made all the difference.

Thus, Abiding Life Academy. While our goal is to give our children a rich, fun, rigorous formal education, the absolute foundation of it MUST be The Lord. Truly, we are doing this to disciple our kids, not just teach them what a kindergartner and a 1st-grader should know. If they don't know the Lord as their Creator (and hopefully Savior at some point), then what difference does their math or history knowledge do for them?

Abiding Life Academy seemed like the most suitable choice. My prayer is that we make it abundantly clear to them both how abiding with the Father is the foundation of their lives moving forward.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Be Open

In October 2013, after our oldest child had spent 2 months in public Kindergarten, Father said, "Be open". I knew in my heart, He was specifically addressing the concept of homeschooling our children. How I knew that, I don't know, but I knew.

So I was "open". I spent any spare moment I had reading up and researching homeschooling, teaching methods, learning styles, schedules, books, name it, I read about it. I joined some Facebook pages specifically geared towards homeschoolers and specific curriculum so I could learn more. I only personally knew of one homeschooling family in our circle of friends, so I did not have a lot of personal experience to hear from. And that family had recently moved out of the country, so I had no personal resources to glean from. But strangely, I bumped into homeschooling mothers EVERYWHERE! The park, the bank, the library, the grocery store, the pool. I had a hard time avoiding them. It was very weird. I always walked away with a sense of wonderment.

Was this from You Lord?

Early on in this journey, I somehow got a hold of a book called "More Charlotte Mason Education" by Catherine Levison. I read it, intrigued with Charlotte Mason's educational philosophy that children are persons, empowered and hardwired by God with interests and skills and natural bents, and not just tiny vessels to be filled with data as the local public schools seemed to believe. (Whether individual teachers believe that or not, is irrelevant. The local system approaches education in that manner and even in the teachers' powers, there is little wiggle-room to address anything off the assessment standards. Someone could be the most loving, gifted teacher ever, but they are still handcuffed to the system that employs them.)

Charlotte's philosophy was attractive because that was my personal belief in MY newly known identity...why would my children be any different? But to be fair to the journey I had embarked on, I put that book down and read other books about different philosophies and teaching methods (Waldorf, Montessori, Classical). But nothing I read spoke to my heart the way Charlotte Mason's teachings spoke to me. Some of them made sense in their approach educationally, but the Masonry personal focus on a child's spirit really spoke to my new mindset of walking in His Spirit.

In the midst of this journey, while I prayed continually for God to tell me what to do, I never got a clear answer.

Father, to home school or not? 

Nothing. Silence. As of this writing, He still has not given me a clear answer in words like He has in the past. But what He HAS given me is this:

  • A confidence that no matter our choice, He will walk with us in it.
  • A confidence that no matter how hard, He will give us strength to not just endure it, but give us victory over it.
  • A confidence that nobody in this world loves our children more or is invested in our children more than us. 
  • A confidence that we could homeschool our children in perhaps unorthodox methods (per local public standards) and still give our children a rich, balanced education that would prepare them for life as adults.
  • A confidence that we could address heart and character issues in a deeper, more meaningful way than if our children were in public school for 7 hours a day.
  • A confidence that even in our weakness and mistakes on a daily basis, HE IS SUFFICIENT. To us AND our children. What a comforting thought! He fills our gaps. Thank you Lord!

While we have still not officially embarked on the homeschool year as of yet, He has closed no doors to the preparation process. So unless He makes it crystal clear to us sometime before the end of this month, that we are NOT to homeschool our boys, we continue to move forward in Faith. That could change at the last minute. And if it does, we will walk in whatever direction He clarifies for us. But until then...forward we go.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Burn Out

October 2013. It was a Friday and I was picking up JK from Kindergarten at our locally zoned public school.

JK: *in a tired and relieved voice* Mom, I am SO excited about this weekend.
Me: You are? What's so special about this weekend?
JK: We don't have school on Monday.

What he was referencing: In our school district, we are given a "State Fair" day. Basically, the children get off a day from school and a free ticket to the state fair, held in our town.

While most kids are excited about having a day off from school, my heart broke. Just a mere two months earlier, I had sent a child to our public school system that LOVED to learn. The year before, his preK schedule was MWF so TTH were always sad mornings for him - no school. So in two months time, I had sent an excited little sponge and received back a lifeless, exhausted rag of a child that couldn't wait for the weekends, especially long ones. What had happened? I had worked in corporate America for 15+ years and had seen and experienced this same burnout. It was all too familiar. And heartbreaking for me to already see in a little boy, two months into his school career. I didn't realize it at the time, but the Lord used this experience to change my heart for my children.