June 17, 2016

What Do You Do...When You Reach The End of Your Journey? {Homeschooling: Keeping It Real Series}

When you begin your homeschooling journey, you rarely think about the end. I mean, most homeschooling families have more than one child, so they are looking at YEARS before the journey is over. And so you just focus on the ups and downs in front of you. The endless planning. The endless record keeping. Piles of curriculum. Overflowing bookshelves. Field trips. Never really thinking about the fact that one day you will be at the end of your journey. Every now and then though we might secretly wonder "What does it look like over there on the other side?"  Today's installment of the Homeschooling: Keeping It Real Series will let us do just that. Carol of Home Sweet Life is sharing what her view is like--with one daughter graduating from high school, and the other only 2 years away--13 years since the time she began her journey...

When You Reach the End ~ Homeschooling: Keeping It Real Series

The view from where I sit today looks so very different from the view 12 years ago. Back then I had two little girls, just starting out. Ok, who am I kidding, I had one who was super excited to be finishing Kindergarten, and one who couldn’t care less if she ever started school. Emily was almost six, Arlene was almost four, Emily wanted desperately to unlock the key to reading… and Arlene, she only wanted to be read to, cuddled on my lap,… and to avoid finger paint at all costs!

Today I have  Senior who will graduate High School in December, and a Sophomore who sometimes struggles with her more advanced Algebra problems. Today I’m thinking about how I need to actually type up Emily’s transcript soon, and what we should be purchasing for Arlene to work on in the Fall.

How did this humongous transformation take place? 
One day at a time.

These past thirteen years since we started officially home educating have been filled with joys and sorrows, tears and triumphs. They’ve been filled with doubts, grace, and lots and lots of prayers! If I could go back to my younger self, I would give her a message to continue on, to trust God more, and to let go of her expectations. I would ask her to rely upon the Holy Spirit more, yell at her children less, and love her family deeply, daily. Most of all ~ I would tell her it will be worth it!

If you are sitting at or near the beginning of your homeschooling journey, then take these messages to heart. They may well be the words your older self might some day wish they could say to you today. If you are in the middle of your journey ~ press on, trust God, hug your children often!

This journey of home education has stretched me WAY past my limits, and has taught me to rely upon God for my daily strength. I do not possess any great talent, yet I am possessed by the love of a great God who can work through my willing hands. I am NOT a patient person by nature, and yet, God has given me SO MANY opportunities to exercise patience along the way, that I think I’m finally getting the hang of it. This journey has taught me that I truly CAN do all things through Christ who gives me strength. It has taught me to put away self, and think more highly of others. It has taught me to ask advise from older friends and mentors, and it has made me appreciate my own loving mother more than words could ever say!

I am not perfect, nor will I ever reach perfection this side of eternity. Homeschooling has humbled me more times than I can count, and has re-made me to be more like Christ. 

This journey has truly been amazing!

As I look at the near future where I will only have one student, I think of things I would like to do before she graduates. We make plans, knowing that God may change them. We learn to hold loosely to our ideas, and search His Word for direction. 

I look at our oldest and stand in wonder. That little girl who struggled so to learn how to blend the letters C-A-T to read CAT, can now write plays and stories that make her friends cry. She writes stories that make adults think deeply. She writes poetry and makes a yummy loaf of bread. That little girl has probably read more books in the past 12 years than most people read in their whole lifetime.

I look at our younger daughter and stand amazed at what God can do. He leads and guides, He provides intelligence and grace for the moment. The little girl who hated finger paints loves watercolors. She also loves to bake a tasty chicken! She has surpassed me in many ways in the kitchen, and some day, she will make a wonderful wife. But not yet! For just a couple more years she is still going to be my baby girl. We will sit on the couch together and work through that challenging math together. We will go on adventures, sometimes as a family, sometimes just the two of us. 

Today as I sit and reflect on all that God has done in our lives, I am in awe of His mercy and grace. I look back and thank my younger self, who wouldn’t give up. I look back at the huge amount of grace and love my husband has shown to me throughout this journey. I realize that his sacrifices have made this journey possible. I realize that we have worked as a team alongside God to raise our daughters, and the results are astounding! We have both worked outside the home during this entire journey. We have switched shifts, given up on sleep, and died to self too many times to count. 

IT HAS ALL BEEN WORTH IT!!!

Homeschooling won’t save your children. Only the Jesus can save them. Let me tell you a little secret though…homeschooling just might save your marriage. Through this journey God can re-make you ~ He can mold you to be more like Him, and less like your selfish self! God can use this journey to draw you together in ways others cannot imagine. It is not easy, but it is so necessary. Your husband is your partner in parenting. If you give yourself first to God, second to your husband, and thirdly to your children, you will one day reach the other side. You will be stretched, tried, and refined. What emerges on the other side is a beauty that cannot be described, only felt and seen with the eyes of the heart.

What happens after homeschooling? 
I cannot say, for I’m not quite there yet. 
Perhaps a whole month of sleeping in. 
Maybe I’ll write a book. 

At this point, only God knows, and He hasn’t seen fit to reveal it to me yet. That shows His wisdom, for today I’m still in the trenches. I’m walking this journey with two beautiful daughters who are both taller than me, and a husband who still loves me, who isn't bothered by my gray hairs or wrinkles, because we earned them together.

The view from this side is AMAZING! Like a sunset over the Grand Canyon, or a long walk at sunrise on the beach. 

Don’t give up! The view is worth each and every day it takes to get here!
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Meet Carol

Carol and her family call Indiana home. They love to travel the MidWest, and beyond, in search of adventures. Their version of home education is rich in experiential learning ~ life is a field trip! You can read about their adventures on their blog: Home Sweet Life (www.homesweetlife.info) and follow her on Facebook and Pinterest.

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I am so grateful to Carol for taking the time to contribute this post. I know that as a mama in the middle of what seem to be the endless trenches of homeschooling, it is easy to get so caught up in what's going on now, that we forget our adventure will finally come to an end. I appreciate all her sage advice and wish her many blessings on the new adventures on her horizon!
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