sharing from my heart to yours
I wrote this article for The Salty Tribe Co. Journal
awhile back, but thought I would share it with you.
It is appropriate for me even now, as once again our
season seems to be changing.
I'll share more of that later on, but here are some of my
thoughts on the journey through life and homeschool...
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” Ecclesiastes 3:1
As we walk this journey we make plans, we prepare, we dream, we grow. But it’s very rare that life plays out the way we originally pictured it. Seasons come and go, and changes happen whether we like them or not. God’s plans for us are above our understanding. His timing is perfect. And it’s all part of learning.
I say this, because I’m experiencing it. My life hasn’t gone the way I would have imagined it. Instead of dreams, one of my worst nightmares came true.
In the spring of 2014, life was good. My husband had recently purchased cattle and we had begun dairy farming. Farming wasn’t something I would have planned in my life, but we were loving country living with our three children (5, 3, and almost 2 at the time). I was expecting our fourth baby soon, and we were preparing to send our oldest son, Skyler, to kindergarten at the local public school that fall. I had always thought that I would enjoy homeschooling, but I wasn’t sure if it was the best choice for our kids. I was also overwhelmed with the thought of trying to teach and take care of three little ones at the same time. Skyler, who loved to learn, was thrilled as we toured his school, took a ride on the bus, and met his teacher. Only a couple weeks later, he was gone. There was a tragic accident at the farm and our little boy went to be with Jesus.
It was the beginning of a new season. It was the start of many changes that we would have never expected or planned. So much of that time is a blur to me now. We went through the motions of shock and grief. One thing I remember thinking very soon after Skyler was gone, is that I knew now that I would homeschool. At least to start. There was no way that I could send my kids off to spend most of their days away from me, when I didn’t know how long I’d even get to have them. In the blink of an eye, I learned how short life can be. Maybe I was reacting out of fear, maybe I was trying to hold onto control instead of trusting God. But we all start somewhere, and that is how my homeschool story began.
That was a cold, dark time for us. We were on a stormy road that we didn’t want to be on, feeling like we had lost our way. Despite the fact that it was really spring at the time, we could feel the icy wind whistling through us, chilling us to our bones.
It felt like we’d never again feel the warmth of the sun.
There are seasons in life that are hard. We want to snuggle in and stay close to each other, because anything more than that feels like too much. There are no colors outside our windows and the ground is frozen and cold. Those are times of survival. We only do what we have to and we often feel empty and lonely. It’s ok. We do what we can and it is enough.
The most amazing thing is that even when we can’t feel the sun (or the Son), we know it (or He) is there still. During that time of deep grief, the love of our Lord was poured out onto our family in amazing ways. He was still there. He still loved us and was hurting as we hurt. He hadn’t forgotten. His promises were true. He would see us through and walk this season with us.
“…for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5
We begin to see glimpses of hope. Through our pain, the sun slowly penetrates and we feel moments of warmth again. Outside, the fields are becoming green and the flowers are peeking out of the ground. On the farm, there is new life and calves beller for milk. We are needed and life keeps going. The seasons change, even if we’re not always ready.
We also welcomed new life into our family. Six weeks after saying goodbye to Skyler, we said hello to a baby girl, Janae Hope. We later learned that her name meant ‘God is gracious’. What a time of deep grief mixed with deep joy. A rainbow in midst of the intense storm. A blessing and a reminder of God’s promise. Life went on, even when we felt like it stopped.
We began to slowly bring learning into our days. I love to research, and I started to spend a crazy amount of hours looking to curriculum, homeschool methods, and reviews. I went to a convention; it was a whole new world, and I was getting excited about it. My list of reasons to homeschool lengthened as I learned more about it. I wanted to grow and learn with my family. I wanted to instill in my children a desire to learn, to give them a foundation to grow in, and teach them about the love of God. Just as we planted the seeds in the fields on the farm, I wanted to plant seeds into my kids and nurture them as they grew.
“A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted” Ecclesiastes 3:2
We think of relaxation and rest in the summer, though very often it is more filled with busy days and extra plans. Time passes quickly as we try to soak up every moment. A season filled with joy and laughter. Days at the beach and evenings around a campfire. We feel the warmth and we see the colorful blossoms. Even though there is always a child missing when you’re counting heads at the lake, you find joy as your other children find joy. This is a good season with good memories.
It’s easier to be thankful as we watch our children play.
As homeschool moms, we often spend time planning and preparing. We look forward to new books and fun projects. We are full of energy and excitement, and even the kids look forward to the changes. There is likely to be hard days of burnout and frustration ahead; we know because we’ve been there. Things won’t always go as we had hoped. But still we prepare and plan. One thing that Skyler prayed before he died was, “Lord, keep us safe from the battle”. We say that often now and it reminds us to prepare for the battle that may be ahead. These times of peace and rest are good for the soul. It is a time to arm ourselves for whatever season may be ahead. We work the ground as we tend to growing plants.
“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13
The crisp, cool air of autumn give us the energy for the changes this season. As we open new books and fall back into routine, our children dive into new ideas and experiences. Things have transformed again. Everyone is older and has grown. There is still the empty chair at the school table. I will always imagine what our biggest boy would be learning and enjoying each year. I reflect and remember. The hole will never be filled, but the pain isn’t so sharp. The ache has eased a bit and life has gone on.
Sometimes that is a comfort, sometimes it is hard.
On the farm, the combines drive up and down the fields as they harvest the year’s crops. It is stored for winter to be used as feed for the animals. God reminds us of His blessings. Life comes from Him, and only through Him are we able to walk the journey.
We may plant, others will water, but God gives the increase.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17
SEASONS OF LIFE
It has been nearly three years since Skyler’s life ended. As I write, our fifth sweet blessing is snuggled on my lap. She again reminds me of hope and how the seasons of life are always changing. We are halfway through our second ‘official’ year of teaching our kids at home. Still just beginners, we are truly enjoying this season. As I experience the seasons of grief, the seasons on the farm, and the seasons of life in general, I have realized there are seasons in everything. Some of them are very difficult and some are wonderful. But in every season, God is there. He is always reminding us of His promise.
Sometimes in the heat of summer, there is a dark thunderstorm. Between the cool days of fall, we feel the warmth of Indian summer. The rainbow shines through the clouds as the sun peeks through. The mix of feelings and emotions. Hard times and joy-filled times. God’s plan is perfect, even when it’s hard to see. But I know that life is short. If we can live in each moment, treasuring our children and making the most of the season we are in, we will be able to recognize God’s loving hand in the little things. It’s not about how many books we get through or the number of field trips we schedule, it’s about growing together as a family through each season of life.
Hello and Welcome!