This past weekend my husband and I went away for a leader’s retreat with our church. We have been a part of the is church for twenty-six years. It’s where my husband and I first met as 18 and 19 year olds. It’s where we learned what it means to truly be disciples of Jesus. It’s where I learned that church is not a building that you go to on Sunday, but it is a community of people living out life together. That community was the topic of conversation this weekend. It was good, and I loved the teachings and conversations, but real application came to me last night.
One area where I am extremely thankful for this community that I have been a part of is in the area of educating my children. I will be honest and tell you that I have never been a great student. I struggled tremendously through elementary school. In high school I took a non-traditional route where I learned job skills and worked, as opposed to spending a lot of time sitting in a classroom. I did well with that type of schooling. I would not have done well in a scenario where I had to sit in a class and listen to lectures. I am not geared that way, even now. Needless to say, I did not go to college.
Even before we had children, my husband and I decided that we would homeschool our kids. I was nervous! I did not know if I had the skills to do it. I began to ask other moms about homeschooling and how they did it. As our children entered school, we joined our church’s homeschool co-op. I am so extremely thankful for the wisdom of older moms at the co-op. I am thankful for the things that they taught my kids; Things that I didn’t even know they needed to be taught, like how to hold a pencil and how to look at adults when they were speaking to them. I am thankful for the chats we had around the lunch table where I was called to step it up a notch (or five). And, for the conversations where I was encouraged in the midst of teaching my struggling learner. I am thankful for those who had areas of expertise in different areas. While I did what I was good at, usually working with the preschoolers, my kids were upstairs dissecting frogs or learning History at a deeper level than I was capable of teaching it.
In seventh grade my kids started attending a secondary co-op. This is a community that was started by our church, but it is attended by students from several different churches. This rocked my world! It’s challenging. My kids are being taught by amazing teachers and the standards are high. It became clear to me, as early as seventh grade, that I was going to be learning right along with them. It was embarrassing at times, like when I had to ask teachers to teach me things that I had never learned, so that I could help my kids do their homework. My husband has done most of the science and math with our kids, because, simply put, it is way of my league. But, in spite of the difficulty, I know, without a doubt, that I could never give my kids the education that they are receiving there and it has been worth every struggle.
This weekend I had the opportunity to talk to several of my kids’ teachers. I was struck by how invested they are in my children’s lives. They are willing to adjust their lives and schedules to help their students. It’s amazing to know that other people love your children and want them to become who God created them to be. I am thankful for the engineer who wants to help my son get his math scores up and take him to work to show him what he is working on, and for the the teachers who see his potential and are pushing him to reach it. This community is a blessing, and I cannot imagine where we would be without it.
As soon as I walked in my door from the retreat, I asked to see some special mail that my daughter received. It was her second university acceptance letter! She’s been offered a great scholarship from one of them. For me, this is such an exciting thing! In the early years, I feared that I wasn’t smart enough or qualified enough to get her to this place. For a brief moment I wanted to pat myself on the back and say, “You proved yourself!”But, as I thought about it, I realized something. This is not because of me or my abilities as a teacher. I did not get her here. WE DID IT! It’s because of her and her willingness to be faithful, and it’s because of the community that has surrounded her/us.
I could go on and on about the ways my life has been impacted by being a part of this family of God, but this is one very practical application. I am thankful that we are doing this together! It is truly a beautiful thing.