“Life is not a straight line leading from one blessing to the next and then finally to heaven. Life is a winding and troubled road. Switchback after switchback. And the point of biblical stories like Joseph and Job and Esther and Ruth is to help us feel in our bones (not just know in our heads) that God is for us in all these strange turns. God is not just showing up after the trouble and cleaning it up. He is plotting the course and managing the troubles with far-reaching purposes for our good and for the glory of Jesus Christ.” ― John Piper, A Sweet and Bitter Providence: Sex, Race, and the Sovereignty of God
I have tried not to write much here this past month or two. The main reason is because in the winter I hit rock bottom in the process of accepting our new life and all that it entails. The very week I found myself so far beyond what I could handle as far as desperation and feeling utterly lost here, God broke through and delivered a long succession of miraculously answered prayers. As I have often found, he seems to get my attention with His eleventh hour answers. And He blows me away with His tender, personal grace. I'll start at the beginning.
A couple of months ago I was a pretty miserable wreck. I felt like I hit a pretty big wall with homeschooling the year that we decided to move here (early 2011). But as we found no other option that lead to peace or belonging, I continued to homeschool. It has been a daily challenge to educate and love the children well, while feeling restless and lonely.
Finally I decided to consider the option of driving the kids to one of the two schools that I love. Both are an hour away. I have dismissed the idea thousands of times before because I really didn't want my children in the car 2 hours a day and I feel guilty being a part of a community that is that far away from our home. But something had to change. So I made an appointment to tour the school. Cancelled. Two times. And the third time my husband encouraged me to go. And I did, and consequently I fell in love. BIG TIME. When I left the school I felt a sense of peace for the first time since we moved to our farm. Not only did I fall in love with the school and all that it has to offer, but I made a really good friend. We talked so long that we got embarrassed and left the building...only to talk another hour in the parking lot. And I came home that day with Hope.
So we began the very long, arduous task of applying for the school. The references and application itself took a week to complete. In the meantime, I decided that one hour in the morning to have our devotion, eat breakfast, pray, chat, and review schoolwork wouldn't be all bad. It was, afterall, a drive with almost no traffic and through a beautiful area of Alabama. After sharing it all with Andy, he offered to take the application to the school in person. He wanted to meet some people and see for himself what it was all about. Not only did he meet some teachers and administrators, but he took a tour and he loved what he saw. During that tour, Andy was asked how we had heard of the classical Christian model of education. He mentioned that I taught at a classical school, and that we have homeschooled with the same philosophy. And a job opening in the elementary school was mentioned.
Andy casually informed me of that teaching position a couple of days later. I immediately dismissed it. I have been a stay at home Mom since my last trimester of pregnancy with Jackson. In June it will be 12 years! I just never considered juggling working outside the home with being a Mom. But as quickly as I dismissed the idea, God kept putting it on my heart. Over the course of the next week or two I found myself in various conversations about education. These conversations ignited a passion in me. So I decided to just look at the application. And the next thing I knew, it was the middle of the night and I had filled out the entire thing, including the dozen or so questions about my philosophy, ideas about discipline, classroom atmosphere, etc. It was fun. And I became giddy, and utterly delighted at the idea of being in a classroom teaching again. Does anyone else get butterflies when they walk into a school and smell crayons and pencils? What sweet memories it brings!
That was a month ago. Since then, I have collected references (pretty funny task for a girl who has been unemployed for 12 years!), been interviewed twice by the principal and then the school board, and waited and prayed for endless, long days. I did more than pray, I groveled and begged and pleaded with God to please, PLEASE let this be His will. Lo and behold, this past weekend I was offered the teaching position, and after the application process, student testing, and additional interviews, my children were accepted into the school, as well. We are elated, blown away, and so very thankful.
For 13 months I have woken up every day feeling like I am in a foreign land (visit our farm and you might agree). We have struggled to find a church home. I have not really had an opportunity to make new friends. I have struggled to homeschool in isolation. I miss what we had in Atlanta. Terribly. And I have vacillated between guilt and overload with trying to spend time with my Mom and Dad during Mom's battle with cancer and provide the education that I want for my children this year. In addition, as I have watched my husband thrive and my children all settle in happily, I have felt very frustrated and confused with myself. There's just no better word for how I have felt than misplaced! Remember how Jesus was tempted in the desert? Well this has been like my desert, and I am not brave enough to tell you the temptations I have faced. Every ugly demon from my past has made a visit. But thankfully, the Holy Spirit has guarded my heart and mind in Christ Jesus, even when it was heavy and quite hopeless. Although I can not and will not claim perfect obedience, I can say His grace has been sufficient for me. And as I have weakly called on Him and trusted Him, He has sustained me and my marriage. Thanks be to God alone.
For those who do not know, classical education is one of my obsessions. I have several: history (particularly ancient history), decorating and fabric, women's ministry, my family, Jesus, and classical education. What a strange combination. I am beyond thrilled to find out what God had planned for me, He knew all along what was coming. Even though I know I haven't handled this transition perfectly, I am so thankful that I have been able to press forward and face all 365+ of these new mornings trusting the Lord. Not just trusting, but clinging. Not always resting in Him, but always, always clinging (for.dear.life) Because almost every morning it has been a real struggle. And because He is my Great Love and his mercy and compassions are endless, this teaching position allows me to enjoy all of my obsessions. Most importantly, I have the great priveledge of teaching in a Christian school where I can teach a biblical worldview and share the gospel with my students. Also, I will teach ancient history (I will either be teaching 2nd or 3rd grade, ancient Egyptian or ancient Roman/Greek history. Squeal.). The school is looking to get rid of some fluff (i.e. kitty and puppy posters) in the elementary school, and focus on an aesthetic that is more classical in nature. I have been asked to help. (Double squeal.) I will be part of a staff and get to know parents, creating an opportunity to both love and be loved by friends. (Fulfilling my craving to be involved in women's ministry again.) And my sweet children will be under the same roof with me! The younger two and I will be out at 1:00, and Jack will be out at 3:00. So I will still share lunch with Josh and Lydie. Such a sweet grace as we all get used to the transition! And although we will see my husband less, I am so excited to experience what our marriage will be like when we are both feeling excited about living here. God has provided far abundantly more than what I could have dreamed a couple of months ago when I was spending thirty minutes each morning just asking for the strength to throw my legs out from under the covers and get started with the day. And I know I don't deserve it.
It will take a long time for me to get over the indescribable joy I have in seeing this opportunity that is so perfectly designed for me become a reality. Unbelievable!! Not only is this a good thing, it is my absolute dream come true. That sweet friend who I met when I toured the school has been praying for her twin daughters' teacher, as she nervously ends her own season with homeschooling and puts them in school for the first time. As it turns out, I will teach them, if not all day, at least part of the day. Unbelievable grace. And we have received an email from one of the sweetest college girls we know who wants to work on our farm for the entire month of July to help with the kids and other needs. That is an answer to the only detail that had me worried...what will the kids do when I need to work in my classroom this summer? Every single detail has been orchestrated by our gracious heavenly Father, who never sleeps nor slumbers, and who hears our cries and pleadings and rescues us. Why do I ever doubt?
My best friend (who has heard my droning about education from day 1 of our friendship, 8 years ago) says she feels like she is watching a fairy tale unfold. She feels like this situation is what I have always dreamed of. She is right, and I feel this way as well. I know life will not be perfect, of course. But I am really looking forward to this new chapter for our family. If you have taken the time to read my entire story, won't you take one more minute to praise our Heavenly Father with us? And if you are in a place of sadness and sorrow, please know that I know your pain and I would love the priviledge of praying with you. I know how to pray desperately, I know what it is like to feel desperate. Please know you are not alone.
Lastly, I want to share words from my favorite character in the Bible, my heart has always resonated with hers, especially now. I cry almost everytime I read it. On this earth I could have lived on the crumbs with still more than I deserve, and yet he has invited me to dance and dine at this Feast. Amazing. Matthew 15:21-28:
Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.