Yesterday was the last day of fall. We finally trimmed the hedges and raked the leaves, just in time for Christmas! I am looking for a day to plant some pansies. The pipes are winterized, Christmas decorations are up, presents are wrapped, and I am feeling nostalgic.
After a week of parent conferences, new report card grades, a Nutcracker performance, a walk through Bethlehem program, and beautiful Christmas devotions, I am ready to take a look back at fall and record how the Lord is at work in our home and lives. We had some major events in our family this fall. Andy had back surgery again in November, the children and I began our second year at our classical Christian school, we put the farm on the market and Andy found a new job, and we found a new church here. It has been a good, often exhausting, season. In God's providence, he has eased the pain of selling the farm for us. (We will keep a small parcel for our own use.) For one, we have had several confusing and hurtful situations where people whom we employed and tried to help have not turned out to be who we thought they were. Painful, but also in a strange way confirmation of our need to find a new community. We have felt more deeply connected with our school, both students and faculty, and are so immensely thankful for the community of like-minded friends we have joined. This community has been my greatest encouragement, as I have several women who feel like life-long friends already. Also, my students and their parents are particularly precious to me. They are a constant source of joy and confirmation.
Andy has recovered very well again. I hated seeing him face another back surgery. But it has been 5 weeks and the results are promising. He has been patient and I truly believe it will pay off. I know the surgery and having to sell the farm must be extremely difficult for him. He felt like keeping the farm long-term was an impossible expectation, given his back issues. But he is facing this unexpected course with courage and faith, and he seems ready to begin his new job on January 6th. We marvel at God's grace in giving him a job in environmental consulting here in Birmingham so a move is not required for us. And his salary, along with mine, allows for a very comfortable budget for us. This is an unexpected blessing and will allow us to take some exciting family trips, develop a "nest egg", and enjoy tithing and giving to other ministries at a new level which is the very least we can do to further God's kingdom.
I still often feel the tug between ministry at home and ministry at school. It is an enormous adjustment to work outside the home while parenting. Most days I feel like it is doable. But sometimes it still seems extremely overwhelming and impossible to tackle. I think that my children enjoy having me at school with them so much that they would be very upset if I did not teach at their school. But when they are sick and my husband or my Mom have to take care of them until I can get home at 1:30, I want to throw in the towel. But then I take a step back and try to really assess the heart of the matter- what God is calling me to do, and how the children are progressing spiritually, emotionally, etc. I see them progressing along, growing in their faith and understanding, happy and stable, learning feverishly about God's world, forming healthy friendships and bonds with their mentors and teachers, and developing their gifts and talents. So I continue to carry on and pray and love them the very best that I can each day. I realize my main stress is not the amount of love, affection, and time I am giving to my family. But the very high, perfectionistic expectations I have for order in my home. And for now, I feel like God is calling me to invest in these many souls outside of my own family and let go of my (extremely) high expectations of organization at home.
The transition from homeschool to the classroom has been very natural. I have so much to learn as a teacher. But at the same time, I feel a deep sense that I am doing one of the main things that God created me to do when I teach. God has been gracious to give me a lot of support and encouragement from parents and others on staff. I cannot imagine a better working environment. I am constantly learning and growing in my knowledge and love for Christ. I am often encouraged with kind words and gifts. And I love who I work with, both on staff and the parents and students. It's truly, unbelievably ideal.
My three children are thriving. They are now in 1st, 5th, and 7th grades. Their academics are extremely challenging. But they are all capable of excelling in this type of academic environment. They have made all As so far this year, at the mid-way point. The boys qualified, along with 2 other students from their grades, for the spelling bee again this year. Their strengths and weaknesses are obvious already and we are working on learning all we can from both as to how God would use them in His kingdom. They each have "best friends" and really godly groups of children that love them. And they seem to all care much about loving Jesus and serving others, which I hope will continue and grow exponentially. We are thankful for where they are, what they are learning, and all of the guidance they are receiving. It has been a wonderful blessing, to put it mildly.
Looking back, I am thankful for how God is working in our lives. I am thankful for the gracious communities with which we are involved. I am thankful for the people we have met. I am thankful for the house he has provided, as well. And although I am laying here on the sofa, SO tired and excited for Christmas break, I am filled with gratitude for the all-day-long-never-stopping-until-bed work that he has given me to juggle. I want to live my life giving all that I possibly can to this family and those whom he puts in my classroom, by and through His strength and power. Looking forward to winter quarter and all that he has for us! To God be the glory!