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Monday, August 20, 2012

Following God’s Lead…into Public School

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The new back pack has been purchased; supplies are packed and ready to go; new jeans and shirts hang in the closet…it’s back to school time!

For the past two weeks, I’ve struggled with this post. My heart desperately wants to share the experience that God has given to our family, yet it breaks my heart to know that some (many perhaps) will not read this with open eyes. The journey I’m about to share is not meant IN ANY WAY to offend. It is simply to share what God revealed in our heart and to our family.

In a few short days our son will return to school…public school. I know for many this is a controversial decision. However, this is not a decision that my husband and I have come to lightly or without much prayer.

For the past two years, our son has asked to be homeschooled. He first proposed the idea while in 3rd grade, a year that was challenging to say the least. (You can read more about that year and our son's struggles in school here, here and here.) To be honest, I didn’t even entertain his request at first. But as the year went on and I could see the outgoing, happy kid who loved to learn and thrived in school retreat into himself and become a shell of who he once was, my heart became open to the idea. So I began to research it. I asked friends and posed questions online for information. I looked into various curriculums and spent many nights awake in prayer. As 3rd grade came to a close, I continued to gather information and then sat down, presenting everything to my husband, who was already well aware of the situation. To my surprise, he was very hesitant.  His concerns were valid and I listened to them.
One of the rules in our family is that if both my husband and I are not 100% in agreement, we don’t move forward. We stop, continue to pray about it and seek God’s will for the situation. We've learned that sometimes God chooses to only speak to one of us; so the other always needs to be open and prayerful for God's will.
That’s exactly what I did. I continued to pray, seek Godly wisdom and trust God's perfect will and timing.

As 4th grade began, I had determined to give it a month. If things weren’t better, I was going to pull our son out and begin homeschooling him (provided I could convenience my husband. Noticed I said “I” would be doing the convincing. I'm so glad this moment of weakness didn't win out). It didn’t happen overnight, but things did get better. As the year went on, I saw a happiness and excitement return to our son. Yet, he still continued to ask about homeschooling. Although I was willing to do whatever necessary to help our son I had reservations of my own and my husband still maintained his.
There is a song I love that says, “Lord move, or move me.” And that’s exactly what He did!  He didn’t change my husband’s heart…he changed mine!
Throughout the spring and over these summer months, God has made it incredibly obvious that He has our son right where HE wants him.

How do we know?

~When we asked our son why he wanted to be homeschooled, it became clear that is was his way of escape. Instead of facing a challenging year with a difficult teacher and classmates, he knew it was easier to stay home. He knew is was safe at home. God didn't call us to run. He called us to put on our armor! We can not run from our problems and God never promised our road would be easy. He promised he would walk it with us. The life of a believer is rarely safe, confortable or easy. As parents, we needed to help our son in the growing pains of his faith, not help him run from them. (As a mother, this was especially hard. Not mother wants to see their child hurt. However, it's through the pain that God stretches us, grows us and draws us closer to him...YES, even children).

~We saw God open door after door, using our son to be Jesus to his teacher and classmates. When a boy didn't have lunch, our son willingly shared his. When another child was being picked on, our son stood up for him, befriending him. He spoke words of encouragement over classmates who were struggling. He began to seek out ways to be Jesus at school. It became our conversation on the ride home, “How did you shine His light today?”

~Most importantly, we know because my husband and I have a perfect peace about it…and so does our son. He is excited to return to school for the first time in two years. He is becoming more firm in His faith and in shining God’s light to a dark classroom, playground, lunch period. He is learning that he may be the only Jesus someone ever sees and he is learning to make the most of those opportunities.

My husband and I firmly believe that God has a divine purpose for each of our children. We know that for now, that purpose is in our public school. If and when that ever changes, we are open and willing to move where ever He leads us.
And that, I believe is one of the greatest lessons we as parents who follow the Word of God can teach our children, to follow God’s lead, where ever it takes us, no matter how scary or uncomfortable it may be.
Regardless of where the little ones (and not so little ones) in your life attend school, it is my prayer that they have a wonderful year and that God’s light will shine brightly through them.
Be A Blessing,


Shannon McKee said... [Reply to comment]

Torrie - loved this post and your heart. I truly believe that God does call some of us into the public schools. Every schooling option has both pros and cons. Thanks for sharing your story as a way to encourage others!

Torrie said... [Reply to comment]

Thank you for your comment Shannon. You're right. There are good points and bad ones regardless if your children attend public, private or homeschool. Have a blessed day!

Mandy Savings said... [Reply to comment]

I appreciate you sharing this! I have found that SO many Christians tend to judge those that send their kids to public school. Our kids go to public school and we believe in Jesus and worship Him with ALL of our hearts! We've prayed about whether or not our kids should attend a private school or not or exactly what we should do for their education - every time the Lord leads us to keep them in public schools. I could write paragraphs and paragraphs of the debates/discussions/talks that I've been in with other believers that do not agree with our point of view. Granted - I have never told them they shouldn't put their kids in private schools or shouldn't homeschool but they are quick to tell me that my kids are being 'thrown in with the sharks' in public school. I totally feel that they can make a DIFFERENCE there and although they are surrounded with temptations and the like - it is a learning experience for them and I strongly feel that God is preparing them for their paths that He has for them later in life! Sorry - I'm being long-winded but I'm just so happy to have found another Christian blogger to publicly announce their excitement that their kid is going to public school :0)

lisa said... [Reply to comment]

Hi Torrie,

I am a "seasoned" home school mom. And I must confess that in my early years of homeschooling, I was what I called a "home school evangelist". In other words, I thought that home school was the ONLY educational option. The Lord corrected my thinking. :) And now I believe that it's between the Lord and the parents as to which method of education to use. We're all different, thankfully. The Lord uses us no matter where He puts us. :)

Thanks for this thought-provoking post.

Hope your son has a wonderful year!

Many blessings,

Crystal said... [Reply to comment]

Totally random, but you've got me REALLY missing my old FFH album now! Not sure if it's the same one or not, but they have a song called that and I love it...bought the whole CD and loved it, but have somehow managed to misplace it. Blessings to you and your family in your schooling decision!

Crystal said... [Reply to comment]

It's always interesting to see the different sides of debates, and I think it just comes down to the fact of (1) people around you, and (2) our own perspectives. Because as a homeschooling mother, I'm the opposite. I would never tell someone they shouldn't put their child in public school, but others seem to have NO hesitation whatsoever telling me the countless ways I am ruining my child's life by homeschooling.

Michy Loving Our Journey said... [Reply to comment]

I just teared up reading this. I am a past public school teacher, and my heart would just soar when a little one came in praising Jesus or showing His light...these were few and far between moments...I'm currently a SAHM with my 2 yr old son and loving, loving, loving it..and I know what you mean about God moving us--I never thought we'd homeschool, but now I can see that in a few more years, I will struggle so much and need to turn to God in this decision. I think the hard part is I taught a lot of behavior intervention, so I know what my son would be dealing with...and how hard it can be. Your post in inspiring because of how you turned to oJesus-and really listenend to Him. I love your eciding with your husband through prayer-thispost has taught me a lot. Many blessings-

Domestic Bliss Diaries said... [Reply to comment]

My son will turn four years old this December. I've gone back and forth in recent years whether to homeschool or send him to a private school nearby. I was determined not to send him to public school and I silently judged anyone who chose otherwise.

Luckily, God reminded me that He doesn't have the same plan for everyone and what's more important than where my child goes to school is whether or not I, as my child's parent, educate him at home when it comes to spiritual things, Plus, if all Christians homeschooled, then who would be Jesus to those kids that your son so willingly went out of his way to love?

Piper said... [Reply to comment]

Oh, I so needed this today... I am struggling with a situation with our son and school. Our children have always attended public schools, but my 7 yr old is advanced and public school is not always the "place" for a child that is advanced as he is. He does well, but needs to be challenged and we have to think outside of the box in ways to keep him focused. I have said many times, I wish that we could afford for him to go to private school, but we know that isn't possible. That is a "no" from the Lord. Just yesterday, I was venting over his teacher assignment, was very open with my thoughts to the principal about the situation. And when I told my husband, he said, "he will be fine, I don't know why you are so worried. What do you suggest we do?" I didn't have an answer, I just wanted him to agree with me.... and like you, the I in me wanted to change how he felt. Since my venting yesterday, I have seen 2 posts about being still and allowing God to handle tough situations, as well as making the best of a situation. I am pretty stubborn, and God has to use others to confirm what I already know in my heart. Thanks for sharing this!!! Praying that God will change my heart and show me what I need to do to help his teacher and him.

Tangi said... [Reply to comment]

Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this. I came across your link at Time-Warp Wife. My kids are going to public school for the first time. They had been attending a christian private school. A few months before school let out, my husband and I were trying to decide what to do about school this fall because we knew that there would be no money to send them back to the christian school. I was sitting at my desk at work when I felt such a calming peace about sending them to public school a scripture flooded my heart: Matthew 5:

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither
do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on
its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.- Since then, we have been criticized by several people about our decision. I've even questioned it myself, but God has ABSOLUTELY blessed our little family and has shown that He is in control. We have learned that several of the teachers that educate our children are Christians. Again, thank you SO MUCH for this!!

george_kerrye said... [Reply to comment]

Love your heart on this issue. My son had a very tough year in 4th grade, public school. We all struggled. With a move to middle school for 5th, I worried. He didn't get the teachers I requested. And no known friends in his class. More worry. How can I control this situation? Several friends advised that I be still and see how things go first. His teachers ended up being some of the best Christian teachers I have ever met. One day he tells me that he and his new friend spent their entire recess going from child to child, asking "Do you go to church?" "Well, why not?" "You have got to learn about Jesus!" and proceeded to "sell" the merits of their churches. (As only little boys would - "We play ball after class on Wednesdays" and "We have air conditioning and donuts." LOL) Our child has stood and recited the Pledge every morning since he started. His teachers have almost ALL gave prayer requests for "the children who pray" before the daily moment of silence. Yes, there are problems. But isn't that what learning to live in this world is all about? It's not for everyone, public schools. But it can be exactly where God has put you for a reason...

jtrujillo said... [Reply to comment]

Wow! Good stuff! Praying for your family! Loved this!

Torrie said... [Reply to comment]

I'm so sorry for your experience Crystal. I know what you mean. I have felt pressure to move in ANY direction but public school. However, I believe that God directs each of our steps in the direction that HE has for us, IF we are willing to follow Him.

Amanda said... [Reply to comment]

Thank you for sharing! As a mom whose oldest is a preschooler I love hearing different perspectives on what works best for them--home school, public or private. I am still praying through the decision! It's not an easy one to make!!! As a former private school teacher and public school substitute teacher... I have been wrestling with this decision since I think I first found out I was pregnant lol.
Blessing to your family this new school year!!
Stopping by from WLWW
Amanda @ said... [Reply to comment]

It sounds like you're following the Lord's leading, so I'm sure he will be just fine! The decision to homeschool is personal to each individual family - only you know how your family operates and what's best for Your children. I was previously a tutor to homeschool families. I absolutely loved it, but guess kids are in public school for now. It's where we are supposed to be at this season in our life, and if the Lord leads us to change that decision, then we will. You're off to a great Fall!

Torrie said... [Reply to comment]

Mandy, Thank you so much for your comment. It brought be to tears! I totally agree that God is using the challenges and trials our children experience in the public school to mold them, preparing them for the divine purpose He has already laid out for their lives. Many blessings for an AMAZING school year!

Beth said... [Reply to comment]

Love this! My husband, who is a pastor, and I, have decided public school for the same reasons! My oldest child grew close to his first best friend in first grade and at the beginning of the year I decided to call his mom and see if she would let her son come over after school on Wed. and join us for evening church. She was thrilled at the idea and over the year we developed a friendship with their family. The boys had such a great time last year that they were anxious to start their routine again this year and will next week! This is their family's only exposure to church/Christians. We feel so blessed to be used by God like this and will continue to look for open doors!

Kerri said... [Reply to comment]

I have been struggling with this same issue with my oldest child. He is 10 has aspergers. As he enters 5th grade this year he had no desire to go back to school. Thank you for reminding me that God truly watches out and has a desire for our children to succeed through their own trials.

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