School Choice? God’s Call!
Introduction by Dr. Emily Dean
Feeling stressed out about overwhelming school choices? Remember, it is God who is calling you to the specific school choice that is best for your family! You will find encouragement in this edition of the NOBTS Women blog from special guest Lei Ann Carson. Lei Ann is a student from Plant City, FL in the women’s academic program. She participated in the August writing workshop, Expanding Your Women’s Ministry through Writing, and shares candidly about the struggle she experienced over school choices for her children. Be refreshed as she reminds us that God is faithful in whatever He calls us to do!
“Please. Sit down.” Mrs. Collins pointed across the table to the neat rows of seats. Stuffing myself into one of those molded-plastic, preschooler-sized chairs, I balanced our squirming nine-month-old on my lap. I tried to hide my nervousness over what our four-year-old son’s teacher might say. How bad could this be? I tried to reassure myself. After all, this was just preschool.
Mrs. Collins was a thirty-year teaching veteran, and parents clamored for their child to be in her class. I longed for her approval, for her affirmation that our son was every bit as sweet, bright, and loving as my husband and I knew he was.
She didn't mince words. “Your son talks out of turn. And he talks a lot. His work is below age-level.” She paused to show me his handwriting. “He can’t print a ‘w’.”
The lump in my throat grew. My throat tightened as I struggled to respond. “But he can count to 50. And he can recite the alphabet!”
Mrs. Smith didn’t budge. “He’s just not ready for kindergarten.”
The tears pooled in my eyes and threatened to spill down my cheeks. Our son was failing preschool. The reality of her recommendation throbbed in my head and shattered my heart. I managed a shaky “thank you,” and our meeting ended.
That night, my chest ached as I sobbed and relived the day with my husband. “What are we doing wrong?” I wailed.
We ached for our son as we tried to make sense of what was happening. Throughout the year, our friends had proudly boasted of their children’s progress reports marked with the ultimate preschool sign of achievement: the smiley face. But our son’s progress reports had been littered with frowny faces. “Should we have started him in preschool earlier?” I sobbed. “Worked harder with him here at home?”
“God wants something different for him,” my husband reasoned. “We need to find a new school.”
So, we launched our search, visiting every public and Christian school within driving distance. The top-rated kindergartens were in high demand, and to snag a coveted spot on a roster, parents spent all-nighters waiting in registration lines. “Which school am I spending the night at tonight?” my husband quipped.
By the end of summer, we narrowed our decision to one Christian K-8 school. “The Adams kids go there, and they’re doing great!” my husband declared.
“The Baileys love it!” I added excitedly. We tried to convince ourselves that this school was what our son needed. Yet, we weren’t at peace that it was what God wanted.
We continued praying and searching. A friend suggested we consider homeschooling. “Who me?” I scoffed. “I’m not qualified to homeschool. I never wanted to teach and balked when my dad suggested I major in education. I majored in art.”
Yet, despite my protests, we couldn’t shake the thought that God was calling us to homeschooling. We knew that God wouldn’t ask us to do something without equipping us. But this call was different. This call involved our children. This call involved a whole new level of trust!
We wrestled with the decision. He reminded us that He loved our sons even more than we loved them. He reminded us that He was and would be with us. While we could not do this thing, He could. He would prepare us when we were unprepared.
“I think God wants me to do what I said I’d never do,” I hesitantly suggested to my husband. “I think He wants me to teach.”
We prayed, then prayed some more. God made it clear: He wanted us to homeschool. We didn’t go into the decision thinking it was merely the best thing we could do. Since God was calling us to this, we knew it was the only thing we should do.
We launched into kindergarten, but the thought that we would become our son’s primary teachers was still frightening. “What if we can’t do this?” I worried.
My husband tried to reassure me. “Just how bad can we mess up kindergarten?”
Yes, there were times it was frightening. But, it was also fun. God blessed us. Our son thrived in his year-end kindergarten-level evaluation.
Then we faced the decision of what to do for first grade. “Do you think God is calling us to continue homeschooling?” I asked my husband.
We prayed, and believed the answer was yes. Again, my husband tried to encourage me. “Just how bad can we mess up first grade?”
For the next 17 years, we found ourselves asking the same year-end question. It wasn’t always easy to answer. There were times when we didn’t know if we could keep going. I continued to doubt my ability to teach. “Who am I to think I can give our sons the kind of education they need to succeed in life?” I questioned. “Find a job? Serve God well?”
But God continued to affirm His call for us to homeschool. We clung to Hebrews 13:20-21, believing that He would equip us with everything we needed to complete this task: “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will.” Each time He affirmed, He equipped. When algebra stumped, He provided a tutor. When chemistry confused, He provided a co-op. When high school overwhelmed, He provided virtual school. He made it clear that what He expected from us was obedience. He would take care of the rest.
Our homeschool years have ended. By calling us to home educate our sons, God chose to demonstrate His strength through our weakness, enabling us when we were woefully unable. The son who failed preschool is now completing grad school while his younger brother is finishing college. Both are facing the uncertainty of what comes next. But God has shown them firsthand that He can be trusted. For when God calls, He will equip.