Thursday, May 20, 2010

A New Life

Painting by Brian Jekel

Living at the end of one season and the beginning of a new season presents a new life. We are now at that place. The end of the former and the beginning of the next. At the onset of this season of transition all of us were apprehensive and fearful. God's word encourages us continually, "Do not be afraid!". Even so, we do fall into that pit and climb out once again only to fall back into it a day or two later. This is the human condition, also perhaps this can be found under the category of "working out your salvation with fear and trembling".

Sometime this week I stopped looking at "what's next" as a dismal prospect (no matter what) and began to become joyful and encouraged that we are standing at the Crossroads of Opportunities. Instead of feeling dread, I began to feel excitement! I lied to a man I witnessed to (I'm sorry to say). I was trying to encourage this man who is utterly defeated and discouraged and feeling as though God has completely forgotten him (he has been unemployed since last September). I told him (here's the lie) that my "dearest prayer to the LORD is 'what now, my Love?'". That should be the truth. Not just for me but for any one of us who call ourselves by His holy name! I have said that to the Lord before in prayer but it is not my "dearest prayer". That part was not true. I wish it were true! Oh, that I trusted Him with such reverent, joy-filled emotion. Not so. Sorry to say. It's not so.

However, here is the current state of affairs at Fort Morris. Rod, still has not been able to secure a job. (That's not good.) We have begun to dip into our savings. (That is good and bad. Bad: because I, like a protective mother hen, DO NOT WANT to get myself off that nest egg. Good: because we do have a nest egg available to us.) Rod felt the LORD told him to "Take care of your Dad, and I will take care of your family." Dear Kert is having some serious health issues. His care is daily. Not full time, yet. But, he needs daily attending to. Rod could not be able to do this if he still worked full time. (See why the door closed? We do.)

Secondly, the daughters both go to an expensive private school. Even though Rachel's education has been graciously paid for by my father (God rest his generous soul), Gracie's has not. (I think this makes my Dad sound bad for providing for one of my children and not the other, but to his defense...when he wrote out his desires for Rachel's education, Gracie's adoption was not yet finalized. He didn't know she was going to be ours forever. We did. But, he did not.)

We applied for financial aid to assist with Gracie's tuition expenses and we are so grateful to have received an offer from this outlet. However, when you have no income and what little you get from unemployment equals enough to pay just your living expenses and not a penny more, it seems obvious that there is not enough even to send her to ACA next year with that grant in place. This, my friends, sent me into a terrible lather for days. I have been in the pit of despair at the thought of my Gracie who loves her school more than any other child on earth (that I know of) may not be able to go next year. I have blubbered until my eyes were red and nearly swollen shut. I wore myself out crying one day so much that I had to go to bed at 7:30 at night. I schemed and crunched numbers and came to the grand conclusion that if we just gave up groceries each month, Gracie could go to school! (Oh, the depths of insanity are found in the pit of despair!)

Elizabeth Dickinson is a genius of sorts. She is my dear friend. She mothers and teaches two tiny children all day every day of her life. Her precious husband labors at his job of great responsibility for nearly fourteen hours a day, six or so days a week. She is alone with the children ages three almost four and one almost two. Her little ones are my Gracie's greatest playmates. Their mother speaks wisdom into my soul almost daily. She is one of those friends that we all need to reach down into the mire of our unrighteous, despicable, deceitful pity party and pluck us out with a word of truth.

"Home schooling is not the end of the world, Jenn. Home schooling Gracie is totally an option for you. Have you made ACA an idol? I think you have. Listen, she's going to be in KINDERGARTEN next year. You aren't going to be teaching her Calculus or American History. It's Kindergarten and it's only for a SEASON." I winced at that wretched word for a moment. At the time that she said the word SEASON it had become a wicked place to be for me.

But God, in all His infinite mercy towards me, used my friend's kind words to be a salve of sorts. It paved the road to emotional recovery from tragedy to anticipation. Homeschool Gracie? Homeschool Gracie. Home School Gracie. God, do You want me to home school Gracie? Are you telling me to do this? Are you using this "season" for lack of funds to back me into a corner and force me to homeschool Your girl? I looked up for a moment from the dark pit I had jumped into and considered the light of that possibility. Liz's son is already writing words. He is not yet four and he is BRILLIANT (like his parents)! Why? Is he gifted? Maybe. Maybe not. I don't know. All I do know is that his mother pours into his life from rising to bedtime. Every day.

I homeschooled Rachel for two years when I first got saved. Yanked her out of a life of public schooling and decided to use the Bible as our main curriculum. I am an uneducated woman. Perhaps that is not a fair statement. I have dropped out of college three times. I have what amounts to about three years of college. (Towards what end, I could never figure out...thus the dropouts.) But, I do know the Bible. I love God's word with all of my heart (no lie, no exaggeration) and all that it implies. I love memorizing His word and seeking out new truths. I love talking about it and I love telling others what God has shown me. And I especially love teaching my children God's word. I love hearing His words falling from their beautiful lips. My ministry here on this earth is to teach these children (that God has given me) to love Him with a loyal and willing heart. I have the opportunity to pour my love for Him into and over this child who claims she wants to be "a great woman ebangelist". (Those are her words, not mine and in her own dialect.)

Now on most days Gracie is very receptive (eager, even) to hear the Word. There have been days when I have tried to get her to sit her five year old self down and listen and she has resisted me with a scowl. (Not in the mood for it, I know.) And I have said to her, "Okay. That's fine. You don't want to be a great woman evangelist. That's okay. You don't have to be that." She came back with, "No, no, no. I do, Momma, I do want to be an ebangelist." I went in for the hard truth, "Well, then, you must fill your heart with the Word of God. You must know it inside and out and be able to feed it to others because a great evangelist delivers the word that saves. Any evangelist who does not first and foremost bring the word of God is only in it for pride and vanity and does not really care about God or man, at all." She sat down there willingly and received the lesson I offered.

This child is teachable. That is a blessing. I see more light as I fantasize about the wonderful possibilities that God is showing me. Does He want me to pull this lamb out of the flock of her peers and give her special attention at this time? That is the question I have posed to Him and now I await His answer. Will you pray, too? "What now, my Love? What would You have me to do for You?"

The fear and despair are gone now. I see the encouragement of our current situation before me. My friend showed me the truth of the situation. Asheville Christian Academy is a wonderful school, filled with teachers and staff who love our Lord Jesus Christ. It is exciting for me to think about Gracie growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord under these people and alongside her peers. And therein lies my only problem, really. Peers. This was the absolute downfall of my homeschooling experience with Rachel. She was so lonely. So lonely. Lonely enough to get mad. You know who she took all of her anger out on, don't you? Her teacher. Yes. It got ugly. And it stayed ugly until we finally all agreed that we needed to close our school and allow this very social child back into the pasture with the other kids. That was a good thing and a bad thing. I have watched my Rachel, now in high school, battle this social agenda that tries to rule her life. This facebook, these outings, these chats and emails and phone calls all lead to dangerous places spiritually speaking. I see her rise to heights above all jubilation at the expectancy of some event and then sink to tear-shedding depths of disappointment and disillusionment when some expectation is not met...not even close. This is the price you pay for socializing.

The real danger in homeschooling Gracie is that I could care less if I see anyone other than the closest people around me. Last Winter, I spent five days in this house...only leaving to drop children off and pick them up at the end of their day. I don't care about socializing. It's painful even, most of the time. Oh, yes, I plaster a huge smile on my face and endure it silently. But, given the choice, I'd rather not. . I am one of those people that is perfectly content to stay in my own little bubble and never surface unless forced to. Thankfully, my husband has the same problem. It's a match made in heaven. So, the social aspect of homeschooling is really the only problem I foresee. I will have to change my ways and take my girl out. She will HAVE to have some outings. She has the same social disorder my Rachel has. She has to talk to anyone and everyone all the time. I have begged her to stop talking to strangers. "I like your dog!" People smile at her and say, "Thank you." She is a polite child, "You're welcome!" She dances gaily on as the person walks by with their entire face pierced and their pitbull reigned in closely. (Do you see how God has given her this desire to be an evangelist. She loves EVERYONE, just like HE does!)

I need to close now. Thank you for sticking it out with me this far. I don't know that God is calling me to homeschool Gracie. If He is, then I will. I need to hear Him say so. I need to see the finances appear to send her to ACA, as well, if that is His desire for her. Either way, though, thanks to Liz, I can live with it. I will delight in whatever He chooses. (I won't delight in it if He asks me to put her into public school. I just cannot lie about that. So, LORD, please, please, please don't ask me to do that. Anything, LORD, but that! This is Asheville after all. Every sinful behavior is absolutely celebrated and rejoiced over and poured out onto the littlest members of our community and then they splash all the photos over the front page of the newspaper to declare to the world how "forward" we are in our "thinking". Help us, dear Jesus. Save us now!)

There's a new life on the horizon. I'd be remiss for not sharing this fabulous word the Lord gave me this morning. And I leave you with it:

"And therefore the Lord (earnestly) waits (expecting, looking, and longing) to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who (earnestly) wait for Him (for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship)!

O people who dwell in Zion at Jerusalem, you will weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you.

And though the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide Himself any more, but your eyes will constantly behold your Teacher.

And your ears will hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way; walk in it, when you turn to the right hand and when you turn to the left."

Isaiah 30:18-21 AMP


  1. Oh Jennifer, this is all God wants from you. You are an inspiration. I have admired the lengths you are willing to go, the sacrifices you are willing to make, to be sure that Gracie gets the best the best education! God will honor that commitment to HIS girl. And no matter the outcome this fall, she WILL get the BEST education, as long as you continue to seek HIS face and HIS holy and perfect will for your lives. He will meet you right where you are and take you where you need to go. Thanks for the kind words on my behalf. I wish I could see what you see in me:)

  2. Jennifer! This made me cry! Liz is right on the money. It is only Kindergarten after all. Pour God's Word into that girl! It is sufficient for teaching everything that pertains to life and godliness. (2Peter 1:3) Knowing God is the best education any child or adult could ask for! (The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom)
    If you need any more encouragement or have any questions, say about my mom. She's been at this for years!
    Will be praying!
    Love in Him

  3. Check out our blog, by the way, and make sure to look at "Jed's story".

  4. Hey Jennifer, Just found your blog by way of Rod by way of Facebook. So encouraging to hear about the new temp job. If it helps to say this, much of what kids learn in kindergarten is forgotten anyway. If they get started reading, fine, but even that can wait. They need to learn God's ways, explore his world (nature) and develop healthy relationships. I can also tell you that even Christian schools are not always safe places for little ones. There are SO MANY children who have been sexually abused and these little children are perpetrating on other little children. We see it all the time. It is sad, but true. Maybe God is protecting your little one in ways you will never know about. I can't say. But just think of all those hours that will be yours with Gracie instead of someone else's. They get to be YOURS! Between church, play dates with Liz, homeschool play dates, I bet you don't have a problem with socialization at all. Just let her chat with strangers at the grocery store on 'off' days:) YOU CAN DO IT and those memories will be YOURS forever. Play in the creek, collect bugs and watch baby birds hatch. Take her to the Arboretum for free the first Tues of the month and Pack Place for free the first Wed of the month. You are going to have so much fun. I just know it. I miss those days!!!!!! Rene' M

  5. Hi Jenn! So glad that you have had some encouraging comments here about homeschooling. You know that I homeschooled Alice for 5 years...which I only meant to do one year at the beginning! It kinda grew on me. It can really be fun, you just have to get out and not be too isolated with one child. Maybe you can get together with other parents who have similar aged children as yours, and do some schooling- which is mostly just finding teachable moments and not calling it school! When they are young, you can get away with that more...before they have to take the yearly tests. Between yours and Rod's brain power, and even Rachel's I'm sure that you would be great at it....For me, I had to have the adult contacts, too or I felt too isolated. love, val