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After being told I would never be able to have children, I am now a stay-at-home Mommy to Maddie who happens to have Down Syndrome. I've been married 16 years to my best friend, having the time of my life. Thanks for stopping by and sharing in our little journey through life.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Two Life-Changing Truths Homeschooling Has Taught Me

I've been reflecting on our homeschool journey lately.
There's always lessons to learn.

We tried public school.
After a year, it became evident to both Kyle and I public school would not be the best fit for Maddie.  

Our next option was private school.  
We enrolled Maddie at Antioch Christian Preschool.  
This was post 2013 tornado and although she had the most amazing teachers any parent could ever hope to dream for their child, unfortunately, there were far too many issues that made the classroom environment too stressful for her.  

I felt God calling me to homeschool during this time.  
Did I listen?

I enrolled Maddie again for another year at ACP with the same teachers.
Even with my degree in Child Development, the thought of being solely responsible for her education scared me to death!
The call was quite clear, however, so I tried bargaining with God.
How about if I enroll her part time in private preschool and teach her at home the other days?

This...was a disaster. 
At the time, I thought I was very clever, but looking back at it with a good dose of honesty, I know better.
I'm barely organized enough with a clear schedule to mange the week, but add in a different schedule every day with lots of distractions and it's a train wreck waiting to happen.

Maddie continued to digress.
We were seeing, on a regular basis, our Speech Therapist, our Occupational Therapist, a Cranial Sacral specialist (to address her extreme teeth-grinding issues), and then we threw in a Child Psychologist for good measure when she began exhibiting signs of PTSD.

Her happy-go-lucky three year old self was long gone, replaced with some sort of inner prison we couldn't seem to break her out of, or reach her.

It was heavy.

The motivation to homeschool suddenly switched from "viable option" to "life-saving, rescue-mission."

Here's the life-changing lesson I've learned about delayed obedience to God.  
God absolutely has the power to redeem all of our bad choices, and He is faithful to do so, 
I wonder if we still have to suffer some consequences.
Not because he wants to punish, but because it's how the spiritual laws of nature work.

 What would have happened if I would have obediently began homeschooling as soon as I knew it was what God was asking of me?
Would Maddie have had to slip away into that strange, unreachable place in her mind?
On the other hand, maybe I'm considering myself too important in this equation!
Perhaps things would have worked out just as they did regardless. (thoughts to ponder...) 💭
Regardless, thank you Lord for mercy and grace! 

It took 2 years to finally walk in obedience, but by this time I was fully committed, all in, and still scared to death!!
I knew for this journey to succeed it had to be a partnership between God and I.
It's so interesting how God always seems to use our uttermost weaknesses to accomplish His best work.

My weakness qualifications:
-sticking to a schedule:  HORRIFYING
-structure:  BORING!
-organization: Do piles of clutter count?
-self-discipline:  SELF-WHAT?
-technique:  NOPE

My strategy to ensure I truly relied on God and not myself or others was to put blinders on to maintain laser focus.
It's funny, the first thing anyone ever asks when they learn we homeschool is, "are you involved in a co-op?"
I knew myself well enough to know, if I got involved in a co-op, I would track down every rabbit trail of every seemingly good idea and end up walking circles, accomplishing nothing.
No, I knew I had to feel my way through the dark to find the right path for us.
And that's exactly what I did.
Seasons of solitude can be a good thing as long as they are only seasons.

Here's the second life-changing truth I have recently learned in this journey.
God has intricately designed us to need each other.
We are never meant to walk alone.
There's a team of us that work to ensure Maddie is getting the best education and opportunities in life.  Myself, Kyle, Maddie's grandparents, aunts, her therapists, tutors, the Down Syndrome organization,  and friends.
We all play our part in putting her needs at the top of the list and figuring out this crazy, complex puzzle of Maddie's education.

After two years of homeschooling, the transformative work of redemption God has done not only in Maddie but in me is astounding!
The best verses that summarize these past two years is Psalm 37:23-24 
23The LORD directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.
24Though they stumble, they will never fall,
for the LORD holds them by the hand.

We certainly stumbled, but we never fell.

Maddie now exhibits enough self-confidence to not only audition for a role in an upcoming play this summer, but to bask in it!
She can now attend birthday parties and science museums without any meltdowns from the noise or sensory stimulation!
Her attention span is such that we can sit for 45 minutes at a time reading books together.
(actually, that's about all my voice can handle)
She sleeps soundly through the night!
Every morning she completes a series of chores before starting the day, which include making the bed and feeding/watering the dog!

As for me,
I can sit much more comfortably in a set schedule without too much sabotage!
I actually crave organization! 
I have learned self-discipline is more about grace than grit, 
 it's best if I don't have all the answers, and
the burden of homeschool was never meant to be carried alone.

I thought I was supposed to be the teacher in this homeschooling journey.
I have, in fact, become the pupil. 
Learning more about life, each other, and myself than I ever thought possible.
I would summarize the decision to homeschool with one word:

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