New textbooks line the shelf. Notebooks are crisp. Pencils are sharp. The dawn of a new school year is here. While there is a sense of excitement, I know it comes mingled with other feelings and doubts as well. I know that as you flip through the pages of your new books, your stomach tightens a bit as you stare at the unfamiliar, and somewhat intimidating material. I know that your mind is spinning with all that you need to accomplish this year. I know that you wonder if you will understand all of the new concepts. I know that you question whether you will be able to handle the load. You wonder if you know as much, more than, or less than your public and private school counterparts. You wonder where you stand. You anticipate that school will rule your life, occupy all of your time, leave you with little time to just sit, relax, and breath. You wonder if you can do it.
I know. I know more then you may realize.
For while you were enjoying the warmth of the summer sun, tossing a ball, swinging a bat, I was staring at those new textbooks that lined the shelf. I was purchasing the crisp notebooks and sharpening pencils. I was flipping through the pages of your books, feeling my stomach tighten as I stared at the unfamiliar and somewhat intimidating material. My mind was spinning thinking about all that would need to be accomplished this year. Would I know the material well enough to teach you, well enough to help you? Will I prepare you? Will I teach you enough? Can you stand toe to toe with your public and private school counterparts? That question is always on my mind. I question whether I will be able to handle the load. I wonder if I will have a moment to to sit, to relax, to breath this year. I wonder, I question if I will be able to do it.
I know exactly how you feel. I do…
And so does the Lord.
I am reminded that this is a journey that was started by Him. He extended His hand to us and invited us to take a different course… a course led by Him. It hasn’t been the easiest journey, but it has been the right one. With each passing year He confirms that His plan is best, He reaffirms that we are in fact following His will, that we are indeed on the right road, and He reminds me that He leads the way before us.
While my degree, training, and classroom experience as a teacher have indeed helped me in many ways along our homeschool journey, nothing could adequately prepare me for teaching my own children everyday. It is a great responsibility and an incredible privilege.
I have sat alongside of you and unlocked the mystery of language. I have been your audience as you read aloud your first book. I’ve watched your young eyes, wide as saucers, be in awe of the created world around us. I’ve wrapped your tiny fingers around your first pencil and guided its motion to write.
Now I find myself sitting across from you discussing Dickens and Poe, creating analytical essays, and learning about thermodynamics. These days we sit shoulder to shoulder working through nonlinear inequalities, logarithmic equations, and parabolas. I watch your fingers move swiftly over a keyboard citing references and formatting papers.
And while the acquisition of knowledge and understanding is obviously a high priority, it is the not the highest. No, my highest priority in homeschooling is your heart. For it is the heart of a man, not an SAT score, a GPA, or transcript that defines who he is. Good grades and high standing are of no importance to the Lord if He does not have your heart.
The heart is the key to everything.
When you were little and our homeschooling journey had just begun, a more seasoned homeschooler left me with one bit of advice: “Teach to their heart.” All these years later I can see the wisdom in those few simple words. For once your heart belongs to the Lord and you have a relationship with Him, amazing things happen. You realize that your journey in school and in life is not traveled alone. You know that the Lord is beside you in all things. You hold onto the knowledge that He will never leave you or forsake you. You know that He has a plan for you. You know that your life has purpose. You know that you have the ability to do all things through Christ. You know that you are a glorious masterpiece, fashioned by the Lord. You have a hope; you have a future. Oh, the promises that the Lord has for those who are His!
So as we venture into another school year remember my priorities and make yours.
I look forward to all that the year has to offer: the triumphs and the high-fives, the tears and the hugs, the questions and the answers. Most importantly I look forward to seeing how the Lord will move in your life!
Love you much,