The other day I had opportunity to visit with a couple who are brand new to home school, so new that they haven’t yet even begun. They talked of how they were content and quite pleased with their children’s education in a charter school. Those of their five children who were in school were doing very well. It completely surprised them when the Call came to home school. The mother spoke of receiving repeated impressions over a span of months. I was touched by the spiritual foundation of their decision and their determination now to learn how to do it. It was clear they were committed to follow through with this divine Call God had extended to them and their family.
Our visit reminded me of my own Call fifteen years ago. At the time I thought it was a temporary fix to a public school difficulty my son was having. It turned out that as each new school year rolled around, I prayerfully considered what was right for my children and our family. Each year I felt to continue. Why I began home schooling was not the reason I continued year after year. In fact, the Lord has greatly expanded my vision of my Call to educate my children in our home.
As I visited with my brand new home school friends, I was cognizant of the fact that though they are excited and optimistic now and though their Call is fresh and clear in their minds, there will come times when they will experience discouragement and disillusionment and begin to doubt the Call or their ability to fulfill it. There is always a test of our faith—always an opposition to the good we are called to do. They will experience this. We all do.
You too have received your own Call and perhaps have experienced your own optimistic beginning and then the periodic discouragement from time to time. I have as well. What keeps me going day in and day out is remembering the Call and why I am doing what I am doing. When I forget, it is the Lord who helps me remember, and often it is through my children he “jogs” my memory. The following is one such experience that happened four years ago.
It was lunch time. I had spent the morning baking bread and having school with my children. The kitchen counters were cluttered with baking pans and utensils. Flour dusted the counter tops and tile floor. School books were strewn haphazardly all over the table. Crayons lay scattered on the floor where my toddler had dumped them. The early spring day was warm and my children had enthusiastically packed a picnic basket and hurried outside. Taking advantage of this reprieve, I wrapped a loaf of bread and attached a birthday card for my good friend and drove the mile to her home. The quiet of the car was a soothing treat after the energy and commotion of an active morning with my children.
As I approached the front door, I could see through the living room window that she was sitting at her kitchen table eating lunch. I rang the door bell and she invited me in. Her four children were in school. Her house was immaculate and quiet. I marveled at the quiet. I gazed longingly at the clean kitchen, singular plate at the table, and a book sitting open next to the plate. My thoughts coaxed me in this direction: “If my children went to school, my house would be quiet too and probably just as clean. And I could eat peaceful, leisurely lunches and linger at the table with a good book…”
After a short visit, I drove home pondering the contrast between my life as a home school mother and my friend’s. “Why do I home school?” I asked myself with a tired sigh. “Why not do what most do and just send my children to school? It would be easier, wouldn’t it? I’d have more quiet time to myself, wouldn’t I? “Why am I doing what I am doing?” The question weighed heavily on my mind as I pulled into the driveway and entered my home. The mess was still there, but the kitchen was amazingly quiet. I looked out the window to see some of my children gathered on a blanket where the picnic basket sat opened. Others had left their half-eaten sandwiches and were playing on the swing set.
Hungry, I made myself a sandwich, grabbed a book, and went to join my children. My toddler came running to me and hugging my leg joyfully exclaimed, “Mamma here!” My children ages two to ten gathered round, settling in to finish their lunch and listen to me read the family book for that week—a children’s biography about the naturalist John Muir. The spring sun felt delightfully warm on my shoulders and for that precious half hour nothing else mattered: not the mess in the kitchen, the distant ringing of the phone, or my dangling question about why I home school. In the course of our reading, we learned how John Muir initiated national parks to safeguard the beautiful places of our nation. He explored these places—Yosemite and Alaska were his favorites—then wrote about them. He helped people realize how important it was to preserve the natural wonders of our world. His work made him a sought after speaker.
As I read, my then eight-year-old son John, commented, “He sure is being asked to speak a lot.” I paused and followed the idea that came to me. “Yes, John. You’re right. You see John Muir had a unique mission. God gave him certain gifts and talents that made it possible for him to accomplish that mission. Speaking about the beautiful places was part of his mission to preserve them.” I paused briefly then continued, “Did you know that you have a mission too?” “I guess so,” John responded quietly. Continuing I said, “In fact, each of us has something God wants and needs us to do with our lives. You may not know what that is right now and that’s okay. But I am sure you have special talents and interests that will help you fulfill your mission.”
The moment was magical. Captivated by the idea of their very own missions, my children asked questions which led to a meaningful, spontaneous discussion. As I looked into their inquisitive eyes, I was awed by the greatness I felt in them: each is uniquely different—greatness in little bodies—seedlings wanting to grow. These moments were as illuminating as the bright spring sun. The light seeped into my tired soul and filled me with warmth, hope, encouragement, and vision. Basking in the clarity of these moments I REMEMBERED my Call and why I do what I do day to day in my home school. My Call is to bring my children up in light and truth so that they can be what God created them to be. I do this as Elder Perry says: “one family prayer, one scripture study session, one family home evening, one book read aloud, one song, and one family meal at a time…” and I add one school day at a time especially if the Spirit is our guiding influence.
The principle of the Call is powerfully summed up by Sister Beck: “Revelation can come hour by hour and moment by moment as we do the right things. When [parents] nurture as Christ nurtured, a power and peace can descend to guide when help is needed…having the Spirit of revelation makes it possible to prevail over opposition and persist in faith through difficult days and essential routine tasks…”
The answer to discouragement in our lives is in the Lord’s tender reminders of who we are and His Call to us. Will we remember?