Trusting God When Life Unravels

posted in: Homeschooling, Large Family | 18

 As a Christian I have this belief buried in my mind somewhere that if I do the right thing, if I step out in faith, if I follow God’s lead, things will work out. And by “work out” what I really mean is “work out happily ever after”. I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately my out-of-proportion sadness about sending my children to school and I’ve come to the conclusion that it isn’t about school at all. It’s about The Plan and faith and all about how things are supposed to work out. As a Christian I have this belief buried in my mind somewhere that if I do the right thing, if I step out in faith, if I follow God’s lead, things will work out. And by “work out” what I really mean is “work out happily ever after”. And not just “happily ever after” but Happily Ever After According to Renee’s Plan.  I somehow cling to this belief that as long as I do the “right” thing, even if it is hard, things will “work out” in the end as if this is a Lifetime movie and not actual life.

Trusting God When Life Unravels

I’ll confess…my dream for years has been to have the Perfect Homeschool Family. We did well, really well for a while (if I do say so myself). We dove into unit studies and raised tadpoles and butchered chickens. My older children know how to bake bread and biscuits and cake from scratch. Most of my kids know how to knit, several can sew. Our children were well-behaved, respectful and wore matching clothes.

Trusting God when Life Unravels

All of that was before. Before the arrival of an adorable boy with a not-quite-perfect heart. Before my life was overrun the doctor’s appointments, therapies and counselors.

I am in the middle of reading the book The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life’s Hard by Kara Tippett. In case you’ve never heard of Kara, she is the mom of four children who is currently dying of cancer. Yes, dying. In her lovely and heart wrenching blog, Mundane Faithfulness, she is chronicling her cancer, he life, her death and her struggles. She doesn’t try to make her posts happy and “Christian”. She is raw and honest. She’s dying and it makes her sad.

I have also reading Love has a Price Tag, by one of my all-time favorite authors Elisabeth Elliot. I love Elliot’s writing…it isn’t flowery prose (not my style at all). With grace and kindness but without apology, she tells things the way they are. The other night, snuggled in my warm, cozy bed, I read these words as she compared a trip she took through the jungle to life:

“Every step of faith is a step of faith. In some places the logs were submerged in mud. Finding one to put your foot on did not make it easier to find the next. Each step was a decision, but to make it a problem would have halted progress all together…You had to keep moving. Decisions therefore, had to be snap decisions. If we had let each step be a problem, to be paused and pondered over, we’d still be there. If a decision turned out to be the wrong one, which it often seemed to be, you simply pulled yourself out and kept on.”

Those words were a balm to my soul. If I were traipsing through the jungle that day with Elizabeth Elliot and had decided that I would, say, walk on logs only but not step on any stones, I wouldn’t have made it to our destination. As she said, “finding one to put your foot on did not make it easier to find the next” so much truth in that one sentence!

I like things neat and tidy. I like to make a decision once (to homeschool our children, for instance) and leave it at that. I am nothing if not stubborn and determined (just ask my mom. or husband). And yet, as Elliot says, “every step is a step of faith“. Not just the first step; not just the first ten steps.

I also needed the reminded that “each step was a decision, but to make it a problem would have halted progress altogether“. We made a decision to send our children to school. I need to leave it at that and not make it a problem. All of them did very well when they attended in 2012. To quote Elliot once more, “If a decisions turned out to be the wrong one, which to often seemed to be, you simply pulled yourself out and kept on.”

Chuck pointed out to me years ago that  change is hard for me. And it’s true. It takes me a while to adjust, but these days I am reminding myself of two things:

Life doesn’t always turn out how we plan it, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad.

And two, I need to make sure I don’t turn each decision into a problem.

Deciding what is best for one child, doesn’t necessarily make it easier to make that decision for the next child.  But the thing is, it doesn’t need to easier.

Each step is a step of faith.

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18 Responses

  1. I can identify with this a lot, Renee. I loved homeschooling. We lived on a coffee and macadamia nut farm in Hawaii, and my kids had such a great childhood. I was going to homeschool them all the way through high school. And then my husband started having major medical problems. And stopped working. And turned to anger. And eventually filed for divorce. My kids’ first day ever of public school was also my first day back teaching public school fulltime. I ended up as a single mom of five with an exhusband that didn’t even work, so did not pay child support. And I had so many of the same feelings you did of sadness and even anger that I did not get that Perfect Homeschool Family dream I had, even though I had worked for it and sacrificed for it.
    What really helped me was the realization that I homeschooled in large part to have a faith based education. I taught my kids to follow God and to trust Him. And if I homeschooled teaching that, then I had to believe it even when God led me away from the homeschooling. If I couldn’t trust Him NOT homeschooling then what was the point of homeschooling anyway? I don’t know if I’m explaining that in a way that makes sense. But what He really taught me was that my kids are on their own spiritual journey, that He is working in their lives through these circumstances and He will bless them, I have to trust and, yes, keep walking and keep praying.

  2. I’m the opposite. I never thought we were a home schooling family. We were not. Although I am a Montessori teacher, I couldn’t imagine that I would even be able to be with my children alone. Yet. There I ended up with a 12 year-old and a 14 year-old. It was excruciating. I had wonderful moments when I didn’t feel like I was drowning. I had days that I threatened them with the school up the street that had an “D” grade.

    It didn’t get better – we still clashed, and I pushed when I should have consoled. I learned to negotiate it, and we learned a lot about forgiveness. My Perfect Dream of children in a wonderful peaceful Montessori Environment who were social with other Montessori children and well adjusted in the rest of the world was really hard to give up.

    The road is nearly over for us as the boys graduate high school on May 30th. It hasn’t been the perfect road that I envisioned. I adjusted – online high school when needed, community college class when needed, extended away apprenticeships when needed, 4 year college early. But God is God, and in the end, His path was different. Ultimately I’ve realize that my children are real humans and God is responsible for helping them along their own path. I have to know that their path is more important to God than my Perfect Dream path is.

  3. I love this, especially the Elizabeth Elliot quote. Even if life isn’t unraveling, it’s still a series of steps and decisions and faith. I’m in a place where I just want to know what my life will look like in 5 years (will we have more kids? will we adopt? where will we live? will we have a house?). It’s all good stuff, but I don’t get to know the future…I have to just take one step after another and do what God asks me to do and then simply trust Him (easier said than done, I think). Thank you for sharing.

  4. Excellent post! Thank you so much for sharing. I love Elisabeth Elliot for the same reasons you stated…she tells like it is, but she isn’t brash, she balances the truth with God’s love and care.
    I have always appreciated your blog and after reading this, feel like we are very much “birds of a feather”…the stubborn aspect and not liking change are me as well. I have had to learn the same lessons, but through a variety of circumstances (that may not sound painful at all) but it all boils down to Faith and Trust…what/who are we having Faith in, and who are we going to Trust? (our plan and idea of how things should go, or God’s).
    God has had to crash the idols of my heart…I build them so easily and want to trust in them so explicitly. I grew up in the same church my whole life and I wanted that for my kids as well. We’ve been in 5 different churches and will be in a new one yet again if we move…what I wanted to give my kids was a sense of security, and community…(not bad things)…but what they’ve experienced is the body of Christ in our community, the one without walls.
    Also, homeschooling has looked VERY different than I envisioned…I thought I was a failure and not a “true” homeschooler because I joined a co-op! And when I sent our youngest to private school for a year, because I was focusing on the older ones…what a quitter, why couldn’t I handle 1st grade?! Another blow to the ego. I’ve had to hold ALL those plans loosely and our motto now is, “We take it one year at time”…and deep down I really “hate” this because I want everything decided, and neat and tidy…but it has become a FAITH journey seeking out each new place to step.
    “Each step was a decision, but to make it a problem would have halted progress all together…” I’m thinking my husband wished he could have come up with this pithy statement 20 years ago!!
    Thanks for sharing your journey, I appreciate your honesty and can relate VERY much…I’m just wondering if you are not just articulating the process of becoming “Older and Wiser” 😀 I’m thinking of a fb post where you spoke about “knowing it all before you had kids with special needs…” or something to that effect…
    Take care,
    Erin in FL

  5. I found your blog when I recently googled “Hunger Games Themed Food,” and have been enjoying checking in ever since. I am enjoying your honesty and the process God is taking you through. We have 8 kiddos, including one adopted daughter and have experienced our own version of many of the things you’re describing here. Thanks for your vulnerability!

  6. Renee, I agree with you. But…. sorry to say, but homeschooling vs public school is a minor issue in my opinion. The health problems of your kids – that is the big issue and should be treated, of course. But as you said, there are happy in school and they are learning, and this is the main thing.
    My life turned out to be the opposite from what I wanted: My mum died from untreated cancer a few years ago, she decided to not get any medication or help and her death and the road to it was sickening to watch, it was terrifiying and devastating. I still mourn her although I know that she is better now and God willing at a better place. But I´m still angry that I lost my mother and my best friend. On top of it we are not able to have children and my husband has a chronical pains all over the body and needs surgery nearly every year.
    We are muslims and we both believe in God´s plan, but sometimes it´´s hard. We try to enjoy the good moments and yes, the bad ones as well. We try to surrender in God and His plans and only pray that we get only what we can carry.

  7. Change is hard for me too. I struggle with really letting God take things and lead my life completely. Sometimes he stops something that we think is “good” because He has other plans… greater plans… we just can’t see them yet.

    I’ll pray for you my friend. It sounds like your headed in the right direction though. My heart goes out to you. So many things you expressed I could identify with.

    Thanks for sharing (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).

    Wishing you a lovely day.
    xoxo

  8. It’s okay to mourn when you lose the possibility of living life the way you planned.

  9. Is that a Milo in color? No cable? Hmmm…I may have my next project in mind…. My goal is to eliminate the backlog of yarn balls in the closet…well, if I made goals!

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Yes, it is 🙂 I was usually all scraps from different skeins of baby alpaca. I decided to forgo the cabling and have the focus be on the colors. I LOVE the way it turned out.

  10. Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays

    Right there with ya, not about homeschooling but about a year out of my life that is not the way I thought it would look. Prayers for you!

  11. I can feel your struggle to stick to your plan all while you know that the master plan from above has changed. Accommodating a sharp turn in the path takes both faith and flexibility, as well as a core of steel! My parents used to tell me, “Men plan, and G-d laughs.” It is admirable indeed to laugh along.

  12. Thanks for being honest about your struggles! Sometimes I’d like to be the perfect homeschool mom, but we all need to realize our limits and do what’s best for our family…which for some of us means sending our kids to school and that’s okay. 🙂

  13. Bless your heart. There is so much encouragement here. I especially liked what your shared about every step of faith being a step of faith. So true!

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Thank you so much Kaylene. It’s a lesson I need to learn over each day.

  14. Just what I need to read. I’ve been contemplating how my life turned out to be so different from how I planned or envisioned it when I was younger. But I can’t get miserable. I’m too blessed to be stressed. 🙂

  15. […] But my life? It’s messy.  […]

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