For it is by grace you have been saved...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Joy And Grief of Homeschool Graduation Revisted

This is a revisiting of a post from 3 years ago when our oldest daughter graduated.  Some is copied unashamedly word-for-word from that post regarding the pros and cons of homeschooling and the positives and negatives of graduation and our goals as parents, etc.  The rest has been changed to reflect on our second graduation experience…

Let me try to say this without offending anyone: Public school parents have no idea what we’re going through right now. I’m not saying that parents who send their children to government run schools don’t love their children as much as we do; or that they are more sad or less proud of their graduates than we are; or anything like that. But, it is very, very different.

Until you’ve spent 18 years with that child in your home every day (well, nearly every day. Except for orchestra days and field trips and library runs and horse training days and homeschool co-op days and; you get the idea); until you’ve bought those text books with your own money for 12 years; spent those 12 years sweating day by day along with that child through all of those subjects and assignments, worried more about your teaching than their learning at times; until you’ve experienced the sacrifices in time and money and energy to provide those 12 years of education while at the same time building a bond together as parent and child, teacher and student, discipler and disciple, etc. Until you’ve done these things you can’t possibly understand the joy and grief of watching your child graduate.

Our amazing son Nathanael had his graduation last Saturday. It was a very emotional time for us. This was our second graduate, and our first completely homeschooled child.  (His big sister went to kindergarten in government school).  Though we’ve been through it before, in a sense, it doesn’t change the raging emotions involved in this whole process.

To say we’re proud of him doesn’t begin to describe it. God has grown him into a remarkable young man, and like I said with his sister before him, Mom and I can only take partial credit for that. God is truly gracious to us, doing things in his life in spite of the many mistakes we’ve made over the years.

During the service, Nathanael played a saxophone solo and was going to sing as well, but allergies got the better of him and he was unable.  He did give us a slide presentation of some of his amazing photography, though, and then gave a short speech (which he hated to have to do!), telling us about his experiences and how thankful he is to God and to his family for this part of the journey. Mom cried.  Dad almost did.

His Uncle Dan, who also happens to be his band director, brought a brief message based on one of Nathanael’s favorite verses from Isaiah 40:31  “but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”  He used the eagle, Nathanael’s favorite animal, as a theme to talk about faithfully walking with and serving God.  It was truly moving.  And just like with LoriAnn a couple years ago, I was fine with everything until Mom came up to give the diploma and started crying. I then, again, had to cry all the way through the prayer of dedication we offered on behalf of our precious son.

We are proud. We are joyful. We are also saddened by this rite of passage in which our son is now an “adult.”  He plans to take a year off before college, which means he’ll still be around for awhile.  And for that I’m truly grateful.  He’s more than just a son to me.  He’s a friend, a hard worker who has been an invaluable help to me.  He’s the guy I hunt and fish with, go to games with, and other “guy” stuff. He’s also my “number one son,” the one who I’ve tried to teach about being a godly man, and though I’ve often failed by example, I’m thrilled to see that God has overcome that.   I’m going to miss him terrible when he’s “gone.” 

Quite frankly, I feel for parents who didn’t get to spend this kind of time with their children; missing out on at least 8 hours a day with them; a minimum of 40 hours a week in which you didn’t get to experience life and growth with them. Of course, I’m not so sure I’d miss the added grief this causes when it’s all over. As I said before, I’m not saying other parents miss their children less because they weren’t homeschooled. It’s just very different.  The years of investing in him both spiritually and educationally have been tiring, but worth every minute.

In the end, our goal has not been to churn out a Nobel Prize winning scientist or a Pulitzer Prize winning writer. Though we are proud of his accomplishments in music and photography and baseball and so on; we are most pleased and proud of his faith and maturity. Our goal has simply been to see him become a fully devoted follower of Christ and a godly man in this sinful world. God has been gracious in granting that goal.

The joy and the grief. Quite a mixture of feelings. I believe that while all parents feel those, they are intensified for homeschool parents (you can argue with me later, this is my “moment”!). But I wouldn’t change it for anything. It’s been a long, often difficult road; but by the grace of God it has all been worth it.

So congratulations, Nathanael. We are indeed proud of you. And we still love you, even if you have chosen to stay around and eat your mom’s cooking for another year instead of heading off to college like your sister!  No matter what you decide to do, may God continue to guide your steps each and every day as you seek to exalt Him in all you do.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Declaring the Glory of God

It’s pretty obvious that I haven’t posted in over a week.  From my last post, it should also be obvious why.  I went into the desert to get a word from God.  OK, so I did go into the desert…New Mexico and Arizona.  And though I didn’t go to “get a word from God”, the truth is I did learn some amazing things, or rather was reminded of several things.

For one, I was reminded how the earth truly does declare the glory of God.  Driving nearly 3,000 miles in 8 days, we saw a lot of nature. A lot.  Miles and miles.  Hours and hours.  Are we there yet?

Seriously, we saw some beautiful and amazing things.  The hills of the Ozarks which gave way to the prairies of Texas and the mesas and desert beauty of New Mexico and Arizona.  Then from the majestic view of Humphrey’s Peak in Flagstaff to the awe inspiring vistas of the Grand Canyon.

How can anyone see these things and not be lead to praise and glorify the creator whose hand is behind it all?  Well that’s the second thing I was reminded of.  I was reminded that sin clouded eyes are blinded to this.
Nowhere was that more apparent than in the “scientific” descriptions around the grand canyon.  All the little postings in and around the canyon spoke of “millions of years” and “natural progression” and on and on.  Right in front of them is the evidence of an amazing Creator and a great flood which carved this canyon and laid down layer after layer of sedimentary proof in rapid fashion; yet all they see is the lens of their own evolutionary myopia.  I’m caught between praise to God for allowing me the grace to see His hand, and pity for those who see nothing but random chance.

Finally, I was reminded that while the heavens and the earth declare God’s glory, I often do not.  Scripture reminds us how day and night the heavens declare His praise, how the whole earth is full of His glory.  Day and night for all of history, this canyon has pointed to the grandeur of our God.  And yet, man, made in the very image of God, fails to see, fails to speak, fails to give God the glory due His name.  How sad.
Even those of us who have been given eyes to see and hearts to love and mouths to praise Him…how often are we silent?   And how many men and women around us are continuing in their own blindness to God’s glory because we are not speaking of it? 

And so my trip to the desert was profitable.  I was given a fresh view of God’s glory in His creation, and I was reminded again of my need to imitate His handiwork by never ceasing to praise and glorify His name.  And may He use me, as well as that handiwork, to draw others into praising His name as well.   

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Taking Time to Mend the Nets

Our family doesn’t take many vacations.  Partly, because we just can’t afford the extended holiday abroad, as they say.  Partly because schedules just make it tough.  A couple years ago, we went to D. C. and some places in between for our oldest daughter’s “Senior Trip.”  Now that our oldest son is graduating, we’re going to try and squeeze in another trip for him.  This time, it’s out west, following part of Old Route 66 and to the Grand Canyon.

I have to admit that part of me always feels a little guilty.  I know time away is a good thing.  Time with family even better.  But I always feel like I’m “shirking” responsibility or something, just talking off and playing around. 

I recently read a few words from Spurgeon that helped, written in the July 1869 edition of The Sword and Trowel.  Maybe you feel the same guilt and you need to know that time off is not only good, but necessary; so I hope you benefit from these words as well. It’s aimed at ministers, but the principle surely applies to all. 

THE fishermen had a good take of mackerel the other evening at Brighton, but while getting in the net it became very badly entangled among the rocks, and was sadly rent. Before that net can be used again, busy fingers must see to its mending. Records of net-mending are as old as the days of “him who trod the sea,” for he found the boats at the sea of Galilee empty, because the fishermen were gone out of them, and were mending their nets. The Lord’s nets, the preachers of the word, need mending too. Our mind grows jaded, and our spirit depressed, our heartbeats with diminished rigor’, and our eyes lose their brightness, if we continue, month after month, and year after year, without a rest. Mental work will as surely wear out the brain as friction will destroy the iron wheel. It is a bad policy to forego the regular vacation. There is no more saving in it than there would be in the fisherman’s continuing to fish with a rent net, because he could not afford time to sit down and mend it. The mind, like a field, ought to lie fallow every now and then; the crops will be the better for it.

Congregations are most unwise who would grudge their pastor the time and the means to enjoy a thorough change, and a season of complete relaxation. Oh, how reviving to wander in the woods, or lie down amid the pillared shade of the pine forests! The hum of bees is Elysium. Every bell of the heather silently rings out peace and goodwill. One drinks in new life as the lungs receive the sea breezes, or the pure currents which sweep the glacier and the eternal snow. To watch the flying clouds, to mark the gathering tempest, to shelter beneath the rock, or in the cotter’s hut, or even to brave out the rain — all this is .balm to the soul. Headache, melancholy, nervousness, suspicion, and all the other children of indigestion, fly before the staff or the alpertsrock. Exercise is almost a means of grace; a walk with God is altogether so. Hope, courage, vivacity, zeal, resolve, all return on the wings of the wind when the right-hearted but weary laborer has had space to relieve the overwrought brain. Many a regret for unearnest sermons and unweeping prayers might never have been needed if our minds were more themselves, and less threadbare with everpassing anxieties. How can we help losing the fish if our net is fall of holes?

We may be blamed for bad fishing, but who can help it if the net be largely rent, and yawns with gashes? Mental weariness is too often the cause of spiritual powerlessness. Deacons and wealthy stewards of the Lord’s goods should generously aid their pastors, where such aid is needed, that they may for the sake of their churches and their work mend their nets; or, to use the Master’s words, may “go into the desert and rest awhile.”

Brethren, everywhere, see ye to it.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

May the Fourth: Geek Mashup

My oldest daughter shared this quote mixing up several favorite "geek" stories, but I thought it was missing something.  So I added a picture, and now it's complete.  Have a Happy Geek Day.