by Sandra Lovelace
previously posted by Lifeway
I used to wonder if such a thing existed – life after homeschooling, that is. You see, we were one of those early pioneer families. We had to write our own curriculum because we couldn’t afford Calvert. We had to hunt for other families to build our own tiny support group. We had to face criticism from everyone around us and opposition from government officials, mainly alone.
Even though the setting has changed somewhat over the past twenty years, educating our children at home is still a full-time, deep-in-your-bones, consuming-every-breath kind of commitment. For those of you who may be wondering about life after homeschooling as I did, let me share the story of how God has brought me into my dream job. I hope my story encourages you as you contemplate your own future.
Amazingly, I am still alive after our hectic, hurdle-filled homeschool years. I survived with few bruises, many muscles, and a wealth of priceless memories. More importantly, I am thriving in a unique ministry arranged just for me by my Heavenly Father. My job search started when our girls were young adolescents. I realized that one of our main educational goals had been reached – they were independent learners. As my time was needed less and less for instruction, I knew that my days as a homeschool mom were short.
I had struggled a bit when we took down the crib for the last time. I had flooded the heavenly throne room with prayers of thanksgiving when I avoided the yellow school bus send-off. I wasn’t foolish enough to think that I could avoid the time when our daughters would spread their wings and fly. I wanted to be prepared both for their leaving the nest and for my arriving at the next tree top.
I began with prayer, lots of prayer. While I prayed, I continued to make the needs of my family a priority and to fill my days with other acts of service as the Lord brought the opportunities to me. I offered encouragement to countless homeschool parents in person and on the telephone, at school committee and support group meetings, and in court. I served with my husband, Curt, in our state homeschool organization. I was honored at being given a part to play in the granting of eligibility for homeschool students to play interscholastic sports in our state.
These activities kept my time of seeking the Lord for my next step busy and hectic. I did not pray in a closet with my hands folded – which was a good thing because it took almost five years to begin to get an idea of what He had for me to do. The breakthrough came in the form of an email from a friend. I had asked her to join me in prayer for my “next assignment” and shared some frustration about how long it was taking the Lord to inform me about it. She suggested I write a job description for my dream job. I thought the idea was a bit silly, but decided to give it a try to call her bluff.
The exercise turned out to be quite enlightening. I described a job whose main responsibility would be to encourage families living overseas in the education of their children. Support would be provided through on-site visits, with follow-up pursued over the Internet.
As I went through the defining process of committing my goals and desires to writing, I articulated the following areas that seemed to be related and important to my future plans and dreams.
1. I like to travel, and God has given me a special appreciation for the diversity of His people.
2. My training and expertise in education, my time spent living overseas, and my ministry experiences as a pastor’s wife combine powerfully to give me many of the tools and understanding I would need to minister to international families seeking to educate their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.
3. Over the years friends have pointed out my gifts of discernment and encouragement which also seemed to apply.
When I finished this writing exercise, I e-mailed my thoughts off to my friend to see what she would say.
Leslie answered by return e-mail and told me that there was someone I simply had to meet. Of course, this someone was living near her in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. Through a series of odd circumstances, God took me to Prague a few months later. I met with Michelle Baxter, Regional Director for an educational consortium, over hot chocolate at a McDonald’s, of all places. After some consideration and lots more prayer, she invited Curt and me to speak at two conferences that fall in Prague and Lodz, Poland. It was the beginning of the adventure of a lifetime!
This article is continued in Part 2 — Where Does a Homeschooling Mom Go to Retire?