As homeschool parents, the challenges don't always arise out of the circumstances around us. Sometimes they develop from within us. How often have we created the hurricanes, earthquakes, and raging infernos in our lives? Have there been times in our lives when God has stood before us and asked, "What are you doing here? I didn't send you here. This isn't where I need you to be." As we place our hands around a lump of small, soft clay, an image of a beautiful vase or sturdy pitcher in our mind, we begin to fashion it on our wheel. The clay's stubborn will, independent spirit, and selfishness stare us boldly in the face, and we are no longer sculpting with clay; we are looking in a mirror. We could pull back our hands and convince ourselves we are not equipped to continue this work: "I did not have the proper schooling. I don't have the natural talent. I've already messed up enough stuff in my own life without moving on to wreck someone else's life, too. I should just stop right here." We could offer each of these arguments in our defense, even follow through on our threats. Where would we be then? Where we want to be? Where we're supposed to be? Or in a wilderness of our own making? No matter how we feel emotionally, no matter what other issues are bothering us, one fact remains--we have a responsibility. We have a job to do. We have to move on.

What do we do about the other issues in our lives causing inner turmoil? God listened to Elijah and encouraged him. He did not give him a list of answers, except to correct the false misconceptions. God told him, "Okay, you've had a setback. It happens. Now, get up and go on. I need you. I can still use you. I'm not through with you yet."

So here I am, my head in my hands, my heart on the floor where I've trampled it to pieces, and God says to me, "Mama, there's laundry to fold, bathrooms to clean, meals to prepare, little ones to read to, papers to sort, books to put away, students to teach, husbands to encourage. These things don't get done, or at least don't get done well, when your heart is burdened with other things. God has heard you. He has been beside you through your entire ordeal. You have not ruined everything. I still want to work with you. Now, this time--of reflection, regret, self pity, whatever it is--is over. Pack up and move on. You have a job to do." Perhaps one of the greatest blessings of them all comes in His parting words to me: "And, Mama, by the way, there's one more thing you should know. You're not alone."

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Gretel Deem enjoys writing, reading, studying the Bible, swim teaching, public speaking, homeschooling, and spending time with her husband and 3 children (8 years, 7 years, and 15 months) in the great outdoors of northern Michigan.

This article was originally published in the July/Aug '07 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. For more details, visit http://HomeSchoolEnrichment.com