"No." That word can bring with it the sting of disappointment, or it can bring relief and joy. Take, for example, these questions: Is it malignant? Are we moving? Did the tests come back positive/negative? Is surgery needed? To each of these questions the word no may bring joy, comfort, abundant praise, or celebration. And yet, to other questions the word no could bring much sadness, heartache, confusion, or disappointment: Are we pregnant? Did you get the job? Is she going to make it? Can we keep the house? At times, the word no can bring peace. It solidly answers a question. When the answer is given, the finality of "no" can bring a nodding head and a willing, submissive heart.
In 2007 my husband and I moved our family from one church in our community to another church. When we arrived at this new-to-us church, we discovered that nearly every family had made the choice to homeschool their children. I had never been in an environment where homeschooling was the norm. While growing up, occasionally I had been exposed to a few families who homeschooled, and I found it odd. It was out of the norm to me. So, not surprisingly, this new atmosphere of homeschool families was very new to me.
I come from a teaching background. My grandmother was a teacher. My grandfather was a teacher. My father (not a teacher) holds a lifetime teaching credential. I, too, am a teacher. For five years I worked in public education full-time. At the time, homeschooling didn't make much sense to me. I was curious, but I wasn't quite sure it was a perfect fit for our home.
Over time I began to ask the Lord, "Dear Lord, what is Your posture and position for me? My children, at this present time, are slated to attend a local private Christian school. That is the plan my husband has laid out for our family. Dear Lord, where do You want my children?"
I don't know that I felt qualified to handle such an endeavor. Truly? Yes.
Yes, I had covered a full year of teaching 130 junior highers in rotating periods. Yes, I had taught reading recovery for grades 3, 5, 6, 7, and 8. Yes, I had taught a wide variety of curricula. Yes, I had studied principles and applications and methodologies of teaching. Yes, yes, and yes.
"But, Lord, do you know my children? I have three of them. Rachel is 5. Kohen is 3, and Reese is 1. Do You know Kohen, Lord? (slaps forehead with open palm) Um, of course You do!" The Lord was very familiar with the discussions I had with Him back in 2007.
I have an ongoing journal in which I record many of the curious adventures of my oldest son, Kohen. Like the time my sweet Kohen jumped the neighbor's fence to see if so-and-so could play. Mind you, our fences in California are 5 feet high. Or what about the time he hid under the bridge at the park for fifteen minutes? And there's the time he shot himself in the rear end on purpose with his epinephrine pen (peanut allergy). (The woman from Poison Control was magnificent, calling me back every few hours during the day to make sure he was doing just fine.) He wanted to know why he couldn't touch it, and now he knows why. Oh, and there's the time he threw the cat downstairs. The poor six-week-old kitten limped there for a bit—poor guy. Kohen has personally cut his own hair several times. Then he infamously broke one of the back windows in our home with his own foot while performing tumbling maneuvers on the couch. My own oversight left him with a magnificent opportunity to paint the kitchen table with red acrylic paint. My dining room furniture is beautifully decorated with the artistic expressions of our beautiful Kohen—black permanent marker. I praise God that we own a carpet cleaning company, because there's that time he painted the carpet with his own . . . I'll leave that word out.
I no longer ask the silly question:" Lord, do you know Kohen?" Yes, He does. God has fearfully and wonderfully designed Kohen for His great purposes. The awesome curiosity that he has will be used to bring God glory. I don't doubt this in the slightest. His quest to discover, explore, learn, search out, uncover, and examine will no doubt lead him to a solid faith in Jesus Christ; humbly I pray by God's amazing grace.
In spite of all of this, my heart yearned to know the treasured and pure word that God alone had for me. Qualified? Maybe. Capable? Uncertain. Fearful? Totally!
Regardless of my fear, I still asked God what He wanted for me. With this overwhelming uncertainty, I asked my husband: "Hun, what do you think about homeschooling? Is it the right fit for our family?" With no hesitation in the slightest, my husband's response came to me, "No." And peace came, because I didn't think I was ready for that endeavor. My heart truly wasn't in it, and I was petrified that my house would burn down in light of my son's amazing curiosity—God-authored curiosity. Beautiful curiosity. And so the word no brought me a solid answer—God's answer for our home. My husband's choice for our children that year was private Christian school.
An entire year passed, and I never ignored the quietness and the gentleness that the Lord kept bringing to me on the topic of educating my own children at home. I kept asking the Lord for His peace, His direction, His wisdom, and His timing. When the 2008 school year arrived, I asked my husband again, "Do you think that homeschooling would be a good fit for our home?" My husband's response? "No." I delicately went into the conversation politely. It was not my passion to undermine his God-given authority, but it was my passion to promote openness on the topic. I'm sure I asked a few questions in this specific conversation. I may have talked about some of the delightful benefits I had noticed over time as I explored the idea of schooling our children at home. And at the end of the conversation I was still satisfied with "no." God's provision yet again was private Christian school.
In the vastness of 2007-2009, my mother had reached a turning point in her health. She needed to start dialysis as her stage-four kidney failure had now reached stage five. This transition for my parents was huge. I was a support, a comfort, and a friend to my mother as she underwent some serious changes in her health and her lifestyle. Additionally, we found out that we were expecting our fourth child. Financial changes in our businesses caused my husband to pray, adjust, regroup, and redesign some departments and funding. When our fourth child came along in July of 2008, we encountered a five-month period of time when he screamed a minimum of four hours each day; our fourth blessing had colic. Survival was my goal each day. "Lord, let the screaming stop," was my daily, regular prayer. Each of these situations required a lot of me. So, the "no" that my husband provided for our home freed me to serve my mom and my son in this season with undivided attention. God's high calling for me was humble, obedient submission to my husband's leading for our home. My unswerving passion to seek the Lord in this season was steadfast, gentle, and quiet. I waited. I prayed. I listened.
In June of 2009 my husband and I went away to Monterey, California, for our eleventh wedding anniversary. While sitting at a local coffee shop on a delicately overcast day, I said: "I want to love our children more, and I want them to deepen their love for each other. I really think I'd like to homeschool them this year." For the next several hours we brainstormed the reasons why we wanted our children to be schooled at home. We talked about the adjustments they would encounter. We talked about the adjustments we would encounter. We talked about the budget that we could establish for this endeavor. We talked about God's design for us as parents. We talked about some of the challenges we would face. We talked about my own personal fears of telling my parents that this was going to be our plan for the year. We talked. We prayed. We talked some more. We examined Scripture. We connected.
And this time, his answer was "Yes."
For me the first two no's that I heard had brought me peace as they affirmed that God's design for my home was just as my husband had said. I trusted his authority for our home. I trusted God's peace that came with "no." Was I uncertain about this being the final say on the matter? Yes. Did I usurp or undermine my husband's authority? No. Did I publicly question his authority? No. I was content with "no," and I waited and prayed.
With just a few short weeks before my calendar was officially marked to rocket off into a new year, I had a lot of work to do! I was a novice in the purest sense of the word. I knew very little. And yet, I knew so much. I knew I wanted to deepen my love relationship with my children. I knew that I wanted them to love each other. I knew that I wanted them to see the details of a God-honoring family model (as imperfect as ours is and forever will be). I wanted them to develop a saving faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord, Master, Savior, and Friend. I wanted my home to be filled with peace. I wanted my children at home with me because I missed them so much. I wanted more of them. I wanted to share with them my passion for Christ and His Word. I wanted to share with them my love for learning. I wanted to be with them. I wanted to know them.
Loved ones, if "no" is your husband's reply to homeschooling in this season and you ache, please let me encourage you through my own personal experience. God hears you. The Hagar account as recorded in Genesis 21 demonstrates that God hears us. Do you doubt that He hears you? Are you uncertain that He will ever hear you? Do you doubt that He is at work today? Fear not! Our God hears. Our God knows. Trust Him for His awesome and amazing timing. Rest in peace with what He has provided!
Mary prayed. Jesus prayed. Nehemiah prayed. Jonah prayed. Mary bore our Christ. Jesus suffered and died for us. Nehemiah rebuilt the wall. Jonah delivered a prophetic message to the people of Nineveh. Never is there a concern too large to take to the throne of God. Never is there a concern too small to take to the throne of God. Your passion to humbly serve, love, teach, train, encourage, and admonish your children at home is worth praying for. And so is your husband's heart on the matter. Loved one, do not grow weary in praying. Wait with eager anticipation and marked readiness. And pray.
So here I am embarking on the very journey that God has called me to in His perfect and sweet time. I humbly praise Him for the perfectness of His master plan.
Melissa Culver has been married to her husband, Jason, for eleven years. Together they have four delightful children: Rachel (7), Kohen (5), Reese (4), and Dax (1). Jason and Melissa enjoy long walks and quiet dinners together. They love serving their local fellowship in many capacities: fellowship, leadership, teaching, food, hospitality, service, and the like. This is their first year as homeschooling parents. They absolutely love the journey that God has called them to. Humbly, sweetly, imperfectly, Melissa yearns to know Christ more each day.Copyright 2009. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Winter 2009/10. Used with permission. Visit them at www.TheHomeschoolMagazine.com. For all your homeschool curriculum needs visit the Schoolhouse Store.