It was a summer day back in 1994. The boys and I were at Spruce Lake Retreat. I was there for the week to take care of my sister, Sheryl, and the boys came along to enjoy the camping, swimming, and helping out in any way they could. It was a week for disabled people and their families to enjoy God’s creation in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, to fellowship with others who experienced many of the same things, and to be encouraged spiritually through the word of God. Sheryl was there to enjoy all these, and also as a small group leader. If you remember, Sheryl was born with spinal atrophy and had a spinal fusion for scoliosis when she was nine, so she needed full personal care. It was early one morning while I was getting her up and dressed for the day that she asked me a question. At the time it seemed a regular question…
“What are three desires that you would ask God for?”
Without thinking about it, without praying or pondering, I just opened my mouth and out came…
“I would like to homeschool the boys, adopt a little girl, and be in ministry.”
Although it was very ordinary at the time, I remember it as though it happened yesterday. As I walked back to our camp site I began to feel as though I just spoke something very significant. I found a pen and a piece of paper and wrote those three desires down.
There is power in our words; I believe those words spoken out into the atmosphere that day put into motion the plans and destiny God had for our family.
They were His desires that He placed within me!
“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.” Psalm 37:4
Homeschooling made sense because I had already begun to think about schooling our boys, but the other two, where did they come from?
I cherish that question, and my answers, to this day, because not only was it one of my last times taking care of Sheryl before she passed into eternity, but also, those desires all came to be in God’s time and in His amazing ways!
I experienced a God inspired question that brought forth three prophetic answers that have defined the direction of our family.
I knew these desires were beyond anything I could make happen or figure out on my own, so I just laid them at Jesus’ feet and trusted them to His will.
God desires begin to reveal themselves in “coincidences,” and “open doors.”
I shared this part of the story in a post back in May…
One morning I was praying specifically about homeschooling. I realized it was a huge commitment and I knew I didn’t want to do it if it wasn’t what God wanted. And, “Yes, I did the open the Bible and read the first verse thing!” And Praise God, He met me at that place of looking to Him for an answer! This is the verse He gave me…
“All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
and great shall be the peace of your children.” Isaiah 54:13
I received this as a confirmation that I was to homeschool the boys. As I read the verse I felt God promised me that He would teach my children and that they would have peace. That I could trust Him to guide me and lead me, and that He would provide everything they would need.
Besides this amazing answer to prayer I knew it was important that Mark and I were on the same page. This desire was strong in my heart, but if it was of God I knew Mark would need to be in agreement. I found another verse that I made a “life verse,” and have prayed it for Mark and I ever since…
“I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear Me and that all will go well for them and for their children after them.” Jeremiah 32:39
And so within a year of speaking out my desire to homeschool the boys, with my verse of promise confirmed by the cardinal, and with Mark’s blessing, I was preparing to begin school at home in September, 1995.
Homeschooling the boys brought new joys, possibilities, and challenges. Fall provided a great time to learn about seeds, leaves, and harvest. Winter provided opportunity to learn skiing, and snowboarding. Spring, hum…we were just looking forward to the end of school.
Many mothers would say, “Oh, I could never home school!” It was a comment I never really knew how to respond to. I knew on my own I couldn’t do it either. I certainly didn’t homeschool because I felt qualified or trained. I did it because it was a desire that God placed in my heart. I did it because God gave me a verse as His promise for our boys. I did it because Mark and I were united in believing it was what we were to do.
I felt like Peter when he, and the other disciples, were in the boat one night overcome with fear because of a storm that was raging and tossing their boat. They became even more afraid when a “ghost” came walking on the water towards them. When Peter realized it was Jesus he wanted to go to Him. I don’t know why Peter had the desire to do something so crazy as to walk on water. It was something he knew he couldn’t do. But Peter wanted to be with Jesus, and he believed that if Jesus told him to “Come,” he could do the impossible.
Homeschooling was a walking on water experience. It was something I couldn’t do. Why would I ever think that I could walk on water during a raging storm?
I wasn’t trained for this! How does one keep three boys interested in reading, writing, and arithmetic at the same time. Where is the answer book? How do I respond to my friends when they say, “Are you sure your boys are getting enough social activities?” How do I know that I am challenging them enough?
But looking back I see this too was an example of the pattern in my life that what the enemy means for my harm, God intends for the good. That God does work all things together for the good!
The wind and waves meant to distract me and cause me to sink…my inabilities, those voices that questioned, my thoughts of doubt, were doing something within me that I didn’t see at the time. But looking back I see how they strengthened me. Those behavior issues allowed for Mark to talk to the boys about respect and provided opportunity for godly discipline. I grew to realize not everything is learned through books, that life is learning and God gives creative ideas. Those questions from others about our boy’s social skills were difficult to answer, I just needed to trust God was providing exactly what they needed. The doubts whether I held the bar high enough continued long after they were out of school, but they have been quieted as I remind myself of the verse God gave me as I began this journey, God promised to teach my children and to give them peace, and it wasn’t only for the years they were in school, He continues to teach them every day. While I supposed I was teaching the boys, God was teaching me, equipping me, and preparing me for things yet to come. I was being trained to hear, to trust, and to obey the voice of God.
Because Jesus called me to “Come,” I was able to do the impossible and I saw the desire of my heart become a reality!