hi! I'm spoiled...
I’m not used to being told “no”.
I know - wow. That is quite the opener. Maybe I should have said, “Hi. I’m Alison. And I’m spoiled.” Kind of sounds the same, right?
But this truth is two-fold. Yes, I am insanely blessed to live a comfortable life where all of my needs and most of my wants are provided for. I recognize my privilege. But the second part is that I have gotten really good at asking only for things when I am certain I will get. I manage our schedule and have a pretty good understanding of our financial climate so if something doesn’t jive with either of those things, I just do not ask. So, aside from the 4-5 bedroom, 2 bath home with a wrap around porch overlooking a few acres, I get pretty much everything I ask for.
But recently the Lord told me no to something I want badly - something I thought I would get, and if I am being honest, I have been struggling with His answer.
Homeschooling. That’s the thing I want. I want to teach my four beautiful babies within the four walls of our home and wherever the world takes us. I want to explore with them daily. I want to watch every lightbulb turn on as they wrestle with new concepts. I want to hear all of their questions and find the answers together. I want to be together.
But the answer has been no. Repeatedly.
Let’s go back to 2020 when the world as we knew it was changing. My kids were no longer able to attend school as they had been, and we did our best to follow the virtual requirements the teachers were providing. I discovered quickly that the format was not great for my very busy five year old boy, and I found different ways to teach him the same concepts. My older daughter also preferred these more hands-on activities. Thankfully, their teachers were happy with me sending a weekly report of what we were doing since I was adapting things to work better for us.
When schools opened back up I wasn’t thrilled with the new state guidelines. As more and more information was shared throughout the summer, I was mentally preparing to pull my kids from school and keep them home with me. But an unexpected blessing in the form of a new bundle of joy for our family redirected my homeschooling plans. I was so sick during that pregnancy, and I knew that I would not be able to properly devote attention to my older three children, let alone start a new homeschooling journey.
So, the kids went back to school. My heart was sad, but I told myself that was what was best for them. They needed a proper education from someone who was not laid up on the couch.
answer was no...
The years have passed by since then and there have been a few more “back to school” days, but the desire to homeschool has not gone anywhere.
Last fall my heart was relentless about its desire to home educate my children. I started to make comments to my family, and I asked a couple of friends to join me in prayer, but for the most part, I tucked this desire inside - a little secret I was planning to keep until the time was right to announce the kids would not be heading back to their elementary school for the 2023-24 school year.
Each January my church does a corporate time of fasting and praying. When I began this spiritual journey I asked the Lord to give me an answer about homeschooling for the next school year. One night during my prayer time I specifically asked Father to provide the answer through my husband.
Remember, aside from a few “what if” comments, it had been years since we discussed the idea of homeschooling the kids. Within hours, however, the Lord answered my prayer and gave me an answer through my husband. It was a resounding NO. In fact, it was harsh and shocking. (Please keep in mind that my husband had no idea how important this actually was to me and did not mean to come across as insensitive or hurtful.)
Being the spoiled Alison I am, I did not let it go. I told myself that that response could not have possibly been from the Lord because it was hurtful - it was not what I wanted to hear. So, I tried again.
On a date with my husband in May, I brought up homeschooling once again. I told myself this was going to be my last ditch effort, and if the answer was still no, I would let it go. I tried bargaining with the Lord and praying about it, making it so clear to Him how badly I wanted this and asking Him to change my husband’s heart.
The answer was still no.
He reminds me...
In a matter of days my children will be heading back to school - my third child beginning kindergarten and starting her schooling career. My heart wishes this was not the case. I want to join so many of my friends as a homeschool mom. I want to continue on with summertime activities and enjoy the slower, longer days. I wish I were lesson planning and choosing the supplies we need and not taking a prescribed list of supplies to Target that someone else has determined my kids will need.
While my heart longs for a different reality, I am certain that the Lord has a bigger plan. There is a reason for His “no”, and as someone who has seen Him work all things for good time and time again, I must trust in His plan above my own heart’s desire. While I do not understand why He will not give this desire to me now (and believe me I have asked many times.” why her and not me?!”) I do know I need to walk in obedience.
This summer I have been working hard to soften my heart toward God and accept where He has my family and our children right now. In His faithfulness, He has reminded me of these truths:
I am an influential voice in my children’s lives. One of the reasons I want to home educate is because of the wide range of influence that is found within the public school system. The Lord has reminded me that from an early age we have taught our children what is Truth and we have discussed with them big worldly ideas that they may come in contact with. We have a family culture that encourages asking questions and talking about feelings, and there is no doubt in my mind that our children respect our opinions. This influence is not negated by other voices they may hear at school or in other parts of life.
I can still teach them. Lessons are learned everywhere you go and through everything you do. In fact, there are some things that can ONLY be taught at home (they are not teaching laundry in the classroom, folks). Continuously seeking opportunities to teach life (and educational) lessons is a gift I can give my family.
My children are God’s children. Fear may be one of the elements of my desire to homeschool. Every time I learn of another school shooting I’m tempted to pull them from school. I can try to tell myself that they are in a safe school within a safe community, but I’m sure a lot of parents who no longer have their babies to hold thought the same thing. My thought is that our home is much less likely to get shot up than their school - there’s less of a risk. God has reminded me time and time again, though, that I cannot let fear drive my decisions (speaking of all areas of my life here). And ultimately, He is their great protector, not me..
best one yet...
Over the last couple of months, I’ve started changing my prayers. I’m no longer asking God to allow me to homeschool (I took the persistent widow approach for a bit), but instead I’m praying over my children. Their education. Their friendships. Their teachers. The influence they have within their classrooms. Their growth. Their futures.
I do not have to understand why the answer is no, but I do have to be obedient to His direction.
So - here’s to another school year! May it be our best one yet!
Alison is the Founder of By Design Journal. She and her husband reside in Southern Michigan where they are raising their four children - Emma, Levi, Kate and Lola. Alison enjoys basking in the sun, allowing the sun to wash over her. She enjoys getting lost in the pages of a good book, finds delight nestled at the depths of a comforting soup bowl, and cherishes those unfiltered moments of genuine worship..
Photos by Cate Autumn Photography. Headshot provided by Alison Stoner.