Last Days … And New Beginnings

Last Days … And New Beginnings

My three oldest daughters sat on the porch in the early morning. It was the last day of school for my Kindergartener. Tomorrow would be the last day for my first and second graders.

An entire school year coming to a close. A year filled with learning, growing, praying, laughing and playing. An entire school year culminating with one final all-school assembly: a traditional May Crowning that took place last night. This May Crowning is an event that our family has grown to love very much.

This school year ending is different than any other we have experienced, though. For a couple reasons. And this leaves a bittersweet feeling in the air this weekend.

It is bitter, because after 35 years, our wonderful little Catholic school is closing its doors. It has been a tremendous blessing to our children and to our family as a whole. For this school has truly been an extension of our teaching of the Faith to our children. This school has reinforced the same spiritual and moral direction in which we want our children to go. Many times, this school has even encouraged us to do more with our Faith—through prayer and living out the Liturgical Year—and helped us weave it into every aspect of life. This school has been good and has left an eternal mark on our children’s souls.
It is sweet, too, though, because God is calling us to a new chapter in our children’s education. Last summer, as we were gathering school supplies and making sure we had enough uniforms, the Lord put on my heart the idea to homeschool.
I have never, ever thought of myself as someone who could homeschool. I have always admired mothers who do, but that just wasn’t for me. So many reasons I could list as to why I didn’t want to homeschool. And at the time, they made so much sense to me. I actually think I could not have done it back then or even a year ago. I, personally, was not ready.
But when God placed the idea to homeschool on my heart, and it didn’t go away after months and months, I began to believe that He was truly calling me (us) to this new way of schooling.
After many months of praying, talking with my husband (who was just as convicted of this), researching, etc., we found out about our dear little school. It was sad, of course. But it also was personal confirmation that what the Lord placed on my heart so many months ago was truly what He wanted for our family.
And we felt peace … and excitement about this new endeavor!
Sometimes, I still think I am crazy! I have six children, eight and younger. And I will be educating three of them next year. What about the other three? What will our days look like? Will the children get along (at least most of the time)? What about housework and grocery shopping and the other things I took care of when they were in school? I certainly have more questions than answers at this point. But oddly enough I am OK with that. That is just another way I know this is of God and God alone.

So, our summer vacation began today. But so did a completely bigger chapter in our family’s life. The one of home education. For this week was the last week my children would wear uniforms to school, the last time I packed lunches for school and signed homework sheets, the last time we had to be out the door at 8 a.m., and the last time I’d drive the route we’ve been taking every morning for the past three years.
It is still bittersweet to me. I am a little weepy just writing this! But when I start thinking about all of the new possibilities that are coming our way, I get very, very excited.
Please keep us in your prayers as we figure out curriculum and how we are going to approach all of this in the best way for our family. Oh, and if there are any Minnesota (or surrounding states) bloggers who are attending the Minnesota Catholic Home Educators Conference, please let me know; it’d be great to see you there!

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15 thoughts on “Last Days … And New Beginnings

  1. Great post, great pictures, great thoughts!!

    Wow, you even thought of the hard things, that I didn't even think about til they happened.

    You will shop either with the kiddos or on weekends when hubby can take some of them. They will fight sometimes, but don't they fight now sometimes? It will be hard with the littles. They will have new freedom when mama is busy, that is when they will get into new things, like drawing on their legs with markers and maybe the walls and maybe unroll the whole roll of toilet paper into the toilet. So, what will your day look like? A mess to some.
    especially to you some of the time. Especially if you are a perfectionist like most of us (why do you think we homeschool?) God called you to this and He will help you through those bad days.

    The good days will far outnumber the bad days. Like seeing your kiddos become best friends and seeing them learn so much even in their jammies if need be. Seeing them with the baby and being able to be with the little ones so much more than they would if in school. priceles time together.

    You will do super!!

    Before I started someone told me to write down my reasons we homeschool because there will be days you will need to look at it.

    I laughed, I thought "No way!"

    I've needed that list.
    But only a few times.

    Another thing someone told me to say when people say (and they will) "Are you going to homeschool all they way through high school?"
    is:

    I'M TAKING IT ONE YEAR AT A TIME.

    it works and they don't say anything else about it. It also helps you just give each year to God.

    CHC just sent us an end of the school year letter and it suggested making a holy hour with the intention of thanking God for the past year and giving Him the next school year, leaving it in His hands and asking Him to bless it and all the children.

    If you want I can forward the email to you.

    Anyway….I'll get off my soapbox.
    You will be in my prayers!!

    Not sure I'm going, I don't think I am…to much temptation to buy things I really don't need!! 🙂

    Best wishes to you!!

    Oh, yeah, always remember, you can try things, try certain curriculums and if it doesn't work out, you can try something different, something that does work. Like maybe you won't like their English or their math, you can always mix and match to what works for you.

    OK, done.

  2. And that post is exactly how homeschooling 'happens'! It's put in your heart, mind and soul and just stays there until you listen. Will definitely keep you in prayer as you discern your curriculum.

    It is sad that the Catholic school is closing. There is a need for good Catholic schools.

    I do wish I could go to the conference this summer – our family has too many activities/events packed into those few days. If it were just one, I could've left the kids with my hubby and went happily. Next year … definitely look for Margaret, though. She shouldn't be too hard to spot 🙂

  3. Sarah!!!
    So excited for your sweet family on this new endeavor!

    As you may know, we have done it all! Catholic school > homeschool>public school> and now back to Catholic school. God has blessed us at every stage as we discerned what was right for our family and our children.

    May you be blessed abundantly as you find your way and your style and what works for you! Enjoy every moment of it – I know we did!!

  4. I could have written this post quite a few years ago when we pulled Tom and Amelia out of school to home school. It wasn't because our school was closing but God did confirm our decision in so many other ways.

    We have home schooled now for 3 years and I would say that it is a great lifestyle. There are days that I think, why am I doing this or I really wish they could go to school but those days are few and far between now.

    I will be praying for you as you start and choose your curriculum too.

  5. Sweet Jamie says it best with her "One year at a time" advice. God will not be outdone in His generosity, Sarah; follow Him through the doors He is opening and trust trust TRUST!

    On a more tangible note, you are welcome to call or email any time.

    See you at the conference!

  6. I SO enjoyed reading this post Sarah! What a blessed time for your family as you embark on a new journey and follow what God has laid on your hearts.

    While it may seem overwhelming at times as you prepare and figure out the logisitics of it all, rest assured that it will all come together. I couldn't agree more with the other comments. Jamie has hit everything so correctly. Amen!

    There are really good days and their are tougher days. Some days things really 'click' and others are far from it. Roll with it and do the best you can. I have SO enjoyed my time educating the kids at home, despite their fighting somedays. I love watching them excel far beyond what I could have imagined and I love the freedom that homeschooling brings to so many aspects of our family life. We get to do so many things during the day that other kids who are in school don't.

    I don't think I'll make it to the conference. Would love to meet you sometime though 🙂 Try not to be overwhelmed with all of the curricula and supplies that the vendors offer (seriously, I got very sick the first year we went because I was so overwhelmed with the choices and decisions). You don't have to buy everything for your curricula that day or make any of the major decisions right then.

    Ultimately, you'll learn thru trial and error what works for each of your kids and what doesn't. When something doesn't work as well for my kids, I remind myself that this is the reason we homeschool, to be free to change things as we go when they simply aren't working.

    I'll keep you in my prayers as you begin this new chapter. So excited for your family!

  7. It was inspiring to read how the Lord has worked to bring you to a new chapter in your family. We're so excited for you. I know you will really enjoy the conference (and you'll likely be a bit overwhelmed, too)! We'll look forward to seeing you there! (PS-Brendan brought home the photo of Joseph…it is DARLING! He told me Joseph has three chins now! 🙂 I must squish his cheeks soon!)

  8. Like everyone else has said, "That is what happened for us, too. God placed the desire in my heart and gave my husband the grace to support that desire." And, then, together we looked to the future knowing God would always be there. Everyday I remember a friend telling me how many times you can find the command, "Be not afraid!" in the Bible…365!! Can you believe it? He means it.:) You will all do just fine. It will be a challenge, but you are not alone. Concretely, I will see you at the conference this weekend!!!:) Welcome to our BIG, CATHOLIC, HOMESCHOOL Family…it's not just ours, it belongs to all of us.:)

  9. Your children are so blessed to have a wonderful mama like yourself. They will have a great time learning with you and each other.

    Best of luck!

  10. Sarah,
    As all the others have said, hang in there, it will be a bit overwhelming at the beginning, and do take one year at a time. Pray daily for guidance (and sanity when necessary!). You won't regret this decision. And you'll find that YOU grow so very much through this.

    If you ever want my two-cents worth about anything at all, norrellc (at) aol (dot) com. Nothing is too insignificant to ask about – remember that!

    I hope to see you at the conference. It would be great to meet IRL!
    Blessings~

  11. i'll snail mail you so as not to take up too much space…just know you are always in my thoughts and prayers…and i'll go one step further than jaimie and say that sometimes you just have to take it one DAY at a time…this from someone who has been homeschooling 12 years and still doesn't always have a CLUE what she is doing!!!

    love you. take some time to just breathe…breathe what you say???
    the HOLY Spirit…and His INFINITE wisdom!!!

    you will be fine. (wanting to pull your hair out some days but fine nevertheless…most of us have too much hair anyways!!!)

    talk to you soon!

  12. Sarah, I was so happy and excited to read this post! I so totally get your feelings of bittersweet, we had that too before we started, and you know what…we've never looked back after 12 years!!! Yeah for you and God bless your sweet family, they are so lucky to have you for their mama!!! Praying and tears of joy for you all! Love Meredith

  13. This might sounds a little odd, Sarah, but I've been waiting for this post! I've known from your blog that your children attend an institutional school (I didn't say "Catholic" school because our homeschools are Catholic as well, right?). Anyway, even though your kids have been away at school, you have always struck me as having the heart of a homeschooler. Not that you love your children any more than others… I don't quite know how to explain it. I even told my husband once: "You know, there is this blogger who would make the best homeschooling mama!" And I meant you. 🙂

    From one mother to another: Don't stress about the little things… the checkmarks and educational gaps. Don't worry and compare. Just establish your mission and goals as a family and love like crazy. Also, don't try to bring school home. What I mean by that is not to try to duplicate the teaching methods of the institutional schools in your home; because they are designed for something very specific. Your home is sooo different from that. Teach in a way that you are comfortable with or you will burn out. Teach in a way that your children are comfortable with or they will burn out. Above all, love each other, relax, have fun, and remember that the ultimate goal is not college… but heaven. 🙂

    Feel free to contact me anytime with questions. I am a very imperfect homeschooling mother but I have been homeschooling since day one and my oldest is now 13. It is because I am so imperfect that I know most others are capable of doing this. If I can do it… well, good mothers like you can do an even better job.

    God made you for those little ones and they are sooo blessed. Praying for you all!

  14. I'm thrilled for you, Sarah! And cheering for you with everyone else! May God bless this new chapter in your lives as much as He has blessed our family in this vocation of home education.

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