Tuesday, January 22, 2013

School Decisions...

The last three weeks have been a whirlwind of re-evaluating and decision making, regarding our kids school situation.  I never saw change coming.  At least not so soon.  I just thought things would stay the same...  but God had a different plan. 

God is cool like that - changing it up on you when you least expect it.  But He does know best and I figure it is wise to go with His leading on things.  I wanted to take some time to reflect on the way He has led us through school situations. 

When looking at preschool options for Josiah, we enrolled him at Trinity Preschool for three year olds, where my mom was teaching.  We thought it would be a great experience for grandma to get to be his teacher for one year.  However, I felt a lack of peace over the summer prior to school starting.  God laid it on my heart to keep him home one more year, to work on school with him at home, and to enroll him in sports classes through the rec center instead.  I never regretted that decision.  Never looked back.  I loved having that year with him.  That was the year I also got pregnant with the twins. 

We started thinking about options in December of 2008 for Josiah for next year.  Would I homeschool him?  We really felt like he was learning a lot.  But that he could also use an education in how to socialize with other children.  We looked into preschool options, and couldn't find anything that fit the bill.  He was already doing a little bit of kindergarten math, and knew all his letters and the sounds that they made, so we wanted something that would be challenging to him, if we were going to pay the money. 

A few people started mentioning Village Baptist.  We looked into it a little more.  It was close by our home, and they had an extended program for four year olds, to stay an extra hour and a half, and get to be challenged if they needed it during that time.  We were sold - it sounded like it would be perfect for Josiah. 

I showed up early for enrollment at Village the day they opened it to the public.  We snagged the very last spot for Josiah in the extended class.  I was overwhelmed by God's provision in it.  And super nervous about having my oldest boy head off to preschool that coming fall. 

Over the summer we found out I would have to be on bedrest right when Josiah's school started.  I wondered if we should keep him home, but friends and family stepped up and scheduled to take Josiah to and from his preschool. 
His preschool was a perfect fit for him.  Mrs. Nolan, his teacher, is really top notch in her job.  She is patient and kind with the children, and looks at her job as a ministry, and she does it well. 
It was nice to be set for preschool, but then right around the corner the next school year was fast approaching, and we needed to make a decision for kindergarten for Josiah.  We thought we knew where we were going to send him to school.  But when the kindergarten teacher of that school came back to us and told us she didn't know how she would keep him challenged, we were stumped. 
We had some good talks with Mrs. Nolan, and she was so insightful, and we agreed that typically homeschooling would be amazing for Josiah, except the social aspect, and in his case, we felt a school setting would be good for him as well.  She asked me if I had heard about Cor Deo.  Cor Deo is a unique school that you have three days a week private school, and then they send school work home on Tuesdays and Thursdays and you do homeschool on those days.

Cor Deo was a school I heard about when Josiah was a baby, and I thought it sounded like a great concept for our family someday.  At that time Nick was unsure about it, so I didn't push.  But now Cindy Nolan was suggesting it as something to consider.  All of a sudden, my heart started to wonder if maybe it would be a good fit?  Nick and I had a lot going on during this time of decision making.  We had baby twins at home, 2 year old Ava, and then trying to sell our townhouse and keep it clean all the time.  It was a very busy season. 

One morning I woke up early to read my Bible and pray, and exercise, typical morning routine for me.  Nick was on a business trip.  I emailed the principal at Cor Deo, just to see what the situation was for enrollment in the kindergarten class next year.  He emailed right away, and told me there was one spot left.  Nick and I hadn't visited the school yet...  but we had talked about our thoughts on if it would be a good place for Josiah to excel. 

Anyways, again, not wanting to push Nick, I emailed him the information PJ Hanson, the principal at Cor Deo had told me, and then went about my early morning doing an exercise routine trying not to think about that last spot.  And prayed every minute for God to lead us in that decision. 
At 7:30am, Nick calls me, and he says: "Enroll him Kari." 

I emailed PJ back, and told him we would like to register him, and hopefully do the follow up interview and tour the school later.  I also told him, that I would not be able to drop off the forms and check until I took Josiah to preschool, so it would be after 9am.. 
PJ wrote back right away and said he would hold the spot for Josiah.  To bring in the paperwork as soon as I could. 

When I arrived at the school, I found PJ in his office reading his Bible.  Peace filled my heart from the Lord.  This was the right choice.  As I sat down in his office with the paperwork, PJ shared that it was a good thing that we had emailed this morning, because right after he promised the last spot to Josiah, another family came through the doors to register their child.  We had gotten the last spot.  Again.  My heart filled with humility and gratefulness to God.  Not that we had snagged the last spot and someone else hadn't gotten it, but that God knew exactly where Josiah was suppose to be, and had provided in a way that we would not forget. 

When he entered first grade, once again, God gave us an amazing teacher, who helped us figure out, that having Josiah skip a year of school, would help put him in a place that he could be successful.  And when it came time to register Josiah last year, the school opened up a spot that he could skip second grade and go straight to third.  This year Josiah has thrived so much at school.  The boys in his class are a great fit for him.  It has been so cool to see his excitement in learning about rocks and minerals, and now we are studying animals.  It clearly was where Josiah was suppose to be at this year. 

God has worked in ways with Ava too.  We put her in three year old preschool automatically at Village, because that was where Josiah went.  And she loved it.  But then we began to think about logistics for four year old preschool and the distance it was to our new home, and how I would need to pick her up right during the middle of their naps, and we decided that we should try to look for another school.  One of the moms at Village got wind of it, and told me she would bring Ava home every day for the school year, so she could stay with her friends.  I was blown away by her kindness.  I just get so amazed at how caring and thoughtful people can be.  Such a good example of Christ's love in my family.                          

This year, Tuesdays and Thursdays have been a struggle with me and Ava.  She does really well learning in a social environment, and on our days at home, it sometimes is like pulling teeth to try to get her to want to do school at home.  Then when she is working on something, there is trying to keep Josiah focused on his school, and helping him with any direction he needs, then the twins will come in the mix and tear apart the house unsupervised, or they will take turns throwing tantrums because they "want me."  I have been feeling spread very thin.                   

We talked about for awhile, how maybe our children might need different things in education.  After the new year started and we had our first full school day, complete with a kitchen faucet breaking off and leaking water underneath the sink, and me getting frustrated and yelling at my children, cats throwing up on carpet, working on getting food made for the day, Ava trying to read a page of words, with concentration being interrupted by twins etc...  and I was spent trying to divide myself up anymore. 

I realized, I can't do this all anymore.  I was dreading Tuesdays and Thursdays.  I was not being Christ's love to my children.  It was heart breaking to me.  I thought I could handle it, but it just was not going well anymore.  Nick and I started talking about it that night, which became a week worth of staying up in the evening and talking and praying through what we should do.    We first thought maybe we should move Ava into a five day a week school, a place that she could be successful, and that I could take the role of cheerleader, and move myself out of the spot of teacher. 
As we talked more, we knew we wanted a school that Josiah could transfer to, come fifth or sixth grade.  This was something we planned to do when the kids got older.  I did not feel equipped to teach middle school on up.  He was doing so well at Cor Deo, and we had just moved him up a grade into a new class.  But then we started contemplating if maybe it was time to consider moving him with Ava.  The idea of switching things up again for him did not sit well with me at first. 

We realized that it still would be a stressful situation, to have me be divided between two schools.  To try to be involved two places, have two homeschool days, try to pour into Mallory and Lena who get the short end of the attention stick so often...  this is where it got hard for me.  We looked again at the big picture and realized that it would be much more difficult to change his schooling in middle school, than if we were to do it now, and help him get roots in where he would Lord willing be attending school through high school.  As we prayed more, we realized that God was not just leading us to move Ava to a 5 day a week school, but also Josiah. 

We visited Life Christian - just a short drive from our home.  And I knew that when we came home and Nick and I discussed our options, that in the end the decision was going to be to send Josiah and Ava there next year.  We told Josiah that night, and at first he seemed fine with it.  But after the kids went to bed, he came downstairs and was having a difficult time sleeping...  then he burst into tears and cried for us to not take him out of Cor Deo.  We talked and prayed and cried with him that evening.  My heart sank as I began to think of all that we are going to be giving up.  The amazing community of families there, we have been so blessed by them all.  He begged a few more times for us to change our minds.  After we sent him to bed, Nick and I talked some more.  Nick reaffirmed to me it was the best decision - and it was a great opportunity for us to walk Josiah through a difficult change, and to hopefully be able to show him when he looked back at it, a few years from now, of God's faithfulness and provision in it all. 

My heart still was not sold out on the decision.  But as we went into meet the principal the following week, and the first thing she wanted to do was pray for our time together, God's peace flooded my soul.  As she covered us in prayer, I knew, that this was going to be our kids new school home. 

We have our admission papers filled out, and are waiting for March 1st for final confirmation that we made it into the school.  But I have no doubts this is the right time to be moving our children, and I know God has a plan.  I figure also there must be a praying family aching for our children's spots at Cor Deo.   That thought makes me happy to know a family on the waiting list will get to receive the news we did 3 years ago: they were in at Cor Deo.  I know they will be so blessed. 

One amazing gift to me in all of this, is that I will get more time to pour into Mallory and Lena's.  For the first three years of their lives, they have been carted around to wherever the bigger siblings needed to go.  Next year, I will get to give them a year of what would Mallory and Lena like to do, and also focus on some much needed training that hopefully will curb the tantrums as they get older. 
I am so excited, we just enrolled them at the same preschool Josiah and Ava attended.  They were so cute, they thought they started school today, and packed up their backpacks and walked into the office with them as we dropped off their registration.  It's hard to explain that to a three year old they will have to wait 7 more months.  :)  I can't wait to take them on field trips, and watch them make little friends for themselves, and see God develop character in their lives. 

I have hope for the future.  And I want to make the most of today. 
I love the words that Mrs. A, the kindergarten teacher at Cor Deo covered me with, when I was talking to her about our decision.  She asked me if I remembered why the Israelites were going to leave Egypt.  I blankly did not have an answer for it.  She said God called them out, because He wanted them to worship Him.  God is calling our family out of Cor Deo, so I will no longer live a life of a check list, being a very good Martha.  Instead, He is going to provide a little more time for me to be a Mary, and sit at His feet and worship.  I am so excited about this thought.  I guess in the midst of it all I never realized that was missing in my life. 

I know all of us moms spend a lot of time praying about where God would want our children to be at for school.  It's not going to be the same for any family, He has a plan for our kids lives.  We just need to cover our children in prayer, and cover our decisions in prayer, and see where He takes each of our families.  I love that we have a God that holds the big picture in His hand, and we do our best when we rest in Him and walk through the decisions He leads us to.  It is not always easy, but it is a secure place to be.