First, let me say thank you to everyone who left a comment and entered my little contest to give away 2 of my books, "When Your Child is Hurting." I have closed the contest and selected two winners at random.
I was able to send an email to one winner (firstname.lastname@example.org) but couldn't find a contact email for the other winner who is Sharon and left the 2nd comment. If you are that Sharon, please send me an email (to editor@Proverbs31.org) with your full name and mailing address. I'll get those books shipped out as soon as I hear from you.
Today began a new chapter in my parenting. That of home schooling mama. I have to tell you that I did not ever plan on this. But I'm very glad I never said "never". Back when my son Joshua first started school, I had a gut instinct that I better not ever judge someone for their schooling choices. At that time I was working full time, and we could afford to send Josh to a small Christian school.
Then a move across country for two years changed my plans. Since we were only going to be there for two years, I decided not to work at all. That meant we didn't have the income to pay for private school, and sent Josh, and his little brother Dylan to the local public school.
During that time I was surrounded by home schoolers. And yet I felt sure God was calling us to the public school - to be a light in that place. To be completely honest, I was relieved God hadn't called to that. I did not think I had the personality for it.
Years went by, littlest son Robbie started in the public school system, we returned to Phoenix, I started working at home, and the boys walked down the street four houses to our neighborhood school.
In 2005 everything changed for us. God called us, out of the blue, to adopt from Africa. We had always talked about adoption, but never considered international adoption. Into our lives came two precious little girls, ages 8 and 10, but the size and emotional maturity of 5 and 6 year olds.
We didn't know what to expect. We did know they had suffered unbelievable deprivation. We did learn upon adopting them that they had never been to school, never held a pencil, never seen a book. But they were happy. They were curious. They wanted to be a part of everything their new family was a part of. And that meant school. So we started them in the school with all three of their brothers - with no expectations at the beginning except for them to enjoy school, meet new friends, and learn about the structure of a day.
When the girls arrived, everyone (Including Africans who had immigrated recently) told us they would catch up with surprising ease. We were told they would be like sponges, soaking up learning, and they would soon be at the same level as children their own ages.
Guess what? Everyone was wrong.
As the girls started to learn, it was evident they weren't going to "catch up." They weren't able to integrate all this new knowledge into their existing method of processing the world around them. But they did learn at their own pace.
The little one, Ruth, was put in first grade. She is now starting fourth grade and is doing very well. She is at grade level and loves everything about learning and school.
Cathrine loves school too. She loves her friends. She loves art. She loves band and chorus. But she didn't get to start at 1st grade. She started at 2nd. Then she got moved to 4th. All the while, everyone believing she would catch up, and all she needed was a little extra tutoring. They were wrong again.
So now I look back on the past three school years with regret that we didn't take this step earlier. But I have great compassion for parents who are navigating a path with their child they didn't expect, and have no experience or anyone to help guide them. It's a lot of trial and error. And I pray for people to have kindness, compassion and lots of grace for parents who feel overwhelmed with the needs of their child, and are trying their best, even though they might make some mistakes (only visible in the rear view mirror).
Today, sitting at the kitchen table, I looked into big dark brown eyes that didn't understand the simple instructions of the beginning reader program she had in her hands. She had worked hard on it, that wasn't the problem. But somewhere between her eyes, her brain and her fingers, the words had made no sense.
I don't know what the future holds for my sweet Cathrine. I don't know much I can teach her. I don't know if she's got an auditory processing problem. There is so much I don't know.
A friend sent me a comment on Facebook that is so appropriate for me right now:
I don't know where I'm going, but I know Who I'm following.
Have you ever felt like this? There is an amazing peace I feel knowing I am not alone. And that God has Cathrine in His hands. And He's holding mine too as I start this new chapter in my life. Together Cathrine and I will step into the world of home schooling. I'm excited. Nervous. And overwhelmed.
I would appreciate your prayers.
In His Love,