Two elk eyeballs and a deer brain currently reside in the refrigerator in my garage. That right there sums up why I’m overjoyed we decided to continue our homeschool journey into our third year.
When asked, I like to explain that when we started this journey, I felt like I was homeschooling because I was running away from something. Now we are doing this because we are running toward something better for our family.
I must begin by saying, I never imagined we would homeschool our children. I’m a former public school teacher with a master’s degree in special education. I loved my job as a SPED teacher, and always imagined my kids being at school with me someday. When I was pregnant with our second son, Luke, God asked me to stay home with our kids. My initial reaction was, “No, I don’t want to do that! I love my job, and that sounds boring!” As time went on, it became abundantly clear that God was calling me to do this, and I wanted to be obedient more than I wanted to stick with my job. However, we could not afford our mortgage without my salary. We trusted God would provide if this was His will, so we began praying, and most importantly, thanking Him, for the new job he was going to provide for my husband Seth that would allow me to stay home with our kids.
That new job came a year later, and required a move. We packed up our modest amount of belongings, our two year old, our two WEEK old, and our English Setter, Oli, and left the mountains for our new life on the “front range,” i.e., the flat part of Colorado on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains.
That new job proved to be a nightmare. Seth was working 90 hours a week in dangerous conditions, rarely had a day off, and when he was home his boss was calling constantly and yelling at him on the phone. “Wait a minute, God. How was this the answer to our prayers?” Can you imagine God chuckling at us at this point? He was up to something, and this was all a part of the plan. I was home all right. Home with a toddler and an infant, and feeling very alone. We contemplated going back to our old life many times. I had taken a leave of absence, so my position was protected for a brief time if this move didn’t work out. Seth could go back to being a fly fishing guide and a ski boot fitter back in our small town in the mountains.
After one year of giving it all he had, Seth quit that job. While there were many reasons to leave, the biggest one was this job wouldn’t allow him to honor the Sabbath. God gave us rhythms of rest as a gift, and we are not meant to work, work, work our fingers to the bone.
There we were with our baby boys, a mortgage (we rented our home in the mountains), a hefty HOA payment, a rent payment, and our many bills for both homes, and no income for the foreseeable future. What I remember most from that time was standing next to each other in church with our hands raised high above our heads during worship. Once again, we were thanking God in advance for His provision. While it didn’t always “feel” good on the inside, we had complete trust that God had good plans for our family. There were a couple bills we had to ask permission to pay late, but we were able to pay every single one. God provided in such fun ways. Unexpected checks in the mail, an offer from a relative to work on his property a couple times, the discovery of a discount grocery store, and Grandma buying a winter coat for our toddler, James.
About six weeks later, after several interviews, Seth was offered a job in the same industry, but an “office” job with 9-5 hours, and a salary that would continue to pay all our bills. I still have his business card from that job in my wallet on which I wrote on the back, “God answers our prayers.”
This job was amazing. Seth was learning a lot, and growing professionally. He even got slightly chubby for the only time in his life as he went to a lot of lunch meetings! Things were stable, and we started to make friends. Imagine my surprise when just a year after getting that job, Seth tells me he’s going to quit and start his own company! “What? We finally ‘have it made!’ Why on earth would you want to do that?” Once again, I imagine God chuckling. He made my husband to be a risk-taking entrepreneur. This whole thing of asking me to stay home with our kids and learning to trust God completely, was of course first and foremost about growing in our faith and dependence on Him, but also about what He wanted to do in my husband’s life. God had a plan all along, and it was about both of us learning to listen and yield to His plan rather than trusting in ourselves or what we thought was the right, safe, or logical thing to do. It was about discovering our identity in Him, and the purpose He has for each of our lives, as well as for our family. This is an on-going process as we continually trust in Him down the winding road of life.
For over eight years now, Seth has been a one man show running his own business, and he absolutely loves his job. He was born for this. There is a lot of stress involved with owning your own company, but when things get tough, he goes fishing, or skiing. He doesn’t sit around fretting at his computer. He prays, and then goes and does the things he loves, gets fresh air, and can be available if his phone rings.
A year after Seth started his business, we had our third child, a daughter named Eva. Our oldest, James, also started kindergarten that year at an excellent charter school. We were blessed to get into that school because of the lottery system for enrollment, and long waitlist. A couple years in, once both of our boys were in school, I started to grow increasingly concerned about changes going on both in our state, and in the nation, regarding public education. I remained vigilant, but had no desire to homeschool. I had my hands full with a new baby.
Fast forward a few years, and we had moved back to our mountain town. Seth was able to work remotely and wanted to be back in the town we considered “home,” plus close access to all our favorite things- skiin,’ fishin,’ huntin,’ campin,’ and the list goes on. The boys were enrolled in the school district where I had formerly been a teacher. Eva was attending a local preschool two days a week. Things seemed to be changing overnight as far as what was being pushed and promoted in public education, and I also had concerns about what was being left out as well. The line in the sand for us though was the masks. In 2020 we began our homeschool journey with all three kids. That was Eva’s kindergarten year, so she is the only child who has never been to public school.
Our first two years were hard. Similar to the move for the new job many years prior, we were shocked by the challenges, and wanted to quit many, many times. If I’m honest, I loathed it most days. There was so much arguing, yelling, complaining, and kids rolling on the floor- pretty much what most people must imagine who dread the idea of homeschooling their kids. I was determined to protect my kids from all these things I didn’t want them exposed to at school though, so we stuck with it. And we did have some great days sprinkled in there. I was able to teach my daughter to read from scratch, and re-taught Luke to read with a program specifically designed to help children struggling with dyslexia. We also traveled during the off season, like November and May. We were able to save money and take some great educational/fun trips to the Florida Keys and Mexico. Educational, really? We visited an aquarium, a sea turtle hospital, a dolphin research center, and of course language/cultural immersion visiting another country!
While we were seeing some of the benefits of learning at home, and our flexible schedule, we were still doing this from an attitude of running away from something we wanted to avoid. I now know that is not a sustainable motivation to continue any pursuit in life. Are you wondering how we came to a place of running towards elk eyeballs and a deer brain? Well, for the rest of the story, you’ll just have to stay tuned for part two! As the sitcoms from the 80’s and 90’s would occasionally display on the screen at the end of a popular episode… “To be continued…”
I am a child of God, a wife to Seth, and a mother to James, Luke, and Eva. The Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). I became a “new creation” at the age of 23 when I surrendered my life to Jesus and was delivered from a decade of depression. Read more...