It seems like overnight, God completely changed our course for 2013. We thought we had it all figured out and 2013 would be smooth sailing without a lot of transitions and challenges. Schedules were ironed out. Life was settling in nicely. Things were becoming easier since everyone has now adjusted to life with ten kids in our home.
Transitioning after a new child (or children) are added to our family is always challenging. We have to learn a new normal, and that takes time. As we try to figure out our new children (this time it’s Conner and Cooper, who are both non-verbal), we are also trying to figure out new schedules, new family time, new responsibilities and roles within our family.
It’s been ten months now since Conner and Cooper joined our family, and everyone has embraced our new normal. A friend asked the other day if we were ready to adopt again. I laughed out loud and explained that I’m not sure we’ve ever really been ready (at least not the way we’d like to compartmentalize what “ready” should look like!), but we are always willing if God asks us to (no matter what it is He asks us to do).
Nope, I’m not making an adoption announcement today, but I am sharing that God has asked us to do something we’ve never done before.
Respite homeschooling. Is there even such a thing? Yep, there sure is, according to what God has asked us to do.
A friend of mine, who I’ve known since high school, who lives nearby, who has a large family, and has four children who are adopted, has been struggling with homeschooling her youngest four children. This friend of mine has been homeschooling for 17 years now, and she needs some respite, she just didn’t know how God planned to answer her prayers.
A few weeks ago, God laid it on my heart to consider offering ‘homeschool respite’ to my friend. I discussed this with my husband first, then we discussed it with my dear friend, Stephanie, who teaches our school-aged children. (And, yes, we still call this homeschooling, even though I’m not their school teacher anymore. Our kids still attend school at home, and in Texas, if you attend school at home, you are called a home schooler. Unless, of course, you’re enrolled in public school and you’re receiving home bound services for whatever reason, which is not the case for our family. FYI, home schools in Texas are technically considered private schools, so we could technically say our kids attend private school, but that would imply that our children actually leave our home to attend a private school elsewhere, which is not the case. Sorry for the rabbit trail!)
Anyway, Matt, Stephanie, our children, my friend, and I all prayed about this decision, and each of us felt peace that God was asking us to bring my friend’s youngest four children into our home for eight hours per day, Monday-Friday. Stephanie will be teaching these four children, and when they’re not in school, they’ll be a part of our family.
We were concerned that our children wouldn’t like this idea because they’d have less one-on-one time with their teacher, they’d have more noise and chaos in the classroom, they’d have more kids in our home, more responsibility, and more changes in their lives.
Each one of our kids is so very excited about this opportunity. They blew us away with their responses when we discussed the potential idea with them. Our kids eagerly welcomed four new children into our family, home, and school for eight hours each day. Not one hesitation. Not one complaint. Not one con. Not one excuse. Just pure joy and authentic excitement.
The reaction of our children really impacted my heart. Their response is exactly how Jesus wants us to respond to everything He asks of us. He doesn’t want us to come up with excuses and disobey His callings. He wants us to eagerly welcome the challenges He asks of us, to instantly obey His will, to respond to His adventures with pure excitement, just the way our children did when we discussed 'respite homeschooling’ with them.
When we moan and groan and think of every excuse in the world not to do what He asks of us, we miss out on His blessings. Sure, it might not seem like there could be a blessing when He asks us to do something that seems way too challenging, but there is always a blessing in obedience. We might not feel or see or know the blessing immediately, but there is always a blessing when we obey.
The other thing I’d like to toss out there is that three-four years ago, when God began building this ministry and He sent Stephanie to come alongside us and join us, we had NO idea where God was taking this. We truly thought Meribeth would be the only child we would ever adopt because we felt our family was complete. Then He sent us Chrissie, and Stephanie began teaching full-time while we were in Serbia adopting Chrissie. Little did we know that God would send six more children for us to adopt after He sent us Chrissie, who was our fifth child, and Stephanie would wholeheartedly embrace her role as teacher in our family with a passion like none other.
See, blessings come with obedience. God has entrusted us with ten treasures living in our home, ten blessings we wouldn’t have had if we had chosen to make excuses and disobey His callings. God has knit our hearts together as family in a way only He can do. He has included Stephanie and her two daughters in our family in a way only He can do. Abundant blessings.
I must say that Stephanie is one of the greatest blessings He has sent us. She is an amazing teacher who goes above and beyond to teach each child in the way he/she learns best. She writes much of our children’s curricula, she loves Jesus, she weaves Truth into all subjects, and she makes each of her students feel treasured. Stephanie has the spiritual gift of teaching, and each of her students is beyond blessed to have Stephanie as his/her teacher.
I realize this blog post is all over the place. There’s so much anticipation, excitement, and rejoicing in our hearts right now. We are so excited to have four new students, four blessings He is entrusting to us daily as we obey the call to provide ‘respite homeschooling’ to another adoptive family.
I encourage you today to pray for God to show you ways you can serve Him outside the box. What might that look like? He may ask you to do something no one you know has ever done before. There might not be another family in the world who provides ‘respite homeschooling’, but, then again, perhaps God will use this situation to show other families something they can provide for a struggling family in need of respite, something they might not ever have thought of before. Respite care doesn’t have to remain in a box. Think outside the box and see how you can help a family in need today. Perhaps you can watch a family’s children so the parents can have a much needed date night? Perhaps you can make that commitment weekly. Or monthly. Or maybe it’ll just happen once, but whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability for the glory of God, for our Father who does not fit in a box.
Just a reminder: Don’t put God in a box.
Don’t put what you can do in a box.
Think outside the box and see where God takes you as you pray for Him to show you ways you can serve Him outside the box. Then joyfully and eagerly obey His call without hesitation, without excuses. 2013 just might be your most exciting year yet, the type of excitement that cannot be contained in a box!