11 June 2006

Casual Conversation

Among the many reasons I like going to the Homeschool Convention is that I often run into friends there. Sometimes I see people there that I never see anywhere else. I've made friends there at the vendor booths amongst the curriculum vendors. I like to support the people who write the curriculum I use, so I try to purchase directly from the authors or publishers when I can. It keeps them in business and I feel a certain brand loyalty. I don't do this anywhere else. But here I know my business makes a difference. I had to say good-bye to one vendor this year. She's moving on. She's been the right hand woman with Peace Hill Press (our history curriculum) from the beginning, but her youngest child has graduated and now she herself has gone back to college. I'm very happy for her and it gave me great encouragement to hear her story. To know that this is not the end and I have another life to live.

I also ran into a long ago friend from our old church. I'll call her Julie (which is not her real name). Julie left our old church a long time ago. She and her husband knew us before we had our children. They left our church when they had about 4 children and went on to have a total of 9 children. I'd always had a lot of respect for Julie when she was at our church. She'd gotten a masters in engineering before getting married, so I know she's smart. I know she's smart from talking to her too. When the babies started, she stayed home to raise her family and when the oldest was in 2nd or 3rd grade they decided to begin homeschooling. She'd only been homeschooling 3 or so years when they left our old church. I've run into her a couple of times in the intervening years, just enough to say, "Hello. How are you?" Then run along. I think LightGirl was an infant the last time we had a real conversation.

We'd just finished lunch. LightHusband and LightBoy had gone back to the car with the first load of books and curriculum. LightGirl had gone off with a friend she'd run into to chat. I'd stayed at the table for a few extra moments alone to gather my thoughts, look over my list, and think about where I needed to go next. When I stood up to go, I looked over and there was Julie. So, I called out to her. We exchanged a few pleasantries, and then I asked her how things were going for her. She replied, "Well, I'd like to go in there," and she gestured toward the Vendor Hall, "and tell them that they're all selling lies. None of it works." She went on to tell me that her oldest child and son (who is now 21) had had a child of his own out of wedlock. He'd gotten married a month after the baby was born, but it was a Justice-of-the-Peace wedding; she just got a phone call after the fact. She said that the worst part of the whole thing was not the fact of the out-of-wedlock baby, or the JOP wedding, or even the phone call afterwards. It was grieving her dreams for her oldest son. It was all the people at her church who didn't know what to say to her, so they said nothing. Julie never cries, but her eyes were shiny as she spoke.

I knew what she meant. So many of the vendors in the hall and so many churches are selling answers. So many people are coming to them with huge questions, with enormous hurts and they are responding with simple get-rich, get-healed, raise-perfect-children, quick schemes. They make unspoken promises that if you just follow their recipe, God will honor some sort of deal with you. That they have the plan for growing perfect children. People flock to those boothes, certain that they have found the answer. Certain that this is the place, the book, the curriculum that will work for them. But after several years of doing this, and observing children for many more years than that, I'm beginning to wonder just how those plans are God honoring? Children are independent beings, with free wills, just as I am independent with a free will. If I try to enforce something like faith onto my children, I'm fairly certain it's just going to bounce back into my face. I think it's something they have to decide for themselves. They are either going to take it themselves or not. But I can't force it, I can't make any kind of deal with God to make it happen, there's really not much of me in it at all, afterall. Which took me back to Julie's original point ... some of them really were selling lies.


Blogger Israel said...

wow... heart wrenching

6/11/2006 11:14:00 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Wonderful post. Thank you for sharing this. I think too many people feel that if they do things a certain way, things will go well. But it isn't all in our power. Sure, we can do a lot to mess up our kids, and we can do a lot to give them a right start...but in the end they make their own decisions. I know of children from some pretty rough backgrounds who came to the Lord and are doing quite well. And then there are those raised in "good" families in "good" churches that don't.

There are no guarantees. Homeschooling is not the salvation of our children, and certainly no particular curriculum. We cannot make those kinds of decisions for our children and I cannot imagine the hurt...and I don't know quite what to say either. Other than that bit that never seems to help when people are going through trials...about how things happen in His timing and all things work together to the glory of God.

6/11/2006 11:32:00 PM  
Blogger aBhantiarna Solas said...

Hi Dana ...

Well ... I didn't say that bit, because that never seems to help and always seems so puny. But we did talk about how our children grow up to make their own way in the world. They have to be allowed to make their own choices and mistakes. That God allows that with us and so we must allow that with our children. We talked about how sin is sin is sin and it's all the same to God. That we humans are the folks who have a ranking system and make some things worse than others, but He does not. She still has a good relationship with her son and his (now) wife. That's the important thing, I think. I think this is another reminder that we get no promises that things will be easy ... we are just promised that He will be with us always.

6/12/2006 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger kate said...

Mourning dreams for your children... I'm of two minds about this. I know what she means, of course, but what is success, anyway? Sometimes, inauspicious beginnings yield real fruit and wisdom, and lovely relationships, down the road. It's a tougher road, of course, but is there an easy road? I'm so glad she's getting along with the son and the wife. And I'm sure she adores her grandchild.

6/13/2006 12:25:00 PM  

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