Sunday, September 23, 2012

Why I Homeschool: To Be Able to Fully Serve

Disclaimer:  This series of posts is written to tell my story of why I decided to homeschool and what I have learned a long the way. These are my personal feelings and direction the Lord has given to me and my family. That does not mean they are your answers.  I don't want you to feel guilty at all nor that I'm telling you this is the only way. I write it because people have asked for honest answers to why I chose to do this, and I want to be able to be completely open and honest back with them.

As I look back over the last year and a half at the different feelings and decisions we came to, I don't know that there was one singular event that determined the moment we decided to homeschool.  It was a myriad of promptings, thoughts, research, feelings and inspiration that directed us to this decision.  It reminds me of Elder Bednar's description in these series of movies "Patterns of Light" about how we receive revelation. Ours resembled the slow rising of the sun, that eventually made things brighter and more clearer. Some insight we didn't even gain until we took that leap of faith and actually started homeschooling. There were small answers, directions and things that eventually led to our final decision to pull our kids out of the public schools and take on the responsibility ourselves.

It had been something I had considered for over a year before Beau got his answer as well and we made our final decision. So what were some of those things that were catalysts? What are the things that prompted that decision. I hope to share them with you in these series of Why I Homeschool. The reasons are not in any specific order. They were all percolating at the same time. I will just be writing them in the order that they come out.

About 2-3 years ago, I went through a couple of miscarriages, that emotionally took quite a toll on me.  I started to appreciate my family more, the children I had been blessed with, and I started seeing the stress, daily activities and demands that were taking a toll on my family as we were trying to do so much with church callings, school (both Beau's schooling and the children's), our work - both Beau's and mine, and just family life and demands. At the time I was emotional and physically spent from the miscarriages.  I was at one point juggling the callings of Ward Young Women's secretary and the teacher for the weekly Strengthening Marriages course for the stake,  my husband had been serving as the Stake Young Men's President during a very busy summer of youth activities and had just barely gotten called as the Ward High Priest Group Leader.  Between our two callings it seemed that we were gone many nights of the week and I was on burn out.

While serving in Young Womens we did not have any leaders who were able to attend Girls camp and because I recently had my miscarriage, I was no longer pregnant and was now eligible to go.  I did not want to. I still was emotionally and physcially recovering from my miscarriage, and all I wanted was time with family, of which there seemed to be very little. Beau had missed lots of work time, and had been unable to get much research done, I felt like he had sacrificed too much time for me to take another whole week off for girls camp while he watched the kids.  I was torn. I knew I needed to serve, I knew I should say yes, and yet I couldn't. I knew it would be too much.  I went to BYU Women's Week burned out and in need of answers. I felt guilty saying yes to my family and no to church service, and I wasn't sure what to do. The Lord gave me answers through Sister Beck, he gave me permission to focus on my family. I was finally at peace. At that point in our life, that is what we needed.  Our family needed each other and time for each other, there are times to serve and there are times when we need to say yes to our family instead.  I told them I couldn't go. I just couldn't do anymore.

Over the next few months I felt like I could focus on my family, I started healing physically and emotionally.  Ironically the morning the girls left for camp, one of the leaders backed out and I had 20 minutes to get ready to head to camp, the Lord told me I needed to go. There was no one else, and there were no other options. I was emotionally able to just pick up and leave knowing Beau would take care of everything at home, and in turn the Lord blessed me with an amazing spiritual and emotional healing week. I had started becoming frustrated and sometimes almost bitter about the amount of service the church was putting on family, specifically those in leadership callings that were doubled up.  Our family was suffering, and I was frustrated with the family being the most important structure in the church, and yet the church taking us away so much from our family that it had began to suffer and didn't seem to be that important to the many church demands.  The Lord took me to camp where he softened my heart, showed me things I needed to see about some of the policies our local leaders had set up that seemed so unrealistic and demanding on families. He reminded me of what Beau and I have always wanted to do and covenanted to do and that was to serve the Lord with all our hearts in any way we were called.  I was reminded of the hymn sitting quietly on top of a mountain that has personally resonated with me most of my life.

I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go

It may not be on the mountain height
Or over the stormy sea,
It may not be at the battle's front
My Lord will have need of me.
But if, by a still, small voice he calls
To paths that I do not know,
I'll answer, dear Lord with my hand in thine,
I'll go where you want me to go.

I have gone in directions during my life that were not my plan but the Lord's, directions he's needed me to take.  My ultimate desire was to serve where ever he would have me go. In fact this last weekend a couple sang a beautiful rendition of this song at our Stake conference that once again tugged at my heart, reminded me of the sincere desire to serve where he needed me, and confirmed at that time that homeschooling was a road and a path that he needed me to go, even though it was not the norm.

The last day of girls camp as I was preparing to go back home to our busy, hectic life, the Bishop made a comment to me that I don't write here to brag about it, but because of what it reminded me of. The moment he said it, he reminded me of what Beau and I have always tried and attempted to do. He told me something along the lines, "I honestly wish there were more families like the Tippetts. Families that lived on a partial income, that aren't full time and busy in the world, that are willing and CAN serve any time they are called upon to do so. They can drop things at any moment to go and serve, and most people are unable to do that even if they wanted to.  They have nothing holding or binding them down so they can do it. They can leave at a moments notice if asked, or called upon to do it." When he said that it hit strongly that this is the way we had just sort of set up our life. We both had created very flexible schedules in work and school so that we could drop or serve at last minute. We have wanted to be able to do that. Our goals for the future is to find employment opportunities and other ways and means to continue to make that possible. Hopefully, the business Beau is starting will provide for our needs in that way before too long, at the same time acknowledging that it takes time to build a profitable business, and we will have to work up to being able afford to go whenever we are needed.

A couple of months after returning home I was called to serve in the Stake Relief Society. I knew life was not going to get any less busy or hectic between both of our leadership callings. I could not realistically ask to not serve, and had come to grips that there will probably never be a down time between Beau or I when we will have small, quiet, simple callings. (Oh to someday be the primary pianist. That would be such a happy day.) In reality I knew we were still going to have much asked of us, gone most evenings, and we needed to come to terms with that. In the process, the kids started school. I started seeing how by the time my children got home from school, we did homework, ate dinner it was time for one of us or both of us to run off to church meetings and responsibilities.  I started to see that we had no time for our children, and our children were starting to complain and cry for us not to go every time we told them we had to go.

I did not want my children to grow up hating church service because it took their parents away all the time. They are young. They needed us and our time. Especially in this uncertain world. They needed one on one time with us. They needed the stability of us being here, and yet they were getting very little of it. We would try to explain where we were going, why were serving, but that didn't always help.

As we started contemplating homeschooling, this was one of the huge benefits that I felt was there. It was an answer that would solve both problems. The lack of family time that our children needed, and the ability to serve in any capacity needed. I would be able to spend good quality and adequate time with my children all day that I didn't feel guilty leaving them to serve in my calling or other responsibilities we might have with work, civic or church.  I knew that it would open up our schedule freeing us from being on someone else's schedule and demands. If we needed to leave town at a moments notice, we could. If there was a family emergency we could go. If we needed to help or serve someone or somewhere we could. (Now if only we could convince family and other's that we really aren't that busy and they can ask for help. :))

Ironically it would seem that with our busy and stressful life, that adding homeschool to it would make it even more busy and crazy. And there are days that are like that, trust me!  But the majority of the time it has made our life much simpler. It works with family life.  It ebbs and flows and we can schedule things in a way that works with our family instead of against it. It has made things more relaxed in our home. We aren't as stressed when we have a busy streak of callings and meetings. We can meet our family needs when they need to be addressed during the days, rather than just waiting for the craziness to let up so we can then meet our children's specific needs or a general family need.  It has been freeing really.  It has just been one more piece to our family's goal of being able to serve whenever and whereever we are needed, and has now made it possible to serve together as a family.

I am hoping that I can show and give my children more opportunities to serve those in our ward, community and extended family. I hope that others will not see the Tippetts as too busy to ask for help because I homeschool all day. (I'll give you a hint, we're usually done by 1-2 and have all afternoon to pursue other things. We also can do work in the car while we travel. We also can do school somewhere other than our home if needed. My kids can bring work along and do it while I help someone. We can make up the work on Saturday if we are needed on a day during the week. That is the beauty of homeschooling! It really can make us available to help.) I hope they feel like we are an option. There have been a few times already this year when there was a need to serve and help for meals after a funeral.  I could take my children, we could stay as long as they needed us to and they were able to help serve too and be a part of the Lord's work.

Homeschooling has really helped a ton in the dilemma of church service and family. Of meeting both demands and needs. It has helped me not feel guilty about serving, because I already had the chance to serve my kids regularly every day.  I am also hoping that in the future, it will keep our lives open so that we may be ready to serve whenever and wherever the Lord calls us.


Robert and Heather in Hawaii said...

Thanks for opening up and sharing all of this. I am very intrigued by what you write. I have been curious on if it feels like a burden to you - referring to the daily lesson planning, etc. And, I have wondered if when you set out on homeschooling did you determine to do it until they graduate high school or another grade or is that yet to be determined? Obviously, I have many questions about it myself.

Shalae said...

Great questions Heather! I'll try and get a post written up with the answers to those here shortly! It is actually not as much a burden as you would think it would be. :)