Unexpected results…

So.

I have no mother.

If you have read this blog since 2012, you might remember that my mom passed about three years ago.  I have some wonderful mothers-in-law — two of them — my husband’s biological mother and his stepmom.  However, both are some distance from us, and we don’t see them as often as we had seen my mom.  My mom and stepdad used to come over every week to my home for dinner…  We did that for about ten years!!!  So, I’ve been feeling bereft in the “grandma” category — not just the loss of my mother, but the loss of my children’s grandmother.

I mentioned earlier that I am schooling a friend’s great-granddaughter for Kindergarten — the little girl comes over for two hours, four days a week, and my toddler, Jean, goes to my friend’s home during that time.  My girls have loved this, and the whole plan has worked out very well.  However, an unexpected blessing I’ve received is this:  Vi, my student’s great-grandma, has become SO IMPORTANT to Jean.  Jean calls her “Memaw”, and absolutely delights in going to Memaw’s house.  She adores time with her.  Vi doesn’t understand why Jean loves her so much, but it really doesn’t matter, does it?  My two-year-old knows that she is loved and cared-for by Vi.  That matters.  I had anticipated Jean having a rough time adjusting to being at Vi’s house, four days a week, even if it is just for two hours each time.  But, no!  The opposite has proven true, and I’m so thankful.  Vi has become very important to Jean, and is filling a need that Jean must innately know that she has.

Jean loves Vi AND her dogs.

Jean loves Vi AND her dogs.

I’m also immensely thankful for “my” homeschool support group.  In late July/early August, I was anticipating this school year, and realized that my three girls really didn’t have enough friends.  For a period of about five years, our family had participated in a loosely-organized homeschool group, and it was so perfect for us….  But, that ended three years ago, as well, when my dear friend who organized it moved to Washington state.  I wanted something similar:  a true support group for the moms and a weekly park day for my children to run around and forge friendships.  However, I couldn’t find anything like that it my area — not anything that was a good fit.  Most groups now say something like, “Pay your $20 per child yearly dues and we’ll TELL you where our park days meet.”  Or, they require a high level of involvement from the parents.  Or, they require a signed statement of faith that is usually quite particular to a certain denomination.  Or, the opposite:  the group is comprised of homeschooling families who are so non-religious that, as I’m not a pagan, I was pretty sure I’d feel out of place.

So, I started a group.

I anticipated that we’d have fifteen families or so and had dreamy visions of our small, tight-knit group.  However, that hasn’t been the case:  The group is up to 99 families!!  NINETY-NINE!!  It seems to be filling a larger need that was out there, not just my own.  Now, not everyone participates every week.  But, last park day, there were ten families who came.  A weekly grading-and-chatting night that I “host” at a local coffee shop typically has 2-4 women come.  We’ve gone hiking in Sedona, touring the Musical Instrument Museum, visiting the Halle Heart Museum, attending various events at the library together, and more…

My “unexpected results” here are that:

  1. I never intended to start and lead such a large group.
  2. I never anticipated the group being such a rich blessing to me.

I wrote this to the group this morning (slightly edited to remove names):

I hope this doesn’t get too long or sappy… But I just wanted to let each of you know that I have LOVED getting to know you and as each week passes, I am becoming more thankful for what our group is becoming.

As I left Mom’s Night: Grading and Chatting last night, I was so thankful. It was “just” three of us. But, it was what I needed, after a discouraging afternoon, when, honestly, I initially thought all I wanted was a night alone. I came discouraged, and I left highly ENCOURAGED and with a huge smile on my face. I was able to share a bit with the other ladies and I hope they were encouraged by me, as well.

I had a brief message chat with another group member this morning who is going to put together a Thanksgiving celebration for our group for later this month. Again, honestly, I STINK at celebrating occasions and marking events. I’m sure that she is better than I am, and I’m SO HAPPY for her to coordinate this.

Last park day, there was an impromptu football game that was quite well-organized, completely organized BY THE KIDS. It made me shake my head in amazement and thankfulness — kids that mostly otherwise wouldn’t have known each other, and now they’re rolling in the grass, playing together. Another group of kids shared sand toys and dug for a long time! It was so precious. Two young teen girls spent a good hour or more just walking together, chatting, building a friendship. They’d never met before Thursday. I know for certain that this was such a blessing to both moms.

I guess what I’m saying is that this group is truly becoming what I hoped it would: We are sharing our strengths. We are impacting each other with advice, help, encouragement, friendship, and more. Our kids are gaining friendship and having some wonderful experiences.

So, my many heartfelt thanks to each of you who have made the time to come out to any of our events and truly share of yourself. We’re bettered and strengthened by each other. And for those who haven’t yet joined in person, I look forward to meeting you and getting to know you, as well.

Love and blessings,

Karen

Both of these situations have led me to ponder the beauty of interconnectedness.  Not the “independence” we value in our American culture, but interdependence — where I contribute what I have to the community and where I receive what I need, as well, as others contribute.

John 15:13 New Living Translation (NLT)

13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

This verse is referenced often — and obviously — by the fact that Jesus laid down His life for us.  However, it extends beyond that:  It is true love when we yield our LIVES — our activities, our priorities, our time, our energy — which results in the greater whole being built up, encouraged, strengthened, renewed, even redeemed.

Which makes me think of…

Ephesians 4:11-16 New Living Translation (NLT)

11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 1He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Which, of course…. the homeschool group I lead is not the fullness of the Body of Christ.  It’s not a church.  But, we’re doing the work of Jesus when we help each other become “healthy and growing and full of love”.

And that’s good.

So…

Be encouraged today.  You may feel bereft.  You may be in a situation where you’re looking around, thinking, “This is NOT what I signed up for.”  I didn’t take on teaching a little kindergartener because my two-year-old needs a “grandma”;  that was not on my radar in the least.  I didn’t start a homeschooling support group with the intention to lead nearly 100 families;  I just wanted some kids with whom my kids could play.

However, so often, my heavenly Father knows what I need, even when I don’t know it, myself.

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About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on November 3, 2015, in Introspective Musings. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I liked this post so much. It’s nice to catch up with your family and all the little details. I’m so happy for your homeschool group! I started a little co-op in California, too, because I just couldn’t find what I was looking for. It stayed small (on purpose) but became a really important part of our lives for about 5 years.

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