We are officially bearcats. Today is the first day of school and both of ours are in the local public high school.
Ay, dios mío! (Ay dyohs mee-oh if you haven’t had Spanish 1.)
And this is significant. Because this was not always the plan.
In fact, it wasn’t the plan last year when our eldest left the safety of our parochial nest and flew off to public school. I did not see that one coming!
And it sure was not the plan when our daughter transferred last month, just before school started. (I actually kinda did see that one coming.)
I was a public school teacher and loved it, even the hard assignments I had as a SpEd teacher. Some years, I worked only with kids on the Autistic spectrum. Other years I worked only with kids who took supervised meds at 7 AM and had daily therapy, and probation officers. I have “seen the things.” But I always felt it was ministry and where God called me to be, called my family to be.
And then I had kids. Idealism meet reality. Reality meet the Johnson children. And the questions in my mind began. Home school? Private school? Public school?
I’ve seen what I’ve seen, and I can’t unsee it. And that was years ago when the problems with education were more bureaucratic and derelict parenting in nature than anything else. That was light years before “will my teenage daughter be forced to change in front of an emotional unstable young man,” or “will a teacher discuss ANYONE’S SEXUALITY with my son?!”
“Whew! Sure glad I have babies and a few years before I have to worry about those big city problems!” Lol! Oh, to be younger and dumber again! I had five years before the bubble burst.
I had until my youngest went into kindergarten before my suburban Texas school district had to wrestle with these issues. That was eight years ago.
The world changed, we moved, and several years ago our home church began a private Christian academy. It was the answer to a thousand prayers–not a single one about the current school’s demographics, campus, or opportunities–but about safety.
In ministry, you learn early on that serving the Body and the Lord means you live where you live, you work where you work. It’s not like selecting an AirBnB where you choose from a list of better and best amenities. More often than not, you can be in a church/city that checks all the desired boxes–or you can be obedient. But not often both.
God’s calling wins every time, regardless the climate, the facility, the salary, the ministries, etc. It just has to be this way. Thus, by the time ours were school aged, we approached education quite differently.
The only question to ask was “What would you have us do–THIS YEAR?” “Where would you have us go–THIS YEAR?”
Some years it was private. Some public. Every year, I prayed the Lord would call us to Classical. He did not. How about that? The thing that I wanted most and seemed best was not just a challenge or sacrifice, intimidating or inconvenient. It was a “NO.” No peace, no pathway. We could force it or fake it, but the Lord was clear.
For our kids this looked like two separate schools last year. They both started in two separate schools and finished in two more separate schools. Four schools. Not at all what a parent would map out for their middle and high schooler. But man designs, God decides.
Two summers ago, we told our son to be praying about where the Lord would have him go. We did as well. Halfway through the summer my prayer changed–“Lord, I need him to go here…” Because it seemed safer, wiser, more convenient, makes sense… Strangely, the Lord did not lead my son in the same direction. Now there was certainty on his part, but I don’t know that he identified it as peace. But that’ll teach too. So, we walk in it.
The Lord’s hand was in it. This year I spent writing about Hannah and her decision to bring Samuel to the temple and Eli raising his sons at the temple. Same setting, very different outcomes. You cannot dig deep into those stories and come away not seeing that the safest place for a child to be–is offered on an altar, by earthly parents who fear the Lord, to the Heavenly Father who loves them more. Safe in His care beats safe side of town every time.
I could have never predicted what our year would be like or how trusting our son to the Lord proved beneficial in so many ways.
A month ago, our daughter, who finished the year in a fantastic private school and was delighted to be returning to it, came to us and said she had felt some uneasiness about her plan for the coming year. So, we began praying about it as a family. The next night she had a dream about that very thing and awoke sensing she needed to change schools. Now, I realize this may seem crazy to some. It did not seem crazy to us. It seemed very normal–to expect the Holy Spirit to lead my daughter with wisdom and clarity. And it seemed very normal that He did. Because He is the God who DOES.
But it also seemed sad. This would be hard a “yes” in a year of hard “yesses.”
The next few days were spent in prayer–with mornings of excitement and nights of dread, seeking further clarity and confirmation. We went up to the high school one morning to pray and I’m telling you what, the Lord showed up strong. On an empty campus, on a random day, a stranger called to us in the parking lot. It was a teacher who was a Believer and was just insistent to help, though we didn’t really think we needed it. Without sharing any information with her, she invited us in and took us directly to the one teacher we would need to see most if we transferred. That teacher, also a Believer, made a call to a counselor and had Berk scheduled in every class she needed and wanted before we had even registered or considered it. It could not have been clearer. And so, we obey.
The most dangerous place for a Christian to be is not in the wrong school, public or private, or home. It is in the wrong posture–confident that where I want to be surely must be where the Lord would have me be.
And also, Lord, leave me be.