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For Melissa…

 “Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.”

~Albert Einstein

For Moses, it was a burning bush—a voice he could hear calling from within.

For me, it was an inkling…communicated in a gentle undertone…a feeling that wouldn’t go away.  A slight understanding that repeated itself when I was quiet enough to listen.

I left it there for a time.  There was no need for immediate response.  Nothing was on fire.  Some things need a little marinating and this was one of them.  The longer I let it absorb, the more savory it became.  The more savory it became, the more intense my craving.

This is how it began with me 16 years ago when I responded to the call to teach my kids at home.

Most people think of a call as a mystical thing reserved only for those who pursue religious occupations.  Like a woman who is called into a Sisterhood or a man who is called into the Priesthood.  Or my great-grandfather who was serving in the U.S. Navy when he felt called to preach.

Theologian Frederick Buechner said this of the process: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

A simpler, sweeter explanation that resonates deeply is defined by author Melissa Lauber:

A call is always personal and tailored to fit a person’s soul.  It builds on one’s spiritual gifts; it usually feels urgent and persistent.  A call is a response to a summons.  It is a kind of surrendering.  It is a challenge and a joy.

Most people are average people going about the business of their ordinary day when negotiations begin.  Moses, a 40 year fugitive, was shepherding in a field.  I was leaving the parking lot of the school where I served as vice president of the PTA Board.

The hearing of a call is the easy part.  The answering is more of a challenge because the temptation to talk yourself out of the thing is huge.  For Moses, it was a matter of speech.  He argued that he was not an eloquent speaker.  So God sent Aaron— not only big brother to Moses—but also a gifted public speaker —who happened to be on his way to visit Moses as they spoke. 

In their back-and-forth negotiations, I imagine Moses found it reassuring to hear God speak the words, I will be with you.  I will help you.  I will teach you what to do.  Tell them I Am Who I Am sent you.

Moses’ Sender…had complete confidence in the one He was sending.

Speech was not an issue for me.  Algebra was.  In my back-and-forth negotiations I argued:  I would do it in a heartbeat if only…I could do them justice in algebra.  So before the sun set that day, someone who happened to show up to visit me… opened my world to the greatest math program ever invented.

A true call morphs into a knowing in your soul that arrives with such great clarity—it is easy to trust that you will be equipped.  No matter how average and ordinary we know we are.

It takes on a life of its own…a thing you can no longer let sit.

There is no standard level of education required to answer a divine summons.  God places the passion and desire in our hearts to do the thing He calls us to do.  What you bring to the table is faith, courage, and a touch of audacity.

And for Moses, there was this staff…

You’ll need these tools because you will encounter resistance.  Strong resistance.  People who believe they know better will work themselves into a seizure trying to fit you into a mainstream mold.  But you’ll never fit and that’s probably why you were calledThese are your critics.  They will fixate on your perceived weaknesses…failing to recognize that the beauty of being obedient to a call… is that it happens in spite of weakness

Always.

This is about the time provision is made for the next thing you’ll need.  Confirmation …a priceless treasure that arrives in the form of people who believe in you.  They don’t see weakness.  They see potential.  They are sent to uncover your hidden strengths.

Even Moses, courageous as he was, needed a spotter to help complete the final rep of a military press in the battle against the Amalekites.  Two men supported his arms—one on one side and one on the other—because he had grown too tired to hold his staff in the air by his strength alone.

As the years go by, you will hear people express all manner of worry about kids who spend their school years at home.  It isn’t necessary to engage them.  Responding to your call in this life is between you and the One who called you.  Their discernment—or lack of—is between them and their God.

I have nothing against the public school system.  I’m aware that not all homeschooling families choose that particular path for the reason that I did.  I’ve never tried to convince anyone that my way is best.  As one wise mother put it:  “Homeschooling will not build a successful family any more than a hammer will build a successful house.” This is the truth of any school setting.

With challenges and obstacles and far too many mistakes along the way, Moses fulfilled his call.  With challenges and obstacles and far too many mistakes along the way, I raised four kids who completed a course of study. One of them completed their course of study a year ahead of schedule.  All of them excelled in algebra.   Three of them are gifted writers.  All of them are on the right-hand side of the downward slope…for those who need proof that “it worked”.

Those things matter a great deal to people who idolize intellect.  I’m not one of them.  I never set out to raise geniuses.  Genius is what happens in spite of a one-size-fits-all curriculum and not because of it.  Research shows that IQ accounts for 20% of a person’s life success.  The remaining 80% comes from the elements of a far more dimensional EQ.

So what, exactly, defines success?  To some it is job status and power, acquiring wealth, having prestige, a college degree, being surrounded by admirers, having their accomplishments noticed.  For me, it is enjoying the fruits of my labor…moving forward and setting new goals.   It is that beautiful, immeasurable thing that happens on the front porch at the end of the day.

My goal was to raise self-directed learners who would grow up to be compassionate people who would hopefully go on to pursue worthwhile endeavors that would continue to spark their neurons.   And they are.  They’ve taught me far more than any classroom or book.

And the people who fixated on my weaknesses?  They still do.  Does it bother me?  Not any more than Pharaoh bothered Moses.

I Am Who I Am called me.

My Caller had complete confidence in the one He was calling.

I was not of noble birth.  I had no teaching degree in my possession.  I was referred to as an “underachiever”.  Sometimes I think God just has fun picking people who are simply teachable vs. those who already know it all.

He assigns extraordinary tasks to people whose occupations are detestable to the Egyptians.

And I love living in this realm.

I love believing with all of my heart… that herdsmen can become Kings, orphaned girls can become Queens, and murderous fugitives can be just the man for the job.  I believe “unschooled and ordinary” fishermen can become healers and carpenters can profoundly change the world.  Not to mention all those folks without seminary degrees….

But that’s just me.

“It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom.  It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty.”

~Albert Einstein–slow learner who didn’t do well in school –so he left at age 15 to figure things out for himself –and went on to become a genius.

 

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