It’s graduation time! This year is especially meaningful to me, because my twin sons are included among the 2017 graduates. As homeschoolers, my husband and I have watched them pursue their interests from a young age, with the freedom and time to really develop and excel at their God-given gifts and talents. For that, we are immensely grateful.
It hasn’t been an easy journey, and it’s been far from perfection. In fact, our family has suffered greatly over the years. My husband and I have had to allow Jesus to heal us from abuse, abandonment, and neglect experienced in our own childhoods. Yet, during these stormy times, we found the silver lining: God taught us important truths to pass on to our children. Now our children won’t have to enter adulthood believing the same lies we were led to believe; lies which cause God’s precious children to struggle with depression, fear, anxiety, rejection, and more. Our children won’t have to build walls to protect themselves. Instead, they will have the tools to help them properly communicate, and they will understand that Jesus is a true friend who will protect them, and he will always be there to help them get through the trials in their lives.
Our twins had the combined experiences of some extremely difficult and painful circumstances: fighting for their premature lives at birth, a near death experience from an asthma attack which involved being medivacked from one hospital to another, a traumatic dental injury on a boat, and chronic illness with severe pain and suffering. And there were more hard times. Yet Jesus was there for my boys. God saved them, healed them, and the whole time… had plans to prosper them! God has plans to prosper you too!
God prepared our family for what we were going to endure, by giving me a desire in my heart to homeschool my children. I already had more than seven years of teaching experience in the public school system, and the school system where we lived continued to let us down. Homeschooling relieved so much of our stress, and it gave our boys more freedom to explore their own interests. They could move ahead or take their time. They had more breaks, no extra homework, lots of field trips, new friends, and much more family time. They could eat when they were hungry, and they could even do their school work in their pajamas! However, our plans were not to get sick and have our lives turned upside-down.
But God had a different path, and therefore, a different plan for us. The devil had planned a disaster, but God had given us homeschooling; so instead of “getting behind,” we were able to adjust our schooling to fit our chaotic lives. Our boys were miraculously able to learn above and beyond what they would have learned had they attended public school. It wasn’t that they did all the same curriculum as everyone else; it was that they learned things that were different… more like quality over quantity. They still took all their regular subjects, but did so without being overloaded. There was more time for exploring subjects which really held their interest, rather than choosing from a list of electives. There was more time for building elaborate Lego villages, or using the bricks to make actual working clocks. It was such a joy to see what they’d come up with next!
All of this was occurring as we desperately shuffled our calendars, attending never-ending specialist appointments with the whole family in tow; including a new baby. There were many days when school was done in bed, and days when it took every bit of strength just to force down a health shake while lying on the couch. There were many days of dumping bags and books onto the floor, grabbing more bags and books, and heading off to yet another appointment. The house was trashed; and we were exhausted, sick, overwhelmed, isolated, and often… hopeless.
In the midst of the hard time, and at the beginning of the hardest time of all, God had given us our beautiful, baby girl who brought us the brightest sunshine and joy during our darkest days. Before she came, I was excruciatingly ill with my pregnancy; almost as ill as I had been with my twins, except this time without the ruthless, never-ending vomiting. Even back then, my nine-year old twins were using their gifts and talents to teach themselves music, art, computer skills, outdoor survival skills, and so much more. They also helped care for me when I was ill, and when their baby sister came, they eagerly learned life skills; how to carefully care for an infant, how to cook, and how to do laundry. Most of all, we learned that we were meant to be a family; we needed each other, and we loved each other.
During the stormiest trial, God had been creating the silver lining just for us. Our boys taught themselves piano, guitar, and drums; and they practiced everyday. They both enjoyed art. Our son who was then ill, was into video and visual effects. He splurged on an expensive computer program with a student discount, so he could teach himself graphic design, animation, video editing, and more. He was allowed the extra screen time, because the computer helped to distract him from the pain he endured from his disease which had no cure: Eosinophilic Esophagitis.
Our other son began drawing intently for hours up in his room. As we dealt with his brother being sick, along with his own long-awaited dental surgery for a serious injury, he found an escape into the beautiful world of art. He explored drawing with different types of writing instruments, and shocked us when we discovered the fine, detailed drawings he had created with pencil, colored pencil, and pen. He also was into studying wilderness survival skills. He read best-selling books on survival and prepared a backpack full of everything a hiker would need for an emergency. He loved spending time in the woods and could identify all types of trees, snakes, and bugs. He was an encyclopedia of knowledge about all kinds of wild animals.
Today, I stand here even more amazed! After my son received a miracle healing from Jesus, curing him from Eosinophilic Esophagitis, we still had to deal with my own chronic illness. God gave us answers there too, using a couple of specialists who confirmed its root; severe allergies to more things than I could have imagined. Hence, immunization therapy began for three members of our family. Recently, came the long overdue surgery for a collapsed disk in my back. God has brought us through so much, and He will continue to bring us through whatever else comes our way. We only need to trust Him. We are so excited about the plans God has to prosper our young men as they graduate. We know God’s plans are always good! My husband and I are in awe over the art, photography, music, web design, and entrepreneurship presenting itself as our young men graduate; especially with everything they have been through in their past.
We know our sons’ accomplishments are not because of us, but rather in spite of us; and that everything given to them has come because of the grace of God. We are now discussing business plans, and the recording of an EP. They now play drums; along with bass, acoustic, and electric guitar in our church worship band. Our son who is an artist has now advanced to beautifully crafted drawings in ink, and a vast knowledge of art history which blows my mind. Our son who is a computer expert has now advanced to learning code, and is getting paid for web design. All my anxiety, worry, and fears were for nothing! Why am I even surprised at what God has done? After all, God always keeps His promises! And God has promised my sons a bright future as they walk with Him on the path which lies ahead!
Even in trials, God promises to take care of all of His children, which is why I’m so excited to see what the future holds for my young men! This is why my two young men can graduate, while walking towards the future with strength, courage, and confidence in Christ. This is why all Christian graduates can walk towards the future without fear, even if they don’t yet know what they want to do with their lives! God already knows what you will do in your life, and his plans for you are always good! “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,”plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11 New International Version).
Thank you, God! Thank you that no matter what hardships we go through here on the earth, we don’t have to carry doubt, or be afraid. Your plans are always good, and you always prosper those of us who are your children… those of us who have a relationship with your Son, Jesus Christ. Thank you for the confidence we have in him; both for today, and for the future!