Know Your Worth

Started October 11, 2011
Finished November 16, 2020

In third grade, I decided I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up.  I had a unique way of absorbing knowledge, and I couldn’t gather enough information to keep my eager mind satisfied. The more I learned, the more I wanted to share my findings. As I challenged myself in high school with honor classes and leadership responsibilities at church and school, highly respectable grades opened doors into my college years. Stepping into my freshman year at Southwestern Adventist University (SWAU), I accepted a rare opportunity, participating in a teacher/intern program before finishing my general requirements. This special honor allowed me to spend a year working at a multi-grade school in Joshua, Texas, as well, acquiring a strong grasp of all the ins and outs of teaching.

About the same time as my arrival at SWAU, a groundbreaking professor arrived on campus, new to the Education Department, Dr. Michael England. I had the privilege to study under him for several months, soaking in a world of innovative teaching techniques and developing curriculum concepts that could incorporate all eight learning intelligences into daily lesson plans. No doubt, my future seemed geared toward teaching. However, as life would have it, I never finished my education degree, but that didn’t stop God from seeing potential in my talents and placing me in the classroom anyway. (When God wants you somewhere, watch out world!)

Three years before the birth of my oldest daughter, God opened the door for me to work at a private Christian school in central Florida. My focus? Helping kids with learning challenges understand how to use their differences as a catapult into greatness instead of viewing their uniquenesses as a crutch. I probably learned as much or more from them as they did from me.

Now, before I go delving deeper into my story, let me clarify one thing: I am not sharing any of this with you to brag about myself or to make you think highly of me. Quite the contrary. I’m sharing this with you because you need to understand where life had landed me after two years of college in order to understand the rest of the story.

After being an honor student in high school, after having my work in college used to teach teachers how to teach, after instructing and mentoring students with obstacles in their educational paths, and after homeschooling my own children for more than a year, my teaching qualifications came under attack by someone very close to me. First, this person challenged my competency as an educator, then proceeded to throw shadows on my ability to parent. Hurtful would be an understatement; and, over time, my resiliency to counter such negativity broke my reasoning, and I started believing I didn’t have a brain in my head. It’s amazing how persistence and stress will wear the strongest person to the core. One day, however, I began weighing fact against fiction, and the “truths” held against me began to crumble.

Lie #1: ”You’re a piss poor proctor. Your children need to be in public school with a real teacher.”

Truth: I homeschooled my oldest daughter her first grade year, and she tested at a fourth grade level the following summer. Her younger sister by two years could academically keep up with her, as well—i.e. passing first grade math at four years old. I must’ve been doing something correct, right?

Lie #2: “The only way kids learn is in a classroom with other children their own age. You can’t give them everything they need. You’re not as important as you think you are.”

Truth: A brick and mortar building isn’t what provides for a child’s educational needs. Look it up. Albert Einstein studied on his own from January 1885-August 1885, writing his first paper on “the investigation of the state of the ether in a magnetic field” at age 16. Reality: schooling at home provides for flexibility, bringing out a child’s individual strengths and passions. It might not be for everyone, but no harm came to my children from them not being in a traditional classroom.

When the courts got involved a year later, orders forced me to place my daughters in a public school an hour away from my home. To stay in their daily lives, I spent four hours a day driving them to and from school every other week for a year, at a time when gas hit almost $4.00 a gallon. To make use of our time together, the girls and I made up games to learn their times tables and vocabulary words during the long commutes to and from school. We also sang along loudly to Frozen until our hearts could “Let It Go” or “finish each other’s sandwiches”—three giggly girls making the most of the moment. The girls also finished all their homework assignments in the backseat of the car; so, when we got home, free time, supper, family worship, and an evening shower received their full attention before bed.

Early on, I discussed the new school situation with my oldest daughter. As I listened to her share her experiences, my heart ached. “School is boring! Students aren’t allowed to talk above a whisper All. Day. Long. or the teacher gets upset—not even in the lunchroom. We can’t get out of our seats, either—except to go to the bathroom—and we don’t have recess.”  Third grade? No recess? Really? I talked with her teacher and found this to be true. So much for meeting my child’s learning styles or providing a better education!

Not being able to change the court order, I drove long hours and miles to sit front and center at every band concert, spelling bee, awards ceremony, class play, and even non-school functions for the next ten years, despite having to frequently rearrange my schedule last minute since no one found it important to communicate with me ahead of time. My girls came first, however; and my heart happily placed them over my own convenience. No lazy, incompetent parenting here.

So, why am I sharing this with you? It’s not out of bitterness, because I’ve come to terms with what God has asked of me, realizing my thoughts and ways are not like His; and I choose to trust Him. “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah‬ ‭55:8-9‬ ‭NKJV)‬‬.

I’m sharing because I have a feeling somebody might need this reminder right now: no one gets to tell you your journey in getting from point A to B is wrong because it’s different from how they got there. Nobody. God is coauthor of your life, helping you write your story, but no two stories are exactly the same. Example: you may find true love in high school and get married when you’re 18. I thought I had found my soulmate halfway through college and first got married at age 24. Others wait until their 30s, 40s, or even later, and settle down after a career is established. The reason? “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs‬ ‭16:9‬ ‭NKJV)‬‬.

Also, remember: people don’t define who we are, Christ does. “…God made human beings in His own image” (Genesis‬ ‭9:6‬ ‭NLT)‬‬, and we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalms 139:14). Don’t let negative influencers bring you down. “Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed” (Proverbs‬ ‭16:3‬ ‭NLT).

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