March 21st, 2020:

Homeschool was our life for the foreseeable future and I was elated, truly.  For years I have watched in awe at other CTR families who homeschool, marveling at their creativity, woodsy adventures and kid-centric schedules.  Although I am quite aware that homeschooling is not my gift, and we have the added challenge of a child with special needs, I have always wondered what homeschool would look like in the Shepard house.

The first three days were glorious…I planned, printed, presented and praised.  We started our day with scripture and family meeting and ended with prayer.  Blake was now home with us and it was homeschool heaven!

Enter the remote learning curriculum, complete with Google classroom, special education appointments, reams of paper, IPads, a gaggle of education apps, and meetings…lots of meetings.  I quickly realized that homeschool was not going to be the serene, joyful place of discovery I had imagined…but still, I was confident that my type-A personality would beat down the learning curve and we’d be sailing through first and fourth grade in record time, embracing the challenge.

But it got messy…

Not the “My-kids-jumped-in-a-puddle-and-discovered-a-frog” kind of messy,
or the “My-kids-and-the-dog-painted-rocks-and-are-covered-in-paint” kind of messy,

but the “The-kids-were-grumpy-and-technology-isn’t-working-and-Mom-lost-her-cool-and-is-crying-in-her-closet” kind of messy.

Those who know me will understand that I don’t like messy…at all.

I am a list-making, day-planning, dress-up for church, spices-in-alphabetical-order kind of gal.  Messy and I have never been able to coexist in the same space for long.  When messy enters, physically or emotionally, I attack it with research, or a label maker, or any other weapon necessary to restore order.

However, this messy was different, relentless…no matter what weapon I wielded, this messy just kept creeping back…more technology woes, job concerns, kids’ changing demeanors, concerns about extended family members’ safety, concerns about our own safety as I worked per diem in healthcare, and on and on.

Every day I would awake confident that this day was going to be the first smooth one, but each day presented a new wave of issues, usually by 9am, and again I was battling messy and failing miserably to contain it.

But God.

As the days went on and we were able to join our CTR family virtually, as I took a breath, sat on our couch on Sunday mornings, cuddled with my children, as they anticipated Father Brian’s new adventures at Catechesis, as I listened to the Wednesday night prayer service and felt as if God was speaking directly to me, as we worshipped as a family in such a simple but meaningful way, it dawned on me that I was so focused on the messy that I was missing the perfect.  This was perfect.

In this Eastertide, I am reminded that Jesus’ death and resurrection were messy, yet perfect at the same time.  The only weapon I need to face the challenges is my faith in knowing that God’s plan for me at this time is supposed to be messy…not because I can’t fix it, but because He can.  Through the daily challenges I feel Him leading me, calling me and gently (or not) reminding me that I need to spend less time focusing on the messy, and open my eyes to the perfect.  These are times that our family may never get to experience again, Blake at home, family meals, discovering how my kids learn and watching their creativity explode finding new ways to pass the day.

And time.  Just time.  Unhurried time to appreciate God’s plan and gifts and mercy.

May 21st, 2020:

We are in the final weeks of homeschool and many days are still messy.  I have allowed messy to move in, I can’t say that I’ve come so far as to embrace it, there are still crying-in-my-closet moments, but those are far outweighed by the moments I stop and witness what God is doing in our family and in my heart.

His messy plan for me is perfect: “He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.  He set my feet on solid ground, and steadied me as I walked along.”  Psalm 40:2