It’s amazing how God can change your heart in ways you would never expect.
As a girl I always wanted to be a teacher. That desire never went away. Sure, there were times when I wanted to be a 911 dispatcher (stemming from the old Rescue 911 show) and or the next Kathie Lee Gifford on Regis and Kathie Lee, but the desire to be a teacher remained.
As I graduated from UNC Chapel Hill and started my first job, I was completely happy. I was finally fulfilling my lifelong dreams as an elementary school teacher. I always felt, and was always told, that it was something I was born to do.
When I met my husband, Tommy, he was extremely supportive of my job and encouraged me daily, but he shared with me his desire that his children be homeschooled. My response was a very quick, yet mostly kind, “I’m not sure that’s going to happen, Babe.” After that one conversation, I was quick to forget about it all and move on.
Tommy never forgot. He knew me, he knew my desires, and he respected them. I was born to be a teacher, and I had no desire to stop working in the public school system to homeschool my children. It just wasn’t me at all. He knew that he would never change my mind, and if he tried to do so, it could have easily become a point of contention in our marriage.
What Tommy also knew was that God alone could change my heart.
Having twins born in August and also a two-year old, I decided to take the next school year off. I remember being so excited to return to school the following year. I loved my kids, but I did not feel like I could ever be the stay-at-home mom. I needed to plan, stay busy and stay active. That year, I became pregnant with our fourth child and continued working after his delivery.
Almost two years ago, we bought our new house. We bought it with the expectation that both Tommy and I would have full-time jobs. About six months after we moved into our new house, thoughts of homeschool started to enter my mind. I kept the thoughts to myself for a while before I shared those thoughts with Tommy. He, of course, was encouraging. My fear and my excuse was our financial situation.
In the first month after moving into our house, we accumulated a lot of debt. It cost us thousands just to get out of our old house. Tommy’s car needed several major expensive repairs. Our credit card debt skyrocketed. In addition to this, we still had college loans. All of this debt totaled somewhere between $45,000 to $50,000.
Needless to say, we did not like this debt at all. In February 2014, we decided to do a Dave Ramsey financial study during our Bible study group time. We found this study to be very beneficial. It was what we needed to feel that we could control our money instead of our money controlling us. Our first step was using an envelope system. At the beginning of each month, I took out the planned amount of money to spend on gas and the planned amount to spend on groceries. It was my goal to spend only the planned amount each month. I began focusing on ways to decrease our grocery bill.
As I started really focusing on what we spent during the month, Tommy was focusing on using the snowball effect to pay off our debt. First, we came up with a monthly budget and cut out all unnecessary spending. We made a plan how to most effectively take everything that was left to begin eliminating our debt.
I shared my interest in homeschool with my friend Susan who homeschools her three children. She and her husband, Josh, were our Bible study leaders. She was completely shocked by my interest in homeschool, but encouraged us to attend the NCHE conference in Winston-Salem to get a peek into the world of homeschool.
In May, Tommy and I attended the homeschool conference. We had no clue what to expect, but we loved it! It felt a lot like a parenting conference. We left with the intention and desire to start homeschooling after the twins finished kindergarten and Taylor finished second grade. That would give us an additional three years with my paycheck to use for debt consolidation and savings.
That fall, we attended the Weekend to Remember marriage conference. The entire conference was geared solely to the relationship with your spouse. On the last day of the conference couples split for a women’s session and a men’s session. Before my speaker began, I prayed that God would make it known exactly what He desired from me to be a better wife to Tommy. She never once mentioned the need to be a stay-at-home mom. She never mentioned the term “homeschool.” She never encouraged the women to leave their job. All of that being said, the only thing that I kept hearing was “Quit your job.”
Quit my job? Yeah, right. That was definitely not what I wanted to hear. I wasn’t ready yet. It wasn’t in my very well-thought out plan! As she continued to speak, tears streamed down my cheek. This was not what I wanted to hear. It’s not what I wanted to do, but it was clearly and undeniably what God was calling me to do.
Halfway through the men’s session, the speaker asked the guys to take a minute to pray and write down the one thing that their wives needed from them to feel the most love. The thing Tommy heard was get the school room ready.
Following the session we shared what we learned and the different things we heard God telling us. It was surprising to us that we both heard God telling us something that was completely unrelated to the conference and something that we had not really discussed much on this trip.
God knows the plans he has for us. His plans may take us out of our comfort zone. They may shock us. But we trust Him. He has been faithful to provide. We’re now almost debt free and hope to be debt free, with the exception of our house, by the time I receive my last paycheck. He has shown us that His ways are better than our ways.
This was my last year teaching. I am leaving my classroom and moving into our school room where I will begin my new journey as a homeschool mom to my four kids. I will greatly miss my school family, my amazing fourth grade team and my co-workers. There are no words to express the appreciation and love I feel for this school. They have loved me, supported me and encouraged me in countless ways over the last twelve years. They’ve become some of my closest friends. It’s hard to leave and let go of this school and family that I love so dearly, but I must.
I choose to obey God.