Monday, March 31, 2008

Answered Prayer, Part Two

As I mentioned in my last post, I had begun to loathe my first grade teaching job, following a string of serious behavior problems. Good discipline skills were simply not enough to handle deeply troubled six and seven-year-old souls. I taught in a school that serviced predominately state-assisted families, with a high ratio of emotionally-struggling single parents, and substance-abusing, unstable, two-parent families. Things changed during the nine years I taught there, due to the school's boundaries shifting, resulting in lower-economic, higher-crime areas being more represented.

I wasn't emotionally equipped to deal with it day after day. In addition, I was grieving from our fall, 2000 pregnancy loss. The teachers who primarily functioned with their heads and not with their hearts, were able to plug away each day, not expecting to fix or change anything with our student body or with their families. They somehow managed to avoid emotional involvement, and were effective in large part because they knew how to keep their distance.

Big Prayer Request Number Five

I was having stress-related health problems, and finally decided to take anti-anxiety medication for a short time. Needless to say, after that development we began earnestly praying me out of that job.

Miraculously, a nearby homeschooling/science and technology charter school was expanding its enrollment, and happened to be administrated by a woman I used to teach with. I went on an interview just a few weeks before discovering I was pregnant again. Thank God! I got the job! It involved teaching various core and enrichment classes to homeschooling students in grades K-6, as well as meeting individually with thirty of the families once a month to check their lesson plans and student work samples.

Big Prayer Request Number Six

In my previous post I mentioned that I was not concerned that my beau, who at this point was my husband, did not bring home a family-supporting income. I was the main breadwinner in the marriage, which began to really worry me during my pregnancy, as I began to realize how STRONGLY I desired to stay home with my much-yearned-for baby. The thought of handing our baby over to a stranger began to distress me more and more.

During this time my husband and I co-lead the singles' group for our church. Included in the group were a few wonderful prayer warriors, who privately joined me in asking God for the financial means necessary for me to stay home, or at least to be able to work from home.

God was faithful, I'm happy to say, but it went down to the wire. It was shortly before Daniel's birth that my boss agreed to let me work part-time, only coming in to teach two classes, and for my monthly meetings. I was allowed to bring my baby with me, even while teaching, as long as I had someone in the classroom to care for him. We hired a homeschooling teenager to sit with our baby in the back of the classroom. Other than the fact that she didn't change diapers, it worked out well. The homeschooling mothers all sat in the classes with their children, and they were very supportive of me bringing my son, even at times helping the teenager with him. Miraculously, Daniel never fell ill during this time, despite his early exposure to school-age children. Another miraculous thing is that his colicky behavior was quieted somehow, during our time on campus.

It was difficult to plan lessons while dealing with a colicky baby. Sleep evaded our household for five months, and I really can't tell you how we survived. I remember trying to put together a sixth-grade social studies lesson every Monday night, while my husband dealt with our non-sleeping, or intermittently-sleeping baby. It took the whole night to plan the next day's lesson, as I would inevitably keep falling asleep. I remember being tempted to cry some of those nights, as the exhaustion, mixed with the responsibility of having to be a professional, was just too much sometimes. But, I would dwell on how blessed I was to be able to raise my own child, and with that reminder, I got through. I never had to part with my baby, and my time on campus translated into only eight hours per week, with about eight more hours of work done at home.

Big Prayer Requests Number Seven & Eight

When our second child was born in late 2003, working from home got a whole lot harder. In addition, my charter school had expanded to become a full-time regular school, with only a portion of the homeschooling population remaining on board. Two teachers, myself and a secondary-level teacher, serviced the entire homeschooling population, each taking about forty families. Lots of rules and requirements changed, and core classes were no longer offered to them. Instead, the homeschoolers were invited to join already-full regular-ed classes for their regular afternoon enrichment rotations. There was a lot of grumbling and bitterness involved in the change; my colleague and I were on our own in dealing with how to interpret homeschooling law, and how to deal with the discontented, overly-burdened homeschoolers. It was more responsibility than I wanted. In effect, we were functioning as administrators, and that is definitely not my calling.

My part-time salary was $29,000, and there was no way we could survive without it, as it was still slightly more than my husband's full-time income. During this period, I wondered if I had made a mistake in marrying someone who couldn't support a family. He was(is) a wonderful husband and father, but my faith was weakening. I just wanted to be with my babies, and kiss my career goodbye. I struggled to find a single positive thing about being a working mom, as by this time it was impossible to bring my children to school with me. I had a sweet, Mary-Poppins-type, former-homeschooler college student come to my home to watch them eight hours a week. She was definitely God's provision, blessing all of us and lessening my emotional angst.

I also, during this time, got pregnant again. Working from home with three children around just wasn't going to be possible, clearly. I, in desperation, began researching really cheap places to which we might relocate. I was ready to live in a trailer, if it meant I could stay home with my children.

I got this wild idea one night that we should move to Ohio, where housing was affordable, and where I had aunts who could help us with the children in a pinch. Neither of us had any family in California, and we were really wanting to be able to go on dates, and have trusted family to rely on in case of emergencies.

Don was a transplant from PA, and was not thrilled about going back to a rainy, snowy, humid climate. He loathed the idea, in fact, but neither of us could come up with another affordable place that was close to family and cheap enough to allow me to stay home.

The California housing market was on fire, and we sold our three-bedroom, 1400 square foot home for $238,000, after only a couple weeks on the market. The whole process was very smooth, and God seemed to be saying, "Go!"

Two prayers were answered in the sale of that house. The first one involved the fact that Don had prayed earnestly since marrying me that my $26,000 student loan could be miraculously paid off. It distressed him much to have that much extra debt. Since we bought our house for $100,000, and sold it for $238,000 three years later, his prayer was answered. I have to say I never thought in a million years that my loans would be "miraculously" paid off. But that kind of appreciation, in that short of time, can only be described as miraculous.

We did suffer pregnancy loss before moving, right after the house sold, at ten weeks gestation. Looking back on that, I have to wonder if the pregnancy was meant to be the catalyst that prompted the move. It certainly was the reason I started researching other places to live.

The way God works sometimes is so bizarre, that I think it's easy to think of the events of our lives as merely fate. I know non-believers think it's nuts to attribute all these events to divine intervention. After all, women miscarry everyday, people move everyday, they sell houses everyday, change jobs everyday, etc. I can only say that I think my faith prompts me to look for the extraordinary, hidden in the ordinary. God knows my heart through and through, and while he sometimes makes me wait, he always comes through on that which is near and dear to me.

The second answer from the sale of that house was that it allowed us to move to Ohio with no jobs, and purchase a home with only 30% down and our good credit to recommend us. The lending conditions now would never allow that, but back in 2005 things were much looser.

I have been home with the children since June, 2005. We are a low-income, financially struggling family, but we are raising our own children. While our possibly-sinful material wants are not often fulfilled, our needs are well taken care of. And once again, I know in my heart that it is God that provides for us, not our husbands, in the final analysis. I think, too, that there are hidden blessings in having to struggle financially. Don and I rely on God for every little thing. If we were well-off, or quite comfortable, would we have the same relationship with Him, I wonder?


One of the bigger prayer requests we've had since marrying involved my husband getting a ministry position. He obtained a Bible College BA degree and some Seminary units back in his twenties. Yet he had never pursued anything in the paid ministry field, partially because he wanted to be married first, and partially because he wasn't sure he had a true calling. I will write more about this in the next post.


Evenspor said...

This really is an amazing story. Thank you again. Did your time spent at the charter school influence your decision to homeschool?

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the reminder of all the things big and little that God has done for me. Your post has changed my perspective from my prayer requests to my blessings.

momma's heart said...

Hi Anonymous, Thanks for stopping by. I always appreciate your kind and uplifting comments.

Arwen, Yes, working with that charter school helped put homeschooling on my radar. I didn't know a thing about it prior to that job. I developed great respect for all the mothers I worked with. Still have contact with a couple of them.