Thursday, May 19, 2011

What Difference Does It Make?

I had dinner recently with two dear, old friends whom I haven't seen in a long time.  We talked for hours about books, travel, grandchildren ( my friends are becoming grandmas!!!) , aging parents, marriage, work, and of course our kids.  All homeschoolers, we spent a lot of time together when our children were younger, participating in group activities like band, sports, co-op classes, science fairs, etc.  Both of these ladies have agonized over a child who has left the nest and strayed from the values of his family, making choices that have led to conflict, pain and heartache.  I have other homeschool friends who have experienced similar things with a teenager or grown child.  This has sometimes led to the question, "Why did I bother?  What difference did it make for me to sacrifice so much, to invest so much time and thought and effort, to care so much?  If homeschooling my child, keeping him away from all the negative influences in the schools, diligently teaching him about character and values as well as academics, didn't insure that he wouldn't make terrible choices later on -  then what was the purpose?!" 

My response is that there are no guarantees in life.  Being a homeschooler does not necessarily spare us or our children from pain, suffering, or conflict, any more than being a Christian does.  So we cannot approach homeschooling with the idea that we are guaranteeing that our children won't rebel or succumb to temptation or be led astray. But we labor  to build a strong foundation of grounded faith and loving family relationships to anchor our kids lives, and I don't believe those anchors let go completely, even when the ship seems to be drifting far off course!   God has work to do in all of our hearts,  parents and children both, and I  think sometimes He gives  parents situations in which to practice what we preach - forgiveness, humility, grace, courage, and trust would be a few.  We are forced to run to Jesus and relinquish our dreams and desires for our children to Him, acknowledging that we do not have the power to save - only He does.

I have not faced the kind of heartache that some of my friends have with their children, but I do know what it is like to watch my children wrestle with worldly desires, struggle with their faith,  and test the waters in areas I would rather they avoid completely.  It is so hard as a parent of grown and nearly grown children to let them find their own way, yet still offer gentle guidance ( but not nagging! ) as an older and wiser sister-in-Christ!

What difference does it make?
A spiritual battle rages with growing fury for the hearts and minds of this next generation, and we Christians must be on our knees in prayer and also actively discipling our children (learning about and living like Christ together! ) EVERY DAY!   We do this out of LOVE and also obedience to the Savior who loves us!  We are warriors in a cosmic battle, and even if our children make choices that we think are wrong, they will know that they have a mother who loves them and is fighting for their soul. And that does make a difference.

Galatians 6:7-9
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Carolina Capital Homeschool Prom 2011 - "Masquerade"

Wow! After an intense week of final preparations and stressing over the weather, Friday night's "Masquerade" was a beautiful and successful event! One hundred seventy-five homeschool students and alumni - ages 14-21 - descended on The Sutherland in all their glorious Prom attire as the sun shone and rain clouds slipped by to the south.

My morning and afternoon had been spent running some last minute errands to get a few more pearl garlands and candles for the centerpieces, then to The Sutherland to help assemble luminarias and table centerpieces, then home to grab a bite to eat and change clothes, then off to where the girls were getting ready to take pictures, then back to The Sutherland for last minute preparations before the guests arrived in full force! All day long I had been checking the DOPPLER radar on WRAL's website, because the forecast was for rain from about 4pm - 8pm,. which was when guests were scheduled to arrive, get pictures taken and eat. Since our Prom is OUTDOORS, rain in the forecast is quite stressful! The dining area is under a reception tent, but the dance floor is open air, and there was not another tent available to rent at the last minute. We placed the assembled luminarias under cover and delayed setting up our check-in table, waiting for one of the chaperones to bring a picnic canopy to go over it. My oldest daughter, who is Prom photographer, planned to set up for portraits inside the house. But God heard our prayers, and miraculously, this little gap in the clouds slid right over our location, leaving us dry and sunny all afternoon!

A last minute addition to the evening was the hiring of illusionist/ comedian Paul Miller, who mingled with the guests, donning some crazy Russian persona and doing up-close illusions. He was hilarious and very entertaining.

Once everyone was under the tent for dinner -  a delicious  buffet of salad, rolls, chicken dijon, bbq boneless beef short ribs, mashed potatoes, green beans and carrots, provided by our caterer 1705 Prime/Rocky Top Hospitality -  a line of showers moved in, and we had to quickly move the photographer and check-in table indoors as well as gather up the luminarias ( paper bags + rain don't mix ) and cover the DJ's lights/equipment! 

The guests didn't seem to mind, and although the music and dancing was delayed by about a half hour, our magician jumped in with a juggling/comedy routine to fill the void!

The rain lasted about 45 minutes or so, and then the skies cleared, so we quickly reset up the DJ's lights and sound system and got the kids out on the dance floor, where they rocked for the rest of the night!  We gave away a bunch of door prizes and paused at about 10pm for dessert and a brief presentation from Joy C. about our benefit, Meet Me at the Bridge.  We also got to sing "Happy Birthday" to Solomon M. ....  IN PERSON.!!!  At last year's Prom, we raised money for the Kolfe Orphanage in Ethiopia, where Solomon lived, and connected with him via Skype to sing "Happy Birthday".  Shortly after that, God performed some serious miracles which brought Solomon to the USA on a student visa to study at the College at Southeastern. So Solomon was our special guest at Prom this year. 

Prom ended too soon for the students, but my feet were killing me and I was ready to pack up and go home.  It was a fantastic night and it is very satisfying to know that 175 homeschool teens had one of those "memorable nights" that they will fondly look back on years and years and years from now - as I do with my one-and-only high school prom, which I attended with a friend who later became my husband. :-)