This year, two of my kids are in school. This is not newsworthy, except for the fact that I swore we’d homeschool most of elementary school, and yet here I am, happily (albeit a little reluctantly) sending them to one of those school places instead of learning at home.

In my early parenting days, and for most of my teenage years, I’d have never in a million years guessed I’d want to homeschool. I’m a product of public school, K through twelfth, and never imagined doing anything else.

But when we decided to move overseas, one of the price tags was homeschooling—our Middle Eastern city didn’t have any English-speaking schools, and our local neighborhood’s school was a bit on the scary side. So I made my peace with the idea of homeschooling, and eventually became sold on all its benefits. There are many.

The point of my post today isn’t to weigh the pros and cons of different schooling methods. It’s about letting go.

See, I’ve been utterly in His hands, year after year, with the path God asks me to take; so much so that I’m now more surprised than shocked with life’s changes. I could write a book about all the unexpected loops and stomach-dropping dips on the roller coaster ride I’m on with my family, and school has been just one of them. But each one, going through dark tunnels and speeding around the bend with the breeze in my hair, has reminded me that I am not God, and that He Who Is is much more infinitely good, wise, and trustworthy than myself.

Homeschooling—and the lack thereof this year—is more symbolic to me right now than anything. Symbolic of how I like to place on pedestals my ideals, my way of doing things, my preferences, above that which is ultimately best. Of how it’s so much easier to focus on the appearance of what’s best instead of what’s truly the best thing for me and my family. Of how I think I know what I’m doing, but no matter which path He calls me to walk, God will take care of every little significant detail.

When I lean into the wild and wonderful gust of trusting God, I’m held steady by His goodness. When I turn my face to His pleasure instead of the approval of people, I can follow the curves and turns of my path, no matter how steep or sharp or unexpected.

I typically say that we are year-at-a-time, kid-at-a-time people when it comes to schooling because I can make all the plans I want in my heart, but God ultimately determines my steps. For me, to do anything but reevaluate every year is to say I can clearly see our path eighteen years away. I can’t. And I’ve known from experience that He delights in our family following Him like flint into the unknown.

The schooling bit of this post doesn’t matter. It’s just an example. Being willing to let go is just as faith-full in deciding where to live, how to earn money, what books to read or TV shows to watch, how to relate to people, or whom to marry.

As for me, I want to be ready for anything. To go anywhere, do anything, and join my family into the wild goodness of following our Father. Leaning into change, instead of resisting it, makes the ride that much sweeter.

I can let go of the safety bar as we careen down the hill, or I can hold on for dear life—either way, I’m on a crazy ride. But in one circumstance, I’m reluctant and reticent, and I’m missing out on some of the fun. The other, I’m feeling the sway of every delightful bend.

What crazy ride is God taking you on right now? Are your hands raised in the air, or are you clenching the safety bar?

By Tsh, Simple Mom

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  1. 1

    Being willing for any thing…we’ll never be there perfectly, but He knows our hearts that at least want to be. And it’s worship. And our willingness is what He uses to show us more of His heart. This is such powerful stuff. Truth wrapped up in love.

  2. 2

    I grew up in one town 18 years of my life. It was expected in that one town that I would go to college for 4 years and return to it. Now I am 20 years and 3000 miles away. Never saw that one coming. I also thought I would public school my kids, but here I am on year 11 of homeschooling, and I am doing something I said I would never do when I started homeschooling I am homeschooling a high school student. Other twists and turns have been painful and involve great loss. However along the way and through them all, I have learned never to say never, because truly only HE knows.

    • 3

      So wild to think about what our real lives are, instead of what our high school selves thought they’d be, eh? I, for one, am SO GLAD that God’s dreams for me are so much bigger than mine were! Even if that ultimately means staying in the same place, it’s never about us dreaming too big, I don’t think. It’s usually about us dreaming too small.

  3. 4

    I am clenching the safety bar….holding on to God but also at the same time struggling to trust. The problem is that in all my struggles in my life I have always turned to God and this helped me, gave me a feeling of safe, secure. Just a week ago I had a conversation with someone about God’s protection and all of a sudden my trust in God flew away leaving me floundering. So I am on that roller coaster clenching the safety bar but not really trusting it is going to do it’s job properly and keep me safe. God Bless.

    • 5
      Jennifer says:

      Your note just resonated with me! I too, and holding on to the safety bar. Your words spoke exactly what I feel. Know that you are not alone. hanging on with you!

    • 7

      Building one another up in faith is what we’re told to do- so I guess we ought not to be surprised when someone who lacks faith claws at it. Faith comes from hearing, so I’m here to remind you, God is unchanging, and though we all suffer from time to time, He loves us no less. Nothing is stronger than God. I hope you both can soon relax a bit into His All-Powerful care. Envision yourselves as little children and He is the Best Dad Ever.

  4. 8

    For me, it’s deciding whether to go back to work (the kids are 7 now and we’re a mostly “normal” family after the last many years of being “that triplet family”.) I was a teacher in my previous life (pre-kid, pre-busy, pre-mother’s heart on my sleeve 24/7) and although I’m trained to do that profession, I don’t know if it’s where I’m called anymore or even if I have the passion for it like I used to. I’d like to contribute to my dear saintly husband’s efforts to afford this instant family of ours, but God is blessings us through his work plenty and I don’t know if going back to work is even necessary. Am I just trying to feel better about doing something that matters in the world’s eyes? Am I trying to build up a bigger nest egg because we’ve depleted the old one so much with me home these last many years? I actually am pretty sure I know what my passion in this season is and what ride I’m being called to get on. It’s convincing others who look at me like, “Are you CRAZY?”, that yes, this is the roller coaster we should be getting on now. That’s what’s still holding me back. But I’m in the line and waiting for the last bit of gumption needed to get in and buckle up :-)

    • 9

      “It’s convincing others who look at me like, “Are you CRAZY?”…”

      Jen, the thought that popped in my head as soon as I read this was—you don’t need to convince anyone other than your husband, and that if you try to convince everyone, you’ll spend so much energy pouring it out to them that you won’t have much less to pour out into that “thing.” I’m only speaking from my experience as a recovering people-pleaser here, but I’ve raised PLENTY of eyebrows with our choices over the years, choices that were most DEFINITELY the best ones for us.

      I’m sure you know that, but I just wanted to give you a little encouragement there. ;)

      • 10

        Thanks, friend :-) Yes, I’m a recovering/still battling people pleaser but the eccentric streak in me keeps me stretching for the crazy, unexpected, unreasonable things that I know are part of our journey. It’s good to know I’m not alone in this out-of-the-box thinking!

  5. 11

    Such a applicable post for just about anyone! I loved the part where you said…”Symbolic of how I like to place on pedestals my ideals, my way of doing things, my preferences, above that which is ultimately best. Of how it’s so much easier to focus on the appearance of what’s best instead of what’s truly the best thing for me and my family. ”

    That’s so true, it’s easy to get caught up in the “appearance” of what looks good, instead of being led by the Lord, following where He’s leading your family.

    Thanks for sharing this with us!

  6. 12

    I feel like I’m waving arms wild in the air, in obedience. But I often find I’m really still clenching my hands with eyes tightly shut.

    • 13

      That’s me all over! The past two years I feel like I am just learning what it means to do this — I am a baby Christian and I was raised in fear of trusting others to help you do anything — and today, this week, this month have been especially intense in the calling to JUST LET GO! I had all these plans, I fell in love with God and made all these new plans, I met my husband and we built together-plans, and now life is throwing us so far off that track I don’t know if we’ll ever find it again … or if we’re ever meant to. I’m still sort of in mourning for that, but I’m clinging to God that He will tell me if He wants me to abandon those plans for good, or just for now.

      Thank you so much for posting this, Tsh! It’s an especially ironic metaphor for me, because as a kid I hated roller coasters worse than anything — until one day I finally realized, it was because I always held my breath the whole way, so the pressure on the way down each time was like murder. Talk about just hurting yourself by resisting the ride!! We’re strapped in for the ride no matter what — might as well trust the good Builder! But the knowing and the doing are hard to bring together, sometimes. Thanks for the encouragement!!

  7. 14

    I must admit to being a bit of a bar clencher… lately God has been challenging me with actually acting (gasp!) on a dream or two. Some of it is taking me on a journey that I’m quite enjoying. Other things I don’t quite get what He’s doing. I am certain of this though. – It’s not my job to know what’s around the bend. Just to trust Him.

  8. 15

    Tsh,

    This post truly spoke to my heart today. I’m in our second year of homeschooling and trying to be the best mom I can to a 6, 3 and 1 year old, and it’s downright tough. However, God equips the called and not the other way around. Remembering to rely on Him – that I was never ever designed to have all the answers – makes me feel FREE!! I have to remind myself that I am my children’s guide, but I cannot take the place of the Lord and try to control their lives. Sometimes it’s a fine line, but that’s why having God as the King of our lives leaves us in the hands of an Almighty who can carry us, lead us, heal us, refresh us, and love us. I shared your post on FB today – God bless, mama!!

  9. 16

    Moved across country a little over a year ago as my husband joined the LifeChurch.tv team. I am accustomed to risk taking and the “steep, sharp, and unexpected”. Now that we are settled, I currently find myself on the merry-go-round…an opportunity for observation and where sights and sounds become the soundtrack of introspection. Trusting God where I’m at!

  10. 18

    I homeschooled my kids for a while. It was the most worthwhile yet challenging time in my life. Sending them back to school allowed them to soar without me. That was the hardest part.

  11. 19

    I am homeschooling one of my four, after saying many times I can homeschool anyone BUT him. :) This post reminds me of the movie Parenthood :

    Grandma: I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.

    We can thank God that His ways are not our ways and as a result we get more out of it.

  12. 21

    Oh is that ever a lesson I’m continually learning! :-) I cannot even begin to count the number of times in my life that I have planned out my course and God has drastically altered it. Most of the time I’ve gone kicking and screaming. With time and maturity, I’m learning to let go and enjoy the ride. Our family is now facing a potentially huge change and for the first time, I’m excited! By taking my focus off of myself, I can really see where God has been working in this. And it makes me love him all the more.

  13. 22

    I loved today’s post partly because I sit here, in China, reading it…a place my high school self (never in a million years) would have put me. Putting my hands up and letting going has brought my family some amazing adventures and I know there will be more to come.

  14. 23

    Tsh, these words were for me this morning. I, too, am on the wild ride of transitioning from homeschooling our children to now public school. It’s a walk of faith and certainly a million letting go’s. Hard, good, scary, adventurous, faith building, idol tearing, painful, wonderful, and a whole mix of emotions that you may understand.

    God woke me up with this promise today from Philippians 3:7-10. Comforting…

    Thanks for the encouragement.

  15. 24
    Amanda Waldon says:

    Thank you for this post. It resonated with my spirit. Especially when you wrote, “As for me, I want to be ready for anything. To go anywhere, do anything, and join my family into the wild goodness of following our Father. Leaning into change, instead of resisting it, makes the ride that much sweeter.”

    I have been praying about a HUGE decision to move our family 650 miles back across country. I have struggled and debated, decided, and then struggles with the decision. Thank you for reminding me that, I know God’s voice. Now I just need to hang on and enjoy the ride. Change can be scary but it will be well worth. it.

  16. 25

    As a homeschooling mom for the past 20 years with the last one off to college this fall, I have no idea what the next season holds but so thankful I know who holds it. I especially appreciate this line from your post “When I turn my face to His pleasure instead of the approval of people, I can follow the curves and turns of my path, no matter how steep or sharp or unexpected.” No matter what’s ahead, it’s His pleasure I want. Thanks for the post:)

  17. 26
    Annette says:

    I wanted to tell you how much this blog meant to me today. I equated my walk with God recently as a wild ride on a roller coaster, looking at life through closed fingers. I too want to be ready whenever and wherever God directs me. I heard Beth Moore recently make a comment that “Life is a wild ride IF someone else is in the driver’s seat”. God is in my driver’s seat directing and sending me life changing moments every day. I have goosebumps reading your blog today and wanted to encourage to keep up your walk in Him. This was so meaningful to me!!!!

  18. 28

    How perfect the timing of this is for me! Next year, Lord-willing, will be our first year of school after seven years of homeschooling. I too am inclined to put my ideals on a pedestal, and oh how I resist change! This process is definitely a letting-go, maybe a prying-off-of-the-fingers for me. Thank you for the reminder to lean into Him and to enjoy the ride!

  19. 29

    Two and a half weeks ago, I got laid-off. After five years with the company (it was exactly one month post-five year anniversary), my position was eliminated. We just bought a house, and while we have been working towards becoming debt-free, we still have a little ways to go. We worked hard to get to where I could work p/t, but weren’t ready to make the home full-time plunge. Yet that is the drop that our roller coaster car hit.
    And I feel oddly calm. I am looking at this as an opportunity to start a career instead of taking a job. As God’s way of saying “You know how you say you want to be a writer, but with your job and the kids, you have no time? Well, now is your chance.”

    “I can let go of the safety bar as we careen down the hill, or I can hold on for dear life—either way, I’m on a crazy ride” really resonated with me this morning. I’m trying to throw my hands up and enjoy the ride.

  20. 30

    Wow, this post today was written for me. I lost my husband one year ago this week. I am learning what it means to fully trust. God has had me in the cleft of the rock for the past 52 weeks, and there have been blessing upon blessing upon blessing thoughout this past year. I am learning to lean in instead of resist, and am finding that God is good NO MATTER WHAT. Thank you Tsh!

  21. 32

    Dear Tsh, I totally track with your post. I did the homeschool thing for K-12 with my girls and they followed the local trend to take college classes for the last year or two of high school for the double benefit of college units (3) to High School credit (10) , what a deal. But the last one was kicking and screaming. Not to say she would not have kicked and screamed whatever we decided, Now that she is 18 I see that is her personality.
    But my last one was different. I had to do the Let go and Let God thing in 2009 and returned to college for the benefit of Financial aid to supplement the family income and to take the girls to the college, as well as, honing my job skills to get a job ASAP.
    Now my son is comfortably in his Charter school network. They are in charge of helping him with his learning disabilities and he is happy there. (At home with a “stay at home dad” was not a happy place for him.)
    I guess I was on the ride, but was white knuckling the safety bar, until recently. I am in need of a job and our situation to the world looks hopeless. But with God all things are possible. My hands are in the air praising HIM and He will supply all our needs. In the process HE is building my character for eternity.
    That is my new revelation…with the help of Rick Warren’s book. It isn’t just Harps and Choir practice in Heaven. God is making a new Heaven and a New Earth. There will be stuff to do and I want to be the first to raise my hand like Isaiah and say, PICK ME!!!)

  22. 33

    God has been teaching me quite a bit about letting go and trusting Him. No, it’s not easy. But this weekend God reminded me that He is far bigger than any of my plans or mistakes, so I loved what you wrote about God being far more trustworthy and wise than we are. Thank you!

  23. 34

    This is such an important concept. My husband and I have been married {almost} 6 years and have lived in 5 homes in 4 states. We have definitely learned to let God control our future. We plan, but hold the plan loosely. We have been so blessed by the “unexpected” things in our lives.

  24. 35

    Sigh…Letting go. Such a good reminder. I’m holding tight to a lot of things today. Thanks for this reminder.
    Time to let go…
    Cathie

  25. 36

    Whoa! You are speaking directly to ME!

    My husband recently went from one job that we lived comfortably in to a job that has us wondering where we’ll get the money to keep the kids in extra-curricular activities. Or even have Internet.
    We trust in God. We have been down this road before. It’s just seeing that things WILL be ok. Now.

  26. 37

    We have definitely been through those moments where we have felt unsure, lost, anxious….but God is so incredible, and has brought our family through so much. It’s the “looking back” that I have grown to be so fond of. It reminds me of the “footprints” story. Where when we look back and see that when we felt alone/lost/uncertain, it was then that God was carrying us through.

  27. 38
    Jennifer says:

    I am deathly afraid of roller coasters…what a poignant post for me! and in so much of my life, I feel like I’m hanging on for dear life. Last year I had a breast cancer diagnosis – and amazingly, I’m much less afraid now. A year of treatments and miracles, and meeting with angels, has brought me closer to a Real and Present God. i’m still afraid, but I know God is here.

  28. 39

    congratulations on this new loop de loop in your life! May you raise your hands high and have one of the biggest smiles on your face when this adventure is through!

  29. 40

    What a fantastic post. It so very much resinated with me as that is what my life has been for the past 2 1/2 years. One giant roller coaster. I must say at the moment, the dips and drops have me clinging on for dear life, though I hope I am clinging to my Lord who is driving this whole thing called life.
    The crazy ride we are on right now is a cross country move, living with both my in-laws and now my parents, as we save for a place, having a new baby, home schooling kindergarten with our oldest and my husband starting a new job. You can read about our first week of school and many of these other adventures here: http://gleasonsgowest.blogspot.com
    But, no matter what, this reminder to enjoy the ride is a timely one. Thank you.

  30. 41

    beautiful. We are transitioning from public school to homeschool in two weeks…thankful I opened the email regarding this post. Every year is on the altar and He will guide us into that place where: “When I turn my face to His pleasure instead of the approval of people, I can follow the curves and turns of my path, no matter how steep or sharp or unexpected.” Thank you so very much.

  31. 42

    I hear you… loud and clear. Our crazy ride is yours, not homeschooling. It’s been freeing and terrifying and wonderful all at the same time. And because its right where God wants us as family, it’s the best thing ever. It took a while for me to let go of that ideal, that homeschooling is happy children reading and cute craft projects and an easy flow from subject to subject all day long. It was all of that for us, and none of that for us. In all its joy, it was excruciatingly tough. But once I let go and let God do his thing, I realized that this current ride is pretty sweet.

  32. 43

    Great post! This year I began homeschooling my 7th grader. I’ve never homeschooled before. And, work full time. It’s been a crazy ride, but one full of God’s grace and strength. Looking forward to my homeschooling tenure!

  33. 44

    I tend to set big expectations for myself too and sometimes when life dictates, I need to let go (maybe only temporarily) of these ideas to be happier all around.

  34. 45

    Love what you have shared in this article. My family has been in a lot of changes in the past 9 months . Thank God for His grace and guidance that we are making everyday progress. I also wanted to homeschool my kids (I did when we lived in the MiddleEast) but had to learn as well the lesson of letting go.

  35. 46
    Beth Williams says:

    My wild ride now is my old age father. We found out a few weeks ago he has “malignant melanoma”–that spot is healing nicely. Now I feel he has a bit of depression, is not eating much, lost a lot of weight. Fortunately he has agreed to see his PCP and get things worked out.

    My mother-in-law just has complete knee replacement and has staph in her body. Fortunately God brought her through the surgery just fine and she begins rehab.

    A friend of mine has health issues with her mom and it is a day to day struggle. All I can do is commiserate with her and pray.

    Prayer is a wonderful thing. I’m holding on tight and praying for answers to my questions!

  36. 47
    Lindsay says:

    Beautiful metaphor in this post! Praises be to Christ our king – so thankful that He is faithful even in the details of the unknown.

  37. 48

    I would say my hands are on the way up-God is calling my husband and I to live out loud for him becoming missionaries…excited but have no idea how that will all pan out.

  38. 49
    Christina M says:

    Oh how I would love to say that I am waving my hands in the air in ecstatic abandon, but truth be told, I am often clenching the safety bar in fear and worry. Or I’m frantically searching for a steering wheel that doesn’t even exist, because surely if I don’t control the course of this ride I won’t get to my intended destination, right?

  39. 50

    loop-de-loop? or the spin cycle? :) either way, my hands are waayyyy up!

  40. 51

    I always love your perspective. Thank you.

    For me, it’s letting go of the fact that if my kids have learning disorders (well, I use “differences), they’re skillset will reflect on my skills as a homeschool teacher. I try to be open about it, but the truth is, I won’t always be there to cover and explain for kids who are unable to do certain things. I’ve taught and perfected my teaching skills since I was 12 years old. At home, I see the amazing gifts and the progress, but the rest of the world will never see where we came from, what we did, and where we got to. That’s sometimes hard to swallow.

  41. 54

    Beautiful post, friend! And this analogy? Just perfect. I am on my feet applauding your bravery as you follow Him “like flint into the unknown.” Pondering your words as I pry my own hands off that safety bar {grin}. Love you so much, Tsh!

  42. 56
    Elizabeth Topliff says:

    I think my hands are in the air most of the time and sometimes I stop and grab the safety bar. We have always said it is God in control and we are here to do His will. So in 7 years of marriage we have moved six times, have three kids, and are living in our 4th town. We also decided that we will be homeschooling our kiddos (though they are 3, 2, and 7 months). My husband finished his master’s degree and has worked at 4 different jobs post college (it seems like a lot but they all came and found my husband and were all moves up). This last year has had the most changes….move to a new town and state, baby girl born, puppies born, and a move to a new house 4 weeks after she was born. Most of the time I don’t stress or worry about what will happen but trust that God is in control and though I don’t always get it right but I have come so far in trusting Him. Having lived in the same house and the same town my first 18 years of life with a dad who worked one job for 30+ years, I couldn’t have imagined the wild ride I would be on now.
    We had a time were we couldn’t afford (long story) my husband’s job changes and people always asked what the plan was and for over a year (we were trying to reason with the company and get them to work with us) my answer was “We don’t have a plan…we are waiting on God’s plan. I’ll let you know.”
    I have come a long way.

  43. 57

    Leaning into change, instead of resisting it, makes the ride that much sweeter. Can I steal that as a new mantra?? WE are in the midst of a huge life change, selling our dream house in my home province to settle on the prairies ( see this post, http://livingbrilliant.blogspot.ca/2012/09/little-house-on-prairies.html ) in a place where we know no one and will probably stick out like sore east coast thumbs. It is terrifying, and thrilling, and this in-between-time is the worst. I wish we could somehow skip over the “goodbye to our house and to all of friends, family and people we know” and just get to the adventure in the west part. But I will try to take a deep breath. Thanks for this post, Tsh.

  44. 58
    muchalone says:

    I had dreams of a traditional life.
    A Mom…with the right number of kids
    and me at home nurturing them
    and matching furniture
    and it is amazing how God transformed my mismatched reality into a sort of traditional ‘mom-ness’
    When it was a hard uphill climb, I reached up for Him, held fast, and followed His lead through a maze of difficult days.
    Now, the hard has been exchanged for the agony of loss…
    The ups and downs take my breath away and leave me longing…
    longing for that wholesome hard work to keep me from sinking into the despair of my current devastation.
    How do you enjoy the ride when the wounds are so raw that every twist and turn leaves you bleeding?

  45. 59
    Brooke Burger says:

    It is one crazy ride and I am trying to let go and let God!!!!

  46. 60

    LOVE this post, Tsh. This is the story of our lives too, leaning into the ride, enjoying the wonder as well as the heart-aches of the unknown and changes. Life is surely never dull. :)

  47. 61

    Well, since you asked… our crazy ride is this (I’ll try to give the Cliff’s Note version)… we are a family of 5 (kids are 4, 2, and 4 months) that moved across the country in August and lived with my parents for 2 months. Now we live with my brother-in-law for 6 months, and then we’ll be finding our own place to rent for a few years as we save up for a house. That will be my 4-year-old’s 8th home. We are currently mourning the loss of our plans to go overseas as missionaries (we are leaving our mission this month after being involved since 2006). We were unemployed for a while and hubby started his new job 3 weeks ago. We had a death in the family in July. I have been having serious doubts about my ability to be a good homeschooler (and about the philosophy I’ve “chosen”). Oh, and I’m having a bit of a writing crisis. So, yeah – holding tight to this wild ride is pretty well all I can do.

    Looking forward to meeting you next week at Allume, Tsh. Lots of love from Canada! xo.

  48. 62

    Learning to let go sometimes is scary. But then again, you said it: we’re missing out on the fun. We have to learn to trust God more. He’s in control.

  49. 63

    I like my comfort zone but God is pushing me out of it completely. After 20 years of marriage and with someone else in her life, my wife wants to get divorced from me. That has been a great shock for me.

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