Graveyards. The connotation is most always negative. They speak of lives gone by, days we can never have back. Sometimes, they conjure up terrible memories. And sometimes, they just creep us out. One particular cemetery near our house flanks a beautiful old church, Spanish moss dangles from the old oaks, and the road just kind of drops off. It’s a quiet beauty to me, but to my kids, it’s creepy. [Perspective is a funny thing.] How weird it would seem to be finding your way in the graveyard. But that’s exactly what I did.
For years Chris had wanted me to homeschool our kids. I wanted no part of it. Honestly, it was purely a prideful reason: I didn’t want my kids to fall into the “stereotypical” homeschool kid bucket. (Now I cringe as I write that.) I was, however, truly excited about coming home from work to be with my kids. I’d just take them to school, pick them up, enjoy them in the afternoon, while baking cookies, of course! The little one and I would have us a grand ole time while the bigs were at school. Oh, the pictures we can conjure up….
That was not what the Lord had planned for us. Chris knew my resistance to teaching our kids at home, so he became silent on the matter and began to pray that the Lord would change my heart. We decided that I would resign my teaching position to be home with the kids, and we began to work on getting out of debt so that it was financially possible.
He took me to the graveyard…
The Christmas before I resigned, I decided I wanted a “Charlie Brown” tree to display all the kids’ handmade ornaments. I knew just where to look, too, because my family had cut down trees there many times when I was a kid. We loaded the kids and went to the cemetery where my mom and step-dad, granny and grandpa, aunts and uncles, and cousins had been laid to rest. I love that place. For me, it’s full of sadness, yes, but a peaceful sadness and so many fond memories.
One such memory was my first and probably only experience with an outhouse! The church is Primitive Baptist, so no indoor plumbing. Another memory is of an old hand pump. My mom would always take water in a jar for us to prime the pump because my sister and I found complete delight in that old pump. I remember her lovingly wiping sand and paw prints from my step-dad’s grave and clearing grass from it’s edges.
That evening, Chris and I and the kids walked to my mom’s graveside and allowed ourselves a few moments, then we walked the treeline looking for a little tree. As we walked, we noticed the old graves and found ourselves reading tombstones, pondering names and noticing dates. We walked a little farther and came to a cluster of graves. There were two large slabs, and four little slabs…the next one smaller than the last. As we paused at this family, we realized that the parents lost all four children before each child reached age 5.
It was in that moment that I found my way. In that moment, God spoke to me as clearly as if he were standing next to me in Chris’s place. He whispered, “You are not promised tomorrow with them.” I nearly lost it, and all I could reply in the recesses of my heart was, “Okay, God.”
That was my surrender to the path he had laid out for me. It was my way, the one I had been searching for. It was an answer to all my questions. Whatever it took, I would stay with them, and I would teach them, and I would love and cherish them.
What my way looks like today…
I’d love to tell you that my path remains as clear as it was that chilly fall evening. I often doubt my calling, wonder what the heck I am doing here, convince myself that someone else could do a better job. But the fact is, even on days when I tell Chris to “just take their butts up to that schoolhouse and sign them up,” I know when I have time to breathe and pray that I was called to this. I am supposed to be here, doing exactly what I am doing because I’m not released to do anything else.
It’s not easy…this mom thing, this homeschooling thing, this living on one income thing, this opening my heart to you thing…but it is a finding your way in the graveyard kind of thing. And when you find your way in the graveyard, you know it’s the right way.