We stayed for three glorious years in sunny Northern California, enjoying many of the majestic sights – Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Monterey Bay, Carmel; trips to the ocean, fresh road-side fruit stands, plentiful sunshine and completely new experiences from what we had known in our home state of Wisconsin – we grew to love our time there and God so faithfully showered his grace on us, helping us to find a great church and make some friends.

The first school we put our kids into turned out to have some beliefs that we couldn’t agree with. We heard about an excellent Christian High School and decided our older two girls, who were by this time both in high school, would attend there for our second year of living in California. Having no other options for the younger three, I was sort of thrust in a direction I had never considered before: homeschooling. A prospect I was terrified of!

I was not a teacher! I never even went to college! The thought of my precious children’s educations being placed into my quaking and (in my mind at the time) unqualified hands was simply ~ Well, the word disastrous comes to mind!

But we were out of choices – and time. So, with great trepidation, we set out to try our hand – praying daily that God would give us what we needed to make the year a success.

As I brought my fears to God, He handed back to me a verse found in Joshua 1, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous – do not be terrified, do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you may go.”

It turned out to be a marvelous journey! I utilized the curriculum my sister recommended to me and the kids and I enjoyed the extra time together, foraging through the endless maze of learning – one interesting thing led to another and we fully embraced it all and learned together! We were able to really hone in on the few areas my children had each struggled with in the past, giving them stronger foundations on which to build.

I so appreciated the extra time I got to have with my children, better understanding their areas of weakness and strengths – if they understood something, we moved on; if they didn’t, we simply ‘parked’ there until they did. It was very fulfilling, and I am glad we have it in our memory bag of experiences.

As wonderful as I ended up thinking homeschooling was, the four of us sitting around our dining room table left very little chance for any of us to meet people and make friends; since we hadn’t gone back to the first school, our younger kids were still relatively friendless; so we agreed, they needed to go to school. God allowed Mark and I to find a marvelous school for them the following year.

I still look fondly back at that year; I realized that had I allowed my fear of the unknown to stop us from trying this, we would have missed out on SO much! I discovered in a very intimate and tangible way that I serve an AWESOME God – and if He is calling me, He will also equip me.

Was it always easy? Certainly not! But was it worth every stretch mark of growth I saw in my life as a result? You bet it was!

Sometimes the idea of trying something out of our comfort zone can cripple us…but God wants us to be willing to venture out into arenas in our lives that He is beckoning us to join Him, trusting that He is with us and can carry us through.

Are there areas you’ve opened up to God to stretch you so He can build your faith deeper? Are you fearfully holding back from walking through a door God has opened for you? Let’s talk…you know – between friends.