We had high hopes and some trepidation for the changes being made in our family this school year. We had no time to analyze those changes before an earthquake rocked our world and life turned topsy turvy for awhile. But now that things have settled down (literally and figuratively!) it has been rewarding to realize the overall positive effect of the changes on our day-to-day family life.
I'll be the first to admit that there are times when I chafe at being "tied down" to the house with two children schooling at home. Yet even that has proven a blessing in the sense that it has forced me to examine my heart and my priorities regarding my family. I still fail regularly at recognizing that the value of this time helping my girls is just as worthy as all the other "ministry opportunities" in my life. But I am learning, and appreciating the daily time we now spend in each other's company during such an important stage of their lives.
I am also appreciating the freedom the girls and I can have when we organize ourselves to make up or work ahead on school. Last Monday, we headed out the door before 8 a.m. and walked our feet off around Iquique, tending to bloodwork, doctor's appointments, eye doctor's appointments, replacing a bank card, clothes shopping, and having breakfast and lunch together. By the end of the day we were exhausted but I was so grateful to get it all done and have the flexibility in our schedule to do so.
Little by little post-earthquake, our children have resumed extra-curricular activities as well. Several are free of charge. Ian's cooking class and Owen's handball class are included in their schooling fees. Training at the track - initially for Owen, who is now joined by Daddy and Isabel and twice a week by his Australian friends! - is also free. A Saturday morning Aikido (Japanese martial arts) class is close to free for our three boys, thanks to an acquaintance of Pedro's who is their kindly instructor. Saturday afternoon music lessons - guitar for Owen and Isabel, piano keyboard for Eva - were also offered at less than half-price by a generous friend. Eva's riding lessons twice a week cost us in a month what it seems some lessons cost by the hour in the States.
Last year, with the five kids coming home at five different times and homework sometimes lasting until bedtime, this would all have been impossible. And there's a chance that next year, things could change again. For now I am simply choosing to be grateful for His gifts. As a child growing up, there were things I dreamed of being or doing that didn't happen for one of two reasons: finances or fear. I think the latter was more the culprit than the former - my own fear of failure and of embarrassment. Now I wish I had given it a try, and I hope that by allowing our children to experience new things they will develop greater confidence and discover their true talents and interests. As I told my friend Erin yesterday, "It is a privilege when we are able to let them explore different things ... not always possible, but my heart's desire is for them to find their God-given bent(s) and pursue them fully in the future for His glory!"
Thank You, Lord, for being the Giver of good gifts. (James 1:17) Thank You for being the perfect example of a generous Father. (Matthew 7:9-11) Thank you for counting the hairs of our heads and for caring about the dreams of our children's hearts! (Luke 12:7)