the ride of public school.

_MG_3238 _MG_3270_MG_3456_MG_3364

i took emma to canada’s wonderland the last tuesday before school started…

it was her first time ever to an amusement park – well, that she remembers. she went when she was a baby. and for the last 3 years that we’ve lived here we’d pass this amusement park on the highway to and from toronto and she would sit with nose smashed to the window saying every time how she hoped someday she could go!

it was priceless pulling in that day. her not having a clue we were going and telling her THIS was our destination, not ikea like i had said! though i had planned to still get there before they closed for a return, but what was i thinking!! we were having way too much fun to leave. we stayed until they closed and then until they kicked us out of the gift shop – i think we were literally one of three cars left in the parking lot! made for getting out way easier!

the most perfect part of the day was how often emma would throw her arms around my waist hard and thank me again and again, and, “oh, mom!! this is a dream come true!”

whenever i get to feeling that my kids are deprived or lacking or wishing we could afford more often what others do on a regular basis i see in moments like this there’s something to be said for not getting all you want, all the time!

you lose the wonder. the gratefulness.
entitlement and boredom set in where once childish “dreams”  lived.

but as excited as i was to see her excitement. that smile that never left the entire day. i admit, the whole way down, and on every ride we stood in line for i had the thought, “what if it breaks? what if my baby’s on it and this is the one time in a millionth it malfunctions and 30 years of steel give way?”

so ya know what i did? i climbed on every one of those ding dang rides with her.
even the spinny ones that make you want to puke your brains out.

i think i’m still not walking in a straight line!




we do that though, don’t we? as moms. from the time we first know they’re inside us..
we wonder the “what if’s?” play out the maybe’s.

we rub our bellies and wait for those kicks.
hold our breath until we hear their first cry.
stand over their bed making sure they’re still breathing.

we can’t wait until they can roll over and not have their face all buried in the bed. but then they roll over and next on our minds.. “what if they get caught in the spindles?” if only they could stand then we’d worry less! but the minute we walk into their room and see them standing what do we think? “what if they flip out of their bed?” and when they do and survive, now it’s, “what if they get out of their bed open the door crawl down the hall climb up on the toilet onto the sink into the medicine cabinet and open the child proof bottle of tums!!! and, oh my word!! can tums kill you??”

so we rush right away to google it and find a whole beaucoup of other things that we never thought to worry about and now, we’re worrying about!

and so it goes.
this mothering thing.

and i don’t even consider myself someone who worries.
only all those things can pass through my mind in a matter of less than 3 minutes!!

it’s part of being a mom. wanting to protect these ones so much a part of us!!

men will never get it. it’s just different for them.
we carried these kiddos IN us! tucked right up there under our hearts!
i don’t think we ever lose that sense of connection..
that intensity of feeling for them. with them.
even knowing at times what it is they’re feeling before they even tell you!

moms just know.

i always wondered how mine did.
how she just knew. and still does.

well now i do!


but it seems the very thing that makes the mother child relationship one of the most special and unique and beautiful things can also become the ruin of it as well. if we hold on too tight! over protect. want to ride every ride and smother and make sure they’re wearing they’re helmet and life jacket and complete roll of bubble wrap

it’s certainly our job to protect. to make sure they are safe. that where they go is safe. and who they are with is safe. but as my kids get older this is what i’m learning – i instruct. i teach. i try to guide and gently correct. but i can’t always go! i won’t always be by their side… and hopefully, when i’m not there the instructions and teachings kick in, and they follow what they’ve been told.

but. sometimes they don’t!
what then?

it was one of my biggest fears with public school.

i don’t care what anyone says – public school is rough! especially high school.
it’s a place where the majority of kids are probably living totally opposite from how you’ve tried to train yours. there are condoms sold in the bathroom. drugs sold anywhere you like. the f-bomb dropped every other word. and God obsolete in conversation unless making fun of those who believe in Him.

it’s exactly all the things i had heard about it growing up, being homeschooled.
it’s one of the reasons we chose to homeschool our own kids.
it’s why i teetered back and forth the entire summer over homeschooling them again..

last school year was tough on one child in particular here.

i saw them veering from their relationship with Christ…there were things we went through and talked through that i thought i’d never have to deal with one of my children about. we went to therapy together. at first that reality embarrassed me. i didn’t want others to know. we were a family of therapy. it sounded so messed up to say. like we were such failures.

i blamed public school. i blamed friends. i blamed music and culture and society. even the church!

and what’s our instinct as moms when we think our kids are being threatened. jeopardized. falling away?
clear the path… push back the tidal wave and grab our babies and run! keep them safe. protected.

there was some of that.
rules and boundaries and tough love parenting.

but mainly there was grace and humbling. realizing our responsibility.
crying out to God individually and together. and learning and growing.
and… being okay if others knew we were in therapy!
accepting this as the storyline God was writing. and using.
holding on to the promise that He wastes nothing!

and over the summer there was such a transformation. a coming back!
with so much in our family.. not just this child. but yes! praise God, this child!!

but as the school year approached i feared that what had been done in their tender heart would be undone.

ah, those are the moments with your nearly grown ones where you feel like you’re standing over their crib all over again just waiting to see their chest rise and fall. are they breathing? are they okay? will they make it?

but this was thing that God was and is opening my eyes to big time~

parenting isn’t about trying to raise kids who never make mistakes.
who are never exposed to anything that might bring them some kind of hurt or harm.
we live in a fallen world. it’s inevitable they will not always make the right choices.
we can teach and instruct and guide but we cannot change hearts!

sometimes in trying to make sure we get it all right, we forget the number one thing of all we should be doing – consistently running ourselves to the Redeemer and Maker of all things new, and reminding our kids to do the same!

and if that isn’t happening it doesn’t matter where my kids go to school.
home. public. or out under a rock!
they will not know the joy of the Lord and the power of His salvation.


throughout the summer the more i cut everything away i began to see more clearly my reason for wanting to bring the kids home again for school – it was wanting some kind of “guarantee” that they were going to turn out how i thought they should. searching for how to make that happen.

my motive were rooted in fear!

and i’m not saying that’s why others homeschool. not at all.
i love homeschooling and think it’s great. if it’s what God has called you to.
it was for us for years. and then God changed our hearts and is leading in a new direction…
it’s okay if others aren’t going in the same direction.

that’s where faith comes into play – that regardless of what others are doing or saying, or how we were raised we will listen to God’s voice for ourselves and seek to follow what He directs for our lives and what is best for our family.

and when others say, “well God hasn’t led me that way!” amen!! it’s how it should be.
God is diverse and seems to like to shake things up that way..sending us all down different paths.
i have a feeling it has something to do with causing us to be able to expand and reach out and better be His channels.

and also what keeps us so desperately needing Him.

which is all it’s ever about. all of this.

when i saw my child struggling i looked for where to put the blame. where to find the answers.
i thought it was because we had put them in school.
that if we had kept them home none of that would have happened.

but i’ve seen God use public school in my children’s lives like nothing could have.
i also saw how God used homeschool in my children’s lives like nothing could have!
that’s the thing – He is not limited. and He is not restricted.
He uses it all.
not because of us. but often in spite of us!

homeschooling isn’t the answer. just as public school isn’t the answer.
neither one is any different than any other thing we can look to for relief or rescue or outcome.

the answer is Jesus.

always has been. always will be.

because He is the only one that can transform a heart and put within someone a desire to live their life for Him!
no set of rules or standards or curriculum or well meaning parent or all the therapy in the world can do that~

only Him.


…the very last ride we rode on that day at wonderland was a roller coaster called thunder run. a fast jolting ride that spiraled through a mountain in the pitch black. we stood in line waiting. inching our way forward slowly. the whole way emma going back and forth on whether or not she wanted to ride. “do you know how fast it goes?” “what if i get on it and it scares me?” “what if i don’t like it?” she nervously watched one car after the other load and take off. people screaming! she clasp her hands together tight and held them under her chin looking up at me, her voice lowering to a whisper, “what… what if i change my mind and want off?”

“well,” i said bending down near her. “just get in. hold on. and keep your eyes shut really, really tight the entire time….”

ben who was standing behind us leaned down to join the huddle and said rather nonchalantly, but in a tone that held some conviction, “or. you could just remember, The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want.. and trust Him!”

i looked up at him and batted my eyes a few times in surprise. then smiled.

“yeah. or …you could just do that!”

because the Lord is my Shepherd i shall not want –
for direction. for guidance. for wisdom. for grace. for how to raise my kids.

He leads and guides and parents us all.

so on this ride of public school.
it’s no different than anything else.

i’m learning to hold on to HIM!


´¸.·¨) ¸.·¨)
(¸.·´ (¸.·´ (¸.·¨¯`♥ amber

35 thoughts on “the ride of public school.

  1. Audrey R

    Love this, Amber! We are homeschooling again this year, but in so many ways, it is not the “perfect” solution. I go back and forth on different school options… and yeah, bottom line is, I want a guarantee that whatever we choose will turn out the best possible children. I wonder if we will ever come up with something that we plan to stick with for long-term, or if it will always be a year-by-year decision. I suppose in some ways, keeping ourselves open to the options, not making a once-and-done decision makes us rely more on God and less on formulas. Right now it’s not just school that we’re in that situation with, either!

    I saw the word “beaucoup” and I had to pronounce it to myself, then look it up. Sure enough, I have heard that word, but I thought it was slang and had no idea how it was spelled, so I learned something new today in vocabulary!!

    1. amber

      with us it was/ and is a year by year basis – even day by day! our kids know if we feel the need to pull them out at any time from school we’re so doing it… that’s one thing i think i’ve finally relaxed so much about this school year – realizing that there’s always other options. whatever i decide now, might not be the best 3 months from now. and if it’s not.. well, we’ll explore our choices then. i don’t have to stress and worry but rest that God does and will lead – – my kids know we’ve never parented before, as we often remind them, and hey.. we’re all just figuring this out together as we go! i know the Lord will lead you the same, dear friend~ you’re a great mama with a great big heart for your kids and wanting what’s absolute best for them.. that is like 80% of the answer right there in and of itself. :))

      and yeah. living in a heavily french influenced country you learn a few words here and there. i always thought it was spelled boocoo – – haha!!! ;))

  2. becca

    thanks for sharing. we are just in the beginning of school over here with one in kindergarten…. but totally can relate to the whole mom brain and imagining everything that could go wrong! have 2 week old twins and in the staring at them to make sure they are still breathing stage – ha!
    your posts are always an encouragement to me!

    1. amber

      kindergarten and twins!! girlfriend, someone needs to be staring at YOU making sure you’re remembering to breathe!!! :)))) those are busy busy days for sure and before ya know it they’ll be in high school and that’s a whole different kind of busy~ all of which we so desperately need grace for, amen? so good to hear from you.. one of my favorite things about blogging is that feeling of comradery we moms feel through sharing our lives this way together. blessings to you and your sweet gang!

  3. Elizabeth

    You are so, so right. We can’t change hearts…only Jesus can do that! and boy is that so hard to remember sometimes! As my kids are growing up, I am learning how arrogant and naive I was as a mother of small children and toddlers! Ha! That’s the easy part!

    Looking to God for direction will not look the same as the direction other’s are going in. He has a different plan for all of us. Once we realize this and accept it…then we will all get along much better! :)

    Happy Monday to you Amber.

    1. amber

      so true how we thought we had it all figured out when we were young – i feel the exact same. like that saying, “i used to have 3 theories on raising kids. now i have 3 kids and no theories.” :)))

      and your last paragraph. exactly!!

  4. Dana

    Amen Amber! At the beginning of this crazy ride called parenthood, I thought it was my responsibility to train and teach these little ones that God entrusted to me….I never knew just how much “i” would learn too!! My husband and i agree that we would probably do a much better job of parenting if we could do it all over, knowing what we know now….but WHEW!!…now we are way too tired to start over. :-) Just thanking HIM for the blessing of raising these sweet children and the MANY lessons we have learned (and continue to learn) along the way!

    1. amber

      yes! you’re so right! i’m convinced it’s more about what God’s trying to teach ME through parenting than anything i could ever teach my kids~ we too would make different choices if we had a “do-over.” :) thankful for gracious, forgiving kiddos that keep giving us 2nd chances.

  5. sarah

    As always, I love your posts!! I’ll be praying for this upcoming school year for you and your family. :-) I just wanted to encourage you… as a Christian marriage and family therapist, I would have to say (and I might be a little biased…lol) that going into therapy with your child is extremely healthy! not a sign of failure at all. All families would benefit from something like this. I know I wish my parents would have given me this gift when I was going through tough times in school. So no shame in that!! I’ll be praying that God uses/ used that time to really bring healing and growth to you all. Blessings!

    1. amber

      i totally agree – i told some of my girlfriends that i thought EVERYONE should go to therapy whether they feel they need it or not. it IS such a healthy experience!! one of the greatest things for me was the total change in my own mind set towards it.. initially going with a sense of shame and worry over what others might think. and then coming out on the other side feeling such freedom – not caring who knew! it’s part of our story and i claim it and accept it and am excited to see how God continues to use it~

  6. Teresa

    Nailed it! My oldest child is in his first year at a community college, and i’m learning even more to ‘let go and let God’….raising kids is not for the faint of heart ;)

  7. Kathy

    Oh Amber – this is exactly what this momma needed to hear. School decisions cut to the core, especially when I’ve made it about me, instead of Jesus. So much of what you’ve said is a place I have been, and I needed a reminder of those lessons learned. Thank you so much!

    1. amber

      “made it about me, not Jesus.” that’s totally this entire post in a nutshell!!! love doing life w/ you friend – even if it’s just these snippets of conversation we get in here and there at church. you’re an encouragement to my heart!

  8. Peggy (Fwren)

    wonderful post ~ for some reasons, I am missing posts of yours ~ are you linking them on FB? sometimes posts simply don’t appear on my feed ~ so annoying ~ anyway ~ great to see your photos again ~ :)

    1. amber

      hi there my sweet fwren!! :) yes, i usually link on facebook~ someone else just said they weren’t seeing when i posted either. not sure what’s up with that – i don’t think my blog has a subscribe button where you can get them through your email. maybe it does?? haha. still figuring this new system out!!

  9. Fauquet

    Your writing is full of charm and so are your children who are growing quickly. and beautifully.
    Yes Jesus put faith in us . It is a grace (like your name.)
    I am glad you succeded ti join me .

  10. Amelia

    Hello Sweet Amber, Oh my – as a mother of four girls ages 19 to 30 life with our children no matter how old is a roller coaster of faith and jumping in the lap of our Father! There are so many things to be thankful for in just every day life with them, and sometimes things like courtships etc. don’t go as planned, well…they are going as God planned! Sometimes we just have to stand back and take that deep breath and know “All is well” in the Lord as we abide in Him…We can thank him for His protection. When we see our kids loving God and wanting to serve Him that is so something to praise the Lord about! It’s the most important thing for our kids.

    That is the secret just abiding in the Lord, talking to Him…allllll the time! : ) As I know you agree! : ) What a beautiful post Amber, soooo sweet. Just. so. sweet.

    xxxooo ~Amelia

  11. amber

    so, SO happy to be in touch with you again, amelia! your post bless my heart and your words here – ** thank you** – you bring so much wisdom to the table and i pull my chair up anxiously to learn more from mama’s like you!!! xo

  12. Jessica @ This Blessed Life

    Love, love, love this. I am a product of public school from K-4 and 9-12, and homeschool from 5-8. I have a music education degree and have worked in Christian, public, and private schools. I’ve known kids homeschooled their entire lives who completely walked away from God, and kids sent to public school their whole lives who are living vibrantly for Him (and vice versa). Your comments are dead-on. It’s allllll about Jesus and we are crazy to think our best efforts are anything more than that if we’re not bringing our kids’ hearts and lives to Him. Thanks for writing this!

    1. amber

      yes! same here. i often look at my husband – who’s the best christian i know.. product of public school his whole way through. latch key kid. parents that weren’t overly involved in his life.. and remember, it’s all grace!!!!

  13. Alyssa

    Lots of awesome words. R kids aren’t for us. So true. I love how God has used public school on our family’s growth. It’s not the easy road. Every family is diff. Every kid is. Every parent. No story is the same. We’ve got four on school– I will say this, it exposes. Which is a fearful but wonderful thing. I sat homeschooled unexposed of my heart for years, protected. As an adult my dysfunctional heart finally was tested when I left my protective wonderful home. We r getting to work thru things early and together. God is doing awesome things. And good for y’all- therapy is where we all need to be– it just takes humility to get there.
    Blessings Amber. Beautiful pics!

    1. amber Post author

      school exposes is so right! thanks for commenting and neat to see how God has taken us on similar journey’s here. always glad to know of others… makes me feel less crazy alot of days. ;)) love~

  14. Alyssa

    Sorry typing on my phone! Bad typos! And I agree so much w comment from the blessed life – the tally is in folks! It’s not the schooling choice that fixes a child.

  15. Wanda

    Oh, Amber. I’m so happy to have found your blog again. I love what you had to say about schooling our kids. It has to be a decision based totally on how God leads us. Amen. For us, for now, it’s homeschooling. You know how hard that can be. Today was ‘one’ of those days. Blech! I want to run away. Boy, am I glad God led us to this, or I would run hard some days! Blessings to you as you mother your kids.

  16. amber.

    hey wanda!! so glad you found me too – which means i can find YOU! ;)) i’ve had a hard time keeping track of all the blogs i used to visit .. i didn’t realize how easy xanga was until it was gone. and oh yeah.. do i remember those days of wanting to run the other way fast and hard!! even now – though not over homeschooling, still so many things in parenting, even w/ public school that leaves me wanting to RUN were it not for knowing what God has called us to and believing His grace will get me through. always. following what the Lord gives is not easy, but it certainly brings the most peace. ~


thanks for stopping by! <3