A Mother’s Sacrifice Is Never Wasted

My husband and I were dressed casually, in shorts and athletic gear. There was no pomp and circumstance. No cap and gown. No program. Not even a diploma. But as a few family members gathered in our family room, we happily celebrated my son’s graduation from homeschooling high school.

Actually, we did have a program of sorts. Each of us took turns sharing favorite memories of Quentin’s growing up years. I happened to go last, and as I listened to the others, I kept pondering what I would say. What stood out most? At my turn, it finally came to me — God’s faithfulness.

I told my son how, beginning from the time he was a baby, God had used him to bring about his will for our family, even when I couldn’t see it myself — even despite myself.

I Didn’t Plan to Be a Stay-at-Home Mom

I hadn’t planned to be a stay-at-home mom; the thought had never crossed my mind. I was raised in the D.C. area, the only child of a divorced mom who taught the importance of a good education and a lucrative career, so that I could live independently, if need be.

I took her words to heart, earning a bachelor’s in law degree, clerking for a federal judge, and landing an associate position in litigation at a top Wisconsin law firm. But Jesus soon drew me to himself. I heard the gospel for the first time in Wisconsin, gave my life to him, and began soaking up words in a Book I’d never read.

Two years later, my husband Bill and I celebrated the birth of our first child, Quentin. I took a four-month maternity leave, and during that time, something began churning. For the first time, I had thoughts of doing life differently. For the first time, home became appealing. Spending unhurried mornings with my newborn, holding him, enamored with his smiles, tickled by every “first,” court deadlines a world away — was I crazy for wanting to live this way?

The seed was watered further on my first day back to work. Quentin refused to drink breast milk from the bottle Bill was feeding him. He was determined to starve himself, and as Bill called with updates, my heart was being pulled. I drove home in the middle of the day to nurse him, knowing in time he would adjust.

But I also knew it was about more than the feeding. We began praying, and I soon reduced my hours — the first step to leaving completely.

I Prayed God Wouldn’t Call Me to Homeschool

And there was the time I prayed that God would never call me to homeschool. We now had a son and daughter and were living in Dallas. I’d met a homeschool mom who described her typical day, and my head started spinning. Besides, we were moving to St. Louis, and both kids would be in school (Quentin in first grade, my daughter in preschool). Finally I’d have time to write that book I was wanting to get on paper. I’d finally get something out of this whole stay-at-home-mom thing — ministry time, and a little me time too.

But God.

In St. Louis, I began hearing about homeschooling everywhere I turned, and surprisingly, my heart was being drawn. Meanwhile, Quentin had started first grade, and his class was just beginning phonics, while he already knew how to read. I found myself praying to be able to school him at home, and through circumstances only God could have arranged, he was at the kitchen table by October, doing his school subjects.

I Declared the Homeschool Season Had Ended

And there was the time I declared that “the grace has lifted” regarding homeschooling. By eighth grade, we felt it was time for Quentin to go to school. And eighth grade went well. But during ninth, he stated his preference — he wanted to return home. And I chafed. His sister had gone to school that year as well, and I had more free time to write, which mattered, since I now had deadlines. Plus, homeschool high school? How would I get my head around that?

But after much prayer and discussion, he indeed came back home. And in the past three years, I have seen God’s hand in ways I would have never seen otherwise. I have seen his providence. I have seen his provision. I have seen him give Quentin a passion for subjects he couldn’t have studied at school, such as Biblical Hebrew. I have seen God open the door for him to be admitted into a great university — due in part to those studies. And I have seen Quentin grow immensely in his knowledge of God’s word and his relationship with Jesus.

That is what we were really celebrating at Quentin’s graduation — Jesus. If it had been solely up to me, the past nineteen years would have looked a lot different.

His Ways Are Higher

In so much of life, we make plans and create goals — and they are often good plans and goals. They may involve works of ministry with which God has burdened our hearts. But we have only a limited view. We don’t know God’s timing. We don’t know all his specific priorities. And we don’t know the myriad circumstances he is working in conjunction with the small part of the picture we’re able to see.

Often, the work he is prioritizing lies within our own hearts, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). He leads us on a remarkable journey of sanctification, of dying to self, to our own plans and priorities, even to ministry opportunities that intrinsically seem more exciting than the important ministry of home.

And through it all, we learn that God is faithful. As we pray, he will direct and even re-direct us. When we seek him, he will make his will known to the degree that we need to know it. It is not an easy journey, but as we follow by faith, we witness God’s plans and purposes in glorious ways. And our praise deepens, as we behold this truth: his ways are higher (Isaiah 55:9).

True self-sacrifice is never wasted. It wasn’t so for Jesus, and will not be for those of us who are in him.