Reduce, Reuse, Recycle?

Wow.  It's been a week. 

Last Saturday, I posted about needing a blog break to work through my soul's messages.  Sunday night, Tony and I had an amazing time of prayer, and I went to bed clearer than I had in weeks.  I was looking forward to skyping with the bestie in Georgia and having a great Monday. 

At 12:45 Monday afternoon, everything went haywire.  I received an email from Tony's company saying that we weren't going to be able to homeschool for legal reasons.  I was shocked, stunned, and sick.  I called Tony who told me to call the school and figure out what our options were since we'd missed the re-enrollment date for the fall semester.  He assured me that he was going to see what could be done about the situation.

I found out that Camilla's class had a long waiting list.  I hung up the phone and cried and prayed. I called the bestie.  Even more tears and more prayers.  I drove to the school to talk with the directors.  They graciously agreed to allow Camilla her spot in the class, but we had to let them know the definite answer by Friday.  Still crying.  Still praying.

Thursday, at Bible study, Shirley, our study leader, was talking about how God uses everything in our lives.  Nothing that happens to us is wasted.  Everything has a purpose, and He uses everything.  She's been mentioning this thought for a few weeks, but it never really meant anything personally to me.  Until this week. 

I've mentioned before that I struggled with a general spirit of fear for years.  Most often it was medical fear, but I generally felt afraid, uneasy, unnerved.  It's pretty much a lousy place to live, but it was my existence for years- maybe a decade?  14 months ago, the Lord radically freed me from the vast majority of that fear.  The remaining tiny percentage has required more work on my part, but I consider myself free of the spirit of fear that plagued me for so long.

Because I know what it feels like to be afraid, and I now know what it feels like to be free, I purposely avoid any opportunity to put myself in a position of unnecessary fear.  I'm not talking about taking risk- I'd still love to skydive and swim with sharks.  I'm talking about those times when I could be tempted to be afraid of the unknown or the uncertain.

When we made the decision to homeschool, I wanted all my ducks in a row before I told the school.  I searched and searched online trying to decide if we could legally homeschool in Panama since we are US citizens.  I came up empty.  I asked Tony to contact our local attorneys to get the official answer.  This, in my old life, would have been asking for trouble.  Everyone agreed that the Panamanian police weren't going to show up and arrest us for homeschooling.  The "logical" thing would have been to go with more of a don't-ask-don't-tell policy and just keep it to ourselves.

But I didn't want to feel like I was looking over my shoulder all the time.  I didn't want to risk any opportunity to step back into a place of fear.  I wanted to ask the attorneys.  So, in January, we asked the attorneys, they asked the Ministry of Education, and we heard back.  It was a nervous few days, but the answer was good.  There was no law prohibiting us from homeschooling.  Big relief from me.  I thought that was the beginning and end of that situation.  I sort of chuckled at myself and my NEED to not be afraid.  Little did I know...

As we were trying to get the legal issues straightened out this week, I started questioning the homeschooling decision.  I've always been confident it is the right decision for our family, but this week made me question how right it was.  What would I do if the company said absolutely not?  How much did I believe in this choice?  I sat in the school's chapel service Wednesday and prayed about it.  I looked around and saw my kids with their friends.  I felt the community the school represents.  They were warm happy thoughts.  I spoke to Miss Spencer after chapel.  I told her that I was completely confident that I shouldn't send the kids back.  Something deep within my gut told me that MY kids needed to not return in the fall.  Nothing against the school.  Nothing against anyone.  It was a clear statement on my kids alone.  Really, it was a gut feeling about one child in particular.

In the meantime, Tony contacted a coworker and explained the situation.  She agreed to contact the Ministry of Education for us.  The whole thing was taking too long.  We didn't have weeks for Panama to make up its mind about an interpretation for a law that no one is really sure exists.  Finally, it occurred to us to send them the correspondence we'd had with our attorneys.  The email we received 3 months ago was forwarded on.  The decision was made that the email was legal proof of the legality of homeschooling.

Friday morning, at 9 am, we received a follow-up email that all was approved.  We can homeschool in the fall.  Tony had taken Friday off so he was with me when we got the email.  We were on our way to the grocery store.  As we pulled into Riba Smith's parking lot, Shirley's message struck me.  Nothing is wasted.  All those years of fear taught me I never wanted to step back into it.  That led me to contact the attorneys on our own.  Their response allowed the clarification process to move quickly enough that we could respect the school's needs.  My child, whom I feel strongly needs to be home educated, will be.  Why?  Because God used my struggle with a spirit of fear.  Thank you Jesus- nothing is wasted!

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