Sunflowers and September


The shadows come earlier and stay longer in our backyard these days. My children are playing in the sprinkler for what might be the last time this year and in the distance I can hear the sounds of recess at a nearby school.  School has started. 

Every fall, even before our children were school aged, I have felt remiss.  My husband and I have decided to homeschool for lots of reasons from every category but the real reason is that we believe God has asked us to. I am at peace with our choice and actually feel a lot of joy about what it all means but when the weather turns cooler, I always feel a little sad. By saying "yes" to homeschooling we are saying "no" to many things, specifically the first few weeks of school.  

The new indoor sneakers squeaking on freshly shined hallway floors, the name tag made especially for you by your new teacher, new school supplies and all the anticipation of what the year might hold. Sigh.  

I have a small garden plot in my small backyard and every year we have to strategize our planting. Each plant requires a certain amount of space to grow or it will die. I like to grow a variety of sunflowers called Russian Giants. True to their name, they grow to a height 12 or 14 feet and the heads of the sunflower are the size of dinner plates or larger. But each sunflower seed takes up the space of 9 lettuce plants or 16 carrots and 10 sunflowers take up the space of 160 carrots. Every year there are delicious vegetables and herbs that do not get to grow so that I can grow sunflowers.

When I plant that tiny sunflowers seed in the middle of a large empty space I wonder if I have made the right choice. Maybe more cucumbers or tomatoes would be better. The sunflowers add nothing to our table or freezer and the most economically rewarding garden would not include flowers. But I plant anyway and then I wait.

That is how I feel about homeschooling. The first day of school, as I knew it, is not going to happen for my kids but I am planting something else instead. I hope and believe it will be beautiful. 

Biblical and Christian history are witnesses to the reality that God often asks those He loves to let some dreams die so that He can plant other things. And there will be tears most likely but we must trust in the good and greatest gardener.

As I watch the sunflowers out my kitchen window, I am reminded that when you make a choice you are often left feeling like you have missed out or something has been lost. And we feel this way because it is true. You can't choose it all because if everything grows then nothing grows well. And quite honestly, there is no situation in which everything can grow. That's a lie our world would have us believe. We have to choose.

This September I am remiss. But that doesn't mean I have made the wrong choice. When we say "yes" we also say "no". It's part of choosing. 

But one thing I know for certain. After a long wait, when the heat of the summer is met by colder mornings drenched in dew and the Russian Giants bloom, I am never disappointed.