Returning Thanks: Kim and Kate, Part I
Kim and Kate belong to an online co-op called Vestis Madres (which roughly translates to “Moms in Pajamas”). They explained to me that when you have an online co-op where none of your students see you, teaching in pajamas is an option!
Thanks to the magic of the internet, Vestis Madres consists of nine families who live in just about every corner of America: Washington, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Texas, New Mexico, Massachusetts, and Arkansas. How amazing that people from so many different states can love the journey together!
It seems that being in different states has not kept members of this group from becoming close friends. Kate told me, “Kim is up in New Hampshire and I’m in Massachusetts, so we aren’t neighbors. But we have been able to get together a couple of times. We like to stretch our cyber arms to try to hug each other. It’s always wonderful to get together and pray. I’ve always appreciated Kim’s willingness and encouragement to do that, to bear one another’s burdens.”
Kim (pictured above with her family) has an unusual story which Kate urged her to share with me. Kim said, ”This is my first year teaching online, but my fourth round with Tapestry. We just joined the Vestis Madres group and I have Multiple Sclerosis.”
“Near the time when I needed to start preparing for my first class,” she continued, “I had a relapse and lost the use of my dominant left hand. I couldn’t write. And that had a big impact on my quiet times, because I always journal and I just felt like I couldn’t connect with God.”
Kim went on. “I got voice-activated software so that I could still prepare my slides. I happened to have been assigned Weeks 4, 6, and 7 of Year 1, which are all the Bible as Literature. God really used the experience of going through the Teacher’s Notes and preparing my slides as my quiet times. I was able to slow down my mind and focus with preparing slides in the way I previously had with note-taking.”
“It was God reaching out to me.” Kim told me, “He was saying, ‘I know you’re losing physical ability, but I still want to spend time with you.’”
By this point in our conversation, I was blinded by tears. I blurted out, “I think I’m going to cry.”
“Me too!” said Kate.
We all took a deep breath. Then Kim continued, ”And I was still able to teach, which I didn’t think I could do.”
“And she did a fantastic job!” Kate added.
Kim also shared with me about how it’s a struggle to be dependent, and how her children are learning to be servants because all of a sudden she can’t do anything, even putting on all her own clothes. “It’s humbling to have to rely on your children and having people from your church cleaning your toilet,” Kim remarked, quietly.
“But you’ve been able to minister to the people who are ministering to you,” encouraged Kate.
“Yes,” affirmed Kim. “For each person who has come to my home, God has been faithful to show me some way to pray with them or to share with them something from my quiet time methods. He’s showing me ‘Yes, you can still be useful’ even when I felt useless and like everything had been taken away from me that I would normally do.”
Kim excused herself from our interview for a few minutes to answer her doorbell. When she came back, she said, ”For example, a friend just dropped off a meal for me. I’ve watched her grow in the Lord, and when I can say, ‘Look, watch me walk across the floor without a cane today,’ that encourages her and helps her to remember that if God is moving in my life, He’s going to move in her life too.’”
Kim told me about some of her other struggles. “I’m tempted to feel worthless. Part of how we think of ourselves, our identity as homeschooling moms, is in what we do all day, and I can’t do what I had done. But God has shown me that I’m not worthless, and my identity isn’t in what I do all day.”
I said, quietly, “I’ve noticed that homeschooling parents often struggle with being self-reliant. I want you to know that you are setting your kids such a beautiful example by showing them what it looks like to be dependent on God and on the people whom God has given you.”
“Thank you,” said Kim. “I hadn’t thought about it from that perspective. That is encouraging.”
Then Kate said, ”When I look at Kim’s situation and see her sharing the story of what God is doing in her life, then He gets the greater glory. In my own life I call these kinds of stories little treasures that I keep in my treasure box, and every so often I take them out. These stories are so sweet, and so much better when shared, and they encourage others.”
This whole interview filled me with sadness, wonder, and then joy. I made me long to return thanks to God. Who else but God would love Kim in such an intimate and detailed way, even timing her study of Scripture through Tapestry so that she could use it as a way to spend time with Him? Who else would give our sufferings such purpose by using them to encourage other people? Who else would stay by us, tenderly and strongly present as we walk the hard path of humility and dependence? He is so good to us!
I couldn’t wait to share Kim’s story with you, because it illustrates so well what God is doing for families on this wonderful journey of homeschooling. But wait, there’s more! In Part II of this interview, Kim and Kate will share some of what they have been learning about God and worldviews as they joint-taught Rhetoric Literature for their group this autumn. Stay tuned!