In the summer of 2000, Dan and I took a step of faith and chose to homeschool our daughter, Katie. Many people (including myself sometimes) thought we were crazy. We didn't know anyone else who homeschooled. We didn't know how to homeschool. All we knew was that God through many ways and circumstances clearly showed us that it was His desire that we keep Katie at home for her education.
I thought we might homeschool through fourth or fifth grade. Certainly we would send her to school before I had to teach her anything nasty like algebra.
Fast forward eleven years, and the Krabel Academy has its first graduating senior.
Until last year, Katie planned to study music at EIU. She is incredibly talented, and would have likely had a good shot at a scholarship. She played in the orchestra there for the last three years and loved the experience. However, last summer she began to sense that God might be calling her in a different direction. She decided to attend Ellerslie, a mission training school in Colorado. Then in January, she went to Haiti, and since then her heart's desire has been to return to Haiti for a season of full-time missionary service.
It seems surreal to me that Katie is old enough to be graduating, to be leaving for school in Colorado this fall. I am so proud of the woman she has grown into, so proud of the choices and plans she is making, but at the same time, my heart is breaking as I think of how quickly the time has gone and how I will miss my girl.
Friday evening, our homeschool group held its annual graduate recognition. It has been a tradition in our group that the parents of each graduate will speak briefly about their child both in honor of their achievements and as a charge to their future. I would like to share what I wrote for Katie's graduation.
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
This scripture seems appropriate on this occasion, and especially when I think of Katie in particular, for a number of reasons. When Paul says that he always prays with joy because of your partnership with the gospel from the first day…that reminds me so much of how early and enthusiastically Katie accepted the gospel.
Katie has always possessed a spiritual maturity and passion that far exceeded her years. Her family members will recall that even when she was as young as three and four, she would preach “sermons” from her booster seat in the car about how Jesus was going to step on the devil (although she pronounced it “debbil”). I think she was five when she first asked to be baptized, and we put her off, convinced that she was too young to really understand the implications of that decision. But, by the time you were seven, after her continued pleas and many, many deep discussions about sin and salvation, it was evident that God was behind your desire, and we watched with joy and wonder as you gave your life to Jesus and never looked back.
It has not been easy to be the mother of a daughter whose spiritual maturity constantly threatens to exceed your own. For as much as I have tried to nurture, train, lead and disciple you, God has used you in many, many ways to challenge and stretch me. My own walk with Christ is deeper because he allowed me to be your mom.
I am so proud of the woman you have grown into. God has gifted you in so many ways--your amazing musical talents, your bright and curious mind, your artistic and creative nature—and we have watched you lay each of these gifts at Jesus’ feet and ask Him to use them for His glory, not your own. You have been an example of purity, integrity and steadfastness to your family, your friends, your church and to many others that you didn’t even know were watching.
God has indeed begun a good work in you, and I am confident that He will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Exactly how He will do that remains to be seen. You have always had a tender heart for the lost and the poor. I remember when you drew a map for your friend at daycare who didn’t know Jesus. Just telling her wasn’t enough-you needed a visual aid. I remember when you went to downtown Chicago with your cousins, and they told me of how you wanted to give all your money to every homeless person you saw, and how the poverty you witnessed broke your heart, and even made it hard for you to enjoy your day. I remember how as your 16th birthday approached, you asked if it would be okay to ask your guests not to bring you gifts, but instead to bring blankets for Christians living in refugee camps in Sudan. And just a few months ago, when you came home from Haiti, you brought with you a picture of a little girl who stole your heart, and who will now have an education, food, medical care, and most importantly discipleship because of the commitment you made to her. It really should come as no surprise then that you are hearing and answering God’s call to a live of service to others in His name—wherever that call may take you.
I have to confess that as your mom, that’s a bit hard for me. It’s hard to see you grow up, hard to let go of the little girl I still think of you as sometimes. Hard to think that you might go very far away and how I won’t see you often, and how much I will miss you.
But as your sister in Christ, I am so very excited for you, and for all the amazing experiences that await you as you set out in life seeking nothing but to be in the center of God’s perfect will, prepared to go wherever He may send and do whatever He may ask.
And in light of that, my prayer for you is the same as Paul’s prayer for the Phillippian church, which comes just a few verses later than those I began with:
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”
That is my hope and prayer for you, Katie, and for the rest of our graduates as well. That from now until the last, you will continue to love Him more and know Him more. That you will be able to discern what is best-His perfect will and live to the glory and praise of God.
I am so grateful that God called us on this homeschooling journey. I am grateful for every day that we spent working and learning together. Through all the good times and all the hard times, I believe that the Lord has brought us closer to each other and closer to Him through homeschooling. I am grateful that he brought Samantha, Camille, Lauren and Lindsay into your life. One of my concerns when we began homeschooling was if you would have friends, and He answered my prayers in that area far more wonderfully than I could have ever hoped for. It has been a blessing to watch your friendships grow. I am grateful also for the encouragement, friendship and support of my fellow PATH moms. Without you all, I am not sure we would have made it this far.
Congratulations on all you have accomplished. I love you, I am proud of you, and I am blessed and privileged to be your mom.