So, I did find my heart flooded with gratitude tonight. My 7 year old daughter, that struggles with dyslexia, read to me from her grade-level appropriate book. And she read beautifully.
To fully understand how amazing this is, I have to take you back. Into the darkness of our Seminary experience.
M is the most amazing, loving, insightful daughter a woman could ever hope to have. It was her expressed desire to attend a ‘real’ church that put me on the path to Seminary.
M loves God. With her whole heart. She often opens up to me about how she can’t understand the meanness of other children her own age. She is so innocent that it brings tears to my eyes. It’s not that M lacks a backbone. She’s bruised the egos and the eyes of her brothers on more than one occasion… But she doesn’t like to fight. Even for herself.
M started 2nd grade in the public school located near our Seminary campus. She was homeschooled, along with her brothers, up until August of last year. M LOVED Seminary. She loved quietly listening to Mom and Dad talk theology, and she reveled in the new friendships she made with ” other people that love God like I do.” But she was unsure about public school.
As luck would have it, she met her amazing 2nd grade teacher her first day of school. And her elementary school had an incredible principal. One that was working with me on my concerns with her issues with reading.
Two weeks into the school year, M found herself on the playground at school, confronted by her friend, classmate and neighbor at Seminary. By M’s account, this other girl taunted M that M’s slightly older brother was “a monster”. And that no one should be friends with her or her family because we were all “monsters”. This played out the same way for M’s brothers. They came home that day in tears and feeling absolutely humiliated.
That was the last day M and her brothers attended that school. Because a call later that weekend, from the school Principal, revealed that three families from our Seminary — all last year students or ones married to a Seminary Professor– had made a ruckus over my children continuing to attend that school. I heard the shock and sorrow in that woman’s voice. And I knew, we were dealing with human evil.
I thank God for that Principal. She showed me Christ that day in a way few of my Seminarian friends knew how to.
The slander didn’t stop there. At some point my husband’s employer was contacted, as was my Synod Candidacy committee, and my home church. Someone even had the gall to report us to Child Protective Services accusing my husband and I of child neglect! (No worries though. Those accusations were swiftly deemed unsubstantiated.)
As our dreams came tumbling down around us, we made plans to move back to our home an hour away. And start the kids in a new school. (And thank God again, that we were unable to rent out our home, though we tried. Because we’d need it shortly) At this point, I saw I was dealing with traumatized kids. Not because of their “monstrous” older brother, but because of how they were treated by the pastors-to-be, and their families, in the community we had called home.
M made it nearly three weeks in her newest school before she began to fall ill. She was running a fever nearly every day. She started to miss school, and the Principal here, the one that tested the reading level of a traumatized child on her first day in class, told me there was little hope of her catching up when she had a “preschool reading level.”
M loves Amelia Bedelia books. She told me last week “I like Amelia because she always tries her hardest– even when she doesn’t understand”. That was the book she read to me from tonight.
At the end of October, I pulled my younger two out of public school. To homeschool them again. Because they weren’t learning in that environment. At the same time, I completely withdrew from my distance learning courses at Seminary. Because my children needed me more than any church could.
M is reading! Praise God, she is reading exactly what she should be as a 2nd grader. Because I listened to the Spirit speak to my heart, and He told me “these little ones matter more to me than a Churchful of bigger ones. Serve Me here.”