Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Plans after High School

After a long 3 years of questions as to what I would do after high school, the answer seems to have finally been resolved. It's been the hardest decision of my life, but one I thankfully did not have to make alone.

From my early childhood, when I thought about college, the question in my mind wasn't if I'd go, but when I'd go. Lofgrens went to college; it was as simple as that. In my youthful dreams of being a ballerina, I'd planned my life out: I'd major in dance at Belhaven College, dance with Ballet Magnificat! and, somewhere in there, get married and settle down to be a mother. It seemed so easy... yes, I was naive!

As I grew, I began realizing that being a prima ballerina was harder then it looked. I'd started ballet classes at the late age of 11, and by not devoting myself solely to the world of dance and not taking from the major classical schools due to modesty concerns, there was little chance that I'd ever be able to dance professionally. And, as I thought about it, I realized that a life of touring really didn't appeal to me. I still really enjoyed dancing, but as its glorious dreams waned, my other childhood dream grew in its appeal. I wanted to get married. I wanted to be a mommy. I wanted to have a houseful of children to homeschool. From my early years I'd enjoyed homey things, and I soon devoted more and more of my time to learning the homemaking arts. In them I soon began finding more and more fulfillment.

When I was 15, I was introduced to another way of thinking. At an Above Rubies ladies retreat, we were entered in a door prize drawing and told to write down the top three things we'd like from the gift table. I was excited when my name was called and I was able to pick the top thing from my list: an intriguing book entitled So Much More, by Anna Sophia and Elizabeth Botkin. It was about "visionary daughterhood," a book I knew I'd enjoy! As I began reading, I found myself inspired, challenged, and saying a hearty "Amen!" It appealed to me, and the questions it raised resonated in my heart. A daughter's role had been that of one in her father's house until marriage for centuries. Why had it changed? Our highest calling is usually that of helpmate and mother. Why not spend the best years of our life preparing for it? This book opened my eyes to countless ways a daughter can be an influential and integral part of the family. I wanted to be such a help to my father and family in the years before marriage.

I read So Much More five or more times over the next few years and found that there were many other girls out there who thought along the same lines. I discovered and enjoyed numerous blogs and articles written by these "stay-at-home-daughters." I found and read other books, such as Handmaidens of the Lord by Crystal Paine, and they encouraged and delighted me. I also discovered that this was a hotly-contested issue, with many arguments and intense feelings on either side. And, time and again, I found myself agreeing more and more (though not exclusively) with those for daughters staying home.

My excitement, however, was checked when I thought of what my family would think. Like I said before, Lofgrens went to college. It was simply the next step in life after highschool. My parents didn't force us, but all of my older siblings had gone or were going to college.

Timidly, I began discussions with my parents, especially my dad, sharing what I'd learned. I had a hard time expressing my feelings, and my parents weren't very enthused. My dad said he didn't want me staying home and cooking and cleaning like a maid instead of getting an interesting college education. Of course, I told him that I wouldn't just cook and clean... and the discussions continued for years, getting more in depth. I studied the Bible to see what it said about young women, wrote a 5-page paper about what I'd do if I stayed home, and shared books and articles I'd read, hoping they'd see my side, my heart in the issue. Often, these discussions ended in the same way: me, chocked with tears and unable to express myself further, excusing myself to be alone. I couldn't understand why something I felt so strongly in my heart about wasn't received with enthusiasm! I cried and prayed, asking God to either change my parents' hearts so I could stay home, or to change mine to want college.

To make a long story short, the discussions continued, Mom eventually joining me in thinking it would be best for me to continue my education at home. Dad did change views some, but still thought I'd be best educated away at college, though he would support me either way. My siblings were mostly for college, reminding that it was an important asset in today's world, and that even if all I did was stay home as a mother, it would make me more qualified and accepted. I wanted someone to just tell me what to do, but they wisely told me that, in the end, the choice was mine.

I agonized for months, going back and forth. They gave me counsel, and I prayed much and sought advice from friends. I still didn't always understand. "Why doesn't my dad want to protect me?" I'd write in my journal, "Why can't I remain at home under his authority like all of these other girls that seem so happy?" In it all, however, I knew that my dad loved me and wanted the best for me, and that to him, college looked like the best for me. My older siblings had all enjoyed or were enjoying college , and they advised me to go. With 5 older then I, plus 2 siblings-in-law all for it, I knew that there must be something to their urgings.

In one of many emails of advice, when I'd written about how I'd wanted to be under my dad's authority by staying home, my brother Luke responded with something to the effect of, "In this case, being under dad's authority would be going to college, since that's what he wants you to do." That reinforced what I'd been realizing: in seeking to remain home and honor my dad by helping him, I'd done the opposite by constantly trying to change his mind. Even after seeing the real life examples in "The Return of the Daughters", he still thought college was best for me. So, I decided to submit my will and honor my father by going to college as he deemed best. And, in doing so, I have come to find peace, though the decision still weighs heavily sometimes.

Lest anyone should doubt, I must emphasize that I love my family so much and am so thankful that I am a member of this Lofgren family. Even though our views on this issue are mostly different, I wouldn't want to be in any other family. Sometimes I wonder why I have this desire so different from them, but I've grown closer to them all through all the conflict over what to do, and greatly respect and love them! I'm still very much a "daddy's girl" and our relationship has grown stronger. Mom still has questions about me going, but we're both learning to trust. God in His Sovereign plan knows best!

Now, since the decision has been made to go to college, where will I be going? That in itself was hard. In all my wanting to stay home, I'd maintained that I would still get a degree through CLEP tests and distance learning or classes around home. That way, I could earn it while continuing to teach the ballet students I love and being able to still do the homemaking things I enjoy. My Dad, however, thought it would be best to develop my skills in the arts of dance and drama in a Christian atmosphere. It's pretty impossible to learn those things online, and the colleges close by were all struck off of the list for one reason or another. After all, not many Christian colleges offer dance! And, since I want to teach dance in my single years before marriage, it did seem best that I develop more skills in it. Combined with theater, my dad maintained that I'd have things that would enrich and be useful to me my whole life long.

Coincidentally enough, we settled on the college I'd thought about going to when I was little: Belhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi. It's one of very few Christian colleges that offer drama and dance. We visited in November 2007 and began the application process in January 2008. There were a lot of questions and hesitations on my part, mostly as to modesty in dance, but I went to audition in theater and dance on February 15th. I was unsure about what to major in; dancing was my main interest, but I didn't know whether I'd be able to withstand its rigors, especially with the reoccurring tendonitus in my ankle. The auditions seemed to go well, but I was still undecided as to a major, though I was leaning towards dance.

A letter from the dance department settled it: I was not accepted into the dance department at Belhaven College. Feelings of inadequacy flooded in. Through it all, God taught me a lot about humility and acceptance. There could have been numerous reason I didn't make it in: my stated goals of not wanting to dance professional but ultimate hope to be a mother, the flu I had the week before I'd gone, the fact I was the only dancer wearing a skirt at the auditions, my lack of much classical work in my resume, or, most probable, the fact that I just wasn't a good a dancer as others. Whatever it was, I know that God has a plan, and I've learned to rest in His Sovereignty.

It again filled me with doubts as to whether I should even go, but Dad investigated and learned that I'd still be able to take dance classes as electives. It may have been a blessing in disguise that I didn't make it into the dance major. Because of my interest in theater and the dramatic productions I've done, unless something changes, I will be majoring in Theater Ministry at Belhaven College this fall.

Do I still have questions? Yes, but I'm learning to rest in the security of being under my dad's guidance in this choice. Some days it's really hard to think of leaving my home, this peaceful quiet valley. I don't want to leave my students and stop The King's Praise Ballet, but it seems that I must for now. I'll be leaving all my close friends and family behind when I go, but I trust that God will provide comfort and new friends. It's hard when people inevitably ask if I'm excited to be going and I can't honestly say that I am. My answer is usually, "I know I'll learn a lot, but it will be hard to leave everyone here."

Or course, it's not all bad! I have a lot to be thankful for. My generous Daddy is paying for me to get an education at a Christian college. Belhaven's campus is beautiful, and I'll be only 4 1/2 hours from home - though right now that seems a lot! I'm sure I will learn a lot to help prepare me for life ahead.

I still don't understand all the whys. But, sometimes we can't figure out the mysteries of God's plan. I've learned to find peace in honoring my earthly father, and to rest in the Sovereignty of my Heavenly Father.

So... what about the rest of you graduating seniors? What do you plan to do?

15 comments:

Ella said...

Anna, you wrote this with lots of respect! I was praying for you, my dear! YOu know all of my plans--I am one who watched Return of the Daughter and read So Much More and am staying at home. However, my friendship with you isn't based on this issue, you know that!

We never do know the why, but we know that God does! How we both must cling to that in our own ways!

Sloan said...

Dear Anna,

You are one of the wisest young ladies I have ever heard of. You are so responsible and obedient to your parents. I am so thankful to have your blog. It brought tears to my eyes reading this post. You inspire me so much. I love to take your posts and just drink them in. You write so wonderfully. I will keep praying for you. Your parents are so lucky to have a wonderful daughter like you.

Sloan <><

Anonymous said...

Anna, I think you're really going to love Belhaven. Plus, remember, it's only for a few years, and it will pass by as quickly as highschool has. I still can't believe I can say 'I'm a senior' when all my life I've seen seniors, and they seem sooo much older. When exactly is your graduation ceremony, and how does your family do that particulary? I know homeschool families all do them differently. I'm combining mine with my birthday celebration in January (I'm graduating in the winter, instead of spring)

~Samantha C.

Bob and Cindy Cole said...

HI! My name is Bethany, and I have really enjoyed reading your blog. I was wondering how many kids are in your family? I am the oldest of nine. I am going to be graduating next year, so I have been asking myself some of the same questions. Because I am the oldest, my parents have no precedent for me to follow. How did your parents come to the descision to send your siblings to college? We have also read the book So Much More and seen Return of the Daughters. We are considering Pensacola Christian College in Florida, but that is far from where we live. You can email any thoughts you have to us at: colearmy@yahoo.com

Bethany

Whitney said...

I am incredibly impressed. This is a wonderful example of practicing what you preach. God bless.

Vanessa said...

Your story sounds similar to mine. After several years of single ministry, it became apparent that getting a college education might be the only way to continue the work I had started. My dad really wants me to pursue nursing and has really encouraged me to finish my degree, but I have struggled for a long time with going to college and being out in the working world because it's such a rat race. Fortunately, I was able to attend a local community college and live at home. I only have one more year of schooling, and I am seeing now that when I am done many doors of opportunity for ministry will be open to me and I will be able to remain under my father's authority through it all. I have learned that remaining under my father's authority can mean doing hard things, not always sitting around at home leading a soft, comfortable life. The Lord will bless you for obeying your father.

Katie said...

That was an wounderful story! Thank you for sharing! My sister and brother might take CLEB testing instead of going to collage. We never really planed on going to A collage, but doing some sort of it. This popped up and sounded great but were still not sure. I hope that God will bless you as you head for collage!
~Katie

Anna Naomi said...

Ella: Thank you for your prayers - they mean a lot! Yes, we will be doing different things after highschool, but I'm thankful that we'll remain friends through it all!

Sloan: I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the perfect daughter! It was hard to come to this decision, and there were many times I probably wasn't as honoring as I should have been in discussions. But, I've learned a lot through it all and am thankful for my parents and siblings and their advice! I'm glad this blog is an encouragement to you.

Samantha: Yes, that's what people tell me. =) I know that there will be good things there, even though it seems like I'm leaving so many good things here! My graduation celebration is May 31st. We'll have a party at our house where my sister and I (this is also her 13th birthday celebration) will share Scripture and songs, etc. I've chosen not to do the graduation at Evangel, since I don't know too many there anyways!

Bethany: I'll try to send you an email soon! There are 7 children in our family - I'm second to the last.

Whitney: Thank you for your encouragement. I don't have everything figured out... but I'm trying to follow God and my parents as they lead.

Vanessa: Thanks for sharing your story. It's neat how God works things out for good by us following our authorities!

Katie: Yes, I thought of CLEP tests, but for the reasons in the post will be going to college. I may still CLEP out of some of the easier subjects such as math and English, if we find the time, that is!

Elijah Lofgren said...

Dearest Anna,

I think you've made a wise decision to go to college. I've been praying and will continue to pray that you have a good experience at college and find lots of good friends there.

> My generous Daddy is paying for me to get an education at a Christian college.

This is a GREAT BLESSING!!! I think you'll realize how amazing it is once you get to college and hear people talking about how they're going deeper and deeper into debt and have to pay off loans once they graduate.

> Belhaven's campus is beautiful, and I'll be only 4 1/2 hours from home - though right now that seems a lot!

I look forward to hopefully being able to see you more since you'll be closer to me @ LETU! :)

> I'm sure I will learn a lot to help prepare me for life ahead.

Amen! If you don't learn much useful stuff from the classes, just meeting lots of new people should teach you a lot. :)

I love and miss you and can hardly wait to be home in a week so I can talk to you!!!! :)

Your brother,

Elijah

Darelina said...

Oh Anna, I can only imagine the anguish you've been through deciding what to do. Praise God that you listen to Him and are honoring your parents in such a way. It may not be what you envisioned, but I'm sure that God will reveal His purposes. What a blessing to your parents to have such an obedient daughter!

I look back at my own choices over the years with much regret and sorrow. How wise you are in your young age! I pray that my daughter will show this much love for her Heavenly Father as she comes up against difficult situations.

May His grace and peace be with you on your journey!

eliasboudinotismyfriend said...

It is trully a blessing to see you obeying your father's voice!

My graduation ceremony is also May 31st! We have many home-schooled families at our church, and we are having a joint graduation there. There are 16 graduates participating this year.

You asked what we graduating seniors planned on doing... I have been accepted to North Georgia College and State University (NGCSU) for their Pre-Nursing Program for the Fall Semester. I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. In a way I want to go and learn about Nursing, as I know that this is definately the field the Lord has called me to. On the other hand, I am having trouble because so many of the people I will be working with do not believe the same way I do. I tend to be very "this is the way it is, or at least supposed to be" and when I am around those whose opinions are different than mine, I have great difficulty loving them as Jesus loves, without judging them. As I told a friend: "I want to stick out like a thumb, just not a sore thumb." :)

The words of the following song have been a blessing to me in seeking the Lord's face in this matter. If you don't know the song, you can view it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAobjbYFZEY

May God richly bless you as you seek to follow him!


Verse
He walked along the shores of Galilee
From clay He formed the healing balm
That caused the blind to see
When stones of wrath lay heavy in their hands
He knelt to write His mercy in the sand

Jesus came to set the captives free
Showed us by the way He lived
The way we need to be
Oh love is more than words could ever say
We must touch them with compassion
To help them find their way

Chorus
How can we reach a world we never touch?
How can we show them Christ
If we never show them love?
Just to say we care will never be enough
How can we reach a world we never touch?

Verse
Could we be so busy being saved
Trying to impress a world that's long since lost its way
We pride ourselves in being set apart
Yet we don't have time to touch a broken heart
Even if we found the time to care
Would we take the risk involved in always being there?
Oh we hold the very thing they need so much
Sometimes the Word of life can pass
Through just a simple touch
Chorus

Bridge
We hide behind these walls
And the security of friends
While beyond the stained glass windows
The world is lost in sin

Chorus


P.S. Will you and Miriam still continue to post on this blog next year?
Miriam, what are you doing?

Anna Naomi said...

Elijah: Thank you! Yes, from hearing others talk even now, I have realized how blessed we are that dad wants to pay for our education at a Christian college. It will be nice to be closer to you, though I don't know if we'll have much free time to travel to see each other!

Mrs. Darelina: Thank you for your encouragement! It's nice to hear from those who have gone before.

Miriam: Thank you for sharing your plans! It's neat that our graduation celebrations will be on the same day. =) It was the only Saturday we could find to work in the month of May!

The words of the song are beautiful - thanks for sharing them!

We plan to continue posting, but I don't know how much I'll be able to do, as I'm sure I'll be very busy at college. I guess we'll see how it goes when the time comes. Miriam may share more about her plans, but she won't be graduating until next year. Since her birthday isn't until November, she's a grade behind me in school. It will be hard to leave her!

Maria Pauline said...

Anna, that was so encouraging to me! I find myself in the same boat, though I still have two years...

God bless you for seeking His will and then doing it!

beautifulgraceblog said...

What's this about a five page paper?

Maria ;)

Leah said...

I've never really thought about being under your fathers authority could also mean going to college...that is such a neat perspective!!