Saturday, April 18, 2009

Going Home

In two weeks, this semester will draw to a close, I'll have my last final exams, and then I'll be headed home. Home. It's a wonderful word!

This year at Belhaven College has been one full of things learned and experienced. Through it all, I have come to a deeper level of learning to trust God no matter what. I have learned a lot in the classes, experienced some great professors, made some wonderful friends, and grown deeply in my relationship with my never-changing, always-there Lord and Savior.

However, I won't be returning to Belhaven next fall. Instead, I will be living at home, free to pursue many areas of interest in the loving and real-life environment of my family at home.

This has not been a decision that I've taken lightly. Rather, it has caused me months of searching for God's will, feeling pulled in many directions, asking for advice from family and close friends, praying, crying, and longing for peace. Through it all, God has taken me again to a deeper level of trust in Himself, and taught me the value of following Him no matter what.

The decision to go to Belhaven was itself a very hard and long decision. As many of you know and as I posted, I never really wanted to go. However, after exploring many options and discussing many things, in the end, I chose to follow my dad's advice and authority and go. When I made the decision, I expected that I would be at college for four years. Once I had decided to go, I thought I wouldn't have to make any more decisions about what to do for the next four years - it would simply be planned out for me. After all, I came to peace with the decision and knew that this was where God was leading me. Surely that wouldn't change after only a year, would it?

Starting college last fall, I threw myself fully in my studies. I try to put my all into whatever I do, and, even if I didn't really want to be there, I was going to study and work with all my might. I quickly learned to play the college game of classes and studying. After years of planning my own schedules and being in charge of what I would study, spending the time researching and looking into different options, I actually found college coursework easier. Yes, my days were full of classes and studying, but all I had to do was simply show up for class and do what I was assigned. I went from being in charge of planning my own course of study as well as planning ballet classes and musicals to having the course syllabus already planned for me. Following it wasn't hard, although everything took time and kept me quite busy. I truly enjoyed many things, and though I missed home and family, I didn't allow myself to be be sad, but wholeheartedly devoted my time to many things.

It was somewhat disappointing to notice how most of the other students in the classes were just doing enough to make it through the course, instead of truly trying to learn the material. Yes, there were exceptions, and yes, they usually got their work done in time, but the prevailing attitude was one of irritation about how much we had to do. I found it easy to let the attitude rub off on myself, though I have worked hard to try to keep studying for the sake of learning and not just to pass the next test. With all of the many classes, however, often learning is reduced to cramming for each test as they come, although I try to plan ahead and study over a period of time instead of just the night before, in order to hopefully retain a little more information.

One of the biggest factors in my decision to leave Belhaven is the near impossibility it is to get good training in theatre and dance (as well as a little music!). Perhaps I am interested in too many things, but the time commitments and conflicting scheduling of each department was very hard to work through. Add to that the fact that if you're not a dance major, you are more likely to be kept in lower levels in order to make room for the dance majors in the higher levels. It's understandable, but hard for those dancers who aren't majors, but would still like to progress. I came to Belhaven in order to gain more skills in the area of dance and theatre so that I could be a better teacher/director, and I have learned many things that I will be able to use in the future. It has also been hard when, because of time constraints but also matters of conscience, I have not been in any of the productions of theatre this year, although I have learned a lot helping behind the scenes.

However, with the blessing of my parents, I have decided to return home after this semester, to continue studying and learning from there. I am very much an independent learner, and some classes have been somewhat hard to sit through, as they're geared for slower learners and keep going over the same information in class that we already read, or at least were suppposed to have read. At home, I will be able to study on my own at my own pace, thus having more time to pursue other things by not having to sit in class after class most of the day.

We're not exactly sure what I will be doing, but this summer I will be taking time to plan out the specifics with my parents. I have many ideas and am excited about what I will have the opportunity to learn! Right now I am seriously considering earning a degree in humanities through CollegePlus, an online program that helps combine credits already earned, CLEP and and other test credits, and online courses into an accredited bachelor's degree. This would allow me to earn a degree while being able to live at home and pursue other learning experiences. Plus, by doing distance learning and not having to follow the schedules of a college, I should be able to finish my degree in 1-2 years. If the Lord wills, I will also be taking dance and music lessons, drama classes/workshops, and having opportunities to attend intensives and workshops, such as Ballet Magnficiat's Teacher's Workshop, which I am registered to go to this summer. I also look forward to having time to sew, cook, read, and write while experiencing the joys of home, family and friends.

Another very exciting opportunity will be the new beginning of The King's Praise Ballet and other theatre endeavors, bringing them together under an "academy" called "The King's Courts." Although it was so hard to leave all of my students last year, this year away has been beneficial in redirecting my focus as to what exactly I want to do. A class I am this semester called Theatre Ministry Administration required us to conduct a feasibility study on an area of our choosing (I chose Prattville, AL, where I was teaching before) and write a business plan for a ministry we would like to do. God birthed in me a vision for "The King's Courts" and I look forward to implementing it as I follow His leading.

This has been a hard decision to make, and it has continued to be hard to let people here at college know that I won't be coming back next semester. I will miss things here and good friends that I have made, but I am going back to so much around home. In the midst of being fearful of what people would think of me, or being misunderstood or viewed as a quitter, I have had to learn yet again that I must value the praise of God more than the praise of man. Going home, I won't have the praise of good grades or a professor's approval, but I will definitely continue to learn. After I finally made the decision in mid-March, Psalm 34:4-5 came to mind: "I sought the Lord and He answered me. He delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame." Our God is so good!

Most of my friends simply love the college atmosphere, whereas I much prefer the home environment. I've struggled with wondering whether I was missing something, or was strange not to so thoroughly enjoy this life at college, a time so many people remember with fondness. I've had to remember that it's okay for me to be different. Everyone is different, and if I prefer home to a college campus, that isn't wrong.

The biggest blessing through this whole decision has been the fact that my parents are both in full agreement with this decision. It amazed me when, as I struggled with whether or not to leave this college, since I felt pulled and wanted by many here and wondered if it was right for me to stop something once I started, my dad, who had formerly encouraged me to go to college, encouraged me to come home. My parents assured me that they would support whichever route I decided to take, staying at Belhaven or coming home, and I have found such freedom and joy in the decision to come home.

I am not saying that college is the wrong decision for anyone. Each one's situation is different, and you must do what you feel God is calling you to. As for me, I am so excited to be going home. Yes, it will be perhaps a less "efficient" learning environment than college, where everything is programmed around classes and studying. At home, you are interrupted with cares of daily life, but it is an environment that I prefer. Home education worked really well for me through high school - why not continue it through college? After all, my biggest dream is to be a wife and mother at home. Why not get used to living and learning in the home environment?

It will be another change, another transition. Things will be challenging as I seek to schedule my own courses of study and begin teaching and ministering to families using the arts, and I know that I won't be able to do everything that I would like to do. This time away at college has been one of learning, stretching, and growth, but I am looking forward to going home and continuing to learn grow there.


Lexie said...

I'm home for this semester and while I long to go back to college it has been a good life experience for me being at home.While it's nice my parents want me to return to college in the fall and I'm anticipating my return since I finally have my major figured out.

Allison said...

Wow, sounds exhilarating! I'm so glad that God gave you direction and peace. I'm sure you are excited about teaching ballet again!

Luke and I have taken a handful of CLEP tests and are working on degrees from home. It's quite exciting to do some of it alongside our high school work. It's a blessing in itself to be able to be at home with your family while getting a degree!


JP said...

At a recent medical grand rounds, the speaker made a distinction between instruct and educate. School teachers and college professors can only instruct. The student must be active for education to occur. He/she is the only one that can educate him/herself. Now the teacher/professor can supply information that the student uses to educate him/herself or provide ideas that lead the student on a rabbit trail that results in education. In schools/colleges there are assignments, projects and tests, all designed by the teacher/professor to encourage education. However, if the somewhat uninteresting or irrelevant assignment interferes with something that the student would like to do to educate him/herself, school/college inhibits education. If the student crams for a test the night before, he/she may pass but the information also disappears and the student did not get educated.

Caroline said...

I have been reading your blog for a long time, but don't think I have ever commented. I really enjoy your blog and want to thank you for sharing your life with your readers.

I am so happy that you have decided to go back home. When I would read your posts about your life at college, I could just tell that you would rather be at home with your family.

And you are right, since your main goal is to be a wife and mother at home, then you should continue your education in the place where you want to be.

Good luck on your finals...I know you are going to do great.

Samantha said...

Anna I'm sure you will enjoy it learning from home again! I'm so glad to hear you're coming back!

p.s. Check out my new blog!

Madeline said...

I am quite happy for your choice. Going to college is not for everyone, something my mother beleives fully in. You are called to a home life, and that's an amazing vocation.

Each person is called to a different place. God has called me to college so I can become a teacher before I marry. God's called you home, to work with children in other ways.

I am soo happy for your decision.

Rachael said...

Hi Anna!

Wow. I really want to comment about your post, but I don't know what to say... Isn't God good! Be blessed as this season of your life changes into the next. and have fun! :) We are so blessed to have our awesome God to call on at all times... as His mystery and plan unfolds around us.
I must say that the Ballet Magnficiat teachers conference/workshop/thing looks absolutely great! It looks like it would be such a blessing to so many people... makes me wish I lived in America... :)



'The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom...' Proverbs 1:7a

Grace said...

Oh, your story was such a blessing to me! I've been in a similar situation, with not really wanting to go to college (and not 100% wanting to study what I'm studying) , but my parents thought it was for the best and so here I am. Thank you for reminding me to trust and follow Him!

BitterSweet said...

I'm so happy for you Anna! I'm with the others commenting here, whenever I read your posts about college it was sooo obvious you missed being home.

Damask-rose said...

Dear Anna,

I'm so pleased that you're going home! You're such a home-bird, it has made me quite unhappy to read your blog as you went off to college; I felt it was a difficult surrender for you. At the same time I admire your courage at going at it with a heart and a half and doing your very best while you were there.

Your reasons for leaving are interesting and well-thought out.

I wish you the very best in your new course of action and look forward to reading Further Adventures of Anna!

Elizabeth Ellen Moore said...

This doesn't surprise me in the least. I always thought distance learning would be the perfect fit for you. I am glad that God has given both you and your family peace regarding this decision. Don't let people's opinions get to you. You are right; it is the Lord's approval that we should seek -- not man's. I will be keeping you in my prayers as you seek His will regarding your plans for the future.

Ella said...

The Lord has truly been working in amazing way in your life, my friend. I can't wait to see what he has in store for you!

What more can I say? I have said it all before =)

Jocelyn said...

Hello, thank you so much for sharing what the Lord is dong in your life. I love Ballet Magnificat also. I pray that you are blessed by the teachers program this summer. I hope that you will have time to post about your experience .
I will be visiting your blog again.
God bless,

Cherishing Young Biblical Womanhood said...

I appreciate how you use your time so wisely, thank you for sharing your heart.

Stacy Elise said...

Anna, I so enjoyed reading this!

This post came up in my Google Reader, and my mom read it before I did. She called me over to the computer and said, "This sounds just like you!" :-) I too have experienced the college students that don't put much effort into their work, and do just enough to get by. Also, being homeschooled all my life, I have also found that college work is easier because I don't have to plan and prepare everything!

I also understand how amazing it is that God will change the direction that you think your life is going. Last semester I was enrolled in Liberty University's online program, and was planning on taking classes from them again this semester. However, my dad encouraged me to try my local community college, and I'm so glad I did! I really love the classroom atmosphere, and I still get to live at home. Had you considered a community college before?

God bless!

James 4:13-15:

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit."

Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.

Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that."

Anna Naomi said...

Thank you all for your encouraging comments! It has been such a blessing to hear from each of you!

Stacy-Elise: I have considered going to a local college, but my dad didn't want to spend money on one that wasn't a Christian college, and there weren't many good ones in our area. Plus, although the classroom setting is fine and I know that many people really enjoy it and do well in it, I prefer more independent study at my own pace. It helps with scheduling! However, there is a possibility that I could take a few classes from colleges in the area to fill out credits if needed. We'll see how God leads.

The verses you included are so good!

Naomi K said...

Hi! I'm so happy for you :)I've been doing classes through correspondence - and even though some people don't really understand why I'm not going to college, most people think it's a great idea - and there's no place I'd rather be!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Anna. I appreciate your insights as I make my own decision, especially since I have had some of the same concerns. When I graduate next spring, I will already have a full year done through online PSEO work. I have been considering my options and while it looks like I may go to one of several nearby Bible colleges, I am not completely convinced yet. God bless you as you begin the next part of your life.


Robert said...

I'm happy that you will be able to continue your learning at home! It will also be nice to get time for sewing and cooking.

With The King's Courts you will be able to do the type of dance/theatre work you want instead of having to perform what the school picks.

I came across a quote that John Calvin wrote about homemaking that you might like:

And if men say, ‘what is this? A woman playeth the housewife, she spinneth on her distaff, and this is all that women can do.’ As in deed there are a number of fools that when they speak of women’s distaffs, of seeing to their children, will make a scorn of it, and despise it. But what then? What saith the heavenly Judge? That he is well pleased with it, and accepteth of it, and putteth it in his reckoning. So then let women learn to rejoice when they do their duty, and though the world despise it, let this comfort sweeten all respect they might have that way, and say, ‘God seeth me here, and his Angels, who are sufficient witnesses of my doings, although the world do not allow of them.’” -- As recorded in A Sermon of Master John Calvine, upon the first Epistle of Paul, to Timothie, published for the benefite and edifying of the Churche of God (London: G. Bishop and T. Woodcoke, 1579), excerpted from Calvin’s sermon on 1 Timothy 2:13-15.

Elijah Lofgren said...

Dear Anna,

I can hardly wait until you read Marlana's book! It is about the family being the social contract of society. Just reading some of the the first few pages of the draft introduction yesterday, it sounded similar to "Do Hard Things" and I think it will be an encouragement to you, especially regarding college.

Marlana also experienced a huge decrease in stress after deciding not to go and get her Masters (or PHD?) even after reading some of the books for it.

See ya soon,


Jack's Mommy said...

Hi! I have been reading your blog for nearly 2 years now, and have enjoyed following your 1st year of college. Things you say remind me so much of myself at your age, which is why I suppose I love reading here. I'm a currently a 26 year old stay at home mom & wife, and am glad to have passed through the college years. I too have always been a homebody, and never found much pleasure (like you noted other seem to) in the college atmosphere. At age 18 I was set to go to Bob Jones University (a plan 5 years in the making!) - but canceled my reservation 2 weeks before the fall semester started in 2001. I just could not bring myself to leave home. Once the decision was made not to go, peace entered my life once more. I lived at home with my parents (till I married at age 23) and eventually ended up attending a local college, and since I am an independent learner like you, I happily enrolled in as many of their online classes (it was something "new" back then - very few online classes existed) as I could!

After college ended, and I became involved in the business world (management and human resources) I quickly realized that the real learning was not found in college - but in the "on-the-job-learning" we do out in the real world. All in all, I'm just glad to be passed the stage of life where people expect me to be in college. I'm now free to learn how, when, where, and as much as I want, whenever I want from whichever sources I want (I prefer the library and the Teaching Company). :)

Take care, and may God continue to bless you as you embark on a new chapter of adult life!


Elijah Lofgren said...

Hi Lisa,

Thanks for sharing! I've quoted part of your story here:

Have a great day!

- Elijah

Mrs. White said...

I was delighted to read this post. One of my daughters is a ballet student and loves it. She is taking classical ballet as well as other dance classes. She is 14. I have not seen any Christian older girls who love dance. I would love to ask you some questions about your experiences.

Mrs. White

Mary said...

I have just recently caught up on your blog. I am thrilled you have returned home. I was also thrilled to see your father in complete agreement with your homecoming. What a wonderful example you have set for young ladies by honoring your father's original wishes. I pray you have success in your new chapter in your adult life.