On Letting Go


I have been thinking a lot lately about how everyone has a story. How every single person I meet has a different story. How I have a story. We all have hopes and fears, joys and sorrows that are often hidden deep in our hearts, we all have different journeys that life has taken us on.

All this thinking about stories really started this last fall when I read Donald Miller's book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story

"Somehow we realize that great stories are told in conflict, but we are unwilling to embrace the potential greatness of the story we are actually in. We think God is unjust, rather than a master storyteller."
Donald Miller

I have a story. And it is more than what you see on this blog. Of course this blog is definitely a reflection of me and my life, but it is not the whole picture. No one's blog is. My life is full of beauty and joy and heartache and pain. And I share pieces of it all. But not everything. 

Part of my story is that this year has been really hard for my little family. In ways that would never be appropriate or comfortable to share in this space. We have been challenged and stretched, in good ways, but really difficult ways. God has been and is so faithful and so good and we see evidence of Him taking care of us every single day. But of course, we still struggle, we still hurt and wonder and ask why. 

"I've wondered, though, if one of the reasons we fail to acknowledge the brilliance of life is because we don't want the responsibility inherent in the acknowledgement. We don't want to be characters in a story because characters have to move and breathe and face conflict with courage. And if life isn't remarkable, then we don't have to do any of that; we can be unwilling victims rather than grateful participants." 
Donald Miller

I told a dear friend this last weekend that while I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is very present and is here to offer us grace and peace (especially during hard times), I have realized lately that I have not been completely open to receiving His grace and peace and comfort in my own life. I have tried to stay in control because I am so fearful of letting go. I am so fearful of what sacrifices, what changes the Lord will ask of me. 

"This is what I've come to believe about change: it's good in the way that childbirth is good, and failure is good. By that I mean that it's incredibly painful, exponentially more so if you fight it, and also that it has the potential to open you up, to open life up, to deliver you right into the palm of God's hand, which is where you wanted to be all along, except that you were too busy pushing and pulling your life into exactly what you thought it should be."
Shauna Niequist
 Bittersweet (another really beautiful + inspiring book that I have been reading this week)

So this last weekend, I decided to let go. To open my heart fully to whatever it is that God asks of me, to whatever ways He wants to carry this burden for me and pour His grace and peace and comfort into my life, into my little family's lives.

He asked me to do something HUGE. 

Something that requires a lot of trust. A lot of letting go. A lot of facing fears. 

 My little ones are starting preschool next week.

I know. It probably doesn't sound that huge or significant or scary to you. But to me it is all those things. 

You see I have this very big dream in my heart. I really want to homeschool my kids.

But right now, for this season of our lives, it is not working.

I am completely and totally overwhelmed with taking care of my family and getting us through this difficult time. Yet I have also been consumed with guilt and feelings of failure every single day because my kids' education is not looking like I want it to, like it needs to. Now granted, I know Audrey and Elliot are just three and five, so I shouldn't be too stressed out. But this was supposed to be our trial year; Audrey starts kindergarten next year. So we wanted to spend this year testing the waters, seeing if we could make it work. 

And I have loved it. My kids have loved it. The problem is that we are so inconsistent. Days, weeks go by with hardly any school because I am carrying an even bigger burden than my kids' education on my shoulders right now.

I have to be realistic. Homeschooling is more than I can handle right now. I am hoping that that won't always be the case, that someday (hopefully this autumn), we'll be ready to give it a shot again. However, right now I know in my heart that preschool will be so so good for my little ones. I have no doubt that they are going to love it there and completely thrive.

We made the decision on Sunday. I called my first choice preschool first thing Monday morning. Audrey got the very last spot in her class; Elliot got the best three year old teacher in the school. God is good. God is faithful. 

And I already feel like the burden is lighter.


  1. My little reinos...I know this is HUGE for you, that is why I am very proud of you. My post yesterday on (ugh...facebook) was - Every journey has a destination that even the traveler doesn't know. We can never predict where our path may take us. Have a plan...but go with the flow. We all have ideals in our heads based on so many forces and factors, but the truth remains...we really have no control (except how we react to what is dealt and/or given to us) Happiness is one of the most important things in life and when there is stress and the weight of the world...even just our little world on our shoulders it sucks the joy out of even the most pleasurable things because how can we really relax if things aren't "the way they are suppose to be" but what does that even mean? It means something different to every single one of us. You are unique and lovely and created in Gods image and for that you will never ever fail. Promise me that you will do something nice for yourself the on their first day of preschool? Also, please don't be so hard on yourself, you really have it together more than you might think!


  2. Oh Andi, your voice was just what I needed to hear at 2:26am. I think we all have lessons in the letting go and letting God department. At least I do. Your honest thoughts and struggles - and your willingness to trust the Lord as you walk through it all, is an encouragement to me. I love you dearly and pray God's richest blessings upon your family.

  3. great thoughts on living our stories rather than rejecting them. thank you for this timely reminder. the right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing. something i try to repeat to myself often.

    i can imagine how hard this decision was for you. it seems like it took a lot of maturity to come to it and i am proud of you! there is a lot of time between now and next autumn. praying your story allows for homeschool then!

  4. oh andi, i'm proud of you for being so honest and real here and for knowing your limits. i'm sure it's disappointing to not be able to carry out your dream/goal of teaching the kids this year, but that doesn't mean that will always be the case.

    excited for all the new friends they'll make at pre-school and for you to have a little free time to deal with all the other stuff going on. praying for you girl. i love how you are so in tuned and obedient to God's hands in your life...

  5. Beautiful + sweet friend, I am so proud of and inspired by your example. In so many things. For embracing your little story so beautifullly, even when it means doing the hard things. Praying for so much joy and peace to come out of this little transition. That the Lord will use this letting go to fill you and renew you with His love. That He would pour His grace into all the lovely corners of your heart. And that this would be just the thing He uses to strengthen + bless your sweet little family. I get how huge this is is. And I have to say, you make me brave in dealing with the things I know that God is nudging me to let go of and that I love you so much. xo

  6. Oh, Andi...I love and relate to this post SO much! I think I'm going to write down one of the quotes you shared and hang it above my sink (and possibly every other room in our house)! Your sweet family is in my prayers and I am so excited to hear the great stories of preschool! Love you, friend!

  7. I recently have had to learn the same lesson, letting go, receiving God's grace and mercy, trusting and not fearing. My head 'knew' what I was to do, what I understood to be true, but hurt, grief, and guilt, couldn't accept it. It was a almost 3 year battle/burden. What joy to have it now lifted. Do you know the song, "At the foot of the cross"? It has meant a lot to me. 'I'll trade these ashes in for beauty'. Your heart, my dear, is beautful. I appreciate you opening it to us, more importantly to the the Lord. I have had my own little mantra since Dale's passing; "Is God sovereign? Yes. Is God faithful? Yes. If God is sovereign, if He is faithful, then He is trustworthy." Lean hard, sweet Andi, that's where He wants you to be.

  8. Oh, Andi. I am so so so proud of you for taking this step! Your kids are totally going to thrive in a school setting (not that they weren't thriving with you, of course!). It might turn ou to be completely better than you ever imagined... and I bet you will love being a school mom. Praying for you, looking forward to that phone date! xo

  9. Hi sweet friend. Thanks for your honesty and transparency here, which is so hard sometimes. Your kids will do great and you will breathe deeper knowing you are doing your very best for them, even if it feels like giving up in a small way. You are amazing. You inspire me. Seeing you and your little lovelies today was such a breath of fresh air. You have no idea...

  10. andi, i know i say this everytime i make a comment, but, i love your honesty. really. it is so refreshing and so encouraging to hear. what a hard decision to make. i will be praying for you that you have peace about it. it is so hard to let go and let God. it is something that i struggle with all the time. it is good to know i am not alone. :)

  11. I love you.
    I support you.
    This is a now choice.
    Not a forever one.
    But a needed one.

    you know that right???!!!

  12. Thank you, Andrea, for sharing your heart. I know the agony of making such a decision...I had to do the same thing when you went from homeschooling to public school in 3rd grade. I remember wrestling and wrestling with the decision. So, sweet daughter, I know the feelings that have come with this. Isn't God just the absolute BEST confirming things with getting your "little ones" in the place where you so desired them to be? GREAT is HIS faithfulness.
    NOW, Miss Andi Mae, REST YOUR SOUL, like Louise said, "In the shadow of HIS wings". I heard a sermon once that explained that means that there is a current of air under and eagles wings that allow them to soar like they do without flapping their wings (well, at least something like that)...pretty awesome picture, huh?
    Love you, MOM

  13. I'll try again...another time I typed out a huge thing and wished I had copied it to the clipboard!!

    Ok, first of all, let me just say you are awesome! You're a great mom! I applaud you for doing what you feel is best for your kids, and doing so with prayer and wisdom. I want to encourage you a bit, but what I have to say I fear might seem like it's coming out of a place of judgment and IT IS NOT.

    Secondly, I want you to know that I can totally understand and empathize with your predicament. I know what it's like to battle the inconsistency monster, and the struggle of self-discipline. I also know how that monster is almost impossible to defeat when you are in the midst of great emotional or other upheaval. When dealing with something like that, particularly if there is depression involved, you just are at your end and something as enormous as your child's education seems so monumentally insurmountable. When day to day life feels like you are in survival mode.

    When I went through a great upheaval over the summer, I KNEW I was going to struggle, and struggle greatly, with schooling the kids. I KNEW I was going to have days where I simply couldn't muster, and that consistency would be difficult. Which is one thing for a kindergartener, but something else entirely for a 4th grader. So I wrestled, again, with the question of public/private/home school. I know what that's like. I know how guilty you feel one way or the other. Ultimately, after prayer and such, I decided to continue homeschooling. And this I'm only sharing because it's my personal struggle, not because I think you should keep homeschooling, haha, I just wanted to make that clear.

    I realized that for the situation and upheaval my kids just went through, adding more change and time away from me wouldn't benefit them enough to outweigh them falling behind academically. And my 5 yr old has some issues, partly exacerbated by the situation, that make a traditional school setting problematic. I realized that if they fell behind six months, or even a year, with tutoring and time and individual attention--something homeschooling offers in abundance--I could catch them back up easily or even go beyond very easily and quickly. So I knew that academically, though it would be hard on them this year in terms of consistency and tracking with their peers, ultimately and especially in the long run they would be fine, would catch up, etc.

    I'm pleased to say that things are starting to look up around here, and this fog is lifting, so our perseverance is paying off. But we're not out of the woods yet.

    Why bother telling you this? Because I want to encourage you that the first half of the school year you spent with your kids, just living and occasionally schooling, was not wasted! They will be ok! :) Don't feel guilty or bad about it, and don't worry if you feel like they are behind. They will catch up! And the time spent with you was very special and precious! :)

  14. I figured it out...my comment is too long! That was part one, here is part two:
    Next I'd like to encourage you to consider trying again someday. I mean, maybe you won't and school will be the best thing ever for your family and your kids and that's great, but regardless of what the future holds what I DON'T want is for you to feel like a failure!

    Did you know that it takes the average homeschooler THREE YEARS to find their stride? That means three years of trial and error, three years of inconsistency, three years of trying to figure out how to access access academics with your kids. It's a learning curve; a learned art more than a natural-to-you science. There's no one-size-fits all for every family. It's both a blessing and curse of homeschooling. You get to figure out how to best meet your child's needs in a way no school ever could, but, YOU get to figure it out!

    I know what it's like to worry about that, too. So please don't feel like your little four month experiment is a failure and an indicator of what it will be like next time around! *My* first year was HORRIBLE, and I often questioned my decision to homeschool. At the end I nearly quit. I wrote about it a LITTLE bit here: http://lilirishlass.blogspot.com/2009/09/homeschooling-vs-public-school-my.html

    It MIGHT be rocky at first, but it's a new discipline not just for your kids but for you. It takes time. And like I said, it's ok if they aren't tracking where you think they should be. I've read a lot of studies that show kids who read early and kids who read late have no difference in fluency by the time they reach middle school; all 'benefits' disappear. In fact, some homeschoolers purposefully don't start any formal, consistent school until much later. I think Renee is one kind of like that, have you ever read any of her homeschooling posts? http://bakersdozen.typepad.com/

    Because it seems, just from reading this post, that part of what you might need to let go of is your own expectations. It sounds like they were really high for school with a three and five year old, and I'd be impressed if anyone were able to live up to them. Kids that age should play, I think, and learn through play. And you are REALLY good at that already, from what I can tell just reading your blog and such!!

    I'd like to reiterate that I am confident in your abilities to make good decisions for your family ;) I'm not saying you should make a different decision! Like I said, I've struggled this year, too. One way I've coped was to hand off more responsibility to others. We've gone from one day a week of outside classes to three, and it includes some basic academics like math. The busyness is sometimes difficult for me, but the girls are really enjoying staying with the same population of homeschoolers, their friends, and I am glad that I have the freedom to be a little inconsistent, and to REST and bless my family in the other ways that they need to be blessed.

    I hope this is encouraging to you, and that this season will bring REST, and PEACE, and JOY, and REPAIR to you. I'll be praying for you! You are a great mom and a great person!!!

  15. I said everything so much better the first time around...I was really just trying to say that I know what it's like when it's not working and you have to do something about it. In your case, that means preschool. In mine, that meant upping our outside classes. I'm proud of you for being open to what God had for you in this season. <3 I'm glad that you loved it and your kids loved it and you wish to try again, so I was trying to encourage you that I think it's a possible endeavor and not impossible...just not for this season :) and that this is perfectly ok. I know what it's like to carry a big burden, and that you can't do everything perfectly or even WELL, especially in your own strength, and that sometimes things have to give or let go. And that I think you're great and I'll be praying for you.

  16. Andi,
    I really didn't know you were going through such a difficult time! You are so good at keeping a smile on your face while you tread water! I am so happy that you reached this decision and that you went for it even though it was difficult. You work so hard, all the time, and I know you are such a huge servant for everyone in your life except for yourself. I admire your honesty, and your strength in letting go. I hope this decision will free you up to pursue those passions that God has ignited in your heart, ie: your beautiful photography. I'm so, so proud of you! And I love you dearly, my beautiful friend!!

  17. andi--I remember going through this with Veronica entering her preschool. I'm so impressed of you & Erik enrolling your kids into preschool when your heart's desire is to homeschool. I struggle with my romantic ideals & present realities. I would love to homeschool as well; but, I don't know if it will be the best thing. thank you for being honest & vulnerable with your heart:)

  18. This is not a comment that speaks to what you're going through right now...but I can't believe that I pulled the same quote from Bittersweet and put it on my blog. It seems to have spoken to us both!

    These are interesting times...perhaps the Lord is preparing us for something much bigger than our own circumstances...calling us to greater compassion and intimacy with him...

    blessings to you.

  19. I'm just catching up - but had to still add that I am so proud of you. This is so brave and I am just behind you. All the way.

    Love you.