School Decision Made

*****Buckle up for a cool God Story. It's long, but well worth the read if you want to be encouraged today!

With so many factors playing into our 'schooling' situation for Maddie, this was a tough, tough decision.

Maddie did 2 years (preschool and kindergarten) at our local Chicago Public School {CPS}, and then due to a HUGE class size and other factors, we pulled her from the 1st grade class and put her in a wonderful little private school last year. We loved it. She had an amazing experience there, and if money were no object, we would have loved for her to continue to attend.

But, the reality is, we just can't afford private school K-8, and then high school, and then college, for two kids.

So our options for this school year were to a) leave her at the private school she was at, and me get a part-time job to help cover costs, and concurrently begin the process of selling our house (in this terrible market), to be able to move in time for her to start next year's school year out in the suburbs. Option b) to try to get into a magnet or gifted Chicago Public School that was relatively close. We began this process back in January, with her doing two rounds of intense testing downtown.

Late March we received word that she was offered a couple spots in gifted programs, and then she was put on the waiting list for numerous magnet schools, and offered spots in numerous others. There were a few that caught our eye so we began narrowing down the process to two viable options.

At the beginning of the summer, around the time that I initially shared thoughts about school and
serving options, I was quite hesitant to put her back into the CPS system. This particular one that caught our eye was great, except that they had 2 really large classes in the school last year, which was a HUGE barrier for me. Loved the school in every other area but this was big enough to turn me completely off. (Remember this point for later.)

Fast forward to August 1st: I called the public school mentioned above and asked, off the record, if there was really any chance that she could even get into the 2nd grade at that school. The lady said, "Realistically, it isn't going to happen. So many people want to get in here." So, I hung up, and for the first time thought, "I think this might be a really good school for Maddie. So I started praying that if God wanted her to get in, that they would call us soon, as we needed to register Maddie for the private school on August 18th.

Fast forward two weeks, to August 13th. Jack and I had decided that we would be putting her back at St. Paul because there just was no way she was going to get into the other one, but we would at least keep that door open until the actual first day of school, which was August 26th. We decided we would register her on the 18th, but explain to the school that if we got a call from the public school, that we would consider pulling her, only up until the 1st day of school. After that, she would stay at St. Paul for the year. {I would come right out and say the name of her new school but I don't know who reads my blog and I want to be safe}.

So, last Thursday {August 13th} I called the school and explained that we had been out of town for ten days, and was there any change in her status on the waiting list. The first lady I talked with said no, but she patched me through to Mrs. Smith, the numbers assistant, {not sure of her exact title} to answer my question. Mrs. Smith shared that she didn't think it was likely that Maddie would get in, but there was maybe a possibility, but they wouldn't even be looking at numbers until September 1st, when the staff comes back to school. And it would be that week, if at all, that they called. I said thank you and hung up.

And the first thing I thought was, "Lord, you're going to have to do a miracle if you want Maddie in this school because they're not looking at numbers until AFTER Maddie's first day of school at St. Paul. Which means, unless you do a miracle God, she's not getting into this new school. Which is then our answer to our dilemma. We would begin packing and head to the suburbs.

So that morning, the whole way over to a mommy play date with kids in tow, I prayed in the car, just asking God to do a miracle. I totally believe He can and still does do miracles. I had such a change of heart about this school and really felt like it would be a perfect fit for Maddie, and it would allow Jack and I the opportunity to stay living in the City, and in our home which we love, which over the last several months, I have felt more and more called to do. {Up until this point, I was actually really hopeful that I would get to move to Des Plaines, because a huge percentage of my friends live there and in Park Ridge so it was like a dream to be able to move in next door and borrow sugar and drop in for Diet Coke breaks amidst the daily grind.}

So God was moving in my heart to be content where we were, and was actually giving me a burden to stay in the City, and giving me a peace about giving up the dream situation living near my so many of my friends.

And then I got to my mommy play date and shared with Julie, Kristin, Melissa and Kathy that we needed to pray that God would do a miracle. And then we went on chit-chatting about various other topics and had a delightful time together. Too short, as always.

So, I arrived home a little after 5pm that afternoon and checked the blinking light on our machine. And this is what it said:

"Hi, Mrs. _______. This is Mrs. Smith from ____________ School. We spoke earlier today. I went ahead and pulled the 2nd grade files and reviewed the numbers and found that we had several calls from parents over the summer, saying they had moved. I shared this information with the principal and she would like to extend an offer to Madison to attend our school."

I got off the phone and began to sob. And I said, "God, you did a miracle. For us. Thank you."

God DID a miracle. I believe it. So I'm gonna say it again.
Mrs. Smith was only in that one day (she wasn't even technically supposed to be in that day but she was.) God prompted her to go ahead and look at the numbers even when that wasn't going to get done until after September 1st. She took the initiative to go to the principal and explain the situation. And they made the decision to invite us to attend. That wasn't just their doing. God's hand was all over that!

See, God answers prayers. He also speaks really clearly. I LOVE that about Him.

I have felt such a peace about this decision. It's the right decision for our family because it's GOD'S decision for our family. It is such a relief to have the decision made.

The next hurdle was to actually tell Maddie this news. She has been very vocal about desperately wanting to stay at St. Paul, not wanting to move again and make new friends. Many tears were shed at various times over this summer, so after we made the decision, I asked a few friends to really pray that God would prepare Maddie's heart for this news and that she wouldn't be devastated but would somehow understand, in her 2nd grade mind, that this was a GREAT thing for our family and would be an exciting change for her. I have prayed for this constantly over the last several days.

Tonight, we took a picnic over to the new school, and when we pulled up in the car she said, rather discouragingly, "Oh, we're having a picnic at my new school. Before school starts."

Not off to a good start.

But, we got out, set up the blanket, and Jack did an amazing job of telling Maddie the great news. That we were celebrating because this was going to be her new school that she gets to attend. He talked about how God had answered our prayers and that this is a really good school and that we are so excited about it.

And, true to God's amazing ways, Maddie was miraculously excited about it, too. Her grin was wide. Her eyes were shining. Her demeanor was positive. She peaked in the windows and wondered what her new teacher's name would be. And she was just as happy as a lark. I had carried this burden all summer long. Absolutely DREADING the thought of potentially having to tell her that she wasn't going back to St. Paul. It broke my heart really. And then, through our prayers, and those of our faithful friends, it was like it didn't even phase her. She was so happy about it and wondered when the first day of school was.

How's that for a good God story, eh? Told you it was. I LOVE when God shows up. Just LOVE that.

It's like He showed up on our answering machine ... just to remind us that He does hear the cries of our hearts. He is concerned about the decisions we make. He wants to take our burdens from us but that involves us laying them at His feet. And quite frankly, He even has control over the big, bad, Chicago Public School system!

A miracle on our answering machine.

It might just be the name of my first book!


Alice said…
I am up at 3:00 a.m. because I can't sleep and am worrying about school for Luce, which starts on Tuesday. I "just happened" to click on "Little Things" to see if you had blogged anything new.

Yeah--miracles are still His specialty!
Amber said…
Yay God! So happy for you! Of course, I would love to run into you over here in DP. :)
amywb said…
What an awesome story. I hope you write that book someday.

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