by Katie Julius
I have been a part of my homeschool support group’s leadership team since 2019, and our family members since 2017. Our group has a long history reaching back to the early 1980’s, and for the last decade or so, things were pretty standard. We were comfortable in what we were doing, where we were meeting, and what we were offering to families. We were growing (especially after Covid). Our monthly enrichment co-op was well-attended. Our field trips often filled quickly.
It should have been a warning to us, though. Complacency and comfort is not where growth happens. God uses trials and struggles to stretch us and grow our relationship with Him.
It started in early 2022. Several families had growing concerns after a number of incidents near our meeting location. Around the same time, our president and I began looking into incorporation, establishing a non-profit, creating a board of directors, streamlining our communications, and more. Little did we know what the months ahead would have in store for our leadership and group.
In late June, in the middle of all these changes, our president felt called to step down from leadership to focus more on her family–her son’s last few years of high school and her mom’s failing health, among other things. With summer vacations in full swing, this transition proved to be more challenging than we had hoped.
Over the summer, the board continued to plan for the coming year and search for a more suitable venue for our co-op and musical performance. As always, everything was bathed in prayer and we were trusting that the Lord would provide, in His perfect timing. However, it was a long and arduous summer. We were turned down by two or three dozen churches. Small hurdles and hiccups seemed to pop up at every turn. We continued praying and trusting.
As August rolled around, we determined it would be better to continue to meet at our same location for co-op as we continued to search in the fall, rather than have no-co-op at all. That was, until days before our Welcome Night when we received word that we would not be able to continue to meet for co-op at this church. We were sent reeling. We were confused. We fasted. We prayed. We pleaded with God. We questioned if we were following His lead or trying to pave our own way.
Answers came later that month as we ended up being able to stay at the church for three months in the fall and we had secured a theater for our performance. Finally! We gave all praise and glory to God for working out these details as we began our year, even with a rocky start.
But either someone in our group had been praying for patience or faith or God wasn’t done growing us yet. A few weeks after we signed the contract with our theater, the director unexpectedly passed away. The school and musical program that met there and ran the theater was closing, and we would not be able to hold our show there in January. We were back to square one again – except now we had held auditions, cast the show, and purchased the rights to perform! We needed a new venue ASAP.
Well, once again, God has His own timing because it was about six weeks, dozens of phone calls and emails, and several site visits later before we were able to sign a contract for a new theater space. We ended up right where God wanted us to be, and we finally could move ahead with the rest of our planning and preparations for the show.
In the meantime, it became obvious to us that we could not wait any longer to move on from our co-op location. We talked with church after church after church and just a few weeks ago, found a space that’s new, in a developing community, and gives us some breathing room for our families. We are excited for the possibilities of ministering to homeschool families in this growing community.
I want to be clear – even if God hadn’t provided venues for us in the end, He is always faithful, no matter the answers to our prayers or the circumstances we find ourselves in! We would have taken the “no” or “not right now” answer and adapted.
I don’t share this saga with you for sympathy or pity. I share it because I’m sure, as leaders, we all face some sort of trial. It may not be (seemingly) everything at once, but maybe you’re facing the challenge of finding a new generation of leaders. Or maybe you have a conflict that’s proving difficult to mediate. Maybe you’re struggling with finding the right balance and boundaries as a leader.
James 1 has been a great comfort and encouragement to me over the last six months, in particular. In verses 2-7, it says,
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” (NIV)
Wow. If we doubt that God will provide, we shouldn’t expect to receive anything from God! That’s a pretty big deal! But, oh, when we do, verse 12 tells us that “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
Whatever trial you are experiencing today–whether it’s related to your leadership position or in your own personal life–remember that God is faithful. It may not always turn out the way we had planned, but it will always turn out the way God planned, and that’s usually better than what we could have ever dreamed or imagined, anyway.
James 1 concludes with verse 17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights …”
Katie Julius is a homeschool mom to one energetic, full-of-life, pedal-to-the-metal, insanely creative fifth grader. In addition to her role as CHEA’s Communications Manager, she serves as Board Treasurer and Administrative Lead of LIFE Homeschool, based in California’s Inland Empire.