Friday, April 2, 2010

Embracing Life's Disruptions

I am sure all of us had the best laid plans as we started off our school year.  We prayerfully considered the curriculum choices that we made over the summer.  We felt confident that our children would love the topics we were going to teach them and we found new tools to help them in a subject they were struggling in.  The new pencils,  glue sticks and books were purchased for them so they would excel.  We were ready for a new school year and this year was going to be different because we were better prepared and had a better schedule to follow.  Yet, sometimes things do not go according to our plans, because God has a different plan.
            I am a planner and I love order.  I love to write things down in my calendar and school notebook and check each box off as the task or subject is completed.  When my plans come to fruition, I feel like it was a good day because of what I had accomplished.  Then of course I have had days that do not go according to ‘my’ plan.  I am sure every homeschool mom has had those days too.  Because my day has not gone the way it should, I usually consider it a ‘bad day’.  As I look back over this year, I would classify much of it as a ‘bad year’, according to my ways.   However, according to the LORD, He has a different view point.  “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD.”  Isaiah 55:8 (NKJV)  I love the New Living Translation of this verse, "My thoughts are completely different from yours," says the LORD. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.  Isaiah 55:8  That verse just soothes my weary, fretful, “Am I doing enough”, homeschooling mom’s soul!   
We have all had bad days that did not go according to our plans.  Days when we have overslept.  Days when an illness strikes.  Days when a baby or toddler is constantly interrupting a school day.  Days when our schedules have been flipped upside down due to a disruption.  Yet, sometimes, those disruptions are exactly what God had in mind when He said in His word, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”  Proverbs 16:9             
             God, in His infinite wisdom, brings about changes or ‘disruptions’ into our day.  Now, not all disruptions are from the Lord, however, some definitely are.  I am currently learning to be sensitive to, and recognize when, God has brought about a disruption into mine and my children’s day.  I still do everything I can to limit disruptions to our daily schedule, but sometimes they are unavoidable.  Though I have chosen what I prayerfully felt was the best curriculum choice for my children, there have been days when the LORD had chosen for them to learn about something other than the topic of ‘birds’ for that particular day.  Maybe he wanted them to learn about what cancer is because of what their grandma is going through or perhaps He wanted them to learn about serving and loving an enemy, or what it means when Daddy needs to find a new job, etc.  You get my point and can fill in the blank with your own ‘disruption’.
            As the school year is coming close to an end, I encourage you to embrace the so-called ‘bad days’ that the LORD has brought into your life.  Change your perspective from bad to good.  Is God’s hand upon this situation?  Learn to discern whether it is of the LORD or from the Enemy?  How can you use the situation to teach your children more about the things of the LORD while you are altering your schedule?  Be creative and do not give up in your thinking.  God is not surprised by the change in your plans.  He either sifted it through His hands and passed the ‘disruption’ down to you or He has allowed it to happen.
            As homeschooling moms, I think we feel easily crushed when we are constantly off our schedule or behind in our lesson plans.  That thought process will quickly snowball into a new way of thinking and questioning of our homeschooling abilities and/or perhaps our commitment to continue to homeschool our children in the future.  If this is where your mind is today, I implore you to go back to the Word of God and seek out the Scriptures that convicted you to homeschool in the first place.  Let God speak His truth into you heart and mind so you don’t feel defeated and attacked by the Enemy when you are experiencing a ‘bad day’. 
            Change can typically bring growth.   Just because our children are not learning a subject from a book at that moment, does not mean they are not learning and growing.  Don’t lose heart about the current situation your school year has been in, press on and do your best to get back on to your schedule, but  when God brings a disruption,  embrace it, for it might even draw you  and  your  children closer to the Lord.  “As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.  Psalm 18:30

Thursday, April 1, 2010

As For Me and My Treehouse, We Will Serve the Lord

As a parent, the daily example of our attitudes and actions speak volumes to the shaping of our children’s character.  Our kids learn so much of who our Heavenly Father is by the relationship WE have with our Lord.  I am sure you have heard of the popular saying, “more is caught, than taught”.  I often think of how Jesus taught his disciples as he just spent time hanging out with them, walking with them, sitting in a boat with them and finally, showing them His ultimate love and sacrifice as He went to the Cross.  He is the Great Teacher.  In the book of Matthew, chapter 10, Jesus is giving his disciples authority to cast out demons, heal the sick and instructions on how to go out to preach the Gospel.  He gives his boys a list of do’s and don’ts and then He says in verse 24, A student is not greater than the teacher.”  Of course the disciples are the students in this verse and Jesus is the teacher.  Jesus goes on to say in the chapter that it is because of the teacher that the students will become persecuted.  In other words, the student is taking on the characteristics of the teacher.  The same premise applies to our lives as we are the student and Jesus is our Teacher.  Let’s go one more step further, we are the teacher and our children are the students.  They will take on our characteristics, sometimes good and sometimes bad! 
There are several items in our home with the popular scripture verse, “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.  Joshua 24:15  This verse has not been something that I have purposefully sat down and taught  to my children.  They have just seen it displayed in their surroundings ever since they were babies.  As they have grown older and have become capable of reading and comprehending this scripture, I am amazed by how they have applied it to their own little lives as they have watched how their father and I live what we believe no matter how difficult life may become.  Let me share with you a few recent examples of how my teaching-conduct impacted the lives of my student-children, for both the positive and the negative.
Our family has recently moved from my dream home.   When we purchased this home, I envisioned having our children growing up in it and then some day Lord willing, having our future daughter-in-laws and  grandchildren in it for family gatherings and holiday celebrations.  There were plans for the home to be used for ministry and of course plans to grow old together with my husband in it.  That was my plan for our family’s future and the dream was shattered.  However, as hard and painful as it was to go through, my vision was, and still is, at times shortsighted, because God had a better plan for our family.  As we endured this financial trial for several years, we had a choice in our attitudes and actions, we could complain about our situation or accept that God had something different and better in mind for us.  By the way, God is ALWAYS smarter than we are, because He is the Teacher and we are the student! 
Anyways, as we signed a lease agreement for our rental home, the Landlord asked us how the kids were handling the loss of the home, and in my mind, I found that to be an odd question.  The reason being is the last few years we have been preparing our children that at some point, Jesus will move us to a different home.  What we did not do is teach our children to throw a tantrum when things don’t go our way and we did not show our children to doubt God and be consumed with fear and anxiety of what our life would be like.  We were teaching the young disciples to have faith in a Great God no matter how things do not go according to our plans. 
So, this is what my older son caught in the midst of this trial.  He embraced the situation with child-like faith and saw something good.  He is so very excited to move to this new home because there are giant trees in the backyard and he has always wanted to build a treehouse!  Later that evening he came home and wrote in his finest penmanship, “As for me and my treehose, we will serve the Lord.”  Joshua 24:15  Yes, he spelt hose, instead of house!  After seeing what he wrote for the first time, I saw such excitement in his heart for the Lord.  Now, of course there was that twinge in my mind for the misspelling of the word ‘house’, but I realized that his heart was right and I just gently taught him the correct spelling of the word.  As the Enemy continually attacks me for not teaching my son well enough because he could not spell the word correctly, the Lord gently reminds me of my son’s growing, godly character which will prove far more valuable in life.
Now for the negative example of me as a teacher...after the Lord blessed us with the wonderful gift of this rental home, I decided to act like an ungrateful child who did not appreciate the gift rather than being content and thankful for it.  I referred to the house as if it were a “pig with lipstick”, in other words, it was nice in a few places, but overall, it was like a pig!  My younger son caught on to this negative attitude and he informed my husband that he did not want to move from our current home because the new one was crummy!  I don’t think I will be receiving the ‘Teacher of the Year’ Award for that example!   Needless to say, he learned the negative attitude from his teacher.
Your children’s understanding of the Lord is what they see in you and what you teach them.  They are always watching, perhaps not very intentionally, but watching none the less.  So, you always have a choice in any and all situations that you are in, you could have faith and be thankful for all that God is doing in your life or you could throw a tantrum, whine and complain, be fearful and full of anxiety and teach your children those attitudes just as well. 
My hope and prayer for you and your family is that you do the best you can to be a reflection of your Heavenly Father to your children, it is through that growing process that you will become like The Great Teacher and your students will become like Him as well.