Chasing Wellness

Swim LessonsHow are you doing on your fitness resolutions? Yeah, right.  If you’re at all like me, nothing was accomplished yesterday.  But today’s a new day. The best part of every morning is the opportunity to start over.  And even if you only put one foot forward today, it’s progress.  We all have to start somewhere.  It’s in the keeping going that success is found.

Nutrition is the first step to achieving overall health, although it is often overlooked.  Just like with a car, junk fuel means junk performance.  A steady diet of Cheetos and Mountain Dew doesn’t translate to having the competitive edge at the next 5K.  Aim for less sugar and junk carbs while pushing more colorful vegetables into your main meals.  That’s it.  No wild diets or crash programs that run you into the ground faster than last year’s Bikini Body program.  Eat Smart, Move More is a good, workable philosophy.

But let’s be realistic. Accept that we will all make regrettable food choices, most likely today. There will be office and tailgate parties where “imitation food product” is the only option.  So have a backup plan for when the judicious chef’s salad can’t fend off the  hot fudge marshmallow banana split chasing it down.  Running all those calories off before bedtime isn’t really feasible.  Smart planning, ahead of time, is the ticket to long-term health.  Plan what you will eat at the next meal – before you’re hungry for it – and put exercise onto the calendar to keep any splurges in check.

KayakingSo many people think exercise must mean running.  It doesn’t.  Physical fitness is a combination of cardiovascular strength, muscular strength, and flexibility.  6-pack abs look amazing, but they won’t help much when trying to keep up with toddlers for an entire afternoon or washing your back in the shower.  It takes all three to be truly fit.  Focus on endurance one day, muscle tone the next, and stretch out the kinks on Day 3 to achieve a comprehensive fitness program with the added benefit of keeping up interest over the long haul.

Getting your head in the game will be a huge asset.  It is much easier to actually move off the bed each morning if there’s something fun to do.  “Let’s go pump iron” sounds like work. Dogs are great exercise buddies since they have to go out in the morning anyway.  Grab the leash and go find some bunnies together!  Going farther or faster – or both – is more realistic once you’re out the door. Look for what inspires you to choose health, whether it’s not ruining a good workout with junk food or a buying a new outfit to reinforce improved eating and exercise habits.  Small strides in all these areas will add up and synergy will begin to work for you.

But that’s just physical stuff.  You and I are made of more than just flesh and bone.  We are made in the image of God; our bodies are His temple and His Spirit (should) reside in us.  Spiritual nutrition and exercise are necessary for health on this third plane.  Just like food for our bodies, the Bible contains the essential elements for fueling a healthy life.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

There are few people who will say the Bible is an easy read.  It must be chewed thoroughly, frequently, and in its totality (no spitting out the onions!) before being put into practice.  Real life exercise of Biblical principles is essential to full incorporation.  This is harder work still.  But no pain, no gain, right?  If we are to remodel ourselves and approach total wellness, all the aspects must be part of the program. The Apostle Paul said, “For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (1 Tim 4:8)

We are not just getting ready for the high school reunion.  Jesus said, “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life” (John 6:54).  The food of Scripture and the blood of His life must so completely infuse us that the exercise of total wellness overflows into our surroundings.  And the ripples from that could make a big impact over time.

Parenting Off-leash

The seasons are changing.  My oldest is gone more than home now, and the next two boys are working out in the gym and growing manly muscles on their lean arms.  My daughter’s turned into a lady with a keen sense of right, a quick tongue and an even sharper wit.

We’re all growing up. Not that I’m crying, mind you. I welcome the opportunity to wrestle bigger challenges than whose Hot Wheel this is.  It’s just a different type of parenting now.  They still need shepherding, just with a looser hand.

I’m reminded of my first parenting lessons, years ago. I had adopted a 100 lb. Labrador Retriever with an assertive streak. What a tough bugger he was in obedience class, refusing to lie down on command unless I body-slammed him and pinned him in my own version of a wrestling hold.  I only outweighed him by about 3 pounds, and he had testosterone and four legs on his side.  He strained to keep his head above mine.  With persistence, he learned to work with me. We moved to off-leash training, where he had to choose to obey lessons like, ‘don’t chase the kitty across the road just because you’re the dog for the job and I’m not looking’.  At the end of the summer, we won 2nd place at the trials.Sandyswim

I wish it were that easy to train kids.  Today, I’d be thrilled to come in second place.  On that day, I felt gypped, and came up with all sorts of consolations.  I was a teen with a large, intact male dog competing against an adult with a spayed people pleaser. She wasn’t at all moved by the lovely mutt in heat that wandered through the final exam.  My dog looked like Pepe Le Pew floating away after a Persian cat.

I didn’t recognize the real point.  That class was a joint effort to develop well-mannered companions, not a competition to see who could produce the perfect show dog.

Education is not about perfection.

I will never be a perfect mother, homeschool or otherwise.  My only charge is to love the Lord more than anything else and figure out how to stir each of my students to choose to follow me in that, daily.  But just like my old Lab, the outcome boils down to a choice that is outside of my control.  Will he follow my path, or not?  Milk bones or a swim in the lake assist with retention, but just like most adults on earth, if it doesn’t pay off, he probably won’t repeat it.

My oldest kids have learned the basics of come, sit, and stay.

It’s now time to go off-leash.  What they know, they know, and what they don’t will show quickly.  We’ll focus there.  Move into the world, my children.  You will fall.  Know that – but know also that falls are not fatal.  You’ll get up and be stronger.  I’ll help you, but only if you need it.  You have the rest of your lives to fine-tune who you want to become.

Someone asked me today how I parent high schoolers.  I couldn’t help but chuckle under my breath.  I’m really not the one to ask.  But yet I am – I can answer from experience that there comes a point when you must trust that what you’ve done has made an impact and that your children are competent to think and move on their own.  But you’re not done.

You must still pray.  Pray for quiet patience that exudes faith, in God and in the child.  Pray for safety and quickly growing wisdom.  Know that God is there, and won’t blink, even when it’s midnight and you haven’t heard from your son since lunch.

If you’ve been diligent with your time when you had it before you, you will not be disappointed now.  The Bible doesn’t just spout cool maxims that encourage us emptily.  When the proverb says, ” Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” – it’s a promise you can lean on.

I found this interesting elucidation in Clarke’s Commentary:

When he comes to the opening of the way of life, being able to walk alone, and to choose; stop at this entrance, and begin a series of instructions, how he is to conduct himself in every step he takes. Show him the duties, the dangers, and the blessings of the path; give him directions how to perform the duties, how to escape the dangers, and how to secure the blessings, which all lie before him. Fix these on his mind by daily inculcation, till their impression is become indelible; then lead him to practice by slow and almost imperceptible degrees, till each indelible impression becomes a strongly radicated habit. Beg incessantly the blessing of God on all this teaching and discipline; and then you have obeyed the injunction of the wisest of men. Nor is there any likelihood that such impressions shall ever be effaced, or that such habits shall ever be destroyed.

I’ve not done everything right.  But that’s where the prayers come in: God is the perfect Father.  He can instill in each of my children what I never taught.  They’re in good hands.

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Time Away

A new year, a new look.  It was time.  I’ve changed so much since I set up this space nearly two years ago.

When I first became a mother, I was advised to reserve time for me.  I couldn’t; it just felt so wrong.  I understand the airline concept of putting on my own facemask before turning to help the child beside me; but this isn’t an emergency.  This is everyday life.  This is the season of life to rear children; I must be with them, I’d think.

“Me Time” was such a buzzword, and it grated on me.  I quickly learned to avoid the topic, since it was met with such hostility.  “It will become a necessity; you’ll see,” an old lady warned me.  But after 15 years, I was still much happier with my family intact.  Dinner out wasn’t fun if I was wondering about that little piece of me I’d left behind.  Even when I had six not-so-little pieces of me, time out wasn’t right without them.

Yeah, I’m weird.  I know that.

Eventually, though, I saw that I couldn’t breathe anymore.  I had to stop and focus on my own facemask.  I hate the taste of crow.  This space was set up as my time away – my adult time.  But the whole concept still irritated me, because no matter how much time I got to myself, I still could not breathe.  I needed something, but even getting away wasn’t helping.  It was merely taking me away from my responsibilities, which didn’t help anyone.

Then I saw something important. Jesus made time alone, away from his disciples.  But He didn’t go to spend “Me Time”; He went apart to commune with His Father before returning refreshed.  I was confirmed that my path is turning a corner.

Spending time for me and spending time with God is vastly different.  As I put aside time every morning to read Scripture, to let His word flood through my soul, and to talk with him about what I’d read or was struggling with, I was strangely strengthened.  My time is often interrupted (how could it not be in a house with 6 children?), but that’s okay. The rewards are tangible, and I see that I no longer have time not to read my Bible in the morning.

It wasn’t “Me Time” I needed; it was God Time.  I give everything I have in caring for my family, and it makes sense that I might need refreshing.  It must be refueling time, though, not just recess. God Himself put me here and gave me this family.  His Spirit must filter through every pore, into every cell, and flood every bronchiole and hemoglobin for me to actually accomplish His purpose.

“Give me your firstfruits.” “I have living water you know nothing of.”  “Come to me, you who are weary.”  His words jumble together in my mind as I think.  So when I come directly to Him in the early morning for my thirst to be quenched and my body quickened, He is there.  Just as He promised. It all comes together.

Bring it on, 2012.  I’ve got a new outlook and a new look, and I’m ready for whatever you have in store.

Christ Child

Christmas. So many ideas whiz through my head like snowflakes. I’m not even totally clear on the one before the next flutters past. The overall feeling is magical, mystical, immortal.

Newborn Babe.  The Christ Child.  Coming into your life so small and unintrusive, but unique and fascinating.  This one is so like any other baby, but much, much more. His presence, as He toddles around, forces inconvenience upon you, prying into forgotten corners and hidden closets, until He knows you better than you know yourself. He grows in your heart until, full grown, He’s become so much a part of you that you are indistinguishable without Him. Your legacy is Him –

The manger scene. Utter silence, the smells of warm animals and fresh straw, the feeling that something special is here. It bids us look, but that act seems so brash. And besides, we’d have to go out back, into the dirty barn with the tools, beasts, and unwanteds. I so want to go look, but what would people think?

I stay here with the rest of the inn’s guests, where we’re expected to abide. I only get the briefest glimpse of the miracle in the barnyard, and I cannot see the baby’s face. I can see the others’ faces, though, and they are filled with awe. Even the animals are entranced by Him. Strange that all these people eating and drinking and singing minstrel songs are so unaware of what is just outside. Only the wise men, when they arrive later, gaze openly on the Babe. I am so disarmed by even catching this small picture through the frame of my window –

A Word on a page. The Word made flesh – human like me. Male, but like no man I’ve ever known. So aware of what goes on inside me and what makes me tick. He brings me up short every time I hear His voice, or even hear reports of Him – yet I feel so loved at the same time. Love like I’ve never known before. He calls me to receive and give, to be a servant and His sister, to show others the way and to rest. It’s all so confusing and yet, deep down, everything begins to make sense –

The creative power of the universe, growing inside me like ivy – it scares me as it takes over, and I’m tempted to remove it. But its presence is soothing and tender, like chamomile; sweet purple flowers put me at ease and I let it grow.  Every so often I see how big it’s grown and cry out to the One who planted it: “Are You sure? Will I be safe? I’m so afraid!”

Do not fear, for I am with you. I AM with you.

My fears calm and I let the Word, made flesh within me, continue to take over. And I find myself not just well, but thriving.

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life

Santa Claus and Christmas

I don’t remember the 60’s nearly at all, but that’s fairly common.  In the 70’s, Pink Floyd and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” set the backdrop for my first memories of levitating sleighs, flying reindeer, and the fat guy slipping through chimneys.   When I was actually introduced to His Eminence, pipe-smoking childhood heroes were still considered normal and flying was something a lot of teens did regularly.  There was no doubt about his reality.  Besides, he also had his own Little Golden Book and I had a signed photo with him.

Some years later, though, I grasped that people don’t wear disguises unless they have something to pull over on me.   The fake beard just seals the deal.  A full-blown panic attack is not out of line when encountering a disguised man who wants me to sit on his lap.  Maybe I’m delusional.   I did have to apologize for knocking down my boys and dragging them under the stroller that one year.  To this day, if I must pass the mall’s “North Pole”, my older sons will intone: “Breathe, Mom. Breathe and walk.  You’ll be fine.  We’re here for you.”  I just don’t get the whole concept of Santa and Christmas.

We as a society go to great lengths to introduce our children to Santa Claus and make sure the impression is real.  In our house, we baked cookies for him and set them out with a glass of milk before bedtime.  In the morning, there sat the plate with only crumbs and the empty glass with distinct, pudgy lip prints on its rim.  The stockings were suddenly stuffed to overflowing, and the tree no longer sat on the floor for all the pageantry underneath.  At least my dad didn’t go tromp around on the roof, like some of my friends talk about.   As teens, we began helping Mom with the baking and she showed us how, at our midnight snack,  to dust the crumbs onto the plate and poof our lips up to make the appropriate prints on the glass for the little ones to see in the morning.

So why do we work so hard to instill this fantasy when it is expected to be discarded before puberty?  They must have Halloween rules at the North Pole; if you look older than about 10, you are no longer allowed to participate.  The innocence and sweetness of a child’s faith in goodness would be seen as gullibility in someone with mental acuity.  Maybe if we keep the idea in the children’s court, we can keep it around.

The story as presented just doesn’t add up, even for children.   Christmas is about  Jesus coming to earth as a baby, born in a stable.  He is God’s own Son come here to show us what He is like.  He taught about true love and demonstrated what it looked like.  After He went up to heaven, he sent Santa Claus back in his plush red suit every year at Christmastime to remind us to love one another by buying expensive presents for everyone we know.  As long as they’re nice, go to church, and don’t otherwise deserve coal.  Glory to God in the highest – uh, yeah.

So the kids and I read Clement Moore’s delightful story again over eggnog.   No brandy needed; this is good stuff by itself. While the original poem is great, what it sounds like today is another story altogether.  The star is introduced as St. Nick, who historically resembles our modern yuletide hero not at all, although the names have become synonymous.  “When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.”  Reindeer are fairly large – this is a cool trick.  I’m not understanding why someone who’s gone to all the trouble of acquiring reindeer for a PR team would shrink them.  What does all the resizing do to my gift?  For that matter, to Rudolf?  Where’s PETA in this?  “He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work.”  Then, “Dash away, dash away, dash away all!”  Man, this sounds like we’re in East LA, ripping off cars.  Look small, work smart, run fast.  “And laying his finger aside of his nose” – uh-oh;  I’ve seen this kind of thing at college parties.  “And away they all flew like down on a thistle.”   Yep – it’s a flashback from the way-back days.

But really, Bren, it’s just a childhood story!

Just so my mother knows that it’s not just me being overly weird, I had the help of my sons, daughter, and three of their friends online for these ideas.  The jolly man with the goods sits up in his invisible house someplace where no one has ever found him and then goes over his list.  So He sees you when you’re sleeping… and knows what moral choices you make.  Then he comes out to each kid’s house.  My favorite remark, from Kyle:  “You best make morally straight decisions, for the sake of goodness.”  This is creepy; Santa is the ultimate stalker.

Not to mention his obvious unreliability.  The little bully from the playground received and destroyed more toys from Santa every year than any of us ever got.   We dutifully cleaned up our acts for an entire month before the big day and still got stiffed.   Nobody has ever found any trace of toy manufacturing at the North Pole.  And yet the multitude who question God’s veracity simply because they can’t see him celebrate Santa prominently every year with impersonators.

Granted, it really was a fun story to tell my little brother when he was young.  (“Honestly???  Did you really think you were going to get the dune buggy just for being GOOD???  BWAAhaaHaa!!!”)   Now, though, these are my children; my integrity is at stake.  I must teach them all about stranger danger and I expect – nay, need – them to take me at my word.  So once a year, I pay cold, hard cash to set my sweet young thang on the lap of a man whose name I do not know, is admittedly introduced with an alias, and then graciously step out of arm’s reach?  Between the hat and beard obscuring over 2/3 of his pudgy face and the stage-pillow in his shirt, I can’t identify him even with the photo of his hands on my little abductee.

Uh – how, pray tell, can I expect my children to discern the truth from my lips? When I’ve assured them of an obvious fantasy that is uncovered and recovered before their very eyes while still in their most impressionable years, how are they supposed to understand when I teach them historical fact?  Why would they ever trust me with their little hearts, when I’ve played with their fondest dreams?

They know the truth, you know.  They know there is a gift to be had at Christmas, and it is free.  Santa is just an imposter, sitting on a throne that is not his.  It turns out to be only the adults that grasp for him and confuse the players:

“Please God, I know I didn’t do too well on the first half of your rules this year, but I did stop coveting my neighbor’s ass and I never murdered my wife.  That makes 5 out of 10 this year, which means my batting average is approaching awesome.  Please send that big promotion at work.  I ask in Jesus’ name, as you’ve promised in John 14:13: ‘You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it.’  Amen.”

“It’s Christmas Eve. And reverberating in our hearts is the reality of 2 Corinthians 9:15. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” Christmas is about giving, because Jesus is a gift. It is not hard to make Romans 6:23 a Christmas text. “The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The first Christmas was the gift of Christ coming into the world to purchase for us eternal life by dying in our place and rising again. And this Christmas – as every Christmas – is a time when God is still giving.”   (John Piper,  DesiringGod.org)

Defiantly Definite

“Definitely” is one of my favorite words.  I’m a pretty serious gal and don’t “maybe” anything.   I like to define terms and think things through, no matter how seemingly trivial the issue.   It’s the little steps that define the path that eventually becomes the story of my life.  I need to definitely do it well.

So I chuckled at a “definitely” comment on Facebook the other day.  The writer intended to say that she would definitely check out the posted link further.  “Definitely” has to be the most commonly misspelled word on Facebook, so the presence of an “a” didn’t surprise me.  What struck me was that she actually said she would “defiantly check this out”.

That’s intriguing.

Have you ever defiantly done anything?  Oh, sure, teens are always defiant.  But rather than just sheer rebellion against authority, true defiance is a stance made in contempt of the adversary; it is an invitation to maintain my point in combat, if anybody dare to meet me.  That’s the gist I get from the three aspects of the word in my 1828 Webster’s.  Definitions make things definite.   Without definition, the rebellion is more stubbornness than stand.   Holding a hill you’re willing to die on makes defiance definitely heroic.

Maybe this whole thread struck me because I had just posted Tim Tebow’s public response regarding his “incessant use of Jesus Christ” in speech.  Tebow, who is the star quarterback for the Denver Broncos,  responded on ESPN that that’s who he is and why, and he wouldn’t shut up.  His relationship with Jesus Christ is everything to him and he would give glory where glory was due, every time.   That is a defiant answer.  And yet, while he drew a line and cemented his foot to it, he didn’t engage his adversary.  He just said, in effect, “Yeah – what of it?”  That’s strength of character.

It reminded me of something I saw my cat do once.  Kitty was big, as cats go: 22 pounds of solid, Siamese muscle.  But when my 85 lb. yellow Labrador ran at him one day, he didn’t flinch.  Right there in the driveway, he looked the dog in the eye and laid down precisely where he was.  My cat whisperer/veterinarian brother explained the body language to me:  essentially, he’s refusing to fight.  But he’s also refusing to give ground.  This is his real estate, and he intends to keep it.  The dog can stay and ponder, or he can leave, but the cat’s going nowhere.  There’s no use growling because Kitty’s said all he’s going to say.

That’s just plain awesome.  That’s what Tebow did, and where I want to be.

I can’t believe I actually thought twice about posting the letter.  What would my friends think of me?  Would they judge me to be a  fanatic, a Jesus freak?  My sanity broke in on my fears:  moreso than I’ve already shown myself to be? 

It boils down to one question:  Will I follow my Lord, or not?

What will I do today that makes any difference?  World changers don’t go with the flow and follow the 98%.   Scary as it is, I must defy the big, ugly dog that outweighs me fourfold and look him in the eye.  Definitely.   I must sit down and say, “This is not just what I believe, it’s who I am.  Take it or go home.”

I belong to the King of kings; I have nothing to fear.  He is also the Prince of Peace.  I will not make arguments or shoot every detractor down like so much alley cleaning.  I will simply follow the Man who’s proven to love me and love Him in return.  I will go where He leads me and stand defiantly, definitely on His hill.  I may find, like I did with the Tebow letter, that I don’t stand there alone.  That may not always be the case.   May God help the man who throws the first stone.

Remember, sinner, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee–it is Christ; it is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee–it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that is the instrument–it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore, look not to thy hope, but to Christ, the source of thy hope; look not to thy faith, but to Christ, the author and finisher of thy faith; and if thou doest that, ten thousand devils cannot throw thee down – Iain Murray

Legalism in the Homeschool

Teaching a one-room schoolhouse is not just a job – it’s an incessant mental workout, plotting, overseeing, and enabling the intellectual pursuits of multiple children simultaneously while clarifying my own motives and methods for doing so.  Mothers can be a bit insecure holding the future in their hands and incessantly look for clear direction.  It would be really nice if there were a manual to follow which would guarantee well-rounded adults.  I found a really viable one once, but couldn’t afford it.  That frustrated me.  But I saw recently that many of its graduates are now hopelessly mired in hypocrisy, torn by an inability to be true to their professions of faith and morality.  I cannot imagine the parents’ remorse as they hear that their students feel cheated of the truth.

I’m sensing that this curriculum, like every other one I’ve seen, was incomplete.  Children need to understand the Law and the Gospel.  I was raised with plenty of Gospel mercy and very little Law to give a reason for Jesus’ death and resurrection.  My biggest problem has been an inability to define sin.  The students I saw in that program had the absolute truth about sin, but no redemption from it.  I didn’t see that then.

I just knew I was winging it and was really dissatisfied with my progress.  The irritating little girl in the sandbox angrily threw sand into her mate’s face while yelling, “Sorry, Molly, I didn’t mean to do that!”  loud enough so Mommy heard her.  I was humiliated to see it was my own child.

Homeschooling seems to have a special knack for breeding legalism, which, according to Webster, is the “literal and usually too strict adherence to the letter of the law.”  Yep, that would be my little Pharisee.  In my quest to produce Rhodes scholars, I’ve drilled rules into them.  Any failure rests on my shoulders, and I am plagued with doubts:  “I must be lazy or using the wrong organizer; something I’m doing isn’t working!  These kids are smart, but I’m too inexperienced for the job.”   There is no going back.  The serious Christian has no business sending her children to government schools if the truth be told.  Separation of church and state, you know. 

“A Day in the Life” articles show others achieving everything God apparently requires:  Socratic method, elementary Hebrew, plane Geometry, and concert violin are all taught to umpteen well-mannered children in a well appointed home.   The goals themselves were way beyond me.  I threw my hands in the air and told the world to go to hell.  Or something like that.  I’m certainly not making it, so I guess we’re all doomed.  I obviously don’t have what it takes to be an educator and a chosen one simultaneously.  The call I heard to do this, not to mention the Christianity that invoked it, was a sham – and it was high time I admitted it.  Honestly.   I have always said that where God puts a lamb He will also provide the pasture, but I had obviously missed something.  Everything I stood for was crashing around me and my flock.   I took the summer off.

I read Scripture and prayed.  Not the “Hallowed be Thy Name” kind of prayer – the “What the hell’s going on here?” and the “What do you want from me, God?” kinds of prayer.   Prayer becomes very powerful when you finally get honest with God.  I found out I was right – what I’d professed was a sham.  What Jesus taught and the Christianity I practiced bore no resemblance to each other.  My faith was badly warped.

In seeking the perfect curriculum and implementation, I’d been combing Scripture for which rules to uphold, never seeing the real good news.  (Who’s the Pharisee?)  “When our salvation is based upon something WE do rather than what GOD does, eventually a person will grow disillusioned, frustrated, and spiritually suicidal.”  I wish I’d read these anonymous words years ago, but I had to experience them for myself.  The same writer went on:  “…true freedom doesn’t come from moral behavior, but rather by complete abandon to the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

But how to teach my children the Law of Moses (Deuteronomy  6:6-7) while pointing to Christ like John the Baptist (John 3:30)?  They need to know the rules so they know how awesome the pardon is.   Rules broad enough to apply to everyday life will never address the situation at hand, however.  I can’t look to these rules as a checklist of what to do.  That’s not their purpose.  The purpose is to show us how frightfully inadequate we are to live up to the standards so that we will look for help from our Creator.  And His work is already finished.

I see now that this was because I kept thinking that everything depended on what we should do, for when I saw so little of true repentance and victory over sin, helplessness crept into my heart. I counted and summed up all that they did  [to clean up their act], and not the smallest percentage of debt was paid. But now I see that which is done, and  I see that the whole debt is paid. Now therefore I go about my duties as might a prison warden who carries in his pocket a letter of pardon for all  his criminals.  (Bo Giertz, The Hammer of God)

Not that my school is a prison.  Good grief.  But the children are human, just like me.   Christopher Columbus said,  “I am a most noteworthy sinner, but I have cried out to the Lord for grace and mercy, and they have covered me completely. I have found the sweetest consolation since I made it my whole purpose to enjoy His marvelous Presence.”

When I cried out to the Lord for help and stayed on the floor until He provided, I found the secret.  Those prayers I utter in the morning are more important than the lessons I spout in the afternoon.   Inspiration – breathing in the breath of God – is what brings everything else together.  Until I see the joy of Christ’s resurrection and what it means to me, I can drive the children all day and they’ll never go.  But they will catch my fascination with my Savior if it is real.   The curriculum becomes just a medium to work with on the way to mastery of everything in God’s world as we seek to know and understand Him together.

The frustrations we encounter turn out to be pointers redirecting our steps, gifts to be welcomed.

Kara Murphy, creator of Organic Homeschooling, sums up my point perfectly:  “If Satan can keep us in constant turmoil about what method or curriculum to use, he can keep our focus away from the most important work of discipling our children. Don’t fall into his trap. Renew your mind by the washing of the Word and move forward, confident of the work that Jesus Christ is doing in you and your children.”

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.   (Proverbs 3:5-6, NKJV)