Wednesday, November 10, 2010

See Me Eat

A new chapter has begun, literally, under the red tin roof.

My firstborn, my baby who will be five in just a few months began to read today. My heart swells with pride at his accomplishment.

For months, he's been identifying his letters, practicing them on a dry erase board, picking them out as we run errands, "Look, Momma, it says C-V-S." Or "What does S-T-O-P spell?"

His sense of urgency has gotten greater the past month. He's asking for his school lessons non-stop. Weekly trips to the library are exciting to him. Curled up next to me under the a warm blanket, we read all sorts of books. We laugh over the Olivia series. We both learn new (for Momma forgotten) vocabulary about space, one of his great passions. We venture through Mr. Wonka's famous chocolate factory, anticipating as each of the children, one by one, get their consequences for naughty behavior and bad habits. 

We'd not been so vigilant with our structured school lessons for the past few months; we were just going with the flow. Following the lesson plans some days, and on others, we just went where the mood and his curiosity took us. He's been begging to learn to read, so I pulled out Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons again. It's not part of the structured curriculum I bought, but, he's wanting to learn NOW!

So, as I'm trying to teach my by-the-book, but-Momma-you-said-child, I'm going with the flow. It's not part of the curriculum I purchased, but so what? We'll get to that. I'm going with the flow. He wants to learn to read, and I am willing to teach.

And tonight, a whole new world opened up to him. He sounded out the words me, see, seed, seat, sat, ram, eat- just to name a few.

The pride in his eyes from his accomplishments and the excitement that bubbled as he realized that the letters said something and that he read those letters that made words was priceless. His daddy sat and watched in amazement as our baby read aloud to us.....See me eat.

The first sentence that he ever read. And we were both there to share this moment with him. Teaching is something I am passionate about. I loved teaching other people's children, but to say I love teaching my own child, well, that just seems like a gross understatement. To say I love teaching my own child doesn't seem to scratch the surface of the sense of wonder, amazement, and excitement that comes from watching him learn. Teaching my own child is a humbling experience.

I told my husband one time that if we can teach our kids to read, we have given them the world, and that is true. But our goal is far much more than that.

If we teach our children how to read, we have given them the world- there is nothing they can't learn about, but if we teach our children their need for Jesus and to love Him, we have showed them eternity.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Lesson of the Ping Pong Balls in a Jar of Rice

Aaaaaahhhhhh! The feeling of accomplishment is a feeling that can't quite be described. Maybe that' it's just that I'm too relaxed to describe it.

After all, the house is cleaned, the ironing is caught up (for now), dinner for tomorrow night is already in the crockpot, why shouldn't I be relaxed?

Part of me would like to pretend that such things happen daily here UTRTR. That the house is always spotless, the clothes are pristine and hanging in the closet, the pantry is always full, the children who reside here are always angelic, and that the Momma of this home is always calm and serene. But that isn't reality.

There are LOTS of days where everything looks and feels like it has fallen apart at the seams. There is at least one night a week where the frozen pizza is pulled out of the freezer or Momma calls Daddy and says, "It's been a long day....would you mind stopping and picking up something?"

By no means am I bragging that everything will stay exactly the way it is right now. Of course, everyone except me is fast asleep, so why shouldn't everything be in its place?

But I'm learning more and more as I get older not to value a spotless home. I'm finding beauty and value in the mess. If there is a train set on the floor, an engineer has been busy constructing and designing all day long. If a miniature guitar and harmonica are laying about, a musician has entertained us with his songs- both what he has made up and what he listens to in the car. If we're all still in our pj's and the sink is full of dishes, there's a good chance that a baby needed to be loved and snuggled all day long.

Still, there has to be some order or chaos will abound. And there are days that chaos does abound, but I have found a way to curtail the chaos.

I have discovered that time is added to my day, as well as peace, joy, contentment, when I begin the day with Jesus. Just a little time with Him makes a big difference. It sets the tone for the whole day; reading the Bible and talking to Him before I do anything else puts me in a frame of mind that, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13).

Sometimes I forget this truth, and I have to be reminded. That's where the lesson of the ping pong balls in a jar of rice comes in.

A couple of years ago, a speaker came to a MOPS group I was part of. She asked us what we did everyday. So, we began to list everything we did- laundry, grocery shopping, errands, changing babies, cleaning, reading books to our little ones, the list went on and on. As we did, she filled up a Mason jar with rice; the rice represented the 'stuff' we had to do everyday. Then she took six ping pong balls and tried to shove them in after all of the stuff. The ping pong balls represented God. The ping pong balls wouldn't fit this way. When we do all the other stuff first, there's no room for God and the stuff. But, when she dumped the rice out, and put the ping pong balls in first-which represented our time quiet time with God-  all that other stuff fit- the rice filled all the crevices around the ping pong balls and everything fit.

That's the secret! Matthew 6:33 says, 'Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you....' Putting God first, then everything else falls into place!

I'm not enjoying the accomplishments of the past two days' housework being finished because I'm great at time management or because I'm a momma who has it all together. I am enjoying this sense of accomplishment because I invited Jesus to join me at the beginning of the day. Reading God's Word, spending time with the Creator of heaven and earth, asking for His help to be the momma and wife He has called me to be, and listening as He speaks to me through His Word- those are the things that have made yesterday and today so fulfilling. He stretched my time in ways I never imagined, and He made a way to accomplish my laundry list of items in record time-house cleaned, laundry finished, dinner on the table, children clean and fed, homeschool lessons completed.

That was not me. It was all Him.

And, because I am a flawed, forgetful human,  daily I need to be reminded of Matthew 6:33, and that's exactly what a Mason jar  filled with six Ping Pong balls, nestled in rice sitting on the shelf above my sink does.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Who am I? What am I doing here?

I ask myself these questions a lot. Some days I forget my own name. Countless times a day I forget what I am doing, wanted to do, or am supposed to be doing. I forget what I came into the room for. I wonder why I am staring into the fridge. I lose track of what I was thinking. It happens multiple times a day.

But there are times I ask myself these questions as a sort of evaluation. Two words can sum up why I ask myself these questions when I ask them intentionally to check my motives.

Identity. Purpose.

I've been contemplating these words a lot lately. Who am I? What am I here for? Everyone questions who they are and what their purpose in life is. I think I re-evaluate who I am and what I'm supposed to be doing every few months. I think it keeps me remember that it's not about me! And if I've lost sight of the fact that it's not about me, then it humbles me and reminds me to get back where I need to be.

My identity is not defined (at least not solely) by the social security administration or what name is listed on my driver's license. It's not my occupation, which, sadly, in this society is not valued as it should be. It's not the amount of cash in my pocket. Or who I was born to. It's not who I married, although I did marry an amazing man!

My identity is in Christ alone. I am who He says I am. And what He says I am is His. First and foremost, that is what I am....His child, His daughter, His prized possession. He gave His life for me. Everything He gave up for me. So, when I temporarily misplace my identity, I go back to the cross. That is where I rediscover not who I am, but Whose I am.

And there, where I rediscover my identity, I also rediscover my purpose. It's to love, honor, serve, and bring Him glory. My job is to be a blessing to Him and to others. My roles in life are wife, momma, daughter, sister, friend, and countless other titles; those are the details. Don't get me wrong. I love those titles. I love hearing my husband introduce me as his wife, my child call me 'Momma', my Pop call me 'his girl', and my sister call me, Sis. I love being all those things to those wonderful people, but if my identity and purpose reside solely in what the world sees me as, then I have lost sight of my mission in life and I forget that it's not about me.

It's about Him.

And it's Him calling me His own that reaffirms time and again who I am, giving me identity and purpose. And when I see myself in this light and forget about me and focus on Him, then I have I have no questions, no fears, no worries, no doubts. It's all about the focus. It's not, Who am I? but Whose am I? It's not, What am I doing? but Who am I doing this for?