Wednesday, February 11, 2015

No Teacher Needed

I keep thinking of blogging, but the energy and coherent thoughts are typically not available by the time the opportunity presents itself. So, instead, I plop myself on the couch and watch something which originally aired on BBC. What was my life like before I was introduced to BBC? Dreadful, I think.

I feel nervous. I must be out of practice when it comes to bearing my soul with whomever might venture by. However, all I've been writing lately are papers about Benjamin Franklin, apples, and rocks, so writing something a little more personal sounds nice. I'm wondering if I can enjoy it, though, because I only thought I was a grammar Nazi before. Now that I'm teaching grammar to my kids all day long, and actually learning lots of new grammar rules I didn't know or remember, I cannot read anything or listen to anybody without determining their sentence structure and pattern and whether or not they're using the correct case of their pronouns.

I'd just like to say that this whole thing called life is hard. Relationships, homeschooling, cooking, laundry, cleaning, contemplating deep things...all hard. Each day is filled with so many choices, and so often I end the day feeling that I have chosen poorly in most instances. But every once in a while, I remember and enjoy the grace of God. Not nearly often enough, but more than I used to. (Ugh...sentence fragment.)

People constantly ask how the homeschooling is going. Often, people ask the really hard question, "So do you like homeschooling?" or, "Are you enjoying homeschooling?"

And I want to say, "Define like," or, "What exactly do you mean by enjoy?"

It is so hard. Not because it is really so hard, but because I am the one doing it. And I make things hard.

What I am enjoying, in a "deep satisfaction" kind of way, not a "jumping for joy" kind of way, is what the Lord is teaching me through this journey.

GRACE

I can define it for you, but I struggle to know, enjoy, and live in the grace of God. By his grace, I have come to understand that without living in that very grace, I have missed the boat. And I don't want to miss the boat. Because who wants to miss the best cruise ship ever with tons of peace, feasting, and joy on the schedule of events?

Sunday night, as I peered into the busy week ahead, and Monday morning, as I waded through the guilt I had at leaving my kids to do school while I went to a technically not required event meant purely for my benefit and enjoyment, I was not living in grace. In typical fashion, I was relying on my understanding and effort to make a success of my day and my week.

I contemplated staying home and ditching the event, but I felt a tad bad about that as well. I had committed to going, and I hate to break a commitment. So, I skipped my workout, scratched out a school list for the kids to complete, tidied up as best I could, and raced out the door, throwing up a guilt-ridden prayer to the Lord.

Feeling like a failure as a mom and a homeschool teacher for leaving my kids on one of our only three super-focused school days each week, I arrived at my destination feeling worn. But God is gracious.

I sat and soaked in some of the most refreshing teaching of the Word that I've heard in a long time. It was balm to my soul...all about the grace of God, not just in salvation (being saved from sin and death and given life eternal and a new heart) but in sanctification (being made to know and look like God in my everyday life). Oh, how sweet the reminder that I am not only saved by God's power and unmerited favor, but I am made more loving, holy, kind, more at peace, joyful, patient, and Christ-like by that same power and unmerited favor.

Why do we strive to make ourselves love God and love others more? Why do we think that we must pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and just try harder? Why do we heap the failures, condemnation, and hopelessness upon ourselves as we try to go it alone? Why do we read His Word, see how we fail to measure up, and resolve to "do better"?

We are simply to set our minds on Christ, repent of our sin, dive into His Word, and trust Him to do the work.

As my soul began to be refreshed, we took a quick break and I called home to check on the kiddos. Jack answered the phone in the middle of typing his paper. His cheerful little voice greeted me, and when I asked how it was going, he replied, "I have four stars already!"

Me: "Huh?"

Jack: "Yeah, if we get five stars, we get to do something special. Luke has already finished his work and has five stars."

And then I passed out. Okay, not really, but I thought I could. If you have ever tried to teach Luke anything other than Pok√©mon facts or how to put a dvd in the dvd player, you'd pass out, too. That boy...I love him, but the way he sings everything we do can make me a little nuts. And the hour long battle we had over his math the other day because "Forty-eight math problems is too many!!!!!!!!!" just about did me in. (When I finally outsmarted him and tricked him into doing math, it took him about two and a half minutes to do the forty-eight problems.)

Done with his work?

So I got Maddie (a.k.a. the School Wizard) on the phone, and, cool as a cucumber, she rattled off the list of things they'd all accomplished in two hours and let me know they'd shortly be putting in a movie because they were almost done. And I will also add that there was no screaming, fighting, or crying in the background.

With my jaw on the floor, I hung up the phone and, dumbfounded, I laughed and told my friends that apparently school goes much, much, much better when I'm not there. One friend just hugged me and said, "That's just the Lord."

It may sound trite, but it's true. In that moment, I could imagine a big smile spreading across God's face as He enjoyed my reaction, but also as He took pleasure at the relief and release I felt.

I was so worried about my kids' education, and the Lord so sweetly reminded me that He doesn't even need me to accomplish His work in their lives. He does use me, but He does not need me. He doesn't need my schedules (which never pan out anyway), my plans (which some days don't even get made), or even my presence (which usually is not a joyful one). He has begun this work, and He is completely able and faithful to complete it.

There is such freedom in God's sovereignty and grace. His faithfulness and power can provide us such peace and rest when we fully trust Him.

And today, He kindly gave me a field known as "the craziness of everyday life" on which to practice the truths He is patiently teaching me. Really, every circumstance is an opportunity to seek grace and find the Lord in the big and the small. I am finding that He will reveal His grace and presence to me when I stop and ask, and that brings hope to those of us in the trenches.

 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

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