Monday, September 26, 2016

Wide-Open Heart and a Prayer

It's Monday. Sunlight floods our schoolroom. The curtains flutter with fresh air. But it's Monday. The past weekend feels miles behind and the one ahead is a whisper.

I pull my chair to Isaiah's side of the work table. He opens his math book and smiles.

"So Mom," he says. He crosses his arms.  "What do you want to fill my head with today?"

Now I'm smiling too. In that moment, it's not so much what he said but the way he said it. Glasses perched on his nose. Cheeks sucked in. Eyebrows high and voice low. Isaiah is the youngest of five boys, and he's most often the one who reminds me to laugh.

I forget my Monday woes.

"Well, sir, how about math facts?" I ask.

Soon I'm flipping flash cards, and Isaiah is calling out numbers. We plunge into our workday and the workday is good.

But my son's question lingers.

I think about it when we press on to grammar. It's on my mind when we use an atlas to find the Adriatic Sea. The question seems to me, as the day moves along, a powerful question to take to the Lord.

Lord, what would You like to fill my head with today? Bring Your Word to my mind and help me apply truth to emotion and circumstance...

Lord, what would You like to fill my heart with today? Flood my soul with the peace and hope that only flow from Your love. No room for worry. No place for fear...

Lord, what would You like to fill my spirit with today? May Your Holy Spirit be powerful in me. Refine me. Mold me. Let those who share my path be blessed by the sweet fruit of grace...

Surely such questions, from a heart that's tender, teachable, and wide-open to God's glory would be pleasing to the Lord.

Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Psalm 25:4 ESV

Isaiah, Gabriel and I study until the sun makes afternoon shadows and the sounds from the window are less like morning and more like end-of-day. When we're finished,  my boys bolt off to play. 

Papers are pushed into folders, and I slide our books back to shelves.

School time is over. It's time to move on to different things.

But as I go...

I hold Isaiah's question.

And it becomes a prayer.


Monday, September 12, 2016

Parenting - A Building Plan

Gabriel is at the dining room table. He looks downward. He’s working a tiny screwdriver with his hands. The worn oak in front of him holds a scatter of paper instruction, shiny nuts and bolts, pieces and parts of something that, in time, will be wonderful.

Gabe is our builder. His mind is patterned after his dad’s.
“What are you working on?” I ask.

“A crane,” he says.

“How is it coming?”

Gabe's face tilts upward. Dimples, from my dad, punctuate his smile. “Well,” he says. “It’s going to take a while.”

I expect so. But Gabe will get 'er done. He’s not afraid to put in the time. He knows that good things come slow. He knows that sometimes he’ll connect the wrong pieces and he’ll have to back up and try his best to make things right. He knows that sometimes he’ll want to give up.

But he also knows, that if he presses forward, the nuts and bolts and bars and pieces and parts will eventually take shape. The structure will be solid. The product, the result of the effort, will stand firm.

Watching Gabe, seeing his perseverance and push-forward way, encourages my own heart.

 His building seems like parenting to me.

It's been a tough week.  We're working through a struggle, years long, that has suddenly churned hard. The younger boys have worn thin on one another and my rant was fuel to the fire. We've been running fast and slipping behind.  Parenting. It's the sweetest blessing, but it can be darn hard work. There are days that I'd like to throw my hands up. Stomp off for a bit. Take a long, far break when discouragement is the color of the day. But I can't do those things. Because, like Gabe, I need to push through the pieces in hope of a wonderful thing.

I’m building men.

So, when life seems a scattered mess and the week has made me weary, I’ll continue to build standards that I believe are pleasing to the Lord, to develop my sons' moral compasses, even if it’s counter culture. I’ll build my prayer life with time set aside, daily, to speak with and listen to God. And I’ll ask the Lord to help me build a storehouse of wisdom  - straight from His Word to the tender places of my heart.

Because building requires a plan.

And when my parenting plan is centered on the Lord, I can trust that He's at the center.

I stand for just a moment and watch my young son. He chooses a small piece. Rolls it between his fingers. Squints and looks real close. Then he fits it into place, twists the screwdriver, and adds it to his crane.

The structure is growing. One tiny piece at a time.

The outcome is still far.

But there’s hope along the way.

So let us not get tired of doing what good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up. Galatians 6:9 NLT