In Luke, Jesus helps us understand God’s priorities for our lives when He speaks to Martha: “. . . Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked: ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’”
“‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’ ” Luke 10:40-41 (NIV)
The holiday break is over. I am not sure how I feel about that. The kids and I really enjoyed our break from our regular routine of schoolwork and activities. We spent quality time with family and friends. We cooked and ate a lot of fantastic food. The music, lights, and decorations of the season were delightful. Now it is all put away for next year; Christmas is only eleven months away!
We are back in what my husband calls “ordinary time.” He is thrilled! I am ambivalent.
The holidays were wonderful! I feel rested. Still . . . there is some vague sense of pressure and unpleasantness gnawing at me. Do you feel it? Does it sound familiar? What does it mean?
Some of the feeling has to do with the resistance I am bracing myself to withstand on Monday, January 7, when the kids and I resume school. I am referring both to their resistance and mine. Traditionally, I have endeavored to get us all back on track quite abruptly, as if the sooner we all accept the reality that vacation is over, the sooner we will get back to business. Typically, I would lay out my kids’ binders and have a respectable list of assignments ready before I briskly stirred them out of bed, rushed them through breakfast, and called them to order around the school table. In the past, that plan has not been well received. Actually, now that I read that description myself, I do not know why anyone would enjoy that experience; it certainly has not been pleasant for me.
I am thinking of using a different approach this year.
On Monday morning, the children and I are going to share a relaxed breakfast with food that is comforting and simple. The first thing we are going to do is read God’s Word. Oh, yes, that is what we were supposed to do first every morning. It did not always work out that way, though. The pressure of productivity sometimes intervened.
I have come to realize that our whole family pays a price when we fail to put God first. I am not saying that reading the Bible is a sort of magic bullet that guarantees a pleasant day, but when we fail to make time with God our first priority, that choice plays out the rest of the day—there are consequences for making that choice. In hindsight, I can see those consequences manifested in my attitude toward the kids and their attitudes toward each other and me. Sadly, I become aware of my own hostility in response to pressure—the pressure of needing to “get things done.” I respond with terseness and sarcasm and lack of forgiveness, and I am filled with shame when I realize how harsh I have been.
God is not calling me to be productive at the expense of caring for my children’s hearts. He certainly cares more about how I shepherd their hearts than He does about how much worldly knowledge I impart to them.
What a joy it is to begin anew after this very enjoyable break, rested and looking forward to continuing my calling to train and educate my children in knowledge and godliness. This is also the time to make adjustments to schedules and curricula for the rest of this school year and to begin to make decisions about next year’s choices. What activities may need to be eliminated? On what should we spend more time? Which curriculum needs to be supplemented or even replaced in the coming year?
My son and daughter are only sixteen months apart in age, so we can quite easily study many subject areas together, using the same books and supplies. However, I take care to give them individual experiences when appropriate so that they can be blessed by being cared for as unique individuals. Even though they are both in the Journeyman level at Classical Conversations, they are in different classes. They use different math curricula, not only because they are at different levels but also because I observed early on that they have different learning styles.
I now see that it also would be best for them to use different materials for handwriting. My daughter will enjoy the new Prescripts handwriting books by Classical Conversations. They are special, just for her. They present a different style of cursive handwriting than the one found within the resource her brother uses. I like the facts that the books can be used independently and that they incorporate content from the Classical Conversations curriculum, including history and drawing, as well as Scripture. (I adore researching new curriculum, ordering it during the spring and storing the unopened boxes in my closet until August.)
Yes, I feel excited now! Monday morning is a chance to renew my commitment to make educating my children in godliness—in a godly manner—a priority. I will endeavor to make it a joyful experience for all of us. Homemade doughnuts and hot chocolate might help. Reading God’s Word together may not guarantee a blissful day, but it will show my family and God that I understand what is truly important.