Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Being available

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
--Deuteronomy 6:5-7

When my hubby and I first started homeschooling our kids, we had this verse from Deuteronomy taped to our refrigerator as a constant reminder of what we should be doing and how to do it. We knew that teaching our kids about God's ways was priority #1 and that to reach that goal we would need to talk about Him whenever the opportunity presented itself. The words "(You) Shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up", covers every possible occasion in our lives, there is no time of the day or night when we don't need to be prepared to talk to our kids about God. Admittedly, this is not always easy.

One of the benefits of homeschooling is that my kids are always with me. I generally know what is happening in their lives because I can see them reacting and responding to their surroundings. But, to be completely honest, this can feel overwhelming, especially with younger children. "Mommy, can I...?", "Mommy, will you...?", "Mommy, where is...?", can be asked so frequently that I can start to feel like my kids are surrounding me with loaded question-guns that shoot rapid-fire, and I begin to lose strength quickly.

For Christian parents, pouring God's truth into our kids is our primary job, whether we homeschool or not. The verse suggests a willingness and an availability to speak about the important things in life whenever the opportunity arises, in spite of the fact that in my day-to-day life I have many things that demand my attention: A messy house, schoolwork that needs correcting, a husband who likes attention, dinners that need to be prepared, and then add the extras of life like church, friends, hobbies, etc., etc., etc., and the demands on my time never end.

I wish there were 10-easy-steps to balancing these things but, as of yet, I have not come across such a list. For me, when this part of parenting becomes a struggle I have to examine three areas: my priorities, the use of my time, and my attitude.

When it comes to my priorities, do I even know what they are and why? What are my goals? Personally, I think that I need to do more than just homeschool my kids, I need to know why I am doing it, what I want to acheive by doing it, and have practical goals that move me towards reaching those goals. I need to have a "vision".
Where there is no vision, the people perish.
Proverbs 29:18

Losing sight of my vision is a sure way to lose steam on this venture that requires a great deal of stamina.

The use of my time is important because it is only with the commodity of time that my goals can be reached. I can not effectively teach my kids about God or any academic subject if I simply do not have the time. The use of my hours and minutes is a reflection of those things that I deem important.

My attitude towards being a mom, a teacher, or a wife, is important because those feelings of frustration, anger and resentment will color everything I do and say. While I will never be able to have perfect emotions, I can grab hold of negative feelings before they grab hold of me and all I do.

Being available is the key to leading my kids towards a closer walk with God. My hobbies, interests and outside-activities are important, but should never be placed above my priority-job towards my children, otherwise they are done at the expense of my children's hearts. Although sometimes setting aside my own desires to pursue what is important can seem frustrating, I have found that doing the right thing is the only path to peace. And it is a sure way towards winning my children's hearts and leading them towards a relationship with God.