Thursday, December 25, 2014

The First Day of Christmas

It's been a great day, brimming with a myriad of minor notables. Here are the highlights:                        
  • Hannah's quiet excitement over finally receiving a backpack of her own.
  • Lucy's not-so-quiet excitement that I finally got the super hero capes finished (thanks for your help, Mom!)
  • The crazy-loud, aleatoric scream-o version of Go, Tell It On the Mountain that my children sang in the car on the way to church this morning. 
  • Sitting in the balcony for the glorious final verse of Silent Night, sung a cappella, a full church of folks praising Almighty God, with two or three brave souls adding their descants into the mix. Absolutely breathtaking. 
  • A house full of people that I love.
  • This picture of my little super hero:
  • My nephew and my daughter snuggled up with my brother-in-law, watching Snow White.
  • Dining seat assignments scrawled on torn up sheets of binder paper, artfully arranged on fine china.
I could go on, and the truth is, these tiny things probably don't mean anything unless you were there. They are very minor miracles, but they are a still, small reminder that if we are paying attention, we can catch glimpses of the faithfulness of God. Every single day, He shows Himself trustworthy. We spend Advent in anticipation of things to come, but we are still in advent. As God's kids, we are still leaning into this time of waiting, trying to catch glimpses of the way things will be when the fullness of time comes about, and we are waiting no longer. To me, this Christmas has an air of eagerness about it, as if all Creation is whispering, "Just wait. The best is still on its way." In that way, I look forward; forward to tomorrow, when the seemingly endless march of Christmas parties continues; forward to the new year and the promise it holds; forward to the end, when I will see my Savior face to face. You see, this is merely the first day of Christmas - the best is still on its way.

Silent night! Holy night!
Son of God, love's pure light 
shines anew from Thy heavenly face,
greets the hour of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth,
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth.

The hour of redeeming grace came two thousand years ago, and it comes again today, and it will come again every day until the end of time. The best is still on its way. God is faithful. Always.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I Need a Bigger Form

Forms. I have mixed feelings about them. I see the need for them, but filling them out can be a drag. I turn in an AWR (assignment work record) for Lucy's homeschool every three weeks or so - it's basically just a list of the different things that we do for school. There's a slot for every subject: math, language arts, spelling, history, science and a convenient little section labeled "other" for things like PE, arts and crafts, music lessons, etc.

This form actually isn't a drag to fill out...unless I forget, and then I'm scrambling at the last minute. :-) Life isn't easy to put on a form, though. There's a whole lot about school that can't be measured. I remember from my days as a high school teacher - the administration/BTSA/powers-that-be always wanted to be able to measure progress. There needed to be a tangible way of assessing kids' advancement, their knowledge, and their ability to apply what they had learned. Teachers had to be able to present evidence that our students were getting better at what we were trying to teach them.

As Lucy's teacher, I have to be able show my lead teachers that she's getting better at her handwriting, that she's learning how to do addition and subtraction, and that she's learning how to earn and use money, among other things. However, as Lucy's mother, I also want to be able to measure a different sort of progress. One of the benefits of homeschooling is that I get to be directly involved in the character development of my children, but it's tempting to take it too far. Sometimes I want to make myself into the powers-that-be, arming myself with an imaginary checklist: honesty...check; good work ethic...check; progress. And so it goes. But, life isn't easy to put on a form, right? I'm not the administrator of my kid's life. It's not my job to follow my daughters around with a list for them to live up to. When I do that, I'm merely teaching them how to be good citizens, instead of showing them the Gospel.

The truth is, there's not enough room on any form to tell the stories that make up so much of our schooling. Our area has been experiencing a severe drought, and our family (along with everyone else!) been praying for rain for a very long time. Well, this week we got it. The heavens opened up, and we rejoiced in our rain boots. Lucy and I stood in my bathroom a couple of days ago - the skylight in that room makes it the perfect sounding chamber for the merry pitter-patter of raindrops. As we stood there listening, Lucy asked me why God had waited so long to send rain. So I told her the truth that I am still trying to grasp; God is in charge of everything, and He makes us wait sometimes. He always gives us what He knows we need, even when it's not on our timetable. We can trust Him to be faithful, because He has proven Himself faithful again and again, over and over, from the dawn of time. When we have to wait, it is important that we do our waiting with our face toward God, trusting in our faithful Father's purpose. As we talked about this huge truth, Lucy looked at me with her big blue eyes, framed with a smattering of freckles, and I saw the wheels turning in her head. I saw the foundations of faith being laid, and it did my mama heart good.

Where do I put that on the form?