Monday, August 9, 2010


2 c: a detailed formulation of a program of action d: goal, aim

Last Thursday, a friend shared a technique that has worked for her this summer with her daughters to keep them engaged and the bickering at a minimum:  she makes a plan for the day for each of them.  She gave me a few examples and I decided to give it a try on Friday.  We had friends coming over for lunch on Sunday and I was spending Friday night and part of Saturday away.  The only way to be ready? Clean on Friday, with all three girls at home with me.  The solution?  Let's try the plan.

A's Plan

So I crafted a simple plan for each girl.  As I was writing out their plans, the house was quiet.  A and B were reading in their rooms and I could hear K conversing with her invisible friends in her room.  So I finished the plans and just left them to their own devices until they asked me for something.  B was the first to ask to watch television (B is usually the first to ask to watch TV), so I presented her with her plan instead.  Not surprisingly, she was resistant at first.  We see over and over again that B loves to be the master of her own time.  This is why she is hesitant to commit to any organized sport or activity - she doesn't want to have to do the same thing each Monday because what if she finds something more interesting to do?  That said, despite her initial resistance, B was the first to get started on her plan.  Her sisters soon followed and it ended up working fairly well.  They were occupied and I got the downstairs clean enough for guests.

One product of the plan:  B's flag of Tanzania

After creating plans for a day for our girls, I retreated with a friend to a Bed and Breakfast to plan for the coming school year.  In the past, this hasn't been necessary because our girls have all attended a nearby public elementary school that we love.  But this year I'll be home schooling A, so when my friend suggested a retreat to pray and plan, I was in.  I've ended this summer feeling stretched thin and unready for the fall.  And I won't have the luxury of getting refreshed the first week or two of school.

My planning time on Saturday went great.  Friday night my friend and I listened to an MP3 on organization by a mom of eight (she ought to know about organization, don't you think?).  Near the end of that time together, my friend said she planned to start Saturday by looking broadly at her mission in home schooling her children.  This resonated with me, so I started Saturday morning by looking for a Bible verse that might guide my efforts to determine my mission, vision and purpose for the coming school year with A.  God was gracious to almost immediately provide two verses that were a great encouragement to me:

The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.

The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears,
and I have not been rebellious;
I have not drawn back. 
 I love these verses because they speak directly to why I can home school A.  You'll notice there's nothing in the passage about being a trained educator.  That's a relief since I'm not a trained educator.  But I am one whom the Lord has instructed.  I do know how to rest my weary mind - in his word.  And I have not drawn back, but have been obedient in several difficult things - speaking at a women's retreat, trying to look more directly at my past's role in my current story and home schooling A.  I can only trust that I will not be left alone in the uncharted waters of fifth grade.  God will be right there with me, waking me every morning.

I came home Saturday with a mission, vision and purpose, as well as a tentative weekly schedule and a plan for our first four weeks of school.  I was mightily encouraged and am now more excited than scared to get started later this week.
Our tentative weekly schedule, which with be adapted often and with much joy

It's amusing and encouraging how sometimes God chooses to hammer home a point.  In this case, it wasn't enough to show me the value of planning, to encourage me in my plan and to give me some concrete plans to start with.  On Sunday, the sermon reminded me that no matter how well I plan, it's not my plan that counts.  It's my faith and obedience that count.

I always bring my journal with me to church, so that I can jot down questions, thoughts and lessons to ponder later.  Yesterday's notes contain question after question:
  • Do I believe God will fulfill the most unlikely, outlandish promises he makes?  (Like making Abram a father at age 80+)  
  • How do I try to solve my problems myself?  (Like Abram using Hagar to 'fulfill' God's promise)  
  • What compromises am I willing to make when I should instead sit and wait on the Lord?  
  • Do I trust God or my own wisdom, my own research, my own plan?
In its own way, these questions are reassuring.  I can plan and prepare for home schooling A, for guiding K through first grade, for helping B navigating the murky waters of fourth grade girl relationships.  And I should plan for these things.  But it's not my plan that will determine the success of my efforts.  And frankly, I may not even see the success.  Because as I was reminded in yesterday's service, "your participation, your faith in Jesus Christ matters in ways beyond what you see."  So I'll plan, but I'll try to hold my plans loosely.

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