In just one more week we'll start school again at our house. We are all very much looking forward to it! So much careful planning has gone into selecting books, choosing curriculum and creating lessons, but really all of that takes a back seat to what is forefront on my mind as we enter this school year.
Academics are always second to our main goal of guiding our kids to love God and to love their neighbor. That's what we really care about around here. And so we read the Bible every day and we talk about what we've read. We memorize verses together-- because what we learn about God fuels our worship of Him. We pray together and we point out things He has made or what He has done and we get excited about those things together. We talk about things we have read or seen or heard and we pull those things into the context of what He says about them; what He would call us to do in that situation as followers of Jesus.
The second part of that verse~ that part about loving your neighbor? That begins right here, too. God has given us a rich environment to learn how to love our neighbor because we've got a lot of neighbors (we call them siblings ;)) right here under one roof! Each of us- Mark and I included- have unique personalities, preferences, quirks, and sins that make life full of opportunities for growth in loving your neighbor.
Proverbs 16:9 says "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."
I want that verse to be on the forefront of my mind in the days and months ahead. While I have planned our course for the year, it is the Lord who will determine our steps. I want to hold my own plans loosely and be willing to adapt to the ways in which He will guide our steps each day.
This is a constant struggle for me. I always have a plan and I want to move on it, and now! Perhaps a plan of mine is that I would like to move from the breakfast table and begin chores at such-and-such-a-time, but then that plan is interrupted by one of the kids doing something or saying something that I have to do something about. Honestly, my initial response is usually grumpiness. (While I don't always verbalize it this way, my thoughts might be: This isn't the plan! This interruption isn't accommodating my timeline or my list of things to accomplish right now. If we don't get this done right now, we'll be behind in our next task!)
I want to enter this year with eyes to see those "interruptions" as God determining our steps and our course of study. He knows exactly what we all need and how we might best grow, and I trust Him to do it. In the example above of getting-interrupted-during-our-transition-from-breakfast-to-chores, I need to trust that He has something far more important to accomplish in that moment than what was on my schedule. Maybe what He wants in that moment is my obedience to Him in a right response of gentleness, patience and self-control. Maybe what He wants is time taken for an expression of love and/or forgiveness in a sibling relationship.
My prayer is that I would rest in His sovereign purposes-- being completed in me and in our home, in the lives of our kids-- *through* the interruptions, the distractions, the messes. I want to embrace the opportunities He brings to stop and close my planner- so to speak- in order to correct or nurture or explain or take time for a much-needed hug or a conversation or simply to stop and rest in the delight of that moment, to be silly and laugh together a little longer or to take time to carefully and diligently discipline, rather than reacting in anger or impatience.
Anyone want to join me in this goal? ;)