Wednesday, January 17, 2007


You may have noticed the brilliant photo on my blog. The Fuel sign is both the title and the focus of my little writings here. You get it right? Fuel for thought? Good; just making sure we were all up on our symbolism. (There you just studied language arts for the day).

When my husband first took this photograph, I intended to hang it in my kitchen "Fuel: Full Service" the sign reads. Fairly appropriate for my cookery where I do the lion's share of the cooking and serving. Alas, the photo did not fit on any of the walls in said room, so it was relocated. To the school room.

Now this is even more appropriate, I believe, as our goal as homeschool parents is to whet our childrens' appetities for knowledge and wisdom; to offer them desire for more learning; to encourage them to hunger after truth. We want them to feed on God's Word. We want them to be full of the good fuel that will sustain them, yes academically, but primarily spiritually.

So today I was considering these two rooms of my house together. The literal food of my kitchen and the brain food of my school room. And then I thought of the type of fuel I am actually giving my children on a regular basis. And then I thought about leftovers.

Let me back up a little. Last week our family had the joy and privilege of having some family from Holland over for a meal. I spent time considering their potential preferences, then I considered ease of menu preparation so that I could actually visit with them instead of fussing around in the kitchen. I considered seating arrangements so that our children were dispersed among the adults (both for their help and our enjoyment), and then I did the shopping to buy fresh ingredients for the meal. I carefully cooked and tried to artfully arrange the food so that it was not only pleasing to the palate, but to the eye as well. We went to bed on time the night before so that we were rested and ready to enjoy the company, and make the most of our time with them. We lit candles, put on some nice background music, prayed for a welcoming atmosphere in our home, and then tried to be 'our best' for them so they would leave feeling loved up and encouraged. The meal was a success, the visiting was delightful and relaxed, and memories were made that we can all be proud of.

Now to today, and to homeschooling. When it comes to curriculum choices, I spend time considering my childrens' preferences, I shop and buy what they need in terms of workbooks and supplies, and I even plan out what each day and week over the year should look like so that we are building memories that we can be proud of.

However, most days, when it comes to my energy and presence with the children, they are being served leftovers. Seriously, how often do I go to bed on time the night before so I am fresh for school in the morning? No. They are often faced with my leftover fatigue from the night before. How often do I pray that our conversation would be a blessing to all of us? No. They are often faced with my leftover frustrations and feelings of inadequacy from the day before. How often do I set the mood of our home school with grace and patience? No. They are often left feeling like they've disappointed mommy for getting stuck in math, again.

I would never consider giving leftovers to special company. So why do I settle for leftovers with my precious children in matters much more weighty? Would our company have sneered if I had heated up some leftover soup? Of course not. But that didn't feel like an option. However, somehow I am content to let my children walk to the end of some days with the sense that they are little more than an interruption to my agenda.

Lord I pray that You would soften my heart towards my children and towards homeschooling. Let me die to self and spend my first and best on my precious children. Help me to prepare for the day spiritually so that I am in a place to direct them spiritually. They are watching my example and learning infinitely more that way than from their workbooks. Help me to keep the priority on giving them not only an excellent education, but also on building an excellent relationship with them. I want to offer Fuel: Full Service. That is "high-test, open all night, smile with service or its free, wash your windows and check your oil, free car wash with a fill up, bonus points and reward miles for regular customers" full service fuel. You have not given me more than I can handle, so schooling these children with excellence and grace is not beyond You through me. Let it be. Come Lord Jesus, and let it be.

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