Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Beyond Phonics - a love of the greatest story ever told

Bear with me as I walk through this long process of thought.  This has been rolling around in my brain for several months now.  It resurfaces occasionally.  Like a snowball it gains some weight and continues on its slow roll down the hill.  I don't think it's reached its full weight, but if I don't begin this process of writing and tracking its growth - I may lose its full impact.
For the majority of the history of mankind only the few have had the education and access to the Written Word, churches, and faith.  Consequently access to God and his Word was controlled and limited by Kings, priests, and other religious leaders.  There was a moment in history where this changed, where the beginning of the breaking of the religious hierarchy commenced.  From the creation of the Gutenberg press until now literacy and access to the Written Word, Holy Bible, has continued to increase.
We are now living in a time of unprecedented access to God's Word and thus His guidance and will.  And yet, do we realize the weight of this?  As we are teaching our children to read, do we accept the real responsibility we are taking on?  Yes, we know reading early and well equals higher test scores, better grades, acceptance into college, and eventually better jobs.  I would like to argue that all of that wanes indifferent in the light of the greatest opportunity that reading affords us.  A chance to revel in the heart, story, and glory of our God, our loving Heavenly Father.
Our culture loves stories.  Even those who say they don't like books like stories.  We DVR a show to learn what happens next, we anxiously await movie sequels, we revel in the joy of an underdog team defeating #1, and we lament to loss of life of people we've never met because we have heard their story.
As our culture becomes more and more obsessed with the next great news story, sports feat, wartime heroic, or love triangle, we move further and further from the Greatest Story ever told.  The story of a loving God who conquered death by sacrificing his beloved son.  Along the way there are battles and love stories, betrayal and regret, stories of love lost and gained, and most importantly forgiveness, second chances and redeeming Love.
Seeking out beginning readers and phonics programs, I hear little on the greater weight of what I am embarking to impart.  This isn't just about letter sounds and tracking skills anymore at our house.  It is something greater.  Something I am still unraveling the how-to of.  I know I must spark a love for stories, a joy in the suspense, a longing to reach the end, but the patience to enjoy the journey along the way.
I've been wondering if I'm crazy.  I've only shared these thoughts with two others while I've been ruminating on it.  Then I found some confirmation.  In John Piper's book Martin Luther: Lessons From His Life and Labor Piper states, "One of the great discoveries of the Reformation -- especially of Martin Luther - Was that the Word of God comes to us in a form of a Book.  In other words Luther grasped this powerful fact: God preserves the experience of salvation and holiness from generation to generation by means of a book of Revelation, not a bishop in Rome, and not the ecstasies of Thomas Muenzur and Zwickau Prophets.  The Word of God comes to us in a book.  That rediscovery shaped Luther and the Reformation."
Piper goes on to say, "The word of God that saves and sanctifies, from generation to generation, is preserved in a book.  And therefore at the heart of every pastor's work is book-work.  Call it reading, meditation, reflection, cogitation, study, exegesis, or whatever you will -- a large and central part of our work is to wrestle God's meaning from a book and proclaim it in the power of the Holy Spirit."
You may say, "Not all of our children will be pastors."  But they should be able to consult scripture and verify the teaching they are receiving is accurate according to scripture.  Most will have families, all will have friends and coworkers.  With this in mind shouldn't we equip them to lead their families well, to guide friends to relationship with Christ, to hold christian brothers accountable by sharing the truths of scripture?
As Luther stated, "Let the man who would hear God speak read Holy Scriptures."
By teaching our children not only the mechanics of reading, but a love of story, we are opening the door for a life long love affair with the only living and breathing book ever written.  For,"In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning."  John 1:1
This convicts my heart as much as it inspires me.  How do I spark a love for the Word of God, if I do not have it myself?  I need to dive in the Word, pray, and teach with my example.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Joy in the evening

A few hours ago all I could see was red. When I went to bed last night my plans for today were mellow, enjoyable even though it involved mostly cleaning with three little boys.  When the two year old woke up at 1:30am for the second night in a row and proceeded to scream until snuggled in bed by my side.  This sounds mildly aggravating, but sweet. Trust me, it isn't. He is a maniac awake and asleep. He tosses and turns, kicks and head butts all while grunting and groaning the night away. Surely he is ill, right? So, the doctor is able to get us in for an early morning appointment. Which is actually a small miracle with his busy and backed up they have been lately. We are in and out in 45 minutes, another small miracle.  Nothing is wrong with him. He merely is two getting molars and doesn't want to sleep or eat any more. We were already at the doctor's and we needed to get our flu shots. So, I register for those. Yes, I had to go back out front and register. They blamed the new computer system. That poor computer system gets blamed for everything around there now.  An hour later the assistant sees us and asks why we are still there.  I tell her, she is surprised I had to come out to the waiting room. So, about 25 minutes and 3 intense wrestling matches, we were finally on our way.  After I promised pizza and icees from the Sam's club cafe across the street.  I don't know if it was the shots, the red dye, or just the crazy morning, but my children mutinied.  By the time we left the store I was counting the minutes until nap time.
Upon arriving home that is exactly what we did. All three children were deposited in separate rooms while I put away groceries and commenced my cleaning extravaganza.  Did I mention there was a Bible study at the house tonight and 6 loads of laundry to fold and put away?  After about 20 minutes I hear gleeful shrieks where they should not be. I investigate. My two oldest are in my room, where only one should be, and the window and screen are open, the blinds are cockeyed, and this room is on the second floor. With a thorough punishment and separation, fixing the blinds, promising more punishment to come. I return to cleaning and my two year old insomniac wakes up and follows me around screaming if I venture into another room.
In the midst of all of this chaos amazing things happened! My 4 year old read his first book, the baby went number 2 on the potty. I was able to go and run tonight for the first time in weeks. A dear friend had a very positive step in the right direction today.  That alone is enough to make this day a positive one. Most importantly though, I am forgiven. My chains of bondage are gone, my life is new and there is nothing that can separate me from my Father's love and that should make every day better than the last.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Things God is teaching me while running

1. Some days are more productive than others.  Some days I can run 13 miles, other days just running 3 is difficult.  I'm learning to moderate myself and utilize the energy when I have it.  On days when I'm tired, it's hot, or things just aren't going well, I need to remember it will all be there tomorrow.  Whether it's the kids, the cleaning, or the miles, I need to stay focused on the task at hand.  Do what I can each day, but know when it's time to throw in the towel.
2. Today's worth isn't determined by yesterday's.  If I accomplished a lot yesterday it doesn't equal high production today.  In fact, it very often means the opposite.  Whether the reason is lower energy stores, or that other things need attention (like my children).  The opposite of this is true as well: if I accomplished nothing yesterday, today doesn't have to be the same.  A new day = New opportunities
3. One goal accomplished isn't the end.  After a long run it would be nice to think, "I never have to run again."  Just like in parenting and life after a difficult time or trial it would be nice to think, "We passed the test.  Now we just have to coast through the rest of life."  Fortunately it doesn't work this way and life is a constant refinement. Parenting never ends, even when they're out of the house.  It may be different, but it's not over by any means.  Trials and struggles will find all of us at some point, and without the practice miles; we won't make it through the big day.
4. This is life-long.  This is similar to the previous lesson, but a different twist.  When I see 60-70 year old people working out, running races, or jogging on my running route, I always have this thought, "Will I have the stamina to keep up the hard work to that point?" I know that of my own accord I will not.  God is the only thing that could keep me sane and motivated that long.  Life is difficult.  Life can be sad. God also allows it to be beautiful, enlightening, and uplifting at times.  Hopefully I can keep enough of the beauty in my mind and heart to stay motivated through the difficult and sad.
It also makes me think of parenting my boys.  When I'm 60 they will be in their 30's, by God's grace.  I may have an empty nest, but I will still be a mother.  Sometimes, the thought is, "Just get them to 18 and then we're good."  There will still be mouths to feed, hearts to mend, and goals to encourage them toward. This of course is all by God's grace.  Hopefully, I will see them all grow into adulthood.  If there is another outcome within the Lord's will, then I pray that by His grace I do stay sane.  However, no matter what happens, I will still be their mother and while my burden will be different, it would be heavier to bear.
5. Some times you just need a break.  Acknowledging my limits while challenging myself is a difficult balance for me.  Honestly I'm more inclined to take a break than go for a run.  I'm finding a new motivation and purpose in running though and right now it is my break.  It is time to pray, listen to music or sermons, or talk with a friend.  It is a break from 3 little boys and the wonderful craziness they bring to my life.  Sometimes I need a break from running and my boys need more time with me.  I'm learning to be more in tune with my needs, as well as theirs.
6. Beauty is good, but sometimes you just need to finish.  I'm hoping that no matter what happens in this life - I finish strong.  I may not have a lot of grace or finesse, but hopefully I make up for it in will.  I hope that at the end of a race when I look back I can see I gave it my all.  I may have walked a bit, needed refreshment, or even fallen down, but if I got up, kept going, and finished; that's good enough.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Hebrews 12:1

I hope at the end of this great race my Lord will say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." Matthew 25:21 That is not to be for my glory, but for His. Without God nothing in my life would be possible.  I would not have the courage to be the person I was created to be.  I would not have the love to give my husband or children.  I would fail at much more than I succeed at.  While I still fail, especially when I try to do things on my own, there are moments of wonder and joy in my life that I can only thank God for.  Hopefully my life reflects a glimmer of that light into other's.