Having flexible expectations at home

In the first couple of weeks after we were thrown into homeschooling, I thought of a whole load of unattainable ways I could bring God into educating my kids at home.

The idea that I could potentially create a bespoke curriculum for our kids, combined with the gut feeling that this was a great opportunity to use this time for “Godly” purposes, sent me on a train of thought through timetables which would have made a theological degree course look tame.

Over the weeks, God has gently reminded me over and over again about his design: that our children come to know him through our everyday chats and modelling our own spiritual life (Deuteronomy 6:6-9). I’ve realised I need to focus less on timetables and more on prayer.

It’s very tempting for me to get up in the morning and rush straight into a day, which I’ve designed to run like clockwork (because I tend to find comfort in a plan!)  But a couple of weeks ago I realised I was rushing into each morning without God, expecting my kids to give thanks at breakfast and be open to me trying to bring him into the everyday moments, but without actually having done that myself.

I’m not quite there every day, but I certainly am learning lots about meeting God in the little moments. It’s not been possible for me to sit quietly and ponder or read and pray before the day begins, but I’ve tried to make a point of praying as I make breakfast, and increasingly to remember to do that out loud (which is quite unnatural for me) so that my children see it too.

If you’re imagining a serene picture where I’m praying mighty words of wisdom over my angelic family, who are sitting peacefully around the table, then you’ve got the wrong end of the stick! It never looks like that, and sometimes I can wonder if there’s any point. But a lovely thing happened the other morning, which made me realise that the children do notice, it really helps to persevere, and I can trust that God is working through my small attempts to model life with him.

I was stirring a pan of porridge, and there was a lot going on around me. It was noisy, too many people were asking me questions all at once, and I was worrying about the day ahead. My daughter walked into the kitchen and said, “I’ve got something for you, Mummy”, and went to turn on the stereo. I very nearly told her to turn it off, because I didn’t think I could stand any more noise, but then this amazing music came flooding through the house and instantly filled my heart with peace and calm.

My daughter had heard Nina Simone’s “He’s got the whole world in his hands” on a CD she’d been playing in her room, and when I thanked her afterwards, she told me she’d saved sharing it with me for ‘porridge prayer time’. It was a beautiful moment. The truth of the lyrics and calming chords were exactly what I needed just then, as it got me singing words of certain trust in God. And it was a powerful reminder that even when they look like they’re not noticing, it’s all going in.

However feeble and inconsistent my prayer life is, I am going to persevere to keep that conversation with God going through the days, and to make sure at least some of it is aloud. Like the loaves and fishes, God can multiply even our tiniest acts of parenting into something wonderful!

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