Boxed Curriculum, Busy Work, and Being

20 years ago when my oldest was kindergarten age we started to homeschool. I wanted the best for my son so I went to an Abeka meeting at a local hotel and purchased the entire kit for kindergarten. Teachers manuals, flashcards, and all. When my boxes arrived I worked hard setting up the school room. I got a little wooden school desk for him at a yard sale. I hung up posters. Made folders up. Got my lesson plans ready. I was on top of it. Then the first day began.

Through out his preschool days he had already learned a lot. Mainly by us taking construction paper and doing little made up projects that I thought up on how to learn letter sounds and recognize numbers. Nothing formal, just us playing and learning together in a fun atmosphere, but in my mind, in order to do things right, I needed to become more disciplined and do everything by the books, literally…

That’s when the trouble began… My sweet 5 year old son struggled with the concept of sitting still and doing page after page after page of workbook work. There were no fun projects. It was just him at a desk with a pencil.

In order to get through a day, we would do 15 minutes on 15 minutes off. I would make him plow through every page. Even if he understood the concept. It was miserable for him. It was miserable for me. After several weeks of this, I started talking to a seasoned homeschool mom. She encouraged me to return to what worked: A little less busywork, a little more creativity and fun. Now 19 years later, with 3 kids graduated from our homeschool and either graduated college or in college, I’m on my final kid, a sophomore. He’s benefited from all the experiments I tried on his older brother, who I’ve jokingly referred to as “the guinea pig”. I’d like to think his learning through the years has been a combination of the best, creative fun learning experiences through the years.

This morning as I read my Bible I came across the story of Mary and Martha. I was contemplating my own life. How I’ve set up a lot of religious “busywork” trying to create “the best” Christian life I can. Running Bible studies, heading up ministries, going to leader meetings, etc. But somewhere along the line the “busywork” has stolen the joy of a creative, living, breathing relationship that I’m meant to have with Jesus. I’ve reduced myself to a lifestyle that mirrors the kindergarten year of my oldest son. “Sit here for 15 min. Do this work. 15 minute break. Repeat.” All of this to try to make something special out of my life for the Master.

I’ve been a lot like Martha, wanting to have things perfect. Having thrown several dinner parties in my home, I can imagine her thought process. Everything must be in place, sparkling, and the food needs to be excellent as well. Jesus pointed out that that was not his expectations. Mary’s approach was what touched His heart. She wanted to be with Him. Soak Him and every word He said in. Enjoy the moment with Him because the moment was all she had and soon it would be gone.

Lately, I’ve woke up in a new position. A lot of the things I was striving to do ministry wise have suddenly ended. All the busywork has stopped. I’ve awaken to a new possibility of letting the Martha in me go and embracing the Mary. In a homeschool mom’s terms: I’ve come to a place where I can let go of the boxed curriculum’s rigidity and embrace life giving and freeing lifestyle learning.

God give me the grace to open my eyes and enjoy the things I already have. Let the striving for more cease as I learn once again to sit still at your feet and soak who you are in. Let You be enough. Not what I think I can build to enhance the perfection that You already are. Let me be like Mary and sit at your feet, enjoying You and all that You have given me to enjoy.

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