Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Stay There Until . . .

I have a 6 year old daughter with a passionate spirit.  Nothing is gray when it comes to her.  It's black or white, perfection or disastrous, sweet or sour.  Absolutely no in between.  She is the gift from God that keeps on giving - challenges, frustrations, laughter, hugs, smiles, and tears.  In her I see a future leader or ring-leader.  I see an amazing woman that God has created to inspire other people to act with vigor and vitality.  She has an infectious smile that lights up her eyes and the room she enters.  She has a heart that breaks at every infraction inflicted upon her by me, her brothers, and her sister.

This girl o'mine is a challenge to home school.  She is the "Why Girl".  EVERYTHING under the God-created sun warrants an inquisitive comment. 

Why is spaghetti called spaghetti?
Why can't I have dessert at every meal?
Why must I brush my teeth?
Why did Abraham Lincoln chop down the cherry tree?  (By the way, this is NOT something we covered in home school!)
Why didn't the slaves just say "no"?
Why can't I wear my pj's to church?
Why did Mary use her hair to wash Jesus' feet?  (She is totally grossed out by this idea.)

Sometimes the questions are a genuine quest for knowledge.  Sometimes the questions are a stalling tactic to delay the inevitable spelling exercises, Phonics (her least favorite), or Math.  I can spot the "I'm-gonna-create-lots-of-distraction-so-Mom-won't-make-me-do-school" look from a mile away.  My general response is genius (not my own - I borrowed the idea)!  I ask her to write down all her questions in her "My Questions Book" and then we will answer them after her school work is completed.  This is two-fold: she gets handwriting practice and has to decide whether the questions are really worth recording. 

As you can imagine, her distraction plans are derailed and the tantrum often comes in on a tidal wave.  The stomping of feet are mixed in with the shedding of easily spilled tears.  The child is 6 1/2,  mind you.  She is sent to her room with the admonition to stay there until she can return with an appropriate attitude.  She'll walk up the stairs wailing the unfairness of it all while imagining in her mind that she is stomping her feet and slamming her bedroom door.

After 20 minutes of a Tantrum Time-Out, she called down to the kitchen:

"Mom, I have a question."

Can that be true?!  Another question even during a disciplinary event?

"What exactly is an Appropriate Attitude?"

That is Priceless!  Here I thought I was providing her with an opportunity to focus on her poor behavior and disrespectful attitude.  I was hoping it would draw her out of the "I wannas" and focus on the task at hand and discovering the joy and freedom we can all feel during the act of obedience. 

I failed.

The child needed to know exactly what I expected of her.  I took the opportunity to lay it all out in every detail, written in my own blood with a smile poorly veiling my frustration.  Now, there is NO excuse for her misunderstanding our expectations of her as a student in this Crazy School of Learning household.

Does any of this ring familiar?  Have you ever wondered around, floundered around, trying to figure out what on God's green earth He expects for you?  What he desires of and for you?  Do you stomp your feet and wail (silently or loudly) the unfairness of it all?  Do you sit in your room waiting to figure out the "Appropriate Attitude"?

Here's the thing - our Holy God has given us everything we need to know, do, say, pray, hope and live for, and die for.  His word lays out a map of His expectations for each of us.  We are only to believe that Jesus is our Lord, our, Savior, our only Way.  And we are to love.  And we are to serve Him.  Every single moment of our day is to honor and glorify Him.  These things are to be done with a heart that desires the freedom and joy of obedience and intimacy with Him. And it doesn't matter if I am flipping pancakes for dinner, pullingweeds, training a child's heart, or evangelizing in Costa Rica.  If it is done with an appropriate God-fearing, Son-worshipping, Father-honoring, Holy Spirit-inspired attitude then it is glorious to Him.

How much more appropriate can you get?

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.   Colossians 3:12-17