The most excellent way

I’m not positive I’ll be able to post this subject for 29 more days. My writing has been more sporadic. I needed to take a break and read. I finished The Poisionwood Bible, which was fantastic, and now have moved onto A Long Days Dying. It’s summer and I just want to sit in my lovely garden and read. But with my time of reading and escaping into my books I’m still pondering a lot about being a mom, wife and neighbor.

There are two things that Matt and I share as values, other than our taste in Belgian Ales, we both agree that no matter what we choose to do with our lives (move to the Caribbean and work in little villages doing community development projects or move to South Africa to open a library in a township) we agree that family and creating community are values we both hold at the highest of our mental scale. We are still asking how to create and nurture our family more as well as develop the community that we have made.

A few years ago (almost three now) I got a group of people together to meet each week to eat a sweet meal and talk story. It was all in line with a desire Matt and I have to create community rather than waiting for community to come to us. As we’ve been doing this for three years now we are still asking each other what it is that we really want in community and how to make it all grow and flourish, and what does that even look like? We’re still asking….

As far as family goes we both see raising children, being parents, being siblings and children ourselves as a rich taste of God’s kingdom as it was meant to be. Everything He does and wants people to do to each other is all about growing and loving our community and our family. I can’t see any mandate that was uttered as being void of relationship with the individual or the extended tribe.

I use to roll my eyes when religious leaders spoke to the masses about seeing family values reinstated because the “fabric of society was unraveling faster than you could say Rush Limbaugh and if we were ever going to see society change we needed to focus on getting the family back together”. These days I may disagree with the manner in which people will thrust themselves into our families in order to get our values in tact (vote here to make America more family friendly) but I do agree that when the core of a family falls apart it snowballs into culture.

I recently read a book on feminism and violence against women and some chapters were a bit intense from my perspective but reading a book written by a woman who doesn’t share my core values in Christ being the center of our philosophy she was brilliant in her grounding. She said if you want to slowly eradicate any violence or oppression against women in society you have to model it and teach it to your kids in the home. They will carry it out into the community. Every issue from rape to pornography can be dealt with in the home which will ripple into their schools, their neighborhood, their own families and eventually the community. What a fantastic and righteous perspective! I couldn’t agree more. What we do with our children, how we love, teach and nurture them really can change the world….. slowly. But change is honest and lasting if it’s foundational and internally built.

I had been reading tons of material on homeschooling since almost a year ago. So for nearly a year now I’ve been reading, researching and preparing myself for the decision to homeschool (still haven’t made a definitive decision yet) but all of the space it was taking in my head was making me go insane, quite literally. I remember throwing a book across the room once because I couldn’t see how I would implement the suggestions that the !@#$%^& book was giving for my little high maintenance Einstein. I was worried on a daily basis that I was ruining him due to under stimulation. And then a few weeks ago I had a bit of a breakdown which led to the conclusion: “Screw it! I’m just going to nurture the hell out of this kid. Teach him character, how to play, how to be more self controlled, how to love learning (which he already does, most kids do), love his sister, his friends and his parents,  and figure out how to stimulate him as we go. He can be illiterate until he’s 16! At least he’ll know how to love and cherish his friends, how to listen to his mama and papa, and how to fly to the moon in the space ship of his imagination.”

I’ve taken my homeschooling books back to the library and have not checked out any more until I know my son is ready to go for it. Today I’m reading the boy and girl poems, playing with Legos, dressing up in some ridiculous clothes that do not fit me, nor look good on me and playing outside in the sprinkler. It’s summertime and I love my kids.

Paul wrote that if we have rad abilities in life but don’t have love in our hearts our abilities are wasted space (my paraphrase) and I am thrilled that the scripture translates the words, “And now I will show you the most excellent way…” I dig it mainly because it reminds me of how Bill and Ted spoke in their valley-boy vernacular about things being ‘most excellent’ and I love that there is a translation in the bible that uses the same vernacular, even though I’m sure Paul was more uptight and proper than Bill or Ted.

For those of you who read this and have children, even little babies, there is likely, or will likely be,  a stress or pressure to do the most for your kids in terms of education or filling their lives with classes or activities. The struggle within our goal driven and trophy lusting culture can create a pull inside that tears at your decisions to do what is best before it’s too late (teach them to read by age 5, craft with them so they have astonishing amounts of creativity or become strung out artists, show them museums or get them planting seeds in the garden!!!! Quick before they end up on crack!!!)

I firmly believe, even if I have my stressful days where I’m scratching up the pole of perfectionism trying to claw my way to the top of my children’s future, hoping they survive childhood, that if we invest into the spirit of our children, if we delight in them and show them the most excellent way while they are so young in their development we will raise amazing humans who will draft God’s dreams into reality. Delight in your children, enjoy the baby phase and the erratic and emotional toddler phase. Let them touch and feel the world. Screw the friends who don’t get or even like them. Don’t go to people’s houses that get uptight with them. Teach them to respect people’s things but let them feel the universe! They can learn to read when they’re 20!

“Now these three remain; faith, hope and love  but the greatest is love”

Chloe wearing a slipper and Oliver's flip flop. This is a common image in our home.

Chloe wearing a slipper and Oliver's flip flop. This is a common image in our home.

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Posing after he drew all over his arms

Posing after he drew all over his arms

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6 thoughts on “The most excellent way

  1. This is so, so beautiuflly said, Trace. I love how you bring it all back to the most important thing we pass on to our kids in such a beautiful way. I’ve been thinking about this for hours!

  2. oh tracie, how i love your blog 🙂 I’m in the homeschooling turmoil at this very moment – trying to decide that is, and feeling the stress. And losing my patience with my kids instead of going the ‘most excellent’ way. ahhhh. Good words, they speak to me right now – so true, so timely. Thank you.

  3. Pingback: Letting my kids roam « Tea and Chopsticks

  4. Pingback: Nurture « Tea and Chopsticks

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