This winter I've really been thinking about my days. The hours I spend at home with Hadley. What do I have to show for them? How should they look with just me, a 20-month old, and no car? There's nothing grand on my to-do list today. It's just an ordinary day. Then I was reminded of this tidbit from Elisabeth Elliot's The Shaping of a Christian Family and it won't leave my head.
This is hugely encouraging, and for me, a commission of sorts. By saying "quality time," Elisabeth is referring to the idea in our society of reserving a chunk of time to do something entertaining with your kids. Although not a bad thing in any way- quality time is fantastic- it is not the same as being together, participating together in the daily routine. In the daily routine is where our kids are learning This is what we do, This is how we do it, This is where things go. They learn by watching. The power of influence is extraordinary.
My thoughts as I encountered this quote:
1. It's so encouraging to know something important is going on just by having a routine and letting my daughter be a part of it. I'm re-excited about spending typical days with her, letting her watch me do a thing 50 times, so that she'll know how to do it for herself. That's important! It's my job to start showing her that she's a necessary and appreciated member of the family.
2. I'm motivated! Let's do these ordinary days! Hardly anyone but me sees how the hours are spent at home on an ordinary day, but big things are established in these little known hours. I want her to see that we put our heart into the work God has given us to do today and draw her into the acceptance of responsibility as early as possible. (Read E. Elliot's Serious Play, Careless Work for more notes on this)
3. I'm humbled. My influence on her is so concentrated. How I clean up a spill or a broken bowl is being watched oh. so. carefully.
4. I need help. She will need thousands of reminders and repeated orders and corrections. I will need wisdom, and I will need to stop whatever I am doing to help/discipline her. I will mess up and miss out on opportunities to teach something. I will get worn out and will wonder whether the way she puts that thing away or climbs on this piece of furniture really matters. But I'm praying for faithfulness and patience.
5. At this point, still being under 2 years old, we are limited in height and motor skills as to how much Hadley can help me. But I can let her watch. If there's one thing I've learned about my toddler, it's that she is interested in whatever I am doing. So, I'm giving myself a challenge. Even though it's harder to do things efficiently with her underfoot, let her watch. Let her see a thing being done thoroughly. daily. faithfully. carefully. orderly. That will mean a sacrifice of time and attention from me, but it's the sort of attention that she can't have too much of, and it will repay me later.
6. I have a dream. It's after dinner time and my family is in the kitchen with me, putting away leftovers (depending on how many mouths there are, maybe there won't be any), washing dishes, talking about stuff, and we like getting a job done together.
I hope this post will be an encouragement for you guys in your plain old ordinary days, too! Writing it out helps me so much. I'm excited about the days ahead. This post kinda goes hand in hand with this song from last Friday. :)
If you have been reading this blog long at all, you probably know that I love this lady Elisabeth Elliot. Wife of missionary Jim Elliot and a superb author. She often gives me something to think on that lasts years and years. I'm surprised how many of the things rolling around in my mind are from reading just a few of her books. Here are a few favorites... Keep A Quiet Heart, Let Me Be A Woman, Passion & Purity, The Shaping of A Christian Family, Discipline: The Glad Surrender.