Afoot and Underfoot

Call me crazy (maybe).  I’m starting our homeschool year this week.

I’m aware it is still technically summer, but if you can have Christmas in July, could there be a rule that says you can’t start school then?  (That’s rhetorical.  No.  There’s no rule.  Welcome to homeschooling.)

The baby is coming in several weeks.  The house is for sale, which means we could possibly have to pack and move in the months ahead.  The mother is realizing the impossible amount of one-on-one time that each child will require during the school session alone.  Nursing newborn.  Handicapped, curious toddler.  Energetic young kindergartener.  Kinesthetic, hands-on first grader.  Loquacious, social second grader.  I need to get a leg up on this year so it doesn’t overtake us before we even get to October.

There is a lot on my plate.  Mostly, I put it there consciously, heaping spoonful at a time.  I have heard of birth control, thanks for asking.  I’m aware of the public school system and daycare.  There are people who can help clean house and pack it up.  I’d like to think, however, that it is both my right and privilege to care for house and home and the children whom God has given me as a blessing.

But sometimes, I forget.

Just getting your attention, Mom
Just getting your attention, Mom

I was only mildly panicking as I collated lesson plan pages this week.  It seemed reassuring to see simple teaching assignments mapped out in black and white.  The stark lesson blocks boldly reassured, “You got this. “

But I’ve done this homeschool thing before.  I know.  The black and white code doesn’t leave an empty box for diaper changing or potty training.  It doesn’t factor in laundry mountains or post-childbirth hormonal valleys.  It really doesn’t factor in having a baby.  I don’t see the spaces that allow for co-op days, appointment days, field trip days, atypically cranky days, shopping days, catch up days, PMS days, visiting company days, I-can’t-find-the-floor-under-this-mess days, baking days, Daddy’s Day Off days, birthdays, or furnace-broke/car died/dishwasher exploded days.  I don’t know quite how, but we’ll find the space for daily life in between the three “R’s”, magnet experiments, Queen Elizabeth and the geography of China.  It’ll work out.  Somehow.

Then the phone rang.  I grabbed it from the two year old who was innocently trying to record a video of himself licking the touch screen, and answered breathlessly.  A realtor asked if I could show the house to prospective buyers the next morning.  “Sure, no problem.”  I answered, glancing through the kitchen where apple juice had just spilled across the counter.  It was dripping into the silverware drawer.  A wheelchair rammed into my ankles.  The two year old wanted my phone back.  A couple other kids squabbled over Transformer toys under the table I had strewn with papers.  I felt my pulse quicken a bit more.

“Mom, I’m bored.”  The seven year old was at my elbow.  “Can I help?”

“No.” I answered quickly.

“Then can we watch a movie?”  He wasn’t put off.

“No.” I didn’t want them stuck in front of the screen when they could find something else to do.  They had so many toys…

But the question sparked a reminder.  “Oh, but those movies from the library are due today!”

The sound of rain pummeling the windows grew stronger.  Maybe the library trip should wait a little longer…  The phone rang again.  The voice on the other end was growing more familiar.  “Could we also schedule a showing at lunchtime?” I affirmed them, trying to sound cheerful.  Behind me, the four year old drove a Transformer truck over my piles of papers, quickly re-collating the painstaking work into a disheveled heap.

An unintelligible groan escaped my pursed lips.  “Ok.  Get out of the dining room.  A movie would be ok.  Just go!”

He obeyed with impressive compliance.  A few moments later, the sound of the Curious George theme jingled amiably from the computer.  Boys jockeyed for couch positions for a moment before settling.  The seven year old lifted the two year old into the center seat, and their voices quieted.  I sighed.  Why did they always have to be within hearing distance of Mommy’s heartbeat?  A little space and independence would be healthy.  I felt so short on time.

Were there extra minutes out there in the universe that I could somehow transport into my little world?  Was there a vitamin I could take to help grow an extra set of arms?  Could I get a prescription for bifocals for the eyes in the back of my head?

Where did the hours go???

“When Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.”  – John 13:1

Talk about a deadline.  Literally.

He had created time.  But Jesus, “knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands” (John 13:3), chose to submit to time.

He could have rewound time.  Back to careless childhood… Back to Eden… Back to before there was time, and a sinful world needing saving…  But He didn’t.

He could have fastforwarded time.  He’d done it before, prolonging hours for Joshua and Hezekiah in years long past.  He could have skipped past the excruciating injustice and hours of pain.  But He didn’t.

He could simply have stopped time.  All things were in His hands; the balance of life, light, time and space.  He could just freeze it, forever and for never.  But He didn’t.

Jesus came to His final hours.  And He chose to use them to hang out.  He sat down to a hearty, leisurely meal.  He savored bites of warm roasted meat.  He took turns waiting for the grapes.  He inhaled the aroma of fresh bread, tearing off and sharing generous hunks purposefully.  He relaxed and drank wine.  He laughed along with the others as a couple brothers squabbled over a good place to sit.  He gently reprimanded Peter for overconfidence.  He stretched His feet behind Him and felt the mud on His heels crack.

So Jesus stood among His reclining friends and pulled off His good robe.  Grabbing a scratchy towel, he bent behind one of the men.  Balancing a bowl of water on His knees, Jesus picked up the rough man’s callused foot and washed off dried mud and tiredness.  Other fellas shifted uncomfortably, but there was no awkwardness from Jesus as He knelt near each of His friends, chatting about their journeys of the day.  He looked each man in the eyes and smiled as the men relaxed.  Finally He stood.  He laid aside the grimy towel and pulled His dry clothes back on.    “I have given you an example, Jesus looked at His friends as He sat down.  “You should do as I have done to you.”  (John 13:15).

His own feet were still dirty.

In His final hours, with everything in His hands, Jesus chose to fill His final minutes with dirty water and feet.  Soon, He would give His friends the ultimate gift of His own death.  But first, He gave them of His life.  He gave them His time.  Jesus gave them Himself.

I peeked into the boys’ room before I went to my own for the night.  I’d spent several hours thinking and writing this post after they went to bed, then more in the morning before they woke.  As I went to save the final draft, it erased instead.  Ack.  How timely to lose a blog post about time; funny, huh?  (That’s rhetorical too.  Don’t answer that.)

I spent the day with my kids.  Then I fed them, bathed them, cuddled with them on the sofa and read a book, and tucked them into their blankets.  Now I stood between bunk beds and cribs, repentant in the stillness.  I don’t know how this homeschool year will go, but then I’m not in charge of time.  Everything has not been given into my hands.  It’s all still in Jesus’.

I can’t give them more than I have.  But I can give them what they really want.  They want to spend time – with me.

How humbling.  How consuming.  How necessary.

You think that’s a good present for a Christmas in July celebration?  (Go ahead.  You can answer that question.  It’s ok now.)

Let me know what you think!