Monday, July 12, 2010

MY KIDS AND ME - Chapter 4

“Blending Routine and Schedule with Extras”
I am writing this chapter in the bedroom of the home of my daughter, Sarah, and her husband, Jason Knabb. They are missionaries in a very small town, about 4 and a half hours from my home. But I actually wrote the title for this chapter several months ago. Evidently, the Lord has let me wait until now to write about it. And that’s good, because I am a little out of my routine, and I am learning some things this week to teach you.

Today is Saturday, and if I were home, I would be putting my “Sunday” dinner on the table. Since I like to have a special time for my children to come together, even though they are all married, and have their own families, and since our Sunday’s are non-stop, I decided several years ago to have our big get-together family meal on Saturday.

Of course, this is only for my children who live near me, or for occasional visits by the others.

But today I’m working on my book…something I don’t normally do on my regular Saturday routine.

What do you do when you are raising children, and you are away from home…or maybe a special event at church doesn’t allow you to do your normal routine activities? This is something that was constantly a struggle with me.

I can remember, especially, our trips to the States when our children were all at home. These road trips took three long days. Children respond so well to routine and schedules, so I would try to maintain the basic ones that we had at home. For example, we would leave before breakfast. I could, and may, write a chapter on “How to Survive a cross-country road trip with Eight Children.” That would be fun, because it brings back memories of the preparation for the trip. I would pack breakfast food, and as soon as we were loaded up in our 15-passenger van, everyone would take out their Bibles. We would have our normal family devotions, exactly like we would were we around our breakfast table at home. We also did this once we arrived at my mother’s or my brother’s, or the mission apartment, exactly the same way: breakfast stayed on the stove to stay warm, and we would gather around the table; or travel down the road, and go through our Bible routine.

Then after prayer, we would put our Bibles away, and I would “serve” breakfast going down the road. Every one of my eight children who are reading this, are sighing with happy memories, I’m sure…I hope.

That would be followed by personal quiet time, depending on the age of each child. How relaxing to have your “quiet, personal time with the Lord” while traveling. Even now as I travel…not with eight children, and not road trips, but in planes, I love settling in my seat, either at my gate before boarding, or on the plane, and closing out the noise of the world, and reading my Bible, and having my prayer time.

But if I didn’t normally have a routine of reading my Bible, or if my children never had a schedule which allowed us to gather around the breakfast table at home every morning, it would have seemed strange indeed to have family devotions while going down the road. No one would have known what to do, and I couldn’t have instructed them from the front passenger seat.

The same goes with anything you routinely do…walking, exercising, drinking eight glasses of water a day, staying away from sweets…these don’t have to stop just because we’re in different surroundings, with unfamiliar people. Once a routine is established, it’s easier to carry it out than it is to omit it.

I’ve read stories of young men who went off to war, but they still had their quiet time. How did they do this? I don’t know, and I can’t even imagine. But they did, because their routine and schedule was so instilled in them during normal days, that it must have seemed strange not to have carried it out, even on the battlefield.

During the twelve years our eight children attended Bible College, they continued their family devotional time, as much as possible. At one point, five of our children attended at the same time. Now, this is going to seem like bragging here, but it’s not. I am simply trying to show you that the simpler your devotional routine is, the easier it will be for your children to continue it, once they’re away from you and your care. Our second son, Joel, and his four younger siblings would meet in the little living room where the student body would have devotions at 6:00. Joel would meet with his siblings at 5:30, and have the same type of simple routine devotions they used to have around our dining room table. It was always such a delight to their mother, when we would go up to visit with them, and we would gather before breakfast, to hear them quote the Scriptures they had learned on their own…together…routinely.

Had I concocted some weird, complicated deep theological series of lessons, they wouldn’t have known what to do. But it doesn’t take much of a spiritual giant to simply open your Bible, look at the reading schedule…there’s that boring word again…go around the table taking turns reading, go over past Scriptures learned, and repeat the new Scripture for the week, ending with a song and prayer. You can almost do that in your sleep…and Sarah did once. (Sorry, Sarah. There’s not a college student alive that won’t identify with you, Sweetheart.)

Do you think routine does away with spontaneity? Of course not. Routine paves the way for spontaneity. Have you ever walked into your kitchen to prepare a routine, ordinary breakfast of pancakes? You begin to gather the utensils and ingredients, and prepare your griddle. Suddenly, in your relaxed comfort zone, you are inspired to add blueberries, or strawberry yogurt. See what I mean? I’ll guarantee you, all the fancy recipes in your recipe book…at least in mine…start with a basic, routine, normal recipe. I have about five recipes for homemade biscuits, but guess what! They all begin with “sift dry ingredients,” or “cut in shortening until pea-size mixture forms.” From there, they may substitute buttermilk for milk, or suggest adding cheese.

I’m going to venture to make a statement here: the success of any project you will ever undertake in some way involves routine, schedule, doing the same thing over, and over, and over until it is mastered. There will be improvements made, maybe changes for the better. We stand back and analyze, and ask “why didn’t this work? This would work better.” Achievement and routine are best friends, and they walk side by side. Keep with your routine, improve if you must, but don’t get away from anything that produces happy results. And someday, I may be reading a book you wrote about your accomplishments, and the routine that got you there.