Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Reflections from the Laundry Room

The laundry room.

Do you have a place in your home where treasured memories are stored? Maybe important papers? Maybe journals of days past? One (yes, that assumes there are others) of mine was a box in the laundry room. It was way up high atop the file cabinet (yes we still own one).

Last night I began the PROCESS of dejunking the laundry room, under the influence of my very organizational-minded daughter. It started with the box.

I began digging. Tossed some papers in the trash. Read entries from my college journal, the one I kept while dating Mike. Shared some of my thoughts with our children and then made a "keep" pile. Next I pulled out a binder of notes I had scrawled on napkins, scraps, and bulletins; a book someday. I added the binder to the "keep" pile. Another binder. This one from back in the 1990s when I was a homeschool support group leader, penning a monthly encouragement column for the newsletter (remember those "newsletter" days?). I sat, reading over the columns, smiling at the names, remembering field trip moments and living history events. People I had known, people I walked the homeschooling journey with, fifteen to twenty years ago.

As I sat reading, I remembered my early years of home education when my oldest were five, seven, maybe ten years old. I purposed to provide an environment of love, grace, enrichment; a place where they could be challenged intellectually but yet love to learn, to dig deeper but also master their math facts and memorize the periodic table. I planned my days with the "goal" or "what I thought they would need" when they walked over our threshold. I loved those days. Blossoming with potential, fresh with anticipation, hope and aspiration. I loved being a mom, being with my children, watching every light bulb light. I considered how their early passions—strategy, the outdoors, people, analytics — might be used in their future.

Forward to today. The oldest are now young adults, one graduated from college, pursuing an MBA, working full time, the other embarking on upper level classes in physical therapy. Each of them unique. But here is the interesting least to me, the lesson I reflect on. The lesson which will impact the education of the ones still at home. Though I envisioned young men walking across my threshold, educated a certain way, prepared for certain things, I would have never dreamed my young strategist would be asked to teach small business skills to people in Haiti. Had I known that, I would have prepared him a different way!

But wait! Prepared him a different way? He IS prepared. That is the lesson I learned. Though we had our vision set on something totally different, God used our faithful prayers and provided EVERY opportunity my son needed today. His learning at home PREPARED him for where he is today. And, I am glad I really didn't know exactly what he would need, because in my heroic attempts to PREPARE him, I would have pigeon-holed him, given him too narrow a perspective, limited what I thought "he needed". There is no way I would have ever fathomed him teaching business skills to potential business owners in Haiti. And even if I did, how would I have taught those skills?

I look over my thoughts in those notebooks. All I thought I had to do. All I thought I knew, but really didn't understand. All the books I thought we had to read. All I purposed. All great things.

Now however, I see differently, what he took from his days in our home. The ability to communicate with others and work with individuals very different than himself. The ability to take risks, to visit places that might not be safe, for the sake of something bigger than he can understand. The ability to solve a problem, a problem he didn't even know he would have. The ability to pour his heart into something, not give up, and walk faithfully when the future is unknown.

Those boxes of treasured memories, the ones that are stored in the deep, dark corners of closets, atop tall places in the laundry room; I'm glad my daughter encouraged me to purge and organize. In the process I was able to reflect on our years and look to the future, with new anticipation. What opportunities will our children have ten years from now? I don't really know, and I am glad. That reflection causes me to use what we have and know today, to the best of our ability, with what is provided, and allow God to plant our feet to destination I cannot possibly know or understand.

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