I don’t want to see another chicken unless it’s deep fried and served with steamed cabbage and macaroni and cheese. So, if anyone plans to invite me to a farm anytime soon, ask me to dinner instead.
Hubby and I got our fill of petting baby chicks on our last field trip. We did all the things you’re supposed to do on a farm: we wound our way through a corn maze, bounced along a dusty tractor ride, milked a plastic cow, climbed a few hay bales, used a port-a-potty, and petted a baby chick or two. We also experienced a thrill ride they didn’t include on the brochure with the pictures of people eating funnel cake and sweet corn: losing Brown Sugar.
She was out of our sight for less than ten minutes. In other words, forever. Just what was I doing while only God—loving, generous, merciful God—watched?
Well, in keeping with my name (that “W” is for “Worst-Case Scenario”), I’d planted myself in front of the stacked bales where all the little people climbed, burrowed, emerged, and descended. I thought I focused on the entry and exit tunnels, but in the meantime I chatted with friends, laughed with Hubby, and helped other kids besides my own.
In essence, I took my eyes off the prize.
I’m so grateful God didn’t. All-seeing, all-knowing, just all God, He sent Sandy, the helpful worker who spied my sweet girl running off in one direction while my own eyes and mouth ran in another. God and Sandy knew Brown Sugar was lost before I did; before my arms could miss holding her, they were cradling—no, crushing—her within them.
Just like that, life could have been over as we knew it (remember my middle name?). Yet, the experience actually helped me see my homeschool life in the context of that day at the farm. When I looked at the near disaster through godly lenses I saw a few things more clearly.
Not everything that’s good is good for me. Yes, it was awfully sweet and generous to help other children climb the hay bales, but it wasn’t best at that moment; I had enough to do keeping up with my own God-given Joneses. And that’s true in my homeschooling. I’ve got enough on my plate with Mock Trial, the Model UN, co op, Bible class, tennis, football, calculus, college applications, beginning readers, sleep training, and on and on. But you say the next Michelangelo is offering free art classes at the church around the corner? And the Alvin Ailey dancers are in town for one night only? The invitation-only Shakespeare theater group finally has an opening and it’s asking me, “Wherefore art thou?”
Yes, the same activity that’s an opportunity for another is merely inopportune for me, a Trojan Horse, a diversion from my best course of action. My hay bale. I need to trust that God will provide what my family needs when we need it, and that’s probably not everything at once.
Listen to wise counsel. It turns out that what I needed at the farm that day was Sandy. When she first told me she’d spotted a little person who looked like us running in the opposite direction, I insisted that all my little people were safe and sound somewhere in the hay. To make Sandy feel better I posted my Hubby in my not-so-watchful spot and went to find this child that wasn’t mine. Imagine my shame, relief, shock, gratitude, and helplessness when my own lost child sprinted towards me minutes later!
I wonder what other Sandys I’ve ignored in my life—after all, I’m a 10-year homeschooling veteran with seven kids to boot, right? So, so wrong. When God says in James 1:19, “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” He was telling me, “Shh, Robin. Listen, child.” (Your Bible omitted my name.) By simply opening my heart to the wisdom of others I’ve learned ways to organize—and therefore, maximize—my day; that there’s life beyond Singapore Math; that all my kids won’t respond to the same motivation or discipline; that well visits aren’t just sneaky ways to lure healthy children back to the doctor’s office. As I tell my own children, “Don’t choose ignorance.”
Only Jesus walks on water. On paper, the field trip perfectly incorporated everything on our family coat of arms: God, Family, Education, Friends. But by day’s end I’d lowered my shield in shame. Nothing went as planned: our family rode in separate cars; we ate deli sandwiches in the parking lot instead of picnicking in the sun; we needed help making it out of the corn maze; we missed out on funnel cake; and of course, we almost lost a child. What kind of mother am I?
The kind who constantly confuses high expectations with expecting perfection. I forget that while it’s okay to set the bar high, I shouldn’t beat my family or myself over the head with it when we can’t reach it.
I’m guilty of measuring the success of my day by how many subjects we cover, how many dishes get washed, how many posts get submitted. But I sail on turbulent seas; my lovely, yet imperfect life is rife with treacherous sandbars, coral reefs, and things that go “chomp” in the night. Even when Jesus reassures me, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid…” it’s hard not to look down at the waters that threaten to overflow me. Like Peter, I’m constantly crying out “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14: 27, 30)
And He does, daily, like He saved Brown Sugar.
Though I’m not sure if there’ll be a third-annual farm visit (you’ve seen one chick, you’ve seen ’em all), I thank God I don’t have to wait until next year to return to Him.
His mercies are new every morning.