Wednesday, September 28, 2011

This day I will be better

Every single morning I pray that this day I will be completely patient, loving, gentle, kind, an excellent teacher to my delightful daughter. I pray every single morning that this day, I will glorify God in every interaction, and will reflect all the character that I want my dear children to see and adopt. And every single morning, by 10:00 latest, I blow it. 

So a couple of days ago, following my daily 'empower me to be better' prayer, Asherel and I settled down for our history lesson. I was determined that this day, I would not lose patience, or lose heart, or be irritated. This day, I had a plan. I would offer only reward based education. I would show no disappointment no matter what answers I received to the simple questions I posed during our history hour. Asherel is a very smart kid, and so my expectations are high. We are working our way through the forming of the US, and had just started on the writing of the constitution.

"I want you to memorize the preamble by Friday."
I took a deep cleansing breath.
"If you memorize the preamble by Friday, I will give you a bag of Skittles."
Now, I know what you are thinking. This bribery system is not only abhorrent, but will never work. I totally agree. It was a foolish thing to do, and I should have known better. I should have offered Gummy Worms.
"No thanks," she said.
"Ok," I said, with barely constrained fury, "We scrap the carrot, and go to the stick. If you don't memorize the preamble by Friday...."
"Ok, I will memorize it," she said quickly,"...but why do I need to memorize it when I can just look it up on my iPod?"
"You won't be allowed to bring your iPod into the SAT test, and besides, this is the most important document in our nation, if not the world. The whole stage of what is to come is laid out in the Preamble. If you have that knowledge at your finger tips, you will be able to understand, intelligently discuss, and defend the major tenets of the foundation of our country and why it is great!"
I think I lost her as soon as I said the iPod wouldn't be allowed in the SAT test. She was already mourning the 2 hours she would be "off the grid", disconnected.

We repeated the Preamble, and discussed its meaning, and then began reading the constitution. When I hit the bit about the electors and how our president is elected, we had to quit for the day. We had to quit because I know some states don't apportion the electors' votes the way it says they are supposed to in the constitution and I have no idea how they can do that. (Am I misreading or can someone explain that quickly before today?)

Meanwhile, we moved on to a discussion of Benjamin Franklin. "Benjamin was taught for a few years at home, " I read, "But that was enough to get him started. He continued to read every book he could get his hands on and became knowledgeable in math, science, philosophy, history...."
I paused and looked pointedly at Asherel.
"What?" she said.
"First of all, what form of education did Ben have?"
"He was home schooled."
"Correct. And notice what it says.... he read voraciously every book he could get his hands on...on his own. His parents got him started, but then his intellectual curiosity and delight took over. In the end, Benjamin Franklin became regarded as one of the most accomplished, well read, and influential figures of the 18th century."
I did not add that I would bet the mortgage his parents never had to bribe him with gummy worms.
"And your point is....?" said Asherel.

Before I go any further, I must say that Asherel is an incredible and wonderful kid. We are both struggling with an overfull schedule this year, but don't know how to cut back, as everything we are doing seems critical. We could cut out horseback, guitar, art, dog agility training, and fun...but that just doesn't seem wise either. So our days are long, and at times, she balks at the load. I am hoping things will settle as we adjust to the new school year. However, there is a low level panic ready to erupt at any moment, and hence the need for daily prayer and if that fails, bribes.

But it is refreshing to read about people like Benjamin Franklin or really any of the early leaders of our country. They were such self motivated, patriotic, Godly, and well rounded characters, by and large. Of course they had their issues that they struggled with. We all do. But the thread of common traits that weave these great people together are: strong work ethic, determined, persevering, self improvement, Godly, moral, sense of destiny and purpose above and beyond their own selfish desires.

Ben Franklin, famously quoted at age 80 during the Constitutional Convention, attempted to convince the delegates that daily prayer was critical, as it was in the days prior to the Revolution. He said:
'' ...we had daily prayers in this room. Do we imagine we no longer need assistance?
I have lived now a long time, and the longer I live the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God rules in the affairs of men."

So, once again, like Ben Franklin, I bow my head, and pray that this day, I will be better.

2 Chronicles 6: 39-40
39 then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their pleas, and uphold their cause. And forgive your people, who have sinned against you.  40 “Now, my God, may your eyes be open and your ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.


  1. Praying for you dear friend. I can totally relate...if you were a fly on my wall...last night at the Women's Ministry kickoff, there was a song "Love Like That"--incredible....maybe we should find it(I think it is new and the artist herself sang it last night)...and download it onto our ipods and our daughters...

  2. Thanks Cathi, thank goodness there are no flies on my wall to go spread vicious rumors about me....

  3. Well now you just have to let her watch the School House Rock version of the Preamble. I used to see it on Sat. morning cartoons in the 70s and to this day I can still recite the entire Preamble (as long as I sing it). She'll love it and it makes it so much easier to memorize things when set to music. Maybe you can see it on Youtube.

  4. Oh me too! I have that exact same type of prayer, and I often don't make it to 8am!


    youtube Preamble with scrolling lyrics

  6. err oops that last was actually a rickroll...

    try this one