He said to me: Son of man, eat what you find here: eat this scroll, then go, speak to the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. Ezekiel 3:1-2
When Zack started Middle School last year, he was required to take a foreign language. Oddly enough, his school put a computer class (ILS) in the foreign language category. I suppose it’s because it included computer coding, and that’s certainly Greek to me! Of course Zack, with his passion for computers, opted for ILS.
Since ILS is being eliminated this year, Zack will have to take Spanish or French in seventh grade. Zack’s brain isn’t wired for a traditional foreign language. Knowing this, I decided I’d teach him some introductory Spanish over the summer to give him a leg up.
I’ve always guessed that Zack has a photographic memory. When he knuckles down and focuses, he absorbs information like a sponge. Now, being his pseudo-Spanish teacher, I’m sure of it. On day one, with just a quick lesson and some flashcards, Zack was able to complete an entire Spanish worksheet with brand new information on it. It really was amazing!
However, later in the day, when I asked him one of the same Spanish questions, he looked at me like a deer in headlights. Sure, he had absorbed the information in an instant, and could immediately regurgitate it exactly. But he hadn’t ingested it. What good is that?
It reminds me of my faith journey. I was a good little Catholic girl who memorized all my prayers, the Ten Commandments, and The Beatitudes. I passed all the quizzes during CCD class with flying colors. Likewise, I’ve always been able to respond perfectly during mass without ever opening the hymnal.
But honestly, up until seven years ago, it was all just empty words to me. I was on autopilot, just regurgitating what I had memorized without ever giving any of it much thought. In fact, it was all so rote, I could say an entire rosary out loud while compiling a grocery list in my head. What good is that?
Then I discovered Kristin Armstrong’s Heart of My Heart. I was on one of those “sanity seeking session” at Barnes and Nobles (You know those Saturday afternoons when your husband pushes you out the door because you’re so burnt out he fears for your kids’ safety?). As I wandered the aisles, a little book with beautiful gerbera daisies on the cover caught my eye. I opened it up to a random page, and my faith transformation began.
Prior to reading that daily devotional for moms, the Bible never made sense to me. It seemed to have no relevance to my life; I couldn’t connect with it at all. But in less than three short paragraphs or less a day, Kristin Armstrong unlocks a line of Scripture so it makes sense to me.
After reading her book over and over again, I was inspired to read the Bible on my own. The Bible has now become a book full of personal letters from God written directly to me. It is chock full of advice, wisdom, guidance and support. No matter what is going on in my life, when I turn to Scripture, God always responds with exactly what I need to hear in that exact moment.
This experience has inspired and motivated me to incorporate my faith into almost every aspect of my life. It planted the seeds for all of my ministries. It is the defining purpose for all of my writing. Most of all, it has revolutionized my motherhood. I finally get what it means to “practice” my faith. It means weaving it throughout everything in my day so I’m truly ingesting it and using it, not just regurgitating it.
Once I realized that Zack wasn’t ingesting Spanish, I knew I had to change my approach. I couldn’t just give him a fifteen minute lesson and a worksheet each morning. I had to weave it throughout his entire day, making him constantly apply what he’s learned. Now, at random moments, I talk to him in Spanish, ask him questions, get him to respond, affirm him when he’s right, and correct him when he’s wrong.
It has been eight weeks since our first Spanish lesson. I won’t claim that Zack is fluent. But I am pretty impressed with how much he’s learned.
The new challenge will be to keep weaving Spanish throughout his day once school begins. Historically, with homework and after-school activities, all my good intentions go out the window. I know he’ll have a real Spanish teacher and a solid curriculum in school. But just like practicing my faith has helped me in more ways than I ever could have imagined, I know practicing Spanish with Zack will do the same for him.
Questions For Reflection:
* What do my kids need me to teach them?
* When I do teach them, do I weave the lessons throughout the entire day, constantly making them practice?
* Do I practice my own faith by weaving it throughout my entire day?
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