Friday, February 3, 2012

Lessons I Learned From Science Fair

We entered Cody's 7th grade year with his big Science Fair project looming before us. Everybody talks about it. Most people complain about it. They work on it for almost 4 months. It. is. a. big. deal!

Our philosophy of parenting is: "Come alongside them, support them, but the work is theirs to do. We have already been to school. We don't need to go again." We approached this project through that lens. In my experience, they feel a way bigger sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when the project is over because they were the ones that did the work and earned the grade. They also learn the natural consequences of not getting their work done on time. It is just a great life lesson for them.

I entered this time with Cody expecting him to learn some big lessons. I had no idea the lessons God would teach me in the process.

Let me explain as I share his project with you.

He decided to test the affect of earthquakes on different types of buildings He designed and built 4 different buildings, created a "shaker board" to simulate an earthquake, and compared the effects on each structure.
We did the experiment in our garage.
He did the earthquake while I timed it.
First building: A Log Cabin
Second Building: A Skyscraper
Cody's design: A dome building
Fourth Structure: A Siding House
Cody recording his results.
Next, it was time for me to learn a lesson. My friend, Laura,(there are a lot of Laura's in Colorado Springs) shared a statement with me that has been ringing in my ears and bouncing around in my heart for months. That statement was, "My children are the priority, not the distraction." Ouch! It hurts when I think about how many times I have been irritated by my plans for the day being disrupted by my children. I have something planned and one them is sick so I have to cancel. I am in the middle of a project and one of them needs my attention, so I have to drop what I am doing. They need something for a school project, and I have to rearrange my schedule to fit in a trip to the store. I could go on and on. I have found myself at various stages being irritated by these interruptions. I have lost sight of my calling.

I have wanted to be a mom since I was a kid. I have dreamed of staying home with my kids. How could I get to the point where I live like this calling and dream are a distraction from the activities with which I fill my days? I have been pondering this for months and adjusting my days, my work, and my mindset to fit the true calling that God has given me. I have 6 children! A lot of energy and time is needed to invest in them well.

Last week, I was looking forward to Saturday all week long. I needed a day of rest. I wanted to relax. I had these great dreams of reading and journaling. I don't really know what I was thinking because that is rarely part of my reality. All 6 kids would be home. I don't know where I thought I was going to relax all day. Anyway, that day did not turn out to be relaxing. Instead, I spent the whole day doing this:
I worked with Cody to help him mat his titles and documents(graphs, procedures, results, etc.) for his trifold. My handy dandy scrapbooking experience was put to good use. He was actually impressed with my skills. We worked together most of the day getting it all ready to go.
I was a bit frustrated and pretty exhausted at the end of the day. Then I read this in Day #33 of "The Purpose Driven Life," Entitled "How Real Servants Act."
Are you available to God anytime? Can he mess up your plans without you becoming resentful? As a servant, you don't get to pick and choose when or where you will serve. Being a servant means giving up the right to control your schedule and allowing God to interrupt it whenever he needs to.
If you will remind yourself at the start of every day that you are God's servant, interruptions won't frustrate you as much, because your agenda will be whatever God wants to bring into your life. Servants see interruptions as divine appointments for ministry and are happy for the opportunity to practice serving.

How sad would it be for me to spend my life serving others and lose my own children in the process? Yes, there needs to be balance. Yes, there is a place for serving outside the home. God has not taken away the burden and calling to Swaziland that God has placed on my life. God has called me to serve others in many ways, but I have been unbalanced in my approach. My children are the priority, not the distraction. That lesson hit home with me in a big way on that day. Cody won't forget us working together on this project. He wouldn't forget if he had to do it alone either. I had to choose to put aside my agenda for the day to serve him. I am so glad I did.
After we got it all prepared, he and his dad,
figured out the layout and attached it to the trifold
The Finished Product
He did a great job! The work was done by him. We were able to come alongside him and support him in the process. I was reminded once again of my role in my kids' lives. He learned a lot as well. There was much stress involved for him over the last few months, but he did it. He presented his project to his teacher, and it went great! On Wed. night, he and I grabbed some frozen yogurt in celebration of a project well done.

Today was supposed to be the Science Fair at his school. School was cancelled due to snow and the fair will not be rescheduled. I am a bit sad for him, because I think he would have really benefited from the experience of presenting to the judges and getting their feedback. Who knows, he might have even won an award. Regardless, the Science Fair taught us both some lessons that we will never forget.


  1. this is awesome. "my children are a distraction" that is such a hard thing. i feel like i have to overcome that one every day.

  2. good words, thank you! wish i could say more...but my brain is mush. i needed to hear this, though!