Okene, a Nigerian tugboat cook, was trapped under 100 feet of water in a small bathroom—a bathroom turned air bubble that saved his life. After 72* hours, just 7 hours shy of the approximate time it would take to succumb to carbon dioxide toxicity**, he was rescued by divers who were there to retrieve dead bodies. An air bubble. Divine Providence. Wow.
Sometimes in my homemaker/homeschooling mom role the air gets a bit stale. The chores, the discipline, the planning & prepping, the “I’m-just-keeping-up” . . . it wears me down to a dull nub. The excitement of projects in my head in juxtaposition with necessary basics a constant battle; wishing for hot air balloon days versus working through phonics . . . Where’s the balance? Where’s the escape hatch?
But after reading about Okene, a man whom God did not forget–a man assumed lost at sea, I realized that perhaps I am not giving God credit for the one thing sustaining my life: His Providence and an air bubble.
The Lord knows what we need before we even ask Him. Our food and water will be sure. He hides us in the cleft of a Rock to protect us from the elements. This is the oxygen in our air bubble. But we must breathe in, and deeply. On days when I feel under water with my four children and traveling husband, just getting that precious oxygen into my lungs is a challenge. I’m assuming I’m not alone in our homeschooling world . . .
A personal time with God, reading & praying, is breathing that oxygen to the fullest. And then there are little things we can do to decompress on the way to the surface; stops that prevent deadly nitrogen from building up in our blood and provide safety as we travel upward.
Recently, one of those decompression stops found me. I can’t claim credit: I was only a frustrated, tired mom with a crying baby and a 3 year old who refused to nap. In desperation, I plopped in the rocker with the baby, proceeded to nurse her and instructed my 3 and 7 year olds to sit on the couch and “bring me a book”! It was the beginning of a beautiful ritual in our house.
Reading Time brings out the best in us all. My 7 year old boy, not necessarily a reluctant reader, but not one to voluntarily read by himself, has a stack of “read already” books in his room growing by the day. Reading aloud has inspired him to explore other material on his own! The baby falls asleep hearing words she’s not been exposed to; a positive thing for a child who is making new developmental strides every day. Reading provides a physical break (rest time!) for the 3-turned-4 year old who otherwise won’t stop moving. It’s an hour or two of mental gymnastics rather than jumping on the bed when she should be napping! And I get a rest. No, it’s not all by myself, but it’s enough.
Reading to my children gives us physical closeness and rest, adventures to share, and a quietness that’s almost sacred to us now. We treasure the time set apart for reading together. I choose books that my older son read before I even had the chance to crack them, so the reading is of interest to me, as well! In four months, we have traversed the wilderness and prairie with the first three “The Little House on the Prairie” books, laughed and wondered with four of Sam Campbell’s books, and reminisced with “Grandma’s Attic”.
If for some reason our Bible story has been cut short or missed, Reading Time catches us up with Bible, too. It’s a good time for conversations about living in Bible times or discussing matters of spiritual importance. For example, my 7 year old is studying ancient history. One day his reading was about Greece: their brass weaponry and physical prowess. It just so happened that I’d been reading about the prophecies of Daniel 2. Since it was just simple enough for him to understand, I read an excerpt to him during Reading Time. How excited he was to be able to contribute his knowledge to the conversation! He clearly understood the symbolism of gold (Babylon), silver (Medo-Persia), brass/bronze (Greece) and iron (Rome) in Nebuchadnezzar’s vision! We could have accomplished this during “school time”, but Reading Time made the subject matter seem less “scholastic” and much more fun.
Reading Time is a decompression tool, and I’m thankful for it. I’m also learning to be thankful for my air bubble—and if the air is stale, that’s my own fault. God has provided me with all I need. Resting in Him is the challenge.
Does Reading Time sound like a much-needed break for your family? Or is there another activity or method for decompression in your household you could share? Homeschooling is a gift, but how do you keep the air from becoming stale? Inspire us! And blessings to you as you breathe more fully what God provides.
*The 72 hour figure comes from the referenced link. Other sources, including National Geographic, have reported that Okene was trapped underwater for 60 hours.
**Source for estimations of Okene’s air supply and carbon dioxide toxicity calculations: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/12/131204-nigerian-air-bubble-survival-shipwreck-viral-video-science/