Sunlight streamed in the windows, but a black scribble-cloud hung in our kitchen. "I want to do my Bible study," I said, as though that explained my dramatics.

Then Brady said, "I don't have to have cocoa, Mom."

"I'll fix you cocoa," I growled.

I was frustrated that I couldn't do what I wanted to do, and frustrated with myself for being frustrated, for being a prime example of how not to behave, for flicking anger all over everyone like hot cocoa off the end of a straw.

Brady looked up at me, and in a quiet voice he said, "I wouldn't have asked if I knew you were going to do it with that attitude."

Well, that big selfish balloon in me deflated. My hand dropped from my hip and my chin lowered.

Out of my son's mouth I heard God's lesson for me that day, more clearly than if I'd read it and spent an hour meditating on it. While it may be that I like my quiet time so much simply because I'm holier than most other folks (ha!), it became painfully clear that my motivation was partly rooted in pride. What I do, even the good stuff, doesn't matter nearly as much as the heart-attitude with which I do it. And while Bible study, prayer and meditation are important, we can expect object lessons to see if anything we're learning is sinking in.

So I sat down with Brady's cocoa and my cold tea and apologized. "I messed up," I said as I sponged the spots off my Bible. I asked if they would forgive me. Familiar with the Land of Messing Up, the kids grinned and nodded. For a while we just hunkered over our mugs. My mind skimmed over the day and I thought about the heart of Christ, which I wanted to bring to each task I encounter. And in between slurps and sips, I heard something like peace.

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Jennifer Morris has been homeschooling for six years. She lives with her husband and three children in rural Alaska. She can be reached at ajmorris@mtaonline.net.