Friday, March 7, 2008

I need a Liz!

My children, my precious darling children!
What I want them to become, I must become myself.

- Elizabeth Prentiss, Stepping Heavenward

I mentioned this quote awhile back in a previous post. I first saw it on Rachel's blog, Keep the Way, and now it seems to keep popping up again and again. You know how once you learn a new word it seems you come across it everywhere? It's been like that for me with this quote. Is God trying to get my attention?

I have wondered about this woman, Elizabeth Prentiss, since I first read it. I finally spent some time reading about her and was more intrigued than ever. She is the author of the famous hymn, "More Love to Thee, O Christ", a pastor's wife, a writer and a mother. You can even read some of her letters at Project Gutenberg for free!

I have often reflected that in this day and age we live such isolated lives. In years past, not so long ago, it was common to have multiple generations living together or at least in very close proximity. Young mothers could learn from their mothers, grandmothers, aunts as well as other family members all around her. Not so for most of us nowadays.

Let me digress for just a moment here: I graduated college at 21 and started teaching first grade. That first day I had 22 bright-eyed six year olds expecting me to lead and guide them to truth and knowledge. I almost had a panic attack realizing the depth of that calling! Fast forward three years and I was looking into becoming a flight attendant. I was disillusioned and burned out. I worked so hard yet something was not quite clicking. I loved my students and worked insane hours to be the best I could be. Instead of quitting, I decided to change grade levels and give it one more try. Then Liz entered the picture, a seasoned teacher with a PhD in elementary education! That time was one of amazing growth for me and is the year I really learned how to teach. I learned how to raise the bar and help my students rise to that and manage my classroom from the heart side of things - the head side (organization, grades, planning) always came naturally.

This shift all happened just by being near Liz. She knew how to inspire her students to greatness. She could manage her class, keeping them quiet and focused, without ever raising her voice even a tiny bit - no easy task with 24 wiggly second graders! So gentle but so strong comes to mind when I think of her. She never tried to mentor me; she just did by being who she was. And I was lucky enough to teach across the hall from her and absorb it all. What a difference that one year made in my life. It inspired me and changed the trajectory of my teaching career. I only had the opportunity to teach with her for one year before we moved to Houston, but I am so thankful for our time together.

Why did I mention Liz? I have many times wished that I had a mentor like her in the parenting department. The head side of managing a house and homeschooling comes naturally to me - just like it did in the classroom: planning and preparing meals, paying bills, keeping the home organized and running smoothly, researching and planning for school...those types of things. It's sometimes the heart side where I need help.

Isn't that how God created us? He knew we would need mentors when he led Paul to instruct older women in Titus 2:3-5 telling them to "train the young women..." It seems from what I have read about Elizabeth Prentiss she (through her writings) may become that mentor. I don't know how she did with the head side of managing a home but she definitely was a remarkable wife and mother on the heart side of things.

Want to know a neat thing I realized while typing...I wonder if anyone called her "Liz" for short? :)


Carisa said...

I LOVE this post!!!! We sound a lot alike in so many ways. I too taught school (K and 1st) right out of college and then left years later. I also have boys (2 for me) and am in ministry with my family. I too can manage the head part of things is completely natural. I struggle daily, hourly is more like it, with the heart part. Thank you for writing this post and being so real and honest.

Maybe our blogs are a way of "mentoring" each other just by being who we are in a crazy disconnected world. Maybe that explains why we feel so drawn to writing and reading other moms' blogs.

God Bless,

Rachel said...

You HAVE to read Stepping Heavenward!!! I just finished it and it blessed me so much! I am the exact opposite of you, ha! The heart stuff comes really naturally to me, it is the head stuff that doesn't, lol. Katy, the girl in Stepping Heavenward, reminds me so much of me (emotional, silly, stubborn, excited, quick to over react and just as quick to feel horrible for it,etc), but even without that, Elizabeth finds a way of writing things that you either felt/thought but couldn't put into words, or could but were too scared to admit them, even to yourself!! I just finished my copy, and while you can read it online for free, I totally recommend the actual book. Let me know if you want to borrow it, maybe it will give us an excuse to meet up one day!

Thanks for the link to my blog, by the way :-)
Have a WONDERFUL weekend!!!
Love in Christ

Anonymous said...

That is a very sweet and heart felt post! I admit I'm a little bit of both heart felt and doing the "house keeping" things. But maybe not 100% on either one. I need to step up my game so to speak!;')

Anonymous said...

You are SO right! I couldn't have survived the ups and downs of homeschool and motherhood without the help of mentors . . . now I, too, have moved away from my greatest mentors, so am finding new sources of help from blogs like yours! You and all the other women in my blogroll are my new mentors, many of them without even knowing it! :)

Sheryl said...

Its funny Jennefer.

I look up to you at how well you manage the "head'side of home and school. on my blog you commented on me including things that are a bit more organic. Isn't that the way it is...we will never all be perfect in all areas but God has a way of providing inspiration and encouragement in the areas where we are weak. I am glad you found a "Liz" to be encouraging to you. Have a wonderful weekend. My dh has been at a pastors conference in CAlifornia all week and I can't wait to have him HOME!
Sheryl in GA

the good, the bad & the ugly said...

I loved this book as well. I read it when I was pregnant with Lydie and I love the quote about one more mouth to feed...but one more soul to point to Christ. Something along those lines. There is nothing better than a mentor. Seeing life lived out is so invaluable. Thanks for the food for thought!

my5wolfcubs said...

Stepping Heavenward is one of my favorite books. I plan to read it w/ my daughters when they get a little bit older. :)

Life With My 3 Boybarians said...

I need a Liz, too. This was such an insightful post. *hugs*

LisaWA said...

Oh... I love her! I also loved Stepping Heavenward and have an extra copy... if you don’t have it, please let me send it to you!


Angela said...

I love this post! Great inspiring thoughts....I need a liz too!