Friday, November 9, 2012

Romans 12:1

Romans 12:1

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

I get email updates from a sweet sweet woman who is pouring out all she has to orphans who live in Rwanda.  The heart she has for these girls almost explodes from each email she writes.  She gives all the praise and glory to God.  She gave up everything here in the US that was comfortable.  She sold or gave away all of her belongings.  She sacrificed.  And God has been richly blessing her.  And she isn’t afraid to shout it from the rooftops. 

And I felt jealous.  Sam and I have had a heart for overseas missions.  We had desired to go and serve.  God closed that door and we sat dumbfounded.  Then we began to see all the areas where we could serve, here, in our own town.  In the throws of motherhood I lost that.  I lost the vision of serving here, where I am.  I desire so much to GO, but what about serving where I am now?  What about serving now, as being a mother??  Is this not a mission field? Are these absolutely adorable children who call me MOM, not the perfect ones to reach for Christ? 

This is my calling, this is my mission.  One problem,  it is messy.   You see, they live with me and I spend every moment with them twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.  They don’t just see the great servant heart I have, but they also see the nasty sinful nature that run through every vein in my body.  I can’t just be around them when I’m feeling holy and good.  I don’t get to pick and choose what side of my life they see, they see it all.  Especially with homeschooling, they see it all.

So it is easy for me to get all testy about being vulnerable.  To get selfish, so I can hide the nastiness that courses through my veins full of sin.  I don’t know when it began, when I started to enjoy this journey of motherhood less and less.  Maybe it was when I started seeing my less than desirable habits start appearing in these darling little kiddos?  Maybe when it was becoming more and more difficult to do what I wanted to do?  Maybe it was when God called me to stay home and start homeschooling? 
Our first year of homeschooling was great.  The honeymoon period, it was lovely!  Then I started feeling like I was deserved to have more ‘me’ time.  I started seeing my kids act just like me, it would’ve been ok if it were all my positive qualities but it wasn’t.  I started feeling sad.  Sad about everything.  I started feeling the panic of missing a moment with my kids, trying to document everything.  It is such a vicious cycle! 

And then God brought me to a group of women who are just so passionate about God and their calling to motherhood.  Every meeting they open up their hearts and share about their short coming and struggles and we weep together.  Then, we come along side each other and encourage each other.  It was through these women that I was reminded of my calling.  My calling of mothering my children.  Sure, I have had this thought before.  Yes, it has been the desire of my heart for years.  But it wasn’t till this group that I saw it lived out, and real! The real struggle between our own sinful, selfish, desires and the desire to pour all we have on raising our kids.  

I read this verse in Romans, and realized that this isn’t just about me pouring my life on to a mission field in some foreign country but it was about me pouring my life into what I have here, IN MY OWN HOME!  Praise GOD!  I am focusing on my body being a living sacrifice right here in my own home!  Practicing worship, every sing day, every single moment! It is about dying to myself, daily.  I may not have to get on a plane to sacrifice.  That would be easy.  But what about giving up my shower (like today!)?  What about giving up running? What about giving up my ‘me’ time?  I can’t look at these sacrifices with a sad heart, or worse.  I have to look at them as an act of worship, and God wants us to worship joyfully!  And He wants us to worship with our whole heart. 

So dear Mother, will you answer the call?  Will you choose to worship the Lord in your home?  Will you choose to see your home as the mission field God has called you to?  Will you offer your body as a living sacrifice?  It isn’t easy.  But I promise you, if we would follow God will for our lives as Momma, God will bless us! 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Not Fitting the Mold

I haven't shied away from the fact that homeschooling has been incredibly challenging for me.  I knew at the end of last year that going by the book for one of my kiddos wasn't going to work and I knew that the curriculum I was using was far to overwhelming for him.  I don't know why I didn't remember this when we bought the curriculum for this year! 

Fast forward to yesterday.  I felt so defeated.  He wasn't understanding the material.  I kept plugging away.  Trying to present the information in every way imaginable, maybe if I tried while doing a head stand?  Most days we would both end up frustrated and on the brink of tears.  I craved a conversation over a chilly fall morning with my fellow homeschooling momma and friend while our boys ran about.  I needed back up.  I needed encouragement.  I needed to be told that I wasn't a failure.  So, even though miles separate us...I sent off a quick frantic message of my failures.

Then I started listing all the positives about my kiddo.  You see, he isn't 'traditional'.  The kid would give you the clothes he is wearing, even if it was all he had, if you needed it.  A friend of ours is taking care of children in another country as a missionary and she was looking for chicken to fill her coop.  We sat down to dinner and I told them that we could name one and purchase it for the coop.  My son, went to get his wallet and took out his birthday money and bought another chicken.  Without a second thought.  Without a question.  That is his heart.  His heart is tremendous.  He is passionate.  When he is in, he is all in.  He is protective.  If you mess with his family he will let you know.

It was all these qualities that I want to enhance in our homeschooling day.  As of yesterday, I was squashing everything in him. I took a step back and looked at our day.  I looked how I wanted to school him at home (the downfall of being a trained teacher, living with a trained teacher).  I sought advise from the experts who have been at this homeschooling thing longer than I have and I was encouraged to stop pressuring him to fit the mold that I felt like he should fall in.  When I would push, he would push back.  There was no rising to the challenge, it was all just shutting down for him.  The beauty of homeschooling is helping him individually.  Not pounding with all I have to make him fit into a perfect little school student mold. 

So we are backing off and trying a different routine to our day.  I am not going to push him and make him finish everything that our extremely traditional curriculum says.  I am going to focus on loving him and challenging him without discouraging him.  He is one awesome kid, and I am going to soak up every moment I can with him before he grows into a young man and spreads his wings! :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Grip So Tight

I stop and just watch the children around our table.  School books are open and minds are absorbing and processing information.  I just have to stop and look a each one, to soak in who they are.  Today.  Today will go quickly and this day I won't get back.  I need to remind myself over and over again that these precious little ones are just on loan from God.  I want to claim them as mine, hold on so tight and never let them go.  In the process of seizing every moment with them, I find myself slipping into despair.  I want to be selfish and keep them under my wing forever.  The thought of them, the very thought, leaving our home and venturing out into the world makes me sick to my stomach.  I know that they will eventually leave and spread their own wings, I know this.  But some days I just like to pretend that the reality was just a dream.

The weight I feel raising children to love the Lord is overwhelming.  It is when I want to do it on my own and when I want to be selfish and to hold on so tight that I find myself slipping into despair.  Or depression. 

And then I am reminded that they aren't mine.  They are God's and the love he has for my children is far more than I could ever offer.  It drops me to my knees.  I keep a sticky note in the front of my bible of a quote from John MacArthur that I once heard on one of his radio programs.  It says,

"Godly mothering focuses on the adulthood from the start. Focuses on the long term objective which is mature godly sons and daughters who will bring honor and glory to God."

So when these days of housework, homeschooling lessons, refereeing fights, making 3 meals a day, etc. seem long and I crash in bed at night... and I find myself slipping into the throws of depression that I am not seizing the day enough ... I am reminded that my long term objective is mature godly children who will bring glory to God!  And the love that God has for my little babies is far more than I could even fathom.  That is where I take great comfort in these long days of many parenting failures and a few triumphs. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Just keep swimming....

I keep looking out the window...

I look for his car...

Hoping he will pull in...

I love these little ones at my feet, but, I feel crazy.

And I just want to see his car pull in.

It has been a long transition back into the school year.  With three kiddos needing lessons, a mobile baby, and the endless amounts of housework that need to be accomplished I feel tense and stressed.

I am not the poster child for homeschooling this year.  I hate it.  Down right hate it.  I may or may not have thought about calling the school and enrolling the kids.  I want to love it.  I want to enjoy having them here.  But where, HOW?, do I find balance??  How do I balance mom/teacher?  Or maid/teacher?  Or chef/teacher? And fit it all into the day? 

The days are long and I know, I hope, that in a few years I won't regret these days.  I'll just keep plugging away.  I am learning how to rely on God.  To look to Him for strength to get through the day. 

Just keep swimming....

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


I sink into bed.  Replaying the day in my mind.  We are only two weeks into our homeschooling year, and I've failed more times than I can count.  I learned much about my sinful nature in our first year of homeschooling.

I love how people assume you are swimming in a sea of patience when they hear the word "home school".

Person to my child: "Are you excited for school to start?"

My child: "Oh, we have been doing school work for a week now! We home school!!"

Person to my child: "Wow, that is nice!"
Person immediately to me: "I just don't have the patience to do that."

I smile.  And nod.  Add the nod for good measure.

Then I go through the pros and cons of filling this unsuspecting person in on my abundance of patience, or lack there of.

The time I lost it and yelled.  The time my frustration was obvious to the kiddos.  The time I made them cry. 

I'm just rolling in patience, I tell ya. 

This school year was coming up quickly, and I faced it with much trepidation.  Why?  Because I see my yucky sinful behaviors and attitudes in my children after they spend day in and day out with me.  Why??  Because I have to work on changing my heart.  Why??? Because the schooling part is easy, it is my spiritual growth (hopefully!) that comes with pain. 

I do want to give up.  Send the bunch of the kiddos off on their bus.  It is hard.  The responsibility is daunting some day.  The constant mirror back into my own heart makes me want to run and hide under the covers. 

Then, I put on my big girl boots.  Tell myself that the beautiful children are on this same road I am, so why not travel it together??  We read Psalm 127 together for our Bible time, and what a sweet reminder of what a blessing my children are.  The gift they are from the Lord!

Patience, I am lacking.  However, I am a child of the King!  And grace flows abundantly from Him! 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Extradionarily Ordinary

I sat looking at the sky last night from the official navigator's seat of the van (aka passenger seat) heading home after the day spent at my parents house.  It was stunning.  Streams of thin clouds floating effortlessly on the horizon as the setting sun sprayed beautiful pastels.  I smile. Sigh. 3/4 of my kids already sound asleep in their car seats.  Heads tilted back, mouths slightly ajar.  I wonder what they are dreaming of?  Are the dreaming of the afternoon spent barreling down hill in the wagon?  Or maybe the ice cream sundae's we made?  Perhaps of the hot dogs that we cooked on the open fire?

Before getting out of bed on Mother's Day, I praise the Lord that I was even able to celebrate it at all.  And then I decided that I would serve my children.  For the last 7 years Mother's Day has been somewhat miserable as no one could live up to the expectations of how I felt I should be treated...the red carpet, constant doting on me, no dishes, no food prep...and while we are at it, why don't I stay in bed the whole day?  And a tiara, I want a tiara.

Galatians 5:13 
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

It was miserable.  I was demanding.  So this year I decided that I was going to serve my kiddos, joyfully!  I woke up and was so excited to get out of bed to make muffins for us before we headed to church.  My dear husband came quickly out to the kitchen to see what was up, fearful that he had failed yet again on another Mother's Day.  I smiled at him and I could see the relief streak across his face.  I was good, had the kitchen under control!  My Mum and I had decided to just eat dinner at her house after church rather than going out to eat.  The day was beautiful.  We watched as my Dad and Sam worked on building a covered section of their back deck.  We watched the kids play.  We worked on flower beds.  Cooked hot dogs and marshmallows on the fire.

Colossians 3:23-24
 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

The drive back from my parents house left me bursting at the at the seams.  Joy was overflowing from my heart.  The day was delightful in every way.  I found such joy in just being with my family rather than expectations that were difficult to fill.

God is so good.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Just an Ordinary Mother's Day

I nurse the baby.  In my arms, he doesn't seem so much like a baby now.  Just a few months ago he would curl up in my crissed-crossed legs, in my lap, barely there.  Eyes closed, eating.  Now, he stares at me, his legs spilling out of my lap and my arm tires when he decides to take his sweet time. 

His eyes lock in on my mine, and I smile.  Popping off, he smiles back.  I tell him how sweet he is and that I love him.  A year ago, I had no idea he would be joining our family.  And here he is, snuggled in my lap.  He squirms with a smile that is so much says "I love you too, Momma". 

I dream of a Mother's Day break.  I dream of a special day where I am treated like a queen and all is right in the world.  My home is perfectly organized.  And clean.  And not cluttered.  And my kids are all perfectly behaved. 

Then, I drift back to reality.  I hear my boys giggling as they work together to master another level on the Wii.  I look on the sofa to see my daughter tucked under Daddy's arm while he sleeps.  And I look down at my baby, with his eyes still locked on mine.

I've been missing it.  I am treated like a queen.
                                    ...I have 3 princes and 1 princess
I have a messy house...
           ....because children live here.  Children play here.  Children dream here.

I've been missing that my life is a dream.  I get to celebrate Mother's Day this year.  I get my priorities reorganized in my head...  I don't need a special day.  I want Mother's Day to be normal.  I want messy kids because they have been playing in the mud and outside running.  Because they can run.  I want an unorganized house because I walk over toys and step on legos and vacuum up crayons.  My children all have wildly different personalities...and unfortunately their 'not desired' behavior is most like their Momma's.

So, I'm so happy to celebrate my very ordinary mother's day tomorrow.  I am blessed listening to my husband tuck the kiddos in bed...little feet running across the floor with the occasional giggling.

Thank You, Lord.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The count down is on.

The count down is on.  The fear is rising.  Doubt threatens to punch me in the gut.

"You can't do it."

"You are going to fail."

I might.  Will I?  Can I?  Fail.  These thoughts torment me as they bounce around in my head.  My own self doubt.

Then I realize that all these thoughts are false.


I serve a Lord who is so much bigger than thoughts of self doubt that hang out in my mind looking for any weak moment to jump on the band wagon to cheer me down a spiraling slide of "I can' do this".

I choose to stop.  I choose to realize the false of my self doubt.

Standing in the promises of the King.  Trusting that He will equip me with the skills I need to fulfill the plan he has laid out me (Romans 8:28).

Every time I say I can' speaks against what God can and what He will do.

It isn't about me.  This journey isn't about me.  It is about Christ.  I am just the vessel for His work.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Special Gem

Sometimes I feel a little crazy...ok a lot of the time I feel crazy.  And there are times when I'm out in public and the things that people say to someone with four kids in tow can lead one to believe they belong in the circus.  Even when I think I'm rocking the trip people will still say come up with the craziest comments!

Yes, my hands are full but I'd rather them be full than empty.

I've been working hard to count my blessings.  Yes, that doesn't sound very thankful, I know.  Sometimes the laundry piles are too much to bare.  The constant need to kick meals out of my kitchen is overwhelming.  The lessons to be taught seem daunting.  The hurricane that seems to blow through my house multiple times a day.

I am well aware that my hands are full.

I am also well aware that these days seem to fly by, even faster than the meals that I make are eaten.

I sat with a long time friend chatting this weekend about life and how God is moving.  When we met she had 2 children while I had none.  And then, now, we sat while 6 were outside playing together and one snuggled in my lap.  We marveled at how much life had changed in the last 10 years.  We rejoiced as we looked at what God has brought us through.  It was encouraging as we talked about what God is doing in our lives TODAY.  I left feeling SO encouraged and a lot less crazy.

Having a friend to rejoice and cry with and a friend to hold you accountable is so important.  Someone to really drive you deeper in your relationship with Christ.  Friendships keep the focus off of us and if they are Christ-centered, will keep our focus on God.  That is the key to wonderful friendships!  Of course, I'd love a friend to fluff me up.  Tell me I'm Queen of the mountain.  A friend to boast about how awesome I am.  Yes, that would be lovely...but is that what I need?  No, I do that quite wonderfully myself.  My sinful nature tells me to take care of ME and forget everyone else, I don't need any help in that area.  I do, however, need all the help I can get to keep my focus on the Heavenly Father.  I need someone to help me keep my eyes and concern off myself and keep looking at Jesus.  When my focus is on the Lord is when I find that I can pour my concern and love out on others, through Christ.

Yes, friends are a special gem.  A special gem requires special care.  Oh how precious they are!  They take the sting out of crazy and keep me focused on what matters on this side of Heaven!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Choosing Confidence, so long doubt!

I started reading A Confident Heart by Renee Swope this week.  I got it for free a few weeks ago for my ereader, and with Sam on break this week and homeschooling lessons on hold while Daddy is home, so I've been reading while nursing the baby.

God impressed on my heart the need to have a Women's Retreat of some sort.  It started out as being just for young mom's on a Saturday morning.  Then I thought, well why not open it up to any woman (or girl!) started the plans of planning a Women's Retreat!  We have booked a local Christian Camp for a Saturday morning and now I'm working to line everything up.  I am learning as I go.  For the last few years, God has also laid it on my heart to speak so I'm also take a leap of faith and going to speak at this retreat! Yikes!  I know! 

This was perfect timing starting to read this book.  I am having a ton of doubt in my ability to do this, but I am constantly CHOOSING to trust. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Weather = Summer Vacation

Tile Number Line
The warm weather today made school this week a bit difficult.  It has been difficult keeping the boys tied down long enough to get a lesson in, let alone a full day of school work.  I've tried to break it up throughout the day, but we've struggled.  I felt like we HAD to take advantage of the beautiful weather.  We did many lessons on the picnic table in our yard, it was lovely!

A cold ran through our house, which left one child with pneumonia (his lungs are super sensitive!) and one with an ear infection.  The baby is still fighting it off...slowly but surely.  I feel like I'm struggling to get a solid week of school in!  We are having fun and I'm doing my best to be flexible....

The boys begged me to start cursive.  I did buy the A Beka cursive books at the beginning of this year and then chickened out and mailed them back.  Fearful of how difficult it was going to be with it being our first year.  Little did I know how natural learning cursive would be!  I was terrified of teaching our T, he is not gentle in anyway and I was imagining how teaching him to make loops and careful marks would go.  Would you believe he is doing marvelously?  He is so neat and careful when he writes.  I am sold on starting with cursive young!  I am going to start Hannah next year with her preschool material!

We are looking forward to buying next years curriculum! The boys are so excited!  Right now we are on track for completing our material 5-6 weeks before Sam lets out for school so I think we will start right in with their next years material.  I am hoping that the material will arrive in time.  I am also going to hit a few used curriculum sales in hopes of finding Shurley English, other than that we are going to go with A Beka for phonics and math.  I have really liked teaching their material this year.  We are going to be using the AIG science and history curriculum.  We used their science curriculum this year and it has been awesome.  The kids learn so much from it and the activities are right on target!  I am also looking at a more definite art curriculum, more than just drawing and coloring.

I am not sure how to fit everything in that I want to get in a day!  I am thinking about creating a schedule with certain times for certain subject areas.  I wonder if we spent too much time in certain areas this year?  I think I stressed to much and went overboard on explaining/ making sure they each mastered every single standard. It made some days very tedious, I don't want to lose the joy of learning!

To sum up my thoughts on our first year of homeschooling thus far:
*I totally underestimated the time it would take.
*It is a full time job.
*I fold laundry at night when the kids are in bed, because there is no other time to do it.
*It has been a huge growing experience for me as I experience areas in my life that are lacking (um...patience?!?!) and those areas are regularly pointed out in subtle ways in my homeschooling.
*I always feel like I'm never doing/teaching them enough.
*I lovelove love having lunch with my kids every single day...and breakfast...and dinner...and snack!
*When we have doctors appointments, they don't have to miss anything.  They will still get the material!

It is awesome to see how much the boys have learned this year!  

Friday, March 9, 2012

Here, there, everywhere!

The last 2 months have been a whirlwind. I have many posts that I've written but they are tucked away.  Putting them out there would leave my heart a little to vulnerable.

I have struggled with how open to be with how difficult homeschooling has been.  I don't want the doubters to say, "I told you so." And I don't want to discouraged those who want to get started!  With my teaching background, I had anticipated homeschooling to be blissfully joyous.  It has not been.  My teaching background does very little to help in our homeschooling adventure.  Nearly everything I've learned in college is exempt when not practiced in a classroom.  Homeschooling is very different from teaching in a classroom. Multiple age levels, on top of keeping up with all the house work and having a new baby...crazy.

Would I change it for next year?  Absolutely not.  I enjoy having my children home with me.  I enjoy knowing what they are learning and being able to encourage them along the way.  I enjoy eating lunch together.  Some days I watch out the door for Sam to get home so I can have a little break, a bit of breathing room.

I struggle with balance.  Having the house picked up, making dinner, folding laundry...are all things that I work to get done after school.  With children who are learning to read, school takes a lot of time.  I struggle with how much to go with the flow and how much to strive for a cleaner house or time to run. How hard to fight for this or that? Or do I just let it go?  I love running.  I love getting outside and hearing my sneakers smack the pavement.  I love listening to praise music.  I love the sweet fellowship I have with just me and God that is so rare within the walls of my house.  But I'm seriously struggling with the time I need to do that.  I'm not in a season of life where picking up and going for a run is easy.  Do I let it go? Or fight for it? Or maybe I need to find a different way to find the solitude with the Lord that I so enjoy on my runs?  My life isn't the same as what it was a year ago.  I was a Mommy to three little one, 2 IN school, no diapers or nursing sessions to worry about.  And now, life is so different!  Homeschooling 2, nursing a baby, changing diapers, struggling just to find time to spend with each is it ok to let running go for now?  It isn't so much the exercising, just the act of running.  Soon enough the weather will be nice for bike rides and walks with the stroller.

And as Sam said, last night...I could have a terrible case of cabin fever!  Come on spring!