Thursday, March 31, 2011

on a Thursday...

I know it's been quiet this week in my little corner of the blogosphere... sometimes there is much to say and no time to say it and other times, quite the opposite is true.  


This week I have spent MUCHO time on this computer.  Seriously, hours!  Working on a BIG project.  Since I've been typing away like a mad woman, I've just assumed that I've been blogging.  When I looked back, I realized my last post was Monday... that's a looong time for me to be silent in cyberspace... ; )  I promise to tell you all about this project when it's done.


In the meantime, I will tell you that I am still praying about pursing publication.  I spoke with two individuals this week with two different companies.  Let's just say... publishing Bible studies for children isn't a big income business and they want big income to get started. Blessedly, I know the One who owns cattle on a thousand hills and so I just continue to pray.  I am confident that if/when it is time, He will move mountains to get these studies in print.


It's a beautiful, but chilly, spring day here in Northern Indiana and I borrowed 3 extra girls to enjoy the day.  Just a few minutes ago, the 3 older girls went running through the house dressed up as runaway orphans.  I can only imagine what the story is there...  however, it must be a good one because the 2 younger girls just came to tattle that the 3 olders won't let them play... oh, the injustices of life.


...all of this and more on a Thursday at the end of March...

Monday, March 28, 2011

the gift of friendship...

This past weekend, I have been struck with how blessed I am in the area of friendships... seriously, abundantly above and beyond what I could ever have thought or imagined! 


There was a time, not so long ago, when I felt so alone.  We began our journey of homeschooling and... who knew Kindergarten would be such a difficult year?!  Alone is the only way I know of to describe that year.  


What I didn't know then was that year was a year that God was using to work on me... to teach me that I need to rely on Him and Him alone.  He stripped off friendships and relationships to bring me back to Him.  Painful, yes... worth it, most definitely!!


My dear friend, Julie, often reminds me that the blessings come after the obedience.  Such truth!  After surrendering my will to His, He began to replace those friendships that He had to strip off.


And, He didn't just replace... He multiplied!  This weekend as I responded to the birthday wishes I had on facebook, I was humbled.  I am blessed with the people He has placed in my life and the friendships He's given me!


Today, I join Ann in counting 1000 gifts of grace for Multitude Monday and I'm giving thanks for how He's changed my life and gifted me with a multitude of friends and deep and abiding friendships...


#1661-1695...


... for one best friend that hasn't left me after 17 years of marriage
... for a marriage that is a deep friendship
... that he calls me his best friend
... and that I call him mine
... and that this thing called marriage just keeps getting better and better


... for a man who takes a day off of work just to spend it with me
... for time slowed 
... and hand in hand strolls
... for sharing honest pain
... and deep laughter


... for 2 little sisters who grew up to be incredible friends
... for the friendship of cousins
... for family kindred spirits
... for a family that laughs together
... and cries together


... for parents who parented first and became friends because of it
... for brothers in law who choose to be friends
... for any excuse to get together
... for the gift of peace and joy at family gatherings
... for healed relationships


... for friendships that have stood the test of time
... for facebook reconnecting old friends
... for conversations that occur once or twice a year and pick up right where they left off
... for traditional birthday phone calls from Nebraska to Indiana
... for a mirad of birthday greetings


... for friends who give up a girls day out so that I could go with my man
... for my friend, Anne, willing to keep my kids and homeschool them for the day
... for Anne's family and spending all day yesterday with them
... for the friendship between her man and mine
... for the opportunity to sneak away for coffee and 75% Goodwill sales on a Sunday afternoon


... for the Spirit's reminder that friendship is precious
... for the abundant blessings of friends and neighbors in this journey called Life
... for friends who speak Truth into my life
... for those willing to sharpen me as Proverbs 27:17 suggests
... for the gift of many friendships







Friday, March 25, 2011

thoughts on breathing...

Did you know that the average person takes 28,880 breaths a day? ... according to the all-knowing WikiAnswers.com. 


And, did you know that if you multiply 28,880 breaths by 365 days a year, you would find that the average person breaths 10,541,200 times a year?  Once again... answer courtesy of WikiAnswers.com (I had to turn to the internet because I truly am mathematically challenged).


Today I turned 42.  If I were to multiply 42 times 10,541,200, I could get a rough answer of 442,730,400 breaths that I have taken in my life time.  Obviously, my equation is slightly flawed because this doesn't include the times my kids have done something that takes my breath away, or when I had to breath (hee, hee, hee, hee) through a contraction during labor and delivery or leap years, but you get the idea... I have done a lot of breathing during my lifetime!


Why all this talk of breaths and breathing?  Just today, as I spent the day exploring a local little town just me and my man, I realized, anew, how frequently I get caught up in life and forget to enjoy the individual moments that make up my life.  I get so busy... life happens... things get in the way and I rely on my lungs involuntarily taking in air to get me through the day.  I rarely stop and think about breathing... I just do it.


Just as is my life... I rarely stop and think about living... I just do it.  And, when I "just do it" minutes blend into hours that morph into days and meld into weeks and then years go by... and I didn't stop to enjoy any of it.


Today... I breathed...  I walked hand in hand with the love of my life and consciously took air in my lungs.  And, as I did, something amazing happened... my senses woke up... I smelled spring in the air and saw the blue, blue sky.  I heard birds songs and my man's laughter.  I felt the cool air on my face and the joy in my heart.


Breathing... so glad I took time today to take that deep breath!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

transitioning... counting the costs

...this is the fifth post in my blogging series on transitioning from home school to public school...


"I've looked at homeschooling curriculum.  It's SO expensive!!  I get tired of 
hearing moms say that homeschool is cheaper than public school.  
It's NOT!"


With a voice slightly raised and full of accusations, a mom once said those words to me.  She was a teacher at heart and took personal offense to anyone that chose to home school their children.  I had often heard such one sided arguments from her as she desperately tried to defend her personal stance on public school.


The really funny thing is that any education choice I can find is full of it's own expenses.  Some expenses are monetary... some are time oriented... some require much creativity.  It doesn't seem to matter if it is public school, private school, home school, un-school... they all have a cost. 


It's amazing to me how quickly Christian women (myself included) are quick to argue that our way is the ONLY way to... raise children... educate... change diapers... feed our babies... go through labor and delivery... etc. etc.  We give each other very little grace and instead try to tear one idea (or person) down to build ourselves up.  Are we really so insecure in our own decisions that we feel as if we must defend them to the world or to each other?


In the few months that my 14 year old son has been in public school, I have found that we are spending more money than we would if Eric were still home.  However, much of that is because I try to spend as little on curriculum as possible... often buying used books or borrowing from others.  There are valuable high end curriculums out there, I'm just not into purchasing them new, so I learned how to educate for less at home.  In our state, public school students have to "rent" their textbooks.  The rental for one semester of 8th grade was just under $200.00... plus fees for shop class, PE class, 8th grade field trip, track team, etc.  Monetarily it all adds up... 


What I didn't realize when we started this journey, though, was how much of my time would be free with Eric schooling away from home.  While I've paid more in monetarily, I've gained more time to do other things... personal Bible study, writing, working with the girls, time with other women and some quiet time.  The downside, though, is less time with Eric.


Transitioning from home school to public school forced me to count some costs that I had not previously considered... and in doing so... realized anew there is no perfect way to educate my children because they are sinners living in a fallen world with a sinful mom.  


...all I can do is count the costs of educational choices and follow His leading in our journey.

Monday, March 21, 2011

restoring the years the Locusts destroyed...

The threshing floors will be filled with grain; 
   the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.

  “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten— 
   the great locust and the young locust, 
   the other locusts and the locust swarm— 
my great army that I sent among you. 
 You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, 
   and you will praise the name of the LORD your God, 
   who has worked wonders for you; 
never again will my people be shamed
Joel 2:24-26


...You will praise the name of the LORD your God who has worked wonders for you: never again will my people be shamed...

This winter the LORD my God has worked wonders for me... and, Saturday, with my mom and my sisters present, I got to proclaim that He is a God that redeems... restores... renews to a group of 50 women and sisters in Christ.

There is a point on a timeline that I can not find... the evidence is all there... I just can't pinpoint the exact location of the time when I took the fruit the enemy offered me and devoured it.  The fruit that tasted sweet for a moment and slowly destroyed my heart... a fruit-salad of bitterness, anger and self-sufficiency.

For months I lashed out at God... angry for events in my life... angry for the destruction of my body... angry for how He created me.  As the anger and bitterness took over my heart and mind, my soul became a parched and demolished... no vegetation or signs of growth were left... all felt destroyed.  

He loves me!  He loves me enough to pursue me when I am on the road to self-destruction.  He loves me enough to hound me until all I can do is turn around to Him.  He is my Redeemer and my Redeemer lives!

In the deep of winter, my soul found joy... my mind found peace... my heart found grace... His love flooded grace, peace and joy into the dry desert of my heart, mind and soul.  And, though, there are months that equal years of destruction, He is repaying those... restoring me... redeeming my life for His glory.

Much of the restoration came from His words in Ann's book One Thousand Gifts and counting 1000 gifts of grace... gratitude from my heart to Him.  I've reached 1000 and I can't stop counting.... because the counting is a way to thank Him for restoring the years the locusts destroyed.

On this Multitude Monday, my list continues...

#1555~#1579

... the rumble of thunder
... a gentle spring storm
... the way lightening moves across the sky and lights up my room
... the promise of Spring showers for May flowers
... warm air

... the sound of Spring peepers
... keeping windows open just a little while longer to listen to their song
... snuggling under down comforter listening to Creation sing His song
... a foggy morning damp with promise of regrowth
... a school bus that allows me a few more minutes of sleep

... a weekend packed full of cousin time
... a camper to give 3 teen boys their space
... seeing 4 girls squeezed onto one bunk bed
... the giggles that accompanied that
... cousin sleepovers

... the hotel pool that entertained 9 cousins while moms were away
... the dads willing to keep 9 cousins and allow us a day away
... squeezing a few more minutes together on Sunday morning
... a game of Settlers of Cataan before they went on their way
... a family that wants to get together

... a beautiful facility available for our Ladies Day Out
... the sound of women laughing
... seeing hands held and heads bowed
... a group of women from several different churches coming together as the Bride of Christ
... the opportunity to praise His name!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

they're awake!

speeper.jpg

According to the calendar, today is the first day of spring... according to nature, though, last Thursday was!  

It was a beautiful 70 degree spring day... warm enough for bikes, frisbees, ripstiks and children running and playing until after the sun set.  

It was also warm enough for the Spring Peepers to wake up.  Little tiny tree frogs that live in our tree line.  They all wake up together and though they are difficult to see individually... together their sound is a like a loud brass section of a marching band.  

The dark night air is no longer still around here.  Their sound fills every nook and cranny of sound waves until one can hear them even with the doors and windows closed but to crack open a window in the early spring and to fall asleep to their lullaby...

... this is Spring!  

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

spring cleaning...

Spring cleaning.  Honestly, just saying those words out loud makes me tired... makes me long for snowed in days and slow winter mornings and a big mug of hot cocoa home made without refined sugar.  


Today, my dear friend, Rachelle, came over to clean my house with me.  Amazing, isn't she!?!  Last week she said she'd help me clean to get ready for my family coming for a visit this weekend. What kind of nut would I be if I turned that down?  So, I said "Sure!"  and we set a date... Wednesday.


The funny thing is that just knowing she was coming became motivation enough to start this process on Monday... sorting... putting things away... throwing stuff out... you know the process that usually inhibits the actually cleaning process.  So, by the time Rachelle got here today... I had already done a ton but it was so amazing to have my friend clean my kid's bathroom... seriously!  I wish I would have taken a picture... I would have titled it "greater love hath no friend than this."  And, as the sun shone and warm breezes blew in, a winter stale home got a fragrance lift.


I knew my house needed a good cleaning before this weekend but I didn't realize that my heart did as well.  Saturday, along with our friend, Nikki, I will be speaking to 50 women for a Ladies Day Out.  Apparently, over time some dust bunnies in the form of pride and some cobwebs of arrogance and some streaks of self-righteousness had settled into my heart.  Maybe I knew they were there and over looked them, thinking "I'll clean that out later" or maybe I never even noticed... truly, I'm not sure.  However, the One who lives in my heart took notice of the mess and decided it was time for some spring cleaning of the heart.


The thought of spring cleaning my heart is almost as exhausting as the thought of spring cleaning my house.  I know the junk that is stored there and the piles of stuff that need to be sorted.  I know the smelly attitudes and the rotten responses that come out of this heart of mine.  Lovingly, the One who resides there willingly did all the cleaning... I just had to give Him the go-ahead.


I spent much of our corporate worship time Sunday on my knees... literally.  While those around me were lifting voices together, I could barely string two thoughts together.  All I was sure of was that I was exactly where I needed to be... on my knees before Him.  I didn't have words... I didn't have thoughts... but I did have peace.  The peace He gave me as I wrestled through many confessions.  And, when I opened my heart to Him, the warm breezes of His Holy Spirit blew in, and freshened this stale heart.


I wish I could say my heart was an easy cleaning job... it never is.  It's taken 3 days to get this heart of mine right before its Creator.  It also took me 3 days to get this house ready for my family coming.


Both were hard but I did neither alone.  And, now, I think both are ready for this weekend.

Monday, March 14, 2011

red sky in the morning...

"red sky in the morning, sailors take warning" 


...or so the little rhyme goes...


This morning's sky was brilliant!  Shades of reds, pinks, oranges, yellows painted across the horizon canvas.  Absolutely breath taking.   And, as the light of day peeked over my eastern property line, my eyes skimmed reports of the devastation in Japan and my heart took warning.


You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed.
 Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 
Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 
There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  
All these are the beginning of birth pains.
Matthew 24:6-8 (NIV)

... and yet, my Savior, Himself, said "see to it that you are not alarmed."  He has warned me that there will be an end to this earth and that there will be earthquakes, famines, wars all in preparation for His kingdom to come.  It won't be pretty... it won't be fun... but it is part of His plan for redemption.

He which testifieth these things saith, 
Surely I come quickly. Amen. 
Even so, come, Lord Jesus
Revelation 22:20 (NIV)

As I count 1000 Gifts for Multitude Monday, my heart overflows with gifts of His grace.  I pray for my loved ones in Japan and I pray for my loved ones here... I pray that we would recognize that all is grace and all is a gift from Him.


... the sound of giggles and laughter as we play together
... The Christian Lover sent to me from Tricia... with chocolate of course!
... a two hour Sunday afternoon nap


... recognizing my own depravity
... being led out of my comfort zone
... worship on my knees


... coming to the end of boiling sap
... 3/4 of a gallon of syrup finished!
... my friend, Liann, who continues to teach me all things maple syrupy


... the announcement of a new niece or nephew coming in the fall
... sunshine on my face
... knowing that those this earth give way, His kingdom is eternal!





Sunday, March 13, 2011

Life Promises Success... a Tyndale review







"If you're struggling with your place in the world, if things have become difficult and you feel like giving up, this little book will encourage you, lift you up when you're wrestling with life, push you forward, and motivate you to be a better person-- and a more vital part of whatever team you serve." ~ Jim Tressel, head football coach, Ohio State










Within the 200 pages of Jim Tressel's book, Life Promises Success, encouragement and motivation are the theme.  Though he uses a few illustrations from the college gridiron, this book is not about football.  Instead, Tressel uses his platform as a Christian head coach of one of most successful college football programs in the United States to write an easy to read book that encourages us all in the game of life.  


Coach Tressel's book, Life Promises Success, is written in a way to be easy to read... with notable quotes, applicable Bible verses and inspiring readings.  This book can be read in one sitting or used as a daily motivational tool.   Anyone seeking success in life, whether at home, work or school, will be motivated by Coach Tressel's words.


Though we are not Buckeye fans in this house, I am glad that I had the opportunity to review Jim Tressel's book.  I love the fact that each little life lesson was written with at least 3 Bible verses that coincide with Coach's motivating words.  I expected this book to be about football and Coach Jim Tressel, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book is much more about God and His Word.


Life Promises Success by Jim Tressel will be released by Tyndale Publishers in March of 2011.


**disclaimer... I received a copy of Life Promises Success through my affiliation with the Tyndale Blog Network for my honest review.  I received no other compensation.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

transitioning... another mother's view...

When  I began blogging about our transition from home school to public school, my real life friend, Lisa, encouraged me greatly.  She's done the transition and then transitioned back...  and she graciously agreed to guest post for me and share her story of transitioning from home school to public school.  My hope is that her story would encourage someone else too.  Thanks Lisa!!


So, without further ado... here's Lisa from My Story...


Six years ago my husband and I had one son in first grade, another son in preschool, and a three year old daughter still at home.  Two years prior, when it was time for our oldest son to begin school, we enrolled him in our local public school without much thought about any other schooling options.  We had both been public school attendees and although there were a few bumps and bruises along the way, we both emerged from our public school experience relatively unscathed.  Public school for our children seemed like a fine option.
The transition into kindergarten for Andrew went mostly okay.  For me, it was much harder.  I hated sending him off into someone else’s care all morning – someone I didn’t know or choose.  I was constantly dissatisfied with the lack of communication between home and school and I felt that Andrew wasn’t being challenged enough academically.  On the bright side, however, was the fact that God was teaching me to trust him more fully and I was learning what the verse, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17) really meant.
Although it was challenging at times, thankfully Andrew and I both survived that first year of school!

First grade brought a new teacher, new influences, new situations to navigate through, new adjustments, and new frustrations.  Although I continued to “pray without ceasing,” we began to see some behaviors in Andrew that concerned us, with the main issue being anger.  By Christmas my husband and I were convinced something needed to change.
At the same time we were dealing with Andrew’s issues, we were also observing our second son exploding academically.  He had taught himself to read at age four and was extremely precocious and social.  We began to feel concern over how Matthew would handle kindergarten.  Would he be bored or act out in class?  Would he be challenged?  Public school kindergarten just didn’t seem like a great option for Matthew.  And so we began to pray, seek God’s counsel and explore our options.

Years before during my time in college, while pursuing a degree in Elementary Education, I had done research on homeschooling as an alternative to traditional schooling options and it intrigued me.  I also knew people who were making that choice for their children and I wondered if homeschooling was a viable option for our family as well.

So after much prayer and in consideration of the unique issues our sons were facing, we decided that we would, in fact, educate our children at home.  At the time we felt it was what God was calling us to and so we walked forward in obedience, not fully knowing what it would be like or where God would eventually lead.

That year of homeschooling was such a blessing for so many reasons.  I loved having complete control over what my  children were learning, I loved the freedom that came from not having the school system dictate our schedule, I loved the amount of time we were able to spend together as a family and I loved being able to incorporate our faith into our learning.  By Christmas, we had settled into a routine and had, more or less, adjusted to the newness of our situation.

And yet I started to really struggle.  Having never really settled into the homeschool community in our area, I became very lonely.  On top of that, I was dealing with some health issues and was suffering from a serious case of insomnia, which would ultimately plague me for many months.  Emotionally I was starting to wonder how much longer I could go on in our current situation.  And so we prayed.  And prayed.  And prayed.  We limped our way through months of confusion … months of questions to God … months of wondering what God wanted us to do as it related to the education of our children … months of simply wanting to do what was best for our family, but not really knowing what that was.  And for months, God seemed silent.

And then finally he spoke.  But what he said wasn’t exactly what I was expecting.  He didn’t necessarily say, “you must keep homeschooling” or “you need to send your boys back to public school and then all your struggles will disappear.”  What God revealed to me during those months when I assumed he was being silent was that where our family, and more specifically, the education of our children was concerned, it was not an issue of right vs. wrong.  It wasn’t that one choice was right and one was wrong.  Initially I was very disappointed with God’s answer.  I wanted so badly for God to tell me specifically that one choice was better than the other because I was so consumed with not making the wrong decision.  But instead I believe that God wanted me to know that he could bless either situation if only I would trust him completely and surrender my all (and my children) to him.

In the end, we did decide to send our boys back to public school after just one year of homeschooling.  Although I’m sure there were times when we struggled some with that decision, what I remember most about that time is the peace God placed in my heart.  It was as if God blessed us for finally letting go of the control we thought we needed to have, remembering that he was all my children needed no matter where they were going to school.

Five years have now passed since our decision was made and our children are thriving in public school.  Although he’s continued to give us a peace about our decision, I’ve often struggled with feeling like a failure … like I’m not as good of a mother because although I gave homeschooling a try, we ultimately decided that our children needed to be in public school.  Some of that comes from a perceived notion that one choice is still better than the other.  Thankfully, though, I’m loved by an incredibly gracious and merciful God who takes pleasure in reminding me that he is at work in my life as well as the lives of my children.  And regardless of where he calls us, he wants our obedience and will equip us to do what he’s asked us to do.  With God’s help, I send my kids to school every day.  I continue to “pray without ceasing,” I trust in his plan for our family and I find great comfort in knowing that no matter what my children experience during their day at school, God is always right there with them, holding their hands, guiding them and giving them the courage and strength they need to handle whatever comes up throughout the day.  With God’s strength I surrender my children to him even when I’d rather not let them out of my care.

Yes, there are times when they are faced with situations that we would probably not choose for them, but we know that in those times and when we can’t be with them physically, they are always in the presence of their God and Savior.

Occasionally I find myself wondering why God took us on this particular journey – from public school to homeschooling and back to public school.  Although our journey is somewhat non-traditional, I believe that ultimately it was to teach us that God always has a plan, that he is incredibly merciful, that he is with us no matter where life takes us, that his plan may take us to places we’d never expec t, that we are called to obey and that he can be trusted.

Learning just one of those precious truths about God would make the journey worthwhile, but having the opportunity to learn so much more was just one of the many ways God blessed our family.  The journey, for our family, was less about how we chose to educate our children and more about being obedient to the calling of Christ on our lives.  Praise God that he is faithful no matter where he calls us!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

once upon a time...

Once upon a time, there lived, in the decade of the 1970s, a little girl with big brown eyes and long brown braids.  In the midst of shouts of "Make love not war!"  this little girl lived an idyllic life with her 2 parents, 2 sisters and 1 brother.  This little girl's favorite time of day was the quiet dark of her bed.  When the lights went down and silence filled the air, she would lie awake writing stories in her head... stories of good vs. bad, true love always and happily ever after.  She never wrote these stories down because she knew that a pen in her hand could not keep up with the words in her head.  Instead, she simply would start a new story when an old one had been forgotten.


Once upon a time, that little girl of the 70s grew up to be a teen in the 1980s.  Punk rock, big hair and preppy clothes filled this girl's high school.  Though there were bumps and bruises along the way, the brown-eyed girl weathered her teen years well... those 2 parents of hers prayed her through.  And, in those high school years, she learned to speak well.  Speech class became a favorite... and so did typing class... she finally had a way for her hands to keep up with the words in her head... and so she learned to type those stories and speeches in her head.  Except at night, when she would still lie awake and allow words to fill her mind and become stories in her head.


Once upon a time, that brown-eyed girl grew up and graduated from high school in the 1980s and from college at the beginning of the 1990s.  Life beckoned.  So much to do, so little time.  After time, she found a job that fit her and a little house to rent and life seemed good.  All the while, though, she would still write speeches and stories in her head in the quiet and dark of the night... still of good vs. bad, true love always and happily ever after.  And, eventually true love found her and she vowed 'til death do us part (which she mistakenly thought meant happily ever after).


Once upon a time, that happily newly-wedded brown-eyed bride became a mom and thought "some day I'll really pursue my dreams of speaking and writing but right now, I'm living the dream of coloring books and LEGOs."  Though the days sometimes seemed like years and the years seemed like a day, the brown-eyed mom loved her life as wife, mom, homeschool teacher and household engineer... though at night she often fell asleep before any words could form a story in her mind.


Once upon a time, the years flew by for the brown-eyed mom and the years revealed what the days could not see... real-life stories and speeches had filled this mother's life.  She had been living what she had often dreamed about in the quiet dark of the night... good vs. bad, true love always and happily ever after.  And, facing her 41st birthday, the brown-eyed mother said, "I think it's time to pursue those dreams of long ago."


Once upon a time, not so long ago, this same brown-eyed woman heard of She Speaks conference for Christian women seeking to improve their gifts of writing and speaking.  And, so, she began to pray about attending... and then the time for the conference came and went.  So, she prayed some more... and, one morning this week, she read Lysa's blog about a Cecil Murphy scholarship opportunity for the She Speaks 2011 conference.  


...and, she lay awake in the quiet and still night, writing her blog post entry in her head.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

transitioning... lessons for this mother's heart...

click here for the first part of this series..
and here for the second part of this series on transitioning from homeschool to public school


*********


Deep in the heart of December, our family ventured on a new path... after 8 1/2 years of school at home, we registered our son for public school.  So many much wiser than I told me that the transition would be much more difficult for me than for him.  While I nodded my head and said such things as "I'm sure it will be."... I truly had no idea!  


While he's been learning his lessons in the brick and mortar school just 2 miles away, here are some lessons this mother's heart has been learning here at home...


1) grace.  This is one lesson I have to learn over and over and over again.  Grace says "yes, you are right"  when someone whose children are less than stellar says "you know, you can't hold on to them forever.  It's time to let go!"  


Grace says "Thank you for your call and for your apology" when the principal admits they tested your son on a test you specifically asked them not to do.


Grace says "Yes, he's here to run track and play football. And, I still feel like home school was the best option for Kindergarten through half of 8th grade" when someone says "so, you've finally given up and are realizing that public school isn't so bad, huh?"


2) prayer.  It's been my desire to pray regularly for my children for a long time.  I don't always succeed at praying daily... so God gave me an incentive to pray.  I have never prayed so much and so hard for that boy of His.  The joy comes in the morning prayer with him before he walks out to the bus or before he gets out of the truck at the front entrance to the school.  


3) positive peer pressure.  Years ago, a very wise godly woman revealed a secret to me.  At that time I was preparing to homeschool Eric and Emily and she was finishing her homeschool time with her kids.  She told me she had just discovered the value of positive peer pressure.  Her son had reached a point in his home education where he no longer was willing to work hard in his education.  He no longer strived for excellence... he needed someone or something to strive with and against.  When he transitioned from home school to Christian school, he had other students to compete with and he resumed working hard in his education.  All these years later, I saw this with my 13 year old son and am seeing the wisdom of positive peer pressure as he is striving at school to work hard and succeed in the classroom.


4) quiet.  I am still amazed at how quiet my home is with just that one gone.  The girls are still here and we are still doing school each day... nothing has changed and yet everything has... school is usually finished by lunch time in a much quieter and more peaceful environment.  I no longer am hearing "Errriiicccc!"  And, I have to say, this is a blessed bonus I didn't expect. ; )


5) joy.  I had no idea that brick and mortar school would bring my son such joy.  He absolutely loves it!  He loves the variety... he loves the social aspect... he loves the challenge.  I really don't think there is anything he doesn't like about going to school.  And, this mother's heart finds joy in her son's joy.


6) trust.  This is another lesson this mother's heart has to learn over and over and over again.  I used to think I would be entrusting the school with my child.  However, He has been faithfully showing me that He's the One, and the only One, to whom I have to entrust my kids.  And, He loves them more than I.


7) responsibility.  This lesson isn't just for Eric... it's for me too.  I'm learning that my responsibility as a mother is to let him make some mistakes... let him forget some things... and let him learn from them.  I can be here to help him but I can't do it for him.  When I am irresponsible and do not require his responsibility, I am not helping him... instead, I am hindering him from developing a sense of responsibility for himself and in essence, handicapping him for life.


8) pride.  This mother's heart struggles with pride.  While I am very proud of my kids and who they are... I am often more proud of myself and what I've done to make them that way.  The honest truth is that they are who they are by the grace and mercy of God.. not anything I have done.  In fact, because I am a sinner, I've probably done more harm than good in their lives.  I am proud of how well Eric has transitioned to public school and have realized he's done that because of the incredible young man that God has made him, not because of me.


9) love.  The first few weeks of Eric being gone I thought I would go nuts.  I'm so used to having my kids around... and I like being with them.  They are often funny... witty... thought provoking.  In fact, the very first day of school I found myself incredibly restlesss... missing my boy that much.  It has been said that absence makes the heart grow fonder and I am seeing the truth in that statement.  I know I feel that way and I think Eric does too.  When he comes home from being gone for 8 hours, he's genuinely happy to see us.  I think my love for him has deepened because of the time I am away from him. 


10) letting go.  Yep.. this is a hard one.  This is the one most people have commented on and apparently, most people think that I should have let go a long time ago.  Honestly, though, I'm not sure a mother's heart ever truly lets go.  My own mom revealed to me that parenting never gets easy... it just gets different.  I so think this is true.  Parenting now is much harder than it was when Eric was 2... much harder but more rewarding.  I don't ever want to truly let go of my kids.  I want to raise them to move on and start their own lives... but I want them to always know they have a family where they belong and a mom with a mother's heart that loves them.

Monday, March 07, 2011

taste and see...

Savoring the moment... relishing the quiet... tasting the peace and joy in the journey on this Multitude Monday morning. 

I'm learning that quiet is fulfilling and slow tastes good... and that rest is more than sleep and much more delicious.

There was a time, in the not so distant past, when I thought rest was for the lazy and quiet was for the weak.  I was so caught up in my own noise, my heart could not hear my Father's voice and my soul could not feel the Spirit's whisper.  

In that time, not so long ago, I only tasted food... only found pleasure in what my taste buds encountered.  I didn't know that other things had a flavor and that things of the heart are much more delectable than things of the mouth.

taste and see that the LORD is good
blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him
Psalm 34:8

My list of 1000 Gifts grows exponentially...

#1348 - #1367

... learning to savor a moment
... tulips still in bloom 9 days later
... giving homemade maple syrup to a friend
... warm days and cold nights

... learning to quiet my soul
... friends' encouraging words
... seeing a friend Friday night for the first time in 12 years
... robins on my lawn

... learning that rest more than sleep 
... a delectable Monday start to the week
... a soul that finds quietness and trust
... knowing I can find none of that without Him

... sap, sap and more maple sap
... looking forward to pancakes with my nephew who loves maple syrup
... knowing my family is coming in less than 2 weeks
... a God who creates cousin time

... the thrill of serving a God who is never still
... anticipating His good work in me
... knowing He will never leave nor forsake
... finding Him to be my all in all


Sunday, March 06, 2011

celebrating a life...

**I must say... today was one of those days I really wish I had a camera... remember the phone incident?  I have a phone again... I can call... I can text... I just don't have a good camera anymore.  Anyway....

We have been incredibly blessed with a couple in our lives who are amazing.  They have welcomed us into their home... they have sat with our kids and sent us on dates... they have built into the lives of all five of us.  We've double-dated with them... worshipped with them... and gone camping with them.   They have encouraged us... prayed for us... and have never forgotten our birthdays.


Today we celebrated his birthday... celebrated 90 years of his life.  Yes, our dear friend, Don, turned 90 years old today.  This is where I wish I had pictures of his birthday party this afternoon... I promise you that you would never guess that he was born March 6, 1921.  He still plays dodgeball with my kids!!


Don flew P-41s and P-50s at the end of WW2.  He found himself in Iwo Jima on his 21st birthday.  It was in Iwo Jima that his mother's prayers were answered and he found Jesus Christ.  He's never looked back.  Instead, he's become a life-long student of God's Word.  He knows the Word better than anyone I've ever had the opportunity to meet.


I've been privileged to know Don, and his wife, Terry, for only 5 years but in those five years, I have been blessed beyond measure... blessed because this incredible man of God prays for me... for my man... for our kids.  He prays often for us and he encourages me much in my ministry with the children at church.  


Today we celebrated the life of Don... and I was reminded anew of how blessed we are to know and love him.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

mercy personified...

Mercy, personified, walked in to my house tonight.  She came in beaming... a smile stretched from ear to ear... joy radiating from deep within her.  She sat at our table and partook of our Sabbath celebration tonight.  And, tonight, gratitude was the main course and we had much, MUCH, for which to give thanks.


From her lips poured forth praise... He's been so good to me... He's been so merciful!  


Seven months ago, my friend of 16 years and dear mentor, Cindy, began a life-changing journey... the journey of breast cancer.  Yesterday, she had her last radiation treatment and tonight we celebrated with her and her husband and 16 year old son.  


Tonight my heart overflows with gratitude... so very thankful for my friend and for the end of her journey but most grateful for her testimony to the goodness of God in the land of the living.


Cindy is a walking testimony to God's mercy... she is mercy personified and I am blessed to call her friend.

Friday, March 04, 2011

in repentance and rest...

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
   “In repentance and rest is your salvation, 
   in quietness and trust is your strength, 
   but you would have none of it.
Isaiah 30:15

I'm learning...ever so slowly... that this is the way to live.  This is what leads to peace and joy in the journey.  This is God's best for my life.

This... "in repentance and rest is your salvation"... repentance... rest.  And... "in quietness and trust is your strength"... quietness... trust.

In myself, and of my own accord, I don't do repentance, rest, quietness and trust.  Honestly, I know no one who would use those terms to describe me (especially the quietness part....).  

And, yet, my God says this is my salvation... this is my strength.  I'm learning this His way is right... good... true.  

He's given me a taste of this and it tastes sweet... yummy... fulfilling... and I'm finding myself craving it... craving more repentance and rest.... more quietness and trust... craving more of Him.

He's given me many gray snowy days this winter to be "stuck at home" to find quietness and rest... to take time to repent and trust.  These days have renewed my mind... filled my heart... restored my soul.

Oh... that I would remember this time and not go out renewed and come back empty.  I don't want, any longer, to be she who God spoke of "but you would have none of it."

Claiming a rainy, stormy March morning to be inside... repentance and rest... quietness and trust.