Tuesday, September 25, 2012

who defines a "good" day anyway?

When I picked up Berlyn from preschool this afternoon I asked her if she had a good day at school today...
her response:
"Yep! I didn't show anyone my underwear!"

Out of the mouth of babes...
goodness in many forms.

Friday, September 14, 2012

counting graces (with a capital "G")

the counting of graces began before my eyes even found focus this morning.  my litttlest climbing into bed with us, reaching over, searching and finding my index finger.  holding it tight in tiny dimpled hand.  i smiled in the dark, though no one could see.  minutes later my french braided middle child walks into the room, wrapped in blanket she stops.  about to turn around before she sees the slits of her mama's eyes open and my hand motion for her to come near.  she crawls in beside me.  now i'm sandwiched in this king sized bed with three of my favorites. spooning grace before my day has even begun.

i'm learning this art of gratitude and counting graces.  it is making a difference.  it is changing me.  it is slowing down moments of time in this speed and activity addicted world. and i'm happy. at rest. today.

i've been praying to find rhythm to our homeschooling schedule. with days that sometimes feel like hamster on wheel.  getting nowhere, or so it seems.  taking one step forward, two steps back.  i've been asking for wisdom from the Wise One who without finding fault, gives generously to all who ask.  where to tweak? where to adjust? where to change?  and i feel it coming.  a beat moving steady about to pick up pace.  we're catching it.  and i know i can do this.  and with joy. afterall, this melody was written for me.  all the notes are there, if i can just give myself a chance to hear them.  and number the beat.

another counted grace:
 a daughter who homeschools in tap shoes and tiara...

and glossy painted lips.

today grace is raining.
and i'm soaking and catching it up
each quenching moment at a time.

*and a final counted grace.  one that deserves a capital "G"...
i've been praying that God would give me joy and desire for this homeschooling journey.  i won't lie...the beginning of this week was rough.  but these past couple of days there's been a heart change.  the responsibility doesn't seem so heavy.  in today's "Jesus Calling for Kids," the author writes,
"Sacrifice is a difficult word to understand.  And it is even more difficult to practice.  It means giving up what you want for yourself in order to please or help someone else.  In your relationship with Me (God), it means giving up control of your life- to let Me show you the way I want you to live.  When you sacrifice your own will to Mine, seeking to please Me, that is worship."

And it hit me.  This call to homeschooling has been a sacrifice for me.  A sacrifice of my time and my will and my plan for my life.  I've dragged my heels and fought it.  Focusing on what's been lost, rather than what's to be found.  I've struggled with finding the joy in it.  But it's coming.  It's ripening.  And I'm certain the fruit of it will be most fragrant and sweet. In due time.  What I'm treasuring about today's devotion is that it renamed this act of sacrifice.  Worship.  And how may one truly worship if there is not a heart of joy in it?  Ah...yes.  My eyes are opening.  This homeschooling gig.  My daily act of worship.  The realization that He's given me this incredible opportunity to offer Him this worship daily.  This is big.

What is He calling you to?
Is it sacrifice or is it worship?
Is it with the lens of something lost,
or with the lens of something to be found?
Is it with dragging feet,
or with joy?
Think about these things.
And join me in finding your daily call to worship.
And the graces that will sound up from
the inner voice of our hearts.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

homeschooling, obedience, and the need for bulk-sized gratitude...

first day of homeschooling went well.  we've had the summer off but easily picked up where we had left off.  the kids cooperated. everyone was pleasant.  we finished as smoothly as we started.  so why do i find myself fighting back tears as i cut fresh strawberries over the kitchen sink and prepare lunch for my three little ones who are straightening up the living room and patiently waiting for their very late meal? and why do i find a stray tear or two surrender to the fight, splash down onto my plate of radish and hummus where they clearly don't belong.  not on my plate.  not on this day.  almost a shallow sadness covers me. not deep or penetrating, but enough to push me off center. enough to feel loss. or aloneness. or something.

i want to be able to say "i LOVE homeschooling! i can't imagine it another way!"  but the truth is...i have imagined it another way.  i've imagined it several other ways.  this lifestyle was kinda forced or thrown upon us.  i've always LOVED the IDEA of homeschooling, but i'm certain without this "force" or "push" i would never have had the courage to actually do it.  correct me if i'm wrong, but i think the majority of homeschooling parents homeschool because they truly want to.  the desire burns bright and it brings real joy.  feeling convicted to do something doesn't necessarily mean that utter joy and desire will be paired with it (initially).  my recent prayer is that God gives me just this. desire and joy to keep company this conviction. to be the neighbor at the doorstep of my heart offering apple pie and a name.  where one doesn't feel so alone, but rather feels comfort and home. right where i'm supposed to be.

obedience to God's calling isn't always easy, but it certainly brings peace.  i feel this peace.  it does encircle me.  but i am craving more.  perhaps it's because we took summer off and i still really am a "newby" at this homeschooling gig.  i need to give it a chance.  get a rhythm before making judgement.   give it time to bloom as it shall.  perhaps it's because i feel my littlest has been ignored all day as i've been schooling the older two trying to carve out a new schedule.  that she's had too many snacks and too much tv and is still in her pj's.  and guilt and inadequacy are sticking their tongue out at me, trying to get a rise.  perhaps it's because i haven't had a break from kids since before we went on vacation.  as in. not alone. without kids. at all. for almost a month.  so my patience has already been pushed to the threshold and my need to feel refreshed and revived in my motherhood role is at an all time high. or perhaps i'll blame it on the hormones.  whatever the cause, it left me fragile today.

fragile in spirit because sometimes God's calling is just plain hard.  you can feel the sweat coming before you even start the work.  the tug.  the pull.  the loss.  the cost.  the dying to self.  to selfish ambition.  to my will.  to my plan for my life.  taking up my cross daily and walking in long obedience.  and right now that obedience is in response to the call of homeschooling He's put on my life.  that even beyond health concerns, there's something eternal at stake here. this enormous responsibility drags and pulls at my heart.  it's impossible for me to look at it fullscale without feeling completely overwhelmed.  sinking. i must stay in the moment of today or i am doomed.  this muscle isn't strong enough or experienced enough to look beyond today. and sometimes, all that's in today alone threatens to drag me under.  breathe.

i see all of these moms on fb shipping their kids off to their first day of school.  just as i did the past 4 years in a row.  and part of me feels trapped. smothered. buried in the responsibilities of home with no end in sight, little break, and little earthly reward.  envy. envy for a piece of freedom i no longer have.  envy for time. something i feel i have so little of to myself.  envy for a break. to run errands, visit a friend, go to the gym or just plain do what I want to do without three kids in tow.  a little relief for a few hours a day.  a clean room in the house for more than 30 minutes.

this is not a pity party.  but rather a pouring out of imperfect heart.  and so i pour in cyber space and i pour in my prayer journal and i pour to a friend who shows up at my front door.  and with the pouring i ask to be refilled.  a refilling of gratitude and joy.  i want the jumbo size you find in the bulk food aisle. a new lens.  a fresh outlook.  His eyes to outshine mine, and His will to eclipse my own.  blot it out.  make new.

today i'll focus on this attitude of gratitude.  i believe it starts here.  not with a lesson on interjections or proper nouns or the Indus Valley or the first river-road...but with a heart of thanks.  with the belief that in time the eternal rewards of this calling will cry out from the hearts of these 3 treasures i've been gifted.  that i'll remember that the things in life that are worthwhile, that mean something, are usually the things we have to invest in, fight for, and pour into.  even when it's hard and we just don't feel like it, and reward is nowhere in sight.  these things that often mean the most are the things that don't come easily. but through sweat and tears.

in sowing sparingly,  i will reap sparingly. but in sowing bountifully, i will reap bountifully.  in this careful daily sowing and pouring out of oneself onto the training up of my children, for the sake of obedience and eternal gain, i seek the bountiful harvest.  i want to sow bountifully and with bountiful thanksgiving.

and i'll spend my time searching for ways to grow and bring Him glory (even in my moments of gloom), rather than focus on all the ways of life that are lost or changed.  i'm starting now.  gratitude and glory giving will win out in my heart struggles.   and this too will be counted as joy.  i feel it. it's a coming.

and i'm already feeling not so fragile...