How sweet are your words to my taste!
Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
My red leather-bound Bible could tell a thousand tales — not only stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the prophets, or the days our Savior walked the earth. My Bible is underlined, highlighted, with notes in the margins. My favorite page is the one half eaten. Literally. Before My first born son could roll over he reached for my Bible, as I read on the floor beside him. He tore part of the Psalms out and put the thin leaf paper into his slobbery little mouth. I retrieved the torn piece, flattened it and dried it out, and now have it taped to the inside of my jewelry box. Nothing I own is more beautiful to me (not diamonds, gold, or pearls) than the tangible reminder of my greatest hope — that one day all of my children grow up to believe, ingest, and speak to others the very Word of God.
Nine years ago, when my little Caleb was lapping up pages from my Bible, I knew very little about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Even with all the underlining, highlighting, and writing I had done in the margins. I knew about Jesus dying for my sins so that I might be forgiven. And I belived. But I didn't know what the gospel of Jesus, lived out in a daily way, interacting with others, was all about. I thought that living the gospel was telling people about Jesus. But I am slowly starting to see that the Gospel, lived out in our lives, is simply walking out the ministry of Jesus. Extending grace and love and forgiveness, ever pointing to Him as we do.
Yesterday my Bible consuming boy spent the day playing his electric guitar at our church's performing arts camp. Actually, he was supposed to be playing his guitar when in fact he was getting into trouble. Lots of trouble. I won't divulge the specifics, (9 1/2 is too old for cyber sharing) but I will say he came home remorseful and repentant, and wrote a dear apology to the child he had offended. In the end my child went to sleep last night content in the knowledge that he was forgiven.
His peaceful sleep reminded me of a verse I had memorized while he was in my womb:
There is therefore now no condemnation
to them which are in Christ Jesus,
who walk not after the flesh,
but after the Spirit.
Before he left for camp this morning I looked my boy straight in the eye and said, "You can stand tall when you walk into the church today — you are a forgiven boy, you don't need to be embarrassed or ashamed." He nodded, smiled, and walked out the door with his head high.
* With all the scriptures I wanted to throw at him last night, all the correcting,
berating, instructing him in godliness I had wanted to do... what he needed most of all was this picture of The Gospel. Forgiveness. So thankful that my husband is a calm and loving Dad. That through his hugs and encouragement last night both Caleb and I learned more about the Gospel of Jesus Christ lived out in the lives of our children. Ironically, today as I was going through some of the boys crafts I came upon a card Caleb made for Matt this Father's Day. Inside the card our son wrote the words "Thank you for remaining calm with me when I've disobeyed."
Today was not unlike any other day, complete with the high pitched whine of roll after roll of SCOTCH TAPE! My middle-est son, Brody, outdid himself today. "Mama, check out my wicked Wolverine costume."
As I took this photo this afternoon I remembered another post all about Scotch Tape... and one of our more challenging days.
On the last day of the boys' Summer Vacation they pulled out their hefty box of craft supplies and "invented." Caleb made a bow and arrow and Asher came up with a flower with eyes. I had nothing to do with their creative brilliance. I also had nothing to do with this...
How in the world did my five year old manage this remarkably authentic VIking costume, complete with piercings?
The answer to all things Brody can usually be summed up with that single word. Once I stopped hiding the tape, esteeming its market-value above it's Brody-value, things really got creative in our home. Some days I'll wake up to find a naked bird-boy beside my bed... truly outfitted in nothing but colorful feathers (again from the craft box) and scotch tape. Other days he turns our hallway into an art gallery with an entire coloring book's worth of art taped to the wall. And let me not forget the day he spent crying because his tape did not hold the power to turn him into a real robot... a costumed 'bot, maybe, but not a real one.
Today my creative oddball ventured forth from our tape-haven, out into the world of Kindergarten. I wasn't too concerned. My greatest memories of Kindergarten include peeling dried white glue from my little hands, and sculpting and painting the keepsake Easter baskets and Christmas snowmen my mom still puts on display each holiday. This creative child loved Kindergarten... why wouldn't he?
"So... how did it go?" you ask? Well, let's just say that when I went to the opening day ceremonies at his school, where the entire class body welcomes the incoming Kindergarteners, Brody stood up before all his peers and mine, scowled right at me in the second row, and mouthed the words "take me home, NOW!" When I smiled lovingly and shook my head no he signed the words, "I don't love you..."
I have three strong boys. #1 must always have his way,#2's way never seems to make sense, and #3 will soon be big enough to muscle the other two down to the floor until they surrender their strong wills and cry "mercy!"
As I tucked #1 into bed this evening we reviewed his first week's Memory verse:
"Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
I used to interpret the words, "Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" to mean that God's will for us is that we give thanks in all our circumstances. But recently I've come to believe that God's will for us is the circumstance that we are in, and therefore we are to give thanks for each one, no matter how challenging they may be.
God crafted my boys together in my womb and gave them to me (in quick succession) as "gifts," as "rewards," as Proverbial "arrows" in my quiver, for His good pleasure and my ultimate good. The circumstances I find myself in each day with these Blessed Hooligans are God's will for me in Christ Jesus! He uses them to make me more like Himself; patient, kind, long-suffering, merciful, and good.
And so I give Him thanks this evening.
"If I treat someone with indifference,
I am declaring to that individual, 'I don’t love you.'"
One of my 9 nine year old's vocabulary words recently was INDIFFERENT. We defined it thus: To not have an opinion one way or the other. Caleb's sample sentence was "I don't care what we have for dinner, I'm indifferent. You can choose."
This week I have felt indifferent toward my children. I'm tired, I've had some back pain from a recent car accident, it's our final push to the end of our first year of homeschooling and I'm already supposed to be turning in paperwork and curriculum choices for next fall, and the boys just want to play. But I'm plain spent. All poured out. And so I feel... indifferent.
They jump in the pool and splash and ask for watermelon and I think, "I should be happy, and smile back, but I can't muster it today." And so I walk back into the house and fold another basketful of crumpled laundry.
It strikes me then, indifference is the borderland of depression. The vast wasteland of depression is often entered through the valley of indifference. But none of us choose to sojourn here. None of us choose to lack love. Who makes the choice to withhold smiles and tender touches, laughter and intimacy? Not one of us. And yet we are spent to the end and find ourselves wandering dangerously close, if not smack dab in the middle of these perilous lands.
How awful if my son had articulated indifference on his vocabulary test this way: "Indifferent - My Mom feels indifferent toward me. She would rather I just feed myself and tuck my own body into bed tonight. Indifferent."
"Remove love and you have reduced life to a grinding,
friction-filled series of requirements and sterile assignments."
I'm tired. But I can't just walk away. And I won't. I refuse to dance the fine line between lands. Indifference will not lead me to he depths of despair; I will turn purposefully toward the highlands. For love's sake, I will turn.
Turning is my choice. Repentance. To turn. Turning from indifference to making a difference. From I don't care, to choosing to care. The turning is my choice.
But the lifting... The lifting requires hands larger and more capable than mine. My hands might be able to muscle their way out of the valley, this time, but God's hands... God's hands are mighty to save! He can lift, and carry, and supplant my weary wandering heart. He can lift and save, and reinvigorate me with love anew. He can, and He will, and He does. And He won't stop.
Turn from Indifference to HIm, and He will increase the love.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. (Psalm 40:2)
with my God I can scale a wall. (psalm 18:29)
The Lord God is my strength and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me walk upon mine high places.(Hubakkuk 3:19)
Welcome to those joining from OneSharendipityPlance and GraceLaced this week.
I never thought myself a formula girl until I had babies. No, I'm not talking about Infant Formulas -not Enfamil, Similac, or Bright Beginnings. I mean that blessed equation where a+b = c. Every time. ALWAYS! This is what my ingrained equation looked like when I popped out my three boys: If I wake up each morning and use tender words with my children, set up the easel often, bake homemade cookies, read Bible stories, gently correct, consistently train, always point out my own shortcomings and ask for their forgiveness, put down my smart phone to play dumb little games, give them warm baths and read more books, give them vitamins and take naps together.... If I do all these wonderful, praiseworthy parenting tasks THEN I CAN BE SURE I will get the right response from my children.
I do this, you do that in return. I feed you healthy food, you have a healthy body. I point you to God by modeling grace and teaching you about Jesus, and you grow to love God too. Yes, I love formulas... I won't lie! But we aren't cookie cutters... not them and not us. Formulas might work if it weren't for the age old sin issue we all struggle with. Our dear little loves are sinners from the start. And what about us?
But parenting, no matter how consistent we are, is not a formula. There are gigantic true things that every little developing person needs from their parents, but we can't add all those ingredients into a pot, mix them up with lots of kisses and expect things to turn out just so. Sometimes days they do, but most days they don't.
And I'm not the only one looking for specific answers to each battle scenario, I am certain of that! Just this past February I went to a conference for Mothers hosted by Sally Clarkson. It was my second time at her MomHeart Conference, though her book The Mission of Motherhood has been my favorite Mom-book of all time! Anyway, here's the point, this is why I'm sure that I am not alone in this passionate drive for parental formulas... Every time Sally opened up the floor to questions one woman after another would begin with "What would you do if..." or "Can you give me an example of what this grace-based parenting looks like when a child is..." and the best request of all began "Can you maybe role-play, you and your husband, what you would do if..."
Sally and Clay looked at one another like dears in the headlights of a frenzied car. Aren't we frenzied sometimes as we search for the answers that will lead our children to life, and our home into the blessing of peace as we enjoy each other? After a few awkward moments Sally took the mic and graciously said something along these lines, "I can't show you what it looks like because we all have different issues. But let me ask you, what do your children see when they look in your eyes?"
It was the question of the week for me? What do my children see when they look into my eyes? Because it has everything to do with the blessed formula that can answer any and all questions, calm all fits, and always point our children toward Jesus. Love. Love must be the lens through which we see our beloved ones, and love must be what they see in our eyes as they look back up to us.
And still, don't you want to ask "But what does it look like?"
When my children wake up and negative, hurtful words are again the first thing out of their mouths. What does love look like when all of our consequences and encouragement seem to do nothing? What do I do when they continue to disobey at the table and hit one another and run away shouting "NO!" when I call them to grab their shoes and hop in the car? What do love beams shining from your eyes look like when these are the scenarios that string together to make up our long days?
It looks like endurance, it looks like perseverance, it looks like courage, it looks like faith. It looks like Galatians 6:9, "Do not grow weary while doing good, in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart." It looks like James 1:2-4, "Consider pure joy my brothers and sisters when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." And Romans 5:3-5, "Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." It looks like Philippians 3:14, "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." And 1 Corinthians 9:24, "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize."
The goal is the prize and the prize is LOVE! The harvest is brought in through love, and love is perfected in us as we persevere through adversity, pressing on. Love, love, persevere, love, love, persevere and then love some more.
It was the end of a long week and all 3 boys were weary and raged, and here I was trying to fit a quick trip to the grocery store into their exhausting afternoon. They yelled for things, cried at me, ran up and down aisles, and hit at each other. I would have loved to turn around and go straight home, but there was no other chance for me to get the shopping done.
I felt attacked and upset at them for making my life so difficult. And I blew it! To make matters worse, this was the weekend I was scheduled to go away for a writing retreat. My husband was taking the boys for a fun filled weekend at “Grandpa’s lake house”, while I got the time, space, and quiet I needed to write, uninterrupted. My intended subject: Raising boys with lots of love (insert laughter). Now on the cusp of my retreat I was as depleted as my little charges. In an instant I lost all patience with their childishness and cries, I knew they needed a quiet house and a quiet mom to usher them into a quiet evening, but I was spent.
In the car I scolded them good, started the engine and headed home. Within minutes they were all three of them sound asleep, and in the silence I had longed for conviction came quickly. I pulled into the driveway and unpacked the trunk, as they continued to sleep. I called my dad, whom I felt needed a heads up concerning my sleep-deprived hooligans, but as soon as he answered the phone I cried, “How can I write to women? How can I encourage them to raise their children when I can’t even train my own? Let alone endure them some days? I have nothing to write, I have nothing to say.” I felt taken out of the ministry God had opened up before me. Disqualified. I had grown weary and lost heart. After a long pause I said it again, “I have nothing to say, nothing to write.” My Dad’s response was gentle. “No, you have something to say, you just don’t like it. You want to be a Perfect Prophet.”
“A Perfect Prophet?” I thought for a moment, “Yes, I do!” I’d much rather be the well-spoken, put together mom, with words like honey dripping from her lips, who encourages others out of her reservoir of perfectness… not from all that’s lacking in her life. But this is the truth: Only Christ was perfect. The rest of us are simply in need of His perfection, that He might exchange it for our brokenness.
We are not perfect… but we are redeemed! I’ve sinned and fallen short of His Glory, all of us have gone astray, messed up, lost heart, grown weary, lacked faith, and denied Him by denying love to others. It was for this very reason Christ died. And, for the purpose of saving sinners all around us, he continues to Call His redeemed bearers of light out into the world today. But we say no to going because we feel we’ve disqualified ourselves. We wait to be more like Him before we “go!” But He doesn’t perfect us before He calls us, and He’s not done with us by the time we’re sent. Instead, He perfects us along the way. He transforms us by the renewing of our mind and the sanctifying power of His Spirit as we walk with Him. There was only one Perfect Prophet. Only One. But when we surrender our lives to Him, we can become, “Perfectly profitable” to all He has planned.
May you feel encouraged today to be a blessing to those around you, even in your imperfections.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control... Since we live by the Spirit let us keep in step with the Spirit!"
There are days (even seasons) when the fruit of God's Spirit in our home has been sour and rancid; falling from the trees of our lives to the ground to decompose there. We've lacked loving words, a peaceful home, patient ways, kind actions, faithfulness toward one another, gentle eyes, and self-control.
Abide in Me, and I will abide in you,
and you will bear much fruit. (John 15:4)
While the Word gives the true formula for producing fruit in our lives and our home (by abiding in Him), we needed tangible lessons with our children, more encouragement, and a diligent focus on these life giving and sustaining character traits (fruits). Spending time in God's Word, abiding with Him there, and speaking of His goodness and purposes throughout our days are foundational, but I began praying for opportunities to drive the seeds deep.
One day, during our morning devotional at the breakfast table, we went over the fruit of the Spirit again. I asked the boys "Where does this fruit (and therefore our behavior) grow out of?" They all answered, "Our hearts."
Good answer, I thought. Then I confessed, "Boys, by about three o'clock every afternoon my heart doesn't feel patient or loving anymore. I start getting grumpy. But if I have God's Spirit living in me, I need to act like it if I feel like being loving, joyful, and kind or not. But did you know there is one fruit of the Spirit in my life that I can really grab ahold of when this starts to happen? It's not more love, and it's not more patience... what I need is self-control."
It was a revelation for me as I spoke the words, and I think all the boys, down to the littlest, understood what I meant. Since that blessed breakfast I haven't ridiculed them or me for lacking fruit, instead I've focused on the one piece of fruit that can keep the lack of others in check. Self-Control. "Boys, we're all tired and we're not being kind right now. You are a kind person, it's the fruit of God's Spirit in your life! But right now we're just so tired. So you need to use the muscle of your heart, that's the self-control, to make it through the rest of today with kindness.... Son, I know you are impatient right now, but you need to muscle through this with self-control and not act impatient. I know you can do this, because God's Spirit is right there in your heart, ready to help you!" And on and on encouragement (rather than correction) flows... Onto them and myself.
...take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
Take those thoughts captives, Mama. Take that joyless expression on your face captive. Take the impatient sighs and slamming cabinets captive. Don't wait for the feelings (that we associate with the Fruit of the Spirit) to flood your heart, but take the outward demonstration of your emotions, right now, captive. With sheer determination and self-control, with the muscular fruit of Self-Control, take the lack of fruit captive!
Our family has begun Ta Kwon Doe at a nearby studio owned by a Christian man who is committed to teaching the tenets of Tae kwon do to his students.
While the children are expected to act courteously toward their Master and peers in class, show integrity and perseverance in the studio, and practice self-control and an indomitable spirit on the mat, it is for life that Master Truscott at Family Karate is training boys and girls today. Before students can even wear a white belt (which, by the way comes with a basic uniform) parents must attest to seeing these righteous attributes at home first.
I once heard Master Truscott say to the boys, "This is the order in which every Karate Kid repeats the Tenets of Tae kwon do. However, I think that Self-Control should have been first. Without Self-Control we can't consistently have any other character trait in our lives."
Ladies, we long for Fruit, in the lives of our Beloveds and in our own hearts. But let me encourage you today to flex the muscle of your heart, the fruit of Self-Control, when the other fruits seem to be slow coming or dying on the vine. God has begun a good work in you and your children, and He will bring it to completion. Take heart, do not grow weary! Take that weary heart captive, with self-control, and eagerly anticipate the harvest!
When I tell people I have three strong-willed boys I often hear "O, I have one of those too... My little Ashley knows exactly what she wants and will pout until she gets it."
What I mean, however, is that I have three sons that wake up each morning ready for a fight; a testosterone induced, muscle-bound, argumentative, full-on fight! There's love and kisses for a blissful instant, but before the sleep has been wiped from their eyes they are looking for mountains to climb and kingdoms to conquer. If no such adventures can be found they turn on one another, trying for conquests within our home.
Their sweat is sweatier, their jaws are a bit more set, and their wills unshakeable.
It's been a while since I mentioned that I'm not a fighter. I'm a lover. Being a good lover got me into this predicament (if I might say so myself)! I was made for quiet mornings, marveling at the golden light that finds it's way through the morning glory outside my bedroom window. I was made for tea and scones and walks along the beach at sunset. Goodness, this is starting to sound like a singles ad.
I cannot imagine how someone so meek and mild can be expected to manage and train such strong-willed men! But I am expected to do this job. And if I think I can or can't isn't important. God thought I could (by His grace and strength, His love and might) when He gave them to me in quick succession.
Each time I think of the one who decided to endow me with them, I'm reminded that at the same moment he gifted me with them... he gifted them with me! As boyish as they are; as feminine and mild as I am.
What a picture of God and His people. A loving, gracious, long-suffering God with a house full of unruly, stiff-necked children. And yet the analogy is crumbling even as I write it... Because I am not always loving, gracious, long-suffering, yada-yada-yada.... I am often from the stiff-necked camp!
Am I the only Mama who wakes up most days choosing her own way? Looking for my own mountain to climb and figurative lands to conquer? Before the sleep is gone from my eyes I'm fighting for my own agenda and flexing my own will. Maybe not in the masculine way my boys do it... but I am no less rebellious and wayward at times toward my Heavenly Father than my little strong-willed charges are towards me.
This knowledge doesn't necessarily subdue my young men as the sun comes up, but it does fill me with new mercies toward them each morning as I remember my own strong-will.
I'm going to bookend this short post with my child's dirty hands because while those dirty, grimy, stained hands concern me... it's their hearts I want to get at most of all.
I recently read in Dr. Kevin Leman's new book, What a Difference a Mom Makes: The indelible Imprint a Mom Leaves on Her Son's Life, that all boys innately desire to please their mom. I didn't immediate believe it when I read the black on white. But the longer I sat (with the sounds of another new argument rising up from the next room) the more I saw into my little guys' tender hearts. I know there is healthy, fertile soil in those three hearts, and I know they want to please me as I tend to their little gardens. It's just a battle every day. Even when I battle with tenderness and they battle with all their strength.
I really shouldn't elevate my difficulties above "Ashley's" mom. We're all in the trenches fighting for our children's hearts. We're all in the gardens, conditioning their soil and planting seeds.
All our hards are getting dirty. All our hands.
A very special hello to all of the ladies joinging us from GraceLaced Mondays, The Better Mom, and A Holy Experience. If the rest of you have never hoped over to other blogs from here, I've linked you back to some of my favorite posts of theirs.
“The chief beauty about time is that you cannot waste it in advance.
The next year, the next day, the next hour are lying ready for you,
as perfect, as unspoiled, as if you had never wasted or misapplied
a single moment in all your life.
You can turn over a new leaf every hour
if you choose.”
― Arnold Bennett
I'll tell you right now that I should be too ashamed to write this post. But then I realized that these embarrassing posts are the ones that encourage those in the trenches the absolute most.
Last night as I lay cuddling my Middle-est we talked about all the things he likes the best: Coloring, Star War, Coloring Star Wars, Riding Bikes, Battling with Swords, Cuddling with Mommy... When he said, "I know what you like best." I smiled, fully expecting some darling response like, "You like being with us best!" or "You love to bake for us!" Maybe even the funny "You like laundry best" because I do it so often. But instead my perceptive lad said, "You like being left alone."
Shocked I drew back from our cuddle-hold and said, "What do you mean?"
"Just what I said, you like it when we all leave so you can be alone."
Honestly I don't have any idea what I said after that, but I've spent the past few hours thinking on it again. I do love... no that's not right... I do LOVE... still not close.... Okay, I
L O V E ! ! !
having time to myself. I may even be a bit giddy when I drop them off for an afternoon with friends. But I don't love my alone time best of all. I need my alone time, DESPERATELY IN FACT, so that I can regroup and refresh before returning to what and whom I love best.
But this perception that I love being left alone more than I love them needs some more of my attention. It is true that I am deeply tired these days. I am learning to homeschool, still settling in to our new home, and flying solo much of the time as my husband begins his new job. I have one child who has terrible growing pains in the middle of multiple nights each week, and another who's night terrors chase him into my bed (and into my rib cage) in the early morning hours of each new day! And then there is my oldest who stays up late reading and wants to tell me all about his latest literary adventures when the lights go out. This is also the son who argues with me during the day so much that I'm wearied simply from the contrary-ness of it all. Yes, I am weary. And I
L O V E ! ! !
my alone time to rest and prepare
for battle to love them fresh, again... with Grace.
But what can I do when we are together to let them know that they are my joy and my favorite people in the world even when I am tired? What can I do to fill their hearts with the awareness that I delight in them the way Brody delights in a brand new Star Wars Coloring Book? How can I love Caleb in such a way that he knows he is more special to me than his latest "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" book is to him?
I decided to give myself some goals to work on that will still my striving heart so that I might be still with my precious children.
1) When my children have things to share that are paramount in their lives I will stop my work to sit and delight in what they delight in.
2) I will begin a new read aloud with my oldest, since we share a love of good books.
3) I will praise them more than I am and try to correct them with more gentle instruction and less nagging.
4) I will schedule more days and nights at home when I am not allowed to work. Simply play with my most favorite people.
5) I will teach them to help pick up 2 times a day so that Mommy isn't spending all her energy working instead of abiding with them. This way I might actually not need so many breaks away from my darling little mess makers!
It is true that not everything fits orderly in my life right now. There is simply too much and I am exhausted. But when something's gotta give, I can't let it be my children's hearts. I must hold tight with loving hands.
The delight has gone from my eyes in the midst of all these transitions it seems. Yes, it's obvious. When a 6 year old calls you out, you must admit it's true. My eyes must not grow dull from lack of sleep. They need to reflect the delight their Heavenly Father has for them.
What will you do to delight in your children this week, so that they don't feel you'd rather be left alone?
My dear friend Tammy Labuda at Tammy Labuda Photography took these pictures and blogged about the time she spend with our family here. It is an encouragement to me that, by His Grace, there is great love being shared in our home. But everyone can get run down now and again. That's me right now. Run down and in need of a tune up. But here are pictures from this summer, before the wearying winds swept through my world.
It's been a long couple of months, and writing this post tonight is no guarantee that I'm actually back. LIfe is still a bit unsettled to say the least. But the computer is up and the internet is wired, and I have a moment of quiet.
In the past four weeks we moved into our new home, I began homeschooling all three boys, and my husband started a new job that is both exciting and all-consuming. We were supposed to be settled into the new digs weeks before the start of school and Matt's career move, but the work on the house went over schedule (and over budget) and I didn't get my books unpacked until the second day of school. These are the facts. When I look back over this overwhelming list, and know the myriad of stressful items I'm not including, I realize that God has been very near my heart in the midst of all this. For the list above truly is a list of facts; our circumstances, and even our blessings, but they could have easily become my grumblings.
Four weeks into our home and our first school year together and I see so many gifts that this season of transition has afforded our family. Simple blessings that could be misinterpreted as curses. Because I was not settled in "on time" I did not have the chance to fill out my lesson plans as intricately as I had desired (truth be told, I barely had the dates inked onto the calendar by our first day of school). Instead of pushing the boys to achieve my school expectations, I am getting to know their abilities and interests in gentler more patient ways. So many families take their children out of school only to recreate the traditional school classroom at home. I didn't have time to hang all of the wall posters and prep hours of work those first few weeks, and found that learning at home doesn't have to look the same as it does at the school house on the corner down the street. And for that I am thankful.
Even our overdrawn budget is a blessing in disguise because it reels us back in and allows us to talk again about what our priorities are and what is superfluous where material things are concerned. And the work on the house that never got done at all, or needs to be touched up again, it's a reminder that this isn't really home. This is a resting place for our little family as we learn together to set our minds and our hearts upon eternity where our forever home awaits.
It seems everything is a lesson these days. Each joy and every challenge.