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Wendy Darling said goodbye

Posted by [email protected] on March 26, 2014 at 2:15 AM Comments comments (2)

The other night I peeked in on my middle-est, Brody, long after he was supposed to be asleep.  Instead he was propped up on his elbow, adjusting the 30-some minifigures he had set up on his nightstand.  As he worked he sang, "I won't grow up... I don't want to go to school... just to learn to be a parrot... and recite a silly rule..."


I've been thinking of the story of Peter Pan lately myself.  My name is Wendy.  And the name Wendy was imagined, penned and introduced to the world by Scottish novelist and playwright J.M. Barrie.  Audiences in England and America alike fell in love with Peter, the boy who never grew up, and Wendy, the lost boys' proverbial mother.  While many sequels have been written about Peter in later years, only the film Hook (1991) depicts Wendy as an adult, and an elderly one at that.  My young boys love this film, with Robin Williams as Peter, and Maggie Smith as Grannie Wendy Darling. 


Standing on the cusp of a new season (a new rhythm, as I shared here), I've been thinking of Wendy Darling and her lost boys.  How dear she was to them, to darn their socks, tell them stories and put them to bed at the end of their adventurous days.  While I don't darn my boys' socks, (I buy new ones at Target), I know the sweetness of those read alouds and bedtime kisses all over soft faces.  But Wendy Darling returned home to England at the end of her adventure in Neverland, she didn't stay a little mother for ever.  


And my season with littles is coming to an end as well.  




A few weeks ago my little guy, in his last days of five, went to his friend Rosie's birthday party.  He found her a pretty necklace with her initial spelled out in rhinestones, and wrapped it in white paper that he then painted with pink and purple hearts.  The day before the party Rosie told Asher that she'd be wearing a princess dress to her party, so Asher came home and immediately went digging through his dress up bin.  


I watched at the party as the two of them played with other children; chasing balls, blowing bubbles, and spinning hoola-hoops around their tiny middles.  And the thought occurred to me, this may be the last time he asks to have a lightening bolt painted on his face!  This may be the last time ANY child of mine plays,  unashamed, in a knight costume in front of strangers.  


Gulp.


This imaginative, smiling, cookie eating, sippy cup toting season is indeed coming to an end.  And my heart feels the pang.







Sweet Potato Pie is right!  Perfection.  


And yet it's all close enough to remember the scratchy constant noise of that annoying toy, and my concern over feet on the kitchen table.  


Slow down, Mamas.  Slow it down.  



Keep a tub of cookie dough in the fridge and say YES as often as you can.  

Tickle backs at bedtime when you are eager for your own back to rest.

Take pictures, but make memories.

Push them high on swings and say yes to caterpillars and frogs.


Wendy Darling knows the fine art of raising boys, but also when the end of a season bids her farewell.  I'm standing there today.  

When our children face trials

Posted by [email protected] on March 21, 2014 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)

One of my children has been going through a real challenging time lately.  But that's his story, and not my own,  so I am learning to not share details.   Yet I am keenly aware, as I relinquish the story of his life to him, that these early chapters are producing in him faith, endurance, and maturity.  


Consider it pure joy, my brethren,

when you encounter various trials,

For you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

And may perseverance have it's perfect result,

That you may be perfect and complete,

Lacking nothing...

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial

Because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life

That the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:2-4, & 12 


It's taken me 30 years of grappling to learn this lesson, but already I see The Refiner producing beautiful things in my boy's life with fire.  


It is true, God uses the hard to turn our hearts to Him.  The trials, tests and the tribulation are lovingly balanced in the same Holy hand that generously disperses blessings and unmerited grace.  It is from the hand of a loving God, a kind and caring Father, that anointed trials come to us.  Not by accident.  


Purposed.  


I had the immeasurable pleasure of speaking to a dynamic Women's group yesterday, sharing much of my own journey to understanding these truths... that God is kind, sovereign, purposeful and good, even in the darkest of trials.  Today, as I honor my son by keeping his own journey private, I recognize that God is kind, and sovereign, and purposeful, and good, even in the darkest of my boy's trials as well. How marvelous.  How wonderful.  How confident I can be in the plans that God has for him!


"For I know the plans I have for you", declares the Lord,

"Plans to prosper you, not to harm you,

Plans to give you hope and a future."

Jeremiah 29:11


And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally

finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.  Philippians 1:6


I've heard other mothers of young children say, "I pray that God will spare my children suffering.  I want them to have very boring testimonies."  Personally, I don't pray that anymore.  Suffering is the way to the cross.  Suffering and trials are the refining tools of maturity.  And I want that (maturity) for us all!  


Hearts that cling to Him, are cultivated in lives that are painfully aware of how desperately we need Him.  Theologically, we all can agree we need Him for salvation, but the life that clings, that passionately holds on and abides with tenacity, is developed via "various trials".  Yes, the life that tucks in and stays close to the Light...  has come fleeing the darkest of nights. 


I don't know how the "tone" of this post is transmitting, though I hope you sense my faith, trust, and even joy.  I trust God with my sons.  

 

For (you) are His workmanship, 

created in Christ Jesus for good works,

which God prepared beforehand

so that (you will) walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10


I am honored God gave all three of my sons to me, to nurture and admonish, ever pointing us all to Jesus along the way.  As for my story, I've had to trust God more than ever before, and that's produced in me perseverance.  Amazing to me, the same author is telling a similar story in the lives of my sons.

Lent Chose Me

Posted by [email protected] on March 4, 2014 at 5:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Anne Voskamp used this phrase when describing Lent - “to empty the soul to know the filling of God.”


Of course, here in these 40 days before Easter, Ann is referring to the emptiness discovered through fasting.  We make the choice to delve into the empty places of hunger, as as we journey up to Calvary. An active participatory choice to partake in the sacrifice, in order to know this filling of God. And we choose it, though uncomfortable, because we know that when we are empty, HE comes rushing in.  


But there are seasons in our life, seasons of loss when we didn't choose to surrender; mental and physical illness we don't want, relationship struggles we didn't ask for, and financial hardships we didn't willingly submit.  These too are Lenten seasons - emptying seasons.  Seasons of struggles and hard days; the hurting seasons of life with their myriad of challenges, leaving us empty and worn; seasons of illness in our bones, in our hormones; the empty place beside you in bed, once warm but now cold, empty sheets; seasons of dashed dreams, framed by unrealistic expectations; other dreams, splintered by sinful people. Those Lenten seasons we never chose to celebrate, chose us.  God chose us for Lent, for Himself, for the gift of making us see how very empty we are.... The fasted meals we never purposed to miss, we missed because our bellies were full of heartache, greif and groanings.


These Lenten seasons can last longer than 40 days. But Sunday's coming!  And there is the HOPE of EASTER.  The Hope of the Ressurection and the Revelation, and the Revival in our hearts!  Yes, God pours Himself into the emptiness. Yes, at the day’s end, the week’s end, the end of that difficult season, or smack dab in the middle of depression with no end in sight, when we are soul empty, there is the chance, the hope, the opportunity to know… the gushing, pouring, passionate, drenching love of God come Easter!  


From hungry to satisfied.  Parched to drenched.


Press on and press in, if Lent has chosen you right now.  


And submit to those empty places, trusting Him to satisfy!

RAW

Posted by [email protected] on February 26, 2014 at 11:45 PM Comments comments (1)
When I was a child I I got awful tummy aches.  My mom's  remedy was a mug of warm milk.  Turns out I was lactose intolerant.  Good job, Mom!  

Now I'm the mom.

Out of my three boys, at least two of them are terribly sensitive to artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners (I know, everything)!  Of course, like my mom, it took me a while to figure this out.  Eventually I noticed that each time one of my guys had a lollipop (or some other colorful goody), he'd break out in hives.  We pulled back the treats a bit, saving them for special occasions when the kid just needed a "win."  My word.  You know, "it's been a tough day, let's stop for a slurpy on the way home from school" type of win!

As he got older I noticed this child would break out in hives and even stutter when he'd have a bag of skittles.  Horrified I clenched the empty candy wrapper in my hand, raised it to heaven and cried, "How can a child be a child without skittles, and sprinkles on cupcakes?"  Shoot, forget the sprinkles... even pre-made, white, vanilla frosting has artificial colors in it (not to mention all the other evil stuff I'm starting to learn about!)  I knew I was onto something that went deeper than Halloween and Easter candy... it was going to stretch us to the far reaches of our pantry shelves, into each classroom celebration, and half-time soccer snack.  Good-bye gatorade and fruit snacks!  The poor kid was cut off, cold-turkey,  after a terrible break out of hives after church camp last year.  he came home with five empty King-Size candy wrappers, and hives on every inch of his little person.

I knew it wasn't fair, but I the other two boys would get the good stuff when their brother wasn't around... you know, "it's just our little secret".  And then one day, totally unrelated, or so I thought, another one of my kiddos started having emotional mood swings and said such sad disparaging things about himself.  One night he cried, "I feel coo-coo on the inside of my brain."   The next day after school I did what any well-intentioned mum would do, I took him  to 7-11.  Because there's nothing a slurpy can't fix!  Never mind my four year old's observation later that night, "Look, my poo-poo's bright blue!"

I know I'm giving general symptoms, but know that these two boys had more very specific and heartbreaking physical and emotional outbreaks before I saw the correlation and took the entire family off of the artificial gunk.  (Okay, my husband still eats gummy bears!)  Baby steps!  It's been baby steps, and those of you who are really natural, organic, tree-hugging types, you'd be horrified to see what we are still eating, but I'm learning and changing the way we eat (and reward... and soothe...) here in our home.





Maybe one day I'll post about our choice to go wheat  and dairy free for at least two of us - or maybe I won't, since I'm no nutritionist.  But the point is this, we're doing the best we can.  Aren't we?  Ladies?  Mamas?  Aren't we?

One area I fail desperately is in the Vegetable Patch!  Okay, figuratively not literally!  Because it's what parenting really comes down to, right? The glorious green bar, measuring if we're good enough... because we're getting enough good stuff in them, in this artificial, neon colored, chemical laden world.

As a person who doesn't love vegetables (okay, I abhor most) this isn't easy for me.  However, I've found one way to get more fruits and veggies in my kids than most traditional veggie-eating families today.  I serve them RAW!  A serving at lunch and then another two or three either with their dinner (or in a baggie before - sort of like an appetizer.)  This above picture is of tonight's tri-colored plate.  I added a side of meat before taking it to the table.  Sometimes I feel guilty that I'm not serving them "grown up vegetables", but then I remember that it's okay if I'm me!  Me doing the best I can do for my kids is absolutely more than alright.  They get cooked veggies at dinner time a couple times a week, (most weeks) but this is the way I can do it... and do it in big servings, and do it often.  And when we go out to eat, guess what my kids get in the car?  A baggie of peppers and snap peas, or apples and carrots... then, once we arrive at Islands or Panera or Rubios, they can have their burgers and fries, sandwich and chocolate milk, or quesadilla and chips.

Let's get RAW here, friends:  I said it before, I fail in many ways.  Many ways, many days... but I'm learning, however slow it comes, and I'm accepting that I'm okay as I learn.  Love covers a multitude of sons, and sins, and growing up days, and debauckeled tuck ins, and mismatched Sunday mornings.  And it's all alright.  

Sometimes I soothe my mothering-self as I pack veggie baggies instead of sauteing Harry Coveirs green beans, by singing the old Amy Grant song "All I ever have to be is what you've made me.  Any more or less would be a step out of your plan.  As you daily recreate me help me always keep in mind, that I only have to do what I can find... All I ever have to be is what you've made me."

Keeping it RAW here tonight before I head to bed.  Never guessed I'd right about veggies.

Love notes

Posted by [email protected] on February 21, 2014 at 3:30 AM Comments comments (0)

"Sweet Caleb", I scrawled upon the cover of my homemade notecard in sweeping cursive.  With bright colored pencils I decorated the page, then filled the inside with sentimental pennings.  "I love you, I like you, I am so very proud of you.  Your sweet heart, handsome face, and wonderful manners make for a marvelous young man... But above all these incredible traits, I prize and admire your heart for the Lord.  I know you are young, and still learning about God's sincere love for you, Caleb, but I can tell you are seeking Him with your whole heart and your mind.  I am most excited to see you find God real and faithful, my son.  He is wonderful indeed.  And you, made in His image, are quite wonderful too!  Love, Mom."


Tomorrow Caleb's slated to leave for fourth grade winter camp with our church.  He's been fighting a cold and knows that if he isn't much improved in the morning he will be missing this year's adventure.  When I tucked him into bed this evening he said, "You know, Mom, I don't just want to go to camp because it's fun, I want to go and worship God with my friends."  I know.


I do know.


Church camp, for churched children, is a miracle thing.  A transforming place where a family's faith becomes a child's own.  Away from Mom and Dad, and Sunday morning squabbles on the the way to church, a Christian boy who knows Bible stories takes ownership of God's Word in new ways.  From milk to meat on the mountain top of church camp.  


Not too many weeks ago, this same boy confessed to me, "Sometimes I hear a message at church and I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do."  I sat on the end of his bed not sure what he meant - not wanting to speak before knowing and hearing and understanding His heart question.  And then I did.  The place he is at 10 is a thrilling place on the precipice of one of God's greatest promises. 


Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. 'I will be found by you,' declares the LORD.  

(Jeremiah 29:12-14)


That is camp, Christian parents!  We model it at home and sometimes we fail it at home, but at camp they get away and experience it as their own.  


I am so excited for my children to seek God and find God; to find Him faithful and extravagant and kind and caring.  That is camp.  That is camp.  


That is camp, Sweet Caleb.  


May the Lord mend you as you rest, and keep His promise to be found by you, my boy.

With all three boys in school

Posted by [email protected] on February 5, 2014 at 11:20 PM Comments comments (1)

The bag ripped as I lifted the white plastic liner out of the kitchen trash can tonight.  Raw chicken juice mixed with some other nasty thing leaked in a fluid flow across the floor and onto my cream colored linen pants before I knew what was happening.  I swung the trash bag quickly up to the sink, spraying the cabinets just a bit as I did.  Another bag was placed over the torn one, then I hauled it out to the trash.  It smelled a bit like vomit.  And, you might recall,  I know what vomit smells like


A quick shower with citrus-ginger body scrub, followed by vanilla lotion and my new favorite pair of PJs refreshed me just in time for the sound of my middle-est calling from his bathroom ,"Mom!"  Which Phonetically sounds more like MAW......................................UM!  "Mom!  Someone forgot to flush the toilet and my special blanket just fell in!"


Going to save the blankie I stepped on a Lego.  


And the beat goes on...  Up at night when the oldest has growing pains, the youngest has a cough, or the middle-est has "Scawy Foughts."  Which would have been fine had I not waited up for my husband to get home from his business trip.  Morning came fast and hard, with sunlight and laughter, the pitter-patter, and screams of "He's touching me!!!!"  And the beat goes on... Peanut butter toast, face down on the floor you cleaned last night, since you were waiting up anyway.  And the beat goes on...


And it's constant.

Moving.  Cleaning.  

Correcting.  

Redirecting.  

It's been constant.

Learning. Going.

Teaching.

Often Preaching.

I'm not complaining,

just recognizing.  

It's been a gift

Through which I sift.

Trips to the beach

"Stay in your stroller seat"

More clothes to wash

and mops to slosh.

All the memories, 

Get wet

Duck ponds

at Sunset.

Dinner's waiting

Daddy's taking

One last business call.

You boys are busy with a ball.

Bath is drawn

Sprinklers on the lawn

A neighbor watches on.

Then off to bed

Tostled head

Of blond curls 

The days unfurl.

One after the other

For blessed busy mothers.

Underfoot and slipping by

Not in the twinkle of an eye.

That's not my song

My days are long

But the years, 

And the tears...

They fly up and out

without a doubt

Without a stop

Until you drop,

Ker-plop.  

On the couch.

Get out Baby books

Of how baby looked

Now grown 

No longer home.

Alone.

Deep sigh,

Time did fly.

Good-bye.




I'm standing here, on the cusp of a new season now.  Looking back at the pictures of popsicles and hoses, and plastic animals all in a rows-es.  There are still water fights, still correction, and cleaning to be done, under the sun.  But all three boys have gone to school for the first time in my mothering life.  And I'm here at point A... looking back at Z.  And it's good.  And it's right.  And I'll still be up at night.  But I'll know some rest and peace and refreshing walks, and phone talks.  And time to scrub those chicken juice crusted cabinets as a waltz plays from the stereo in the other room.  A new beat, a calmer rhythm, will fill portions of my days.   


It's not over.  But the rhythm has changed.  And I'm adjusting.

TRUST - The Lesson of the Year

Posted by [email protected] on January 30, 2014 at 12:05 PM Comments comments (1)

Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light,

Trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.

Isaiah 50:10


TRUST.  Yes, that's it!  That's the lesson of the year already.  My recent education in Trusting God took me here, and here, and on to here... Every post these past weeks have pushed me to the finish line - or is Trusting God the starting line?  Commencement!  Both "a graduation ceremony" that celebrates what's been learned, and "a new beginning!"  


Trust is that place.


The Jumping Off Place.  


A hundred and fifty or more years ago men packed up families, loaded wagons, hitched up oxen, and said goodbye to homes in the east to journey west.  They had to leave to move forward.  That place where they stocked up on last minute supplies before hitting the wide open prairie, that place was known as The Jumping Off Place.  


We stock up on is faith, and move forward in trust.  Graduation.  Commencement.


I walked along the beach with my friend, recounting these things, sharing my fresh realization.  


She said, "I don't trust Him."


We didn't stop walking, and the waves didn't stop crashing, and God didn't stop the world from spinning due to this confession.   She went on, "I don't trust God with my husband.  I don't trust that He will keep my husband faithful.  I'm full of fear."  Feet kept moving, waves kept rolling, the world kept spinning. 


We silently moved passed the lady with the dog, then I said what entered my mind, what hasn't left my mind since:  "What if... what if  Trusting God isn't supposed to be about how we want things to go?  What if we aren't supposed to trust God to necessarily save a life, keep our kids safe, or our husband's faithful?  What if we're supposed to merely Trust Him... to be God.  Whatever happens.  To be Sovereign and Loving and Good?"  


Waves crash, and the world spins.  Though it seems to consume and drown us, and spin out of control at times, it is held within the loving confines of God's hand.  Into that hand we place our Trust.  


What if we're supposed to merely Trust Him... to be God.  As I said, it's been on my mind ever since the words came from my mouth and edified my heart, bolstering my faith.  


I've left the jumping off place.  I will not turn back; though as I cross, the river waters rage and swell. I will not turn back; though the prairie goes on like a wilderness before me.  I will not turn back; though my children may not be safe, and loved ones will die, and husbands will forsake families... "Yet still I will exalt the name of the Lord, and glorify (and trust) the God of my Salvation."  

 

This passage (along with my a modern twist) came to my mind:

Though the fig tree does not bud

(though I am barren or miscarry, or my children die)

and there are no grapes on the vines,

(and my family files bankruptcy)

though the olive crop fails

(though my husband forsakes us for another)

and the fields produce no food,

(and we go hungry)

though there are no sheep in the pen

(though we lose our home)

and no cattle in the stalls,

(and I am alone)

yet I will rejoice in the Lord,

(The Lord is still faithful and good)

I will be joyful in God my Savior.

(There is Joy for He is trustworthy)

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;

(I commit each moment to trust in Him, regardless of circumstances)

He makes my feet like the feet of a deer,

(He's holdingme.  I will not fall)

he enables me to tread on the heights.

(He will bring me on to a forever love, an eternal place where there are no tears.)

Habakuk 3:17-19  --  Parenthesis mine


Trust.  Commence.  Jump.  Regardless.


Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

and lean not on your own understanding.

In all your ways, acknowledge Him,

and He will make your path straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

 

TRUST.

 

The LORD is my strength and my shield;

my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.

My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. 

Psalm 28:7

 

Trust.

Not him too!

Posted by [email protected] on January 28, 2014 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (0)

"Do you trust Me?"  


"Yes", was my answer.  And I did and I do.  I trust the Lord with my 8 year old son, Brody, as he makes his way from my homeschooling side into a traditional classroom five days a week.  But getting to that trusting place was a journey, one you may have sojourned with me here.  I was happy to share the journey because I wanted to testify to the One who is so worthy of our trust.  And as I shared, my heart filled with praise as I recounted the work God did in my heart.  "Yes, I trusted Him with my Brody."


Then,  in the middle of the very next night, I woke with a start.  My heart was constrained within my breast.  The room was dark and my mind was consumed with fear... fear over my first born son.  Caleb had gone to bed that night with tears.  He relaxed as I stroked his bare back, confiding as he calmed.  He wept and said, "I can't get my writing done in class.  I just can't focus in class to write.  I just can't!  I'm behind in my autobiography, and now we're starting our history research paper, and then I'll be writing my biography on Davy Crocket.  In class!  All of them in class."  


And now I lay in bed, hours after he finally succumbed to sleep, thinking, "what can I do to help him?  What should I have done?  His writing was so good when we home schooled.  He had a quiet room, with drapes we would close specifically for times when he would write.  I didn't label it ADHD at the time, because I've never been able to read a paragraph or write a cohesive thought if there was any noise around me.  Even classical music for heaven's sake!  So I got it, and I gave him an environment where he could thrive.  


But now, in a classroom with 24 bodies, complete with movement and noise enticing his focus away, he feels lost.  And so I gave into tears and fears of my own, lost as to how I might help him.  


Then, somewhere around 3:30 that morning the familiar voice came again.  "Do you trust me?"  "Of course!"  I cried, "remember yesterday?  I trusted you completely with Brody, even when it's hard..."


The dialogue trailed off.  "with Brody, even when it's hard..."


You've got to be kidding me!  Not him too!!!  I've got to trust God with Caleb too?  Even when it's hard?  Oh no, especially when it's hard.  It doesn't take faith to trust God when it's smooth sailing.  Faith is for the fiercest gail.  And in that storm, on the weak boat of your own understanding, at night's darkest hour, faith takes sight of a Savior, walking across the water.


Yes, absolutely, Caleb too.  


The next morning I awoke Caleb the same way I had sent him to sleep, with the gentle stroke of a mother's hand on a child's back.  When he stirred and wiped the sleep from his eyes, I spoke these words.


"Caleb, I've been talking to God about your school work.  And I want you to know what sort of conversation the Lord and I had about you, okay?"  


"Okay," he said with his raspy morning voice.


"Caleb, I trust that God made you absolutely perfect the way you are.  There isn't a mistake in your whole body.  God doesn't make mistakes.  The bible tells us that you are fearfully and wonderfully made, and I believe it!  So that means God made you with this difficulty focusing in class.  And so I am just going to choose to trust Him when things are tough.  Can you do that with me?"  He nodded.  "You have got to give every school day your absolute best.  And when you bomb, and you sometimes will, you are going to do the same project over at home in your room, on the weekend.  This is not punishment.  It is our way of partnering with your teacher to make sure you're picking up what she's putting down.  Get what I'm saying?"  He nodded again.


As I type this new testimony, I know I should expect some issue with my youngest in the days ahead.  Therefore, right here, right now I'm going to choose to surrender him too.  Choosing to Trust God with Asher's life as well.


These last days have been eye opening for me.  I didn't know how weak my faith was, but I am thankful that God used these present trials to grow me.  


The boys have been learning James 1:2-4 at school this week; three verses I committed to memory when I was their age.  


Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds; because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish it's work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.


Of all the verses I hid in my heart as a child, these are the ones I have admitted most freely to not understanding.  Until this week.  I see now why we are to be joyful in affliction.  Without the difficulties of life we would never be forced to trust Him, never need to persevere in faith, and therefore we would never mature and be complete in Christ.  Yes, I am joyful today.  Puffy eyed after a sleepless night, but joyful.  

 


The LORD is my strength and my shield;

 

my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.

 

My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.

 

Psalm 28:7


I sign off today with another pictorial tribute:  This one goes out to Caleb's new teacher, and his new school, where the maturing process is underway, in the classroom, on the lacrosse field, during lunch, in chapel...




We Stopped Homeschooling

Posted by [email protected] on January 26, 2014 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (3)

Amidst the messiness of everyday life with young children my husband and I decided to homeschool our three boys a couple of years ago. While I envied the break traditional school days afforded some of my friends, I felt called to spend these formative years with my sons.  Heart-work was the main reason - and I just needed more time with them then hurried mornings and evenings balanced between homework and sports.  With a few obvious learning challenges thrown in, and a huge homeschooling network in our community, it seemed the right fit.

 

Now, many months later, and for numerous reasons I've decided not to share publicly (my children will not always be young, and may wish I was a little less free with their challenges), we have decided to send all three boys back to school five days a week.

 

I was originally going to title this blog post "Why we stopped homeschooling", but after writing that last line I've changed the title to "We stopped homeschooling."   I've come to see that the reasons people stop homeschooling are nearly as varied as testimonies of why families choose to start.  Each story is entirely it's own. So, this isn't about why, but the journey this choice has led me to take.

 

GREIF - I've had to grieve these past two weeks as I've transitioned my children into a new school. Grieve as I repurposed my homeschool cabinets, shuffling through all of the lovingly poured over books and lesson plans. Grieve as I looked through the school papers that taught them on work sheets what I had planed to explore with them through great books and conversations. Grieve the vision I had caught. Grieve the joys I had thought would trail like a wake from this sweet time together. Grieve.

 

FEELINGS OF FAILURE - Hot tears ran thick and heavy, multiple times for a couple days straight. I worried about my tender-hearted child, the one who pleaded to be home schooled two years ago, the one I wanted to give this gift to. It seemed just what he needed; what would fit his needs, interests, and personality best, but it wasn't working. And I felt like a failure that I couldn't muscle through and make it work for him. But I couldn't and it wasn't.


As I dwelled on my failures, asking "What if" and "If only...", my husband lovingly but firmly told me I was believing lies. I had not failed. I had given our son exactly what he needed, but now it had become obvious he needed something else.  Wise counselors said the same; even a behavior therapist who specializes in the special needs of children. So many true words of encouragement were lovingly said, texted, prayed on my behalf. But I still had to journey through the many stages of grief.


WHAT IS TRUE - The journey thus far has taken me through the valleys of sadness and down the rapid falls of failure. But all the while I felt God calling me up to the high places where He would reveal many wonderful things to me. So up the side of Mount Horeb I followed.  

 

This is what I heard. "Do you trust me?" Over and over again, "Do you trust me?"   While no burning bush flashed, I still discerned the voice.  "Do you know that I AM the same God who parted the Red Sea and made a way for my people Israel? Do you know that I AM the same God who overcame death? Do you know I AM the same God who gave sight to the blind?  I AM He who redeems brokenness both physically and spiritually. I AM the One you pray to about all of your concerns, the same God who ordered the Universe into place and balanced the planets perfectly."

 

And I heard in my heart these words, "I AM the same God who parted the Sea, and I can make a way for your children."


"Do you trust me?"

 

The words went deep-down-deep. Deep to the core. Deeper than the fear. Like light displacing darkness.

 

"Do you trust me?"

 

Suddenly I felt empowered to trust Him anew. I confessed my fears as lack of faith, and told my God, "I trust you." And what came next was the most beautiful thing of all. The whisper of God in my heart-of-hearts said, "I AM good and kind... expect good, not evil."

 

I have learned from experience that when we confess sin in our lives, change is not always miraculously immediate. But in my heart it was that day.   From fear to trust.  And in my child's life, God's goodness has been on display in powerful ways already. The child who has always been so easily overwhelmed and emotional, has come home from school steady and sure. The academic holes I feared have becomes fountains of papers written in Red Ink A, 100%, Outstanding!


"Do you trust me?... then expect good from Me!"

 

This post wasn't worth reading if you were looking for the reasons we stopped homeschooling. Those reasons aren't important, I see that now. Everything in our lives, the hard and the happy, and the reasons for them, pale beside the One who orchestrates it and calls us to trust Him amidst it all. Each blog post, each story of His love, every one is a testimony of Him working all things together for good in the hardest parts of our journey here.

 

Do you trust Him?  Expect Good!


I close out this season with a pictorial tribute to my good, gift-giving God:  My favorite pictures from our homeschooling days.  





















and so I said to the butcher....

Posted by [email protected] on January 18, 2014 at 6:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Sprouts Farmers Market, right here in North San Diego County.  In the meat department.  And there was Paul, behind the counter, serving up fresh fish, beef, and fowl.  


It had been a tough day for me.  A tough couple of days.  A tough month or couple of months... the tough all sort of bled together.  I would have worn my big, dark Jackie Kennedy sunglasses if I could have seen inside the store.  But I didn't, and so my puffy eyes were laid bare.  Exposed.  


Over the scallops and tilapia Paul asked, "What can I get you?"


"Salmon.  A nice pink one, please.  Just enough for two adults, maybe a little more since I'm trying to convince my children they are eventually going to like fish too."  He laughed.  I smiled.  


"How you doing today?"  The question came casually, as it was small talk.  I realized then that he hadn't looked at me - not really, for he would have seen my having-just-cried, red-rimmed eyes.  And in that moment, the one where you think "Am I supposed to say 'fine, and you?' I decided to honestly answer his question.


"It's been a hard day..."


Paul looked up from the scale, as he finished wrapping up a smidgen over a pound of Salmon in brown butchers paper.  He saw me then, and I smiled and said, "It's just another chance to trust God more."


That's what I said.  "...just another chance to trust God more."    


Paul nodded, looked down at the floor, and then back up to hand me the fish.  "I needed to hear that today.  That's every day, isn't it?  That's what every hard day is for...  Why God allows 'em, don't you think?"  It was my turn to nod.  


Now here I am, looking at the quick link on the right-hand side of this blog page, seeing the one that says "The Hard Days."  Knowing that's the link that has the most posts listed under it.  Also knowing that the blog posts listed there are the ones most people send me emails about.  The hard days.  Their hard days.  And the encouragement they received as I tell my stories and show them how I'm forced to turn my face entirely to God when it's hard, and commit to trust Him more.


I don't feel the need to share what was so hard that day, though I think that I will eventually... but the reason for the hard isn't nearly as important as the fruit of the hard.  What happens to us, what becomes of us, where we go and what our lives produce, having been tried, is the main thing.  It is the thing that remains.


Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)


The work is not done, I will continue to know trials of many kinds until my last day this side of Glory.  But I see clearly today, the conclusion that Paul and I both arrived at in the cool air of the meat department that afternoon:  "That's what every hard day is for... Why God allows 'em..."


The sleepless nights?  Turn to Him.  The hard-to-communicate-to-the-one-you-vowed-to-love-forever days?  Turn to Him.  The moments where you've lost your sense of what you were made for?  Turn to Him.  The long stretches of joylessness?  Turn to Him.  The "I don't know why I'm crying" hormonal swings postpartum?  Turn to Him.  The days you wanted to love, but couldn't muster it?  Turn to Him.  The nights you felt to weak to serve your newborn?  Turn to Him.  


Turn to Him... Turn to Him. And praise Him for the blessed opportunity to see your need for a Savior today.  A rescuer.  A champion.  A faithful friend.  Yes, Consider it pure joy... you get to see Him come in His strength when we are weak.  Let the hard days, the turning to Him days, pick you up and carry you to maturity and completeness.  Not lacking anything.  


Turn to Him, Paul.  Turn to Him, Kelli.  Turn to Him, Candy  Turn to Him, Flora.  Turn to Him, Allyson. Turn to Him, Sherri.  Turn to Him, Patti.  Turn to Him, all you who are weary and heavy laden.  Turn to Him with your burdens, in your trials, in your puking from chemo frailties, in your incompleteness... And Praise Him for another chance, another hard day, another red-eyed-recognition of His Great Love for you.  Turn to Him with me...


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