Planting and Promises

With our house on the market, my husband three months in to his new job, and relocation to Tennessee on the horizon, it seems silly to be planting spring bulbs this fall. Still, that is exactly what I did one beautiful, sunny day last week.

We’ve been in this house 5 years. Almost every year I have weeded out or cut back on perennials that were already here. Most years I have planted bulbs or perennial shrubs or flowers. I love flowering perennials. I don’t have much of a green thumb, but I try really hard (which should count for something). Anything that comes back and blooms in the spring is all the encouragement I need to keep going.

The real estate market has been depressingly slow the last few months and it has been exhausting to show our house to so many potential buyers and still not have the house sold. We trust God’s timing; He has always been faithful to us and we have learned that our time table is more short-sighted than His usually is. We originally thought we’d be settling in to the Nashville area by this time already, but instead we find ourselves making holiday plans with family that we didn’t think we’d get to make this year. Certainly an emotional tug of war–disappointments and yet small “hurrahs.” We are anxious to get a jump on the next chapter of our lives. We’re excited about the possibilities that await us. Yet we dread leaving behind our community, our friends, our support network, and moving further away from family. Mentally and emotionally, I’m up and down all the time.

When we first said “yes” to this new opportunity, I quietly began to withdraw from our relational outreaches here. I didn’t pull away from friends, but I consciously stopped making an effort to reach out and engage in new relationships. My time was consumed with purging unnecessary items, cleaning constantly, wrapping up house projects, and beginning the packing process. I was busy. But, also, I had my eyes on the next thing. I was still here physically, but my heart and my mind were moving on already. Then, as summer wrapped up and our house hadn’t sold yet, I heard God’s still, small voice telling me to invest here. Even if I won’t be here long enough to gain dividends, He wanted me to invest here. What does that look like?

It means planting seeds and bulbs that I may or may not get to see come to bloom. As I planted crocuses in places that I thought they’d grow in nicely alongside hyacinths and tulips next spring, I excitedly wondered if I’d be here to see them. I wondered if they would be a delightful surprise to someone else living in this house. I wondered if they’d be completely neglected and ignored by someone who is indifferent to the joy of blooming flowers in April. I wondered if they’d even thrive in this soil and climate. Maybe they’d rot in the ground and nothing would come of them. Maybe my efforts would all be in vain. But maybe not.

Even while my heart and mind are yearning for God’s provisions that will take me to the next place, I have to make the effort to be all in here and now. If I give God’s love and grace and light to those around me here, I may never know if my efforts are in vain or if God will bring along someone else to water, prune, and care for what I planted. Pridefully, I can sometimes worry that if I invest a lot into someone, they may be left feeling empty and alone if I leave. I don’t want it to seem like I’m walking out on someone. I forget that everything I do should be for God and about God, not for me or about me. If I fill a need in someone’s life, it is about God’s faithfulness, not about me at all. At other times, selfishly, I feel overwhelmed enough by what is on my shoulders. Do I really need to stretch myself beyond what is already uncomfortable? Then I think of Christ’s example. I think of persecuted believers around the world. And maybe the load on my back isn’t so heavy after all.

So I’m trying to “show up” every day and receive opportunities God gives me to show love. To go deeper with someone. To be a friend to the friendless. To mend bridges that have been burned; to speak life into places where death has taken a stronghold. This is what we should do. Live each day, willing to go where God will take us, willing to leave it all behind, but also willing to give it all right here and right now.

 

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When the load feels heavy

There are seasons in life that feel carefree. Then there are others where I feel so weighted down.

I tend to be a person who carries loads that are not mine to carry, whether they belong to someone else or whether they are to be carried by my Savior. Either way, the weight of the world can rest on my shoulders and it makes me so very tired.

I have had a couple of sleepless nights. The kind where I can’t think of a specific worry, but find myself paging through a list of general worries that I can do nothing about (except lose sleep over). I pray, I try to release them, but often it’s hard for me to do. With each sleepless night, I face the following day with heavier shoulders. Today is one of those days.

Today is my youngest’s golden birthday. She is growing up quickly and every day I lose a bit of the “little girl” things–hand holding, cuddles, funny words and phrases. I want to celebrate her and cherish this moment! I’m doing my best, but my burdens feel extra heavy today.

We are in the midst of many changes, transitions, and unknowns. Both the hubby and I are wrapping up businesses that we have been running for many years. Our house is for sale and a big move is on the horizon. We are not in control of the timeline. We are not able to walk away from our obligations here yet. We are still in the phase of tying up lose ends and there is no firm date on when this phase will be done. We deliberate over every single decision we make for ourselves and our kids. How long will we be here? Do we commit to this? We have felt callings that seem to be done. We are feeling called to something new that is unknown. It’s scary, it’s exciting, it’s exhausting.

Feeling stretched in every direction, carefree is the last thing I have felt for awhile. We have felt called to this very place, this very moment, but as we sit in it, my faith begins to waver. I hear things that people say and start to claim them as my truth. “Maybe your house isn’t selling yet because God is closing a door on your move.” This isn’t what we’ve felt God saying to us and yet I’m starting to ask if it’s true. I dare not even speak the other things people have casually said that I have secretly wondered about as truth, though I really, truly believe deep down that they are not. Like Job’s friends, people around us often have good intentions but which are not true to God’s will in our lives.

Am I going through something harder than what others face? Absolutely not. I am thankful every day for life, for health, for stability, for a roof over my head and food on my table. I do not take these things for granted. I am not in the desperate situation that Job found himself in when he cried out to God, asking Him what the heck was going on. And yet, I wonder. I waver. I worry. Job’s words to the Lord reminded me of my place. Job 42:2:

I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, “Who is this that obscures my plan without knowledge?” Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.

Today I am going to let myself sit still in this place of tiredness, both physical, mental, and spiritual. I want to rest fully in God and let Jesus carry the burdens that I am just too worn out to carry today. I want to embrace today and feel carefree in the place I am.

Whisper of Hope, Expecting Great Things

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning, I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.

Psalm 5:3

For any parent who has raised a strong-willed child (look to my parents and my in-laws), there are days where the battle feels relentless and hopeless. Add to a strong-will things like high sensitivity, intelligence, a low tolerance for injustice, and some big emotions that occasionally precede big reactions (if you’re still reading and can relate, hang in there…), then your battles feel exhausting, frightening, and completely out of control. As the parent who homeschools our children and is primarily the one with them, these battles have left me defeated, scared, lying on the floor in a hallway or in a bathroom, too spent to even weep. Fortunately, my husband has invested a good portion of his own sanity into similar battles with our kids and understands when I plead for permission to give up (yet doesn’t let me).

Any parent who has really spent a significant time in a constant power struggle with a child will know that at some point your mind starts to wonder about the future. It is easy, so easy, for fear to seep in. We start to wonder what their future relationships will look like, we fear about their (in)ability to function in school, in a job. On bad days we envision them in a hospital or behind bars and we shudder. Worse than the exhausting struggles are the places we go in our heads.

With children about to enter the pre-teen and teen years, my worries double. How can an emotionally volatile child handle the hormones of puberty?! I have to talk myself out of victim mentality because often a parent can feel wounded and traumatized by a child’s outbursts, words, tantrums. I have to remember that I LOVE fiercely beyond words these people whom God placed in my arms. I have to embrace the kind of unconditional love that the Father has given me and I cannot cling to a victim mentality.

This is where I’ve been. I’ve walked dark valleys and have spent far too little time on mountaintops as a mother. But I want to cherish those mountain tops! I want to hold those moments up as HOPE! In my dark moments, I need to remember the times that hope shone forth.

Today was one of those days. Our family joked about it light-heartedly, but upon reflection, it was a bigger moment to me than anyone else can imagine.

After picking up my very feistiest daughter (don’t correct my grammar, sometimes bad grammar is necessary) from a class, she quickly informed me that another student from her class was chasing after and tripping a friend of hers, another classmate. Apparently, this is common behavior. She informed me that she turned to said bully and in her sweet but deep voice said, “{Name of bully}, stop it.” Preach.

Our family joked with her…did you give him “the look”? Meaning, the look of burning rage that is usually directed at one of us. She happily confirmed and she informed us that he stopped and seemed almost surprised. My first reaction was (ugh, typical!) of guilt. I apologized for not getting to her class in time to walk her and her friend out of the building (I had no idea this other child was picking on anyone). But she consoled me, “It’s ok, mom, {Name of bully} needs to learn.” Hahaha! I internally laughed hysterically! Of course, my petite little girl would be the one to teach him a lesson! Of course she figured she was just the one to do it! No bully could imagine the fury they could face from such a sweet and soft-spoken girl! We applauded her and teased her that we were happy she was finally using her rage for good. She took the teasing well and I think she was empowered.

As sane human beings, we teach non-violence in our family based on the teaching and life of Jesus. Matthew 5:38-40 tells us not to resist an evil person. But I also teach my three girls that we stand up for others. We defend the cause of the defenseless. Isaiah 1:17 says, “Learn to do right. Seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” I teach them at a very early age that we cannot hit or bite others, but if there is a bad person trying to hurt them, they should bite and hit and scream. (As preschoolers, they are flabbergasted by this!) As they get older, we talk about what it means to stand up for others. I want my kids to be creative in the face of oppression, injustice, and bullying. A skinny, quiet little girl growling a command at a bully would certainly be unexpected.

The hope I was given by such a little incident was that indeed my child was created by a loving and perfect God. The very traits that I have tried to pray away or at least tame are indeed the very traits that God will use to change the world through her. Who will fight injustice except those who feel it so deeply and are passionate enough and, Lord help me, persistent enough to see the fight through? Who can grab attention with softly spoken words except one who has a fire burning in her eyes and belly? My prayer is no longer to quench that fire, but for it to be flamed by the Holy Spirit. My prayer is that my daughter grasps at a young age that her battle is not against flesh–mankind, but against the powers of the dark world we do not see. My prayer is that I can show her what it means to pray for my enemies and bless those that persecute me.

Our world needs more quiet voices that firmly and persistently whisper the truth. Whisper hope. In a time when we are overwhelmed by the voices that shout the loudest, the quiet truth will prevail. Hope.

Without the Answers

Before I place a word down, I feel like I need the answers. I can sometimes vomit emotions and irrational thoughts and fears into my journal, but the perfectionist in me feels the need to find the solution before I can put the problem down in words. I am afraid of sounding negative, needy, desperate, and/or crazy. Correction: I’m afraid that a reader somewhere will find out that I am all those things. So I hold myself back from writing and my lack of posts and journal entries proves how few answers I have.

Today I found myself defeated by 8:30am. I was in tears by about 10am. The day felt completely lost, unredeemable. I decided I have four options:

  1. Run away. I debated this…unsure of where I would go. Sleeping in my van would totally cut it for a night or two, but we are nearing the end of Oct. in Minnesota and I think my contact solution would freeze. And me.
  2. Find out I have a fatal disease, not tell my family, refuse treatment. Die. This sounds dramatic and insensitive to people actually facing fatal diseases, of whom I am not one. Option tabled for the time-being.
  3. Hate my life, my family, my situation.
  4. Quit caring. Step back from all the things I can’t seem to control (though I think 10 year old children should be in the category of things I should at least partially control), give up for the day.

So option four it is. I feel hopeless, I feel frustrated, I feel angry. I may have offered God some ultimatums (for which I promptly apologized, but then said, “But really, God… I can’t go on like this!”). Today I had to choose to give up on parenting, homeschooling, and discipling my difficult child. It is so contrary to what we are told we should do. How often I have wanted to say, “I give up on this child! I give up on parenting!” but either someone close to me or I talk myself down from this ledge. Today I decided that standing on that ledge is the very best I can do. For today. I hope that tomorrow is a fresh start, but today I have to quit. Choosing to not care for today is the best I can do. I have beat myself up for years and have allowed myself to place the blame on my shoulders. Today I hear my other child say she is frustrated dealing with the same stuff that I’m frustrated dealing with. I see myself in a crazy cycle with no interruption and no respite. So for today, I quit. Maybe I’ll still be “quit” tomorrow, too, but today I’m resting in the knowledge that it’s all I have.

An Abundance of What?

I often slip into the life of warp-speed where everything we do has to be done fast because we have got a LOT to do, people! I’m never sure of when it was that I crossed the line from a schedule that is “full” to one that seems to be demanding my very life from me.  Life with children is a certain kind of busy, but there are times when I find ourselves (over)committed to too many “good” things that demand too much of our precious time.

When I cross the line from busy to insanity, I become irritable (some people might use a harsher term to describe the mood and I would not disagree).  It is no exaggeration to say that the whole family suffers from a too-busy schedule. When I realize that we are in “insane schedule territory,” I desperately try to think of ways to slam on the brakes. I am very rarely a person who backs out of commitments, so of course for awhile, I fantasize excusable reasons to run away from my obligations. These fantasies include crazy things like wishing a heart attack on myself (not a bad one…just one where I obviously need to recoup a little), having another baby (thinking that this excuse is less stressful than my schedule goes to show you how stressful I find my schedule), or wishing my hubby found a great job opportunity in Latin America, or preferably, across an ocean. Of course I really don’t think any of these are a great option, so eventually I move on to find alternative escapes from my frenzied life.

Like anything, I turn to Google. I find a blogpost like this, a beautiful post, and realize that reading a list of tips for “slow living” feels like another checklist that I can’t live up to. I begin to wonder if my problem is mindset. The blogger writes encouragingly about lovely things like “going back in time” and doing things like hanging your laundry outside and baking your own bread. I think how hanging my laundry outdoors is another CHORE on a long list of to-dos (but I did it, gosh darn it!) but baking bread just isn’t going to make the list. Then I start to beat myself up. Why aren’t I baking my bread? Isn’t that what good mothers and wives do?! Sure, I just hung my laundry out to dry today, but I get an “F” in the baking fresh bread department.

Eventually, a hectic schedule also becomes a source of failures. I’m running around like a crazy woman and I forgot something on my grocery list. Fail. While trying to multitask, I break a dish or forget to pick up a kid at dance. Fail. I’m trying to make crafts for my girls to replicate (and thus score some fun memories in which I am the heroine crafty mom) but really all I want to do is swear at the ugly failures I’m producing. We should read more? try more sports? listen to more live music? interact inter-generationally? minister? spend more time with family and friends? More, more, more! And at every corner, there is more to do and more ways to feel not-enough. Like a failure.

This isn’t what Jesus was telling us about when he promised us life to the full. Not a life full of activities, obligations, should’ve/could’ve regrets, and millions of missed opportunities. John 10:10 quotes Jesus: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” In a very busy schedule, beautiful little moments with my oh-so-quickly-growing children are being stolen. My joy is being killed in the constant pressure of doing it all and doing it well. I see the sweetness of my marriage being destroyed as I become tense, business-like, and probably definitely unbearable.

I’m not an innocent victim in my family’s unraveling sanity. I am the chief culprit. I can blame culture, others’ expectations, the church, my children’s needs, or blame my weaknesses instead of my choices. So here I am. In the midst of the wrong kind of abundance, what do I do? I’m past the point of doing the “little” things like eating more slowly to enjoy my food, taking a walk in nature, driving slower….(eyeroll)…friends, I’m romanticizing life-threatening health conditions so I can get a little rest…I need a slightly more dramatic approach to deal with my hectic schedule.

I realize that two big factors in the choices that get me to this point (“choices” such as: sign the kids up for that! come on over to our house! we should totally go to that! I can help plan that! how can I drum up more business? I should really be helping so and so…) are 1. insecurity and 2. a desire to be enough for everyone. I compare myself to others and only see the multitude of ways that I do not measure up. Eager to not disappoint or hurt, I try to find any way possible to be what someone else needs me to be. Whether this is my child, my husband, my family, a friend, or my church, I don’t want them to think I don’t value them and so I must find whatever way possible to be who they need me to be or do what they need me to do. (Unfortunately, I think my husband is the least demanding of me and probably ends up with what very little is left at the end.) One of my Google searches led me to an article that encouraged me to quit trying so hard. Easy to say, harder to do–or not do–whatever.

It’s more than just not trying so hard. It’s more than self-talking myself into believing I’m good enough and I’m smart enough. It’s refocusing my vision for my life. Jesus has called me his–not because of anything I’ve done or because of who I am, but wholly because of what he has done on my behalf because of Who God is. Isaiah 30:15: 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.” He has shown me what is good (Micah 6:8 is what I consider to be one of my life verses) and yet I continually try desperately to do what is good in man’s eyes. I forget that character is what I do when no one is watching and instead I try to put on a publicly cheerful mask as I seek my worth in deeds and activities.

Change begins with identifying myself with God alone, in Christ alone. Repenting from a life lived for others. I’m praying that with peace will come an easy way to lighten my own load and escape the obligations I never should have tied myself to in the first place. Feeling hopeful instead of trapped….

A Word on Suffering

Today I was listening to Christian radio and heard theses words by Oswald Chambers regarding suffering:

{Rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings. —1 Peter 4:13}

“If you are going to be used by God, He will take you through a multitude of experiences that are not meant for you at all, they are meant to make you useful in His hands, and to enable you to understand what transpires in other souls so that you will never be surprised at what you come across.”

Although I think that somewhere deep in my soul, I knew this, and I am pretty sure that at some point or another, other people have said this to me, today was the day that I was ready to understand it and accept it.  Maybe my heart was finally ready or maybe Chambers’ phrasing was perfect.  But it gave me so much peace!

I tend to respond to difficulties in a few different ways and often I fluctuate in my responses to the same situation.  One moment I suffer in self-pity.  I wonder why God has put this difficulty on me and why others seem to sail through life without the same issue.  In other words, I am grumbling about a painful thorn in my side and doubting that God’s grace is actually sufficient.

Another moment, the perfectionist pleaser in me wonders what it is that I need to learn.  Surely God gave me this heartache to teach me something!  Is there some sin in my life that I haven’t dealt with?  Am I prideful?  Am I lacking in faith?  The words of Job’s friends echo in my own soul and I condemn myself of hidden iniquities.

There are times I resign myself to a sort of acceptance where I figure God wants to be glorified through this hard thing. How can I respond in a way that glorifies Him?  Joy in the sorrow?  Praise in the storm?

But all three of my responses are about ME.  —-YUCK!  When I realized this, I was overcome with repulsion and shame.  Chambers points out that many of the hard things that I go through aren’t about me!!!!!  They’re not even about how I can glorify Him (after all, even that is about me and my response).  In fact, the hardships and heartaches that I have experienced have given me a depth of empathy for those around me who hurt.

When a broken woman tells me she has had a miscarriage, I know what comfort it brings to have another woman whisper, “I have lost little ones, too.”

When a beautiful sister in Christ tells me she is struggling with a dark depression, I offer prayers and phone calls from someone who understands that sometimes there is nothing we can do about the darkness but cling to a loving God.

Just recently a precious friend and her two precious little ones had a stomach virus and then a terrible flu– back to back. One after the other.  Bless their hearts…..I nearly cried remembering the winter that I had two little ones (one still nursing, just like my friend’s baby) and we fought off illnesses and viruses non-stop.  I remember lying in bed and wondering if I was dead or alive.  I remembered my own moments and so I remembered to check up on my friend, brought soup to her door step (I love her but I was NOT going in there!), prayed faithfully, and offered sympathy.  I wouldn’t have known how much those things meant if I hadn’t had my own days of being a sick mama to sick babies.

God does not want us to be put off by the hard things in this life.  In other’s lives or our own.  There is sin and horribleness all around in our broken world. We shouldn’t try to run from it.  It may not be possible to embrace it, but to know that if God allows me to go through it, I must not worry so much about the “me” part as much as the “God” part.  It still hurts; I will still probably struggle through stages of my sinful reactions, but at the end (or in the midst) of the battle, may I be used.

John Denver and the Holy Spirit

We went to a John Denver Tribute concert last night with some friends.  We obviously have awesome friends who would attend this show with us–as it turns out, besides one or two other couples, we were by FAR a generation younger than all the other attendees!  It was an enjoyable concert, as you would expect (no sarcasm, I’m serious….a dude looking and sounding like John Denver singing the man’s greatest hits….it was amazing).  One song began that I wasn’t familiar with and as I listened to the words, I was stabbed with that deep conviction that you know comes from the Holy Spirit.  The song, “Matthew,” includes this line in the chorus: “Joy was just a thing that he was raised on…”

Am I raising my kids on joy?  Of course we have our moments of fun, laughter, pure joy, but so often I default to things like stress, frustration, impatience, or just a whole lot of blah.  Is joy a way of life for us?  Does the joy of the Lord bubble up from within me?

I was truly convicted–I’m still not sure how I can make room for more joy in my heart and in my home, but I know that whenever I seek something godly with all my heart, the Lord doesn’t deny me.  Change can hurt and be difficult, but I trust Him to begin the change in me.  I began with reading about joy in the Bible….I know there are so many verses with the word “joy” in them, but I wasn’t sure what the Word says about living in joy.  Wondering how to “make” more joy in my life (because I’m a real do-it-yourselfer), the doxology in Jude reminded me that it is GOD who is able to bring this about in me.

A few of the verses that spoke most to me:

(All emphasis and italics mine.)

Psalm 126:2 “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.  Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.””

Jesus said in John 17:13, “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.”

1 Thessalonians 1:6, “You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.”

Doxology from Jude:24, “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy–to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”

Tell Me What You REALLY Think About Homeschooling

We are in our fourth year of homeschooling.  It’s great and challenging; full of wonderful things and also full of headaches and moments of insanity.  The first year or two that we homeschooled, I didn’t hear too much negativity from other people about our choice.  I faced some opposition, but overall, people politely smiled and said (perhaps falsely, but who cares) “Good for you!”

I’m pretty sure the Lord was protecting my sensitive and insecure spirit during those first years.  I was so unsure of myself, I surely couldn’t have handled anyone else being unsure of me, too.  So I took all those smiles and fake “good for yous” and just pretended the world was supportive and thought the best of my family’s little adventure in education.

Lately, I’ve been amused at how opinionated people like to be with touchy subjects like homeschooling.  In the last year, I’ve faced comments such as (all comments listed below have actually been said to someone in my family)….

“And they just let  you do that?!”  Apparently “they” is the authorities and this individual was shocked I wasn’t in jail.  Thank heavens America isn’t there yet.

“You’re not going to do that THE WHOLE WAY THROUGH,  are you?”  The  question sounded slightly menacing.

To my children, “Do you even learn?”  My kids were so dumbfounded by this question, they kind of laughed and then became speechless.  They have obviously not learned how to respond to preposterous questions.

“The thing I’m jealous about with kids that homeschool is they get way more days off.”  Oh, contrary, youngster.  We school through all those ridiculous holidays your government-funded school takes off.  And no, they don’t get to do their school in their PJ’s.

“The good thing about Common Core is that it will keep homeschoolers accountable, like the homeschooling mom who sits home all day and watches Dr. Phil.”  I would like to find said mom and give her a stern talking-to.  Because 1. Dr. Phil  makes ya’all stupider and 2. you’re making the rest of us look bad.  Come on.

I won’t even bother with the usual culprits, “What about their socialization?  But how do you know how to teach if you don’t have a teaching degree?  It’s so nice that you’re home all day–can you watch my kids?  We send our kids to school because we don’t think that we should isolate/over-protect/insulate/quarantine them.”

I rarely have to wonder what people think about the education that we’re giving our kids.  They are so happy to offer me their generous thoughts!

Unfortunately, many people obviously don’t hold homeschooling in high regard.  The people-pleaser in me really has to work hard to put this aside.  I know that I have high educational expectations for my kids (based on their capabilities).  I know that homeschooling is about more than just the kind of education that school can give.  I also have the responsibility of molding Godly behaviors, teaching respect that starts with a fear of the Lord, and showing the love and forgiveness that Christ showed us.  I want my children to love science because God created the world around them.  I want them to understand math to see that God is a God of order, not disorder.  I want them to love literature so that they can empathize with people and understand different perspectives.   I want them to enjoy music and art so that they can express joy and praise to God.  I want them to learn to get along with their family members (often the ones we struggle the most to get along with!) so that they can learn to work out differences and learn loyalty and kindness.

It’s not for everyone.  I’m not one to defend my choice by demeaning yours.  With prayer and God’s grace, public or private school won’t ruin your kid, just like by the same grace, I won’t ruin mine by teaching them at home!  Show the love, people.  (And keep your opinion to yourself until someone asks for it.)

 

 

 

Renewal

What does it mean to be renewed?  To be made new?  To renew something….  Is it simply a fresh start?  To start again?  To begin where one left off?  Whatever it is, it’s time for me to begin this blog again.  To start up where I left off or at least to just simply start fresh.  Here we go.

So, about that quiet

My last blog post, from June, was about quiet.  And something about how I was needing it.  Anyone that ventures on to this little old blog got a whole lot of quiet from me, but that doesn’t mean that life was quiet for me.  Much has happened in these many months, probably more than I am ready to dig into now.  So today I’m starting by breaking my blogging silence.

Prayer has been on my mind a lot lately.  Partly because our small group is reading Philip Yancey’s book called (simply), “Prayer.”  But also because prayer is such a big part of my life and yet it is such a confusing and sometimes frustrating thing.  There are days and weeks and months and seasons where prayer feels like I’m simply making a wish upon a star.  Praying feels no more powerful than hoping.

Don’t get me wrong–God has answered, in mighty ways, some of my prayers.  I have been blown away at the blessed details that God puts into His answers.  He has proven Himself to be Provider, Protector, and Lover of my Soul.  I’ve been thankful that many of the prayers I’ve lifted up have been answered with a “no.”  There have been times when prayer has been life-changing and earth-shattering to me.

But lately prayer, though still something I do in faith and in obedience, feels empty.  I feel like I am shouting, whispering, pleading, into space….into nothing.  My faith journey has included times, like now, where God seems quiet.  Distant.  I pray for what I consider to be some pretty big things: a friend’s addiction, friends and family members battling cancer, another friend waiting on pins and needles to bring home her adopted child.  I pray to what seems to be this quiet void and I secretly wonder if all these things will fall through and be unanswered because I’m praying under a glass ceiling.  Are my prayers just bouncing back and falling down all around me?

I don’t fear this silence particularly, but I do wish I could crack it.  Deep down, I don’t really doubt God or the fact that He is hearing my prayers.  I just don’t know how it all works.  I feel uncomfortable that prayer isn’t some equation that I just have to do correctly in order to get the right answer.  I know how very, very small I am compared to a magnificent God.  I think of God asking Job, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” Who am I to question when God chooses to be silent? Who am I to ask why He is silent for a time?

I continue to seek quiet in my soul and in my life–perhaps all that is buzzing around me is drowning out that still, small voice that I am longing to hear.