Friday, August 31, 2012

Change

Change has happened so much recently in our house that it seems this is possibly the normal and change would actually be a settled down life.
I used to crave change. I thought if we would move, I would get to start over, I would get to be a new me, one that maybe people liked a lot more
And the first time I got to change, was college. A new scenery and I loved it.
But over the past few years change has become our new constant. And I crave the normalcy of no change.
The thing I am thankful for is that despite all the changes we face, the moving, the new friends, new church, new grocery store, new running routes, new schedules, new everything. Despite the new starting outs. God does not change.
And this convicts me, because as a child of God, I am held up by that promise, that God does not change. He is constant.
I think in the midst of my changes, I need to keep some constants in my life, some same stories read, the same bed, the same favorite meals. Things that make change a little easier for all these little people counting on me to get them through the change.

This post was written for 5 minute Fridays..



Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"Where is the me time Billy?!?!"

This is one of my favorite moments in the show "Friday Night Lights."
Disclaimer (there is one not so nice word in this clip)

My husband and I quote this all the time.  "Where's the me time Billy?"

I have been very blessed to have a husband who fully supports me and me time, he is generous enough to give it whenever I need it even if he has had a long day, because he really wants a happy wife. I am very thankful, and I want time for me. But I think sometimes this is something that gets in the way of letting me be who God wants me to be. The "well done good and faithful servant" as a mom might look like this: Completely empty, wiped on the floor, crawling to bed because I was poured out serving my family and my kids. And this does not always sound appealing to me, well honestly the whole "wiped out" "crawling to bed" rarely sounds appealing.

So I usually find some "me time" so I can maybe have some more "me time" when my kids go to bed. And it is possible that I am the guiltiest of all the moms I know. I know many moms that work all day, serving families and doing what they do, then put kids to bed and stay up late working. I am not one of those people. But I admire those people.

I somehow need a reward for everything, and I teach my kids it too. I need chocolate to get through the rough morning, with little sleep from a child up all night coughing and others taking advantage of the sleep deprived mom fighting, and doctor's visits that last two hours. Maybe we should get McDonald's, that will make today better. Or stop for coffee. I think I need wine tonight, after the day I had. Or maybe I need to go out and spend some time alone. I am by no means saying any of these things are bad. And I am not saying that I do not make these excuses two to three times a day.Excuses for reward. BUT I am saying that maybe just maybe this is what is causing me to be stuck. This is what is preventing me from actually living out the life God has called me to.

And as moms I think we really encourage this behavior in each other. We laugh and nod our heads in full agreement when we hear another mom's story about the fit their child threw. And we agree wholeheartedly that they need a break. And I write it on this blog, the need I have for a break, for someone to give me an excuse for a treat or reward. But what if I did not look for an excuse, what if I pushed through. I sat up and rocked all night, holding close the child who was coughing, I calmly put the fighting children in time out over and over again until they showed a hint of a heart that changed. A heart that maybe is also reflecting a change in her mother who did not scream back. What if I smiled politely at the doctor who had a really rough morning, overbooked with sick kids and gave some grace. What if then I went home and thanked God for an opportunity to love with God's love, to be different in this world? What if I thanked God for a chance to grow, a chance to become more Christ like? What if I did not just get by, but seized each opportunity. I think it would bless my children and me, if I did not settle for a "getting by" "reward due" life, if I set the standard a little higher and persevered when it got a little hard or a lot hard. If I lived a life that was a blessing because I gave all I had to give.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

To Homeschool or Not Homeschool-- That is my question!


This issue is VERY sensitive, I know. And people I love and care about have very strong feelings, ideas, thoughts about homeschooling. But this is just my thoughts on it, where we are at today.

I had sworn I would never homeschool. I can remember as a college student picking out the kids who were probably homeschooled because of how socially awkward they were. I was surprisingly wrong... apparently awkward kids even go to public school. BUT I was certain that the majority of homeschooled kids were awkward. And then I met some families that homeschooled, and I thought, "those kids are not really weird... but the mom is INSANE for not wanting to send them away for a few hours a day." I knew that I would be a mom with a career. I knew that I wanted my kids to go to school.

And then school time came. And the school system we were in was not great, we could not afford private school and my Anya was young. I figured, if I messed it all up, it would be OK, because there was always next year, she could still do Kindergarten when she was 4 almost 5, so we did school. And I knew not a whole lot about it, I was determined to teach her to read. I figured that was enough for a child who just turned four. I forced her for two hours a day to read with me. We did Explode the Code. And I did not realize that the eight books are supposed to last until 4th grade. SO I made her complete one book a month. By the time April came she was reading three syllable words and having to fill in crossword puzzles. I finally read the recommended use of the books and realized that we were half way through book 7 and she was 4. We put it all away for the year and called it good. And I counted it a kind of success. She could read, she knew some basic math and we had done some kind of cool projects for history. So we decided to do it again, because we were moving in a year, and why start a new school when you are getting ready to move. Then we moved, and her sister had just one year until kindergarten, so why not start them together. Then another baby came. I came up with a new reason every year to keep them home. And I loved it, not all of it, not every day. But I loved our later breakfasts, our discussions, our laughing, that if we fought, it was resolved within the hour, not eight hours later when they got home. I loved that when school was done at noon (which it almost always was) they could play together.They were kids and they could play.  And they could do activities in the evening like gymnastics and AWANA, and it was OK because they had spent the whole day with me and they were not worn out. I loved the flexibility of being able to go visit family not on set vacations. I have always said we would homeschool as long as it worked for our family, and so far it was working. I know some  people think I am insane like I used to about those moms who chose to stay home with their kids. And some people do not think they are cut out for it. I do not know if it is something you are cut out for or something you choose to make yourself cut out for. It is not easy, it is work and it is another one of those sanctifying things in life, like marriage and motherhood. So far it has been worth it.

BUT this year has been one of the hardest years of my life... including job loss, looking for new job, broken foot, foot surgery and moving to a brand new state. I also worked part-time this year, which was quite a change for me. Two days a week, I left their lesson plans and then just tried to catch up on the days I was home. But it was not easy. And then we moved, and I could not even imagine trying to start school. I just wanted a break. I have never not been excited at the beginning of a school year to get out the books and start fresh. David has been begging to do school when we move to Arkansas. He could not wait to start. He is only four but I thought before moving it would be great to start reading with him. But it never came, the excitement to homeschool. I considered over and over, just sending them to school. I know public schools are not bad. I went to public school. I LOVED school. So, I cried and talked to my husband and prayed (probably not enough of this one). I really just did not want to do it this year. But I kept hearing this voice in my head. I was at a conference several years ago for moms, and I went to hear a women speak on homeschooling. She said her son usually comes with her, but he couldn't because he was in college now and had something going on, but he asked her to share one thing. She said, "He asked me to tell you not to give up on us, the kids don't give up on your kids." And that was exactly what I felt like I was doing. I am tired, but does that mean I should not be a mom? I know sometimes, the best thing is to take a break. Sometimes the best thing is to step back and say, lets try something new for one year. But also sometimes the best thing is to push through, to persevere, and to not give up. Sometimes the best things take a lot of work even when they are hard.

So, last night we took a few minutes to just review why we homeschool.  I homeschool because I want to keep my children safe. I want to protect them. And I know that many people will not agree that is a good reason, but I am going to disagree. Because that is my job as mom. To protect them while they are small and help them find their wings and push them when they are ready. I homeschool because I want them to have a foundation that is solid, their identity grounded in who God made them to be. I want them to be in a safe place where they can make mistakes and and fail and know that they are loved regardless. I want to protect them now while they are young and then be ready to send them off when they are ready, I am not sure when that will be and pray that God will give me wisdom to know. I do not homeschool because I am the best teacher, I question that a lo. Thankfully I am married to a very gifted teacher, who has agreed for the first time in our five years of teaching to help. He is going to take over Latin and Art and Theology. And they could not have a better teacher for those things. And I will do the things I love like curling up on the couch and reading really good books and talk about what we learned. We will do a lot of review on grammar and keep on with our math. We are going to meet with a group to do some of our history and memorization. And we are going to do some nature notebooking and spend more time outside learning about God's creation for science. And we will continue to take it one year at a time... or maybe one semester at a time this year.

Coffee!!!

I love coffee, I am not overly particular about it, but it is rare that I go a day without it. I started just being able to drink Starbucks. We should have bought stock in the company because "grande nonfat no-whip mocha" became such a common phrase in my house that my two year could tell her father what mom would want if he was at Starbucks. Well, our budget does not love Starbucks, so it became more like a once a week phrase. However, we have  now moved to a place where while running I hear roosters crowing and cows mooing early in the morning and the closest Starbucks is 40 minutes away!!! Thankfully as a going away present my bosses bought me a Keurig. (I had dreamed of one for over a year) And my running friends bought me some Starbucks K-cups. So I have been making due. 

But then we went to a new friend's house who was talking about making your coffee healthier. They add butter from grass fed cows and coconut oil instead of creamer or milk. As they described it, the butter from grass fed cows has more omega 3's which help your body absorb the other things we need from fruits and vegetables throughout the rest of the day. (full disclaimer that this was just information I blindly accepted as true-- I do know that the butter from grass fed cows does have more omega 3s and I have heard they are good for you) and coconut oil has lots of health benefits, some of which can be found here. So, I am giving it a try, since Starbucks is clearly out.  

Monday, August 27, 2012

Fighting Fear


“Fear Not, I Have Redeemed You, I Have Called You by Name, You are Mine.” Isaiah 43:10

It is one of the verses from a silly song that my kids used to listen to over and over. The A-Z scripture verses. It was the letter “F” and it is the one that sticks with me four or five years later. It is kind of funny how with each child has come more fear. More concern over their lives and more over mine.

I used to be quite fearless. I was confident in the idea that I would try anything once. I was certain if given the opportunity I would bungee jump off a bridge or jump off a cliff into a pristine lake. I loved to have my heart race. I was surprised then, when I decided to work part-time at a camp several years ago, and they asked us to try everything once I was faced with fear. I was working in the high ropes course, and there was a zip line. I had never been on a zip line. They asked me to try it, and with trepidation I stepped off that ledge and flew at an insane speed down through the air attached only by some tiny wire thing to another tiny wire thing. I was quite certain I was going to be dead from a heart attack by the time my feet touched ground. Once I reached the end, I was greeted with eager individuals, “That wasn’t so bad was it!” “Don’t you want to do it again?” I looked at them in disgust! Absolutely! Positively! NEVER! I could feel tears stinging my eyes. And the director reassured me that this did seem to happen once people became parents.

And, it is probably a good thing, to have some fear, not the fearlessness of an eighteen year old who thinks they are immortal. But it has taken over some parts of my life. Flying for example, I HATE to fly, I do not know why that in my late twenties it finally occurred to me that planes fly through the air and being someone who knows nothing about physics or science, this makes no sense to me HOW they fly through the air. So, flying for me now is a horrible experience.

The place I hate fear has taken the greatest hold is in my children. They are taking on my fears. Fear of storms and spiders, sickness and the unknown. It makes my heart break. I want their lives to be full of hopes and dreams, not darkened by fear. Because I have these hopes and dreams for them bigger than any I had for myself. I spoke with my daughter last night about how this fear that sometimes cripples her to the point of not being able to leave the house is so far from what God has planned for her. And she knows, this is not the life, the life to the fullest that God has planned for her.

I share the few things that have changed my view on fear. The first is something my mom always said, when I would say that God would protect me. She would say that I was right, that as long as I was not testing God, He would protect me… now jumping off a cliff, that was testing God, but being wise and using good judgment, there is no need to live in fear. She is right after all my travel and adventures, the one major injury I sustained was walking down my basement stairs in my home. It was not while climbing on a mountain or white water rafting. It was carrying a bread machine down the stairs while talking on the phone. Also, I remember a woman sharing at a retreat her fear of flying after nearly crashing. She said God spoke so clearly to her that she could not fellowship with fear and God. There is only room for one. I would so much rather fellowship with God.  And I will fight fear for my children, with them, holding to the promises we are given.  Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Practicing Silence

I literally found myself the other day talking to a group of moms about a moth. I stood there, in a group of moms I had never met before and I felt the need to fill the silence, so, I came up with this VERY random statement about a moth. A friend was kind enough to introduce me to a group of women because she knew I did not know anyone. So after all the introductions there was silence, and so I decided to fill it. I specifically said, "When we were leaving a moth flew into our house." Silence. I continued, "I am so glad it was not a wasp." Silence, then the awkward looking around and everyone quietly scattered to other parts of the playground. I just felt this need to fill the silence.

I remember this moment in my life. It is probably one of those moments my dad was not really aware would have affected me to this day. It is one of those moments I probably have had with my own children, when I said something that possibly has crushed them and I did not even realize it, or maybe I did, in anger, but immediately regretted it. I am not sure my dad's reasoning behind it, but it has never left me. And in that moment, I thought I was defective. We were driving in the car just my dad and me. I have no idea where we were going, but I remember him saying, "I wish you were your sister, at least then you would have something to talk about." See, I was comfortable with silence, I was a quiet kid. And my dad also is more introverted, although, apparently not as comfortable with silence. Anyways, he said it, and I am not sure if he meant it or was just frustrated, but it stuck with me. And for years I had struggled with this fault in me, and tried to be more like my sister. To have something to say, to not let their be silence. 

But, I have learned there are moments to listen and others to speak. I have learned silence is not bad. It is definitely better than talking about moths. Sometimes it is in the silence that the most is said and it is necessary for silence to hear. I have learned that like our moms have said "when you have nothing nice to say do not say anything at all." I think I would modify it to say, "if you have nothing to say, don't just say something." Because sometimes when I am talking to fill this defect in me, I might be missing something. Because sometimes in the noise, I just cannot hear. And definitely when I am talking to fill a void I will make a fool of myself. I cannot tell you the number of emails I have sent to people I have met with or friends I have chatted with, apologizing for all the excess words I have said, that were not beneficial or helpful. Words that I used to just fill the silence. Words that I decided to fill instead of listening for their words to fill. And so I will have to continue to practice silence.





Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Am I cut out for this?

So, today, I find myself wondering what on earth God was thinking when he gave me this child. Those of you who know me well, I do not even need to say which child it is. I know the Lord knows exactly what He is doing, and somehow thinks that I am capable of raising this girl, but right at this moment there is not one ounce of me that agrees!

We are not anywhere near settled in, but my girls in particular are dying to make new friends. Karis has chosen the bold route of just asking every random girl that looks close to her age at the pool if they will be her friend. Her next question is what church they go to and apparently somewhere in there what they weigh?!?! SO I now know random information about a few little girls that swim at our pool, including if they go to church and their weight.  I am not sure how this all goes, but so far it has NOT resulted in a best friend. So, maybe a more subtle approach...

We invited over a mom that I met at a homeschool group meeting. She too has four children. The oldest between my two girls age. Things were going O.K. There were the random screams, the insects Karis made out of paper that she was throwing at the other girls... have I mentioned that we have recently been finding cockroaches in our house?!?!? Well, she knew this would get Anya riled up. SO she made her own insects and then begged me to let her go get a grasshopper to throw at them and scare them. I nixed that but it took a few minutes of really putting my foot down.

The thing with this girl is that she REALLY, REALLY wants people to like her. And if you laugh at her, success, usually. But sometimes it just gets carried away. And I think that is what happened here. I am not exactly sure WHAT happened, but Anya came to mention that Karis was being just a bit too rough. SO I asked Karis to just come sit with me a few minutes to calm down. She folded her arms and refused, with that look of, "You will get nowhere, I am fighting this to the death!" And that is exactly what happened in front of my guest. She screamed at me, slapped me, refused to move. I finally had to say I was going to ask our friends to leave, which is probably what I should have done at that point, in hindsight it would have been better. But she followed me to my room, screaming at me the entire time. I told her she needed to stay in there for 10 minutes and then we would talk, she refused, screaming and yelling how much she hates me and I am NOT her mother. I ignored her, shut the door, and tried to wrap up the conversation I was having with this mother, which I was doing choking back tears in my eyes, as my child is breaking my heart in the other room with the horrible things she is screaming at me.

Her ten minutes ran out and I went to talk to her, but she refused throwing things and dumping unpacked boxes on her head, I said fine, and left to really wrap up with this mom. A few minutes later she walked out and just started playing with the other kids, not one word to me. It was time for them to leave. I was still at this point just broken, trying to figure out how to get through to my precious child that I love her, but this is COMPLETELY unacceptable. She could tell something was wrong, and she asked, "What is the matter, mom?" I told her she had embarrassed me and upset me. Unfortunately the embarrassed part probably was ruling my reaction more than anything. But her actions were unacceptable and she owed me an apology. Her response, "Why, what did I do?" That is the thing, I do not know if she even is aware of what just took place. She apologized, but then asked if there was anything else I was upset about, as if this was not enough. I told her she needed to wait a few minutes and make sure she really was sorry for what she had done. I needed her to realize that she had lost time with friends, and possibly made it that our family may never have friends in Arkansas if she continues to act and react this way!

I feel like I need a battle plan, that I need armor and wisdom. I need to know when to fight and when to let her fall on her face. She terrifies me, she is smart and sensitive. She loves with all she has in her but fights that way too. I remember a friend telling me how hard life with be for her because she feels SO much, everything affects her. She is exhausting and exciting. I believe with everything in me that God has a plan for her life, and it has the possibility of amazing, but on days like today I question whether I am the right person to prepare her for that life, to raise her and train her. Am I really cut out for this? But I HAVE to just trust that God knew exactly what He was doing when he gave her to me.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Greatest Adventure

12 years ago today I married my amazing husband. We were kids it seems when we married, and I tend to be a bit impulsive, which may be why we got engaged after only knowing each other 5 months (3 of which I was in Russia) We met in kind of a crazy way that involved him drawing a line on the ground with a piece of chalk and asking me to cross it if I was willing to get to know him, and 5 months later we got engaged with line of chalk on the ground and him on the other side on one knee asking me if I was willing to marry him to cross it. We were both young and immature and in love. We never talked about kids or having them or how many. We never talked about what we would do or where we would live. We were just in love.

My life had been full of travel and adventure before marriage, starting young. My mom had sent me to France for a few weeks when I was just 11 on an exchange program, and I was bit by the adventure bug. I traveled all over. Helping repair houses in the Appalachian Mountains, working with kids in Tijuana, Mexico ,traveling around France, missions in Russia, hiking part of the Appalachian Trail, leading backpacking trips in Tennessee. I had new adventures every year. So the summer after my Senior Year of college, I was getting married. I remember being afraid that my life of adventure would be over. AND I remember my mom saying, "Oh, this is the biggest adventure and it is just starting."And it was an adventure, but not like any I had before. A small part of me missed my life of something new and exciting every year. But there were other adventures, we moved A LOT, 6 states and 10 moves in the past 12 years. Add 4 kids in there and there are all sorts of adventures to share, but I still missed it a bit.

Then this year something unexpected happened. Well, nothing about this year has really been expected. BUT  something even more unexpected. We were moving to Arkansas. Nothing was going quite as planned, but there was this moment where we were just out of place, our stuff was in transit... we each had a suitcase and not much else. We were staying with my in-laws, but we just felt restless. So I called Nathan and said why don't we go somewhere. We don't have to be anywhere for the next week, we have nothing going on, we are just sitting around waiting, let's go see the Grand Canyon. So we made a few phone calls, to a good friend/family who live in Flagstaff and asked if we could come stay for a few days. The next day we loaded the car, with all four of our children and drove and drove, for 27 hours straight to Flagstaff, AZ. We spent four days full of blessing. Full of refreshment. We left four days later SO happy we had made that decision. Thankful for God's blessing of friends. And amazed at his creation. We drove through the night to our new home in Arkansas. And I felt my heart full as I realized that I have also been blessed with a family that is ready for adventure. My kids were a bit nervous but I reminded them of all the times they ask me to tell them about an adventure I had, and someday they will be able to share this adventure with their kids at dinner. That was all it took, they were ready. There was not one complaint, honestly, just excitement. I felt SO blessed and thankful to have my wonderful husband and children to live life with, which IS actually the greatest adventure.