Sunday, September 30, 2012

31 Days of "Things I have Learned from My Children"

I will be joining a group for the month of October to write for thirty one days. The challenge is to write every single day on one topic. I have picked...Thirty One Days of "Things I have Learned from My Children."

It has probably been the most eye opening thing as a parent to realize what a gift my children are as teachers. They teach me each day about my relationship with my Heavenly Father, what needs and wants look like and what disobedience does to relationships as well as grace. It has been a far bigger journey than I ever imagined; of God using my children to cut away and refine me while working on the process of making me holy. It has often been difficult, many times funny and always worthwhile. 

So, if you are interested in joining me over the next month as I look back on ten years of parenting and all the joys, stumbles, trials and triumphs that have brought me to a few steps closer to who Christ wants me to be, please pop over. 

OR if you are interested in any other topics, please stop by The Nester, there are some great topics being covered in the next month, I am looking forward to quite a few!


Friday, September 28, 2012

Five Minute Friday--- Grasp





I am trying this again, the Five Minute Friday challenge. It is a place where a group joins together to write on a word for five minutes. I am amazed at the thoughtfulness of others as I have often started and then given up. Searching after my failed attempt to see what on earth someone else could have thought to write on words like, “wide” or “focus” for five minutes. But I am giving it a try again, it is a great challenge!

Start

They always say to hold on to these moments, write it down, take pictures, at least mental ones, because these moments will not last.  You have to hold onto them, treasure them. I often cannot imagine what life will be like when they are grown. So I do, write it down, try to treasure little moments of songs and hand motions and giggles and laughter. I could never have imagined it though that they actually would grow up.

My oldest daughter turned ten this week, and I feel like I am grasping at time and her. Desperately holding onto time which is slipping through my hands and holding onto her but she is something I cannot hold on to. She is moving gracefully and awkwardly through life, and she is stepping out into a world that will try to grasp her away. I can hold her still now, but soon she will be free to go. And, I will always have a hand ready for her to hold on to when she does find her wings.

Stop

Continuing in Thankfulness
21. a daughter who loves to read
22. and then writes letters to the authors thanking them for their books
23. Watching my girl climb trees, her new found favorite thing.
24. A ten year old girl who still climbs in her moms lap for a hug at the end of the day.
25. And who lets her two year old sister climb in her lap at the beginning of the day to read books so her mom can go for a run.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

And in the end... Blessing (again)

I wrote this post yesterday, but I think maybe I was too worn out. It sounded like a desperate cry instead of the hope I was actually feeling. But God is still speaking... loud as ever, this is what I saw today, and it only affirmed in me that God wants me to hear this in my suffering right now. And I am not without hope because this is true....

 "In the same way I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born," says the Lord. 
Isaiah 6:9

She whispers under her breath to me, "I do not know if I can do this... for six more months." She knows the battle she is about to face. Her body fighting the baby she is growing. Months of suffering lie ahead.

They wait for relief with prayers and petitions, that have been lifted and cried to a merciful God, for mercy. Relief from the unknown waiting if a job will come, if bills will get paid, if a house will still be a home.

And I wake in the dark, and a whole day full of possibility awaits, full of unknown. And all I want to do is crawl back in bed because the possibilities today are overwhelming. The questions of, "What are we doing today?" "Can you make me breakfast?" "Can I go to our neighbors?" "Do we have to read that?" and it goes on and on. But I am afraid to go into the place that is quiet and alone because if I do, I am not sure I will ever leave. So I keep moving, answering the questions, cooking and cleaning.

 "Mom just likes to be alone." And I tell myself it is because I am an introvert and need time alone, but really it is because I am not sure how to be around people when I feel like my insides are falling apart.

Words about joy in suffering, wrestling like in child birth with demons that come back, and like child birth just when it feels like you might die from the pain, a blessing. I sat listening to Beth Moore in Bible Study today. Tears stinging my eyes, again. She spoke about the Greek and Hebrew and how over and over in scripture God talks about anguish and joy together. And the anguish compared with child birth. But then God. God changes our sorrow into joy. And we miss it if we give up on trusting that God will care for us in the midst of our sorrow and suffering, we miss the blessing.

And God, God is all His sovereignty and grace is speaking in words to me, so loudly I can not help but hear because it makes my heart beat faster. It is like your name is being called in class and you are not sure you are really ready for that presentation. Right now, here, He is speaking so loudly, and I want to cry again because He knows exactly what I need to hear right now. And that is scary and lovely all at the same time.

BUT there is HOPE because...

The weight of sickness is great, and her body is fighting her in this pregnancy. She knows that in the end... blessing.

Friends without jobs waiting, so much longer than they thought they should wait, knowing that God IS good, knowing in the pain God is still good, HOLD ON, in the end... blessing.

And, I am in the midst of a struggle. Sometimes, I just get tired in the fight. But God is speaking these words to me. Do NOT give up; in the end... BLESSING.



Monday, September 24, 2012

Celebrating You-- WARNING, this post is a little sappy.

Sometimes I hold my breath, trying to change the rhythm. Breathing on cue; I panic because suddenly, it does not work like it is supposed to. I feel like I am drowning and I can not breathe. Or, I stop blinking and then try to start and it is hard to see because every blink is an effort, and I wonder maybe this is what my life will be like forever, the effort of breathing and blinking. But then in the middle of all my work I realize I am doing it on my own again. This is not a habit or something I learned. It is part of who I am. I am alive; breathing, blinking alive. And somehow or time or where that is what happened to my heart, with you.

If I tried to stop loving you, to start a different rhythm, I would feel like I was going to die. Because my heart is not in the habit of loving you. My love for you has become a part of who I am. My love for you is just like breathing and blinking, it is part my living. The kind of love that when things go wrong, I start to panic, because my heart is off. I work to make it right, I try to make my heart beat right. But then, I realize in the midst that my heart is right back to where it is supposed to be. It knows you so completely, the rhythm of you.

And, today we are celebrating YOU, my love. Your day! Today I get to celebrate what an amazing man I love with all my heart.

In honor of 35 years of life, here are thirty five things I love about you!

I LOVE
1.That for twenty one days you officially get to be one year older than me.
 
I LOVE
2. Your laugh

I LOVE
3. Your smile

AND I LOVE....
4. That you always put our family first.
5. You care about the hearts of our children
6. Your eyes
7. That you can make up something to eat in the kitchen from WHATEVER is available...
8. and that you always let the kids help
9. That you work hard
10. Watching you paint
11. Watching you hold our children for the first time.
12. Watching you hold our children as they have grown.
13. Going for walks with you
14. Going on adventures with you
15. When you make up stories
16. That you always stop for people on the side of the road
17. You do not get mad when I call you just because I need to
18. That you hate to fight as much as I do
19. That you support most of my crazy plans
20. That you go camping with me even though you hate it...
21. That when I realize camping is not as much fun as an adult and whine a lot you still go camping with me again in case it is going to get better.
22. What you believe
23. Your passion for what you believe
24. That you have full faith in me in crisis situations, most husbands might run to the rescue when their wife is lost in the dark and rain, but you with full confidence just ask me to call when I am safe:)
25. Holding your hand
26. Seeing you live your dreams
27. Sharing our dreams with each other
28. That you cry when you think about our kids growing  up
29. Laughing with you
30. Kissing you
31. That I can trust you completely.
32. Playing Ticket to Ride with you....
33. That you understand that I cry when I lose at Ticket to Ride or any game for that matter
34. Your faith
35. That my love for you is part of who I am

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Letter to my girl

My dearest Anya,


I wrote this letter four years ago.. and now four years later it is only more true.

Today, is your birthday! Ten years ago, you came into this world screaming and full of life, and changed mine. All the offers to hold you or give me a "break" I brushed aside aware suddenly that my arms had longed to hold you my whole life; I just never knew it before. I held you and danced with you making up songs in whisper during the long nights we stayed awake while the world slept.      


You have traveled through life with us, through fun times and hard times, through times when we felt God's blessing and times when we heard nothing but silence, with no home to call our own or job. God provided what we needed and you grew just like you were supposed to.


You have always had a strong will. I will never forget when you were around four months old, you learned to sit up for the first time... and that was how you slept that day, because you were not laying down ever again! And when you were two, we finally made you give up your bottle. You have not drunk milk since that day.

You make friends better than anyone I know. And handle with grace those trying to give you a hard time. I will always remember sitting at dinner when you were four. You had been playing with the kids in our apartment building and apparently one of the boys had been teasing you... you told me he said, "your butt has a crack in it." I wondered what your response was, it had not been crying to mommy. You told me you had just told this boy that was how God made you! I could not have been more proud of you!

I love that you love going out for coffee (hot chocolate)  and reading books. I love that you love movies and putting on pajamas as soon as you are done for the day. You are an early riser. Quick to laugh. And oh what a laugh you have, it is contagious. You often sit back and let your sisters and brother put on the show but you enjoy watching and laughing with them. You are loyal, sometimes to a fault. You are fun and sweet. You are unbelievably creative! You are thoughtful and kind. You are beautiful.

                                               I love you my sweet girl! Happy 10th Birthday!

                                                                              dance with me Anastasia Grace and we will go to a far away place....                           


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Missing Beauty

"So beautiful, it took my breath away, sorry." She stopped for just a second during our run, her feet quickly rejoining my steps.

I had not seen it. I had NO idea what she was talking about. We were running through a small forest along a creek, in the pitch dark. What did she see? 

I was missing the beauty. I kept speaking. Words that barely stopped to hear something about beautiful. I looked briefly, but did not see it. I realized not in the moment, later, I could be drinking in beauty, instead I was spilling suffering. Hoping for someone to hear a bit of my pain. I am tired, worn out, failing always. I am Tired of trying not to fail. I am overwhelmed with the trying.

"Did you smell those roses!" I missed it again, almost. Out of the corner of my eye, I see red;. bright red. The sun is beginning to rise, it is not so dark. I want to stop. To go back. To breathe deep in and smell. But I can't. I can't stop running.

"I want to spend TIME with you." He says. Precious time with my husband whom I love. But I have plans. I have things to do. A list has been made. I have been waiting all day to finally sit. "I want to just spend TIME with you, talk." And so I do, reluctantly looking at what I had planned. Frustrated that I cannot enjoy this moment, this now.

"It is funny how I used to love to just spend time, now it seems so much work." Before I even finish the words, I know it was a mistake. He is not work. He is not the problem. It is me, my problem. If I had written him in my schedule in my mind, I would be okay, I think. But tonight it just wasn't my plan. I was not treasuring like I did before we married, every waking minute of quiet we had to get to know each other, I was trying to fit him in. I missed the moment, the beauty.

So I am back to my list, to sit in beauty, in the moment that I am thankful for.

11. Friends that do not miss the beauty, that point it out when they see it.
12. A neighbor who frequently meets me with iced coffee after rest time, knowing, most days are long
13. Bikes that are ridden up and down the street in the cooler evening of fall
14. The smell of freshly mowed grass.
15. Roses, bright red roses in the fall, that remind me to stop.
16. A husband who wants to just spend time with me, turn off the TV, computer and talk and listen
17. A daughter who lets me be sad, curled up in my arms when I am homesick still, then wipes my eyes, "All done mommy?"
18. "Catching Cickets" or catching grasshoppers, but a two year old's version is much cuter
19. Laughing until I cry
20. Windows open that let in the smell of outdoors; the smell that reminds me of freshly washed sheets hung on the line and then crawling into bed as a child after a long day of playing in the summer sunshine.





Monday, September 17, 2012

My List

I have finally started reading One Thousand Gifts.

I tend not to just read what everyone is reading... I think it has something to do with not wanting to have my expectations crushed, AND there is something wonderful about discovering a new book, kind of like a treasure.

For whatever reason, I have put it off. I have picked it up and put it down several times over the past six months. But FINALLY I am reading it. And it is lovely. The words seem to be written out of life, as if they themselves have breath, not just facts or stories on paper, but real actual breath.

"I may have always known that change takes real intentionality, like a woman bent over her garden beds, every day with a spade and the determined will to grow up something good to strengthen thy heart." Ann VosKamp One Thousand Gifts

And with the intention of growing something good in my heart, I am starting my list....

1. My man who adores me and is quick to show it in action and words.

                                                                 2. Chubby cheeks that puff up when pouting

3. Fingers and toes that long for kisses

                                                                              4. Giggles that follow the kisses

5. The smile of my son.

6. The tongue that pops in his cheek when he is so happy he might burst.

7. The stories of my daughter who lives in her imagination

8. Watching my girls hold hands as they walk ahead of me to take on the world, together

9. The squeal of excitement when my son realizes he actually learned something!

10. The patience of may family when mine has run out.



Saturday, September 15, 2012

Words


Thursday, I saw a glimpse of really good. They spoke words of excitement and joy!

"We climbed Mount Everest and fought bears!" That was the response when their daddy asked how their day was.
"Yes! We climbed Mount Everest and we brought our bikes with us!" The tale got wilder and more exciting. They all chimed in with the parts they liked.

It was the first I heard of it, this adventure I did not even know took place; in the secret world of siblings. Their daddy looked at me and I just smiled. Its all in a fun, Good day in the Jacobs house. 

BUT Friday...

Was another one of those not good, really bad, actually awful days. The kind where every single word was a battle, a fight.

"I KNOW YOU DO NOT WANT ME, I KNOW YOU THINK I WAS A MISTAKE!"
"I LOVE YOU!!!"
"IT SURE DOES NOT SEEM LIKE IT!"
"Really, you think someone who does not love you, chooses to spend all day with you?"
"I DO NOT WANT TO BE IN THIS FAMILY!"
"When you are 18 you can make that choice whether you want to be part of this family or not, but until then you are in it, and I am going to do the best I can. I LOVE YOU!"

Words spoken in anger, did she hear the I LOVE YOU! I spoke that part the loudest, but I am pretty sure the "you can leave this family" part was what stuck in her head.

Banning them from using their bathrooms after hours of scrubbing dirty footprints off floors and trying to get nail polish off counter tops. Words kept flying out of my mouth, words in anger that are sharp.

"YOU DON'T LOVE ME!" she screams at me.
"YES I DO!" I am so quick to scream back.
"YOU DON'T ACT LIKE IT!"
"NEITHER DO YOU!" I said it, stooping to the level of my seven year old.

Hours later, I apologized, not for my anger, which was justified (I think), but for my words and for my voice that spoke words, SCREAMED words I could not take back.

And I was right, "you can leave this family" stuck. As I tucked her in, later that night, she said, "Mom, you know how you said I can leave this family when I am 18?" She continued, "I thought about it and I think this is the right place for me, I belong right here."

Words, words can wound but words can also be a salve to a broken heart, to a mom that wonders why it has to be so difficult. Thankful for more words to speak, "I am so glad sweet girl, I want you! I love you! I am so glad you are in our family."


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Made New

The smells, the sounds, they are all familiar. Wet leaves crunching under shoes, sticking to sneakers, it is damp and colorful and cooler, sometimes cooler, and Fall. I love it; I have always loved it.

It is probably the hardest part for me about homeschooling. I love the idea of a new beginning. I love shopping for new school clothes, the smell of new notebooks and new pencils. Everything is new. I looked forward to it, and I still miss it sometimes.

I worry that maybe they are missing something. And through children in love with summer, content with three shirts and shorts, continuing to sleep in and enjoy the summer that seems to last longer in the south, I am learning to appreciate the joy of not-new. The joy of just being content in the now.

AND I still have some new. I still look forward to the start of new things - the start of AWANA, which was a hit this year, thankfully; the start of new moms groups; the start of new routine; the start of actual routine. That is what I need. Routine.

BUT sometimes the new does not fit, like my son's size three pants that he insists on wearing - the kind that do not quite reach his ankles. They are not quite as comfortable because he grew. I grew. How I longed to have a new to meet with other moms, studying God's Word together. But it did not quite fit because I changed. I grew. I am different. And I am not quite as comfortable. And I feel weird. And sometimes I want to be in size three pants, to be back to how it was when it was so comfortable. But I am not. I am different. And I have no idea how to fit in.

I remember talking with some friends about the need for brokenness. And I waited on it with anxious anticipation, eager for a work to be done in me. I looked forward to growing, to not fitting in the same place. I looked forward to the new. And they thought I was insane. They feared it. But I looked forward to it because I knew I am a work in progress. But that was when I knew who I thought God wanted me to be.

Who I wanted to be was not who God wanted me to be. It WAS who God wanted me to be that made me not fit. The changes, they were gradual. But I grew, sometimes in pain, sometimes without even knowing it. But I changed. In brokenness, I became more of who God called me to be. And I am not done. Not now.

But I am not so sure about the new now.

It was more comfortable before the new.

It was more comfortable being three. I love when my son talks about doing everything when he is five. Apparently he might change the world when he is five if all his dreams and hopes of five come true. But then comes the reality of five - OR even four, where he is. Then comes the reality that there is responsibility with age; responsibility that was not there when he was three; the reality that he has changed; that he has grown. And sometimes it is a lot easier to not be five. Three is a lot easier.

New looks a lot different. There was something familiar about the new before. It was new, but familiar. THIS, this is new but unfamiliar. BUT this is new where God has called me.
NEW.
Changed.
A new Creation.

Monday, September 10, 2012

This is not my home



This song keeps running through my head.




"Can you picture our Christmas tree here? Where would we put it?" That was the first and main question I asked when looking for a house, a new place to call home.

"I just don't know if this is it, if this is where I can be 'home,'" I questioned.

"It is where those four children are, where our family is," my husband reminds me.

It is where their pattering feet are, their beds, their sweet laughter, that will be our home.

He is right, but somehow I am still unsettled.

All the boxes, all our stuff, the same pictures, their beds, the same mess. It all came with us. But this time, I am aware of a longing for something more, the "are we there yet" that I hear from the car the moment the car starts continues in my soul - the waiting for the arrival.

I unpack boxes and find just the right color to paint my living room. But I am still restless because this is not my home. This is not where I belong.

Yesterday, while watching football, of all things, sent me into an hour of homesickness, of longing for people to know who I am and still like me, of longing for friends that I do not have to try with anymore. I was homesick for friends that are home.

I was homesick for friends that meet me for coffee and cookies; for friends that run with me in take-my-breath-away cold and snowstorms; for friends that are okay with me making mistakes; for friends that drive me to the doctor when I have broken my foot or have cut my daughters finger with the nail clipper and do not have a car; for friends who laugh at my mistakes with me and let me see them in theirs.

I am thankful for the blessings that we have in this world. The blessing of people who have made this place a home while we wait for the home we were made for.

Friday, September 7, 2012

"I WANT OUT!"

"NO, MOMMY! I WANT OUT!"

Screams of independence come from the bed of my little, defiant two-year-old.  A knowledge that, somehow, now that she has found this gifting, the ability to climb to freedom, she is no longer in need of sleep. And she is definitely not in need of a mother to guide her.

For 45 minutes the screams came. The defiant independent screams of a two-year-old who demonstrated the day before her new talent. Three piggy tales, pink puffy ballet dress and all, she climbed out of her pack and play to freedom. Followed by a sweet smile and "I do myself!" she was the complete picture of independence.

"I WANT OUT!" Her voice hoarse and weak from the tens of minutes of screaming.

"He will take great delight in you; he will quiet you with his love; he will rejoice over you with singing." The words fill my head as I once again gently put her back in her bed and whisper, "I love you; you need to sleep." Somehow today my patience is greater than most days. The cries of my child echo the cries I hear to my Father, "I WANT OUT! I WANT TO GO! NOW!" while sitting in a place, stuck in a place I really do not want to be. And I hear "He will quiet you with his love." Though I am weary and weak from yelling; sometimes not yelling; sometimes on my knees whispering prayers, but still weary.

I know it is best to be patient in the place; to rest; to be still, just like I wish she knew it was best. And finally, collapsing, she continues to yell for 45 minutes, but now so tired, she is laying in her bed. Then quiet. Rest.

The LORD your God is with you,
the Might Warrior who  saves.
He will take great delight  in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.

                                  -Zephaniah 17:3

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Higher Calling

Last week I read a post somewhere; I cannot remember where, and I do not really want to link to it because I did not agree with it. BUT it has made me think, so it had that going for it.

The post brought me back to sitting around the campfire with a group after a backpacking trip. I shared my life story and the leader said, "Wow, God is going to use you in a great way." I remember it so clearly. And then I remember speaking to a group after a trip to Russia and again, someone came up to me and reiterating this sentiment: "God is going to really use you!" A little fire was lit in me, and this hope began that God had a great plan for my life.

I kind of thought the great plan would look a little different than being a stay-at-home, home-schooling mom. I thought maybe it would involve feeding kids in Africa, speaking at women's conferences, or writing a book - something, something great, right?

The writer of the blog was talking about only doing what God has called us to do. She suggested that if we are called to a job in marketing, for example, but we spend our time doing odd jobs around the house, then we are not doing a service to God; we are wasting out time. (I am admittedly paraphrasing and interpreting here, so her actual intention may have been a bit different, but that's how I read it.) The point was that, yes, we should do what God has called us to do and not other things we have not been called to do. After all we are all given gifts from God. Some are called to be leaders; others are called to be janitors, right? But is there anyone who is really called to be a janitor? We have an itch to find exactly what God has called us to do. We spend time doing spiritual gift inventories, trying to find what God has gifted us in and thus called us to do in the Church; we try out different careers; we pray for guidance regarding what God wants us to do. But we do not want to do the little things, the things that waste our time, because God has called us to do greater things, right?

I remember being at a church that would not let people serve in children's ministry unless that person felt that such service was their particular calling. But honestly, how many parents, who already spend their days taking care of little kids, want to serve by taking care of little kids instead of going in and worshiping with grown ups? I know there are some, but they are few and far between. And in this church, that was evidently the case. There was never enough people to serve, and there was always a wait list to get your kids into the nursery due to the lack of workers. Sometimes, we need to serve in the littler things that are oh-so-important. Children's ministry may be a bad example because there is an obvious purpose to it; you are loving on the little hearts of children. Clearly children were (and are) dear to Jesus's heart, and perhaps we can see the benefit of serving in this way. But what about the calling to clean the church? What about the person that works as a cashier at Wal-Mart? Or the waitress at Perkins who gets up at 4 a.m. to serve coffee and breakfast to people going to "real" jobs, so that she can pay the bills? Is she doing what God has called her to do? Maybe so. I do not know, and I do not know why it irritates me so much to hear (or read) that only those serving in a "ministry position" are doing what God has called them to do. Perhaps this is just  my struggle.

We are to be faithful in the little things, and this is where I struggle. I want to do the big things. But what if, for that reason, I am not being faithful in the little things? "Little things" like raising my children; "little things" like cleaning my house with a thankful heart that I have one. What if Romans 12:1-2 is true, which says, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of Gods mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will." St. Paul does go on to say that we are given gifts and we should use those gifts, but God's will, his good, perfect and pleasing will is to not conform to the pattern of this world; to live a changed life; to serve faithfully in whatever we are doing, offering all of our lives to God. It does not say to not do the little things. In fact, God's judgment of what is little and what is big is often different than our own:  "[Jesus] said to them, 'You are the ones who justify yourselves in the  eyes of  others, but God knows your hearts. What people value  highly is detestable in God's sight.'" (Luke 16:15). And as far as the "little things" are concerned, they are the measuring rod, for God, of what we can be trusted with. To again quote Jesus, "'Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with  much, and whoever is dishonest with very  little will also be dishonest with much...'" (Luke 16:10).

By no means do I mean we should not be faithful to what God calls us to do. My husband is an incredibly talented artist and teacher. And I think he should be teaching and painting. But does that mean he should not do the dishes? That doing so is not using his time wisely? Does that mean he should not mow the grass, even if he hates it? Or that, when doing so, he is not doing the things God has called him to do? I do not think so. And I think there are people who serve in the church in ways that do not come with some supernatural empowerment or "gifting," but they are still serving God faithfully. They are being faithful in the "little things" and are aware of the higher calling - a call to serve faithfully in the place God has placed them.