Monday, July 14, 2014

Weedlings {Picking the battles that are really important}

“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.  So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’  He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”  Matthew 13:24-30


weed, weeds, garden, glove, lettuce, parenting, picking battles, God, Jesus, Mom, Dad


In early Spring, when the mulch is still soft and new plants have just emerged green and tender, I love to walk through my flower beds and breathe in the scent of fresh air.  The seedlings are so bright and clean and hold the promise of Summer in their unfurling leaves.  I step carefully and bend to touch the edge of a bright leaf when I notice an unwelcome sight.  Weeds.  Hundreds of them.  The result of a million acorns and hickory nuts falling from our tall trees, overwintering successfully among the Hydrangeas and Hostas.  As they break through the top layer of black mulch they drive me nuts.  There are just so many.  How will I ever have time to pull them all?

Years ago I would begin the frustrating task immediately, but the "weedlings" were so fragile they broke apart when I yanked on the stem...leaving the root intact.  An intact root is highly capable of producing a new, stronger weed.  One that is more difficult to pull up.  But I learned after a couple of frustrating weeding sessions that if I wait, if I let the weeds continue, most of them will die off on their own.  The ones that are left will be sturdy enough to withstand being pulled up in one piece...roots and all.  I won't have to break out a shovel or throw out my back by digging because they will come up relatively easily.

With this in mind, read Matt. 13: 24-30 again.  Though it originally refers to weeds within the Body of Christ I believe the principle is extremely applicable to our parenting!

“The kingdom of heaven may be compared 
to a man who sowed good seed in his field..." 


God gives us babies and we pour ourselves into them.  We teach them yes ma'am, please and thank-you and rejoice when they say "Jesus" for the first time.


"but while his men were sleeping, 
his enemy came 
and sowed weeds 
among the wheat 
and went away."


Then one day, your precious 18 month old looks you right in the eye when you say "don't touch" and...they touch it.  With joy. 
Or your three year old, who has never given you a moment's trouble suddenly blames their little sibling for something you saw them do with your very own eyes.  Without batting an eye they lie to you and you begin to fear they will end up in prison.    For. The.  Love.
What has happened to your precious, innocent baby?  It's called a sin nature.  They were born with it.  You will see much more of it in the days to come.  Trust me.


"So when the plants came up and bore grain, 
then the weeds appeared also. 
And the servants of the master of the house 
came and said to him, 
‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? 
How then does it have weeds?’  
He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ "


Oh yes, the enemy did it all right.  But this isn't a "the devil made me do it" moment.  It is an "even my little angel needs Jesus" moment.  Yes, these are our babies.  We prayed for them since before we knew of their existence.  We prayed over them from the moment they were placed in our arms.  We prayed with them every chance we got.  But in the midst of these sweet years, just as our little ones begin to know who Jesus is and sing of his love for the little children, "all the children of the world," sin has popped up in the fertile soil of their hearts and is growing alongside the fruits of the spirit that we have worked so hard to cultivate.  How has this happened?  Did I fail?  Did I miss something important?  How could my baby lie/hit/disobey/show blatant disrespect?  Of course, they don't understand the ramifications of sin.  They probably don't even know (yet) what the words means.  But they have learned that disobedience is exciting and maybe even fun and they are going to push every boundary to exert that strong will.  Often.  And if you think the enemy won't use every opportunity to woo them his direction, you are dead wrong.  If you are raising your kids in a Christian home expect warfare.  Lots of it.  


"So the servants said to him, 
‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ "


For a long time I had the parenting philosophy I called "Nipping it."  I dealt swiftly and decisively with behavior issues.  I was determined my kids would not follow the patterns of the world.  I wanted them to stand out and stand strong for Jesus from the time they were old enough to know right and wrong.  It worked pretty well.  Clear boundaries are very important.  Our kids crave them.  They feel safe with them. So I'm not saying "nipping it" didn't work.  It did, for the most part...at least for a while.
But now I have teenagers.  Nipping it?  It has gone the way of pull-ups and special blankies.  My kids have their own relationship with God.  Sometimes it looks different than mine.  Sometimes they disobey Him and do what they know they should not do.  My gut response is to swoop in and "nip it."  But teenage issues are different.  If I (being the control freak I am) insist on dealing with every single misbehavior and making mountains out of molehills, I end up cutting off the "top" of the weed...but that root?  The sin?  It is still intact. Insisting on control creates pushback.  It only makes things worse.  My constant preaching begins to sound like Charlie Brown's teacher..."wah wah wah wah"...and they tune me out.  This is dangerous, and here's why:

"But he said, ‘No, 
lest in gathering the weeds 
you root up the wheat along with them. 
Let both grow together until the harvest, 
and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, 
Gather the weeds first and 
bind them in bundles to be burned, 
but gather the wheat into my barn.’”  
Matthew 13:24-30


Jumping on every sin, insisting everything be dealt with, talked through, and confessed will damage good fruit.  That is not grace.  We are not and have never been asked to be our kids' Holy Spirit.  If your child has accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior you can rest on this verse:  John 14:26 says, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you."    

If your child has not yet accepted Jesus, then your efforts would best be spent in focused prayer for their salvation.  Because, without the Holy Spirit, dealing with their everyday sinful behavior is only dealing with the surface issues. (Let me be clear...I'm talking the small stuff here.)  Until their heart is transformed they are going to behave like a sinner because that is what they are.  YES you set boundaries.  NO you do not tolerate destructive or hurtful behaviors in your home.  YES you establish clear consequences for poor choices.  I am not talking about drugs/alchohol/sex.  I'm talking about the day-to-day junk that weighs us down as our kids pass into the teen years.    Like that song that is dumb but not immoral.  (What does the Fox Say...can I get a witness??)  The refusal to eat lettuce.  (But they will at least eat green beans.)  The whining, fighting, and tug-of-war between siblings.  (Then half an hour later they are draped across each other watching a movie.)  These are "weedlings."  They will probably die off on their own.  
It is not my job to fix my child's sin problem.  It IS my job to model grace, to look upon them with love and approval for who they are and who I know God created them to be, to pick the important battles so that we stand a better chance of being heard by our children.  As they grow up, there ARE some hills worth dying on-willful disobedience is one of them.  Drugs/alchohol/sex...do I really need to clarify this?  Those are TREES, not weeds.  We don't just pull those, we chop them down and grind the STUMP for crying out loud.   
Harping on every negative behavior, though, could choke off or even uproot the good fruit God is growing in my kids.  They will not only grow deeper roots of disobedience, they will stop listening to us altogether.  Not every sin/behavior issue/act of disrespect needs to be addressed by Mom and Dad.  I am finding that, by resisting the urge to pull every.single.weed as soon as it surfaces, most of them die off on their own.  The ones that are left? Those are the ones that demand my attention and prayers.  Those are the biggies, and I can co-labor with Jesus as He works to refine my kids (AND ME!) into His image. 

As you walk through the garden of your family, weed carefully.  Nourish that tender fruit and trust God to reveal the weeds that need to be pulled.  You will spend much more time enjoying your children and your Father in Heaven will have an easier time being heard (because you won't be constantly talking over him!)



Saturday, June 21, 2014

Lessons from the Lego Man

On my desk, next to the blue tape dispenser, sits a legless Lego man.  He is a leftover from one of the boys' Hobbit playsets.  He drove me crazy for days.  I would give him to a kid to put away but he just ended up discarded again.  Not that he is not played with.  He is.  He is just never (EVER) put away.

But tonight, as I sat him on my desk, I had a smile playing across my face.  I realized something today. Something that I think is valuable, even worth sharing with you.  Because I think many of us have fallen into a trap that we don't even realize has us ensnared.  It is not inherently evil, but it has the potential to rob us of joy.

I love a clean house.  I enjoy decorating and arranging and rearranging things.  I love the feel of a freshly tidied room and a beautifully made bed.  I love when there is a place for everything and everything in its place.

Except, as my husband will lament, my shoes.  I confess I am a lazy shoe person.  I kick them off in random places and soon have a pile to carry back to my closet.  It drives him crazy.

Anywho...

I tend to get crazy when my house is cluttered.  It puts my brain in a fog and I may even snap at my kids to "put it away for the eleven hundredth time."  Because we homeschool, we have endless opportunites for messes and let me tell you, the house can get out of control in the time it takes me to go to the mailbox and back.  I'm not exaggerating!  I have a ransom box where stray items are "jailed" and the owner has to do a job to earn them back.  It works pretty well as long as I am consistent.  When I am consistent I am less frustrated and they are more likely to keep their stuff when it belongs because they know I mean business, but when I get lax it is painfully obvious very quickly!  (5 kids plus 3 dogs...things can go south faster than you can blink)

But I digress.

Like every mom we have the constant battle of keeping our homes presentable.    We want our kids to be responsible and good stewards of their belongings.  We want them to be thankful for what they have and desire to take care of it.

But like many other moms I often set too high of a goal.  And it usually comes after looking at a home magazine of some sort or watching HGTV.  I see these beautifully decorated, always presentable and pristine homes and find myself frustrated by the lack of cooperation from my brood of messy chicks.  I lament the Hot Wheels on the floor and the bikes strewn across the back yard because I dream of the Shabby Chic perfection on the magazine cover or the photo frames arranged at just that right angle for viewing from the sofa.  I imagine a kitchen where the sink is sparkling and empty and the dishes are all put away and there are not grease splatters from this morning's breakfast still on the stove at dinner time.

Then I ran across the funny little Lego Man.  Why didn't I sigh in frustration this time?  Because I had a realization that one day...way too soon...there will be no more Lego Men on my floor.  One day the bikes will no longer lay in the grass and those photos in the frames will be aged because my children will be grown.  What will they remember about me? About home?  Do I want them to remember being constantly barked at to put their stuff away or that I cared more about the pillows on the couch than their comfort during a family movie?  Do I want them to be afraid to experiment with cooking for fear of messing up my perfect kitchen or remember discovering the joy of a perfect cookie that they baked all by themselves?

I've stopped buying home magazines.  I haven't watch HGTV in months after they cancelled the show featuring the brothers who held strong Christian beliefs.  I didn't realize until after some time had passed without watching decorating shows that those things bred discontent in my heart!  They give us unrealistic views of home and life!  Now, I also dream of being a farm girl, thinking that if the kids could just roam free and learn to build treehouses or fix tractors or something they would not want to play video games any more and my floors could stay clean for 34 seconds.  They would be so blissfully tired by evening that they would fall into bed with a smile and offer to wake up early to milk the goats because they JUST LOVE FARM LIFE SO MUCH.   I lament living in the city, wishing I had chickens and goats on about 10 perfect acres of land, but the reality is I LIKE being a mile from Kroger.  I LIKE that my dearest friends live just down the street.  I LIKE having a bug-free house and a snake-free yard!  I LIKE chickens and goats, but I do NOT like critters. (spiders, snakes...y'all even the thought makes me cringe!)  That being said, I would still be thrilled to have land and animals, but I have to accept where I am now.  My home is a gift, dirty floors and all.  I may not have perfect neighbors or the friendly neighborhood comraderie that is more often found in rural communities, but we have an acre.  In town.  We have tall trees that shade us in summer and a play room that gives the kids a place to land in the winter.  That mess upstairs that causes me to stay downstairs?  It is part of the story of our home.  We are a loud, messy crew.   I have to let my kids be kids, teach them to clean, teach them to care for their things, but also teach them that our home does NOT have to be perfect to be welcoming.   So there is a pile of towels on the couch.  Who cares if the dog shed on the rug again?  I'll get to it...but for now I need to go outside and get my hands dirty in the garden.  I need to smile at my daughter as she shows me the same trick on her scooter for the 80th time.  I need to sit on the front porch with my son and listen to his tall tales.  I need to hear my teenager spill the details of whatever story he is telling me because he is sure to clam up again tomorrow and that opportunity will be gone.  Some things are needful right now.

Having a picture-perfect house is not one of them.

Balance.  It is all about balance, which is difficult in a world that bombards us with shiny perfection.  But taking my eyes off the world's idea of a successfully run home and looking at the faces at my dinner table make it abundantly clear where my focus should be.

Live well.  Laugh often.  Love much.

Appreciate the visits from the Lego Man.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Look up, Mama.

This afternoon I was meandering through my flower beds just before my husband arrived home from work.  I often walk around the perimeter of our house, looking for new blooms, pinching off spent ones, or replacing mulch where a squirrel has been digging for nuts long-buried.

As I walked I noticed something.  Just past the Japanese Maple, near the Nandina that somehow reappeared after being dug up 4 years ago (I decided that it proved it's resilience, so now it thrives in it's odd spot behind the dwarf Magnolia) was a thick patch of weeds.  They were seedlings, actually, of the tall oak that dropped acorns last Fall.  I squeezed between an Autumn Fern and an almost-blooming Hydrangea and pulled up the unwelcome guests.  As I straightened back up from my crouched position a sweet smell wafted across my nose and I almost jumped in surprise.

Where is that coming from?

It smelled like perfume.  Delightful.

I went over to a just-opened Hydrangea bloom and took a sniff.  It smelled nice, but it was not what struck me as I was pulling the weeds.  I looked around to try to identify what was producing such loveliness and spotted a huge white bloom.


magnolia white bloom God weeds

I was completely taken aback.  I thought the magnolia blooms had all faded away.  Peak season for Magnolias around here is usually in May and, as you are well aware, we are into the second week of June.   I had stopped looking for the blooms.

I leaned in to take in the scent.  It was exactly what had caught my attention.  It was perfectly perfumey and strong and one step back revealed two more blooms...the last holdouts before Summer heat sets in and wilts them away.



There is a saying that goes like this:  "One is nearer to God's heart in a garden than anywhere else."

Today I felt that, for He revealed something beautiful to me right there where I stood.

How often do I miss beauty because of the weeds?  How easily do I become frustrated at the difficulty of maintaining order, of training my children, of dealing with negative habits or even willful disobedience?  

It is too easy to focus on the work.  When our hands get dirty and there is grit under our fingernails and blisters on our palms, we groan at the burden that is harder than we feel we can bear.  The weeds seem endless at times...pull one up and three more grow in it's place.  Our knees become calloused and numb and we just stare at the stubborn ground that refuses to release the roots and look to see if there is a "special tool" or an easier way to do this.  Surely there is a book somewhere that tells us "5 steps to a weed-free life" or something like that, right?  Spring has passed and the sweetness of early childhood has faded and we think of all the things we would do differently if we knew then what we know now.  

Or would we?

For if we look up...

Look, Mama.  Look up.

There.  Do you see it?  While you were on your knees pulling weeds, a bud has formed.  It is just beginning to open.  Yes, I know there are more weeds that demand your attention...but look.  All of that work is paying off.  You are tilling fertile ground and there is a bloom!  It is fragrant.  Take a deep breath.  Remember that scent that caught your attention.  Yes, Spring is ending but those blooms?  They are today's reward.

Every weed you pulled was sucking life from the roots of that tree.  You kept at it, and you will keep at it until they no longer grow back...which may not happen this side of Heaven.  But still we have to keep weeding, we have to not grow weary in well-doing because God is creating beauty just above us.  While you are bent low He is opening up a blossom bigger than your open hand.  Stop.  Take a long look and rejoice for the Lord your God is growing a Son and Daughter right before your eyes.  Your labor is not in vain, sweet mama.  

OUR labor is not in vain.  

Keep working.  But don't forget to stop and breathe in the scent of joy that emanates from your children.  When your teenager hugged you hard at bedtime?  That is a bloom.  When your child who struggled to attach let you carry her sleepy body in your arms and kiss her goodnight?  That is a bloom.  When you received that note telling what a blessing your child was to someone today?  That is a bloom.  Rest now and take in the beauty of your garden.  There will be plenty of weeds to pull tomorrow.


Friday, June 6, 2014

Best. Coffee. Ever.

If you are on Facebook very often, you may have seen the article that floated around a few weeks ago about adding butter to your coffee.

Yes, I said butter.

If you do an internet search you can easily find all kinds of information about it.

When one of my friends shared the article I was intrigued.  I had just begun the "Trim Healthy Mama" eating plan (more about that in another post) and this seemed to very possibly fit in with my new, healthier habits.

So, of course, I tried it.  I love coffee and I love butter.  But together??

Um...hello, delicious!

There was only one drawback for this coffee lover.   The coffee didn't "look" right.  I'm a half and half lover, and the coffee with oil floating on top look weird even though it tasted very good.  So I improvised.  And the result?

Well, try it for yourself and tell me what you think!

Here is the recipe.

Vanilla Butter Joe

1 cup good coffee (I use fresh ground Ethiopian coffee.  Delish.)
1 tsp Kerrygold grass fed butter  (You MUST use grass fed butter to get the health benefits!)
1 pinch Stevia extract powder
1/2-1 scoop Swanson's vanilla whey protein powder

Mix well and drink hot!  

Easy peasy, and so very tasty!

The best part of this drink is you are getting protein and healthy fats, which keep you satisfied longer. (Satisfied=less likely to snack=more likely to shed poundage)

You can also play with this recipe, blending it in a Magic Bullet to make it frothy or cooling it down and blending with ice to make a Trim Healthy version of the Frappucino.  Coconut oil is also a good source of healthy fats.  And flavors?  Just imagine the yummy versions you could come up with using different extracts...chocolate, almond, hazelnut, peppermint. The possibilities are endless!

Have fun experimenting!





  

Monday, June 2, 2014

Peace with God

Growing up, my mental picture of God was that of an angry old man holding a clipboard with a list of sins.  He angrily checked them off as I committed them.  By the age of 13 I thought being baptized would wipe the slate clean and I could start over.

By 17, I had given up.  I lived like the world all week, then put on my good girl clothes on Sunday morning in hopes of appeasing the "old man" upstairs in case I died in a car accident or something.  I was miserable.

At age 21 I met the man who would become my husband.  Funny, because neither of us were exactly following Jesus, but somehow through the chaos of dating and navigating our feelings he led me to Jesus.

Sept. 23, 1993.  It was 2:00 in the morning.  I was in the midst of another cry session over I-don't-know-what.  But I remember him saying, "don't you know you will go to Heaven?"

Incredulously I responded, "How can you know?"

Because I had been taught that every sin sent you straight back to Hell.  God was keeping count and he had zero tolerance for my mistakes.  I was walking a thin line and falling on the wrong side more often than not.  I was constantly teetering on the brink of eternal damnation despite my desire to feel safe.

That night, I prayed to God, asking Jesus, to be my Savior.

That night everything changed.

I have never been the same.  The struggles I had then are not there now.  I have different struggles, but the trajectory has (thankfully) been upward by the grace of God.  But still, in the deepest part of my heart, has been a niggling fear.  A knowledge of how often I fail Him and that one day I will see Him face to face and everything I have done or left undone will be laid bare.  I know I will go to Heaven, but to live with the knowledge of how many times I threw away a blessing, of what could have been if only I had been obedient made my heart ache.

Last Sunday morning I sat in church between my husband and Miss S, our precious friend who rides with us each week.  Pastor Barry began his summer series and I settled in, looking forward to reinforcing the important basics of my faith.  He was speaking from Romans 5, which I have read many times.

I should know better than to feel too familiar with a Scripture.  The Word of God is, after all, living and active, isn't it?

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, 
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  
(Romans 5:1)

I have peace.  Present tense.  I have peace with God, no matter how I feel in the moment.  When God looks at me, he doesn't just push aside the sin and choose to ignore it.  No, (OH what GLORIOUS TRUTH!) my Father in Heaven looks upon me, seeing NO SIN.  He sees me as I am...spotless, free, loved, His own. How?  Because JESUS PAID IT ALL.

This.  This rocked me to the core, more deeply than it ever has in 21 years of knowing Him.  I am at peace with God.  My peace is through Jesus, not through anything I have done!  And this truth?  It trickles down.
For you see, the inability to trust His acceptance of me has affected my ability to trust His acceptance of my children.  Oh, how easily legalism creeps into my parenting.  In the effort to prevent my kids from making the same mistakes I made as a teen I find myself micromanaging them, trying to parent them into holiness.

I have been foolish.  This failure of trust on my part most likely results in my children seeing God just like I did...as an angry old man with a clipboard just waiting for them to screw up.  (Which they will.)

But now, there is this calm in my spirit that has made me able to trust Him with my kids on a whole new level.  All of my kids have accepted Jesus.  All of my kids, no matter what phase they are going through or how many doubts cloud their thinking or how many times they use "that tone", are at peace with God.
(Now, they may not be at peace with me, but that is another story!)  
He is pleased with them.  He looks upon them through the filter of His precious Son and I can trust Him with every aspect of their lives.

I can trust Him to turn around a sour attitude.
I can trust Him to peel the scales from angry eyes
I can trust Him to give them the gift of faith and the desire to follow Him out of love and not because I convinced them that it is what they should do.

I can trust Him to do with my kids exactly what He did with me.

Which also means...I can rest.  I can love them and pick better battles.  I can train them up and trust that resistance and even anger are part of the process of maturing and that God will use even my failures to refine them and make them like Jesus.

Oh mamas, if only we could all grasp the freedom that awaits.  Even though this is a truth I have "known" and even attempted to teach my kids, it has hit me on a whole new level this week.  I feel like I am just beginning to digest this.

We are at peace with God.
We, who have shaken our fists and rebelled...
who have taken for granted the little hearts in our care...
who have snapped in anger...
who have neglected the best for the not-so-good...
who have mismanaged hours that we can never reclaim...
who have doubted God's ability to fix what is broken...
we can rest.

I want to shout from the rooftops!  I want to shatter the chains of legalism that bind so many of us and scream in the face of the tyrant who tries to shackle us with man-made rules that our God is a god of GRACE and MERCY!  He loves us with an everlasting love...not dependent on our performance...and underneath us (oh, sisters, just envision this will you?) are His everlasting arms.

He holds us and He cherishes us and we are His beloved.  He is pleased with us because He is our Father and we never, ever have to doubt that...even on our worst days!

So now I challenge you, with this in mind, to read the rest of Romans 5.  Let me know what you think.  This may be nothing new to you, but if it is, I'd love for us to encourage one another in parenting with God's grace at the forefront of our minds.  After all, old habits are hard to break!  It's always easier when a gentle reminder floats your way.  :)

Have a wonderful, peaceful week my friends!


Thursday, May 29, 2014

When Your Flower Girl Becomes a Bride

It rained all week, but the forecast for Saturday was sunny.  I even took a screen shot of the forecast and sent it to my niece because her wedding was planned for the outdoors.  We were all happy and ready for the sun!

Saturday arrived, though, and it was wet.  All morning.  All afternoon.  I was nervous on her behalf but prayed, along with the rest of the family, for the skies to clear in time for the ceremony, which was scheduled for six o'clock.

4:30 came and we drove to the venue to help with preparations.  My sweet 9 year old was a flower girl and, oh, the excitement as we neared the Gardens at West Green and the sprinkles stopped!  The tents were not up!  The twinkle lights in the trees stood ready to illuminate the magical moments that were about to happen.  My girl was in awe.  It was beautiful.

We went upstairs to find the bridal party and join in the pre-wedding fun.  Makeup and hair (BIG Texas hair!) was in full swing and my daughter stood in her ivory lace dress, taking it all in.  She is the romantic of my bunch.  This was right up her alley.

And all along I was looking at her, remembering my wedding day.  I smiled at my daughter and sighed that 18 years had gone by and now my daughter was a flower girl...for my flower girl.

Then...
wedding, flower girl, christmas, bride
My wedding day, when my niece was my flower girl.



and now...
the gardens at west green, flower girls, dresses, outdoor wedding
My daughter and her little cousin on my niece's wedding day.

bride, groom, kiss, wedding, the gradens at west green, wedding dress,  mermaid gown, tuxedo
The sweet couple, sealing what God has done with a kiss.
I might have cried when she put on that dress.  She was absolutely beautiful...radiant.  

A little while later, my sister-in-law (the bride's mama) asked if my oldest daughter and I would take the big bags of flower petals and line the aisle before the guests arrived.  We found the bags and went outside to do what was a simple task that turned out to be profound in my heart.  I knelt down with my hand full of white rose petals and I was struck:

Jesus, our Savior, riding into Jerusalem on a donkey...the streets lined with palm branches to honor the King.

Jesus...our groom, awaiting his Bride, his chosen.  Preparing a place for us, preparing a feast to celebrate the marriage supper of the Lamb.  On that day, all of our baggage will be laid aside.  It will no longer matter that we were faulty, that we often forgot who we were and Whose we were.  What will matter to our groom will be that moment when we behold Him, wearing robes of pure white and faces radiant with His glory.

Laying down those petals suddenly became a holy task in my heart.  It was an honor to prepare the path for my niece, to watch her bite her lip to hold back tears as she laid eyes on her groom and to see him jam his hands into his pockets and take long, deep breaths through the lump in his throat because of the beauty that floated down the flower-lined aisle to him.  Only to him.

In this day when marriage is attacked and family is redefined, I take hope in moments like these when a couple can stand before those who love them most and promise forever...and mean it.  They come from a legacy of love, of families who stay the course...Grandmas and Grandpas and parents who have been married for a lifetime and love each other even more now than then.  These two, they are going to make it.  

They have us and they have Jesus.  

We've got their back and love wins.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Packing up.

Every year I intend to finish our school year strong.  It always feels great to complete workbooks, look back at improvements made, and generally make a big stinkin' deal about my babes moving on to the next grade level!  Our last few weeks are spent diligently working and looking forward to Summer and all its' freedom.

This year?

Not so much.

We are finishing school, not with a bang, but a creak.  It was a slow winding down as we navigated surgeries, funerals, and miscellaneous appointments for people, animals, house repairs and automobiles.

It felt like we were becoming unschoolers, for crying out loud!

But in the midst of all the crazy, my little boy who struggled so much with reading GOT IT.  His lightbulb came on and all of a sudden he wants to read and he is doing it!  All the kids are ahead in Math, which has given a us a nice cushion in this nuts-o season of life.

I'm so thankful God has allowed us to homeschool another year.  Despite the perceived chaos this go-round, I have been allowed to see my kids grow and learn and watch their faces light up when they "get it" and celebrate with hugs, high-fives, and Skittles.  (Yes, I bribe my kids.  Don't judge.  It works.)  They have all made great strides in learning this year and we have read more books as a family than ever before.  We have learned to love great adventure and realized that sometimes the best school days are the ones where we get sidetracked.

Summer is upon us and our school year is officially ending, but the learning will continue.  I will continue working on math and spelling with the 1st-almost-2nd graders and the bigs will complete two math lessons each week along with their summer reading assignment from their tutorial which will help them keep their brains sharp.  My sweet middle will do two math lessons plus work on spelling over the summer as well.

But we will find plenty of time for travel, camping, swimming, and maybe even go fly a kite!  I am looking forward to the end of basketball season and evenings on the deck.  It is time to pack up another year, take a deep breath, and rest.  I'm so proud of my kids.  Shoot, I'm even proud of me.  This year was the hardest one so far.  But we did it.  With God's guidance and by His grace, we have successfully completed four years of homeschooling.

Is it easy?  There was a time when I said yes, but not anymore.  Five kids with five vastly different needs and learning styles are not easy.  It has been very challenging, often frustrating.  But we pushed through and, though we didn't get everything done, we got the important things done.

I am satisfied and thankful.  And I am tired.

tired mom homeschool yellow exhausted sleepy sleeping mom