Monday, September 22, 2014

Diligence, Integrity, Character, and Potatoes.















In our homeschool, we've been learning about diligence, integrity, and character in our history lessons. We've been talking about the importance of a good leader and what it takes to earn respect from men and women. We've had some really interesting talks about this, considering more than half of my audience are only five years old. None the less, I try to drill this home. Some really great bible verses on this topic have been found in our lessons, Romans 12:11, Proverbs 18:9, and Proverbs 19:15. All good ones.

Yesterday we picked the potatoes we planted back in spring. Lars was most anxious all summer for the perfect time to pick them, waiting sometimes not so patiently. While all three of my kids posses really awesome qualities, it is Lars who I see with leadership abilities that go beyond anything I could ever teach him, but more  of how God has made him. All three kids started out with vigor and enthusiasm, but two quickly grew tired of digging, and digging, and digging. Not Lars. Long after everyone else had gone on to other things, he was still there digging with even more intent than he started with. Lars easily picked more than half of our potatoes. I stood back and watched as he wiped his sweaty brow with his dirty hands and I was proud of my boy. I would say that he most definitly displayed diligence, integrity, and great character picking those potatoes. Again, something I could never make him become, but rather lead him to grow in those ways and remind him of how proud we are of him when we see him display these traits. That goes for all of my kids. All of them different, all equally important and needed in their role in our family, and eventually needed in their role outside of our home.

Tonight, we sit down, to the fruits of Lars labor, the first meal of many where we eat our potatoes. Tonight, potato soup.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Hard and Holy.

The last couple of posts I've written have been about how homeschooling is filling my heart and home right up. Without a doubt, that is true. What's happening in our lives as a family right now go far beyond the comprehension my mind will ever be able to fully grasp. But I never want to paint a picture of all good things. As a Christian, I know of course that nothing on this Earth is all good, all the time. I know His love, mercy, and His grace are what's good and can be handed to me in the roughest of times making seemingly overwhelming situations become good. But folks, this field of work I've chosen, the shepherding of hearts, is in no fact an easy, glorified job. It is hard and holy work. I don't write much about Jonathan's job here, but back in April he went from working 5 normal shifts, to 6 days a week, averaging around 70 hrs a week away from us. Not to mention, the commute hours, times stuck in traffic, times he had to stay far longer to help the job move along. So, back in April I felt tremendous pressure to enroll the kids back in school. I told myself everyday that homeschooling was looking like an impossible feat in front of me. Long, long weeks are what I had geared myself up for, and yet still I was surprised at how much of our life here at home I was carrying on my shoulders. No amount of planning or preparing could have gotten me ready for that. Months went by, Jonathan sometimes working 80 hours a week, and I still had this tug, more like a pull at that time, to homeschool. I knew at that point it was no longer I, but God who was asking this of me.

Over the summer I was struck with insomnia. I was not getting the sleep I needed to take on this roll and when I shared with people the true, nitty gritty details of my life at that time, I'm sure people thought I was nuts when I would say, "but I still think we are going to homeschool." Actually, nuts sounds about right. Due to all the radiation I had back when I had cancer I also suffer from menopause. This I've had for four years now. Also, I don't talk about this much because, why? Why would I? It's embarrassing, exposing, and a reminder of how hard I had to fight to be here. What I suffer from daily, is worse than menopause though, being thrust into it from the cancer treatment, my dr. describes what I experience is about 6 times as difficult as anyone else who is in menopause. But I'm alive, Amen? This is not to share about my menopause, this is to share about hard and holy things.

There is also being home all day with small children who have demands that would fill the largest piece of paper only amplified by sleeplessness, a husband who is gone most of the time, hormonal imbalances, PET SCANS to schedule, lessons to be taught, co-ops to get to, life to be led, and at the end you would wonder, why, oh WHY would I choose homeschooling? The only answer I can come up with is that I didn't choose homeschooling. It chose me. I look back on my cancer diagnosis and I think about the timing of that. Really, the worst timing ever. A four year old and two 10 month old baby boys, and CANCER. NOT good timing. I think about being 23 and finding out I was pregnant. I was so young and not married. NOT good timing. I think about when Jonathan and I separated and I became a single mother for a year, in Florida, recovering from cancer. NOT good timing. I think about homeschooling with a husband who works long days, and children who are young, and menopause symptoms that would make the most patient, gentle woman in the world turn into a beast of a human being, and I think, NOT good timing. But when I look back on my life, there is a really obvious point to all of it, that with all the bad timings, God does great, wonderful transformations with it. He does beautiful things. I think of one of my favorite quotes by Ann Voskamp where she wrote once, "the world has enough women who know how to do hair, the world needs women who can do hard and holy things." With hot flashes and impatience as the backdrop to my stage, where labels like cancer survivor, out of wed lock, young and naive, PET SCANS, insomnia linger, He sets the stage. I step out to comb my daughters hair, and drive her to do violin. I step out to help two little boys learn to ride bikes, I step out to draw baths and make sure their laundry is clean and put away, that the house smells good, and where we can come together to pray. I step out to have my husband come home tired and fling my arms around him when he has made it home safe again, and again, and again. And now I step out to teach. I step out to bend down, to wipe tears, to encourage and cheer on. I step out in bad timing, because He says the timing is NOW. That life is for the living, and your living is now. That timing is only everything, because He is controlling it like He was then, like He is now, like He will again tomorrow. Actually, the timing seems like good timing after all.


Friday, September 19, 2014

Life As A Classroom.












So when I told the kids over the summer that this would be the most adventurous year of our life, I had better be ready to deliver. We use it all as our classroom. Most of our more formal lessons are done in the morning around the dining room table. A little after lunch time everyday we are close to done most of the time , which leaves the afternoon open to play outside, have our friends over, go on nature walks, catch up around the house, settle down with reading. Every late afternoon we have an hour of quiet time. In that hour we all pick a room of the house to stay in until the hour is up. What we do with that hour is entirely up to each of us. But it is sacred time, let me tell you. The most important parts of the day, the time that is non negotiable in our school days is bible time, reading time, creative time, and time outdoors. If on certain days nothing but those things get done, I would still call it a good day. There are lessons all around us, and the most beautiful part about doing school at home is how I get to be so closely involved in their education, how I get to weave our lives in and out of our lessons. When we bake bread we use our math skills, when we read we explore different lands, when we work in our garden we are connected with our food. When we study the bible, it shapes our days. I thank God for this, this call to home. I thank Him for placing this deep desire in me to develop such a place here on this little piece of land to make a safe haven, a refuge, a house of prayer and unity, a place to be real, a place to be honest and raw and open and safe. A place for my children to grow in grace and love. A place of steering and redirection. A place to become who God is calling them to be.

"Never try to make your experience a principle for others, but allow God to be as creative and original with others as He is with you." - Oswald Chambers

Monday, September 15, 2014

It Is Good.















We are only a week into homeschooling, and whew! It's a full lifestyle, let me tell you. Full of purpose and intention, I have never had joy come from such a deep place in my heart, rising, bubbling over. With every little letter formed, word sounded out, with every bible verse memorized, and science lesson applied, it is good. With every short story created and poem read, with every strum of the violin, and tea poured at tea time, it is good. With every moment stopped to hug or give a kiss and a prayer, to wipe a tear, or go for a walk, with every discovery made, or tree identified, it is good. With breakfast made, and a lazy lunch, followed by a homemade dinner with nowhere to rush off to, no where to be, it is good. With every new door opening, joining new co-ops, nature study friends, horseback riding, and violin lessons, it is good. For new friends and old, ones that stop by to check in on you, and ones that invite you to stay longer than planned, it is good. For every sibling quarrel and heart shaping opportunity, for every bicker between siblings and for all the "I'm really sorry's", it is good. For all the hard work, for all the easiness, for all the frustration, for all bliss, for all that is worn out, and all that is replenished, it is good.


"We owe it to our children to stimulate them in a wide range of interests in their elementary years. Wherever we go, whomever we talk to, whatever we see can be of some interest to children if we stand aside and let them question and consider or examine and research. It should not be "How much has our child covered?" but "How much does he care?" and "About how many things does he care?" - Charlotte Mason

Friday, September 5, 2014

Psalm 19:1



                "The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the works of his hands."

                                  (the view on our way to our anniversary dinner last night.)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

9 Years Ago Today.

Dear Graycen, Dune, and Lars,


                  Nine years ago today, your parents woke up and it was our wedding day. Here's what we didn't know then.

                   We didn't know that marriage wasn't *disposable. This was a bill of goods I had been served my whole life, that marriage can be reproduced. I saw this message in the news, in the movies,   and in my family. What we didn't know walking down the aisle is that it is NOT disposable. God uses a common theme throughout the Bible to bring His will into fruition and that is -following through. Noah could have thrown in the towel a few years into building the ark, Moses could have doubted and quit on God's people when he got to the sea, Jesus could have run away from the cross, Paul could have stopped spreading the news of Christ over and over again, but here's what Paul has to say about that. 2 Timothy 4:7, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." What we know about marriage now is that we must finish it. We must keep the faith.

                   We didn't know that marriage has to get hard before it gets good. We spent the good first part of our marriage broke, sick, pregnant, and scared. And frankly, confused!!! We had no idea that the feelings we had for each other in the beginning wouldn't be enough to sustain the depths of darkness that came with sickness, heartache, pain, and separation. What we know now is that a seed must be pushed down into darkness before it can burst forth, that Jesus was in a tomb of darkness before the dawn of new life, and that it is always darkest before the dawn. Lamentations tells us, "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness." Oh praise God for new mercies and the dawn of each new day. It is medicine to the soul of marriage. Know this.

                   What we didn't know then and we know now, is that love comes in the form that pushes against everything the world tells us. Love looks like sweat and hard work, it looks like blistered hands and unkept hair, love bends down, love feels shaky and broken, love looks like a fixer upper and a worn out car, love looks like hospital visits and chemo, love looks like twins and big sisters, love looks like a long hard walk to the cross, love looks like praying all night and pacing the floors, love looks like extra weight and stretch marks, love looks like back aches, and hair loss, and aging faces. Love looks like your mom and dad.

                  Love does not look like fancy dinners or vacations. Those can help cultivate love, but beware that they are just a play on the senses, and there must be something more substantial at work. Love does not look like the movies, like pornography, or a chat room. It does not look airbrushed or resized. Love is not an edited version of life, please don't ever fall for such a lie.

                 Love and marriage. It hurts to hang on. And it should if you are following the path of a dusty road that's been well worn down from a cross being dragged on the back of a Savior who promises much by finishing. This path we as followers of Jesus are walking down, there is evidence of blood and tears. There is evidence of love.

              Precious children, we didn't know much at all the day we got married. But today your parents celebrate 9 years of marriage, but more importantly a messy love worth living for, and worth dyng for. May you never forget that the love worth walking down the aisle for should reflect the same kind of love worth walking to the cross for.

           And that, that is what we know now.



*(please understand that I also believe there are marriages that one must get out of and seek counsel on when safety and danger are compromised.)
 
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