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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Safely Through Another Year

So today was a quiet, low-lying celebration of the completion of my 36th year of God-given life.  I was sure by the many incidents of severe disrespect of my parents that I would barely make it this far, if at all.  Perhaps as a child with my literal rendering of the verse: "Children obey your parents...that you may live long in the land..." I somehow started docking years off my life every time I acted, spoke or thought of my parents in a dishonouring way.  And I usually quit counting once I got down into my 30's because by then I'd fallen asleep.  Way more effective than counting sheep if you ask me.

Why was it quiet, and low-lying?  Well, because we are a houseful of ailing Logans.  All five kids.  All two parents.  And one very healthy, robust and capable Mother-in-law who graciously puts up with us all and aids us in our distress.  We postponed my birthday until January 4th.  Just in case you were wondering.  That gives you all time to get your well-wishes in the mail!  (Just kidding!)

And since everyone is now in a drug-induced stupor and it is quiet and the coughing has ceased for a glorious few minutes, I have a chance to ruminate about my life over the past year and to consider what the year might bring.  I don't do the introspection much these days (can you guess why not!?)  Other than my crazy fly-by-the-seat-of-the-minivan lifestyle, I also find belly-button gazing to be a sadly self-absorbing ritual that can tie one up into a psychological pretzel before long and, well, it just can get to be a bit much at times.  I'd rather cozy up on the couch with a good Paddington bear story or something.

But there is a time for reflection.  And I suppose now is a good a time as any.

I'd say the last month has had more than its fair share of challenges for me.  It seems something difficult always comes my way around November.  Perhaps I should take a cue and go off on my own for a personal retreat or something in the future.  Because really, this past November decided not to disappoint me.  I almost made it through.  But then I hit a pedestrian and we were back to the 'this is why I should go somewhere else for November' thought-pattern.

Yes, you read that right.  And if you're in my family and I didn't tell you and you're reading this in shock and annoyed with me for not telling you, don't hop on the phone to discuss the matter.  I will discuss it here in broad view of the public thank you, and no, I don't want to discuss it on the phone.  It was all rather overwhelming at the time and I kept it to myself and a few trusted friends as I wallowed in guilt and shame, and the thought of going to traffic court.  It didn't help when Priscilla piped up, "I still love you Mommy, even if you're a criminal," complete with a tender hug.

But, if you are going to hit a pedestrian, you need to make sure she is the sweetest, most tolerant, kindest, neighbourliest, nice lady possible, and that you are going a mere 5 miles an hour so that she comes out of it uninjured, except for the indignity of being shoved aside and rolling onto the ground and lying there face up waiting for the paramedics to arrive to make sure she's okay - all the while carrying on a lovely conversation with a former student who showed up to help and dial the police for us (afterall I had no cell phone - which is a great asset to be sure I was not texting and driving - I was, instead lecturing a particular six-year-old on the dangers of lying to me and impressing upon him the importance of truth-telling - which I now understand was a poor use of my energies at that moment).

After hitting said pedestrian, and standing on the street waiting out the police-report stuff and sobbing quietly in the van while the police try to gently help me cope with the reality of what I'd done, and after that long day of telling it to Sam and crying off and on, and worrying for the lady, and thinking of myself as a criminal, and of feeling terribly irresponsible and the worst person ever...after that bad day or two I heard from a friend of mine who is around my age with young children that she has a major health concern that she is facing over the coming months.  I was very sad about that and continue to pray for her and her family.

The day after that I woke up to go to Church and was looking forward to worship, focus on God, reflecting on Him, feeding on His Word, and seeing friends at Church.  I began to brush Priscilla's hair.  I saw something move.  And Church was no longer on the agenda for the day.  Instead it was Lice.

All day: laundry, lice shampoo, comb, comb, comb, strip bedding, trips to laundrymat (not me - Sam did all that!).

I had to laugh.  I think God allowed us to have lice if only to give us another battle to wage and to focus on something other than guilt, accidents and the like.  Lice are an absolute nuisance.  And 9 people in a household make it very difficult to treat.  But we are vigilant.  And yes, I'm announcing this to everyone out there, because you know what?  Lice love clean hair!  Really, they do!  So all the myths you believe about lice?  That's what they are: myths.  Even so, lice are stigmatized and there is a social leprosy surrounding them.  I'm glad I can revel in my acceptance in Christ to such a degree that I can admit we've had lice.  If you don't want to see us or be around us after reading this, don't worry, I won't hold it against you! :)

But lice wasn't the end of the story.  Then we had failed potty-training attempt no. 3.  We've tried with 3 year old Andrew so many times.  This time, we were determined to be victorious.  We got everything set up.  We were going to sequester him to a section of the kitchen.  He would potty in the little potty there and be free to go for a half hour.  Then back to the Potty Nook.  I would not give in to whining to get out.  His ticket out was a deposit in the potty.  No way around it.  So, when he went to school and was sniffly and bleary-eyed, I just assumed it was because of my refusal to let him whine his way out of the potty nook.  Bad assumption.

Half an hour after he leaves on the bus I get a phone call: "This is Andrew's school.  He is at the nurse's office lying down.  He has a temperature.  You need to come get him."  I hang up.  What an awful Mom I am!  I go get him and he is half-asleep.  I carry him out to the car and he says, "They have a special little bed in there.  I was sleeping on it."  We get home and I call off potty training, accepting defeat in this third attempt.  His sickness turns into fever, cough, congestion, lethargy, sleeping a lot, no appetite and the like.  Slowly, one by one, like dominoes, we all take the hit and go down with the same thing.  First just Andrew.  Then Hannah.  Then me, Sam, Priscilla, Timo, and finally Caleb.

So, we are trying to get through these tiresome days and prepare for a family gathering in the Eastern States next week.

On the house front, our house did sell.  And we looked and found a house we liked.  We were pretty set on buying it until some glitches came up with the city as to our plans to convert a garage into in-law space.  After those roadblocks, we determined we should just keep looking.  So we are back to the drawing board and growing in leaps and bounds in patience.  Contrary to what I would put on my personal curriculum for my life at this point.  But in all these things I am learning again and again to trust and wait for God's best and to be thankful for the wonderful blessings He showers on me daily.

Because really, what are a few momentary trials compared to the riches of knowing Him?  He walks with me through the guilt of the outcomes of my negligence.  He walks with me through the fear and worry of everyone being sick and hoping we'll all be okay in the end.  He walks with me and strengthens me when the 3 year old begs to be carried up or down stairs when he is so tired and feverish - even though I'm tired and feverish too!

I can only wonder what exciting adventures await me in the coming months... did you catch that word, 'ADVENTure'?  Life is such, and this season is about that anticipation and excitement of the journey of what will be - the ADVENT, dawning, awaiting, arrival, surprise, joy and desire of nations COME.

So Merry Christmas - safely through another year.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Marriage Stress During Holidays

Today I will link you up to a post I wrote over at A Biblical Marriage Blog.  It's hard when there are so many activities and potential stressors over the holidays.  Here I share some thoughts and ideas about keeping marriage in-tact when it's all too easy to let the priority of the marriage relationship slide!

Thanks for stopping by!

Honoring Marriage During Stressful Seasons:
http://abiblicalmarriage.com/honoring-marriage-during-stressful-seasons/

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Valley of Vision for Children - A Christian's Prayer

Another from my effort to simplify language for children from the Puritan classic, Valley of Vision:

Wonderful God,
All around are so many traps I can fall into -
Will You defend me?
When I feel tired and lazy and want to just kick back and relax and not do what You ask me to, would You please show me just a little glimpse of heaven?
When all I want is the stuff I see around me advertised in store windows and fliers that come in our mailbox, would You help me to grow in the wealth of Your house?
When the pleasures the world has to offer me are tangling me up in their worthless causes, help me not to fall into the guilt that I'd feel if I gave into them.
Help me to remember how much You've freed me from -
Let me not ever be too busy to give attention to the important things of my soul.
Please help me to be mindful of my eternal home when I get wrapped up in the busyness of my life and consumed with each hour's tasks - so that I can not only live for You now, but grow closer to You also.
Make me think of You rightly - so I won't look at how I grow spiritually and pat myself on the back or think that knowing You had anything to do with my own efforts.
If only I could long to love You more and more!
When I give up all my flesh wants so that my spirit can grow to want only what You want,
When I have learned to be kind to all those I see and know,
When I have learned patience and grown strong inside,
When I focus on You and Your kingdom,
When I deeply want to please You both in public and when I'm alone and no-one sees me,
Then will You create on the canvas of my life a picture of Christ?
And as You masterfully design me from the inside out, will You delight in me as You see the image of Your Son formed in me?
Because I am only what You make me to be - re-worked in the life of Christ Jesus - Your indelible marker imprinted by Your Spirit's strokes -
I am Your churned up soil ready and waiting for Your expert gardening hand to plant life-seeds in me - and then to work with and in me until You harvest all You designed for me to produce - a fruitful yield for Your glory and Kingdom.

Amen.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanks To God!

Here is a hymn that I love to sing at Thanksgiving.  Some of the words were a bit archaic so I took poetic license and changed them (apologies to August Ludvig Storm, 1862-1914).


Thanks to God for my Redeemer,
Thanks for all that You provide!
Thanks for times now but a memory,
Thanks for Jesus by my side!

          Thanks for pleasant, balmy springtime,
          Thanks for colours in the fall!
          Thanks for tears by now forgotten,
          Thanks for peace within my soul!

Thanks for prayers that You have answered,
Thanks for all that You’ve denied!
Thanks for storms that I have weathered,
Thanks for all that You supply!

          Thanks for pain, and thanks for pleasure,
          Thanks for comfort in despair!
          Thanks for grace that none can measure,
          Thanks for love beyond compare!

Thanks for roses by the wayside,
Thanks for thorns their stems contain!
Thanks for home and thanks for fireside,
Thanks for hope, that sweet refrain!

          Thanks for joy and thanks for sorrow,
          Thanks for peace in souls set free!
          Thanks for hope in the tomorrow –
          Thanks through all eternity!!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Be Careful with Romans 8:28!

And we know

that in all things

God works

for the good

of those who love Him

who have been called according to His purpose...


I have a bee in my bonnet about the abuse of this verse.  So let me get it out there to set the record straight.

First - it begins with 'And' which means there were 27 verses previous to this leading up to it.  It cannot be ignored that this entire chapter is about the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer in Jesus.  I could go into an exposition of the first 27 verses - but this has been done by so many others so much better than I could, so I'll just leave it at that.  'And' means there is a context.  Don't ignore it.

'We know' refers to a group of people identified as 'we.'  It is not the royal 'we' but a specific group of those who can affirm the truths of this entire chapter, book, and book-of-books.  'We' does not refer to anyone.

'That in all things' - this phrase is self-explanatory, but is a good reminder because we sometimes tend to think that this cannot possibly include:

the time three kids were climbing over me and smashed my glasses into my nose
the time I had to lock myself in a room to calm down before I totally lost it with the warring factions in my living room
the time I should have locked myself in a room to calm down, but didn't and then blew it
the time one of my children dumped an entire box of cheerios down the stairs
the time we thought we couldn't meet our financial obligations
the time we had a 7-week old in the hospital with a fractured skull
the time I got clobbered with a brick on my head by nasty neighbours, resulting in stitches and a bald-patch

etc... you fill in and add some of your own!

But 'in all things' includes all of those scenarios.  I've seen it in the past and I trust the calamities I face in the future will also be to accomplish God's good purpose in my life.

'God works'
Keep in mind that it is God doing the work.  Not me.  Not my striving, efforts, pious exercises at spiritual disciplines.  It is certainly God who works IN me to even desire to do what He wants.

'For the good'
Here is the clincher.  Who is writing this book?  Paul.  Who, through Paul?  The Holy Spirit.  Who defines what 'good' means?  Us, or the writer?  I daresay we submit that defining what 'good' means belongs to the One Who IS good.  Perhaps we think 'good' refers to:

sipping iced-tea on a balmy day on a spacious expanse on a front-porch overlooking a white-picket-fence where well-behaved youngsters play cheerfully as the setting sun casts rosy glows over the gently lapping waves of the ocean...

Whatever.  You imagine what 'good' means to you.  Good does not necessarily mean whatever strokes my personal comfort funny bone.  To find out what God means by 'good' we need to do a thorough study of Scripture and see the many ways He demonstrates goodness to His people.

'Of those who love Him'
This one phrase should stop us dead in our tracks before throwing this verse around loosely.  I'm not saying we should doubt whether others love God.  I'm just saying that this phrase does qualify much of what is said in the previous few clauses.  Too often I hear it said, 'Well, God will work it out for good.'  Of course.  That's obvious.  But if you don't love Him, it may not go well for you.  And what good looks like may be different than what we expect.

'Who have been called according to His purpose'
We often ignore what God's purpose for us is.  To find out, read on to verse 29.  Never read a verse alone.  You'll miss so much!
'For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son...'
God's stated purpose for us is that we become like Jesus.  Therefore we could read Romans 8:28 like this:

"We who are in God's family know that in any situation we face God will be the One undertaking all we encounter to work His good purpose in our lives - that of becoming like Jesus His son - if we love Him and are called by Him."


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Wee Bit About Politics


I love this quote I saw on a friend's facebook page:

‎"I never consider a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a 
friend." -Thomas Jefferson


Indeed - thank you Thomas Jefferson!!  

We would do well to remember that this country holds such a broad range of viewpoints and opinions. 

We who call ourselves Christians claim citizenship in a heavenly country - while we traverse this path
below - we must remind ourselves of the heavenly kingdom to which we belong.  

Yes, I see the need for changes in our country.  One party doesn't fit all the things I want to be changed.

At some level I need to trust the God will carry out His purpose for our nation.  And if anyone puts me in charge, then I suppose I will get to change everything to how I want it.  Ha ha.  Not really – because
we have this great system where there are checks and balances.


Anyway - I remain committed to the open hand of friendship to those with whom I disagree.

And as far as friendship goes - it's even more enjoyable if friends can discuss and understand the various views of each other.  This is one thing I do not appreciate about American culture (distinctly
American - not Western because in much of Europe the following 'rule' does not apply) - that conversations over politics or religious views are taboo and must be kept out of civil, polite discourse.  It is to our shame that our friendships cannot be robust unless we censor the diverse views we hold!  

So, that's my plug to change America.  


Thus endeth the lecture.

Simplifying Christmas: A Link

Today I will link you to a post I just wrote for A Biblical Marriage.

Here I share ideas for how to navigate the coming six weeks which can be quite stressful - by keeping your focus where it should be.

I appreciate you stopping by and leaving a comment!

Celebrate the Holy Days with a K.I.S.S: Keep It Simple, Sweetheart!

(Featuring photography by the most excellent Lydia Francis herself, photographer extraordinaire!!  Her website is Ginger Snap)


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Early Mommyhood Pitfalls

The other day I was reflecting on the first few years of being a Mom.  I had my first two kids so close together - 19 months apart - that I was often dizzy from the upkeep of home and kids and errands.  Now that we have more kids - and more variety in temperaments, I realize the first two were extremely easy-going and required very little to keep them happy.  I didn't realize at the time how easy I had it!  And if someone had told me I would have been annoyed - so thanks to all of you who kept your mouths shut.

The first baby is a bit of a shock.  I hadn't realized how much time it took to get out the door.  How much was involved in lugging a carseat everywhere.  How slow it was to buckle him in each time.  How inconvenient last-minute diaper blow-outs were.  You get the picture.

But after a while, and after the second baby and feeling like I was swimming in baby clothes and burp rags, the novelty of baby-fun had totally worn off.  Okay, it probably happened before the second baby, but I didn't have time to collect my wits and reflect on it.

The temptation was to look for other endeavours that were more intellectually stimulating and exciting. It is easy to think of throwing onesself into other causes when the alternative is snotty noses and diaper changes.  I went down this path once or twice.  Any stranger who knocked on my door could be prepared for a lengthy persuasive dialogue and when they were sent on their way, hours of my prayers for their lost souls.  A young person I had known made some poor choices and because of my grief and prayers for her, the laundry stopped in its tracks and supper was toast, canned soup and crackers - for two weeks!

I admit these things to my shame. I'm sure most of you super-moms out there have never been tempted to throw yourself into another cause because reading Green Eggs and Ham for the fiftieth time just seems too boring.  So I'm not talking to the super-moms who got it the first time 'round.  I'm talking to the distracted ones - who tend to find the small world of toddlers just a tad too small.

If I could go back, I'd reclaim those years.  I'd get into that small world of theirs and play more with them.  I'd get a strong cup of coffee and not drag my heels all day.  I'd try to be less head-in-the-clouds and more feet-on-the-ground.  I think I was slow to recognize my calling as a Mom and to devote myself fully to the domestic tasks I had been entrusted with.

If you're in the early years of mommyhood, (and are not in the super-overachiever-mom category), let me encourage you to learn from my mistakes!  Give yourself room to withdraw from causes and crusades and devote yourself to the small things - picking dandelions with your toddler, colouring pages together, making play-doh and sitting with them to model things.  Someone once said the secret to parenting isn't so much positive affirmation as much as it is parental participation.  Sure, affirm your kids - but they'll appreciate it so much more if you participate with them.

Sometimes parenting seems so simple and straightforward.  Lately it seems riddled with pitfalls and complexities.  So, you know it will be complicated eventually - why not enjoy the simplicity of the early years and carve out this special time to make memories with them?  Thankfully my kids don't remember most (any?) of the mistakes I made then.  But I do - and have changed my course for the latter kids.  I invite you to correct your course too - if you've longed to do something of more value lately.  The sense is that it is more valuable to write a book, lead a class, make a gourmet dish for the potluck, campaign for your public official, convert the cult members, pray and fundraise for the latest crisis on your horizon, glue yourself to the internet for any variety or excitement (news, nutrition for toddlers, DIY projects, home-business building - you name it).  But it isn't more valuable.

It may be a cliche - and so often that means it's true - you won't get these days/years back.  So focus on this task of being a Mommy.  Revel in it.  Appreciate the smallness of their world.  Open your eyes wide to their excitements and catch their innocence and cherish it in your heart.  Jump into this endeavour with both feet, without a backward glance at all the other stuff you could be doing (getting a doctorate, travelling the world, mastering the art of basket-weaving - whatever!).  I wish I had.

I'm so glad I have more kids to try again.  And I hope Caleb and Priscilla will forgive me for letting the ball drop during their early years.  Isn't God gracious to shield their memories from when they were so young!?

http://i809.photobucket.com/albums/zz13/4everhis_09/Homemakingbutton.png

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wisdom is as wisdom DOES


Yesterday I was talking to Priscilla about spiritual gifts.  I explained that one of the gifts is 'discernment.'  As I explained what it meant to her, in the simplest way I could I began to think through what wisdom really is.  Since she is studying Proverbs she has come across a lot about wisdom and the importance of seeking it out.  When I reflect on the subject of wisdom, always a little nagging discouragement grows in my soul.

Why?

Because throughout my life many people have complimented me on being wise.  I never really know how to handle that.  Because in some ways, I can understand why others view me as wise.  And since I don't need to take time to disparage their kind remarks I usually just say thank you and remind myself how very lacking in wisdom I truly am (and if they knew me and observed my life, they would probably rescind their affirmation!)

I get discouraged when I think about wisdom because I realize that though I can articulate thoughts and ideas and insights, and though I have these thoughts, ideas and insights - it may make me a discerning person, but when it comes to wisdom the way Jesus defined it, unless I live according to these good ideas, I am not wise.  And too often I know I don't act according the knowledge and insight I have.  I know it is good to not lose my temper.  But I do it anyway.  I know it is good to exercise self-discipline.  But I indulge the flesh anyway.  These actions are anything BUT wise.

As a kid we would sing about the wise man building his house on the rock.  Wisdom is not wisdom unless it is actualized - acted upon - used in real life!

Wisdom is not merely knowledge or insight.  It isn't even the same as discernment.  Wisdom is doing the things we know to be right and good.  I love that Jesus said, 'Anyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice...will be like the wise man building on a rock...'  To be wise we must hear His words and then DO them.  

When I ponder King Solomon and all his wisdom, I realize he failed at the point of actualizing it - he was prey to his flesh and desires just as all of us are.  His wisdom brought him acclaim, wealth, power, prestige - but he stumbled when it came to women.  Even with all his wisdom, the insight he  had lost to the foe of the flesh.

Lord, I am seeking your wisdom - and the power of the Living Christ to reign in me - to conquer my flesh - to DO the things You want.  Let me not be so filled with knowledge that I fail to exercise the use of such knowledge for Your glory.  I truly desire to be a wise woman - one who follows after You with my whole heart - let this heart grow in applied wisdom so that I may more fully channel your love to those around me.  Amen.



Matthew 7:24 “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. And its collapse was great!”

Friday, September 21, 2012

Expectations

I am realizing, 5 kids into this parenting thing, that expectations can be the bane of my existence.  They can lead to frustration, guilt, anger, aggravation and a break-down in the peace of my home.  Mostly I am talking about expectations for myself, my days, my time, my activities, my atmosphere.  Do you get it?  These all have to do with ME.  I also have expectations for my kids - some very good ones.  Like, I expect my children to obey me.  To not lie to me.  To respect me.  To not be too messy (there is a broad range here).  I expect them to be responsible.  So, sometimes I expect a lot of me and a lot of my kids.  Expectations - both good and bad, can be the ruin of my day.  And lately I've taken to saying to myself, 'You just can't ruin my day!'  A quote from someone I never met - but a good one nonetheless.  (Paul Westlund).

For example:  I expect I will have time to pick up the house, clean the kitchen, homeschool Priscilla adequately and tuck my kids in bed.  And suddenly BOOM Hannah is sick and requires full attention for days on end.  I expect the sickness to last a day or two, or three at most.  BOOM, it lasts 7 going on 8 days.  I expect I will be able to arrange school pick-ups, carpools and naptimes for everyone in a suitable manner.  BOOM - those who usually help me can't and I'm left needing to be 3 places at one time.
 Stressful,
                   anxiety-causing,
                                  frustration building,
                                                                ME.

And all to do with MY expectations.  I don't want to knock them entirely - because we should expect certain things of ourselves and others.  However, what I find is that when I rely on my expectations being fulfilled, I hit a brick wall of sheer annoyance.  My peace is disturbed.  Everyone better get out of my way.  What a way to be!  How miserable for those around me!

Better to hold my expectations lightly.  Enforce the sinful and bad (like lying and such) and gently deal with the non-moral stuff (like leaving socks on the floor or a belt off its hook).  Better to let go of some of my expectations and patiently engage in life with my youngsters.  So Hannah's thrown up for the 8th time this week, ladening me with the 4th extra load of laundry that I didn't plan on doing?  Oh well, this is all part of the journey.  So, the dryer burned holes in the sheets you had to launder because of the extra puke?  Oh well, God calls me to patient endurance.  So, your 3 year old is not comprehending the potty-training thing?  Oh well, rejoice in all things still applies.  So, I'm dead-beat tired and my 11 year old is complaining his computer time was cut short by a computer glitch?  Oh well, just roll with the punches, and tell him to do so at the same time.  Because if he sees you rolling with the punches for real, maybe he will know how it's done.

But if, like me, you don't always roll well with the punches of life, you may end up in a puddle of aggravated tears and frustration.  You will feel like you're coming unglued, falling apart at the seams, ready to scream at the next broken expectation that comes your way - even if that is something as little as the heavy-handle spoon falling out of the pot splattering spaghetti sauce everywhere.

Did Jesus only offer peace to those fishing on the peaceful shore (and of course we always imagine the peaceful, idyllic scene of serenity that those fisherman must have enjoyed every day - with perfect weather and a pleasant breeze to boot)?  Or did He offer His peace to me - a harried, sometimes stressed out, sometimes losing it, kind of Mom?

I think you know the answer to that.

"MY peace I give you - not as the world gives - don't let your heart be troubled - don't be afraid.  TRUST God - and TRUST Me."  John 14

The answer to the harried frustrations and failed expectations is to trust.  So simple.  So often repeated it almost becomes cliche.  And perhaps it is.  Maybe it's trite.  Simplistic.  Unreasonable.  But I have to believe Jesus offers His peace to me or else I think I'll end up in the loony bin (and that may be just where I will discover His peace... but that's another story).

Can I trust God is in charge when my world is falling apart?  Can I trust He'll carry me through this day of fatigue and challenges and physical impossibilities?  Can I trust Him to send helpers along when I need them?  Well, can I?

Whether I can or not, I will - because this faith trusting muscle needs a workout and God must orchestrate my life to be the treadmill to develop such faith.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Internet Detox

So in order to maximize my efficiency as a housewife and Mom we have discovered some special internet controls (something called Chrome Nanny).  Initially we decided to use it because the kids were beginning to have fights over using the computer and doing time-wasting things on it.  We were tired of the fights, tired of the division in our family.  And I've bene reading a book (Almost Amish) and have been sensing a bit of conviction over my distractability with the computer.  So we decided to set up the chromenanny to help structure the use of the computer for all of us.  Since I'm techno-challenged I can't even begin to think how I would break through it and change the rules.  So it is a great help for me - ever distracted and called away from my primary tasks.  This week has been the start of homeschooling, but also the start of my internet detox.  Wanna know how it's going?  Here's an email I wrote to Sam this week while he was at work (my email is one of the allowed sites - and has opened up more in-depth relational focus rather than the one-liners I am glued to on facebook):

Hi Sam,

This internet detox is killing me.  I can't believe how undisciplined
I've been.  What began as a journey to correct my kids waywardness has
evolved into an expose of my own failings!  This is a hard thing for
me to learn, but it is going to be wonderful, I believe - because it
is going to increase the time I give to relationships - to my family
and others.  For example, last night I thought about jotting a quick
email to a friend because she influenced me in what I said to Caleb
last night.  Usually, if I had that impulse, I would go to the
computer, check facebook, news etc.  Then I'd forget why I came and if
I remembered I might have second thoughts about writing her.  Then I'd
just be too lazy to compose a simple email and forget about it.  And
she would be less encouraged and our relationship would remain where
it was - no growth or fostering of mutual edification.  Also, I
wouldn't be writing this email to you now.  My mind would be off
laughing at someone's political joke or pun about the chaos of having
toddlers running around.  Even if it were merely a few minutes here
and there - it isn't so much the time consumption (because I would
check the time once in a while on that time measuring program), but
the distraction and the abundance of things - especially relational
things - that would fall by the wayside.

This morning Priscilla got to work on her stuff.  I graded her math.
Wrote her a list of assignments and corrections.  Then I cooked her
an omelette and made chunky applesauce from the apples from the
Petry's.  We had a late breakfast together at 10:30 and discussed the
food groups and the chemistry of nutrition.  (Carbohydrate means
carbon, hydrogen and oxygen).  Not sure if I'm right about all of that
- and I'd check it online just now, but I CAN'T!!!  So, I continue in
this email.  A complete email.  Undistracted.  Like a real
conversation with you.  Imagine.  It is a new day for me.

And actually, I write best when I write to people.  Real people.
People I know, see, hear and touch.  And then if I write something
shareable, I can just copy and paste into my blog.  Kill two birds
with one stone - right?

I love you Sammy.

Thanks for supporting me in so many ways.  Thank you for being my
techno-guru.  Thank you for patiently journeying with me, even in the
midst of my very distractable nature.  Maybe you can quit growing in
patience with this new software restriction in place.  I may just grow
into a minimally efficient wife, Mom and housekeeper.  I wouldn't bet
on it just yet.  But you never know.  Miracles happen every day.

love,

sarah

Journey into Homeschool

Here I am one week into doing homeschool with 9 y/o Priscilla.  We are working on grade 4 and easing our way into all the subject matter and curriculum.  I have been a bit insecure about the whole homeschool thing - always wondering if I'll get her educated enough to be proficient and to excel in not only core subjects of academia but also in the fringe benefit subjects.  Because of my self-doubts I am all the more aware that this too, as in all things in life, is a journey of faith.  I will need to see and know my inadequacies and rely heavily on God for wisdom - and also rely on any and all resources available to me to support this endeavour.  Because my goal in all this is really NOT to be a 'do it yourself' educator.  Or to stand independently and say, 'I don't need a village to raise/educate my kid!'  (I'd argue that perhaps a village isn't *necessary* to raise/educate her, but is a great benefit to her educational enrichment!).

I am wondering if I'm still in the honeymoon phase (probably) because this week has gone extremely well.  More seasoned homeschoolers will balk at my use of a uniform, but I love it.  In order to take advantage of the homeschool flexibility I have decided to implement 'Fun Fridays'.  The rules on Fridays are relaxed if we are up to date with all the material.  It will be non-uniform day.  She could do her work on the couch or in bed if she wants.  Once our basics are out of the way, she can choose any subject to do and if she finishes early she has more free time.  I think many homeschoolers function like this every day.  But I want to make sure we have built in motivators to keep the pace steady throughout the week, so 'Fun Fridays' it is. Frankly, Priscilla hardly needs motivation.  She goes right to work and I have no prompting to do.  In this sense she is a dream kid.  If she weren't my kid I'd be jealous of me.  I don't tell her these things because she doesn't really need to hear it.  We all have strengths and weaknesses - being a self-starter, diligent, consistent person happens to be her areas of strength.

I'm sure Priscilla could practically homeschool herself, but one of the main points of choosing this is not that she will be left to her own devices but that I will be a more active participant in her education and growth in thinking.  This week we've had a number of meals together and she has prayed, 'Thank you that I can homeschool and that I get to be with Mommy more.'  I'm amazed at her simplicity and gratitude to be spending time with me.  At one late breakfast I got into explaining basic nutrition to her - about starch, veggies and protein.  I taught her that carbohydrate is a chemistry term - carb for carbon, hydr for hydrogen and ate for oxygen.  Sure this was a bit above her head but I am very fascinated by the chemistry of food. Maybe a little of that will rub off on her.  Who knows.

Here was one of the things she wrote for creative writing this week:

Recipe: Best School Year Ever!

1 Cup of Diligence
2 Gallons of Friendship
1 Gallon of good lunches
3 cups of fun
15 field trips
a sprinkle of creativity (optional)
10/11 class pets
10 fun teachers

First you mix the teachers and the diligence.  While you mix, pour in 1 1/2 cups of fun.  Now, one at a time, put in each pet, CAREFULLY!
Pour in the friendship.  Then, pour in 1 1/2 more of fun.  Put in 7
field trips.  In another bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients.  Mix
all together and bake.

I said, 'I'm sorry I'm not 10 teachers!'  She said, 'You're as good as 10 teachers!'  So sweet, she is.



So, so far, so good.  I am still quite unsure of myself in certain
areas - art for one.  We'll have to look into some ideas and options.