Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Battle of Surrender

Dark days have seemed to surround me often, mostly because I have chosen to listen to the voice of my enemy. I feel that we are constantly on the front lines of a battlefield and the enemy knows just how to attack. I find myself entertaining thoughts of questioning beliefs I hold so dear- my head knows the truth, but my heart is swayed by the doubts. Then when I face the doubts they seem so insubstantial and don't hold up to the light of scrutiny.
As a ministry wife I understand that much of the time I need to bear the weight of home keeping and the responsibilities of raising, training and leading the kids. This is what I am called to right now. As I work to bear this, my husband can be free to do what God has called him to do.  The enemy wants to plant seeds of resentment here. There are others who are not called to this whose lives are very different from my own. That is ok- because that is God's plan, I have said to Him that I am surrendered to His plan for me. But then the voice of the enemy whispers words about my inadequacies and I listen! I know the source yet I listen!
I fear that I am not doing enough to prepare my kids for life, that I am not leading them in how to walk with the Lord in the best way. Pride raises its ugly head and reminds me that others will see how I fail at keeping house, how I blunder at daily life. My eyes are focussed on the mess that I clean up and  reappears at the hands of a three-year-old, the laundry that is never done, the dishes that are never clean. I grumble at myself for not having taught these children well enough to do the assigned chores. I grow weary of being the one to enforce everything from rising to laying down and every routine and rule in-between. I despair that I never have a moment for me- that my dreams will never see light of day. When I listen to the orations of self-pity, fear and pride I am utterly burned out.
I have know for some time that the lesson in this season is obedience. I have been obeying what He puts in front of me- from home to church to helping friends. This past week, while stealing a few minutes in the morning for God's Word, I'm convicted that my heart attitude needs to change and my obedience should come from a heart of love, not legalism. Yet the love must come from my Heavenly Father- I cannot manufacture it. So from Him comes the command to obey, and the means by which to obey, as strength and grace for each moment. But knowing that is not living that. I step out of the current of grace to doubt, fear and to pity myself. How silly I must seem to Him!

How to surrender to the current of His will? How to surrender when others' lives look nothing like mine? How to stay focussed on Him? The surrender is not a letting go- but a striving against the weight of the other current that would pull me back to the battlefield. Yet the surrender is a releasing to the rhythms of grace that are foreign to me.

Last month something happened that I haven't been able to put into words yet, but I want to remember. It was in the evening in a moment of trying to obey and surrender but feeling the weight of a long day. I was outside and night was all around me, with noises and the whisper of a breeze. The stars were bright and close, our small town's lights did not diminish them. Far off in the southwest a storm was building. The tall thunderhead was hidden in the night until lightning would flash. The the immense cloud was lit from within and tickled by fingers of power that reached all around it. The storm was so far away that there was no sound of thunder. I stood for a few minutes, knowing that I needed to go in and enforce bedtime and try to summon the energy to fold laundry. It seemed nature was giving me a visual for the idea of glory. I could not measure the storm cloud, or understand the immense amount of power contained in the lightning flashing in and around it. The glory of that was hidden in the dark sometimes, until cracking of power could not be contained anymore. I went inside and the next day I seemed to feel the power of grace at moments that I really needed it. Grace did not feel very exciting like an electrified moment of worship at church, but like a strong current I could swim in, if I chose.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Preschool. Preschool?

Hard to believe the little man is starting to be interested in numbers, letters, colors and whatever else he can get his hands on. I'm brainstorming some preschool ideas that will help him have some educational fun while learning a little.
Counting Coconuts is a great site for hands on preschool activities. I'm nowhere near as organized as this blogger, but am inspired nonetheless. I'll be visiting her blog and searching for other sources if ideas in the coming days and weeks.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Victory is Sweeter for the Struggle-I think

In this, our fourth year of homeschooling, I'm realizing that I may be a little dense in the head. Things that should've been obvious to me have taken me much longer than necessary to actually sink in. Like the fact that we have cycles, or patterns to our moods and attitudes toward schooling, and that nothing is really gonna stay the same way forever. This fact is sometimes good- like when I need to remember that the difficult things will someday not be so difficult- and sometimes bad- like when I realize that what worked yesterday isn't working at all today.
Spelling was a huge struggle for my eldest and we have a spelling program that we really like, but his attitude was one of defeat toward many areas of school. According to our spelling book, Spelling Power, he wasn't able to spell words on his grade level. He would get very upset about any spelling mistake he made. Then we didn't "do" spelling for a while. My excuse at the time was that life kept interfering, but I think I just didn't have the strength to fight that battle! So he read. All the time. About all I can take credit for is pushing him to read things that were in an area of interest for him that were a little above his "reading level" (I don't really know a number for his reading level or a specific definition, but trial and error got us to the books that had a few words he didn't know, or at least didn't use regularly.)  This year we did the placement tests again and he tested at his grade level. I probably shouldn't have been surprised, but I was. We had tried learning spelling rules, but that just didn't work for him. His maturity had caught up with where he "should" be (rejecting the the "should be" is a subject for another post entirely) and his love of reading had helped him along. As he read and encountered new words he was motivated to understand and remember them for the sake of the story and didn't even realize that he was gaining vocabulary that would ultimately help him remember how the words were spelled. I think that now, if we discussed them, he would have a deeper understanding of the spelling rules because of the words he read.
This victory is something I need to remember in the midst of the struggles now. My daughter is in fourth grade and has, until now, been my can-we-please-do-school-on-a-Saturday student. Her main struggle now is long division and oh! the conflicts we have over this! I remember hating long division. She can do it; she all but refuses.  I know there will be a light someday at the end of this hating math tunnel. I tell myself it can't go on forever. But then I've been at odds with math for much of my life :) I'd kind of hoped that they would be math geniuses and I wouldn't have to do much- that they'd just be born knowing the intricacies of the subject I like least! One plus is that this struggle, though still not completely resolved, has been helped tremendously by a sight my son loves called Khan Academy, with videos to explain concepts and a way to practice online. At least they are not both hating math with equal vigor right now!
At the beginning of the year I felt that our theme for the year was going to be learning to yield, a very difficult lesson to be sure! I feel the spotlight of God's conviction so keenly in this area and yet, though I know that is the focus of the season God has me in, I fight against it! I wish to yield yet pride raises its ugly head again and again. I do know that on the day when Christ brings me to my eternal home, the freedom from this struggle against self will be the sweet.

Friday, December 30, 2011

New

Our weather has been unseasonably warm and sunny and has gotten me thinking about spring time. I'm perusing seed catalogues and dusting off my gardening books. Botany is on the books for our science in a couple of months and I have already been planning my projects. Raised beds, making a compost bin, using some great online ideas like vertical pallet planters.
The newness of spring, of any fresh start is such a beautiful thing.  I am deeply grateful for all the fresh starts I've been given and the new year is no different.
I am starting a radio show with a friend that promises to be great, joining a photography company as editor (working from home and so grateful for the chance to continue homeschooling). Homeschooling changes will come in the form of trying online resources for math for my oldest (who is making leaps and bounds of progress!) as well as renewing our goal of keeping Christ and His Word the center of our schooling.
Days promise to be full and sometimes chaotic.

God promises to be faithful.

What more could a girl ask for?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I don't have it all together

We returned home from a busy day at the FireEscape coffeehouse and since we hadn't had much family time we all left together for a few minutes to run a quick errand. We are in a small town and sometimes we don't lock the door to our home when we leave. It is still a little crazy to me to do so, as we were living in metro-Houston area and locked the door every time we left. When we got home I noticed that someone from church had returned my daughter's toothbrush (she'd forgotten it after a sleepover at a friend's house) and left it on the very cluttered counter of our kitchen. I've been trying to keep things tidy, but anytime my help is needed with the ministry the housework definitely suffers.

Instantly the downward cycle of negative thoughts began. I have struggled with letting go of the need to impress people and replacing it with a desire to please my God, but pride rises up so quickly. I prayed that as I rest in His grace, my friends in Christ will extend grace to me. I don't have it all together, I may never get any better at juggling everything. I'm beginning to feel that only when I allow the mask to fall and let everyone see me for the mess I really am will they see all that Christ is in my life.

Tonight He was my belt of truth, the force holding me together when I wanted to dissolve into a sobbing mess, mourning over the shame of my messy kitchen. (Ok-the shame of my messy HOUSE.) He was my enough-grace-for-the-moment when the baby was tired, and the big kids were tired and no one was in bed on time, including a tired mommy. Today He was my strength as I went between my ministry role, my mommy role, my teacher role and my housekeeper role. He was my boldness when I tried to obey His leading me out of my comfort zone. How will anyone see all that Christ has been to me today if I am hiding behind a mask of having-it-all-together?

I will be reminding myself of God's grace tonight. I will need it because the enemy will be attacking with the same lies of "not good enough," and "you're the only one." I will lie down tonight asking for the truth to wrap around me and hold me together. I will remember that salvation protects me, the righteousness of Christ enrobes me, that faith shields me.

Jesus Christ is my source, He is my center.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Christmas is Coming

I learned last year that I'd need more time to work on homemade gifts for Christmas, so I've already started planning. High on my priority list is choosing crafts that will use some of my fabric stash. I've got some great ideas that I'll post soon.

One challenge to handmade gifts for guys is that most crafts are very feminine. I've found a few that may work and will be trying out some. Many of the ideas I've found are on my Pinterest boards. (User name corrielou if you want to find me.) Last year I followed a tutorial to make a messenger bag for my hubby's laptop out of leather from a leather coat I bought in a thrift store. Not quite sure how I'll top that! I haven't found anything that he'll like that I could make.

I did see that 100 Days to Christmas is having a Kindle give-away today. That would be a great gift for my son or hubby! I'm still planning and will soon start crafting!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Crazy Days

I sincerely believe, somewhere deep in my heart, that routine is best. I can actually remember where I put things when routine is followed! To start the school year, or get us back on track after a break I keep us on schedule almost rigidly. But after about two weeks of that kind of schedule minding, we settle into a rhythm that helps us get most of the things done that we need to do. The one thing that I feel we don't do enough of is a regular family Bible time, to really study God's Word together. We're still trying to figure out what works best for us in that area.

This will be our 4th year of homeschooling. As the big kids are older, I'm enjoying the fact that they can work more independently than ever before and I'm challenging them in that more this year. The two year old can really throw a wrench in any plans I make. One thing that I gleaned from the Heart of the Matter's Online conference was from  's seminar- about trying to make the day more toddler friendly if said toddler is interrupting frequently! So our routine will be undergoing changes in that regard very soon.
My husband and I pre-record an 8 hour radio show for the ministry which has a low power FM radio station (also streaming online here). It takes about 2 hours to record the short music announcements, ministry announcement and Scriptures that we share on air. We also get a little silly sometimes and it is lots of fun. It is so far outside of my comfort zone and definitely is one of the things that I am relying on God to do!

This is a glimpse of our current routine:
So from 6:30-8:30am we are in the studio recording our radio show. Our eldest is responsible for the toddler at this time and has been proving himself to be so responsible.
I'm trying to remember to have something to read to the kids while we prepare breakfast, or just after we eat together. A scripture, an encouraging quote or a bit of our history lesson.
Around 9 we get started with academics, after a prayer together. My 9 year old has Tot School time with the youngest for about 15-20 min. I try to have a simple activity planned for her to do with him. I'm not so good about having these organized, but getting better. While she is with the toddler, I'm discussing the math instructions with the 6th grader. After about 15 minutes the toddler gets to watch a video while I help her understand the math instructions. We move on to Bible, Language Arts, Science, Art, Music-whatever is in our school planner for the day. We do not do all of these things everyday. Sometimes for science we have to use language arts skills. Sometimes in music we take note of math concepts. We're challenging ourselves to memorize lots of Bible this year, but Bible discussion might take place while we look at a work of art. We have discussions about what we think about certain verses while we practice sketching protists for the science blog we'll be starting soon, or coloring a picture for our history timeline.

Usually lunch is around 12:30 and then the toddler naps while we read history and the kids write their summaries of what we read. The kids can finish any of their independent practice for math, science or language arts. I'd love to be fitting in more read-a-loud time with them and more science activities. They will be starting a foreign language next week and hopefully we'll be getting a piano soon.

At any point in the day I am going back and forth between my two students and the toddler as well as switching out laundry, starting meal prep, or doing some work on Photoshop for ministry events announcements so all in all I feel like every day is non-stop!

Sometimes I wonder if there is anything I could simplify- something I could stop doing so my days would be calmer. But I think that right now I'm supposed to be doing what God has placed in front of me. He's calling me to work hard right now and that may look completely different from what He has called someone else to do. They may be working hard for God and for their families in a totally different way. I'm content in knowing that I am following Him and knowing that He gives grace for even the craziest days!