Thursday, June 30, 2011

Today it was knives...

Micah is going to be very smart. I can already tell. At his young age, he is already showing what a problem solver he is.

He knows when he sees me lift a camera up that he needs to smile.

He knows that when Mommy calls everyone to the table it is time to eat. He will even tell us to "pay" when he thinks we are taking too long with setting out the food.

He has figured out that there are two doors from which you can leave the car, and he now prefers to exit from the side of the car that all the "big kids" get out of.

When he is thirsty and can't find his cup, he goes to the upstairs bathroom and finds the little disposable cups we use for the kids to take a sip of water at night, and he gets his own drink... from the toilet.

When he is hungry, he goes into the pantry and selects something of the shelf, like a bag of Craisens or a bag of Mrs. Mays nuts... if he can't find anything he eats carrots out of the rabbit's cage.

When he finds a door locked and he wants to open it, he finds something key-like and works on the doorknob until it opens... please forgive me if you are the one in the bathroom at the time.

Tonight, after Elliott and I returned home from our date, having made a quick stop by Costco for a few groceries, Micah noticed some Chobani yogurts in a case. He apparently wanted one. He is not verbal enough to tell us these things. So, he took matters into his own hands. He went to the drawer where we keep our utensils and got a knife (thankfully it was just a butter knife) and he used the knife to pry open the box and then stab into one of the yogurt containers to open it.

My 22mo boy.

To plan...

That is the plan for this week.
To spend time planning for this year.
Can someone please tell my kids?!?!?
Just kidding.
They understand.

And when they aren't doing their daily chores,
Or playing,
Or drawing,
Or running around outside,
They get treated to a video.
Huge treat.

The main problem is the 22mo who disappears easily.
Later to be found playing in the toilet,
Or eating chips,
Or painting with toothpaste,
Or ripping out pages in a book.
Today it was the dedication page in Noah's Bible Bee Bible.

Part of the planning includes figuring out how to keep the two little guys busy and out of trouble while the older four get some school work done this year. I would really love love LOVE to not spend all day doing school simply because I am running around chasing the littlest littles and keeping them from burning down the house. Well, the biggest threat is probably flooding. Micah loves water. A lot.

Books are piled up on my table. Lesson plans are at the ready. Now, if I would stop blogging about it and do it I might make some progress. :)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Overwhelmed with weeds...

I love the look of a cultivated garden. One which has been carefully manicured by a watchful gardener. Colors exploding from a muddy brown earth attracting wildlife and drawing the eye of a curious child to behold the wonders and creativity of God.

I love how a garden is a picture of my Christian life. When the garden is being carefully tended and little upshoots of weeds barely peeking through the mulch are snapped up, your gaze is drawn to the beauty of the creation. Yet, when the gardener has been gone for a few days, or has had their attention placed elsewhere for a short while, those little upshoots are given the free reign to mature and take shape in the midst of the intended beauty. Now, the beauty is still seen but you can't help notice the unintended growth. If the heat of the day or the busyiness of life keeps the gardener away too long, those imposing little weeds grow up to begin covering the plants that were intentionally placed, and what once was a place of beauty is now marred by destructive intruders.

Isn't my life the same way? When I am taking the time to be in God's Word daily, without missing or giving myself an excuse, my life more readily reflects Christ. I am more patient. I find it easier to be kind and loving. Pleasing the Lord in all I do is my first goal. When I do sin, I am quick to confess, repent and seek forgiveness.

Yet, when I let a few days slip by, either by sleeping in after a wakeful night, or not getting up early enough to have a quiet time on a morning when we will be out, or by simply being lazy, the beginnings of unattended sin creep in. My words are less gentle, I may even become snippy. The very things I found adorable and endearing last week become suddenly irksome and irritating when my heart is not right before the Lord. I find it harder to ask forgiveness of my husband or my children because I convince myself my sinful response was their fault.

Sadly, when I have allowed myself to lose track completely of the spiritual disciplines which are so important to walking with Christ in a faithful and fruitful way, my life can become very deeply entangled in sinful patterns. I may yell and say hurtful things. I tend to become impatient and unloving towards my husband. I may distance myself from even people I consider dear friends, because I can feel the weight of being overburdened and will indulge in feelings of depression. I don't notice so much when I sin, or simply don't care.

As so, what do I need to do? Best case scenario is to stay on top of the weeds... Be consistent in my time in the Word and be faithful to pursue godliness. If I slip and get behind on weeds, commit a little time every day until I am back on track and things are under control... During the busy seasons of life, be creative, don't settle for letting the study of the Word slack, but instead listen to the Bible on CD or work on Scripture memory posted on the kitchen cabinet or taped to the bathroom mirror. Before things get too overwhelming, ask a friend to hold you accountable... if they see your weeds growing unattended, ask them to gently remind you to take some time... when they see you are more irritable that usually, beg them to reprove you and remind you to strive for those things which would be more pleasing to the Lord. If things do go out of control, call in someone who can help you pull weeds... confess, repent and seek forgiveness.

Can you tell I pulled weeds for 3 hours today? There are more lessons from my garden. But that is for another post.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bumpy stages...

I am going through a Bible study with some friends called Parenting with Wisdom by Debi Pryde. It was written by one of my friend's mom. We are going through it slowly, taking time to digest it. I love it.

We are reading through the chapters about "Bumpy Stages". It has been sweet to read through the sections on babies and realize I lived through that and likely won't need that information personally anymore, but it will be something I can encourage another mom with who is in the midst.

Lately, if I am honest with myself, I will admit that I have been struggling to be a joyful mom. Some days feel like a drudgery. Everything is a choice. Then I thought of the bumpy stages chapter. Then I realized, we are hitting some bumps. And then it occurred to me that in the span of our six children, we are experiencing the bumpy part of 4 different stages!

Am I complaining, no. I am however, reminded to do what the Israelites forgot to do when they hit a "bumpy stage" (a.k.a. the desert), they forgot to recount the testimonies of the Lord to themselves and their children. So, now, instead of wondering when we will get over these current bumps and trying not to think about a different bump being just around the corner, I am reminding myself of God's faithfulness to bring us over the bumps of different stages of the past, and to look at my children and see how they have all grown in the grace of the Lord.

Bumpy stages are hard. I won't make believe that they aren't. But I can choose to rest in and seek the Lord through them, instead of striving in my own strength and knowledge to get through. And it helps to remember that after every bump, there is a valley. I can see change in my kids. I can see change in me. I will praise God for the bumps, I will recount His faithfulness.

A Father's Day surprise...

In the past I have sometimes allowed for Father's Day to overwhelm me, in hopes of doing something super special or making the perfect gift, and end up doing nothing. This year, we remembered well enough to plan ahead (thanks to a friend's promptings) and below are the results... we took these photos and framed them, they are now in our entry hallway. This is what being a Father is all about right? The kids...






We didn't end up with a good group shot, so I guess we will try again for that sometime soon when we either get our act together early in the morning or the temperatures are not in the 100's. I haven't been taking photos as often as I ought to. I am going to try to change that.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Out and about...

I learned a lot this week. We had a supremely busy week, for us. We don't usually leave the house more than twice a week, in fact, any more than that and I begin to feel a little stretched. Yet, this week, thanks to Noah being in golf camp with a good friend, we were out of the house every single day, and three of those days we left at 6:45am.

It has been a fun week, Noah is in love with golfing now. The rest of us had enjoyed playing at the park a few times. I think we all have a little bit more tan that we started the week with. And I had some perfectly lovely and encouraging conversations with a mom friend.

So, what did I learn?

I learned that after long stretches of being out of the house with 6 kids in tow, Motrin plus a heating pad is a great combination.
I learned it is hard to do laundry if you are not home. And dishes, for that matter.
I learned food does not cook itself, and with no drive-thru options on our GF diet, planning ahead is essential.
I learned that I had to pray more often for a patient and gentle response the later in the week we got.
I learned how to pray for my friends who keep on-the-go schedules all the time.
I learned to look at our schedule differently, not just through the lens of can we afford this (monetarily) but can we succeed in accomplishing it (time-wise and energy level).
I learned how to push through when everything in my being wanted to quit and give up.

Looking ahead, we won't have a break from this faster-than-nomal pace for two weeks, VBS is next week and the older four kids just cannot wait! That will mean early mornings out of the house every day and me preparing snacks to match the "theme" of the day. It will be a nice break as the youngest two will just hang out with me, and we will likely come home and work on projects or simply play.

The following week we were supposed to start school. We will see. That depends on how many projects I get done during my mornings "off". If not, then the next week. We are starting early to simply hide inside during the intense heat and try to get ahead for the cooler days when we are so easily tempted out of doors.

Will we become a family who is out and about all the time? I hope not. I have spent a lot of time and energy putting hedges around our schedule, trying to make sure there is a balance of family time and activities, ministry opportunities and getting to know our neighbors, cleaning the house and schooling the children, and leaving enough energy over for me to be a useful helpmeet and wife to Elliott.

So, while these two weeks are keeping us out and about, I am greatly looking forward to our return to normal. Meals at home. Chores. School. Read alouds! In general, I like being home and doing what I ought to do at a slower pace. However, I think that weeks like this are a good idea to indulge in, besides the fun we had, I am reminded that to be a Keeper-at-Home and a Homeschooler, I need to be there, Home, that is. A timely reminder as we head into the new school year and temptation abounds to be out and about...

Monday, June 13, 2011

On the verge...

This afternoon I have been on the verge of tears.
Yesterday I was on the verge of becoming sinfully angry.
Sometimes I find myself being on the verge of engaging in gossip.
Other times I will be on the verge of allowing myself to worry.

I am rejoicing! This is progress!
A few months ago I would have left the verge and jumped fully in.
Being on the verge means I am fighting.
Being on the verge sometimes means I get quiet and hold back tears or words or struggle with thoughts.

What has made the difference?
God's Word...  both the wisdom which is contained within it and my intake of it.
Prayer and Confession... identifying the areas in my life where I am falling short and seeking God's help to change and be conformed to the image of Christ.
Accountability... having a friend who is faithful to ask me how I am doing, am I pursuing what is right and good.

So, while being on the verge is hard.
And sometimes even a tear creeps out.
I am thankful that the Lord has allowed me to see how He is changing me.
Despite the circumstances pushing me to the edge, God is good and does good in all things and for always.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

To use my insomnia well...

My recovery from my recent surgery is done. I am back to "normal" life, pretty much anyway. However, ever since surgery two things have returned that had subsided over the past months:
     1. Hot flashes. I beg of you, please excuse my wearing tank tops until I can get used to them again. Or a frozen-tundra-like winter comes.
     2. Insomnia. And insomnia for a night owl means crazzzzzzzy long hours.

So I have been thinking about my choices for dealing with this sleeplessness.
... I could spend these nights being upset with my inability to sleep... which I have done but it did no good.
... or I could choose to surf the web, catch up on blogs I didn't even know existed... and in general completely waste my time.
... or I could decide to reorganize a room... but Elliott might hurt himself upon discovering furniture has been moved at 2am.
... or I could take Benedryl every night... only to wake up groggy and disoriented.

Since none of those options seems very profitable or helpful in my pursuit of making choices which will be God-honoring, instead I have decided that I want to use my insomnia well. But how? Remembering the Psalms, I have chosen to pursue the example of King David.

Psalm 63: 5-7
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;

for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.

Psalm 119:148
My eyes are awake before the watches of the night,
that I may meditate on your promise.

As I lay in bed and staring at the wall, I will consider God's Word and seek Him in prayer. And if you ask me how I have been sleeping I hope I will tell you that the Lord has been sweet to bless me with some quiet moments to meditate on His goodness. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Silly talk...

So, I was saying about filters, that my first should be Scripture. I was asked to consider the following passage, Ephesians 5:3-4 which says, "But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks."

Immorality, impurity, greed, all are pretty obvious.
Coarse jesting, I cannot stand.
Filthiness, or filthy talk, I do not want to be around for.
Silly talk. Hmmmm... has me thinking... am I applying an appropriate amount of diligence to watch over my words to avoid this? Probably not.

I sense I will be dwelling on Philippians 4:8 more often... "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things." (And for me, say only these things...)

A work in progress... refining my filters... I am thankful for God's Word which convicts and also encourages me to do what is right and pleasing in His sight.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

New espresso machine...

... my super amazing favorite thing... fresh ground espresso... super hot and perfectly foamed milk... homemade dark chocolate sauce...

Anyone want to come for coffee?!?!?!? I need practice. :)

No filter...

During a phone conversation this week, with a friend who lives out of town, I was challenged to think about what filters I use in determining what I think, say, do. The conversation was about Facebook and my love/hate relationship with it.

I absolutely see some wonderful things about it - the ability to have easy access to all your friends, especially those living far off or in other countries; the swift ability to disseminate information, like prayer requests or "how to" questions; finding lost friends and keeping in touch easier.

I see some less than wonderful things about Facebook - can you really have 847 friends? Really? Close ones? Shouldn't there be a group for "friends" and another for "acquaintances" or "only met once" or "friend of my sister's best friend's cousin"? And the games and questions? Farmville? It can steal your time, but it can also rob you of contentment as you read about all the fun "friends" you have and all the fun they are having without you!

As my friend and I were talking, she made a statement that really made me think. She said, "What gets me is how people can get on Facebook and you can read every little thought they ever had, like there is no filter... you think it, you post it for the world to see!"

No filter... hmmmm... I have been pondering... what is my filter? How do I decide what to say or what not to say? My filter should be Scripture. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says we are to take our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. Thoughts should come before words, if one is exercising self-control, you will ask yourself before you speak if what you are about to say will be a blessing to those who hear it (Ephesians 4:29), and whether or not this would be something that would bring glory to God, or display His greatness to those who may not yet know Him.

And I realize I have different types of filters, like the fuel filter from my car wouldn't be an appropriate thing to use on my home A/C or our reverse osmosis drinking water filter would be useless on our paint sprayer. While Scripture is the foremost filter, once that which would be displeasing to the Lord has been sifted out, we may need to put on a kid filter (to protect them from conversations too mature for them), or a husband filter (get to the point quickly), or a friend filter (more detailed, requiring coffee)... you get the point.

I am thankful, to be thinking of filters. I am in the midst of a trial right now, one which could have been avoided had my filter been more refined. And I know that God is working right now to teach me something wonderful. I am thankful that God is helping me choose better filters.