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Better than Mary Poppins

25 Jun

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She came to the door, arms laden with bags. “I have just a few more things in the car,” I heard her say as she turned and left. “I’ll be right back!” The children and I looked at each other wondering what this treasured friend was up to this time…

Returning, a little out of breath, like Mary Poppins, she began to pull things out of her abundant bags. “I was at the store,” she began, “and it occurred to me the kids might like some grilled cheese sandwiches. As I was picking up the cheese and bread, I felt the Lord directing me to meat and cheese instead. I really thought grilled cheese sounded better, but He kept prodding me to get meat and cheese. So, I just decided to get both… I know you make your own bread, but I bought some anyway, just for fun.”

As quickly as she had come, she was gone.

Her words slowing sifting through my mind…

“I felt the Lord directing me to get meat and cheese instead.”

How could she have known? She didn’t know. Only God knew…

The children stood looking at me. Did they remember their own conversation just yesterday, I wondered. Did they recall in their minds how they had dreamily spoke of meat and cheese sandwiches as they reluctantly ate peanut butter and jelly, again?

We ate our lunch with thankfulness and awe of our great and loving God.

That day left a permanent impression in my mind.

Not only does our Heavenly Father care about even the smallest of details in our lives, He speaks to us! He is there to lead and direct our steps, if we are willing to listen.

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Learning to Fly with Confidence

21 Jun

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Watching these tiny little birds on our porch, I wondered what it must be like for them when they take their first flight.

I’m not sure why, but these last few days I have doubted my abilities in just about every area of my life. I have honestly felt like there is someone shouting in my mind, “Who do you think you are? You certainly aren’t a writer, why would anyone want to read what you have to say?… Start running again? ha, ha. You couldn’t do that. You’ve let too much time go by, besides that, your too old!… There is absolutely no way you are going to find time to home school this year. You simply have too many kettles in the fire!… Give up! Give up! Give up!”

Even though I know better than to listen to these self destructive thoughts, I admit they got my attention. I was listening to them and even beginning to believe them. In fact I was tempted to change my course in a few areas.

Not being the first time this has happened to me, I knew the first step I needed was to seek God and listen to Him for clarity in my mind. As the condemning comments continued, I chose to read and reread the scripture verses I have been focusing on. ( For more on learning to listen to God, click here.)

“Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need for endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.” Hebrews 10:35-36 (NASB)

“But my righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul takes no delight in him.” Hebrews 10:38 (NASB)

Yesterday I came across an article that my good friend, Shara, wrote called,  Marathon Training and Homeschooling.  No, I’m not interested in marathon training, but the principles were exactly what I needed to hear! 

“Whenever it comes up that I’ve run 2 half-marathons (not that this comes up much…HA!), the response I get from people who don’t run is, “I could never do that!!

I am here to tell you…you can!! Unless there is some REAL medical condition keeping people from running, a vast majority of the people who tell me they “never could”, in fact, very much could. They maybe couldn’t today, I couldn’t today:). But they could in 6 months (and usually much sooner). You start one step at a time and train. I started with a novice schedule. It assumed I could run 2 miles. If you can’t yet run 2 miles start with running one block. Then 2 tomorrow. You can, it just takes persistence and time.”

Shara’s, article isn’t just about running or homeschooling, it is about life! It reminded me that I need to trust God and act on what I know to be true.

Another woman I know has a blog she has kept up for many years called i am baker. Last night as I looked over some of her posts, I noticed how she declared who she was in her titles: i am baker, i am mommy, i am author, i am servant.

This morning, as I woke to the same lousy voice in my head, I remembered the declarations of i am baker. I chose to declare who I am, not who I’m not.

So, those are all good points, but it wasn’t until I physically acted on my beliefs, that I started to regain my confidence.

“For by Thee I can run upon a troop; and by my God I can leap over a wall.” (Psalm 18:29)

FYI: I conquered 2 miles early this morning! :)

Special thanks to my dear husband that always, always, always supports and loves me!

Learning to Listen to God

14 Jun

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Looking into my child’s eyes, with his cheeks resting in the palms of my hands, I answered the question – for the third time. “Each time you asked I replied, but you weren’t listening.” I continued, ” You need to learn to be still for a moment and listen!”

I stopped and reflected on my own words. How am I doing on listening? How many times do the children speak before I hear them? Do I quickly take care of something my hubby may have asked me to do, or do I procrastinate?

Mark repeatedly has done a character study with the kiddos, beginning when the older were the younger…

Part of it includes something like this:

True listening means paying attention with your ears, eyes, mind, and hands.

1. Ears: Try to block out any other noise, and focus on what is being said.

2. Eyes: Give full eye contact, not looking away, distracted by something else.

3. Mind: Embrace what is being said, thinking it through. Mull it over in your mind.

4. Hands: Put into action what you have heard.

In my recent post In a world full of contradictions… , I referred to gaining wisdom by seeking God. Learning to listen to God can be just as hard as teaching our children to listen to us, but it doesn’t have to be. The same principles apply to both situations.

1. Ears: Take time to be still, quiet before the Lord. (As a busy mother of young children, sometimes the only semi-private moments are in the bathroom!)

2. Eyes: Take time to read the Word of God, even just a verse or two if time is short.

3. Mind: Ponder what you have read, applying it to your daily life.

4. Hands: Don’t just forget and move on. Put it into action.

These are lessons I am still learning. In fact, I am sure it will be a lifetime of learning. But, I have seen that the more I practice listening – and put in to practice what I have heard – the better listener I become.

In a world full of contradictions…

12 Jun

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“Take the blanket off your poor baby, it’s much too hot! He needs air!”, were the bold instructions Mark and I received as we began to walk through the church parking lot. It was the first Sunday morning of our newborn’s life. Before reaching the entrance to the building, we were admonished again, this time for not having him covered better. “He’ll catch a draft if he is not wrapped!”

The nurses at the hospital sent us home with strict instructions to feed our baby every three hours and no sooner! By the time our fifth and sixth babies were born, the view on feeding had changed dramatically. “Feed on demand.” When our later babies came… well, I guess I really don’t know what the advice was. We did what we thought was best for each child.

Should we put our children into public school, private school, home-school? Should we choose a classical curriculum, unit studies, text books, work books, co-ops, or simply un-school????

In a world full of experts and contradictions, I need wisdom!

At the end of the day, it’s not the well meaning people in the parking lot, the nurses at the hospital, or the latest books on education that are responsible for our actions. We, as parents must make our own sound decisions.

Seeking God personally, as a couple, and as a family has consistently been our greatest resource.

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.” (James 3:17)

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she looked up at me, stunned

8 Jun

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Sitting next to my eighth grade lab partner, we attempted to conquer the day’s assignment. The frog was placed before us.  Our job was to dissect the unlucky creature. How we had ended up as partners, I don’t remember. What I do know is that I was glad she got along with me. I had seen how she treated her enemies, and it wasn’t pretty.

During the course of our science experiment, we chatted together about our classes, people, likes and dislikes… I have no remembrance of what I may have said, but at one point she looked up at me stunned. “Becky, I have never heard you speak poorly of someone else before!”

At this point, I was stunned.

First of all, I was amazed that she would have even noticed or cared. After I processed her comment, I was ashamed that I had been guilty of the accusation!

This fellow student, who was known for treating others harshly, left a lasting impression in my mind.

The words we speak are powerful, possible of tearing down or building up. As a family, our goal is to always speak well of each other. Even when criticism is necessary, it should be given in love, never spoken of behind another’s back.

A family is a great place to begin the process of learning to treat each other with respect. What a delight to hear a wife carrying on about her wonderful husband or a brother speaking highly of his sister. It takes making a deliberate effort to change our habits – to relearn, but it is worth the effort as harsh words should never be allowed!

Since that day in the science lab, I wish I could say I have never made the same mistake again. Unfortunately I have, but I am thankful my “friend” took notice and confronted me. Because of her, I guard my words more closely.

almost locked in the dungeon

7 Jun

Thinking of my conversation with the nice plumber man a couple of days ago,  I still find myself hoping he will not delay too long.  Might he come today?  If not, I sure hope he comes tomorrow! When I brought him into the cellar to get a good look at the pipes, I was a bit ashamed!  Cleaning the basement was on my to do list, but still undone.  So, today was the day.  By the time I had finished hanging the laundry, the kids had the space completely emptied!

Overhearing the children’s conversations from the clothes line, it became evident that things were not running smoothly.  My little five year old princess was crying in search of someone who would sympathize with her.  Apparently she was under threat of being locked into the inner dark pit of the dungeon by a particular older (but still young) brother.

It didn’t take us much time to bring the  small space back to order.  Half of the things that had piled up over the last year just needed to be thrown out, the other – reorganized.     It was the landscape area right outside the door that really took some tough work.  As we began to prune back the abundant growth, we found evidence of a garden that had once been.  The vines had become so thick, nothing else was visible.  The voracious root system was dense throughout the soil, overpowering any other plants that may have thrived. It’s not that the vines are bad, in fact I love how abundant they are, but they sure are prone to take over everything they have access to.

While digging and pulling out roots from the vines, I thought about all of the things that creep in and can easily overtake our lives.  Many of the worst culprits can truly be good or look beautiful as do my vines, yet they become too strong and begin to strangle what is most important.

I thought about my little young man, so ready to exert his authority and be treated as one of the “older” kids.  At this point in his life, the authority is usually exercised on his younger siblings and not always in appropriate ways.  Gently, prayerfully, and deliberately my job (our job as parents) is to mold his growing independence – helping him to gain a wisdom that is from a pure heart; becoming considerate, submissive, full of mercy, productive, and sincere.  As he grows in these traits, he will be well on his way to becoming a well respected man wisely using his authority.

I am thankful to my husband for his desire for me to be a stay at home mom.  As a result, I have the pleasure of tackling projects with our kids –

from cleaning the dungeon to molding the character of the young knights and princesses – together we work to keep those overpowering roots at bay.

btw: Dear plumber man, the basement is clean; come back soon!

K.I.S.S.

5 Jun

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The plumber just left informing me that, although he would be fixing our plumbing issues, he had to go through the proper channels. This time he was going to be sure it was done right. He didn’t know what day, but he would be back. In the meantime, we will patiently wait – looking forward to the day the nice plumber man comes back and the septic is no longer backed up into the bathtub!

Life is so full of the unexpected. At least, my life is! How often do I make plans to find they need to change – again, and again.

I used to be a pretty big planner, disappointed when I couldn’t achieve everything I had set out to do. The words of my father-in-law frequently still ring in my ears, “Becky, remember the KISS rule: Keep it simple, Stupid!”

With a large family, our lives being pretty full, flexibility is essential. To keep it simple, I daily try to focus on the most essential things in my life:

1. Take time to honor God, focusing on His will rather than my own.

2. Take time to nurture my relationship with my husband, letting him know he has my love and attention.

3. Take time to nurture my children – through a kiss on a wound, a tickle attack, a phone call, a listening ear, freshly made chocolate chip cookies…

4. Take time to encourage others as the opportunities arise.

When life gets so busy that I fail at these things, I can hear my father-in-law’s voice reminding me to “Keep it simple, Stupid!”