Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The D word

No, not that word you may have thought of first. The D word in my life is doubt. Doubt: to be uncertain about, consider questionable or unlikely, hesitate to believe. This D word in my life creeps in when I am overly tired, when something seems too big to tackle, when the issue seems overwhelming, when I feel unequipped or unresourceful, when I don't think I have the energy to see it through. Satan loves this word. God releases us from it.

Too often I believe we let doubt fill our heart up before we give God a chance to show us a way or that we can. Lately I have felt God using this state of mind to make me aware of how he made me, not how Satan made me. Strong. Stronger then I think, actually. Especially with Him on my side. And with people in my life who I believe He uses to show me my own strength. Now this doesn't make me think I can do it "all". Whatever "all" is. But, it does make me feel like I am capable, if willing to do the hard work. And in my 32 years of existence, when I do the hard work I reap the fruits of my labor...usually!  But some things just still seem really, really scary. For example, home-schooling. This seemed crazy scary at times and the moments I let doubt take over, my decision was made. Not doing it. When I really handed it over to the Lord, He showed me the way and gave me the means. It was and has been a lot of work to make happen, but it is very good. But there are smaller examples too... take 3 kids to the grocery store, take 3 kids to Adventureland (1 being a 3 weeks old), try some new ventures of my own, attempt to heal a broken relationship (too much work, right?), clean/organize my kids bedrooms (scary at times!), and so on. Just think of all the little and big things we don't do because we doubt. I look around at my community and see so many strong people doing courageous things. I also look around and see so much potential in some who won't even take that first step.  I know that feeling. It freezes me at times and keeps me in a safe place where I can just keeping doing what I am doing and not rock the boat. But then I never get to experience the greatness that comes from trudging through some hard places.

That D word, doubt, finds its way into my heart when I least expect it and when I very consciously let it in. If you ask me, it is one of Satan's best weapons on us. Doubt leads to discouragement and that leads to being still, doing nothing. God wants us to be His hands and feet. He wants us to be women and men of faith. I can't do that when I am paralyzed by my own doubt. I have been leaning heavily on this verse lately...

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”Joshua 1:9

It's been very reassuring to know He is with me wherever you go. It's also been a good reminder that he commands me to be courageous. That's a hard pill to swallow some days. It doesn't mean everything will just become easy or that He will show me obvious signs of what and how to do things. It does tell me to seek though. And to try things. And to just remember that life will just be scary and hard at times... and that's okay. Really okay, actually. In these sometimes scary and hard places I wipe away doubt and let God use me and in the end I feel His strength come over me. With that strength I can finally really be His hands and feet. I am working hard at not letting that dang D word get the best of me. Hope you'll try too!

Friday, February 24, 2012

a change of heart (we're allowed!)

This is a really hard post to write because I'm just not sure how honest I want to get, to be honest with you! To begin with, this is a post I need to write to remember my heart during this season of life with a 2nd grader in our home. Our first 2nd grader and since we have a couple more to hit this stage eventually, I hope to remember the lessons I'm learning now to relate with my future ones.

So from the beginning... as our oldest son reached the age of being ready for school we had many conversations about how that would look for our family. Public school, home-school, part time school, private school... all were options at some point and ones I looked into before making a decision. I turned to the Bible for direction and prayed and prayed for this decision within our own family. I found verses about training up my child, about teaching him, about living amongst others, about being salt and light in the world, about being available for the young ones, about parenting in so many ways. It was overwhelming at times and I wanted to make the right choice for our child, following God's direction. As kindergarten crept closer I struggled at times wondering where, how, and when to educate Jaxon. There were many things we loved about public education and our neighborhood offered a great school. There were many things I loved about the idea of home-schooling. When it came down to it, we kept coming back to our children as individuals. We realized that each child of ours may need different things to really help them develop into who God made them. As we looked at Jaxon we saw he was a kid who could really thrive in attending public school and we sent him to kindergarten. We kept him home 1 day a week, as our district only offers all day everyday programs and as his parents we felt 4 days a week was plenty for a 5 year old. He stayed home Wednesdays and seemed to just excel in this new routine. He did great. We loved the experience he had, loved the school staff he had come into contact with, and didn't think twice about sending him onto 1st grade at the same building. We felt like we were really "teaming" up with the teachers in his life and he was being valued, encouraged, taught well, and loved at both home and school. For two years it was a good set-up for us and for Jaxon.

This year Jaxon began 2nd grade excited to head to the new hall where the lockers are and where he was a little more then the "little kids". We walked into the year excited for him and ready to tackle another year of education. Being a part of a school is so much about community too and in the last couple years we have established a very wonderful little group of other families around us whom we started just doing some of our life together. As we prayed for our children, car-pooled, had play-dates, shared our hearts, shared snacks, and became more then just faces on the playground to each other, I felt so blessed to have such a good village of school staff and other families around our family as we all walked through the school years together. For going on three years now together, life at school was in a really happy place. So when just weeks into second grade when Jaxon started having some really big changes come over him, I was taken aback as to what was happening to our happy little place. We knew there were risks with attending school and as the year progressed we found ourselves trying to weave through some very rough patches. My heart sensed something needed to change. As 2nd semester came around we took a big leap of faith and decided to do dual-enrollment. For a handful of reasons, this became very clear to my heart that this is something I just needed to really stand firm in and do. I sensed Jaxon could really benefit from some one on one time as he walked through some emotions about what was going on around him and I felt our family could really work better with him home more often. The extra time gives him some space to be more connected here with us and an opportunity to really shape his heart as he grows and learns about life during this season. I knew this would be an adjustment for all of us, but I really felt God would honor this decision...I can't explain it very well other then I felt really called to bring my son home and train him, spend time with him, and nurture his heart right now.

We are 1 month into part time home-schooling. I have had a bajillion lessons since then and will post again on how that has looked for me, as part time teacher these days :) I know I can leave this post today with this... I have had so much peace about this decision. I truly feel this is where God wants us right now and Jaxon is doing great in this new routine. When we truly ask God for direction and wait for Him to press upon our hearts His desires for us, I do believe He will reveal that in time. I also believe it may not always seem like the easiest choice. Home-schooling, as any of you out there reading who do this know, is a whole new challenge for mothers. I thought I was doing this to shape Jaxon's character and heart. It seems God is using this to really shape my own.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

a goal setting kind of gal

I am a first born child. I think there is lots to say about first born kids, Lord knows mine is showing me a lot about myself and it is interesting to watch him grow and learn and wonder if I experienced those first gentle years of life with the same expectations of myself that my oldest son seems to set up of his own. I look back and realize I am a natural goal setter. Whether it's been make the student council in elementary school, be starting setter on the volleyball team, beat a certain time in track, make college deans list, volunteer more, be nicer, read my Bible more, lose weight, or whatever it has been... I work well when I am working towards something.
Naturally, as I have adjusted to adding another child to our family I have found my purpose got a little foggy while I tried to steer myself through a new way of life. It's in those foggy moments that I believe Satan waits to pounce on our thoughts and heart. I begin to believe lies about myself and the people around me. I am bad at teaching my baby how to sleep well, I am bad at planning meals for the rest of my crew, I am bad at organizing this home and getting us all where we need to be when we need to be there, I am bad at juggling more then two kids, my husband thinks I am fat and ugly (he NEVER said that, a lie I told myself), my husband wishes I was better at...a, b, or c (again, my own lie in my head), my middle son feels unloved because he is so quiet and good and gets the least of my attention sometimes, my friends think I am crazy, my friends think I am losing it (maybe I was at times? :), my friends think I can't handle 3 kids very well, I am not good at much, my hair is ugly, my clothes are ugly, I smell bad (okay, this MIGHT be true at times too), I should be better at a, b, or c, and so on... blah, blah, blah...lie, lie, lie. Add a double dose of very little sleep and these Satan fed lies can get the best of me. Thankfully, I can seem to get past this stage and find some truths for myself. In these truth telling moments I bring out my first born tendencies that have been my shadow all my life and set myself some new goals, some things to be working towards if not start doing right away. It helps me to write things down and so when the calendar flipped to 2012 this year, I found it a perfect time to write down some things that I need my heart and mind to be working towards. All it took was a little pad of paper from my kitchen counter, a cup of coffee, a bended knee, and a heart in surrender to God. This is where I let my heart stop and turn away sinful thoughts so that I could be open to what and where I wanted to focus my heart and actions. A little time with my Lord and this is what I have to look at these days instead of a laundry list of lies.

1.) Date night- I want to make a much better effort at dating my husband this year. Even if this means waiting to pass out in bed so we can talk about our day and our family and our dreams. I like dreaming with him and I love a dinner out... so hopefully this will look more natural and regular by the end of 2012.

2.) Visit grandparents- My hubby and I both have a lot of our grandparents left. They are getting up there in age and my own have been a huge part of my growing up years. I believe there is a lot of value and wisdom to gain from our elders and I want my kids to have a heart for the older people in our life. Compassion, patience, kindness, and respect are just a few reasons to focus on these relationships. We need to spend more time with these sweet people in our life and I want to make an effort to get my crazy gang of 3 boys to their homes more.

3.) Complain less, laugh more- Sleep deprivation can cause me to get crabby much quicker then a well rested version of myself. With no sleep, I started to complain in my head more. Not always verbally, but to myself I was complaining way too much. I didn't want to let my heart condition be a non-thankful or joy filled one. I wanted to find humor in circumstances that are temporary and not the end of the world. I didn't want my kids to hear a whiny mom while I tried to teach them about no complaining. Actions speak much louder then words!! And laughing is good for the soul!

4.) Wake up before my kids- This home functions best when mom gets up before everyone else and can have her own quiet time, set clothes out for kids, make breakfast, start laundry, etc. Short nights with my baby had me dragging out of bed when the first kid arose... I start the day already feeling behind. This is a goal I hope to have in place regularly much sooner then the end of 2012!!!

5.) Exercise, any kind- I just feel better when I have done ANY sort of physical activity... walk around the block once even.  I usually can tie this in going to get Jaxon from school, but the crazy first months post-new baby stage has me with no consistent exercise schedule. I am breast-feeding and know my milk supply is greatly effected by how much I do this time around (I think the lack of sleep takes enough toll on my body). This is a goal I am looking forward to putting into place this fall. For now, my physical activity is going to be being on my feet all day and the many trips up and down my stairs and hopefully the walks with my kids come spring & summer and hiking trips to our local reserve :)

6.) Be a calm and gentle spirit- the little sleep thing is really effecting so many parts of my life. I tend to get a little anxious feeling inside with such few z's. The anxiety turns into a sometimes tension filled spirit and I find that gentle calm core of me is no where to be found. I am working on pausing more, breathing deeper, waiting to respond, starting my days with God, ending my days with a candle lit and reading time, working slower, not saying "hurry up" to my kids, praying more through out the day, and moving slower...within myself at least. This fast paced life as a mom with young ones will NOT get the best of me...yet :)

7.) Say YES to help offers- I am very bad at letting people help me. I feel guilty and like a burden. I never want to bother people and seem to think I should do my jobs on my own. w.r.o.n.g My husband has had to call in help for me a few times this past year and while I was so embarrassed, he was right. I needed it and it felt so good, as hard as it was to accept. I am going to say yes to all help offers if possible this year. Even the sweet high-school gal willing to carry my pizzas to the car are getting a yes this year. I need to be better at accepting help and asking for it when I need it or I end up over my head and overwhelmed.

8.) Be courageous- This has just been on my heart lately. I work well in the "norm"...I drag my feet when things have to change and I adjust slowly. I don't take risks often because I don't want to ruffle the feathers. I like to know what is to come and plan accordingly. A first child thing, I think? Either way...I want to be courageous for my family, my God, and for what could be instead of what I always feel comfortable with. More to be said on this one in the future.

Here it is. A bunch of things to work towards and work on. My list these days. I have a year to adjust these things to my everyday life and for now it feels good to take one day at a time knowing this piece of the puzzle is part of my purpose. How about you? Anything you are working on for yourself?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

walk this way...through the trenches

Being a mother has been one heck of a ride for the last almost 8 years. I am in the thick of it and it seems to be just getting thicker. As I stumble my way through this journey I am learning many things. Lots actually. About myself, about my God, about my husband, about my kids, about my friends, about my community, about life, all kinds of stuff really. I am far from who God wants me to be and I believe motherhood is a key part of what He is using to mold me. So I suppose I will hold on for dear life and enjoy this walk...more a roller coaster ride really. Here marks a place to walk with me a bit if you choose in the trenches of motherhood. Pull out those mud boots... I think we'll need them!