Monday, November 10, 2014

God's Time

So, I don't like to busy. Not anymore than anyone else, I'm sure. Actually - I probably like to be busy slightly LESS than the average person in my life. I'm content with slow-paced, hanging out at home, just chillin'. Well, as you probably imagined, that's not something I normally get. But this isn't a post about how busy I am. Or how much less busy I wish I were.

This is a post about all the posts I'm seeing on Facebook about how "sinful it is to be busy" or "how to stop being busy" or any of the posts claiming to know everything about how busy (or non-busy) each of us should be.

Blech.

I'm tired of the whole conversation.

Here's the conversation I've been having - and one I think all those online bloggers ought to be asking their readers to have too: "OK, Lord. Is our family honoring You through the use of our time? Are we finding the right balance for our household? Is what we're choosing to spend our time on wise? or should we modify it to be more pleasing to You?"

It's not about comparing our family's level of busy-ness to other families in order to gauge whether we're doing OK. It's about taking regular assessments as to whether our time management skills are pleasing to God.

Here's why I think this is such an important gauge: because if we value our "down-time" too much or our "go-time" too much...both of those extremes can become idolatry.

I know for a fact that we're busier than I ever wanted to be. But - we have three healthy, social, active kids. And - praise the Lord - we're in a place where financially, we don't always have to say "No!". Part of our busy-ness stems just from the fact that we're homeschoolers. That's not something I'm willing to give up. Then there's the music lessons. Those are a non-negotiable in my house. Then there's the sports/physical activities. I'm THRILLED that my kids are athletic and into sports! Hard to say no to that. Then there's family & church activities. Also important. Let's face it - we are just right in the throes of the busiest season of our lives as parents. One day (all too soon) we're going to look back on these busy years and miss them. For now - it's a constant reminder to myself to just hold on tight and enjoy the ride. :-)

When I feel like my world is spinning just a bit too fast for me - I've learned how to say "No!". Thankfully, I've gotten pretty good at this. I find that I stay grounded when I'm staying in the Word - and when I'm getting enough alone time (I'm an introvert, remember). When things get too busy for me and I'm not getting my down time - yes, I do sometimes have mini meltdowns and end up having to stay home from an activity in order to re-charge my batteries. But, praise God, I've learned over the years that this is OK! And there's no guilt involved.

So - if you see one of those posts online about making sure to stay away from busy...I hope you'll read them with fresh eyes. Busy exists. It's just whether or not you're keeping God in the middle of your busy, or leaving Him out. Keeping Him in it? Good for you.

Now - hold on tight...and enjoy the ride!!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Real Truth

I'm no longer sharing my blog updates on Facebook. So - if you've stumbled across this...you must really be a true friend. :-) I hope to get on here more frequently to share my latest thoughts. But I really prefer that no one reads them. Unlike most bloggers, I just want to use this site as a means to save my ramblings for the future. Keeps them from getting lost in the piles on my desk, you know. 

Speaking of which...

I'm sitting here typing away at my cluttered desk on a gorgeous sunny fall Sunday afternoon. It's the "Fall Back" Sunday - so I'm remarkably refreshed (how can one little hour have that big of an effect?!). The washing machine and dryer are busy. The kids and Dave are each otherwise entertained. I have some rare moments of "down time". Well, not really. I have lots of other things to still be doing. But I'm proclaiming this moment as one worth sharing what's on my mind. 

If you were to ask me how I'm feeling lately - as is probably the case with everyone - my answer doesn't truly reflect what's on my mind. Wand to know how I truly am? Something like this:
I'm feeling overwhelmed with my homeschool Mom title right now. I'm pretty much convinced I'm screwing up the kids by being their teacher. But I don't want to send them to public school. And we can't afford Christian school. But I really want the twins to have a more school-like environment for high school. So, even though Dave tells me not to - I'm already thinking ahead to next year and trying to figure out which one-day homeschool program to have them in. Which, I think I have figured out. Which is good. But there's still this school year. And I already feel like it's a disaster because we can't stay on schedule and I'm tired of never getting everything done I say we're going to. So I'm already feeling defeated and that the kids are going to be screwed up because their Mom couldn't get her act together. Then, there's the fact that I not only don't seem to be doing this homeschool Mom thing very well, but I'm also completely angry with myself that I've gained back 30 of the pounds I lost and I can't seem to get myself back on the weight loss track. (Can we say "Emotional Eater"?!?!) So I have MAJOR self-loathing again, which I know is absolutely NO help. But no matter what I do I can't seem to string enough good days together to re-form a habit...so the calendar is just clicking away and I'm not losing weight and I HATE looking in the mirror and feeling how I feel. And then there's the fact that my Shaklee business requires more time of me than what I know how to give it. Because I already am spread too thin being a homeschooler and taxi cab driver for the kids. And my parents will be heading to Florida soon which always throws me for a loop. And the fact that they're aging and I don't know how much more time I have with them...but yet I can't seem to spend as much time with them as I want because I'm so busy all the time and not carrying my weight on everything I have to do at my house let alone trying to help them do more at their house - that weighs heavy on my mind every day! 

Can you relate?! When people ask me how I am, I'll obviously NEVER answer with this. But - depending on how crazy that day is feeling - that's probably what I'm really thinking. Of course - all anyone really wants to hear (or has time to hear) is that we're "good". That's part of why I wonder why that is the question we open with. Why are we asking something probably none of us really wants to know? I mean - if I'm rushing past you and saying hello to be friendly...when I throw on the "how are you" question, it's not that I actually have time to stop and hear how you REALLY are. Right? I know that. And, really, it's not that I'm not good. I am. I mean, I'm blessed beyond measure. And you probably are more "good" than anything too - right? This question and its expected answers - they're just part of social "niceness". Same with social media. That's all we really want to hear - everyone's funny stories and cute updates. Don't get too real. That's just a downer. And, really, who has time for that?! (Sarcasm intended.)

But what's really true in the middle of all of this? God knows. And He cares. And He wants to carry all our burdens & anxieties and give us a fresh start. He's 100% on our side. Loving us. Directing us. Rooting for us. He knows what's on our heart better than anyone. And He's also got every single detail of our crazy life all figured out.

Praise God! We don't have to know it all - we just have to know the One who does.

So, I know we have to keep asking each other how we are. (And, I also know "good" is really the only acceptable answer.)  But - if you and I schedule a coffee date  - I'll gladly hear how you really are. And then we'll share some laughter and encouragement too. 'Cuz you know - we're not supposed to go through this journey all alone. Let's get off Facebook...and meet each other at Biggby. :-)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Ready or Not...

We start school tomorrow at our house. School. That thing that starts after three months of summer vacation. You know. Summer vacation. That thing with really nice weather and lots of time spent enjoying the pool and the great outdoors. Lots of time to "chill". Yeah, that.

Um, no. This wasn't that kind of summer.

But...school still starts tomorrow - whether I feel like I had my summer vacation or not.

Sigh.

I'm in denial today. Thinking it can't possibly be the end of August. My babies can't possibly be going into 8th, 8th, and 4th grade. I can't possibly be expected to be ready to teach them for another school year.

Oh, boy. Ready or not...here comes school!

I've decided to focus on all the reasons why I'm glad school starts tomorrow. Here's the short list:


  • By starting before Labor Day...we'll be done the end of May. I really like that.
  • We've got several "catch-up weeks" scheduled into our schedule this year. I really like that too.
  • It's time to get ourselves back into a schedule. I don't necessarily like the sound of it - but it's just time.
  • We'll get over a week of school in before music lessons & dance starts. Breaking in slowly is always nice.
  • No co-op this year - so that means 5 days at home doing school. This makes me extra happy.
  • Tomorrow we're supposed to have our first 90 degree day of the summer (see above where I'm lamenting how a-typical a summer this has been). Normally the kids would sleep in and lolly-gag all morning and then play in the pool all afternoon. Well tomorrow, they'll be done with their first day of school just in time to still enjoy the pool all afternoon! Gotta love productive mornings. :-)

I'm not gonna lie though. Last year's school year was our hardest one yet. And I feel like this was our busiest summer yet. I've done barely anything I'd hoped to do before the start of a new school year. I don't feel refreshed. I still feel like I might just crumble under the weight of it all. 

But school starts tomorrow. 

So, I'll do my devotions as soon as Dave leaves for work. I'll wake the kids up at 7:30. I'll head out for a run while they're having breakfast and getting dressed. We'll start school at 8:30am sharp with prayer and devotions. 

One subject at a time. One hour at a time. God will give me just what I need to start this new school year off on a high note. Because, let's face it - being able to have my kids home with me and learn about God's creation together...that's a pretty amazing blessing. 

So for now...I'll enjoy this last day of our summer vacation. And I'll look forward to enjoying as many of the upcoming year's school days as I possibly can. Because I'm busy living life in the trenches. The homeschool Mom trenches. And it's a pretty good place to be.

:-)

Monday, June 23, 2014

When the Wheels Fall Off...

The wheels have fallen off my weight loss wagon. I mean - there is not one part of one single wheel still there. It's time to re-build the wheels and get this wagon moving in the right direction again. But I seem to have lost site of the road map. Plus there appears to be a very large boulder right in my path - a mini mountain even. I know there is open road ahead. I just can't seem to get this wagon back on the move. I'm stuck. Completely.

Sigh.

After losing 60 pounds in 2011 - I sit here today with 30 of them shamefully put back on. I'm back to the bad tapes running in my head. I'm back to despising every ounce I see (and feel). I'm in a bad, bad place. It's time to reach out for some moral support from others who can relate.

Honestly, I know exactly what did me in. This last school year was THE most un-enjoyable school year we've had in this house. My emotional eating kicked back into gear maybe only two months into the school year. Then - you add in the worst Michigan winter in any one's memory. I hate winter. I hate being cold. I hate never seeing sunshine. Cue emotional eating to go into double over-time. It wasn't pretty.

Exercising has taken a hiatus. All the positive things I was doing in 2011 seem to be a distant memory. It's as if that person that was having success back then was just a figment of my imagination. I can't remember her. I'm afraid she's lost - never to return.

The most upsetting part of all of this is that I KNOW exactly what to do. I have all the tools. I have everything I need. Except my head. It's not where it needs to be. And I just can't seem to get it there. I'm weary. So weary.

Four years ago (actually October of 2010), it was literally as if a switch had been clicked in my brain. Suddenly all my old excuses flew out the window and I was a woman on a mission. Nothing was going to keep me from exercising...and nothing was going to keep me from eating right. I saw results. I felt good about myself for the first time in my life.

I want that to happen again.

The guilt and shame of gaining back weight drags me down further and further into the pit. The busy-ness of our day-to-day lives makes it easy to put myself on the bottom of the totem pole. Dave and the kids and the house and the groceries and the bills and the....

Yep. They all come first. There's nothing left for me.

So I write this post hoping that somewhere out there is someone else who's stuck where I am. That we can join together and encourage one another. Be in the Word together. Hold each other accountable. Lift each other up out of these ugly pits we're stuck in.

And if you're not there - but you want to lift me up in prayer...that would be great too.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Worry Much?

It's one of those rare moments where I have the house entirely to myself and nothing pressing that I have to be doing. Oh, of course there's an ongoing list of things I COULD be doing. But you know how that goes. So, I thought I'd take a few moments to write a new post:

Are you a worrier? Apparently, I am. I say apparently because it really does come as a shock to me that I'm a worrier. I would never have described myself that way. I'm pretty laid back. A bit of a planner. But definitely not a Type A personality or anything. I feel like a glass half full kind of girl. I just wouldn't say I'm a worrier. But God is changing my mind on that one.

You see, as the kids grow and life's demands increase (or just change) - it seems that I always have something that is nagging on my mind. Something I'm "mulling over" or "processing." I've also noticed that - along with my mulling and processing - there seems to be this constant nervousness in the pit of my stomach. Well - guess what, ladies and gentlemen, that is also known as worry. Or anxiety. Or maybe even: fear. Or (worse yet): lack of faith.

Ouch. That one hurts. But...it's true.

God has tugged at my heart about this idea before. And, it's usually been when I'm walking through one of the more obviously stressful periods of time. But this time, it's not that there's some big thing triggering these feelings. It's just life. Normal, everyday life stressors: homeschooling Mom guilt (you other homeschoolers out there know EXACTLY what I'm talking about), financial worries, homeowner stuff, parent stuff, normal adult stuff. You know - life.

I can't keep "surviving" until the next thing. That doesn't work anymore. The next thing is just another new thing to have anxiety about. I mean, come on. This is 2014. We're Christian homeschoolers trying to raise three kids in this big, scary world. It's not a job for wimps! After all, Jesus did warn us: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

As Christians, we're not guaranteed any kind of easier life. The difference is - we're not in it alone.

This week, God has reminded me once again of the power of prayer. In fact, it's our prayer life that determines how well we do on the worry front. I'm certain of it. Not just the praying of the prayers - but the trusting in advance that God's got it all under control.

Earlier this week Dave sent me an e-mail from work (he can't call me during the day, but he can e-mail me) saying that it was an uncomfortable & chaotic day. I knew right away what he meant. He's got a couple challenging employees. One of them must have been up to something. So I immediately prayed that God would turn Dave's uncomfortable & chaotic day into one of peace & productivity. Less than two hours later, Dave e-mailed me back "I just had a 20-minute very pleasant conversation with (     ) at the copy machine. It was so out of the ordinary!". I smiled. Thank you, Lord.

I asked. I believed He'd answer. And He did. Almost instantaneously. See, that's our Lord. He loves even the most insignificant parts of our lives. He cares for every detail. We just have to believe that He does.

Here's what I know about worry: it comes from the enemy. And if it comes from the enemy, we know it's full of lies. And if we know it's full of lies, we just need to believe God's Truths. And trust Him to handle even the most minute little stressor of our days.

I love this promise from God's Word: (from the Message) “Believe me: I am in my Father and my Father is in me. If you can’t believe that, believe what you see—these works. The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing. You can count on it. From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I’ll do it. That’s how the Father will be seen for who he is in the Son. I mean it. Whatever you request in this way, I’ll do." John 14:11-14

Here's part of what I hear when I read that: if we are asking God to do something in our lives that makes us more like who He wants us to be - He'll always say yes.

Does God want us to be less of a worrier and more of a truster in Him? Yep. Done.

I mean - it really can be that easy! Does it mean we ask once and we never worry again? No. There is effort on our part.

Remember this verse: 2 Corinthians 10:5 ~ We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

WE take every thought captive. What kind of verb is take? An action verb. Who's doing the action? We are. That's our job in all this. Catch ourselves in the act of worrying. Keep tabs on what we're thinking about. If any of it hints at any amount of worry or anxiety - we call it for what it is: Satan's lie. We right then ask God to help us to lay that worry down at His feet and to trust that He's got it all under control. We believe Him. We move on.

I don't want my thought life to be in a constant state of worry. As we all know - there's no limit to the things we could worry about!

Did you ever consider that "being IN this world but not OF this world" is telling us something of our thought life too? And particularly our level of worry? The world doesn't have our Father God in control of their lives. I mean, as much as we might fail at turning our worries over to Him - at least we Christians know that this life isn't all up to us. So, I imagine that if our level of worry ever mirrors that of a non-believer - that's a big fail on our ends. We're not any different than the world? That's not what God had in mind.

While Dave and I were scanning slides onto our computer, we kept passing the little slide tray (for lack of a better name) back and forth. I would put new slides in it. He'd scan them. I'd fill up the other one. We'd switch off. He'd hand me a scanned one, I'd take that and hand him a new one. (You get the idea.) Well, this visual struck me this morning as I was contemplating the whole worry concept. Hanging onto our worries after we've prayed about them is like me handing Dave the new tray of slides but not letting go of it once he had it in his hand. I mean, I can offer him that new tray all I want. But if I'm not going to take my hand off it, he's never going to get it to scan into the computer. We'll never move onto a new set of slides. The slideshow will never get done. The finished project will never happen.

Our lives are a slideshow in the making. I imagine that our ability to live the full life God has in store for us is nearly 100% dependent upon our ability to let go of our worries. This life is sure not going to stop throwing them our way. There's an abundant life out there just waiting for us. We can never fully receive it if we've got a handful of worries. How much better instead if we spend our days excited about how God's going to reveal Himself to us that day. Search for Him in the middle of our daily mess. He's there. And He'll show up every time we ask.

This is definitely not a "one and done" kind of choice. Every morning we're faced with a new day and a new set of stressors. We can choose to strengthen our trust muscles - or be knocked down by the weaknesses of our faith. If stress, worry, anxiety (or whatever name you want to give it) are a regular part of your life - I pray you'll be encouraged to listen to God's leading in this area. Spend some time searching God's Word for verses that speak to your heart on this issue. Write them on notecards. Post them all over your house. Fill your mind with God's Truth - and tell the enemy to take his worries and hit the road (Jack). :-)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year's Day!

I have always LOVED New Year's Day. I think it's because of the idea of fresh beginnings. A clean slate. Something about New Years Day just feels so...free!

Probably just a sign of my massive need for forgiveness each year: promises broken (to myself more than to anyone else), lacking in the fruits of the Spirit in more ways than I can keep track, bad homeschooling habits, poor time management...you know. The type of stuff we all disappoint ourselves in throughout the previous twelve months. There's just something refreshing about putting it all behind you and starting anew on January 1st.

That's why I love this day.

I love planning. Dreaming. Writing down goals. I love reflecting. Journaling. Remembering all my blessings. Today I'm carving out a good chunk of time to do all of the above.

You see, it's Rose Bowl Game day. Our family are Spartan fans. I too sport the green & white regularly. Why not? No sense going against the grain. But see...it really is that I like MSU. I just hate football. Even MSU in the Rose Bowl Game. Hate. Football. Can I say this enough that you can grasp my extreme hate through the screen? I. HATE. Football! There. I said it.

So, while my family may be huddling up to the TV later on today to watch the big game...I'll be hunkering down with my kids' journals, my 2014 planner, my writing notebook. Amidst the cheers and Rose Bowl hoopla of my vocal MSU family (mostly the males in the house)...I'll be quietly reflecting and dreaming.

Ahhh. Sounds glorious!

So...while I don't want to give you one more checklist of things to reflect on or plan for 2014...I would like to challenge you to do the following ~


  • Make it a point to turn off technology more this year. I was just reading to my house full of remaining New Years' Eve party-ers a list of reflection questions for the New Year. One of them was "what was your biggest time waster this past year." Without a second's pause each of us in the room (ranging from 9 to 42) responded with some type of technology thing - well, except for my snarky 12-year-olds who said "school." Ahem. But anyway...really? We didn't even hesitate?! Candy Crush has taken up time that I could be using to write. The kids' ipods are taking up time that they could be using to do their hobbies or be playing outside. It's time to tune out technology and tune INto our families! Forget "facetime" and try spending some time looking in the faces of your children while they talk to you. Seriously. Technology has to take more of a backseat in our house in 2014. How about for you?
  • Slow down. No, really. Slllllooooowwwww dooooowwwwwnnnn. Find some white space. Clear the clutter in your frantically paced day. Admittedly, not everyone's personalities are like mine. I know that. But I believe that even the most outgoing people person needs to still take consistent time to slow down. Why? Psalm 46:10 says, "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." I don't believe any of us can clearly hear the voice of our Heavenly Father when we are running 100 mph every day of the year. I believe we have to take REGULAR time to slow down and reflect. And not only for this reason, but I believe our kids need to understand the importance of stillness! I don't want my kids to think they can only be happy if they're being entertained and always busy, busy, busy. I love that my kids have each - at different times - chosen to say no to some social outlet in order to stay home and "be still." It doesn't happen a lot, but when it does - I smile. As much as this world wants them to keep up with the harried pace of life, my kids have already learned the value of slowing down. Makes this Momma proud!
  • Make sure that your family's activities are supporting your overall goals as parents. This, my friends, is huge for me right now. I see how fast my kids are growing up. My time clock as a parent - the clock counting down the days until they turn 18 and move on to the next phase in their life - that clock is running down quickly. All too quickly. I want to make this time with them count. What do I want them to have tucked into their memories and hearts when they move out? Am I spending purposeful & regular time now to help make that a reality? That's my biggest prayer for 2014. That God will open my eyes to what's important. That we'll say no to what doesn't fit...and make time for what does. It's heavy on my heart. It's my #1 parenting goal. I want to raise kids who love the Lord and who go into the world to make a positive difference in His name...no matter what their profession. Will we have any professional athletes in this house? Seriously doubt it. Sports are great and I love that my kids enjoy them. But I want them to know there's way more out there than just sports. I think we're on the right track...but my heart is focused on doing a better job in 2014.
So, there you have it. Some of what's on my heart for our family this year. I pray you're able to find some time to reflect today or very soon. Spend quality technology-free time with the ones you love this year.Slow down. Say no to the things that get in the way of what's really important. May you each have a Happy & Blessed 2014!!