Happy Mother’s Day!

Here’s something to lift you up on Mother’s Day, a song, a poem, and a little encouragement. Happy Mother’s Day to you all! And hats off for doing the hard and rewarding task of homeschooling! I admire you!

What a beautiful message is in that song (lyrics below)! It’s a song with a serious message isn’t it? As mothers we carry a big load, but God is in our midst. He has already won our battles and paved the way for us and our children. I love this reminder as I am asking the Lord to help me grapple with some things in my own family… all good things though! God is so good!! Can I get an “amen”?! (Is saying that a southern thing? Haha) I also love the broken down acoustic version of that video. 
The following poem just perfectly describes where I am right now in my appreciation of the little ones in my home. I hope you feel blessed by this little sentiment too!
“Oh Precious Little Child of Mine”, a poem by Ashley Plourd in “Above Rubies”, Feb 2017, no 93, page 27

“Oh precious little one of mine,

How can I stop the hands of time?

And forever hold you in my arms,

To keep you safe from worldly harms?
But you’ll grow up one day it’s true,

And then I’ll know not what to do!

So for now I’ll cherish the time,

That you are so completely mine.
You breath smells sweet like mamma’s milk,

Your skin is soft and smooth as silk,

I love to cuddle you against my breasts,

And watch your expressions while you rest.
Your dreamy smiles and flickering frowns,

Your sleepy whimpers and baby sounds,

Your dimples hands and pudgy feet,

Your chunky cheeks are oh, so sweet!
It’s really amazing to think of the way

Your smile can brighten my darkest days,

I love it when you snuggle close,

That’s one of the things I love the most.”
Lyrics to “Overcome”:

“Now the darkness fades

Into new beginnings

As we lift our eyes to a hope beyond
All creation waits

With an expectation

To declare the reign of the Lord our God
We will not be moved

When the earth gives way

For the risen One has overcome
And for every fear

There’s an empty grave

For the risen One has overcome
Now the silence breaks

In the name of Jesus

As the heavens cry let the earth respond
All creation shouts

With a voice of triumph

To declare the reign of the Lord our God
We will not be moved

When the earth gives way

For the risen One has overcome
And for every fear

There’s an empty grave

For the risen One has overcome
He shall reign forever

Strongholds now surrender

For the Lord our God has overcome
Who can be against us?

Jesus our Defender

He is Lord and He has overcome
He shall reign forever

Strongholds now surrender

For the Lord our God has overcome
Who can be against us?

Jesus our Defender

He is Lord and He has overcome!
We will not be moved

When the earth gives way

For the risen One has overcome
And for every fear

There’s an empty grave

For the risen One has overcome
We will not be moved

When the earth gives way

For the risen One has overcome
And for every fear

There’s an empty grave

For the risen One has overcome…”
God calls us to be simple like children. And in my simplicity I can do a better job… in hearing and obeying God, in honoring and respecting my husband, and in caring for and shepherding my children. My desire is to raise world-changers who stand up and are workmen and work-ladies in the Word, rightly dividing truth from post-modern humanistic relativism. I’ve been making the effort to incorporate a family worship time at night. I hope my children will develop a muscle for this over time, and they will learn how to worship God through song and prayer with us, and I’m asking God to cut through some issues for me and provide more wisdom to us. Please pray for us! We need your prayers! Thank you!
I’m using this summer to carefully consume “The Core”, and “Home Education”. Honestly, I commend you for taking up the challenge from God to school your young ones… and your older ones! I’m a bit intimidated by what it takes to teach older ones! Use this summer to be simple, to learn, and above all to enjoy your “arrows”. I know I am!!
I hope you will be blessed by this! Happy Mother’s Day!!

Electric light

The presence of God does so much. It seems to change the quality of the air in the room. It puts an aura over us. It’s like electric light filling a space. It’s feeling emotions heightened in a way you never thought possible. It’s feeling the expanse of creation and at the same size knowing how finite you are. It’s being vulnerable and powerful at the same time. It’s finding clarity where there was none, or finding the arms you’ve needed to hold you. It’s knowing you are known in the ways you don’t even know yourself. 

I wrote this in case you were wondering or curious what God makes possible for His children.

If you’ve never felt God’s presence, you need to. It’s life-changing.

Christmas, kids, and the Holy Spirit

We may give gifts, but nothing compares to the gift Christ Jesus gave us. 

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah‬ ‭9:6‬ ‭NASB‬‬

We limit our gift-giving to four gifts for our children: “something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.” I want them to experience a conservative Christmas, because it’s not about the presents. Jesus, Lord of all, received three gifts, not fifty. I know several families who give one gift. I want my kids to be happy with no gifts, even. I want my kids to be happier giving than receiving. 

For each other, we (husband and wife) may buy one thing, or we may skip it altogether – gift-giving is not either of our love languages, and in many years we were so skinny in money that it just made more sense to “skip” us, and I never felt a shortage.

This year, I did get Ian (my husband) something. He guessed his gift! And then come to find out, he found another one which had come in the mail, and already put it away, thinking he had bought it for himself (great minds think alike, right?). That stinker.

Our extended family makes Christmas a total extravaganza. Even baby Hope has a gift under there – she is still in the womb! We are so blessed!

But all this decadence is for one reason alone: we celebrate the coming of Christ with elaborate joy and excessive jubilee! And we look forward to His return. 

I had a day of purging, sorting, clearing and cleaning today, Christmas Eve. As I was cleaning, Ian came in and found me crying. He said “uh-oh”. I assured him saying, “don’t worry, God’s just having a moment with me”. And it is true. The Holy Spirit was so sweet at the most ironic time today – the shrek version of hallelujah was playing, and I was a blubbery mess of a very pregnant woman :). I’m delighted by how God takes care of us right now, and really how He has cared for me my whole life. And I’m stunned at how much we have. We really are so very, very blessed.

I live in the land of excess. California is not “normal” America. Single family homes here start at a million dollars and increase from there. An equivalent home in Rochester or Atlanta would run you 20% to 40% of the cost of homes here. Sometimes I need God’s reminders to keep me in check, as I become tempted to be ungrateful. Because that’s really what it is: ingratitude. When I’m dissatisfied with the flooring of this duplex… Ingratitude. When I’m bothered by the cement backyard… Ingratitude. When I’m flustered by less counter space… Ingratitude. Because what I really have is so much. 

I have the most awesome God, full of splendor and truth. He gave me the best family ever starting with my parents and siblings and their children, bringing my husband to me, and blessing us with healthy children, and surrounding us with friends. 

We have warm shelter, and two full bathrooms. In California, two full bathrooms is a big deal on our budget. We have a cement yard – we could have no yard. We have a kitchen. We can give our children gifts, and give away toys without concern – in fact, this is what we did today, we purged toys and made them ready for donating. We can welcome others into our home and share food with them. We can pay for gas for our car. My husband can bike to and from work. My husband helps me in all things.

Our new baby will be born sometime in January. This means from now on, October through the end of January is now going to stretch into busytown. Right now, it ends with Christmas. I’m so happy to see the celebrations extend further, but this means I will have to add birthday party planning into the month of December, which is already so full.

Your philosophy may be different than mine. If so, ignore the following list. 

Tips for Christmas for you and your kids:

Read a great advent book all through December so your kids understand why we celebrate Christmas – we read a Jesse tree advent book.

Schedule traditions into your month, like: 

  • seeing the Nutcracker, 
  • reading certain books together or watching certain movies (we love It’s A Wonderful Life), 
  • seeing Christmas lights around town, 
  • having certain foods around the house only during holiday time, 
  • going or hosting Christmas parties,
  • having a kid’s Christmas party to decorate gingerbread houses and sing, 
  • making ornaments, 
  • making cards, 
  • wearing something special, 
  • going to a Christmas Eve service, 
  • caroling,
  • seeing a live nativity,
  • baking a cake for Jesus and singing Happy Birthday,
  • opening a gift on Christmas Eve,  
  • setting out a nativity the kids can touch right after Thanksgiving and 
  • decorating the house and tree.

Do the flow of Christmas Day the same every year. For us, we open stockings before breakfast, but we always read the story of Jesus’ birth and pray first. There’s cooking and playing and celebrating and a birthday cake for Jesus. This year is our first year without extended family. It makes me sad, but we spent dinner with the best Cali friends one could ever want.

We don’t do Santa Claus. But on Jan 6, I put chocolate coins in my sons’ shoes for fun, and remind him who people are talking about when they fuss over Santa. We reiterate again and again, the story of Christ, and what various Christmas symbols represent in Christ’s birth story.

Try to find people in need and help them. This may be a lonely lady on your block. It may be a homeless person picking trash or sitting under a bridge. It may be a displaced twenty year old who you see at the market, or a widow at your church. It could be a foster child whose foster family needs some respite. It could be you – and if it’s you then set down your pride and express your need.

    Try to say yes as much as possible, while respecting your need for Sabbath rest – this goes for your children too! We all need downtime, and if you have a child who is different than you, respect the needs of the person who needs the most quiet reflection time.

    This is all for now. I started this post yesterday on Christmas Eve, and then didn’t have time to finish it until tonight. I hope it helps someone!

    If anyone wants my flight plan for Christmas, I’d be happy to write about it. But my dinner was an hour and a half late today, so don’t ask me about timing dinner well, because with one oven, I struggle!

    Seasons

    We know the physical mimics the spiritual. God set us up this way so we could better understand Him.

    I appreciate the seasons. As I’m getting used to California, I am experiencing two seasons: dry and wet. I have missed the beautiful red-orange-yellow-purple horizons-on-fire that Atlanta boasts, and I’ll probably miss the Atlanta springtime too, even though everything is yellow-green with pollen.

    There are obviously seasons in life too. The Lord has been SO generously good to me, but not all my seasons have been easy. 

    It does “a body good” to ask the Lord to speak to what season you are in right now and then ask Him for some perspective on it.

    I am in a season of rain. The Lord is raining His favor on me in so many ways. My family is healthy. My extended family is becoming healthier. My children are young and vibrant. My marriage is beautiful. The Lord still blesses my body to carry new life into the world, and I love Him for it. And get this: He told me she’d be “radiant like the sun”. How’s that for feedback?! I praise the Lord! (Now, what does that mean, exactly? Haha! I can’t wait to find out!)

    My heart seeks to know my Creator. I want to serve others. This is a time of great productivity for the Kingdom. I’m doing the most important, and most difficult, and potentially the most rewarding, job of my life: training future ones to carry the torch. And it’s a long calling. All you mothers know how long of a calling motherhood is – once you start it never ends. You are and will always be just that: mother.

    I appreciate this season of wellness, possibly more, because I’ve seen the other side. The Lord gives and takes as He pleases, and in His sovereignty, I choose to trust Him. But since I know this seasonality in life, my heart sings a song of gratitude that’s multiplied with the spiritual fruit of joy. 

    As we move closer to much-anticipated Christmas, I am feeling such wonder, in the depth of my being, at the gift He gave us in His Son, who chose to humble Himself because of the depth of His love for us. There’s a mighty heavenly orchestra that must play on the remembrance and celebration of the sacrifice He made for us, the day He became human, even fully knowing beforehand, the smite of mankind would be on Him. And He chose us anyway. In this way, He made it possible for me to be adopted twice in my lifetime.

    I am limited in my understanding and comprehension of His gift, but the seeds of His faithfulness and dedication to us burst open in my heart into flames of fire that burn passionately without containment. 

    The Lord is coming towards us. He told me this a year ago, but He’s still drawing closer. He told me springtime is near. 

    In what season are you? How does your season fit into His overall plan? Are you a good steward of His goodness towards you? How has He provisioned you for such a time as this one? How is your season impacting how you treat others, including the young ones entrusted to your care? Do you deal generously with them in mercy, humility and forgiveness? Do you embrace the small moments? Are you storing these memories in your heart? 

    I believe we can live forever into eternity with our Lord. I believe our memories will stay with us. What will you remember about this season in your life? Did you give Elohim the room He deserves, and the room you need, to make this season a growing, stretching, edifying one for you? 

    I have some friends in very hard places right now. I implore you to seek Him in prayer, and allow Him to do the most transformational permanent things in your hearts for which your soul cries out. You know more than anyone that life is not bonnets and roses. Trust there is still a plan for you, a plan for good and not for ruin. There is a plan for wellness and healing and honest joy through this pain. 

    We see the rainbow as a physical symbol of one covenant God made with mankind. There are always rainbows God has for us in times of fallow hardship, but the fruit and productivity is probably happening deep below the soil. It requires you resting in Him for a time, laying your whole being in His hands for a time of rest because. You. Just. Can’t.

    I am praying for you. 

    When You’re Tired of Homeschooling

    I’m acknowledging I feel weary from homeschooling. I started the year with so many game ideas, so much fun! Perhaps it’s because I’m pregnant, but more honestly, I have energy for other things… I think it’s just because schooling and training your children takes a lot of honest effort.

    Here’s how I regroup.

    1. Honestly, take a break! When you need it, take a whole day off and do something different.
    2. Pray. Pray for the Lord to restore and rejuvenate you. He’s the real deal, and He can put more pep in your step.
    3. Change for a season. Choose what you can put on hold, and change it up. Ask your kids for their advice and opinions on what interests them. Change can look life several things: change your books, change your schedule, change your methodology, change your environment, change the music, change your attitudes. Agree on this together.
    4. Assess how you’re doing. There are three parts to this. (A) Please don’t judge yourself. Just assess. Here’s a tool I use for assessment. (B) Resolve to keep better track of what you actually accomplish. Here’s a tool I use for tracking actual achievements.  (C) Make a realistic plan that leaves room for developing these new habits. A new plan for new habits likely includes the following:
      1. Choose what you’ll sacrifice to carve new time out of your busy schedule. Perhaps this is TV time at night.
      2. Get an accountability partner, or a reward system in place both for you and your kids.
      3. Write down your challenges and obstacles for why you may not be successful, and make proactive choices to overcome these challenges.

    This may feel daunting to you. I’m the queen of self-assessment. I find this introspection critical to success. Here’s a sample of one of my self-assessments. One way I do this is by using a Weekly Docket – it has a way for me to anticipate the month’s top priorities, goals, challenges, and special events for my own accountability.

    screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-11-45-46-am

    Weekly Docket

    I’m a Christian life coach. If you’re interested in some outside help, feel free to contact me to talk about how to get and stay grounded as you do the most important work of your life. I love seeing moms growing in their ministries at home to their husbands and children, and their communities beyond that.

     

    Costco and 10 things homeschool is NOT

    Our journey started with two crying and whining children entering the shopping cart, where at least they wouldn’t get struck by a car.

    Then, I enjoyed the myriad of stares and smiles from people on my Costco excursion today, where it costs-mo’ because I buy 12 pounds of things in one heave-ho, and then have to repackage it into young child sized portions at home. 
    I think people were thinking:
    – aw, those are cute / funny / rambunctious kids

    – I feel her pain

    – I remember those days

    – she’s got too much stuff in her cart, the kids are sitting on the food

    – she’s got her hands full

    – wow two kids plus one on the way

    – glad that’s not me

    – I wish that were me

    – it’s a wonder they got the kids and all the food back into the cart 
    But the cashier said:

    – your kids are mixed, no? 

    That statement was quickly followed by:

    – mixed kids are the cutest
    I just find that ironic because I live in the most diverse melting pot of a place I’ve ever been, perhaps similar to the diversity you see in NYC. I’m not offended… just saying. My kids don’t “see” skin color.
    Sometimes we get the good ol’ “are you in school yet?” asked directly to my 5 year old. This is perhaps more often during the day time hours. Most people respond nicely to homeschooling. Except a police officer once was discouraged I wasn’t teaching spelling to my then-4 year old (and don’t get me wrong, I think policemen are great). I hope people don’t inadvertently discourage my son’s from homeschooling. The last my 5 year old son mentioned of it was:

    • “I don’t want to go to middle school”.
    • “Why?,” I asked. 
    • “Because they make you sit all day.” 
    • “Well good thing you’re homeschooled!” 
    • “What about high school?” 
    • “You can homeschool through high school if you want,” I answered.
    • “Promise?,” asked my son.

    Here’s what homeschool is not:

    1. A loose grid where children aren’t academically rigorous
    2. A sheltered, uncultured life
    3. Unsocialized hermits
    4. Sitting around eating bon-bons, doing whatever we feel like doing
    5. An answer for everyone
    6. Rigid and inflexible
    7. Just parents teaching kids, limiting the child’s body of knowledge and exposure
    8. Vanilla and B.O.R.I.N.G.
    9. Limited to a few rooms
    10. Allowing children escape from real mastery of a subject

    This post could have been two posts… I just thought you moms could understand and perhaps even get a kick out of my afternoon. 

    We made it home just in time for my husband to unload the car for me. And my kids weren’t starving because of all those samples at cost-mo’. This was good because my Braxton Hicks were on cue tonight.

    Efficiency has no name

    As someone who loves to learn and practice efficiency, motherhood has no room for it. Efficiency has no name in the great game of motherhood. Efficiency has eyes only, it need not whisper a word.

    There is no rushing of children, of their emotions, of their learning and development. There is no fitting children into a box or molding them to some predetermined platform, because God already gave them their mold and their platform. We mothers and fathers are to learn to see it, honor it and help them honor themselves in being who they were created to be.

    The sanctity of motherhood is held in a mother’s ability to see. If we can see, we can hear. If we can hear, we can respond.

    Of the many things I enjoy about motherhood, one of them is how children don’t apologize for the way they process the world. They take it all in, and they react. That’s all. They let you know how they feel on a visceral level… it all spews forth from their gut. And they demand you responding in a way that honors their feelings.

    I suppose there are those parents who try their best to ignore and suppress those feelings, but that never helps anyone. I’m not for permissive parenting. I’m for training a child in the way he/she should go. But there is enough space in the day for honoring the feelings in both of you – this is child training, and this is future-adult training… and isn’t that healthier?

    I’m not saying I’m a pillar of perfection here… quite the opposite. God gifted me with a highly outspoken sensitive firstborn, and I work really very hard everyday to walk the line of grace and discipline together. Our desire for control makes us rub elbows together everyday, so I’m on this tightrope and I’m at God’s mercy to show me how to step so I don’t squash, and I don’t squelch, and I don’t regret being too lose either.

    If we held each other in this view, this view of expressing and honoring each other’s feelings, wouldn’t marriages stay together, children grow with greater desire to please, and enemies make space to cross the bridge to friendship?

    If the sanctity of motherhood is held in our ability to see, then you must ask, how do I see better? Put on your glasses and read your Bible. Pray to the living God that He would be merciful to show you the underlying conditions of the stress and tantrums, the naughty behavior, and the needful things in your hearts… this goes for everyone under your roof, including yourself… and it goes for the people who aren’t under your roof too.

    Relationships hold no place for efficiency. When it comes to your relationships, throw efficiency out the window and work towards quality. This means you should look for resolution, honesty, and understanding. Throw efficiency out, and strive towards peace and hope. Strive for knowing. Learn how to see. Learn as I learn.