Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tending the soil...

My little seedlings grew quickly and my husband and I have been working hard (well, ok mostly my hubby) to prepare our garden beds.
Sayan Samana freedigitalphotos.net

We've picked out rocks, tended the soil, pulled weeds...all in preparation for the harvest this summer.

As I've been tending the little plants, I can't help but think about my kids.

How have I tended the soil in their lives?

Have I been a good example of the way in which they should go...or have I been more of a "do as I say, not as I do" mom?

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child...
(Proverbs 22:15 ESV)

Just this morning I found Little One hiding behind the sofa desperately trying to cover up evidence of a "stolen" snack after momma said, "No." When confronted, despite the evidence to the contrary, she tried to lie. "I didn't eat the snack, I just look at it." Hmmm...

Those instances are easy to address. But perhaps, there is a bit of folly in my own heart...Did I answer too sharply? Was I too quick to show my frustration? Should I listen more and speak less?

I think I'll use this opportunity to tend my own heart so I can lead my children by quiet example.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Finding her way...

Today, as we begin our last two official weeks of school, I feel a bit nostalgic...

Next year, Precious Girl begins 7th grade. Middle School?! How did that happen? Just yesterday she was sounding out words as we snuggled on the sofa. Just yesterday we cried together as I tried to explain how to tell time to the nearest minute...


Today, she is doing Pre-Algebra and enjoying it. (She may not really be my child. *wink*) Today she is flying through The Pilgrim's Progress and loving our discussions of the deeper meaning...

This weekend as I watched her on stage at an Irish Dance feis, my heart was filled with a swirling mix of emotions.

She will be twelve soon. Somehow it seems just yesterday that I was counting little toes on that first morning with her. Now those not-so-little toes dance with joy and beauty and determination. As she lined up with the dancers onstage waiting for her turn, her eyes sought me in the crowd. As our eyes met, we exchanged a smile.

But one time, she didn't look for me. And I know that my role will soon begin to change.

I realize that the privilege of being her mother is not in the holding on, but in the letting go.

As she stepped off stage she said,
"I didn't look for you, because I knew you were there."

She knew I was there, watching and praying, thoroughly enjoying her dance. And that was enough for her.

With one foot still firmly in her childhood, I love the joy and beauty that she sees in the world. I pray that she will keep that joy with her always.

With one foot testing the waters of young ladyhood, I love the questions that she asks and the discussions we have as she tries to find her way.

That's just it, isn't it?...Some of my nostalgia is that she is finding her way...

I don't know what my role will be as she navigates and learns and grows over the next few precious years. But I am thankful that she will never be alone. Even when she and I may disagree, and I'm certain we will, the Holy Spirit will be there to tenderly guide her way.

And me?

Even if she doesn't need me to walk beside her, I'll always be there, just off stage, cheering and praying as she finds her way.

Linking Up:
The Straightened Path
The Better Mom
Far Above Rubies

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Be still and know...

Be still and know that I am God. 
(Psalm 46:10)

That little reminder hangs above the door in my kitchen. I pass it countless times during the day, but I don't often take the time to reflect on its meaning...

God is calling to my heart, His voice a quiet echo in my heart and mind...
be still, my child...

My flesh cries out,
but I'm so busy...I have all these things to do...

When I pause to reflect, I realize my attitude is completely unlovely. I was telling God:
I don't have time for you, God. Not now.


God wants us to be still in the midst of our high calling as mothers. God wants us to be still in the midst of our duties.

God wants our hearts to beat in time with his. God wants our thoughts to be his thoughts. God wants our dreams to be his dreams for our families.

He wants us to know that he is God.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Just between you and me...

Quiet times are rare - precious and fleeting moments when you are able to see God's handiwork in your children...times when you are able to see into their little hearts and minds and understand who they are.

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of everyday busyness, they are easy to miss.

It may be as subtle as recognizing an unformed question, and helping the child to figure out what is bothering them.

It may be listening as they sort through a problem with a friend, asking questions that help them to figure out for themselves the right course of action.

It may be putting down what you are doing and really listening.

It may just require a hug and a kiss or a well-timed "I love you."

But as your child grows, they may be less likely to share everything as they did when they were little. For that reason, it is vitally important to establish communication with your children when they are small, when it is easier.

image courtesy of nuttakit freedigitalphotos.net
When Precious Girl was in first grade, I gave her a handmade book filled with blank notebook pages to write on. On the cover, I wrote "Just Between You and Me." I explained that if she ever wanted to tell me something, or ask me a question, all she had to do was write it in the book and leave it on my bed. Then, I would write something back to her.

Many times, when I've sensed that something's bothering Precious Girl, I've found the book on my bed. Sometimes the issues are big, sometimes small, but every time I've thanked God that I have an opportunity to know what is on my little girl's heart and mind.

This book is a treasure trove of conversations between mother and daughter. Sometimes, I look back over the pages and remember...Someday, its pages will be filled, or maybe even unnecessary...So each time I have the privilege of writing to my daughter's heart, I am thankful for that chance to speak into her life.

Linking Up:
Growing Home
These Five of Mine...
The Better Mom
Deep Roots at Home

Monday, April 16, 2012

Peace during the busy season...

Have you ever felt the irresistible urge to throw the calendar in the trash and just stay home?

We have entered the "busy season" in our home. Baseball 3 times a week, dance 3 nights a week and Little One doesn't even have an activity yet...Ugh! : )

There are nights after running around for hours that I want to take that schedule and throw it in the trash and just hold my babies. I know, however, that isn't a reasonable solution.

Little Man loves baseball. He spends hours pitching and throwing the ball in the backyard. He lays out his baseball cards in elaborate piles comparing skills and stats. It is joy to watch him in his element. As I watch him at a game, I often get a bit teary seeing him so full of joy.

Precious Girl lives, breathes Irish Dance. She walks with her feet in turn out just for extra practice. Her fingers dance to music when her toes cannot. "Point cut jump jump jump..." She practices diligently every day except Sunday for far longer than she realizes because it isn't "practice" to her - it is joy.

So the question for our family really isn't
what can we cut out?
because there is nothing to cut. We cannot deny our children the opportunity to utilize their God-given talents.

The question becomes
how can we manage the schedule 
so that it doesn't drive us crazy?

We carve out as much special time together as we can manage.

Monday night is sacred time. There is nothing on the calendar and we strive to keep it that way. That is our night to have a meal with five people gathered around the table to listen, to be fed, to live life together.  It is really my favorite day of the week.

Tuesday night Precious Girl and I talk and laugh in the car as we make the trek to dance class over half an hour away. We use that time to catch up and talk and listen. It has become my chance to hear my daughter's heart and I love that time.

Wednesday, after baseball, we gather at the dinner table even if it means breaking bread at 8:00 p.m.

Thursday, my parents drive Precious Girl to her dance class and my husband and I get some one-on-one time with Little Man and Little One. We try to spend time playing and listening to our youngest children. We want to learn who they are, how to reach their little hearts.

Friday is baseball and a late night at dance so we split up and look forward to Saturday morning after baseball for time together.

It isn't perfect. But it is the best we can do.

Bottom line, we want our children to know that they are precious to us, that they are precious to God, that they have amazing gifts to share with the world. Home is our refuge - a safe place where you can be who you really are, a place to connect and dream...

We always want to manage the schedule to keep it from enslaving us. Carving out special family time in the midst of a busy season gives us all peace.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Not Qualified, but Called!

It was a simple enough question...

"What makes you think you are qualified to homeschool your children?"

But I must admit, I was unprepared to answer the woman asking it as I stood in the cafeteria line at the hospital.

Join me over at A Mother's Heritage to read what I wish I would have said...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Going back to my roots...

My Grams and Grandpa always had an enormous garden full of all kinds of beautiful, healthy vegetables. When I was a child, my Grandpa would take me by the hand, gently leading me between the perfect rows of little plants and ask me to identify what was growing.

I have such fond memories of time on their farm, time spent with my fingers in the dirt and enjoying the delicious taste of fresh-picked vegetables.

My Grams now lives in a retirement home (she's 88!!) but her wisdom from 60+ years as a farmer's wife is still sharp and willingly shared.

Up until this year, I've always purchased the little seedlings to grow in our garden but this year, based on the wisdom I've gleaned from Deep Roots at Home and several other blogs and websites, I decided to dig in! (Sorry, no pun intended!)

We purchased Heirloom seeds at our local hardware store, some biodegradable seed starter pots, organic top soil and some trays to set the pots in...

The children enthusiastically helped get the garden started. Precious girl filled the pots with dirt, Little Man dug the hole (and got properly dirty in the process), and Little One carefully dropped the seeds in the holes. We used popsicle sticks from the craft store to label our little seedlings (just in case my brain is rusty!). We set the trays of seeds in front of a sunny location, and in a few days we had little plants poking up through the soil. You should have heard the squeals of joy Easter Morning (not over their baskets) over the appearance of an entire crop of little pea plants!

We also have some beets and lettuce seeds sprouting now. In a few days, I'll start our second batch of peas, beans, lettuce and squash so that everything isn't ready for harvest at the same time.

I'm certain that there will be a lot of trial and error this year, but I am so glad I decided to go back to my roots and give my children the experience of growing our little garden from scratch. I have such fond memories of time with my Grams and Grandpa, and I want my kids to have the satisfaction and joy that was mine.

I think my Grandpa would be proud!

All photos were taken by Precious Girl. She is our photographer in residence. *smile *

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Delight yourself...

Delight yourself in the Lord 
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4 ESV

Is Jesus your delight? Does your time with him cause your soul to sing and your heart to smile?

Or is your devotional time 
just another thing that you do?
image courtesy of Willem Siers

This is something that I've been praying for quite a bit. I don't ever want my time with the Lord to be "just another task" to check off my list.

I want that sweet time in his word, in his presence, to be something that I desire...something that I cannot live without.

I want the sweetness of his presence to linger with me as I go through my day, I want the joy of his love to bubble through me to those around me.

I want my feet firmly rooted in his promises so that I can gently guide the 3 little hearts I've been charged with.

I want my children to see their mother satisfied, not by a beautiful house or things of this world, but by Christ alone.

The things of this world, while sometimes lovely, do not satisfy.

I don't want to settle for the good 
at the expense of the best.

We, as mothers, have a high calling. May all you do today be a delight!

Linking Up:
The Straightened Path
Far Above Rubies
Growing Home
Time-Warp Wife

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

What if...

I read a quote on a friend's facebook page the other day, and I haven't been able to get it out of my mind...

word art by Kristi Slattery
*Disclaimer: I tried to find the original author of the quote I used in this blog post, 
but was unsuccessful. If you know, please contact me so I can give the proper credit! 
Thank you. *

I was convicted. Seriously convicted. 

What would I have if I woke up with only the things I was thankful for? Sadly, not much.

I had thanked God for my food, and I had thanked him for his healing presence in a friend's life...but that was all I could remember...

Granted, there could be more things that I just didn't remember, but let's not sugar-coat this. I was stunned and saddened by my lack of thankfulness for all of the blessings in my life. 

My mind began to race. 

Surely, I had thanked God for my husband. Hadn't I? We celebrated his birthday, we celebrated him...But I don't remember taking a moment to thank God for the wonderful blessing my husband is to our family. 

Tears stung my eyes...

My beautiful children...had I thanked God for these 3 amazing little miracles? I'm ashamed to admit that I hadn't. The tears flowed freely with that awful realization...

Heavenly Father, how could I be so ungrateful?

As we move toward Easter Sunday, I resolved to take this week to reflect on the blessings in my life -  chief of which is my Savior's gift of eternal life. 

So today, as I watched my children, heads bent over school books, I thanked God for each of them...For Precious Girl's diligence, for Little Man's compassionate heart, for Little One's joy...I thanked God for my husband, that my husband was working so hard for us, and that God had provided more than enough for our family...I thanked God for the music Precious Girl played on the piano...I thanked God for the love of learning...I thanked God for our clothing as I washed and folded the laundry...I thanked God for my home as I swept the floors...

It changed me. Instead of seeing all I had to do, I saw all that I could lose...

Thank you, Jesus, for a second chance!

Linking Up:
Far Above Rubies
Growing Home
Time-Warp Wife
Hip Homeschool Hop

Monday, April 02, 2012

The myth of "me" time...

I've heard it several different ways, but the gist is always the same...

I could never homeschool my kids. I need some "me" time.

This statement has always made me bristle. I can't really explain why, but I kind of hate the presumption that:
#1: because I homeschool I am somehow above selfishness (soooooo not true!)
#2: we deserve "me" time

Let me take off my superhero cape for a moment as dispel myth #1. Homeschooling your children does not confer superhuman abilities to overcome frustration and selfishness in any mother. In fact, it gives you innumerable opportunities to experience frustration and selfishness.  *wink* The difference is, most homeschooling moms I know choose not to give in to their flesh and prayerfully submit to their calling. Does this mean it is easy? um, no!

Case in point: Last week was a nightmare. Truly! No one seemed to be in the right frame of mind to do school (including the momma) and each day was a monumental struggle. By Monday evening, an entire week's worth of weariness had settled in. My amazing husband saved the day by arranging a coffee date with a dear friend (and fellow homeschooling mom) so I could recharge my attitude.
image courtesy Stuart Miles

I suppose it could be said that this was "me" time...But that isn't how I see it. You see, the focus -for both my friend and I - was NOT on "woe is me, this is soooo hard" but rather encouraging each other and building each other up to face the rest of the week with a better heart attitude.

Iron sharpens iron,
and one man sharpens another.
Proverbs 27:17 ESV

Don't get me wrong, I love a mom's night out as much as the next homeschooling mom...but "me" time? Really?!?

I think that is the wrong focus. With our time away, shouldn't our focus be on refreshing ourselves so we can be a better wife and mom?

That's just what happened with our coffee date. We commiserated with each other. Listened to each other. Encouraged each other (or, at least I hope she was encouraged!). We left the coffee shop ready to face another few days of homeschooling.

So please grab a girlfriend and take some precious time to refresh your heart. It will make you a better mom, a better wife, a better friend. When you are running on empty it is hard to give. Time with the Lord will refill us with renewed energy and vision. Time with a dear friend can give you the strength to move forward.

Just please remember, "Me" time is a myth.

Raising children is hard. Being a wife is a difficult job even if you are married to a wonderful man. If all I focus on is "me" then my kids and husband will suffer. My attitude will bottom out and everything in our home will be yucky. (sorry, I really couldn't think of a better word.) "Me" time assumes that how I feel is more important than anything or anyone else.

What if, instead of "me" time, we focused on "Jesus time"? That is the only thing that promises to make us both better wives and mothers.

Sprinkle in a few times of refreshment and encouragement with other Godly women and that sounds like a recipe for success.

Linking Up:
The Straightened Path
These Five of Mine Plus Two
The Better Mom