For the Time Being

isaiah-46

There is an insatiable desire to “know.”  Maybe it is because knowledge brings comfort or peace, or maybe even a sense of control.  I am learning…let me emphasize LEARNING…to be okay with not knowing.  I am not philosophizing here.  I am talking about real life.

Planning comes naturally to me, but sometimes implementing the “plan” does not always play out the way I originally hoped.  This used to bother me.  Somehow I got it into my head that if the plan failed then I failed, or if it took me longer to accomplish X,Y, or Z then the time I spent must have been a waste.

What I am discovering is that the planning is part of the processing even if the plan never carries through as intended.  I create lesson plans for my daughters every week.  Sometimes I follow through with those plans to a T (rarely), but lessons much like life are more organic than that.  I planned for us to do our Monday nature study on birds, but yesterday morning was overcast and there was hardly a bird to be found.  So, we looked at some birds in our field guide and drew Northern Cardinals.  When it got sunny again, we took a walk and then had lunch under the hackberry tree.  The day turned out better than I even planned!

img_4999

James tells us, “we do not know what tomorrow will bring.”  Does this mean that we quit planning?  Nope.  It simply means that we quit assuming.

…quit assuming that everything will go as planned.

…quit assuming that we are the master of our destiny.

…quit assuming that the plan is the purpose.

…quit assuming that we know what the purpose even is.

When we quit assuming we are then set free to rest in our Sovereign God who declares “the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done,” who says, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose…’ (Isaiah 46:10).

Some days are HARD.  There are those days when everything just seems off and we question what we are even doing.  We want answers.  Solutions.  Results.  And if we are honest, we want to see the end to validate the choices we are currently making.  Not everything is black and white, cut and dry.

fullsizerender-20So we pray.  We plan.  We take steps of faith.  We make mistakes.  There are wins and there are losses.  We learn to accept “not knowing” the end from the beginning, but knowing the One who does.  When we are asked, “What are you going to do about such and such or so and so?” we learn to say, “I don’t know about tomorrow, but for the time being…”  And then we let the peace of Christ rule our hearts.  It is what we must do.

I am learning to be okay with not knowing.  I am learning to be okay with not having an answer to questions regarding my children’s education, my career, how I plan to “balance it all,” or where I’ll be in ten to fifteen years.  What I can say is that for the time being this is where I am, learning, growing, struggling, and processing.  I think it is funny how 40 is the new 80 as if turning 40 is when you truly arrive with a wealth of wisdom to extend to the world.  I don’t see it this way.  There is so much more to learn, suffer, and understand.  The plan is not the purpose.  It is just a plan.  The purpose…our purpose will unfold over a lifetime through celebration and through pain, through expectations and through surprises.  We come into this whole thing so confident only to see over time that we had no idea what we were getting into.  And yet there is One who knows.  HE KNOWS!  And His glory is the purpose.  Let that be our aim as well.

 

Our First Day of Fall

It is the first day of fall, and September has already been a full month in the most delightful of ways.  Birthdays, cherished visits with grandparents, a little getaway, and more cake than is necessary have made for much thanksgiving.  I bought a kitchen mat at Walmart last week for under 5 bucks that says “Give Thanks” because it was cute, cheap, and a needed reminder that there is so much to be thankful for in every season.

fullsizerender-17

Praising God from Whom all blessings flow.

We are in week seven of homeschooling, and for the most part we have gotten off to a great start.  I find that I have to remind myself, though, to not stress over getting through curriculum, but focus on teaching my children.  My thoughts as of late have turned over the principle that children are born persons and so they are to be addressed with respect, not talked down to or excessively preached at.  I am teaching people, not curriculum.  I credit Charlotte Mason for this.  The heart of my home for me is connection.  That whatever happens, however any of us may thrive or fail, preserving the relationship is key.

Today we trekked over to the Nashville Zoo to say hi to some animals.  This goat was either pregnant or had a real hearty lunch.  It’s debatable.  We all got a kick out of her, though.fullsizerender-18

Judson thought the goats were hilarious.

fullsizerender-19

Analise just may be a zookeeper one day.

img_4937

 Kara loves an ICEE.

img_4930

I want to add that I am also thankful for the lush foliage at Nashville Zoo.  We were well shaded and our tempers were down to a low roar.  The first meltdown didn’t occur until we exited the zoo into the parking lot.  This, to me, made it a successful day in my book.

We are learning about the continents this year, and I love how the exhibits at the zoo show a map of the regions where the animals live.  The girls would point to an area marked in red on the map and excitedly say where the animals called their home.  We did a scavenger hunt using a printable I found with about 9-12 animals (I forget off the top of my head), and they had to circle the ones we saw at the zoo.  We found most of them, but we did not get to see all of the animals today so we will have to continue the scavenger hunt on another day.  It was a fun way to engage ourselves in the whole experience.

I debated dragging the kids out to the zoo today, but I am now glad that we did.  We were only there for a couple of hours, which was enough time to see what we could see and then get home to let Jud nap and get some more schoolwork and housework done.  It was a good diversion for me as well, and who doesn’t love animals?!

Resting and Relying

Sometimes you have to get away to realize how much you had to get away.  We have been pushing it between moving out of our house in Memphis back in June, relocating to our new home in Gallatin, meeting a lot of amazing people, getting settled in a new church, and starting school without catching a breath.  So, we took Labor Day seriously and turned it into Labor DAYS!  We spent the week with Travis’ family in SC and made a lot of new memories.  The kids got to spend time with their cousins, explore Nana and Poppa’s house and backyard, and take in some new sights like the Sky Top Apple Orchard in NC.

fullsizerender-15                fullsizerender-14

We come home well into September anticipating birthdays, projects, Autumn, and a happy visit from Mimi and Poppy.  I am learning that the kids need rest as much as their parents, and sometimes stopping in the middle of everything, even as life picks up speed is necessary to keep a clear perspective on goals and on the work itself.  Family grounds us, and reminds us of who we really are- that no matter what goes on “out there,” here at least, at home, we are accepted and loved.  So when we return to the work we are refreshed and strengthened with a renewed sense that we are right where we need to be doing what we are called to do.

Jesus modeled this best for us.  He retreated to a mountaintop to be with the Father alone.  He pulled away from the crowds just to be with His few disciples for closer engagement.  Jesus knew rest and He gives us that same rest, particularly through His finished work on the cross.  So in our labors we work not in vain, but with purpose knowing that we will reap a harvest one day.  And we can rest because the reaping is not up to us anyway, but the relying is.   Rest reminds us that we rely not on our efforts, but on our All-Sufficient and Sovereign God.

After Jesus rested, He returned to the crowds.  So, I return to my small crowd of littles and the work to which I am called.  It is a good thing, and a blessed thing to live life unto the Author of Life.  He truly restores my soul.

How have you made rest a part of your yearly, monthly, weekly, or daily routine?  Are you intentional with your time?  Do you ever feel guilty for taking a break?  I struggled with false guilt over rest, but I have come to learn that rest is obedience.  Even God rested after He created the world.  He has given the Sabbath for rest.  And He tells us to come to Jesus for rest.  Rest is a necessary discipline that not only renews us spiritually, but physically and emotionally as well.  So, my encouragement to you is to fight for rest.  Make it a part of your lifestyle, and put it on your calendar.  You won’t regret it, but you might regret it if you don’t.  Recently, I read that if you don’t plan your life someone else will for you.  I think rest is something that we have to plan into our lives, otherwise our schedule is up for grabs.  Take time to rest- to be with family, to be alone, and to be with God.  Resting is relying.  What does your calendar say you are relying on?  Consider how you can rest even this week and see it as an act of obedience- as an act of worship unto the One who calls you to rest solely in Him.

Bible Study Method or Madness?

We’ve all done it.  There is that yearly Bible reading plan or latest Beth Moore study and we dig in with earnest sure that we will devote ourselves all the way through to the end.  But then life happens and we tell ourselves that the plan or study doesn’t suit us.  Some time passes and we hear about a new system of study, an online devotional that emails the daily devotion right to our phones, or a book that came out by a favorite author of ours who may not be a Bible teacher but intersperses Scripture throughout the chapters.   We feel spiritual.  Our hearts are warm towards good things like family, the poor, relationships, being industrious, and being culturally savvy.  We support non-profits through our clothing, jewelry, handbags, and coffee.  We are responsible.  We only buy fair trade, and we are well informed.  The only problem is that we are not firmly planted.

A friend gets sick…like cancer sick…

Another friend’s marriage is hanging on by a thread…

We have doubts…we struggle to believe…

Should we take that job?….

How should we discipline our kids?…

The fires in California…

The floods in Louisiana…

And our own longing for answers…for hope.

What will we hold on to?  How will we persevere under trial?  Where will we turn when our world turns upside down?

Simply put.  God’s Word.  The method we use is superfluous.  But when we break open the scriptures as they are with or without studies, tools, resources, commentaries, and drink the pure, spiritual milk of the Word we meet God.  Supplemental aids can help, but they are not necessary, and sometimes they may even be a distraction.

So, my encouragement, dear reader, is to not get overwhelmed with all of the “offerings” out there, nor feel guilty for not completing a study or starting the latest and greatest “hot off the press” workbook from that Christian publisher.  It is okay.  Just open your Bible.  Breathe it in and digest its truth.  Let it fill your thoughts and flow from your mouth.  If this is all you have time for…if this is all you do, then this is enough, because after all, the system is not what grows you anyway.  God and His Word is enough.  Walk in faith and freedom today.  And just read your Bible.

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

Weekend Wrap-Up 8/13

Sometimes weekends are meant for celebrating.  Sometimes after a week of pushing and hustling, giving it your all, a weekend in the best sense is in order.  Many weekends are meant for errands (we had those too today) and playing catch up on a week that went by too fast (there are those often as well), but for us this weekend was a time to be together and just have some simple fun.

We closed the books and said goodbye to the first week of school and hit the pool!

FullSizeRender (12)

We had a yummy dinner at Swaney Swift’s and ice cream at the Town Square Creamery on Friday night.  And then we went to Lowes and got some sand for the kids’ new sandbox.

They spent the greater part of the day here.  Sand everywhere.  I’ll be washing sand out of their hair for weeks.

IMG_4603

 

Some highlights from this week for us were…

Kara started back with piano lessons, and we found a really neat studio on the square in Gallatin.  The bonus was the owner’s dog who became good buds with Jud right away.  Here Jud is playing fetch with his new friend.   We plan to get a dog once we get settled.  Sand, dog hair, eh who cares?

IMG_4591

The girls learned about Impressionism looking at Mary Cassatt’s “Five O’Clock Tea” for inspiration.  Jud even got in on the action.  I wasn’t planning on him jumping up to the table, but once he saw paint and the opportunity to make a mess there was no stopping him.  He did surprisingly well, and the paint washed off.  I find that the Crayola washable paint comes out better than the Crayola washable markers.  The kids always have marker on them even after several washings.  As I type this Analise is sound asleep with green marker on the palm of one of her hands, and this is after a fairly long bath she had tonight.

IMG_4571

 

IMG_4576
Kara did an impressionist painting of a girl sitting against a tree blowing bubble gum while looking at her house.

 

 

IMG_4577
Analise did a literal impression of herself as a cat. 

 

 

Not everything is idyllic.  There are the dirty dishes…there seems to always be dirty dishes.  And the floors are never swept enough.  There is yelling at times.  Mom yells at times…trying to work on that.  We are not always motivated.  But I marvel at how God intercepts the chaos with His peace.  He does that.  Even with a toddler who won’t nap (Jud today), sandy floors, an unfinished to-do list (always incomplete), and dealing with physical limitations like illnesses, hormones, our humanity- God comes in and shows up.  He gives us His yoke and teaches us to rest.  Anything he gives is easy and light.  We are the ones who overwhelm the whole business of life.  “Oh I can do it.”  “I can handle it.”  Until I realize that I can’t handle it and then I become anxious or depressed while God was here available and able to supply what was needed all along- Himself.

What I’m into this week…

Mere Motherhood.  Great book.  I’m reading it along with some other moms who homeschool. This book is is a good read for any mom, really.  Cindy Rollins (author) is a seasoned and wise mother who is humble and honest about nurturing a Christian home.

Digize.  This is a Young Living Essential Oil blend used to support digestive health.  I have had some heartburn this week, and really off and on throughout the summer, but this oil has helped alleviate a lot of the discomfort.

Hooked on Consignment.  This is a sale I just heard about and took advantage of this morning.  I racked up for Judson’s fall/winter wardrobe.  The sale goes on twice a year, and I plan on going back in the spring.

Placemaking.  Ooo I just love this whole concept and discussion on Tsh Oxenreider’s podcast.  I resonated with it being that I just moved to a new place myself.  For awhile now I have envisioned home as something you create, not necessarily some specific place you belong.  Worth a listen.

Well, that’s a wrap for now.  Hope that your weekend, wherever and however it finds you is nourishing to your soul.  Connect with your church community.  Take a walk.  Take a nap.  Eat something good.  Breathe.  And remember that the to-do list will get done…just not today.🙂

 

 

 

 

Ready Or Not

 

 

FullSizeRender (10)So I blinked and summer came and went.  To be honest, the days leading up to the first day back to school have not been without some jitters.  We are still settling into a new place, a new “normal,” and doing what came so natural to us (or at least felt natural) like morning time, recitations, nature walks, and the like have gone by the wayside except for read aloud time, which we’ve managed to squeeze in either after lunch or before bed.  So, going from steady flow (not without its occasional chaotic current) to free-for-all survival mode summer back into a steady flow begs the question- can this be done?!  I mean, between the boxes, screens, late nights, every which way weekdays with a distracted and busy mama and daddy can we ever get back to normal?

Well, we are trying.

And for a first attempt, I must say that today felt refreshing and the Lord gave us peace as only He can give.

The day began early.  There were chores.  But there were also donuts.  So, mom for the win!  This song is our signal this year for morning time.  It is our school bell, so to speak.  The girls hear this and know they have 3ish minutes to finish their spiral notebooks and meet up at the kitchen table.

IMG_4538

We then pray, sing, hear from God’s Word, recite Scripture, practice memory work, read poetry, and do a simple nature study.  Some days there will be art study, history, and even beginning this year a little Shakespeare.  I try and keep things simple and not do too much in the girls’ day.  I feel like today was just enough for a first day back at it.  Anymore than what we did would have been overkill I’m sure.  I budgeted an hour for morning time and we were right at it this morning.  It went by so fast.

We take about a fifteen minute break after morning time to stretch, grab a mid-morning snack, restroom break, and put our morning materials away.  I have a morning basket with books and resources for that time, so I just move it out of the way, or even out of the room.

IMG_4540                                              IMG_4536

 

This is the first year that I am homeschooling both girls, although Analise doesn’t officially begin Kindergarten until next fall.  She is just ready to do “school.”  So, I got her a light and gentle Junior Kindergarten curriculum for her to work on while Kara completes her lessons.  I wasn’t sure how it would be working in tandem between both girls, and there were times when I really had to help one (like Analise with pencil grip, or Kara with a new spelling word list) over the other, but they both did quite well.  And Judson?  Well, we just keep him busy.  Analise helped him with stickers.  I gave him some big shape magnets to play with.  He watched Thomas & Friends.  He had a bowl of dry cereal.  He spilled half the bowl onto the living room floor.  A quick sweep, and all was picked up until the next spill.

IMG_4546

After spelling, reading, arithmetic, and handwriting, we put the books away and headed outside.  Well, the kids did anyway.  I had about 15-20 minutes of quiet to clean up and get ready for lunch.  I gave the kids some water guns to cool themselves off with, but even still, the heat got the best of them and they made their way back inside before lunch.  We drank smoothies, ate some cold deli meat and cheese, listened to Winnie-the-Pooh on audio read by Peter Dennis, and read some from These Happy Golden Years.  I think school wore Judson out because he crashed at nap time!

I got the girls each a bird feeder to paint a few weeks ago so that they would have a fun project to do one afternoon so I could get some unpacking done.  This afternoon we filled them with birdseed and hung them from a tree on the side of our yard.  The kids got a little excited and decided to throw seeds out towards the woods hoping to make it a little easier for the birds to find their food.  Analise then grabbed my phone and took a picture of a ladybug.

IMG_4555                            IMG_4558

unnamed

It was a good first day.  In a couple weeks we will start back with Classical Conversations, which we are all looking forward to.  I was thankful that there was a community here in the Gallatin/Hendersonville area.  Analise begins CC officially this year, and she is pumped and ready.  I will tutor the older class this year, which will be a new and welcomed challenge.

I am claiming Proverbs 31:26 as my  verse for this year, which says, “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”  I can be so hasty with my words and quick-tempered, and my kids are easy targets.  It’s not about what I teach, but how I teach.  It’s not about doling out truth, but speaking the truth in love.  It’s not about completing daily tasks, or checking off a list.  It’s about connecting to the hearts of my kids and worshiping the Lord together.

So I am praying for wisdom- to know wisdom, grow in wisdom, and speak wisdom in my home first and foremost.  I am praying for kindness- to not be harsh with my attitude and words, to give grace when it is needed, and to touch and listen.  I have one child who needs a lot of physical affection and another who has lots of questions and deep thoughts (we have the best bedtime chats).  I cannot be the perfect mom, and I dare not try.  But I can pray to grow to be a mother who honors the Lord in her home- as both wife and mother, not displacing one role over the other.

So ready or not, the first day came and is passed.  I am now sitting on  bleachers watching my girls tumble in gymnastics, reflecting on the day, trying not to think too much about tomorrow knowing that these days pass all too quickly.

 

FullSizeRender (11)                unnamed (1)

 

Weekend Wrap-Up

It has been somewhat of a rainy week here in Middle Tennessee.  In many ways I am thankful for it.  For one thing, the earth needs the rain.  (Although the grass grows more quickly, and wasn’t it like yesterday when Travis mowed the lawn?)  Another thing is that the rain has kept us in the house some this week making it convenient for me to get some needed things done like setting up the house some more and lesson planning.  School begins for us in a week.  This is how our summer has been- last day of school, pack up the house, move, unpack and set up the house, and then the beginning of a new school year.  Whew!  It has been a good summer, though.  We are feeling at home in Gallatin more and more each day.🙂

So this weekend is in a way one of the last “quiet” weekends for us.  I feel like the turnaround from Friday to Monday is like a blink in a sandstorm.  But I wouldn’t change a thing.  Honestly, I am ready to get my kids back into a routine.  They don’t know which end is up, and on some days neither do I.  It’s all about survival around here, folks!  Getting back into our rhythm will be a good thing and will hopefully bring a little sanity to our family life.

Some things that I am digging lately are…

This body lotion.  The summer heat has wreaked havoc on my hands, so when I found a BOGO on these from Ulta, I had to give them a try.  These lotions have been handy when I don’t do a coconut oil and an essential oil blend.

Roku and Sling.  We don’t have cable, and we cannot seem to get a good signal on our antennae for local channels, so when we found a deal for a free Roku with 3-month pre-paid subscription we took it.  I like how we can select which programs we want to watch without paying for channels that we don’t use.

Kroger Clicklist.  I didn’t know such a thing existed until recently- where was this when I had newborns?!  Anyway, basically it is a service some Kroger stores offer where you set up your shopping list online and order your groceries in advance to be picked up curbside (I mean they even load the groceries for you!) at a specified date and time.  There is a small service charge of $4.95 after the first three ClickList orders, but the pay off of a stress-free shopping experience without wrangling three small children through aisle after aisle in a grocery store is so worth it!

This book.  Talk about enlightening.  I have just gotten into it and have been meaning to read it for some time, but now that I am I can’t put it down.  I was up past midnight reading it last night.  The stories, the history, and the ramifications of the great migration of blacks from America’s south provides some understanding on urbanism, the black community, and the pervasive effects of racial injustice from Jim Crow days to modern day.  I may have more to say after I finish the book, but so far, as a white woman, I find this to be a helpful education on a community of people who are my neighbors and fellow Americans.  And I must say it is beautifully written.

I am hoping to have a productive week this week as we get ready for another school year. The clothes and supplies are bought.  The house is in somewhat of a working and livable condition.  And I think we have had about as much unstructured time as we can handle.  So…

Here’s to another week of reckless freedom!  Reality will kick back into gear in seven more days.  Hope your week, however structured or free it may be goes well for you.  🙂