The Perfect Day…

Oh I had such plans for Monday. Zach, the Eldest, was off to his new tutorial for this year. He was to be immersed in Treasure Island and General Science.

The others, well, we were headed to this wonderful branch of the local library where there is a walking a trail a beautiful children’s area with loads of light and windows and colors…and story time for the Princess.

There would be time for our joint activities; time to discuss Bible and history, time to read the books we would find.

There would be a visit to the coffee shop and time to grab a bite before we picked Zach up and skipped our way home rejoicing in our stories of the day.

“MOM! Maddie just puked all over the iPad!!”

That was the announcement almost half way to the tutorial.

Yep.  The rest of the drive, if you had caught a glimpse of us, was spent with three boys hanging their heads out the windows to avoid gagging themselves.

Rather than traipsing through the trails around the library followed by hearing a story accompanied by violin music (seriously!), well, we visited the doctor with Maddie in a diaper, Crocs and vomit in her hair.

Yep. I was that mom.

Tuesday morning we redeemed the day. This is our second tutorial day. Seriously, I do homeschool…I just have some help. We had a great start to the day. Maddie was feeling wonderful, everyone was cheerful and we were actually on time for this first day of tutorial. Zach would be done early and we would spend the afternoon catching up on what I had studied with the other boys the day before. We would read and study at a hip coffee shop while Maddie stayed with a friend.

We jumped in the car….to find the battery dead.

Yep. It is better than the previous day. I was able to get the car jump started from our portable charger and got us to the tutorial on time. Still, it was not the day I had planned.

This is something that happens whether we are home school moms or public school or private school…or no kids or kids out of school. Life happens. The only difference with home school is the kids have to learn to adjust to the schedule and figure out how to get the work done around the obstacles; I think that is going to turn out to be a decent life lesson.

Zach and I still ended up at a pretty cool coffee shop able to study.

sayers

While we were there a man came in I knew, someone who is involved in Christian circles. He had someone else with him I didn’t know, and this other person told me he felt strongly he was to encourage me.

He said he had this image of me juggling many things and the encouragement he wanted to share was simply that I was doing it well. Not to stress.

It’s been awhile since I’ve been in circles that talked that way. It’s not that my friends don’t encourage each other…we do. It’s not that my friends don’t share when something is on their heart…we do.

But I do not very often speak to strangers when something impresses on my heart about them. Maybe I’ll do so a little more often after this strangers kind words.

We came home to a meal that had cooked all day…chugging along through all the distractions and disturbances of the day. Life is like that. Bumps, distractions and disturbances, but there will be that underlying current of comfort and consistencies we cling to.

Our faith. Our focus. Our disciplines. We can roll with the frustrations and we can even laugh and adjust when the foundation is stable and we can still come around the table knowing who we are and knowing as well that there is One who knows our name and knows just when we need that word of encouragement.

We are remembered. We are known.

20130828-125456.jpg

Advertisements

Inspired by….Monday?!

So today is the first Monday attempting to dig in a little more, to think a little more deeply and to avoid distractions. I had FaceBook off most off last week, but I think I did so in the middle of the week, and Mondays are just different. So today, not logging on and spending my time with my cup of coffee looking at the latest on FB just feels, well, different.

Mondays get our attention. They make us wake up earlier and sit a little straighter and have to be a little more responsible.

Mondays are frustrating.

They mean real life is back upon us…the weekend is over. Ugh.

My boys are not fans of Mondays.  I never really have been either, but actually…don’t tell anyone…I am beginning to like them.

I cannot believe I am saying that.

I am beginning to rely on the rhythm that Monday calls me to. Monday tells me it is okay to sleep in a little sometimes, but now it is time to get back to work. Today, that means it is time to listen. That is what this whole paying attention business is about.

Time to listen to the voices who have listened themselves…time to listen to those who have something to say. Sometimes it is work to listen. Sometimes it is work just to quiet myself long enough to listen, long enough to really hear.

The goal is not just to listen, but to have something to give as well.

I am listening to learn, to be changed and to be filled so that I have something for my boys as I teach them.

Because I know just in myself I don’t have a lot.

There is more though…I want to listen to my kids as well.

Monday reminds me that another week has gone by.

Time to sit up straight and pay attention…time keeps on marching on and these little ones will not be so little for long.

In fact, my oldest grew over an inch since June. He needs to stop that. Maddie is speaking in sentences. She seriously needs to stop that. All of them are changing so quickly, and all of them have so much they want me to see. I need to pay attention.

I need to listen and I need to hear. I need to hear and I need to think about what I’ve heard, and then I need to give that back to the kids.  Reading books feeds my soul. I know that doesn’t happen for everyone. For some people listening to music has the same impact, and for some it is the interaction with others. We have to find what it is that feeds our soul in a way that brings life.

We have to find what it is that feeds our soul and in a way that makes us sit up on Monday with a hint of inspiration and an inclination that we are ready for another week to pay attention to life that week.

Part of it for me is reading, a large part is also fellowship on Sundays and worshiping together with others. There is great encouragement there and inspiration. Usually a healthy dose of thinking and challenge.

So…on this Monday….what inspires us? What feeds our souls in a way that brings life. Not just a chuckle and a diversion, but life. What pours into our souls in a way that gives us the patience and strength to pour back into the lives of those God has placed around us for us to care for, for us to inspire, for us to love?

Me?  Reading. Music. Fellowship. These things are my focus right now…with a little sprinkling of diversion.

Pay attention. And eat your veggies!!

I have written multiple times here about paying attention.  I probably have written so many times about the topic because I need the reminder.

I need to tell myself to pay attention.

When we decided to begin teaching the boys at home last year, I knew I needed to pay attention. See, I am not disciplined. I am easily distracted.

FaceBook is mental candy for me. Games. Short updates on multiple friends. Pictures and links to interesting articles. And then of course Pinterest.  I love FaceBook. I love the connection to such a diverse grouping of my friends. I love seeing the pictures of their families growing through the years, seeing marriages and births. Mourning through deaths. Rejoicing through victories. It really is a rather remarkable social connection.

Especially to a stay-at-home mom who has limited interaction with adults and friends.

And yet…

I find myself distracted and I find myself wanting to check in on what is happening with friends, wanting to play the games and wanting to post something interesting.

I find that I check in on the computer in between talking to the kids about history or Bible. I’ll take a few minutes to check something, and I’ll look and find that a few minutes has become fifteen, has become thirty.

Did I mention I am not the most disciplined person?

I find myself not paying attention where I need to pay attention. I need to look at the little ones who are looking to see if I am “liking” the tower they just built out of blocks, the amazing mess they just made with baking soda. Have I commented on their latest story?  See where I’m going?

Bayfield

There is more though.  This year I have begun developing some of my own curriculum. Specifically Bible. I am enjoying the process, and also realizing how much time I need to devote to the project. Quite a lot, it turns out.

More than that, though.

We can’t grow on candy.  I love mental candy. I love playing games like Candy Crush and Tetris. I love watching my favorite shows. I love catching up on life in snippets. I don’t grow on these things, though.

I grow on being stretched and challenged and reading deeply. That simply cannot be rushed. That requires paying attention. But, oh my does that feed the soul. And the mind. That makes me feel alive, makes me think more deeply and quickly…that gives me something to give to the kids in teaching them.

That makes me more present. That makes me pay attention.

So. I turned off FaceBook. Took the apps off my phone and iPad. Logged off on the computer. Turned off the distraction. I have not shut off my account, but I have minimized the distraction. Sometimes it is allowable to have a little candy. Even a little Candy Crush.  Plus, When I post articles here on the blog they post on my FaceBook page, so I’ll be somewhat present that way.

This school year, however, I want to be present to the kids. I want to pay attention to them. I want them to know they have my focus.

photo

Part of that is feeding my soul and my mind so I have something to give them each day. Part of that is turning off the distractions so I am not looking away when they are looking to see if I am watching them.

Part of that is simply being more disciplined.  It is no great revelation, no amazing fact. I am not saying anything staggering. I’m actually just saying I need to grow up a little, it really is as simple as that. Growing up a little, paying attention, being intentional and turning off the distractions. Yep. That’s the vision for this year.

Less candy. More meat and veggies.

Prayer Requests

“To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.”

Karl Barth

There is brokenness all around us.  We do not have to look for it, it finds us without our seeking it out. We know brokenness as we know ourselves.  We know pain and we know the disorder of the world.

Cancer. Fear. Loss. Pain.

Brokenness.

The unrest in Egypt…that is hard to fathom for those of us who walk into our fellowships with no fear of persecution.  That outward brokenness is an assault to our senses, an assault to our hearts.

We close our hands not distraught, though, we close our hands in hope.

We bow our heads not in fear and not in defeat. We bow our heads in awareness that we do not hold the power to change the situation, yet we know who does.

We bring our needs to each other and ask for prayer because we are journeying together. We clasp hands together and in doing so we join in the uprising against the disorder of the world. We place ourselves, together, in the care of the Creator. We place ourselves in the care of the One who can change the situation, the One who can speak hope to those who are hopeless.

So….speak your need.

Pray for others in need.

Clasp your hands in prayer and be aware that in doing so we are not vainly throwing our words about; we are acknowledging that we are are His and we cast our cares upon Him, for He cares for us.

I just can’t!

We are three full days into the school year of 2013-2014. So far, things are going quite well, thank you for asking.

 

Really. We’ve been up on time, including myself. That in itself is an achievement. I am not a morning person. I’ve been up, been able to have some reading time and coffee before everyone else is up.

 

I’m prepared for the most part.

 

I have been able to flesh out the ideas I had for a Bible curriculum and I am seeing my kids understand things already in these first three days which they had never thought of before. That excites me.

 

One thing has already happened a few times, and it has frustrated me greatly. It has happened with all three children.

 

“I can’t do this!”

“Yes. You can.”

“No!”  This is usually followed by varying degrees of hanging one’s head, sighing, shrugging of shoulders.  “I just can’t!”

Three days in to the school year. We have already faced overwhelming material in Math and English which has forced us to rest our head upon the table in despair. We have even had a couple tears already.

 

This is so high on the list of things I would like to avoid in homeschool, and yet it seems to be so completely unavoidable. I will say I react better than before and we move beyond the moment more quickly. Still, I want my kids to think of themselves in terms of being able to achieve rather than being defeated before they even begin.

 

Not very long ago, maybe it has been three years…maybe four…Sammy used to come in from being outside with his face all sweaty and red and his hair flying around. His eyes would be wide with wonder and he would say:

 

“I wish I could go to the store and buy some wings. I would strap them to my back and I would run out in the street and I would fly just like the birds.”

IMG_5908

I could believe that he would be able to fly if I could just get him those wings….the wonder and the enthusiasm was so right-there. He knew he could do it.

Now a math problem leaves him in a puddle. Usually because he saw an older sibling in a puddle a little earlier.

So. I want to establish the rule of not being able to say “I can’t.”  I wonder if I’ll sound legalistic and boring to the kids, and yet I wonder if they’ll get a little of the concept…they can do so many remarkable things. No, they cannot do anything they want to. There are limitations, but they can do remarkable things.

They can figure out the math problem. They can figure out their homework. They can do so much more.

I want them back to running in with sweaty faces and eyes wide with wonder imagining what they could do if just given the opportunity…rather than thinking they just can’t. That is one of my goals and one for this school year.

I just…….can.

 

 

Monday, Monday…

I’m not ready.

 

I like the lazy schedule of summer. I like the easiness of the schedule and being able to sleep in and let the boys relax and do as they please.

 

I want to begin with learning. I am excited about starting the school process. I am excited about beginning to open the books and I am excited about what we will discover. I have learned some last year and my expectations are more in place with reality.

 

I do not expect to do great crafts daily, or to follow pinterest, or to sing in harmonies each morning around a pancakes that look like smiley faces.

 

I would love to do those things, but I know my limitations. And I know my kids.

 

I do hope to learn.  I hope that I am able to establish an environment that brings peace and creativity and that in some way establishes hope and wonder.

 

I’m not completely sure how that will happen, or how to facilitate that, but I know that that is my hope.  I know that that is my desire…that my desire is they do not dread the beginning of school as the ending of the bliss of summer.

 

I desire that they learn to love learning and that they see it as the discovering of wonder and they see it as discovering the imprint of the Creator on the world around them rather than the drudgery of memorizing facts and necessities for getting by in life.

 

I know that I have to love the wonder and the imprint of the Creator in order for them to see it. I know that I have to wake up with a hint of that awareness and I have to allow myself the freedom to be the person He has created me to be rather than trying to force something. I am not a crafty person, and I am not good at some things I wish I were.

 

I love learning though.

 

So, on this Monday morning, with school about begin, there is a peace that settles in as I realize the expectations are simply this: we will learn. God will be present and He knows the desire of my heart is simply that my children know Him and know how amazing this creation is.  My desire is that they be filled with wonder and filled with hope…and I cannot do that, but He can.

 

There is the release.

 

Mondays do not have to be dreaded.  Prepared for, yes. I have to be diligent in my work and in my preparation. The environment has to be set and the material provided. The work of the heart is up to the Spirit, though, and I think this is part of what I hope for in homeschool.

 

It is also what is amazing about some of the teachers I have known in private and public schools. They have instilled this love of learning in a multitude of students, and I am the fruit of their labors.  I have no idea how this will end with my children, but the end is not up to me. And there is freedom in that. The work is up to me. The labor is up to me…but the fruit is truly in God’s hands.

 

So, Monday, Monday.  I’m ready for ya.

Moving from the Absurd to Obedient through Prayer.

“From all that I said about our worried, overfilled lives, it is clear that we are usually surrounded by so much outer noise that it is hard to truly hear our God when he is speaking to us. We have often become deaf, unable to know when God calls us and unable to understand in which direction he calls us.

Thus our lives have become absurd. In the word absurd we find the Latin word surdus, which means “deaf”. A spiritual life requires discipline because we need to learn to listen to God, who constantly speaks but whom we seldom hear.

When, however, we learn to listen, our lives become obedient lives. The word obedient comes from the Latin word audire, which means “listening.” A spiritual discipline is necessary in order to move slowly from an absurd to an obedient life, from a life filled with noisy worries to a life in which there is some free inner space where we can listen to our god and follow his guidance. 

Jesus’ life was a life of obedience. He was always listening to the Father, always attentive to his voice, always alert for his directions. Jesus was “all ear.” That is true prayer: being all ear for God. The core of all prayer is indeed listening, obediently standing in the presence of God.”  – Henri Nouwen

Sunday evenings always find me slightly agitated. I feel as though I need to put things in order for the coming week, and yet I also don’t want the weekend to end. I want to be able to think more about what I heard on Sunday morning. I want to take more in and be able to soak just a little longer in what Sunday is…but Monday is sneaking up on me.

I’ve said in the last few posts that I am not the most disciplined person, and Nouwen talks about how if we are not disciplined our lives are absurd…they are so noisy we have become deaf. Sometimes for me, when things become so noisy like that it is difficult to put them back in order.

That agitation is creeping in and I just want to stamp my feet and be mad, rather than be obedient and listen.

Sometimes it helps to have something specific to put things in order. Something to focus upon that helps to quiet the noise.

Prayer requests help that sometimes. Draw us out of the noise of our own cluttered lives and help to focus. Or, if we need the support of those around us, they help us to know that we are part of the family of believers and there are others who are supporting us in prayer.

My friend Michael had a blog, and I am confident that it will be back soon, where he weekly posted prayers and drew us in as a community to pray with one another. I’m hosting that here until he is back up and running. There are folks from that blog, Phoenix Preacher, posting here, mixed with other friends from other places. I like that. A lot.

Post if you have a need. Post if you see a need…encourage someone in their need and let them know you are praying.

Focus a little.  Quiet the noise.

Discipline.