Friday, December 31, 2010

Praying Hope Into 2011

I'm just here at my house at 7:49pm steam mopping the floor, cleaning up and getting ready to go play tennis with my hubby until the year turns the page onto 2011...and I'm in deep thought while doing all this. I'm blessed I am! While I grumble and complain on days about how cumbersome my life is so very many of my close loved ones struggle to make ends meet living on hope. Hope that the paycheck will get deposited before the bills go through. Hope that tomorrow will bring relief from the deep longing and ache for an easier life. Hope that their loved one will be made well soon. Hope that the one they so very intimately love will love them in that same way instead of ignoring and hurting them. Hope that this "thorn" is their side will soon be healed and they can walk freely in life. Hope that one day soon that prodigal son or daughter will feel the Grace of our Lord and come running home. Hope that they'll make it through the dark tunnel of emotional horror they are walking through and that that sick feeling of wanting to end it all will just be relieved and they'll be truly known and loved. *sigh* There is SO MUCH pain around the ones I love...and yet I have joy. I am so very humbled.

And on this last day of 2010 I rejoice. I rejoice for the babies and children I know have gone home to be in the eternally loving arms of Jesus. I rejoice for those who've made it another year through an economic recession and kept their families well fed and healthy. I rejoice for those who've come to know Christ as their SAVIOR this year and those who've felt His love and grace deeper than ever before. I rejoice with those who've seen the light at the end of those dark tunnels and are walking in the freedom or at least are walking in the light now and are working towards freedom. I rejoice because DAILY I see God at work around me in my life and all the lives that touch mine. I rejoice because Christ is alive and desires for us all to live free, abundant, fully healed and full of love lives in 2011!!!!

I know some will be carrying pain and difficulties into 2011 and I just want to tell you...there is HOPE. Christ is our hope and faith. Romans 5 says:
1 Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. 2 Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.

So even through all the crap that this sinful world throws at us, we can have JOY in the midst of it because Christ finished it on the cross. We can sing through the tribulations and trials of this life because sin has NO POWER over us. NO. POWER. Our authority is in Christ who dwells in us, he lives inside of us, so sin HAS to bow to our authority. So take up your armor my friends (see Ephesians 6) and remember while in the midst of the pain you are righteous before God and their is no guilt or condemnation in Christ AND that you have power in 2011. Let's bring the healing home. Let's bring the prodigals home. Let's bring abundance and joy and love into our homes. Let's give hope to those around us and share what we have. 2011 can be the best year yet! Just think, THIS could be the year our Savior comes to get us and makes all things truly right. YAY.

Have a drink and ring in the new year my friends! You are well loved!

Major hugs and love to all my friends and family for shouldering 2010 with me and loving me through it all.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A New Heartbeat For 2011

Wow, did this month fly by or what? In fact, the whole year flew by for me. It's hard to even remember what all happened in 2010, but it's dawned on me that 2011 is almost here and I want to get some new goals down for myself. I did this in 2009 and by the end of this year 2010 I believe I've met pretty much all of them, so it's time to make a new list. I don't like the idea of "resolutions" because I'm the epitome of "I'm gonna do it", get half way there and either forget about it, give up or intend to finish it later and never do. Resolutions just sounds like something I'd break and well, I'm already defeated just by the name. Seriously! It's took me two years to complete the 2009 list, right? Back when I typed up that list it was more of a self-centered thing, a list of things "I" wanted, but this year it feels different.

This year I have a deep sense that God wants me to focus in on my family and it's way overdue. I've known that these things that are tumbling around in my head needed more attention, but I've had SO MANY other things that I've committed myself to (projects, studies, groups, etc) that I would have had to make a hard choice to quit things in order to focus better. As God would have it, my life has seemed to funnel down into a slower more focused pace already at the end of 2010. Commitments are naturally coming to a slow or end due to the holidays/end of the year and we've made a change in our church home and deciding to homeschool, so it just feels right where it should be. It feels like God has paved the way before me and simultaneously given me the passion inside to focus in on the things that matter: Scott, Abby, Zach, Lilly and our family as a whole. He has put me in this place of authority as the mother and wife, and I am greatly blessed. All my talents and energies have been used in so many other areas of life and poured out to blessed and honor others, even sometimes to the point of neglecting my own home and myself. I believe that God is saying to me "2011 needs to be different. This new year rest in my grace (no more striving to do it on my own), give yourself to your family and to the purpose of guiding them in my ways and you will be blessed." I believe he is going to help me be less driven to make myself fulfilled and find my identity in "doing as much as I can and doing it all right." As I focus on him, resting in his grace, filling myself with his presence and the Word, he is going to funnel all of that into my family, our home, our finances and bless our socks off in the process. I believe that all that I have done and learned in 2010 has prepared me for doing this. I can't wait to see what he does!! It's like knowing a gift is coming in the mail and you just can't wait until it gets to your house. I fully trust Him and his goodness!

Lord, take this list of goals and shape them into what you know is best for me and my family. Guide me into the success, blessings, abundance you have for us. Teach me and my family to live according to your Word and to live in your abundance.

Okay, so here's what the list looks like in my head:

1) Be consistently in worship, but also replace foolishly spent time (on Facebook, shuffling through the internet, etc) with purifying, adoring and listening time with the Father daily. All of us who have done this KNOW it feels awesome and wonder why in the world we don't do it more, so...I want to do it more. :)

2) Minimalize unnecessary things in the house and be more effective with the storage and placement of the things we have.

3) Be a wise steward of our finances and grow our savings. My hubby works very hard for the money he earns for our family and while we enjoy what we are given, we could be a LOT more wise with it. I don't want to mindlessly spend at the grocery or continue giving our money away to the fast food chains/coffee shops. I want to use what we have here at the house, buy used and save the difference, use recipes and cook at home and stop eating out so much. We also have a vision of moving out of this house and into a new home with land. In order to do that comfortably we need to be better stewards of our money.

4) I desire to be a happy cook. I want to cook healthier dishes with whole foods and stop giving us so much bagged/boxed/frozen/precooked stuff. Honestly when I think about dinner it just makes panic rise up inside. I'm not sure which part of the whole production makes me anxious, but it does and I don't want to feel that way anymore. I want to plan and prepare foods that are easy, tasty and good for us. God, you know this seems insurmountable to me, so I'm gonna stop thinking it over and just get under your faucet of grace and allow it to flow. Teach me to be a great cook for my family.

5) I want to homeschool my kids and teach them wisely all that they will need this year to be kind-hearted, biblically sound, intelligent and cooperative children. I know Rome wasn't built in a day and I don't expect that my already good kids are going to be uber-wise mini adults by the end of 2011. I just want to do my part in wisely teaching my children in the way that they should go according to the Bible and also to create an atmosphere in our home where they are loved and love each other well. Along with that I am reading now Managers of Their Chores so that I can also get into place a method of teaching them to be responsible for themselves and their family.

6) I really want to share my husband's heart and help him fulfill his desires for our family. The Lord has given me insights these past six months or so into Scott's heart and I see what he wants for his family and our future, but I also see how it grieves him that we are not on a path to make it a reality. I believe the above goals God has given me passion for are in direct relation to this specific goal. I am a Proverbs 31 woman in the making and as He directs me this year in achieving these goals it will strengthen my husband, release him from any fear he may have of the future and his family will truly be the jewels in his crown. THAT is a great goal to have as a wife!

I think those are a worthy beginning. They are basically things that I've known for awhile but allowed to be put on the back burner. They were notions of who I wanted to be BUT "I have aaaaall these other things to deal with." In 2011 I want to stop pushing these important things to the back and bring them to the front to be dealt with. It's exciting really! Lord, lead me!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Feelin' the Burn

Is it Christmas yet? I know it's a mere ten days away. Actually nine days for us because we start celebrating with family and church on Christmas Eve. However, it feels like I've been preparing for it for a really long year now and I'd kinda like to be done with the pressure and busyness now. Up until yesterday I was merrily going on my gift wrapping, Christmas carol singing, light stringing, holiday partying, "Merry Christmas!" way through the weeks of December, but as of 24 hours ago it finally hit me that I'm exhausted and would really like my basement floor, top of the dryer and mind back in order. My mind has been numbed of the Christmas music and if I have to hear Bruce Springsteen sing "Santa Clause is Comin' to Town" one more time...*sigh*...well, I might let a string of curses out, shove something sharp in my ears or to turn the station to CD101 and I really don't want to have to do any of those things.

I have to say though, I really haven't fallen behind. I mean, no, my Christmas cards aren't sent out yet and no, my cookies aren't baked or decorated. BUT, I have like 95% of my shopping done, a majority of it wrapped, the house has been decorated, we've been having our little family Advent time each Sunday, I have completed two or three holiday parties and am on track for both kids' school parties...all while keeping the true meaning of Christmas in focus and cultivating the hope that this holiday brings in my kids. So, I'm not ahead of the game at all, but I'm certainly not behind, and as much as I have enjoyed it all thus far I'd really like to jump forward a few days and get my celebrating ON!

I can't wait to watch the kids open their gifts this year! Lilly is old enough to get the idea of opening presents now and being excited about what she gets. Zach is going to be getting a big boy gift this year and if my assumptions are correct he's gonna flip his lid when he sees that he's getting his very own (used, mind you. Momma's thrifty) Nintendo DS and two games. He's had to borrow the pink one that belonged to his sister all year long and she's been SO responsible with it that it's been missing for two months now. So he's going to be over the moon. And Abby, well, this year Miss Preteen Ohio has requested clothes from Justice and that's what she got. While it doesn't seem like a lot when I wrapped it all up, cost-wise it was considerable (even with 40% off coups and Jbucks). She should be super happy! Funny enough, she made the comment that one thing that will "make her sad about her Christmas gifts (if she gets what she asked for) is that her school friends won't get to see her in her cute outfits." LOL My friend Amanda and I assured her that there will be plenty of opportunities to show off her stuff at church and homeschool functions. It's just so strange and also so nice to see her taking interest in her appearance. I thought the day would never come for this child who'd go out in public with yesterday's stained up, so totally not matching clothes and rat's nest hair without so much as a shred of embarrassment.

I do love this time of year! I'm so happy to be able to make the holiday wonderful for our kids and to be part of blessing others during a time when things are still tough for so many families. I also look forward to 2011 and what new things our family will be getting into and what God has in store for Scott and I individually. New goals for a new year - yay! Stay warm, my friends, and enjoy what's left of this month. I have a feeling it's going to zoom by.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Why Homeschool?

Ever since my first child started school there was a tiny kernel of a thought that said "I could home school my kid." I would think about it from time to time, especially when something that I didn't like was happening in our school experience, but would dismiss it pretty quickly telling myself "there's no way my kid(s) would behave and listen to me. Heck, I can't even keep order in our daily life together let alone in a school setting." Then we had our Z-man and all hell broke loose in my life, or so it seemed to me. So any fleeting thought of home schooling was met with a viscous beatdown of "oh HECK NO. There is NO WAY on God's green earth I'm gonna put myself through that torture and I can't WAIT for this kid to have school!" While I can still empathize with that woman that I was, it breaks my heart a little that I was so threadbare, out of control and wished away so many moments. Thankfully, God did a work in my life/spirit, while at the same time little Z was maturing, that would bring my stony heart back to life so it would beat again with motherly love.

Now that my third child is grown past three years, is more easily entertained and showing interest in learning I've come into this space where home schooling is met with eagerness and hopeful possibility for my family. I see it as a means to get personally involved in my kids' education, watch them grow intellectually and knit us closer as a family. I see the reality of weaving God into their education and teaching them what the Bible says about this world and our place in it. I also believe it's my job as a parent to protect my kids from the things of this world that would seek to destroy their purity, self image and spirit. I know public schooling isn't necessarily the enemy, but they aren't going to be sewing humility, gentleness, a love for the Lord, purity or any of the other things God sees on the inside of our hearts. And yes, I know that we parents can sew those things into our children WHILE they are being publicly schooled, however, the social system of the school is going to be telling them the opposite of what we are sewing and then the child has to battle SO much earlier than I believe God intends. Already in the Fourth grade we are seeing huge pressure to dress in name brand clothes, using inappropriate language and talking about private body parts/issues with each other, "dating" and kissing on the playground, and we've even had someone in our sphere of same age friends who has been invited to a get together where they were going to learn about masturbating together (that was pretty much the straw for me). This is just in the Fourth grade and I'm sure I don't even know HALF of what is really going on in the Fourth grade, let alone once we get into the Middle School years when hormones and changes abound. In fact, I have friends who are parents of middle schoolers in our district and I've been appalled by the stories I've heard. Frankly, I don't think the social system of public school is doing kids any favors at all and if I can give them the same/better education at home all the while protecting them from being exposed too early to things...then why wouldn't I do that? I'm home all day long and have the means, time and education to do it.

So, I'm gonna do it. I'm going to start with Abby beginning in December and we'll finish out her Fourth grade year here at home. If it's an absolutely horrible experience and we flounder then we re-enroll next year in public and chalk it up to experience, but I'm not putting any stock in that. Abby is incredibly smart and I have confidence that we are doing what God has prompted for our family, so I have nothing but great expectations for Abby and myself. As for Zach, I think Kindergarten has been so good for him so we will wait until the end of this school year to decide if we'll start him at home this next school year or not.

Abby and I are both excited about this endeavor! I know people have personal opinions about homeschoolers, heck even I'm guilty of thinking "that's weird" and "man, those kids are going to be socially deprived" but as I come to know more homeschooled kids I'm finding that they are actually very mature, more calm, well adjusted, often musically inclined and really a delight to be around. I get excited when I think about my kids growing up being homeschooled and how God is going to educate and mature ME in the process.

Here's a cute poster for any homeschoolers. I'm gonna hang this one up in our school room. :)