Tuesday, January 29, 2013

While I'm Waiting...

Life truly is a roller coaster ride.  There are ups and downs and a lot of waiting in lines in between.  I think it's the times of waiting that I've struggled with the most.  As children, we wait to be tall enough to ride the cool ride at the fair.  As teens, we wait for that wonderful picture ID that declares us old enough to drive.  Then, there's the waiting to find a boyfriend or maybe your future husband.  Waiting for a ring... Waiting for a baby...  Waiting for the kids to get a little bigger... Always waiting...

As I've been reading through Genesis, specifically through the life of Joseph, it struck me that his life must have seemed like a never ending game of waiting.  The part that amazes me the most is during that two years of waiting... waiting for the chief cupbearer to remember him, how he had interpreted the cupbearer's dream and was promised hope.  I wonder how Joseph felt during those two years.  He had done nothing wrong; in fact, he had gone to extreme measures to obey God with his whole heart when he could have given in to temptation.  We later see how God blessed him more than he could have ever imagined and that even those two years were part of God's bigger plan.  

I have found that during those times of waiting, if I choose to seek God's face, those periods have become some of the most precious moments I have had with Him.  When we thought we couldn't have our third child, God taught me that through my hopelessness, anguish, and confusion, He loved me and had a greater plan for our family more than anything I could have planned.

While I'm Waiting by John Waller

While I'm waiting
I will serve You
While I'm waiting
I will worship
While I'm waiting
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait

May our souls find rest in God alone...

Saturday, January 19, 2013

To really see...

"Earth's crammed with heaven
And every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries,
And daub their natural faces unaware." 
- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Every day, we are given a multitude of choices.  To bask in self-pity or find the good in the day.  To play outside in the backyard with my girls or browse through blog after blog.  To lay down with my littlest one after a bad dream or dismiss it for my To-Do list.  The choices could go on...  As silly as this sounds, I've found recently that one of my hardest choices is between reading (a real book) and perusing the internet.  I have always loved to read, but since having children, my desire for books has waned.  With blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media, I (maybe we?) have been become accustomed to getting the information quickly and concisely without having to read paragraphs, pages, and chapters.  If I get bored with one topic, I just open another browser for another one.  I am not condemning all of these by any means.  

But in my pursuit to incorporate the peace that God desires for my life, I truly believe that will come easier through the avenue of literature (spending more time in His Word, reading through my book list, and taking more time to read to my girls).  I finally finished the book, Grace for the Good Girl by Emily Freeman this week.  Incredible book!  My next pursuit is a book that my sister lent to me (over a year ago...) titled Helper by Design by Elyse Fitzpatrick.  I've only begun the first chapter, in which the above quote was found.  She expands on it by asking the question, "When you look at the world, what do you see?"  That is my desire this weekend... to really see.  

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Day in the Life...

Sometimes I need to step back and approach my life through the eyes of my camera, to gain a different perspective, to remember His blessings, and reevaluate priorities.  So here is a glimpse of what a day in the life of our homeschool family looks like.  (I will preface this post by saying that yesterday was one of our better days.  Other days are not so easy.)

Two of my favorite things:  coffee & homemade granola.  A great combo for a few minutes of peace before the crew awakes.

Daddy working on a puzzle with the younger two to keep them out of the kitchen during breakfast prep

Our independent Sophie, trying to undo buttons "by myself!"

Breakfast of champions:  frozen waffles & apple juice

Family devotions:  Reading the story of the Passover & reviewing our monthly verse (Check out my Facebook later to watch all three girls reciting the verse together... sort of.)

School work begins:  Pledges, prayer, and daily calendar time (incorporated this week).

Chloe working on cursive.

Mommy & Sophie working on colors & patterns with the help of M &M's.

Naomi trying to help teach Sophie her numbers.  Interesting, to say the least!

Sophie finally getting to watch Daniel Tiger on the I-pad

Helping Mommy fix lunch... Can I please lick?

Daily lunch routine:  Adventures in Odyssey to give Mommy a break 
(aka. browse Pinterest while they eat & listen).

Rest/reading time:  Chloe has read through almost all the chapter books in the house & just started on the Little House on the Prairie series.  We read them as a family a few years ago, but hopefully they will last her a few weeks while I gather others from the library.  Naomi listens to her music during this time while looking at books & Sophie usually takes a nap.  Mommy took this hour to exercise & finally get a shower.

Naomi's newest adventure:  her fort/art center/place of refuge

My latest endeavor:  bread making.  Found this great recipe on Pinterest.  
First, make the dough in the bread maker, then make into rolls or bake bread in the oven.

After rest time, we enjoyed a snack of fresh rolls & hot chocolate.  (Don't you just love Chloe's addition of the pine cone to our table centerpiece?)

No pictures for the rest of the day.  We left a little earlier than usual in order to get gas in the van, grocery shop at Aldi, and pick up a pizza at Little Caesar's for supper with Daddy.  We were at church from 5:40 till 8:30.  Bedtime for the girls and a couple episodes of The Office finished up our day.  Overall, it was a good day.  In the eyes of some, it may seem mundane, but as I look back over the snapshots of the day, I find it to be quite glorious.  

I love this quote by Sarah Young, author of Jesus Calling, "Enjoy the tempo of a God-breathed life by letting Him set the pace."

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Books to live by...

There are days when my biggest accomplishments consist of painstakingly teaching my oldest the in’s & out’s of division, trying to stay awake while my kindergartener slowly reads to me, putting up the last (finally!!!) of the Christmas decorations (with three little girls help), and cleaning out rabbit poop in the dark.  Life changing…  But today, the division problems won’t seem so hard, listening to my struggling reader will be a blessing, and the rabbit can handle a day off from poop patrol. 

As I still seek rest and a sense of peace in this new year, I’m finding the need to retreat, to back away from the busyness of life.  Obviously, as a mother, this seems impossible.  After taking several weeks off from my weekly retreat, I’m making that a priority again (with my wonderful husband’s help).  Taking a break from Facebook, even if it’s just for a week, also seems appropriate at this point in my year.  But one area that I hope to really change is replacing my television time with more reading.  As a home-school mom, I read throughout the day.  Our current read-a-loud is Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes.  My sweet husband took an instagram of me reading it the other night after supper.  Even though I look bored out of my mind reading it, it truly is a fabulous book! 

Last year, I had hoped to read a book a month.  As easy as that sounded, it didn’t happen.  I’m still reading Grace for the Good Girl that I mentioned in October.  Great book, but other things have become more of a important.  But the television is going downstairs to our playroom today, and I pray that reading will become more of a priority and rest will come through it. 

Here is my (hopeful!) book list for 2013.   
  • Raising Your Kids to Love the Lord by Dave Stone
  • Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot
  • Desperate:  Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe by Sarah Mae & Sally Clarkson
  • Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst
  • The Hobbit by JR Tolkien
  • Discipline:  The Glad Surrender by Elisabeth Elliot
  • What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
  • The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
  • Parenting with Love & Logic by Foster Cline & Jim Fay
  • Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne
  • The Power of Words & the Wonder of God by John Piper & Justin Taylor
  • Sacred Influence:  How God Uses Wives to Shape the Souls of Their Husbands by Gary Thomas
  • Graceful: (For Young Women) Letting Go of Your Try Hard Life by Emily Freeman
  •  Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry by Katrina Kenison
  • Let it Go by Karen Ehman
  • Helper by Design by Elyse Fitzpatrick

I will most likely not read all of these, but I’d love to try.  Obviously, many of these revolve around parenting and motherhood because that is my life.  It is my season of life for which I am grateful.  I want to add a few more books on marriage which is an even greater priority for me than parenting.  I’d love to hear of other books that you were encouraged by last year or hope to read in the coming one.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Peace for the New Year

Looking back over my New Year's resolutions from last year could honestly make me quite depressed.  I could probably cross off one, maybe two of my goals.  Pitiful, I know...  After a difficult past week of sickness and an unaccomplished to-do list, I'm left feeling weary and already a little discouraged for the upcoming year.  After all, there are still a few more Christmas decorations to put away, lessons plans to write, a school room to put back together, checkbook to balance, and the list could go on...

But God is so good in giving reminders of His grace and presence.  Ann Voskamp's latest post, When You Don't Want a New Year, but a New You, brought such comfort in my time of exhaustion.  She wrote the most beautiful illustration of her daughter playing the piano for a festival, messing up at times, but continuing the piece.  After the festival was over, the adjudicator encouraged the students with these words, 

"We are all going to botch it somedays. We all sometimes get the notes wrong. But the song only goes wrong when we keep thinking back to the wrong notes.  When a piece starts to fall apart — fall forward. Fall forward into the next bar. Moving forward is what makes music.“

I just need to keep moving forward.  One step, one day at a time.  II Corinthians 12:9-10, highlighted yellow in my worn Bible, also reminded me, 

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, that I am strong."

As I've said in previous posts, grace has been my unintentional theme of last year, 2012.  It is still a work in progress, a daily prayer, and a constant dying to self because I can't do it alone.  But as I've reflected a lot over the past week, I believe the Lord is desiring for me to focus on peace this coming year.  Much of that revolves around rest (in the form of more sleep, less yes's, and more time in His Word).  No promises or concrete goals this year, just desires... Desires for peace, rest, less regrets, and new memories.