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Monday, April 30, 2012

Nanny 911: Lesson of the Day

Today my kids watched tv for school...yes, tv.  Okay, well it may have been Roku, and it may have been Nanny 911, but we certainly had a lesson to learn and this show really provided an awesome opportunity to show it!

I don't know if you have seen Nanny 911, but it is a show about households, often with several children, which are utterly and completely out of control because the parents are usually not training their children in proper behavior and enabling them to follow through with the training.  The children, sadly, run a muck and usually are pretty sad and upset.  This show was a golden opportunity to teach a lesson to our children.

We have a few children who think life would be oh so grand if Mommy and Daddy would just let them have their way all the time.  No's are apparently the most evil word in all the universe, and it is not uncommon for pouts, attitudes, and potential tantrums to ensue because of it.  But, I know that these same children also want to have a loving home, live a life of dedication to God, and please God, Daddy, and Mommy.  Obviously, some confusion is going on regarding the double-mindedness in this thought process.

I had all the girls come sit with me while we watched an episode of Nanny 911.  They were wide-eyed in amazement with the way the children behaved!  Thankfully, the kids and I read the bible regularly, so Proverbs is a well-known book in the Bible.  Due to these lessons, I was able to point out to them how these children were left to themselves and the result was chaos.  Proverbs 29:15 was really the one brought to mind: "To discipline a child produces wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by an undisciplined child."  I asked the kids if this show looked like the kind of life and family time that they wanted.  Of course, they said no.  I pointed out how disheveled and sad the mommies and the daddies were, as well as the kids.  Chaos and disorganization make no one happy.  They nodded in agreement.

This show was a great opportunity to show the kids just what life looks like when kids run the show. It was not all the glamour and glitz that they were expecting, clearly.  But, God's Word still stands true.  As a mom, it is so critical for me to lead my children in the way they should go.  This is both in my words and in my actions.  And, when I fail in these things, it is just as critical for me to humble myself and repent before my children, asking for their forgiveness as often as necessary.  This is the whole point of family; to do life together, see each other at our best and worst, and truly learn how to best get along with others.  The lesson was a little impromptu, and the show a little off kilter, but I think the point got across for all of us today =0)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Master Web Weaver

Several years ago I received a devotional email that contained a wonderful story, which taught a fantastic, and pertinent, lesson.  This story has been returning to my mind quite often lately with all that has been going on, and I am pleased to say that I have found the story so that I might share its wisdom and thought-provoking nature.  The story comes from "UpWords The Teaching Ministry of Max Lucado" and is called The Woodcutter's Wisdom:

"Once there was an old man who lived in a tiny village. Although poor, he was envied by all, for he owned a beautiful white horse. Even the king coveted his treasure. A horse like this had never been seen before—such was its splendor, its majesty, its strength.

People offered fabulous prices for the steed, but the old man always refused. “This horse is not a horse to me,” he would tell them. “It is a person. How could you sell a person? He is a friend, not a possession. How could you sell a friend?” The man was poor and the temptation was great. But he never sold the horse.

One morning he found that the horse was not in the stable. All the village came to see him.  “You old fool,” they scoffed, “we told you that someone would steal your horse. We warned you that you would be robbed. You are so poor. How could you ever hope to protect such a valuable animal? It would have been better to have sold him. You could have gotten whatever price you wanted. No amount would have been too high. Now the horse is gone, and you’ve been cursed with misfortune.”

The old man responded, “Don’t speak too quickly. Say only that the horse is not in the stable. That is all we know; the rest is judgment. If I’ve been cursed or not, how can you know? How can you judge?”

The people contested, “Don’t make us out to be fools! We may not be philosophers, but great philosophy is not needed. The simple fact that your horse is gone is a curse.”

The old man spoke again. “All I know is that the stable is empty, and the horse is gone. The rest I don’t know. Whether it be a curse or a blessing, I can’t say. All we can see is a fragment. Who can say what will come next?”

The people of the village laughed. They thought that the man was crazy. They had always thought he was fool; if he wasn’t, he would have sold the horse and lived off the money. But instead, he was a poor woodcutter, an old man still cutting firewood and dragging it out of the forest and selling it.  He lived hand to mouth in the misery of poverty. Now he had proven that he was, indeed, a fool.

After fifteen days, the horse returned. He hadn’t been stolen; he had run away into the forest. Not only had he returned, he had brought a dozen wild horses with him. Once again the village people gathered around the woodcutter and spoke. “Old man, you were right and we were wrong. What we thought was a curse was a blessing. Please forgive us.”

The man responded, “Once again, you go too far. Say only that the horse is back. State only that a dozen horses returned with him, but don’t judge. How do you know if this is a blessing or not? You see only a fragment. Unless you know the whole story, how can you judge? You read only one page of a book. Can you judge the whole book? You read only one word of a phrase. Can you understand the entire phrase?  Life is so vast, yet you judge all of life with one page or one word. All you have is a fragment!  Don’t say that this is a blessing. No one knows. I am content with what I know. I am not perturbed by what I don’t.”

“Maybe the old man is right,” they said to one another. So they said little. But down deep, they knew he was wrong. They knew it was a blessing. Twelve wild horses had returned with one horse. With a little bit of work, the animals could be broken and trained and sold for much money.  The old man had a son, an only son. The young man began to break the wild horses. After a few days, he fell from one of the horses and broke both legs. Once again the villagers gathered around the old man and cast their judgements.

“You were right,” they said. “You proved you were right. The dozen horses were not a blessing. They were a curse. Your only son has broken his legs, and now in your old age you have no one to help you. Now you are poorer than ever.”

The old man spoke again. “You people are obsessed with judging. Don’t go so far. Say only that my son broke his legs. Who knows if it is a blessing or a curse? No one knows. We only have a fragment.  Life comes in fragments.”

It so happened that a few weeks later the country engaged in war against a neighboring country. All the young men of the village were required to join the army. Only the son of the old man was excluded, because he was injured. Once again the people gathered around the old man, crying and screaming because their sons had been taken. There was little chance that they would return. The enemy was strong, and the war would be a losing struggle. They would never see their sons again. 

“You were right, old man,” they wept. “God knows you were right. This proves it. Yours son’s accident was a blessing. His legs may be broken, but at least he is with you. Our sons are gone forever.”

The old man spoke again. “It is impossible to talk with you. You always draw conclusions. No one knows. Say only this: Your sons had to go to war, and mine did not. No one knows if it is a blessing or a curse. No one is wise enough to know. Only God knows.”

And, so is the Truth of our situation and life itself.  We only get one little snapshot of the big picture. God is the master web weaver because He has a vantage point that none of us can ever see!  This is why we must make the decision, long before and all throughout trials, to trust and obey Him no matter what circumstances we face.  We must always remember His promises, like Jeremiah 29:11, "'I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you a future and hope,'" as well as the Truth about how God does things.  "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways" (Isaiah 55:8).  The fact is, though, that His character is trustworthy and we can be at peace even in the midst of the worst storms.  How wonderful it is to serve a good God!

Have you ever jumped to conclusions about a situation and been surprised at how well, or terrible, things worked out?

Photo image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Spider_web_Luc_Viatour.jpg

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

There's no use crying over spilled milk....

Before I had children, I must say, I thought I was totally a "go with the flow" kind of person, but the truth is (shhhhhh, don't tell anyone)...I'm really up tight.  Phew, now that I got that off of my chest, I can breathe a little.  Kids are most definitely able to reveal the darkest areas of our sin nature, aren't they?  I have learned more about how desperately in need of Jesus I really am since having children (who keep coming and coming), which actually makes me so pleased because, truly, I would rather live in the land of Truth and Reality than some false sense of "I'm okay", or even worse "I'm perfect!"

As I have mentioned in previous posts, this is a particularly interesting season in our life, because I am definitely being tried in my roles as wife, mother, and homemaker.  Finding the balance between these special purposes is very important to me, and has been for quite some time.  God, in His infinite wisdom, has seen fit to use this trial with Zachary to go through an exercise in the lesson He has been teaching me for months now.  "What is this lesson?" you might be asking.  Well, I'll tell you...the truth is, "It's not that serious."  Wait, what?!  How can you say that?  How can things not be serious?  Well, you may not really be thinking that, but I definitely would have.  Serious has become my middle name lately!  Serious has become a way of life for me for too long, and God is using this whole event to shake me out of that seriousness to force me to focus on enjoying life, my family, and the many blessings He has given to us!

It is very easy for me to get tunnel vision.  I don't know if I'm alone in this, but when I am zeroed in on a task, come hell or high water, I AM GOING TO FINISH THAT TASK!  But, when my littles and bigs are hanging around and I get tunnel vision, what ends up happening is that I miss out on opportunities to enjoy them and experience what is going on in their lives and moments.  I ignore or get annoyed by the interruptions, instead of welcoming them with the territory of the task at hand.  Ultimately, when I get this way, my temper is on edge and even I would not want to be around me.  Man, I am so thankful for the forgiveness my children offer me daily =0)  My friend and I were talking about this idea regarding if/when our children drop something and make a big mess.  Personally, my instinctual reaction is to freak out.  Not because I am mad at them for making the mess, as in, "I can't believe you just did that!  What a horrible child!"  No, my reaction is based out of the internal frustration of "man, now I gotta clean that up to...AHH!!!!!"  This is also called selfishness, for those of us who are keeping tabs of the sin nature...but who's counting?  So, because of my selfishness, I react or am likely to react poorly, because simply, I don't want to have to do one more thing.  My flesh just wants to finish the other 8 things on my list, and adding one more unexpected task is really not on my list.

But, this, of course, is not what God wants for me.  Even the task list can become an idol!  Even my best intentions to be a great homemaker or house keeper are meaningless sacrifices to God if they are overshadowing my first calls to love with a Christ-like love.  This does not mean that I should not do these things, but it does mean that in doing them I should also remain focused on loving my children and husband in my actions and words.  It means, too, that I should always be ready to drop what I am doing for them if needed.  Interruptions provide the opportunity to really assess where our priorities lie.

For me, this lesson was brought into reality today since I had to make some bread and food items for the family, but also knew that I would likely also be needed regularly for Zachary or Taliya, or any of the other kids here and there.  I made the decision, though, to only focus on doing what I could do and no more (which for me meant not making some audacious list of things to do, but only going on an hour by hour plan and adjusting as needed), and be ready to help my kids and goof off with them as much as I could throughout the day.  Honestly, things went very well.  We got so much done!  I think this was the surprising part, because for some reason the lie in my head is that if I goof off with them and we do not keep a schedule, everything will just ultimately end up in disaster and disorder.  Neither of these things actually did occur, mind you, but it is the feeling that I get inside of me.  And, this is why I am thankful for God's call to be lead by the mind and not the heart, because the heart is so easily led astray.

It is an present-day epidemic to constantly be on the lookout for the next task to accomplish, but there is wisdom in setting boundaries and knowing limits.  Take the time to remember what is most important and properly establish where efforts really need to be focused.  This will ultimately bring about great peace both in your soul and in your household!  Remember, "The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses his people with peace" (Psalm 29:11).

Have you ever cried over spilled milk?  What accidents have you or your children accomplished that nearly or literally brought you to tears?  Is it funny now, or would you still cry? =0)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Digging in Deeper

Most of our friends on Facebook know that our son has been struggling with a difficult neurological issue for a few weeks now, a season I posted about a few days ago (see my reflections on this here). Sadly, we have not yet seem many improvements in our son, but actually continued to see the symptoms increasing, which is very difficult to watch and endure. It is so tough to watch our less than 2 year old toddler son, who has no idea what is going on, struggle through this, experiencing the frustrations of no longer being able to simply do the things he was able to do just weeks ago (like running, attempting to jump, climb on chairs, get into stuff...all the typical toddler in behaviors we love and enjoy so much). He is now to the point that walking is impossible without immediately falling, and even crawling is very difficult for him as he often missteps a hand and hits his sweet face on the floor. Although I know these things hurt him physically, it is his heart that concerns me the most. I can see his emotional frustrations with what is going on and it breaks my heart.

I am thankful, though, for the lessons we are learning during this trial. God is not without purpose, even in this. For one thing, I am eternally grateful that his sweet little personality is in tact. I can still capture smiles, incite gleeful giggles, tickle him silly, and hear his wonderful laugh. For this I am so, so thankful. I don't know about you, but it is easy in the midst of living I often forget to appreciate the simple things I life. I would love to say that I am always on the prowl for the little moments of life that fill it with joy, but I'm not. I am often so focused on the next task at hand that I miss the chance to enjoy life...sigh. My flesh is showing, I know. But, it is my good Father in Heaven who uses things like this to get my attention and teach me what REALLY matters in this life, no matter what Pinterest, Oprah, HGTV, or any other influence says.

Personally, I like a tidy house. I like walking on the floor without shoes and not having grit on my feet, but I have found quite often that this intention can easily become an idol if it supersedes my higher priorities according to God's Word, namely my devotion to my husband and children. When my home's tidiness becomes more important than keeping healthy relationships with these top people in my life than I am in sin. Oh, Lord, forgive me for these many occasions. But, I'm turning a corner. I'm determined to obey this call.

The Lord has really impressed upon me the importance of being very careful to prioritize and realistically determine what I can do and need to be doing throughout the days during this particular season in our household. In our normal season of life, baking, homeschooling, cooking, planning, taking walks, running errands, etc would all be easy and normal occurrences, but right now I cannot realistically do all these things, much as I might love to. And all this week I have intended to try to establish some sense of normalcy, but have been lacking greatly in seemingly all departments, feeling that I am essentially not doing anything well. I am thankful for a woman at church who prayed against this exact thing today at church =0). So, I am determined to walk hand in hand with God through this season, asking Him daily what are the non-negotiable tasks that must be accomplished that day.

Priorities, priorities.... This is a season where minimum is best. Keep it simple. We all have seasons in life that require our full attention; when the laundry can wait, the floor can be swept later, the toilet bowls can be cleaned tomorrow. This is that season for me. My main energy needs to be completely spent on my family and our relationships, along with healing our son. Expectations need to be reduced all around. I know that God will help us to find a new normal in all of this.

Even with the uncertainty and questions I am grateful for the overwhelming peace I have in this storm. The fact is, He is Sovereign and in control. I may not like this trial, I may not enjoy the struggle, but I have decided to learn every lesson that comes my way and to choose joy in the midst of the tumultuous waves!

Have you ever gone through a tough season in your life? Did you have to re-work your expectations or priorities? How did everything work out for you? Please share your experiences below. We can all learn so much from each other. God bless.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

To the Hospital and Back Again

I must say, this week has been nonstop excitement.  We were in the hospital from Monday to late Friday night because of some symptoms my 22 month old son has been having over the week prior.  His body was progressively losing more and more control of balance, coordination, and movement, so it was very concerning as it continued to progress.  It began with some shaking hands when he would go to pick up things to eventually so bad that he could not stand without shaking or walk without falling.  After almost a week in the hospital, we do not have a verifiable diagnosis, but the one we have makes sense.  Post-infectious cerebellitis, or in other words he had an unknown virus and after the infection went away his cerebellum inflamed somewhere.  The inflammation is not verifiable and the virus is not verifiable, so truly, only God knows exactly what is going on in this case.  Thankfully, though, my son is doing better, his arms are shaking less and he is gaining better control of his extremities.  It may take a little longer for the large muscles to get back to normal, like when he stands, walks, and sits.  He is in good spirits, though, especially now that we are home.

This adventure of faith has been exactly that.  God has made himself manifest multiple times throughout our journey.  He is Sovereign and knew all about this little hiccup in our lives, but used it as an opportunity to reveal Himself to us over and over.  I think as Christians in America, it is so easy to expect that when we ask to grow in Christ, to mature in our faith, etc. that we think it means we will experience an easier, pain free, and care free life, but this is not consistent with Scripture nor with a proper understanding of God.  First, we must always remember that we are not to consider this our home, but our temporary living place.  God uses difficulties in life to detach us from a dependency on the things of this world.  Second, we see over and over in scripture that when God's people are comfortable and living free of trials, they forget about Him.  As Christians, it is critical that we continue to praise, give thanks to, and remember God even when things are going well, but especially when things are tough!  He is not a magic genie in a bottle here to serve us and fulfill our desires.  We are here to serve Him and bring glory to His name.  This cannot be accomplished when we live in misery, without hope, stressed by this world, and act as the world does.  Our joy, hope, love, and behaviors should be the best examples of our faith and our hope in Jesus to everyone around us.  We SHOULD look different.  Third, when we go through the trials of this life, we experience the opportunity to be tested in our faith and to grow in our experience of God's goodness yet again.  After this experience God has pushed me out of my comfort zone to really speak up in His name, something I have been very uncomfortable about doing.  He has shown me that He truly is the Great Physician and knows just what is needed, so my dependency cannot be on the medical system and their truly limited knowledge in comparison to God's Sovereignty.  And finally, every opportunity we have to grow is a blessing from the Lord.  He wants us to be at peace in this life, but this is not found in ease of life, it is found in a steady quiet and inner peace when right in the middle of the biggest storms.  Peace is not living without any stressful circumstances, troubles, difficulties, pains, etc.  Peace is a sense of calm regardless of what is going on around us.  Do I mean an ambition sought like the Buddhists, found by intentionally cutting oneself off from the emotional effects of the material and worldly pleasures of this life?  No, it is not necessarily a sin to enjoy a movie, love snuggling in a chair, to run and skip in joy for the beautiful day, etc.  But, I mean a peace that is found and experienced because of a profound acceptance of God's Sovereignty...He is in control, so therefore, we need not fear.

Now, if the character of God is misunderstood, this idea of His Sovereignty may be fearful or troublesome.  But, to those who understand WHO God is and the traits that define His character, knowing that He is the one in control, no matter how bad things get on this earth, the greatest calm and peace ever can be experienced.  God is good, and He clearly defines Himself repeatedly in His Word, so if His character scares, angers or confuses You, be like the Bereans and study.  He tells us in His Word, "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,” declares the LORD" (Jeremiah 29:12-14).  

This song was on my heart a lot over the course of this week.  I pray it blesses you too.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Garden is Springing to Life

I am thrilled to see that many of the seeds I planted a few weeks ago are finally beginning to show their lovely faces through the soil. All of the perennial plants look so vibrant and beautiful! Whoever once said that gardening is addictive was definitely right. There is something so wonderful about planting a small seed, or putting a small plant into the ground and watching it develop into a bountiful blessing. The apple trees are beginning to set out their leaves, the oregano is gorgeous, the strawberries look lovely, and I am just ready to dig in and get dirty, learning all about the adventures of gardening.

I do, though, seem to be retarded as of yet when it comes to starting seeds indoors. I do not know what I am doing wrong! It is so frustrating. C'est la vie.... I may just have to go buy the plantlings from the nursery or store for any plants that do not make it in my apparent lack of skills with indoor seedlings. I would LOVE to figure out broccoli, but that may be an adventure for another year. The broccoli we planted as seeds over the winter did actually come to a crown and it was delicious, but it was only about 3 inches across. If I don't get around to figuring them out by the spring, fall/winter does present a whole either opportunity! Thank you God for second chances =0). So, without further adieu, I wanted to share some quick pix on the garden and backyard so far. Contrary to potential belief, our backyard is a mess, lol. After watching the fabulous documentary on no-till, heavy mulch film, Back to Eden, we have literally loads of wood chips just waiting for us to get on the garden. It is taking quite a bit longer, though, to get the garden in order for the mulch, since we have to work with a massive hill in our garden plans. God has not seen fit to bless us with flat land at this point, so we must be wise and garden in raised beds. I pray that the day will come that we will live on a flat piece of land with plenty of sun! Until then, we will be doing our very best and leaving the results to God =0). And now, the pictures!

New growth on one of the apple trees...I think I may have over pruned this one. Whoops.... I am definitely learning as I go here!

New growth on the second apple tree. This one looks much better and has many more leaves. I hope we get a few apples this year! I still need to get a layer of mulch and probably some fertilizer around these trees.
This is the finishing cilantro from the winter garden. It grew so nicely, but especially flourished when the weather warmed up a touch at the end of winter. It will likely be setting seed in the next few weeks, in which case I think I will just let it reseed itself and stay nice and happy in that spot.

Doesn't this oregano just look happy! I didn't know oregano looked this way! It has a soft, furry leaf on it and smells divine. The plant looks so much better than last year, so I am excited to see how it does this season.
Here are the strawberry plants, also looking so happy for spring. I just received an order of 25 plants in the mail from Burgess Seed Co., which had some awesome prices, so I will need to get them in the ground soon. I do not think that the new plants, though, will bring a harvest this year. We shall see...I don't know enough about strawberries to know how they behave yet, lol.
My Swiss chard is loving the warming weather, though still cool. These are the plants from the winter crop. I haven't pulled them because they just looked so great!
This is a row of spinach beginning to say hello through the soil. =0)
And right behind the Swiss chard and next to the spinach are the sunflowers and pea plants beginning to sprout out of the ground. I hope that my plans for the two to grow in harmony works out! The plan is for the sunflowers to become the climbing poles for the peas. =0)

The grass looking plant in the front is chives, which I can't believe how big they got so fast! Growing like crazy behind it is mint. The kids love to come and pick this to eat.
And, last but not least, the rosemary plant. I think this bad boy may become a lovely and fragrant bush over time! Behind it, unseen, is a little sage plant that is enjoying the rosemary. Apparently they make a nice couple =0)
Here is the mound of wood chips waiting in the backyard...there is another just like it in our driveway.

And, the unfinished project of the season...the raised garden beds. Pray we have the perseverance and diligence to see this project through to the end before the end of the summer!

And, that is all. Are you planting a garden this year? If so, what are you planting? If not, have you considered doing any kind of gardening, like with containers? What is exciting you this season?


Saturday, April 7, 2012

New Book Study Beginning!

This week marks the beginning of a marriage study that Mark and I are pursuing with some members of our church community, and I have to say, I am very excited.  I cannot say that we have done a deep marriage study since we have been married, although we have done several smaller, more surface stuff studies in the past.  This study, though, is a bit different.

The book we will be studying is called The Excellent Wife: A Biblical Perspective. A few people I know have already read through the book in the past with rave reviews about its depth, significant, Truth factor, and help in hitting the proverbial nail on the head with what was really going wrong in their marriages. Of course, this is the book on the wife's side of the house, which of course is where I tend to lean =0) The men, though, will be right along side of the women reading through The Exemplary Husband: A Biblical Perspective, which I understand will be just as deep and hit at the heart as the wife's book.

 I am excited, though, because we certainly know for a fact that growth does not come without trials, difficulties, significant effort, and perseverance, and books like these help to provide these circumstances to force the growth forward. I am hoping to blog about the key points in the book that hit or affect me personally, which I hope will bring inspiration, encouragement, and conviction to those who are reading it. But, I more so would LOVE to have other people jump into this study with me and purpose before the Lord to establish a strong marriage that is literally made in Heaven. God does not take marriage lightly, and neither should we, so if you are willing to do the work and join this journey, I would love to walk it with you! Please comment below if you are in it and ready to take a wild ride with God.

A word of caution: As was wisely stated in the first meeting for this study at our church, it is critical throughout this study that the sharing time does not turn into a gossip session (i.e. he said..., he did..., I can't believe..., etc.) We must all be sure to speak about our personal experiences and how things affected us (i.e. we had a fight and after it I felt...) We must be sure as wives to always be seeking ways to uplift and polish our husbands in front of others, as well as in our own minds. This brings honor and glory to God, no matter what the condition of the husband. Make this commitment right now that you will not engage in husband bashing or gossip of any kind. Comments made that violate this condition will promptly be removed.

That being said, please feel free to share what God is awakening in your heart and the things He is revealing to you. It is always amazing when God removes the veil again and teaches us something new. Each of our testimonies help to give glory to God, so I pray that everyone feels safe to share. I look forward to getting to know you better, and reading through your comments.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Who's Burden Is It Anyway?

Last night a friend and I met to discuss the book we are reading, "Large Family Logistics", which is an excellent book for aspiring homemakers for families of all sizes. I came to the gathering with a burdened heart, because I have really been struggling lately to keep a calm and patient demeanor towards the kids when it comes to their morning chores, specifically. I feel like every morning when the kids wake up that I am constantly on them about their timeliness, diligence, and thoroughness, which essentially means I am in drill sergeant mode for about an hour before we have breakfast, which does not really set the stage for a fun and productive school day. When I find myself yelling multiple times in the morning, it is guaranteed to put me in an Eeyore mood (as we like to call it here), and this usually takes me a bit to get out of, not to mention constant talking to God for help.

So, last night I brought my concerns and troubles up to my friend and we discussed helpful ways to get through the problem, determining if I was loading too much responsibility on the kids with their respective chores, which did not seem to be the real issue, or if they did not have enough time to get their chores done, which was again not the real issue. So, as I sat there a bit baffled as to how this situation could be amended, my friend hit the nail on the head. To paraphrase, she essentially told me that it sounded like I needed to help them own their choices and actions more. For instance, if our children were going to school out of the home and they woke up super late, did not move diligently in the morning time, and missed the bus, I could either allow them to miss school for the day and take the absence, have them find their own ride, or pay for the gas I would have to spend to get them to school (obviously this is more applicable for the older child, but I think you get the idea). What this does is separate the parent from the responsibility that should be on the child and puts it back into the child's hands. The important thing for me as the parent is to follow through with the natural consequences of their choices. It was the exact revelation I needed, thank You God!

So, this morning, armed with a new intention and understanding, I read my Bible as the kids woke up and eventually started with their chores. As I heard them become distracted by things, or argue about this or that, I remembered that ultimately their choices did not have to affect the flow of our day, but would only affect the way their days went. With this in mind, I just went along with my bible study and the went along with their chores. And, you know what, they did move forward with things, all be it maybe slower than I would have liked. A bit later, when Lily was slowing down quite a bit and I knew her lack of diligence would affect the family, I let her know that I expected the dishwasher to be emptied (ones of her chores) by x time and if she did not have it done by then she would need to pay me $1 to do her chore for her. She had not been too motivated by seeing the clock and working towards beating the expected time, but this idea of having to pay me really got her action in gear. Needless to say, she got the dishwasher emptied in record time!

The rest of the morning went about the same. I really focused on remembering that their choices are not a reflection of me or my burden, but theirs, so I need to just correct, encourage, and exhort as needed, no emotional attachment needed. It was a much better day than I have had in a while with the kids. They were no better or worse than usual, but I was not so emotionally invested in things, which was really nice. I remember once reading about parents who get too involved personally in their children's school work, projects and such. Like when a father does the volcano project for his children, instead of letting his kid go through the ups and downs of learning the project themselves. It is kind of like that. Except, with homeschooling and life in general, everything is like this, so it is very important for me to remain the teacher of my children, allowing them to learn lessons, even if it means getting the proverbial F once in a while. Is it hard to do? Yes. Does it often mean a bit more work on my part? Yes. But, it is a necessary part of guiding and teaching them to navigating through there time in this world. I am encouraged though. God is strengthening me in this journey and solidifying my resolve to see things through to the end, even when it gets hard.

One of the most significant and importance benefits that I have come to understand about homeschooling is that the kids and I grow together. Yes, we must endure one another's human failings on a daily basis, but we also get to regularly practice humility, repentance, patience (i.e. long-suffering), and self-control. It is the fulfillment of iron sharpening iron, with all the flames and sparks that come with it.

For any other homeschooling family, or Christian parent, I just want to encourage you to keep moving forward in the journey. I'm sure there will be tough days, or even tough seasons, but continue to seek the Lord for guidance and purpose in the fire and He will deliver. Does that mean the trial will be removed? Maybe, but not always. But, it does mean that He will provide the answers needed to make to through the trial. We must always, though, be ready to answer in obedience to His guidance, immediately applying whatever truth He reveal to our hearts. Remain in Him, and He promises to remain in us. Let's keep our eyes on the Lord!