Thursday, September 29, 2011

To Give and Take Away...

First week of homeschooling a Freshman- check. And it wasn't nearly as terrible as I thought it would be! I feel so blessed to have the chance to teach my girl again in a formal way. To do lesson after lesson and see her excel, it's going to be so cool. The talks we have are usually hilarious and always awesome.

This is what we came from-

We started homeschooling in second grade for Jasmine, and Jordan's fourth grade year.
Back then, we needed the classroom, books, globes and various paraphernalia that made me feel like I was not short-changing my kids from a quality education by trying to be their TEACHER. (THAT was a terrifying first week for this OCD mom.)

Pretty quickly, I realized how little they needed all the fluff, but how much I did. The organization and curriculum helped me be consistent, and helped them stay on track. But after a month or so, it just became so much FUN!

Now, we have really scaled down. Still love Abeka curriculum for High School, but the books and the kitchen table have replaced the classroom set up in the garage with all the goodies.

I had no idea how much homeschooling this year would mean to me. This last June found me not just losing the best friend I have had since first grade, but a dear sister. When she took herself out of our life, I truly felt such nothing I have ever felt. I spent the last few months filling my life with distractions and waking up nearly every morning in tears from horrible, vivid dreams that are filled with her. How pathetic is that? It was amazing that this week, I didn't wake up crying even once. I feel like God has healed my heart so I can finally hear, "I give and take away, and it is always for your good...and for My glory. Bless my name." And truly truly, I can say I want to praise Him. I want to praise Him for the heartache that is teaching me compassion. I want to praise Him for my amazing kids that teach me every day what love and persistence can do. I want to praise Him for my marriage that is a mess at times and always a blessing. I want to praise Him for the friendships and family I still have and cherish. And more than anything, I want to praise Him for the way He surprises me.

I've been reading in John again, knowing how much I need to see Jesus right now, and I found something in Chapter 16 that brought me such comfort. Check it out:
"Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy." John 16:20-22

I just love that. Jesus was talking about when He would be taken away from the disciples, and trying to explain to them what was going to happen. But for me, what a comfort- to know that I will "see" Him again, see Him with my own eyes and I won't remember what this summer even represented. I seriously don't remember at all the pain of childbirth. I don't remember the 22 hours with Jordan, or the 45 minutes with Jasmine. They both are a blur, but I COMPLETELY remember the moment I saw them. Like it was yesterday. And I still rejoice.

How awesome is my God to write that passage in a way that makes sense to me? When is there ever NOT a time that He doesn't DESERVE my praise? I can't think of one hard thing that has touched my life that hasn't show up to be the road to an amazing blessing. Not one thing. Oh, how I love you, Jesus.

So as we start this new season with my amazing girl studying at home again, with hard work ahead and big goals of graduating with a high school and college degree at the same time in 4 years- I choose to say, "You give and take away, blessed be the name of the Lord!" No more being a big baby and complaining about what I have lost, but shouting out all that the Lord has given. Such a nice place to be.

(Just for fun, here's a picture Jazz took, she's got a really interesting perspective.)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Saturdays were MADE for the Sabbath!

What a day to do NOTHING. Well, we did plenty...of nothing. God is so good to give us the rest we need when we don't realize we need it. I had a full day planned of yard work, trail riding and errands...but when the rain was hitting the roof at 6 am, I decided not to do any of it. I read a great book, cuddled with my family and thanked God for the blessing of life, and salvation, and everything else.

I finally reached the point where I realized things are staying different, and it's a good different. As much as I miss the days when just walking through the DOOR made my kids day perfect, when I could just kiss them and tickle them and all their worries flew out the window- I know those days are gone. I am just not enough anymore, and that is a good thing.

I was reading in 1 Chronicles and God just kept reminding me that EVERYTHING belongs to Him anyways. Oh, that my children could learn that now...rather than tumble around with it when they are adults like I am. Every wonderful and beautiful thing they are given belongs to God, was given by God, and ultimately- He is the one to be praised. Check out what King David said in regards to their "offerings" to God:
"“Praise be to you, LORD,
the God of our father Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours...
Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.
“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand."
1 Chronicles 29:10-14

Amen to that! When we feel loved, lonely, strong, weak, beautiful, hideous, full of joy and laughter or with tears of despair in our eyes- Praise Him! Praise Him simply because you draw breath, because He loves you so much. What a comfort those words were to my pathetic self-centered heart. I don't NEED to make all things ok, God has got it covered. He is using everything that touches us- good and bad- to turn our eyes towards Him, and give us a heart of thankfulness like David's.

One of the quotes I put in the birthday scrapbook for my girl was told to me years ago, and I had forgotten it until last week when I started putting the book together.
"Hold all things lightly, and nothing tightly."
It seems silly, but it reminded me that standing- open handed before my Jesus is just about my favorite place in the world. I wish I could remember that ALL the time!

(Spent my night at home alone printing old photos to scrapbook, and thought you would like them too! I had forgotten how little Kirby was!)

Friday, September 16, 2011

A time for...

Everything. I keep coming back to Ecclesiastes 3 as we move into this next season of life, and the only comfort I can find is that there is a "time for everything under heaven". A time to laugh, a time to mourn...and it's o.k.

My girl celebrated her birthday this week, became a high schooler and starting driving a car. What happened to the chubby cheeks and pig tails that have hallmarked the last 15 years?

She is the happiest, most wonderful friend. She is sunshine and laughter, and joy in the ordinary. So when she's sad it absolutely breaks my heart. The last couple of weeks have been so hard, and for the first time I have seen her struggle with just being "down". Lonely even when she's not, restless and distracted. Not all the time, but enough to make my heart hurt too. Even when she feels crushed and heart broken, she still tries to brighten my day...and that makes her pain that much harder to bear. When I see her tears, how much she misses certain things that have feels like I can't breathe either. She just tries so hard to love everyone around her, it makes me so sad when others let her down.

Oh, if you knew what my days are like being the mother of a girl like her. There isn't a day that goes by that she doesn't surprise me with something wonderful. For her birthday, we put together a scrapbook of notes from people who have loved her since she was a toddler. Notes that told her one trait that they loved about her, one way they saw Jesus in her. It was so great to hear what others see. But my favorite was what Steve wrote.

He told her how much he loved her humor, and then reminded me of why she's spoiled rotten. He wrote about his favorite memory, which happened to be how whenever he would try to spank her when she was naughty, she would make him laugh. So they would sit on her bed giggling, and trying to be quiet so I wouldn't freak out. Then they would hug, she would apologize, and he would let her off the hook. Really!?! That's my girl. You can't NOT laugh with her. Thank God she has the Holy Spirit to convict her and discipline her, because apparently we failed miserably! :)

Go give your daughters a hug tonight. Pray that Jesus would be the lover of their souls, he is the One who won't ever let them down. Parents will, brothers will, boyfriends and husbands will- but God, never. Remind your daughters what a treasure they are, and how much you like them.

"There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace...
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart...I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live." Ecclesiastes 3:1-12

Monday, September 12, 2011


What a first week of school! High school is going to be interesting this year, just sayin'.

My man-child really floored me this week with his outlook on life, his attitude, and things I never knew about him. He is trying so much harder at school, which is awesome. Trying harder means he is actually going to turn in his assignments this year. Hurray!

His attitude has gotten better in so many areas, which mean he says "that's just terrible" only 1/3 of the time. Man, I love this guy. He is seriously one of the funniest people I know.

What I didn't know about him is how much he avoids conflict and addressing serious issues. He is usually so dogmatic about things, and I have never known him to not speak his mind, it shocked me to see his discomfort and the "deer in the headlights" look regarding some issues that needed to be discussed. Is the avoidance a guy thing? Maybe. Is it a self defense thing from having a mother who thinks you need to "de-brief" after going to the bathroom? Possibly. Or is he just wired to seek peace even if it means faking things are o.k.? I don't know but he surprised me with his reaction. In spite of it all, it was seriously the best conversation we have ever had. I am so thankful for that.

If you don't know my guy, you are missing out. He's hilarious, and smart and fun. You can catch him with a smirk often, which means he is probably remembering a great joke. He MIGHT share it, depending on if it's appropriate or not. If he deems it's not, he will just keep smirking. He works really hard, and to be honest- if I want something done right at home, I ask him. Things just look nicer if he's done it.

Listening to his heart the other night was so good. We were able to work through so many things, find the evidence that he needed to believe the truths God gives him, and debunk the lies he has been allowing to filter into his mind. He showed courage by choosing to tell a good friend the truth and take a step towards healing. Oh, how proud I am of him. God, do a good work in him- let these truths sit in his heart and change him from the inside. Protect him and fight for him, Lord...and make sure he passes 11th grade! ;)

My mama's prayer:
"How can a young man keep his way pure?
By living according to your word.
(May he) seek you with all (his) heart;
do not let (him) stray from your commands.
(May he hide)your word in (his) heart
that (he) might not sin against you." Psalm 119:9-11

Thursday, September 8, 2011

To be fully satisfied...

It is amazing to me how a good day, even a great day, can go bad so fast. We are so easily shaken and it's too bad. I don't know that there is any way to change it, maybe we will always be quick to react, but I am so glad that God doesn't leave us there for long.

As I watched one of my sweet ones cry them self to sleep from a hurting heart, I asked God to never let their compassionate heart grow hard. I had read them Psalm 63 and even in the midst of it all, I smiled to see how the word of God brings comfort and healing...even before we know it.

A dear friend had shared that Psalm with me earlier in the night, and I remember thinking how much I loved the way you can read a passage for years, and for whatever reason it will strike you as brand new and perfect in certain moments of your life. Little did I know at that time God was giving the Psalm to me for my dear one. As we read these words again and again:

"I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me
." Psalm 63:4-8

I heard the promise to my beloved, and saw the light returning. Never do we need doubt that we are alone, never should we stop praising Him for all He does. We truly can be "fully satisfied" when our focus is right, our attitude is hopeful, and we trust our Savior completely. Thank you, Lord, in advance for what you will do in us and for us. And thank you that your mercies are new every morning...GREAT is Your faithfulness.

(Pics are just for fun, made me smile in spite of my "Debbie Downer" post. Today is a new day!)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Oh, sweet words...

The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness;
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Psalm 23

The comfort these words give to my worried, restless heart. THANK you, Papa. I hope they rang sweet to you tonight too, friend.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Last Nights of Summer...

"Sorrow and scarlet leaf,
Sad thoughts and sunny weather.
Ah me, this glory and this grief
Agree not well together!"
-Thomas Parsons, 1880, A Song For September

What a summer! I know we have a couple weeks left, and thank God it's going to be HOT! But when I look back at this last season, I literally can't put all the pieces together. It started with crushing news, and has flown by like no other summer before it. I have felt the change in the air, and that might be part of it. This summer has felt like truly the last hurrah of childhood for my little family, and it is so bitter sweet. So much is changing, and changing in a way that can't ever go back. Not bad, just different. So very different.

A part of me wants to dig my heels in and refuse to let life happen. I refuse to let my son make his own choice on what college he attends, what career he selects. I refuse to watch my daughter fall in love for the first time, to decide for herself exactly what she wants her future to look like. Every thing in me wants to stamp my feet and pitch a fit until I get my way- to have everything stay exactly the same and my amazing kids right here, next to me forever.

That's the brat in me. But then I remember- every moment of their lives has been leading us to this. As I have clung and prayed Deuteronomy 6 for my two all these years:
"These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."
I remember, God- they were never mine to keep anyways. You loaned them to me for a season, and oh, Lord, I hope I didn't permanently screw them up!

I went to Frenchman's Bar last week and as I waited for my girl, I had time to just watch the water and be quiet before the Lord. It was the first time in a long time that I felt like I could honestly let go of the worry and just be still. I cried over the heartache, I laughed at my silly sentimental whining, and I mourned the changes I see. So much loss in one summer, and yet so much HOPE. I will probably never LIKE sharing my kids with the world, but I don't think I will ever feel THAT sad about it again. It's time to let go, and "let God". To watch the people they are becoming, the beauty in the midst of their flaws, such a privilege.

It felt good to go back to that beach tonight, with a light heart and joyful steps. To sit by the shore and laugh with the teens I adore, and realize that although good things come to an end- there is always something amazing right around the bend. That's just the kind of God I have.

As we gear up for homeschooling this year, SAT's and college prep classes- I am ready. Summer is ending, but Fall is just beginning...and I can't wait to see what God has planned, because I KNOW it's going to be GOOD.
"“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.
He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him. " Daniel 2:19:22
What a comfort You are, Father. That I can trust You, and know that nothing takes You by surprise. Thank You for always being the One Constant...and thanks so much that I still have a few years to wreak "control freak" havoc on my teens!! Muhahahahaha!