Joy: a reflection

In dusting off the blog I found a post I had started but never finished back in 2015 because it still resonates so deeply with what God is doing in my soul it is worthy of fleshing out..

There has been a sweetness that has enriched my life lately. I cannot quiet put my finger on what exactly it is. I find myself stopping and considering my heart and realizing it is overflowing with good things. That sweetness has been felt in the dimpled grin of my one year old as she toddles around doing her toddler thing. I have experienced it in the beauty and wonder of a red moon. Depth was added to my life when my husband and our friends built a small fire pit and we christened it with hot dogs and smores. Truth resounded in my heart as I read article after article about the faithfulness of God. My children’s laughter had brought abounding joy to my soul…..

While I don’t remember the original direction of my post I do know that these good gifts still abound in my life. That toddler is three and the dimpled grin still melts me, the newest 1 year old remind me to slow down and the laughter and zest of the big two remind me time is fleeting. That sweetness that has enriched my life is joy, that beauty and wonder comes from the Giver of good gifts. The fact that God has been teaching me the same things for three years is a tangible sign of His faithfulness even when I am faithless. Joy,a good gift from a good Father.  One worthy to slow down for. One worthy to savor. One worth to seek. Joy.

 

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Legacy

Minimalist Typesetting Valentine's Instagram Post

In recent days we celebrated my baby’s first birthday and the sudden passing of my father in law. As I laid in bed the night before my little guys first birthday, which happen to fall on the day of the funeral, all I could think of was James 4:14 which reads,

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

Living life at both ends of the spectrum really gave me pause to consider what matters. I can get so caught up in the to-do list or shift into survival mode I lose sight of what is important. But God, don’t you love those two little words, but God has a way of aligning my focus and calling me to something more.

My husband and I have been talking about what legacy we want to leave our children. Of course we would love to provide for them in a monetary fashion but when all is said and done our prayer is that we want them to know and love Jesus. That brings me to asking myself the very practical “how” do we do this?

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:18

We are transformed by beholding the glory of the Lord by the power of the Spirit. This legacy of faith is what is worthy to pass on to our kids. It has eternal significance. Practically speaking that means I am reading the Word, I am persistent in prayer, I am feeding my mind with biblical truths through conversations, sermons and podcasts, I am talking about the Lord to my kids and others I am encountering. I am a work in progress but by the grace of God and the power of the Spirit He who began a good work in me will complete it.

 

Dusting off the blog… and a confession.

It is always a little humbling to come back to something you have neglected far to long. It is like finally cleaning out the junk drawer or deep cleaning the fridge. How did so much time past when you kept “meaning” to get to it. Today the junk drawer still exists and I am not even going to consider the refrigerator but I am going to write.

The truth is there is some fear in putting yourself out there. I feel like blogging these days has to be about 3 steps to having a better day, some amazing food recipe or some wonderful “how to” get the proverbial it done. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for those posts because I read them often… they just aren’t me.

Truthfully, I feel under qualified to speak to anything authoritatively but I love to share life and I love to share stories. Something I have learned about myself recently is I am hesitant to try new things unless I have it all figured out. Which is why blogging has been slow going for me. I felt like I needed to know the “how” of blogging to make sure I was doing it right. I needed to know my target audience, I needed the right social media platforms. I got lost in the whole reason I wanted to write.

I wanted to write to process, to think, to share, to reflect and to remember. I want to write about my husband, my kids and my God. I want to share the story God is writing in my life as I journey towards more.

What are we really doing here…

I recently listened to a two part podcast by Andrew Pudewa of the Institute for Excellence in Writing titled “What Are We Really Doing Here”  while I enjoyed the podcast it has got me asking, “What am I really doing here?”

As I enter into my 6th year of homeschooling I find myself thinking more about where we are going and the journey versus what we are going to accomplish this year.  A few weeks ago I set August 15th, 2016 as our school start date. At the time it seemed like just another date on the calendar but this morning when my alarm went off at 6:30 a.m. I realized that date carried more weight than I originally intended for it to, this morning it felt heavy.  As I willed myself out of bed earlier than I normally do I knew today was different.

Today I was reminded that I am working towards building a cathedral. By getting out of bed today and getting myself ready to greet my kiddos on our first day of school I invested in something eternal and holy.  6 years ago, if you would of told me I would be a cathedral builder or that  homeschooling is a holy and sacred work I probably would of shrugged my shoulders and nodded my head in agreement… but I wouldn’t of truly understood. But today, when I think about those things I am aware that something sacred is happening around my kitchen table and for that I stand in awe of God who called me to this work and the souls He has entrusted to me.

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As I watch these souls grow and mature I am learning to see what is truly important. While learning to read, sharing wonderful stories, exploring God’s creation and engaging in meaningful conversation are good and necessary they are not the most important thing.  A few weeks ago while reading Timothy Keller’s Songs of Jesus I was struck by this verse in the NIV,

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name, Psalm 86:11

This verse encapsulates what is important. As we started our school year we made this our prayer, that we would learn the way of the Lord, that we would rely on His faithfulness, that our hearts would not be divided but wholly focused on God and His glory and that we would learn what it means to fear His name.  It is to this end that I endeavor to build cathedrals while serving and worshipping the Lord.

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Homeschooling is Discipleship

Why is it that we get so lost in the math lessons and the spelling lists that academics trump relationships? Why do we forget that God called us to keep our kids at home so that we could share our lives with one another and invest in our children? We are so busy checking boxes that we rarely slow down long enough to look our precious children in the face, to look into their trusting eyes and see into their hearts. After the first day of our local homeschool convention I walked away exhorted, admonished and encouraged.

One of the main verses that the Lord impressed upon my heart while listening to various speakers was this verse…

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Talk about a gut check. If a student (i.e. my children), when they are fully trained (i.e. leave my care and authority), are to be like their teacher (i.e. me) that can be a very scary thought. I was reminded today about the necessity of pursuing God with all MY heart, mind, soul and strength. The reminder was loud and clear, this isn’t about academics, it is about relationships. About discipleship. About taking my children along side me as I seek to know God and make Him known in my life. It has very little to do with math and penmanship and everything to do with loving God and loving others.

Friends, this is hard. I love my children with a fierceness that runs deep, however, at times I just go through the motions in the name of productivity. When I think about this verse and the implications that arise, I am reminded of the broken and weak vessel that I am. I am incapable in my own strength of being worthy to be called teacher. Yet I know this is exactly where God wants me to be.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

God has called me not to depend on myself, my creativity, or my ability to lay out a plan but to trust in the power of Christ. I am called to rest in the truth that it is He who began a good work in my life and the lives of my children will complete it. I believe trusting and resting means prioritizing discipleship over productivity and relationships over results. This means setting aside worry about academic endeavors and seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and letting God fill in gaps. To do these things I must be pursuing the kingdom through the means of grace. I am reminded of one of my very favorite quotes,

“The only way to keep a broken vessel full is to keep the faucet running.” – D.L. Moody

The imagery of a clay pot that is broken yet usable only if the water is continually running is one I can relate to.  This has been true in my own life, when I am weak He is strong. That is my prayer as I prepare for the upcoming year that God would be made known through my weakness and that I can be a teacher worthy of imitation so that I can say to my children, “follow me as I follow Christ.”

Focus & Align: Rule of 6

I found myself at the beginning of the year sinking. Sinking into the trap of not doing anything well because I was trying to do everything. I knew some things needed to get cut but I couldn’t decide what! I needed a lifeline. Sarah Mackenzie of the Read Aloud Revival helped pull me out of the pit with her Focus and Align class that is apart of the Read Aloud Revival Membership.  This Master’s Class was all about focusing in on what you want to accomplish in your school days and creating a filter to run things through when something has to go or be added.  My filter is a little more philosophical and less practical but it helped me to see what I truly wanted out of our home education experience. One thing I came to realize is that we needed to spend more time together cultivating relationships versus more time cracking open the books.  Since I am preparing for the next school year this rule of six is helping me navigate what fills our days, our minds, and our souls. My prayer is that this is how we are defined as a family.

This is what we do because it is who we are, we are

pursuers of truth by learning to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. We are wonder chasers by learning and doing things that point us to God. We are beauty seekers by rightly ordering our affections so that we can see the beauty of the Lord. We cultivate goodness by setting aside sin and running toward Jesus. We are servants by learning to love our neighbor as our self and we love unconditionally by remembering that we love because Jesus first loved us. 

To see others thoughts from the masters class search the hashtag #RARruleof6 on Instagram and Facebook!

If you are considering how to go deep instead of wide in your curriculum choices I would recommend watching Christopher Perrin’s Youtube video on Multum non Multa which is Latin for Much not Many.

 

Do More Better | Roles, Responsibilities & Mission Statements

Do More Better is a practical  guide to productivity. The author, Tim Challies, moves you through a set of exercises to help you learn to do more better.  On his website he supplies a productivity worksheet to aid in the task of defining your roles and then your responsibilities within those roles and lastly creating brief mission statements for each of those roles. This post is the outworking of that worksheet in my life. It has been awhile since I have defined these roles and mission statements. I found the exercise very beneficial and know I will return to it as I move throughout my life.

 

Roles, Responsibilities & Mission Statements 

 

…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Philippians 2:13

 

Personal

Spiritual: Bible, Devotions, Church, Worship, Prayer

Cultivate: Reading widely, Writing to process my thoughts, Listening to podcasts

Creating: Creating beauty through photography, organizing to claim the chaos, arts & crafts

Relationships: Invest and maintain the friendships God has given me

Physical: Rest, exercise, & outdoor time in God’s creation

To pursue God by cultivating my mind, heart and soul. Tending to my soul through participating in the means of grace. Nurturing my mind and heart by reading, writing and listening. Cultivating truth, goodness and beauty around me through creating. Loving my neighbor and resting in the finished work of Jesus.

 

Family

Relationship with my husband, children and extended family.

To bring glory to God by loving my family as I do myself. By investing time in them and with them and cultivating a relationship  built on the kingdom of God.

 

Home Management

All things pertaining to the running of the home. Paying bills, cooking meals, keeping order

To provide a sanctuary for my family and friends by keeping the daily operations running smoothly so that others can rest and rejoice in Jesus.

 

Home Education

All things pertaining to my children’s education. Casting a vision yearly, planning and ordering curriculum, planning weekly/daily lesson plans, execution of the lesson plans

To point my children to Jesus through the means and method of home education.

 

Church Member

Be a Titus 2 woman, who opens her home so relationships can be nurtured. Teaching children on Wednesday nights.

To love God by loving and serving my neighbor through teaching, relationships and hospitality.

 

Classical Conversations

Record keeping, outreach, training, bookwork/computer work, training, discipleship & encouragement of tutors and families, practicum.

To serve homeschool families in SWMO by walking along side of, encouraging , equipping and administrating our local Classical Conversations community so that we can pursue the mission of knowing God and making Him known.