Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Let Your "Yes" be Yes and Your "No" be No

Hercules.

Atlas.

These are the guys myths are made of - really.

But, you and me, why do we feel we have to step into their shoes and shoulder the world?
I know you hear me.

I have been having conversations lately and I'm hearing a theme.
We take on the world.  
Our burden is heavy and difficult. 
But we don't know what to release or how to let go
or what in the world will happen if we do.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Radical

Well, I got up the gumption to write a big blog post last week - one that sort of spilled out of my soul all over the paper.  To be honest, I wrote it in a Word Doc and let it sit for a few days while I allowed God to remind me that He stands between me and any critics in my life.

Tonight, I'm alone in the living room.  My husband and older son are off in Mexico building a house with a church group for a family who needs something more than tattered boxes to call "home." I'm praying hard over their trip - knowing God can build much more than a house in this process.  As my two guys reach out to this family, God is reaching deep and I am praying that their hearts will be eternally changed for the good.  It works that way.  We pour out and we are filled simultaneously because we just can't outgive God.  Giving reminds us that we don't own anything, and that we could just as easily be the recipient as the giver because there really is only One Giver and we are all beggars in His presence.  Oh, we need those reminders. 


Monday, July 14, 2014

When God Is Waiting to Shake Your Soul


I have been feeling this feeling that I can only name as akin to when I have had the stomach flu.  You know when you feel it coming on, but you are hoping against hope that you can override the unrest.  You keep it at bay, even though the keeping it at bay takes effort and makes things worse in one way.  You don’t want to go there.  You want to hold off as long as you can.  Then, finally it is just too much and you give in.  The process is messy.  It tastes awful.  It smells awful {sorry girls} and yet, when you finally let go of all the junk you’ve been holding together inside, there is this feeling of freshness where there was rĂ©sistance and suppression.  

Grief.  It’s kind of like the stomach flu.  

Some people who know me in my day to day life might find it odd that I am writing about grief.  They might say, “I didn’t know you had a death in the family or another loss recently.”  That’s the thing.  It’s not recent.  Well, there were recent injuries that set this chain in motion, but those are not the big chunks of grief which have been haunting me – taunting me.  I’ve been avoiding them more than processing them and when I do touch the injured places I feel like I’m touching a hot ball of lava – the tears come so readily.  For a girl who is great at helping others find peace in their own journey, I can really keep vulnerability and difficult emotions stifled until they just won’t hold.  


Weakness was never safe for me.  I only survived by being stronger than the pain.  And I would think, maybe you would think, that after seventeen years on a specific healing journey with an amazingly supportive mentor walking alongside me I would be so free I would be through it all.  I always wanted a graduation from the muck.  I learned a while back that my goal isn’t to graduate, but to grow.  And grow I did.  God stepped in time and again - into dark and ugly memories – into cavernous wounds and barren, hopeless hurts and He brought Himself into those places. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Dropping off the Face of the Earth

Sometimes I wish I were one of those people who lived in a yurt out in the middle of a wood with minimal needs and much free, unscheduled time.  I'm not a total introvert, though I do sure need my space to recharge my battery.  I just need to breathe and sometimes the way I do life there isn't a lot of breathing left in me.  


Margin gives space to life and makes room for a pause.

Margin helps bring peace.

Margin makes for balance and leeway between commitments. 

Margin gives God the invitation to move in.  

For this last week and a half I have been trying to give myself a breath - actually I've given myself a bunch of breaths and the timing couldn't have been more perfect.  But all this has shown me is the depth of my need to slow and step back.  We've been in the throws of a very full summer.  How does this happen?  We start with some innocent idea that we will meet up with friends to swim.  Then another friend suggests we meet at the free summer movie that morning.  Yet another friend hosts a summer debate club once a week.  And we have piano lessons and we care for a friend's children when she asks and we go to VBS ... All of a sudden we are jetting from here to there "relaxing" with our friends and making the most of summer and we have lost our place of rest.  We weren't made for this kind of living.  Too much of a good thing is still too much.  I do know how to say "no" but sometimes I lose my vigilance and we all pay the price.  Innocent "yes" answers end up piling up. 

"No," is a healthy answer.  I'm writing it on my calendar at least once a week - big beautiful NO - to remind myself that this time is time to pause, give margin, let the world whirl by without me.  I need to drop off the face of the earth every so often so I can find perspective and renewal.  This is sabbath-keeping. 

I was visiting two older women from our church yesterday.  Life is naturally slower at their age.  They are sisters, both widowed, who live in a quaint craftsman home in the older section of town where trees grow high and life seems to have stepped back in time a pace or two.  As we sat on their screened-in porch one of them said, "Harmony.  All of our life needs harmony.  We need to let things flow together well so that we can have the peace of God in our midst."  She hasn't always walked easy or outwardly peaceful roads.  She has raised children and she nursed her dying husband through poor health, using a lift to get him in and out of the bath as she daily let go of the man who was her other half. 

She speaks from a place of knowing and reflection.  And she sweetly smiles as she does, eyes dancing with the truth of harmony.  Time stands still on that screen porch.  We talk about heaven and church and our families.  I soak in the spoken and unspoken lessons. 

So, though I thought I'd be writing more through the summer - keeping my series on Fenelon's wisdom for child rearing going, writing about organizing home education, getting a series going on rest - and instead I find I am slowing.  God is calling me to rest.  I need the margin.  I need to find Him and be with Him throughout each day.  I need to savor "the lazy days of summer" and intentionally make space for it to be so.  I'll still write (don't fret, those of you following those series) but I am going to spread my pace out a bit, take my flip flops off, put my feet up in the back yard and enjoy some homemade peach tea while watching my boys run through sprinklers. 


The wisest man in the world said there is a time for everything.  Even rest. 

If you want the most inspired book I have read on rest, I encourage you to check out Bonnie Gray's book Finding Spiritual Whitespace.  It is blessing my socks off and God is using it to echo His loving call to rest into my life and heart these days.  

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Rest for Your Soul

Every once in a great while a book comes our way that is a tool for both our undoing and our restoration.  Today I want to introduce you to one of those books and invite you to join me in the journey I am on as a result:

I started blogging nine months ago.  Before that I had been reading the blogs of a select few women: Ann Voskamp and some women from (in)courage.  One of the women who had caught my heart from the beginning was Bonnie Gray.  Every time she was a featured blogger for (in)courage, I would sit up and listen.  Her story was unfolding in a very different way when I "met" her.  She had been an outwardly successful woman and a prolific writer on the verge of writing a book when she was ambushed by a panic attack and subsequently diagnosed with PTSD as a result of latent childhood traumas she endured.


When I started my own blog, I began joining Bonnie every Thursday in what she then called her "Faith Jam" where she would lay out a writing prompt and we would write our own posts in response to the prompt and then link them up with her.  Her prompts and her writing have always dared me to go deeper and further and to be more vulnerable than any other.  I call my writings from those link ups "Courageous Writing" because it takes some guts to put the inner world out there for the whole world to see. 

I'm strong enough for that now.  I wasn't always. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Teachable Moments

I am carrying on with the series I am doing on Fenelon's Wisdom for "The Education of A Child" - which really covers child rearing as a whole.  Today I am really looking forward to sharing some essential concepts he brings up about discipline. He says:
It is frequently necessary to tolerate things which ought to be corrected, until the moment shall have arrived when the mind of the child will be in a state to profit by the correction. 
What he is saying here is that there are times when the "door is open" and times when it just is not.  Open for what? you may ask.  Well, if the goal of discipline is instruction so that our children will grow and make changes to poor behavior and attitudes and will choose positive ways of being, then we have to look for teachable moments.  Sometimes the child is just not open to learning.  This is not the time for "instruction."  Any effort to discipline at times like this will fall flat, be misinterpreted or just plain agitate the situation.   I'm not just sharing theory here - I've checked this out in our home (unwittingly) and it's true.


Monday, June 9, 2014

How I Organize Our Homeschool - Part 3 (More Curriculum)

I just finished reading a wonderful post explaining how Charlotte Mason teachers didn't compile their own curriculum.  It was assigned them by people who did the gathering job for them.  The point is that we ought not reinvent the wheel and that we need to spend time we have as home educators both improving our own knowledge in various subject areas and in teaching our children.  If curriculum searching and gathering is cumbersome and leads you to less than the best of materials, you are probably wasting valuable time.  If you are brand new to home educating, you may be feeling overwhelmed enough without having to search out what to use.  It isn't that you will "mature" to the point of selecting your own materials. Many very mature home educators use pre-selected curriculum and do a wonderful job.  That's not the "second best" way to do this.  It is an equally good way and has its merits - one being that you save time and energy and when you find a company or organization you trust because you can just rest in their selections.  There is a lot right with just going for one already well-established and well composed program for your home educating materials.  Ambleside is certainly one of those options. 

I just wanted to let you know before I start telling you more about curriculum selection that I am not against whole pre-organized programs.  There are some wonderful options out there.  The reason I have not landed on any one program is that I have some practical needs and some personal preferences which lead me away from each one as a whole.  These are not whims, they are big enough reasons which cause me to do what I do.  I also have found some wonderful sources which are equally excellent and I love including things from each.  When several of my favorite sources all list the same book I know it will be a winner.  The first two posts I wrote in this series (here) go further into "why" I do this.  No one program has met our needs completely, so I have learned to gather and I find I have such joy in the "finds" as I do.