Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Within Bounds

They grow up.  It's a fact. It happens one day at a time, so slowly it's almost imperceptible.  But then things happen to make you notice.

The training wheels come off and she's racing down the road on her own.

Those chubby little fingers are now long and slender, nothing like those first handprints.

"I can do it by myself" are the words that shoo you away when your automatic reaction is to step in and help.

Once favorite books and television shows are now for "babies".

Curves are coming on.

Teeth are at the point of needing braces.

Talking on the phone with the BFF is a daily "need".

I look into the eyes of each of my children and sigh in wonder.  Where has the time gone?  My oldest just turned ten.  Perhaps his time at home with us is half over.  My girls show the makings of beautiful women more and more each time I look.

The boundaries I've set up to keep them safe begin to become too narrow.  They're itching to ride their bikes the full length of our road.  I take them for walks and they race off on their bikes, out of my sight as I move more slowly, pushing the youngest in the stroller.  I know they are okay, but I think of how much more I need to teach them about strangers, about rules of safety.  I think of getting them whistles to wear around their necks.

Their interest in the computer becomes more keen.  For now it's Webkinz and games like Mindcraft, but I dread the day when they want a facebook account. Though I swear now that they will never have one under my roof, I realize these are the words of a mom who's oldest is ten. I know nothing yet of raising teens.  The sad and disconcerting local news of a fifteen year old girl missing... and found dead over a week later... seemingly in relation to a false facebook identity... well, it makes a mom want to hug tighter and cinch the boundaries even closer.  And it ought to.

But with the realization that these little ones are growing up.  They will always need me, but they will not always need these boundaries.  The lines we don't allow them to cross- like using potty language and staying in our line of vision- will disappear and new lines will be drawn.  Over and over again until hopefully, prayerfully, they've gained the wisdom they need to create their own personal boundaries of safety and righteousness.

Until then, this mama bear seeks to protect and prepare them for the world that lies around the corner.  For now, that corner is on our little road in the country.  Someday, they'll turn the corner into the wide, wide world.

 Lord, be with us at every turn.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Treasures from the Retreat

I just spent a wonderful weekend at a ladies retreat, soaking up the treasures of God's Word with girlfriends, cups of coffee, and yes, chocolate.  These are some of the simplest joys in my life- rising up early to spend time reading my Bible, sipping a strong cup of coffee (in a giant mug) and what a bonus joy to be among so many "God-fearing women".  Our speaker was my very favorite Debbi Bryson, a woman just so full of love and encouragement and the Holy Spirit, I just long to be like the Jesus I see in her.  She shines Jesus- the Jesus that isn't frugal with his blessings, the Jesus that hunts down the hurting and the sinful, the Jesus that will transform your life.

There is always an expectation that God will meet with you at a retreat like this- and there should be.  That's why we retreat from our everyday lives and go to these things. To hear from the Lord without the distraction of the dirty pile of dishes, the phone ringing, and cries for mommy.  Though we still find plenty of things to distract us from what matters most...

 I can't say that I had an earth-shattering encounter with God over the weekend, but I certainly came home with my cup full and overflowing.  One thing I've learned over the years is that I don't need to rely on a retreat to meet with God.  I get to meet with him every day and every day is an opportunity for something earth-shattering to happen between us.  In fact, I think that is how He would prefer it.  The daily time spent together is where intimacy is built, much like in marriage.  It is the daily where we learn the little things about our spouse like how they take their coffee, how their day was, what's bugging them.  Occasionally, rarely, we have a getaway, a night or two alone, and it's glorious.  We rediscover how much we LIKE each other. We get to talk without interruption from the children. Intimacy is unhindered.  I wish every day could be like these getaways, but the truth is we have to keep doing what we can keep doing...  and we can't escape every day.

Not with our spouse and not with the Lord.

A relationship is built day-by-day.

So I wasn't offended that God didn't give me earth-shattering news while at this retreat. He surely swept me off my feet as I worshipped him and as the Word of God was opened and new treasures revealed.  I brought a few questions to him that He gave me answers to.

One: Do you want me to have another baby?  Am I ignoring you? Am I missing your call?
 Answer:  Don't stress, girl.  We're together every day. If I want you to know something, I'll tell you and you won't miss it.

Two:  What do you want me to do?  What is my destiny?
Answer: There's a lot you don't know yet, but one thing I want you to do is teach the younger women and be taught yourself by older women.

Three:  Why'd you make me this way? Why'd you make me a leader?  Cause it seems like we need more followers.
Answer: You are fearfully and wonderfully made and I made you on purpose and FOR purpose. Just you hold on and see...

Isn't the Lord so good?  He is just so sweet to me.  He loved on me and whispered in my ear sweet-somethings while I was away with him, things that help sustain me through the dailiness and remind me, Oh I sure do LOVE him still.  He's so good to me.  

It gets me thinking that a relationship with Jesus is not meant to be hard.  So often I find myself straining to hear him, but only when I'm pressing a certain topic.  When I relax and come to Him open to receive anything, I always receive.  I stress over things that aren't stressing Him.  Like babies.  He's not a God of numbers... He's a God of Wonders.  He's not more pleased with the church of five thousand than he is the church of 50.  He's not more pleased with the family of five than he is fifteen... and counting.

A relationship with Jesus isn't meant to be accessed occasionally.  There's no ritual to go through before entering his presence.  All he really wants is me.  Even if it's been weeks since we last talked, we can pick right up again... no shame necessary.  But, oh, I miss him when I'm away.  I really do.  The most exciting part of my day is the time that I open up my Bible and receive those wonderful treasures inside it.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

April Update

Oh dear blogosphere friends, I am SO sorry that my posting has been, well, nonexistent for the month of April.  One of my pet peeves are unupdated blogs and here I am, falling predictably after my pride.

I could make lots of excuses and you all know they are real because you live it too.  Kiddos.  Home educating.  Feeding the family.  Time with the hubs.  Exercise.  Ministry commitments.  Those are the things that fill my days and weeks and leave me quite exhausted at the end of most days.

You know, I've been finding that when I do the things I ought to be doing here at home, with the kiddos, for myself personally, there really isn't much time left in my day.  I've felt busier than ever this past month though my outside commitments haven't changed.  But I've made some inside commitments that are really challenging my time management skills, among other things.

One of the biggest commitments I've made this past month is to get fit and to get healthy.  I joined a Beachbody Challenge Group and for 12 weeks I'll be doing Turbofire six days a week.  There are four other ladies plus our coach in the group and I have to say that it has been such a blessing.  Today began week 3 of the Challenge and there is so much love and encouragement, so much honesty, so much change happening inside and I can even see some change outside.  I've committed to exercising between 7 and 8 on weekday mornings.  Then it's time to clean up, get dressed, eat breakfast, and make sure the kiddos have all done the same so we can begin school around 9 o'clock.

Did I mention I've been getting up at three AM to get the coffee on for my husband, who has begun a new work schedule and has to leave the house by 4 in the morning?  Yes, I do go back to bed.  But I've been sleeping until six when I used to get up and stay up at five.  I actually miss that extra quiet hour in the morning.  Just me, a cup of coffee, and Jesus.  For two hours.  Now I'm down to one hour.  It's just not enough.

I've been trying to get outside more with the kids. The weather has finally turned for the better here in New England and I don't want to miss it by staying cooped up inside.  But I have to admit, if I'm not inside, there's no one else around to do the work of running the home.  I've got every laundry basket full of clean clothes that need to be folded, my upstairs barely has a path to walk through, and I am in need of some cooking therapy!  Yes, I am a homebody and I love being inside.

We're down to just about three weeks left of school and it is so exciting!  In the summer, we do "school" the way I wish I was brave enough to do it all year long- we just read.  Last year the kids did math too, but not this summer.  I'll give them each a reading challenge and I've got a long list of read-alouds I want to get through.  Truthfully, we may only get through four of them, but we all enjoy this time together.  We're also making plans to have another full summer of activity- going to the beach, and visiting places in our own state that we have yet to explore.  With Josh's new schedule, he'll have every three days off!  So we'll get to go on our adventures together!

So this is just my I'm-so-sorry-for-being-a-blogging-slacker update, to get my juices flowing again and to promise you that I'll update more often.  And no blogger has ever said that and not come through. :)