Here Comes the Son (November 2017)

“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭130:5-8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Last year Andy suckered me into taking him deer hunting on a school morning while his dad was at work. He hadn’t scored a big buck and needed someone who has a Hunters Ed Certificate, which I possess. (Thank you Salem Junior High PE class).
I’m not the deer hunter of the family as you all know, but I bundled up and trekked with him onto the neighboring federal land to the spot recommended by his dad. As we sat there in the dark, the sun began to appear over the horizon. Andy leaned over to me and whispered, “This is the time, when dad and I hunt, that dad quietly sings, “Here comes the sun. Do do do do. Here comes the sun. It’s alright. It’s alright.”” An old Beatles tune makes a memory for a 12 year old kid that I’m sure will stick with him for the rest of his life of him and his dad hunting.
I read the verse above this morning thinking about all the different occasions I’ve awaited the sunrise, trout fishing at Montauk on opening day of trout season, Easter Sunrise Service as a kid at church, watching the sunrise from my deck, etc.
You know it’s coming, it never fails, and when it comes it will be beautiful and usher in the awaited prize you have been waiting on as you sit there patiently awaiting its arrival.
God is as faithful as the sunrise, actually more so. He is worth waiting on. His love never fails and He is full of redemption- setting us free from all that has entangled us and kept us in bondage. It does not matter how dark the night has been. He will come. We can expectantly wait for Him knowing that what He brings as He rises in our lives will be beautiful and oh so good.
So this morning as you may be sitting in the darkness, waiting for a glimmer of hope. Remember, “Here comes the Son. Do do do do. Here as comes the Son. It’s alright. It’s alright.”
Keep watching. He will never fail!

Homeschool Advice for the Newbies

Just a little word of encouragement for those of you who have young kids you’re schooling this year. I’ve been cleaning out my school room. I don’t need it any more. 3 of my 4 kids have graduated and my youngest is a Junior.
I found this note while cleaning. My daughter, who wrote this, now has an associates degree and works at a bank. She happened to get A’s in all her college English classes. I would have never guessed that to be possible when she gave me this note years ago.
Relax… Enjoy your kids. Homeschooling is so much more than academics. Make sure you major in the important stuff like: time together and teaching them about God. The academics will come.
I cried many a tear over that kid’s spelling and with God’s help and time to grow she’s ok.
Kindergartners Don’t have to read by the end of the year. Two of mine didn’t… 6th graders may not excel in multiplication and division. My oldest son didn’t. He’s married now, has a degree in what he’s good at, music and has a family and a job. So you may end up with a kid that struggles in an area. Don’t we all struggle in an area. 😉
In the end, it will be ok as you just keep going and trust God that He always has a plan.
Happy School Year to you all. Now back to cleaning out the school room. My new season came quicker than I thought it would.

High Maintenance Me

Looking back at my younger life I believe I lived in survival mode. In my early 30’s, I found myself a stay at home mom with four kids and homeschooling them on top of that. I remember looking at the cluttered mess of my house, toys, dirty clothes, clean clothes, books, etc. Thinking to myself, “I am going to have to conquer them or they will conquer me.” So the battle began. I am not naturally an organizer, but I knew I would have to become one. I knew it would take long hours, less sleep, and hard work to wage the war. But I was an accomplice in making these children so I would have to be a warrior to survive them. The problem is when all your energy is spent on survival you barely have time to refuel. After the birth of my fourth kid, I found myself around 220 lbs with knee problems, back problems, emotional stress, etc. And I then figured out that I was going to have to take care of me too.

Taking care of me is not an easy business. First of all “me” is not the first person I think to take care of. I’ve awaken to this reality more than once in my life. Whether it was “you need to walk daily for 30 minutes.” Or “ you need to eat right”. Or “you’re going to have to take some time to pray and read your Bible to recharge your spirit.” I can get in the habit. Start feeling better then lay off of it. Next quit. Then I wake up feeling like I did before I started.

A couple of years ago as I was running through my morning routine: Bible time, walk, bath, lotion on my drying out body (thank you hormones), brushing, flossing, and mouthwash (I’m tired of having cavities), speaking my daily who I am in Christ confessions, etc. I looked in the mirror and thought, “You know what… you’re high maintenance.” There’s a lot that goes into just maintaining me.

I don’t want to do maintenance. I would rather wake up and instantly have a great body, perfect hair, teeth, clean house, awesome kids, etc. It would be so much easier that way. But alas, “High Maintenance” is my destiny until I see Jesus face to face.

Lately, among all the physical and spiritual things I do to promote my maintenance, I’ve had to develop some “mental maintenance” practices. Thankfully some of the physical i.e walking, and spiritual i.e. daily Biblical meditation and confession of scripture can cross over. But other things like setting an hourly Thankfulness reminder, planning out hobbies, and keeping a watch out for what I’m thinking have become a necessity on my “High Maintenance Me” list. Unfortunately I get lazy at times and stop doing them. It’s probably the equivalent of stopping taking a daily medicine or brushing my teeth. If you need to do it and quit you’re going to feel bad in a matter of a few days or the people around you will wish you had (bad breath).

This morning I was talking on the phone to my bestie. We were discussing the survival of my younger years as a young mom. I was telling her about my desperate attempts to take a not so organized personality and organize. Daily lists of cleaning areas, menus, schedules, and a calendar. It really was what helped me survive. I told her that although I hated it I have had to fight. That means get up, show up, do what I need to do, and keep doing it. It occurred to me as I was saying it that nothing has really changed. I may not be folding baby clothes and washing bottles and sippy cups, but I am still doing maintenance/ fighting. There are things I have to do both spiritually and mentally on the daily if not the hourly to keep up with life. I told her I would rather not have to make all the effort, but she quickly pointed out the Bible verse about how we are to “renew our minds” Romans 12:1-2. Just like I can’t expect my house to clean itself, my car to run without being refilled by gas and oil changes, my body to do fine without regular sleep, food, and exercise, I can’t expect my thought life to be perfect without working on it.

High maintenance has its perks. If I’m in the business of taking care of myself, all those around me benefit from a well groomed, spiritually attuned, more joyful version of me. Not a bad exchange for the energy and effort. Keeping that in the forefront of my mind when I want to slack off should be a priority. There is a promise for the person with a “renewed mind”. I can test and approve God’s “good, perfect, and pleasing will.”

Maintenance of the mind and spirit insures that I will walk closer to my creator and in doing that I will find exactly what He had in mind for me, His High Maintenance Girl that He dearly loves and wants the best for.

Generations Blessed

I’ve often said the happiest times of my life were each of the days my kids were born and the day I married their Dad years before. Each of those days hold those “magic” moments: watching my groom sing the love songs to me at our wedding as he stared directly into my eyes and smiled, the moment I saw my first born son as he was lifted over the small curtain where the c section occurred, Rich searching all over the hospital for a bow for our first daughter’s hair, the doctor hardly catching our second daughter because she came so fast, and our youngest son not breathing as the doctor called the resuscitation team only to hear a faint whimper from him as the doctor worked and worked on him and knowing it was going to be ok. “Magic moments” that are probably better described as “miraculous”. It’s the kind of thing you wished would just freeze in time forever, but it can’t because time just goes on.

I find myself anticipating another such day very soon.  It’s kind of hard to believe, with my genuine youthful looks and all, that in a matter of a day or so I will be a Grandma, although I believe I’ve been a Grandma for the past 9 months.  Off and on today I’ve caught myself getting a little misty eyed at the thought.  From what I’m told, it sounds like I’m headed for another “magic” moment, another time I will probably wish will stand still and freeze so I can enjoy it forever.  But I know it will only last for a short while so I need to soak it in and absorb every second of its beauty.  

It’s been around 25 year since I caught baby fever the first time and wanted to try to have my grandson’s Daddy.   I can remember wanting a baby so bad that a Johnson and Johnson Baby Shampoo commercial would send me into tears.  It was just my heart’s desire.  I wanted to be a mom.  

When he was born, I would rock my son, I remember thinking, “You know I’m not really a fan of the old nursery rhyme songs. I think I’ll sing him worship songs about Jesus instead.  With exception of one song, Phil Collins “Groovy Kinda Love”.  I figured it was a good song for a mom to sing to her son. 

I spent a lot of time praying for each of my kids.  I kind of felt bad because we never formally “dedicated” any of them at a church service.  But I prayed to God often and told Him how even if we never celebrated a dedication in a service I wanted with all my heart to teach my kids to love Him, to know Him, and to walk close with Him because He was and is everything.  

Now I look at my kids.  I know they aren’t perfect, but I am grateful for the journey so far.  They walk with Jesus and many of the things I have prayed for through the years are growing in them.  

Galatians 6:9 is the verse of Motherhood. I would figure it is the verse of fatherhood also, but I’m writing as a mom. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” I feel like in some small way my new Grandson is another fruit of that harvest. Looking back, my mom and dad sowed seeds of faith in me, their moms and dads sowed seed of faith into them and so on and the same on my husband’s side. My grandmas invested their time sharing Jesus with me as well as pie, cakes, and cookies. I know I’ll need to get that Grandma vibe going, and from what I understand, I have joined a long line of Notable “Grandma N’s” some of which will be pretty tough shoes to fill. But I’m pretty excited about getting my chance.

Psalm 112:1-2 says, “Praise the LORD. Blessed are those who fear the LORD, who find great delight in his commands. Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.” 

Every workday morning, right after breakfast, my husband and I join hands and pray for our kids and each other. Something he started a few years ago when God placed it on his heart to be the Godly leader of our family He was called to be. When we pray here lately, we’ve added our anticipated little one and the others that will surely come. “Our generations will be blessed.” That’s our prayer. I’m not asking God to give them wealth, straight teeth, and knock out good looks. I’m asking for Him to bless them with a soft, responsive heart that hears the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit calling them when they are young. I’m asking God to carry on the fire that was there years ago in the generations before us and will carry on long after we are gone. I’m also asking that in the every day life that I find myself in the baby slobbers, the baby laughs, the first steps, and the Grandma stuff I do that I soak in the blessing God has given me in the generations God gives to us, and that my children and their children and so on and so on will be mighty in the land. I know God has blessed me and with His good gifts like the “magic/ miraculous” moments ahead are meant for me to soak in and enjoy. It will only be for a moment and then time will go on. I guess that’s what makes those moments so sweet.

Boxed Curriculum, Busy Work, and Being

20 years ago when my oldest was kindergarten age we started to homeschool. I wanted the best for my son so I went to an Abeka meeting at a local hotel and purchased the entire kit for kindergarten. Teachers manuals, flashcards, and all. When my boxes arrived I worked hard setting up the school room. I got a little wooden school desk for him at a yard sale. I hung up posters. Made folders up. Got my lesson plans ready. I was on top of it. Then the first day began.

Through out his preschool days he had already learned a lot. Mainly by us taking construction paper and doing little made up projects that I thought up on how to learn letter sounds and recognize numbers. Nothing formal, just us playing and learning together in a fun atmosphere, but in my mind, in order to do things right, I needed to become more disciplined and do everything by the books, literally…

That’s when the trouble began… My sweet 5 year old son struggled with the concept of sitting still and doing page after page after page of workbook work. There were no fun projects. It was just him at a desk with a pencil.

In order to get through a day, we would do 15 minutes on 15 minutes off. I would make him plow through every page. Even if he understood the concept. It was miserable for him. It was miserable for me. After several weeks of this, I started talking to a seasoned homeschool mom. She encouraged me to return to what worked: A little less busywork, a little more creativity and fun. Now 19 years later, with 3 kids graduated from our homeschool and either graduated college or in college, I’m on my final kid, a sophomore. He’s benefited from all the experiments I tried on his older brother, who I’ve jokingly referred to as “the guinea pig”. I’d like to think his learning through the years has been a combination of the best, creative fun learning experiences through the years.

This morning as I read my Bible I came across the story of Mary and Martha. I was contemplating my own life. How I’ve set up a lot of religious “busywork” trying to create “the best” Christian life I can. Running Bible studies, heading up ministries, going to leader meetings, etc. But somewhere along the line the “busywork” has stolen the joy of a creative, living, breathing relationship that I’m meant to have with Jesus. I’ve reduced myself to a lifestyle that mirrors the kindergarten year of my oldest son. “Sit here for 15 min. Do this work. 15 minute break. Repeat.” All of this to try to make something special out of my life for the Master.

I’ve been a lot like Martha, wanting to have things perfect. Having thrown several dinner parties in my home, I can imagine her thought process. Everything must be in place, sparkling, and the food needs to be excellent as well. Jesus pointed out that that was not his expectations. Mary’s approach was what touched His heart. She wanted to be with Him. Soak Him and every word He said in. Enjoy the moment with Him because the moment was all she had and soon it would be gone.

Lately, I’ve woke up in a new position. A lot of the things I was striving to do ministry wise have suddenly ended. All the busywork has stopped. I’ve awaken to a new possibility of letting the Martha in me go and embracing the Mary. In a homeschool mom’s terms: I’ve come to a place where I can let go of the boxed curriculum’s rigidity and embrace life giving and freeing lifestyle learning.

God give me the grace to open my eyes and enjoy the things I already have. Let the striving for more cease as I learn once again to sit still at your feet and soak who you are in. Let You be enough. Not what I think I can build to enhance the perfection that You already are. Let me be like Mary and sit at your feet, enjoying You and all that You have given me to enjoy.