Finished the Race- Retirement of a Sentimental Homeschool Mom

 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race…” 2 Timothy 4:7

One of the many school days. Me and my baby, Andy, Graduating this year Class of 2022

When you’re a writer, you write. I’ve been at this for a while. It’s probably the best way to sort out what’s going on on the inside of me. The other day I was digging through one of my MANY 1/2 finished journals and stumbled upon this entry.

Journal Entry 8/29/2007

The above journal entry must have been right before I started a new school year. I was calculating the cost that day, and I’m pretty sure I must have been overwhelmed. My baby would have been almost 3 1/2, youngest daughter – 7, older daughter -9, and oldest-13. As I have told many, I have no business teaching math, I was a little off on my calculation for graduation of Andy- the baby, it is this year, in fact, it’s less than a week away.

First graduate class of 2013 First born Aaron.

I did it! It’s almost a done deal. The verse in 2 Timothy 4 has been running through my mind. Paul was finishing up his race on earth., and I’m not planning on going anywhere soon i.e. dying… but as far as the homeschooling season of my life, all 22 years of it, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race…” It’s really been hard for me to believe it is true. Although, this past year, has had relatively little homeschooling for me, since Andy took some classes at a small private school for dual credit, it signals the end of the homeschooling season for me.

Daughter #1 -Laura Class of 2016 with little sister.

Years ago, when all this started up, someone asked me how long I was planning on homeschooling my kids. I told them that I had no idea. It would be as long as God gave me the ability to do it, and I am glad that He did give me the grace for 22 years. I knew in my heart that God had called me to homeschool my kids, but I have lived with self-doubt of my abilities to teach my kids the entire time. I have had a nagging voice telling me how I was “Screwing them up” whispering in my ear frequently. I have woken up many mornings thinking about how I needed to figure out how to get the school bus to pick up my kids. But in the end after all my self-doubt, fears, and thoughts of quitting, I would not change the past 22 years for anything in the world. In fact, being at home with my kids since July 1995 when my first born came home from the hospital has been the joy of my life and I am thankful that God gave me the opportunity to do just that. I’ve often told my kids the reason I wanted to stay home and then homeschool was that I wanted to see all their firsts: Their first steps, their first words, their first word’s read, their first field trip, their first dance, and oh yes, their first time driving on a road with a permit… so many firsts. All this culminating with being able to stand on a stage in front of friends and family and hand their diploma to them personally as their teacher K-12.

Daughter #2 Faith class of 2018

I want to attest to you, that completing the past 22 years is not something that I did in my own strength. I finished the above journal entry on the next page with these two sentences, “Who else have I got besides you God? If I don’t trust, what can I do?” If you only knew me, you would understand how much I have needed Him the past 22 years. In fact, looking at the future, I still see how much I need Him for the next 49 of whatever He has for me to be about. It’s a little disconcerting to find yourself done with the one thing you have focused so much attention on for so long. I’ve found myself tearing up more than once the past couple of weeks contemplating it all. I’ve got things to be about, but honestly, I feel a little lost. Who I have been for the past 22 years is a “homeschool mom”. Now I’m not 100 % sure who I am supposed to be. I’ve got some ideas, but just like it was 22 years ago, when I think of what that means for me to be about it, I find myself shaking in my boots again, thinking about how unqualified I am, self doubt, and the old familiar “you will definitely screw that up…” So I guess I’m on the right track. lol. Because once again I find myself needing to write in a journal for 5/15/2022. “Who else have I got besides you God? If I don’t trust, what can I do?”

A week away from Graduation

¡Conocerlo y Darlo a Conocer!: To Know Him and To Make Him Known!

Our mission: To Know Him and Make Him Known!

When I was in college, I went on two short term mission trips with YWAM (Youth With a Mission) to Juarez, Mexico and also Creel, Mexico near the Copper Canyon where the Tarahumara Indians live. It was life changing. I loved the culture and the people (still do). At that time in my life, I had plans of finishing school, I was majoring in Spanish, and then joining YWAM full time, working in Mexico or possibly Guatemala. Of course, I… had plans… God had other ones. Long story, but here I am a 51 year old, mother of 4, homeschool mom for 22 years, grandma, and housewife for almost 27 years. Definitely not a foreign country missionary.

One of the phrases that has stuck out with me through the years from the trips I made besides the Spanish name for YWAM, Juventude Con una Mision, is “Conocerlo y Darlo a Conocer”- “To Know Him and to Make Him Known”. My first trip to Mexico was with a youth group from a church near my hometown. I was sponsored by some of the leaders of that youth group. It was for a week. It was awesome! My second mission trip signed up for a “Summer of Service” which was a 3-week trip. I boarded a plane to El Paso, by myself (20 years old) and went with a group that I knew no one. I ended up with a group of kids from another youth group. Some of the kids, were obviously not into missions, more into drama… So we spent the first few days on the El Paso side of the border trying to get our attitudes right. We were cleaning ministry buildings, and basically working on tasks that were sweaty and unenjoyable like moving boxes that had cock roaches under them that were big enough you could put a leash on and take for a walk. YUCK! Then when we finally got to cross the border, we ended up cleaning up a goat pen for one of our first major projects. It was good, but kind of a bummer for someone who had worked hard at raising money, and had visions of “getting a little taste of the glory” while in another country.

The Cooks for the Mission team. Leticia and me.

On my second trip, word got out that I was a cook at a nursing home, back in the states. So, I got put on the kitchen crew, another blow to my ego. Since I was cooking all the time as my job at home…Ha ha. When we went down further south into Mexico, I was one of the two cooks for the whole team. At the time, I was thinking, “this isn’t so glorious”. Cooking on wood stoves in a kitchen with a skirt on (almost caught it on fire), with a bunch of Mexican ladies that I could barely communicate with. For some reason I had not learned the word for “Spoon” in my Spanish lessons. You should have seen them laughing at me while I was telling them in Spanish “I need a thing that does this” making wild stirring motions. ha ha Looking back, it was perfect, and I would not change anything in those experiences for the world.

The wood stove, the skirt that almost caught on fire and me 😊

Then there was sleeping on a concrete floor of a church (we were helping to build) with only a sleeping bag. Experiencing Montezuma’s revenge (diarrhea) after eating vegetables that were washed with local water. Everyone on the team using the same outhouse while having the diarrhea as well (Words cannot describe the smell). “Showering” using a barrel and a scoop. All this, to “¡Conocerlo y Darlo a Conocer!”. “Know Him and Make Him Known”.

I’ve mentioned before that I was given a bracelet at a Skillet concert recently. When I put it on, something on it deeply resonated within me. It says, “Make Me Like Jesus”. “Yes Lord, that is all I want, ‘Make me like Jesus'”. Here lately, when I look at it, a question comes up in my mind. “What would Jesus be like in this….?” The answers are challenging. Jesus would be patient. Jesus would forgive. Jesus would give himself away… etc. It’s having the same affect on me that the 20 year old Janet experienced 21 years ago in Mexico. Humbling to see how far away from Christlike I can be…

Life is not always what I expect it to be. Sometimes it can be somewhat “mundane”, lacking excitement, dull. But God is far from mundane. He is beyond all the expectations I have. That is why in the daily, mundane tasks of life, even sometimes the gross tasks…, my aim should always be simply “to know Him” and with what I learn of Him, “make Him known”. Had the mission team I was on back in the early 90’s not been there for the mundane.working on projects, helping the full time missionaries, we would have missed our chance to help an elderly missionary make it to the local hospital in the dead of night while having a health issue, a very dangerous drive through the mountains of Mexico. We also would have missed being able to pick up a young Mexican mother along the way who was in labor and rush her along to the hospital as well. Believe me, that was a hair raising, exciting story. Had I missed the mundane times in motherhood, I would have missed the excitement of getting to pray with each of my children to ask Jesus in their heart. I would have missed the deep conversations on faith that have shaped them and quite honestly myself. Had I missed the mundane tasks of going to the grocery store, paying bills, cleaning house, etc. I would have missed the excitement of having friends over for an evening of food, fellowship, worship in our living room, and prayer. All the seemingly mundane of the world, when set apart by the constant companionship of Jesus through prayer and worship, (while driving, folding clothes, doing dishes, etc.) suddenly becomes a Holy time. It prepares us for that opportunity to come where I am able to “make Him known”. Whether it be in conversation with a friend, giving to a stranger, or helping someone in need. That is what Jesus would be like. Make me like HIM!!

¡Conocerlo y Darlo a Conocer!

The God Who Hears Us!

A much younger me with the little lip smacker. He was a hungry little guy ❤️

Motherhood changes you. I believe that during the 9 months of pregnancy God does this supernatural overhaul of our senses. When it comes to our babies, we all of a sudden see, smell, feel, taste, and hear everything more vividly. Probably the most obvious sense that seems to be affected is our hearing. Have you ever watched a crowd with a young mom in it? All of a sudden she may perk up and say something like, “My baby is crying”. No one else may notice, but she did. The first week of my first born’s life brought this truth home to me. My mom stayed with us for a week to help out with the new baby. But she was amazed at one of my new mom super powers. It could be 3 am. I could be beyond tired, and I would fall asleep. BUT the newborn in the bassinet next to me, could smack his lips while sleeping, and I could hear it. Within a few seconds of the first smack of his lips, I was up and ready to nurse. Mom would come in and ask me, “How did you know he was awake?” I would say, “He smacked his lips.” It was like I had “Spidey Senses”, but they were “Momma senses” 1000 times more powerful.

This morning I was reading Psalm 18 again and listening to a song I recently heard by Michael Farren called “Fighting For Us”. Awesome song! There’s a phrase in the chorus that says, “You won’t hold back when it comes to your children. You fiercely defend us til we stand delivered. You’re fighting for us. Always fighting for us.” and then there’s the quote from Psalms.

“I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies.  The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.  The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me.  In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry.  Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it. He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet.  He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind.  He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him— the dark rain clouds of the sky.  Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced, with hailstones and bolts of lightning.  The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded.  He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy, with great bolts of lightning he routed them.  The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at your rebuke, LORD, at the blast of breath from your nostrils.  He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.  He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.”  Psalm 13:3-17 NIV

I have written on more than one occasion how good it is to know that God sees us, but I am struck this morning with how good it is for us to know that God hears us, and it doesn’t take us screaming our lungs out for us to get His response. He is much like me with my “Young Mom Super Senses”. He hears the faintest of cries, the smacking of our lips, and He is there bringing the provision we need, “fighting for us.” We are the ones who tend to complicate this by feeling if we “rub the magic Genie lamp” just right with God, then He may finally turn His ear out of obligation to obey us finally getting the right sequence of actions right for His response. NOT SO! He simply is waiting for us to ask, for us to say His Name, to turn toward Him in what little ability we may have to turn and then He comes full on, Fighting For US!

When I was much younger, I suffered from horrendous nightmares. Most of them involved such fear filled scenes, that I would find myself trying to talk in my dream, only to have my voice unable to produce a sound. I can remember thinking, “If I can only say the name “Jesus” in this dream the nightmare will stop.” Only to find myself unable to speak at all in the torment. I think that is much like the way we live sometimes. I have found myself, on occasion overwhelmed by life’s circumstances, so much so that I feel like even trying to turn to God with it all is close to impossible. BUT God never turns away from the cries of His children. He is attentive to our “smacking lips”. He hears the faintest cry, and the most awesome thing is… HE RESPONDS. I can tell you that I am not much of a fighter, but if you messed with one of my babies, the Mama Bear would come out. God so much more so! He does not leave us in our mess. He “fiercely defends us til we stand delivered” because He loves us so much He wants us free to live in that love, Wrapped up in His Peace.

How good it is to know that God hears us! How good it is to know that God responds! How good it is to know that God is, as Michael Farren’s song says, “fighting for us! Always fighting for us!”

My Next Fifty Years

Oh the joys of social media… Probably one of the main reasons I haven’t dumped Facebook and went back to a flip phone is the Birthday reminders. I am notorious for forgetting birthdays. Ask my husband. His is just two days after mine and I forgot it the first year we were married. Notorious… Anyway, the daily reminders of Birthdays of friends and family has been one of the little gems for my life that Facebook has given me. It also provides opportunity for me to mark my birthday each year. I’m not sure if that’s a little gem or not lol. Each year for as long as I can remember having Facebook, my status on my birthday has been “half way to…”. At 45 I was “Half way to 90”. At 47 I was “Half way to 94”. Well this year I have arrived. I will be “Half Way to 100”. This is probably the best year to stop that practice. My grandpa made it to just a few days shy of 101 and I’m pretty sure 100 years is about as far as I want to go.

Me almost 50 years ago. Lol
Just gotta be me.

All this reflecting on being “Halfway to 100” in a few weeks, has had me thinking about an old Tim McGraw song, “My Next 30 Years”. Here’s a little sample of the lyrics to refresh your memory:

“Oh, my next 30 years I’m gonna watch my weight
Eat a few more salads and not stay up so late
Drink a little lemonade and not so many beers, huh
Maybe, I’ll remember my next 30 years”

I’m not a beer drinker, but this song has been rolling around in my head for about a month. It’s a summary of all the things he would do different his next 30 years to get more out of his life. It’s got me thinking… “What would I want to do in my next 50 years?”

Where it all started in my first 20 years .

A majority of my first 50 years have been spent being married and raising a family. Married won’t change but raising a family already has. I’m down to one kid out of 4 that isn’t an adult yet and he’s just one year away from turning into one. So for my next 50 years life is going to be a lot more different than the first 50. My first 50 years I spent a lot of time preoccupied with things that just didn’t matter. Though I tried my hardest, I let the worries and cares around me squeeze out a lot of the daily joys. It’s funny how the little things like time spent playing at the park with my kids really did become the big things. Being busy with silly stuff made me miss some of the most important things during my first 50 years. My next 50 years I want to enjoy the gifts God has given me in my life: my husband, my kids, and my grandkid (grandkids to come). Being present, here and now each day with them… I want to soak up every ounce of joy God gives me with them for my next 50 years.

Somewhere in time during my first 30- 40 years.

It’s funny how my first 50 years I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to fix me. I think my next 50 I’ll try to just let it be and leave that to God. A good place to start is just accepting that I’m not perfect, but dearly loved by God, His grace really is Amazing and His forgiveness is Free. My next 50 years I am going to believe that when God calls me “Holy and Dearly Loved by Him” Colossians 3:12. He means it. It’s not just words on a page, and He wants me to know Him, not just work at crossing off another item from a religious “to do” list to make Him happy with me. Maybe a little less religiousness and a lot more relationship with Him my next 50 years.

For my next 50 years I want my theme song to be “This Little Light of Mine”. Instead of trying to figure out how to be God’s bullhorn, I want to shine. My daily interactions with family, friends, and acquaintances would be marked by this. Not some bold in your face intimidation, but a taste of God’s goodness just seeping off of my life. Get close enough and you’ll smell it, see it, taste it and want more of Him. I want to be a reflection of Him in everything I do for my next 50 years.

The more I think about it, the more I believe my next 50 years will be the best 50 of my life. Thanks to all the things I’ve learned the last 50. I guess they call that perspective, another Gift God has given to me. May I really take hold of it these Next 50 years.

The family. My “Opus Magnum” and The joyful gift God’s granted me my first 50 years

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.

“The Blessing”

“…And this is what their father said to them as he blessed them, blessing each one with his own special farewell blessing. Then he instructed them: “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave which is in the field of Ephron the Hittite… Jacob finished instructing his sons, pulled his feet into bed, breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭49:27-33‬ MSG

What a whirlwind this day has been! It started with a phone call from my mother in love regarding a need she had at the nursing home she is at. I quickly got around and headed there. Then it was a day of fielding calls, talking to hospice, nurses, and trying to alter her nightgowns to be more suitable for her needs. With my limited seamstress skills that was a feat. After lunch I sat at my table with my head in my hands and tears began to flow. Then it occurred to me. A trip to Hobby Lobby would help me feel better. It soothes the soul. So off I went, and I was right.

The facts of the matter is my mother in love is down to a few days. Knowing this has prompted family to come. Sisters, children, grandchildren, nieces, etc. They have come to spend some time with a woman who is very much loved. When I told her about people coming to see her, she told me weakly she was tired, and I told her I knew she was, but it’s tough being as popular as you are. The company did perk her up today. It was a good day for her.

Grandma Praying for each Grandkid individually

COVID 19 has made it hard for a family, and in this case a very large family, to spend their time with the one they love. Two by two they were allowed into her isolation room, with health screening , temperature check, escort to and from the room, and face mask the entire visit. She enjoyed her time with family in between naps and moments of being quiet. Although the restrictions have been hard on us all, I saw the most beautiful thing tonight that will mark my heart for the rest of my life, Grandma’s Blessing.

Two of my kids receiving “The Blessing”

One of the nursing home’s generous accommodations during this time of quarantine was to allow visitors to stand outside her window and talk to her through a screen. Some of her grandkids arrived for a visit there, and that is where “The Blessing” began. One by one they stuck their head in the cranked open crack and told their Grandma they loved her and bowed their head as she held a hand toward them and prayed. Grandkids ages 15-25 coming for their blessing from a woman who had sown seeds of God’s love into them from the day they were born. It was beautiful. It felt like I was watching the scene of Jacob blessing his sons, but with a southern Missouri woman’s style. Then the time came for her kids. As I stuck my head through the small crack to receive my blessing too, I thought of how blessed I have already been. Some 28 years ago our lives as mother and daughter in love began. I can only hope to be half the mother in love that this woman was to me for my son’s wives in the future. But may I, in my time raise my hand to my grandkids and proclaim, “May His favor be upon you to a thousand generations. To your children, and their children, and their children…” -(“The Blessing” Elevation worship). And may I leave an impact on my children and grandchildren, like she has on them that they would be willing to stand outside a window on a hot summer night, in order to receive “The Blessing” from the hand that held them close when they were babies many years before.

Grandma Evie with hand raised in prayer for the Generations to follow her. “The Blessing”

““ ‘ “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” ’”
‭‭Numbers‬ ‭6:24-26‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
‭‭Exodus‬ ‭20:6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Things I Need to Say

It’s been a long four year battle with multiple myeloma cancer for my Mother in Love. She’s faced many difficult decisions bravely and has fought with ever ounce of courage she could muster throughout all the difficult treatments: stem cell transplant, radiation, chemo etc. A position she couldn’t have ever conceived being in before she got sick. I’d say she’s one of the toughest women I’ve ever seen.

Road trip to Ashes to Beauty Women’s Encounter

Today I opened my Facebook. One of my memories from six years ago was a picture of us. As I looked at the photo, memories of the years we’ve known each other flooded my mind. Twenty- eight years ago we were introduced in the living room of her home. I’m not sure what she thought of a 21 year old college girl dating her 19 year old son. She has often retold our first encounter of me doing the “Kitty Rap” and her and my Father in love getting up out of bed to go and meet Richard’s girl friend. As she puts it, I am the one she had prayed with Rich about, when he asked her to pray one late night. He wanted for God to show him which girl he should pursue at the Christian Campus House I lived in. Eight months later we were married. So I’m glad God heard her prayers.

Memory from 6 years ago today.

The day of our wedding as I stood in the reception line, she gave me a hug and told me, “I’ve had him for 19 years. He’s yours now.” I kind of wondered what that meant. It was almost passing off the prized pet or something, but now I understand. She never interfered in our marriage. She just wanted to be my friend. In fact, from the beginning she made sure I knew I was another one of her kids.

That probably didn’t sink in to my head until my husband and I had been married for around 5 years, and we had to move back to his hometown for a job opportunity. He took a pay cut for a job that had insurance, permanence, and opportunities to grow. It also meant we would have to live with his parents for a few months. Something that I was less than thrilled about. I kind of liked my space… But it was in those three months, while my husband was off to work and it was me, my two year old son, and her around the house, that I realized that she was another mom to me, and just how blessed I was. Us Laying out together in her yard and getting sunburned while my toddler took a nap is one of the first memories just how crazy and fun loving she could be.

Biscuits and Gravy Christmas tradition

For years we did a lot together: Trips to the Mennonite and Amish communities to shop their bakeries and surplus stores, camping, shopping, going to the nursery to buy plants, vacations together, Christmas morning biscuits and gravy (she cooked) , etc. She even hopped in the “Tilt a Whirl” with me at the State fair one time about 10 years ago. She laughed and laughed as the ride jerked us around and she practically ended up in my lap. Then there’s the photo op with the Oscar Mayer Wiener Mobile. We’ve had lots of fun times through the years.

Watching a Great Grand pet a deer at a deer farm with me

My Mother in Love has tried hard to be a good grandma, and she has been to my kids. When my husband worked 12 hour shifts 6 days a week she would watch them for me so I could go grocery shopping on my own. She kept them for overnights so my husband and I could get away on our anniversary every year. She thoroughly enjoyed my kids telling her that she could peel apples better than me and make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches better than me too, not sure how that is accomplished but my 25 year old son would still attest to her PB&J making expertise. She’s got 18 grandkids total and I’m sure if polled they would attest to what a wonderful Grandma she has been.

Great Grandma with my Grandson

Our trips and experiences lately, haven’t been as fun although we’ve tried to make the best out of them we could. When she was diagnosed with Cancer, she could barely walk. I took her to appointments at the oncologist and others. It was hard on me. I’m not one for doctors, needles, and such. Sitting in the waiting rooms watching the people go by. Some looking like they had recently been diagnosed with fear in their eyes. Others looking like a miracle would be all that could help them as they had lost weight, strength, etc. My mother in love however did her appointments with grace visiting with everyone in the waiting room and smiling all the while. She’s a fighter and she fought back. She ended up walking into the clinic by herself after driving to the city from our small town for treatment by herself. (something she probably never thought she could do) And she did so for a few years, until recently when the treatment options have run out.

My Mother in Love is a woman of faith. Ten seconds with her and you would figure that out. So her fight has been with God fighting for her. She still stands believing that God is not done though the doctor says he (the doctor) is. She believes for a miracle and trusts God when many would be tempted to give up.

I tend to be an “I want to know the details” kind of person. Hoping to understand what’s going on so I can know what to expect and make good choices. Sometimes this has ran up against her desire for me to “just believe and trust God for healing”. Throughout this whole ordeal I have often prayed and asked God to give her what we all desire, her healing. I know He is able and He is good.

Wednesday the doctor did not say the things we had hoped he would say at her appointment. Her condition has come to a place where it has to be God for her to be whole. I told her a week ago that I knew no matter what she was in a win/ win situation. For her to live here on earth is Christ, being able to show all those around her God’s love and faithfulness she has experienced in her own life. But for her to die is gain. I can’t think of anything more wonderful than leaving all the pain, sickness, and sadness we experience to be with Jesus. That is truly a gain. She told me she knew that was true, but she felt like she wasn’t done. So many more prayers to pray. So many more people to point to Jesus with her light.

This morning when our photo of us in front of the Wiener Mobile popped up on my Facebook page memories like I’ve just shared flooded my mind. The words I’ve written above overflowed in my heart and I began to think of all the things I need to say/ write. Things like, Thank you for being a wonderful mom to my husband and me. Thank you for being the best Grandma you could be. Thank you for modeling how to love your husband. Thank you for being there for me the past 28 years. Know that I’m asking God for more years and I know He has you in His hand. I love you! Just wanted you to know. These are the things I need to say.

God’s Promise for Moms- Philippians 1:6

This Mother’s Day will be my 25th as an official Mother. It’s kind of hard to believe for me.  Being a Mom was something I always wanted to be, but it was also the scariest of propositions for me.  From the day I found out I was pregnant with my first to today I’ve always had this awareness of what I lacked for being the Mom I should be.  I’m sure if I was able to take a poll of all the moms out there that is what they would tell you too.  It kind of comes with the territory.  There’s always someone more creative, with a cleaner house, more respectful kids, healthier meals, happier husband, taking all the “me time” they need, and so on- kind of mom.  For some reason “comparison” is the favorite game of moms all around. At least it was my game of choice for most of my childrearing years, and on occasion still is…

There’s nothing like having a little life to shape and mold as your primary responsibility, or maybe 2 lives, 3 lives, or in my case 4.  Needless to say I’ve spent a lot of time praying and telling God “I have no idea what to do with … (fill in the blank with a name).” In fact, that’s a prayer I still use frequently and three of my four are adults now.  I guess that may never stop.

Recently, I’ve been spending time in the book of Philippians in the Bible.  The first chapter has a verse that I’ve thought of often in my journey of motherhood.  Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  It’s a verse that I’ve often heard as an encouragement to an individual. The ol “don’t get discouraged, God isn’t finished with me yet.” kind of verse. But Paul was writing this to a group of friends, brothers/ sisters in Jesus, who he described as having them in his heart (Philippians 1:7) the ones he said he prayed for.  Some of the same things I as a mother of grown kids can relate to.  My adult children and my teen are in my heart.  They have been in my heart since I heard the first heart beat in the ob/gyn office, and I pray for them, on the regular.  I know that life, although full of joys and excitement, is very hard.  The struggles they had while under my roof may have changed, but I know they are there. I was 20 something once and I struggled too.  But I can say as Paul said about his spiritual family in Philippi, about my family, “God began a good work in them and He will finish it.”  I’ve told young mothers who’ve worried about how to deal with the various challenges of infancy and toddlerhood, “Remember as much as you love that little angel, God loves them the same and then some.”  Same applies at any age.  God loves them the same as I do and then some.  He doesn’t start a project to abandon it.  He simply is not finished yet.

It’s hard to let God have our kids at any age.  The reality of this hit me shortly after I brought my firstborn home from the hospital.  I was a fear filled mother and SIDS was on the forefront of my mind.  I would sit on the edge of my bed with a flashlight watching my son breathe in his bassinet.  I remember praying, “God, I can’t stay awake 24/7.  Sooner or later I will have to go to bed and trust Him to You for a few hours.”  Not really understanding the reality that God not only had him when I slept, He had him when I was awake too. It really wasn’t all on me to keep him alive, but it was on God.  Then the same kid turned 16, got a little blueish truck and hopped in it to drive to town.  Once again I found myself scared of what could happen to a teenage male driver who believed he was invincible.  I spent some time laying face first in my carpet asking God to bring him home safe, realizing it wasn’t about me at all, but totally about God.  The for instances in this paragraph could go on and on, especially since I have four kids that I have prayed for, cried over, and felt so helpless at times to help.  But thankfully by kid number four It’s getting a little easier to see just how much God has all these things even when I do not.  (cheers instead of tears when he drove away newly licensed a few months ago.)

I’ve not reached Jedi master in this whole, faith filled mom who never worries about her kids’ next step and direction thing, but I do intend on holding fast to those words Paul penned so many centuries ago.  Even though I am no longer able to call the shots, give the orders, put them in time out, or send them to bed. (Nor would I want to. I’m kind of enjoying the freedom. 🙂  )  I am able to bring them before God on the regular and I must trust that God will “carry on” His good work in them.  I had to trust them with God while I slept as they were infants, and I must trust them with God as they take their wings and fly away.

His Choice, His Desire, His Love

Right off the bat I want to put a personal plug in for “The Bible App” or “YouVersion”  It’s a game changer if your looking for a way to get into the Bible more and understand it better.  There are all kinds of nifty little details that it covers: making pictures with Bible verses on them, open your app daily for the daily verse streaks, devotions, and reading plans to mention a few.  My husband and I picked “The Bible Project: New Testament in One year” almost a year ago to do together.  We don’t really have a time we actually sit down and read the Bible together, but we are reading the same passage and on occasion we have struck up conversations on it.  It’s good to grow Spiritually together.  It’s been a joy.

As I mentioned, we’ve been at this for almost a year.  Which puts us in the book of Revelations.  Not really my favorite book of the Bible.  It has good stuff in it. They all do, but if there is one thing I’m not, an end times scholar is one of them.  So far we’ve made it to chapter 4 and so far so good.  In fact, what I read today is what’s been rolling around inside of me today.  Probably because I need it.  I would venture to say most people do.

Revelations 4:11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” NIV

My first read of this verse it kind of stuck out to me.  I thought, “Oh yeah I think some worship song in the 80’s quoted that verse or something.”  But it kept sticking out to me. So to satisfy my curiosity, I figured I’d check it out in some other versions.  I’ve got my go to list of versions I like to compare verses to.  One of them is “The Message”.  Sometimes I read it and think, “That couldn’t possibly be what the Bible was trying to say.”  But most of the time I come away looking at things a little different.  This is one of those times.

Revelations 4:11 “Worthy, O Master! Yes, our God! Take the glory! the honor! the power! You created it all;  It was created because you wanted it.”

Shazaam!  That last little bit struck me.  God didn’t just willy nilly wake up one day and decide that just for funzies He was going to create everything.  No, He created everything “Because HE wanted it.”

It’s turkey season in our neck of the woods.  My husband and son have been hunting most mornings this week.  They get up, excited at 5 am, and go sit out in the woods/ field near our home for hours on end.  So far after 5 days of trying, no Turkey.  My husband put a selfie of himself and my son from the first morning, with the quote “Gotta love the outdoors” on Facebook. He has told me more than once how much he loves just going out and sitting in the outdoors and enjoying creation.  I get it.  I’m fond of an occasional nature hike, trout fishing, and camping.  I love the peace I feel when I look up at the sky at night and see the stars quietly shining in the sky and hear the frogs and crickets singing in the background.  It’s beautiful.  So in reading that verse, I told God, “I get it.  You wanted all that so you made it.  That’s really cool.” But then it hit me… He made me. He wanted me.”

When my kids we little and I held them on my lap, I wanted to convey to them how much they were worth to me and to God.  I would say, “Do you know who loves you?”

“Yeah Momma, you do.”

“That’s right who else?” “Daddy”

“Yep, who else?”  (The list could go on for awhile with Grandparents, cousins, friends.) But I always ended it with this statement. “That’s true, but Jesus loves you the most. More than any of us can or could.”  This usually wrapped around to the final statement I would say, “You know, God wanted a sun. So He made one.  God wanted our dog Jack so He made him. But more than anything, He wanted you, an Andy, so He made an Andy.”

That is all fine and good when you’re talking to your precious child, but it’s hard to apply when you turn the table and apply it to you.  Especially if you struggle with self esteem/ self worth issues. If God made me, and I am certain He did, that means He wanted me…

If God made you, and I am certain He did, that means He wanted you…  Let that sink in.  All the things that are right, all the things that are wrong.  He looks right at us and “wants us.”  Things I want I don’t throw away.  Things I want I take care of.  Things I want I look at with affection.  Things I want I would fight for.  Things I want I would pay the price to Get.   Hmmm… The picture comes in clearer and clearer.  I’m not a thing, but I am His creation, and everything He has made was made by His choice, His desire, and His love.

Maybe, like me, that makes your mind go “tilt” like an old pinball game.  But I’m sure if that truth is applied to my heart and mind enough, the crooked will be made straight, and my value will become clearer and clearer.  The same for you.

It’s probably time to break out the old conversation I used to have with my kids and just fill in the blanks.  “Who loves you?  Yeah yeah, but Who Really Loves YOU? Yes, Jesus.  He wanted a (your name goes here) so HE made one. That is why you are here.”

https://www.youversion.com/the-bible-app/

Seasons of Change

It’s a very distinct memory of mine. Around 15 years ago, standing on the right-hand side of the church we were going to talking to someone. At the time I had a 1 year old, 4-year-old, 6-year-old, and a 9-year-old. Then someone approached me and said, “I’ve been praying for you and I just feel like the Lord wants me to tell you, you are just in a season.” I’m sure they said more, but that is all I got out of that conversation. As I went home, I remember thinking to myself, “This is going to be the longest season I’ve ever been through. I just started and I have another 17 years before it’s over.” I didn’t think there would ever be the end of meal planning, dirty diapers, nursing, house cleaning, disciplining, etc. Everyday felt like another day in the movie “Groundhog’s Day”. Same thing over and over and over. What’s weird is how gradually it all changed. One significant milestone reached by one kid, then another, and another,… you get the point (some people just don’t know when to stop having kids, ha ha) It’s like this long spiral ladder of progress that feels like you’re going nowhere and then all of a sudden you look down and see how far you’ve really gone. Although internally I wanted to smack the sweet sister who told me “It’s just a season”, the truth is, it was. What seemed like forever was really a flash, and here I sit on the other side, pondering just how much things change, how quickly it does, and how I don’t even notice until I wake up on a whole new life time plane to figure out and maneuver within.

Today my husband and I went to church.  That’s been our mode of operation for the past 27 years. The difference was I didn’t have four little ones to try to wrangle through the worship service, and hope that they would stay in children’s church for an hour so I could get a break.  It was just me and him.  The oldest 3 are off doing their own thing in their own lives, and the youngest would prefer to sit by friends than us, not that I mind or anything.  I’ve hit another season… this one doesn’t seem like it holds as many challenges as the previous. But I’m fairly certain it does.  That’s kind of what seasons do.  In summer, the challenge is to keep cool, in winter, the challenge is to keep warm. In Spring, the challenge is to get everything planted in the garden.  In fall, the challenge is to get everything processed that you planted in the garden.  Life is kind of like that as well. I’ve awakened to a world where my husband and I are sitting in the same room alone quite a bit, the house is quiet, and the only ones I need to feed on the regular are me and him.  It’s quite a bit different than the world I just left where the only place I could get alone was in the master bathroom after I locked myself into my room and hid back in that corner of the house, or all I heard on the hourly if not more is “mom I’m hungry”, “mom what do you have to eat?” “Mom tell him to stop…” (you get the picture)

So, what’s a girl to do with this whole new gig? Especially since the past 8 months I’ve found myself with less and less outside commitments.   It’s pretty uncomfortable to not be “doing” when all you’ve known for quite awhile is “do”. 

I think every once and awhile God likes to get us here: At a place where “doing” isn’t what defines us, but “being” is. I know that I have a tendency to use a title to define myself, and like most, a title with a little umph behind it feels even better. But “who I am” is what means the most not so much what all I do, and maybe for a “season”, God wants me to rest in that.

It’s kind of like this sleepy Sunday afternoon with me and the husband in a quiet, practically empty two-story house. We finally have some time to just enjoy each other, sit next to each other and talk. Spiritually, God’s brought me here as well. I can enjoy God more, not the ministry, the busyness, one activity/ meeting to the next. Instead, spending time being His girl, listening to His heart, and letting Him prepare me for the next season whatever it may be like. Because where He leads is good especially since where He leads, He is.