The Beauty in Patience

IMG_1439

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

(I Corinthians 13:4-5)

There are a lot of things about home school that STRESS ME OUT. I have five kids ages 3 years to 10 years. I have to plan out lessons for 4 of them each week. Each one has a different way of seeing, understanding, and retaining information. The lesson plans have to accommodate those differences….or nothing is learned!

One of the things that can stress me out most is how to fit everything into my day – church commitments (not just on Sundays!), housework, meals, running errands, school work, supporting my husband with his school work (which means doing a few more things around the house to make it easier for him to focus), and getting the kids outside so we don’t all go crazy! I tend to plan way too much for each day, expecting perfection in attitudes and responses so that all of it can be done. It NEVER happens that way, in case you were wondering.😉

In order to try and fit all these things in, I may or may not be rude and impatient with my kids. I hurry them along through every task – chores, schoolwork, readings, getting out the door. When the plans written in my planner are falling apart, I find it easier to grouch at the kids….like it is their fault or something. I always regret it afterward, but for some reason I find it easy to default to grouch when things don’t get done.

I am learning, this school year, the beauty in patience. Patience with failed plans. Patience with less-than-perfect children. Patience with myself when I just cannot keep up with my ridiculously long To Do lists. If I can be more in the habit of being patient, the days are much more enjoyable. I may not get everything done on the list, but I get to notice things I am unable to see when I am in “go” mode. I get to see my kids holding hands while we go on our nature walks (totally on their own, without me suggesting it). I am able to really see Ethan figure things out just by looking at his facial expressions. (He and I watched a video of a snail eating a mushroom, and it was amazing to see him taking it all in. His eyes lit up as the little snail munched, and he stumbled over what words to use in order to share his excitement. Would have totally missed it had I still been in my grouchy, pushy moment.) I get to ENJOY our time together.

I have heard from several moms that wish they could stay home. Moms that would love to school their kiddos at home. But they can’t; whether it is finances or job instability or whatever, they aren’t able to live their dream of being home. And here I am missing moments with my kids because I did not get to check off “scrub bathroom floors” from my daily list!

Today, I had planned to do the majority of our school readings and group time then head to the library to drop off and pick up. Then I remembered I had a package to mail. I felt myself getting flustered with MORE to put on my list for the day, but I was able to stop and remind myself that whatever we do today we get to do together. I changed up the day’s flow and we ended up going to the post office first, then we made a quick stop at the library before heading down a little sidewalk to the river. We spent about 45 minutes walking the little river walk and checking out seashells. I brought a little snack with, and we ate as we walked. Ethan WILLINGLY held my hand, and even let me hold him long enough to see two ducks snuggling on a rock together in the river. When we got to a good stopping place, the kids threw rocks in, searched for seashells and even found some dead river life (crayfish and small fish that washed up onto the rocks). I didn’t prod them to make an educational notes or do a drawing or discuss any life cycles. We just kind of hung out and enjoyed the river.

Sure, Ethan ended up with muddy legs, and I almost fell in trying to help a fish that got stuck in the shallow area….but it was just fun to be with them. I don’t always feel that way. Like I said, I am usually rushing everyone everywhere. Even if there is no real reason to rush, I just do. Like if we slow down, someone will act up and the day will be ruined! haha!

So, there is beauty (A LOT of beauty) in patience. Things typically unnoticed really get the spotlight. Relationships are strengthened. Moms realize the kids are pretty fun to be with during events that have the possibility of being chaotic. Kids realize Mom isn’t always a meanie.😉

I am so thankful for homeschooling. I am thankful for the curriculum we have settled on. It was definitely God who brought us to it, and I am so happy we jumped all in with it this year. Even with what seems like more subjects than we were used to (definitely more reading aloud!), there is much more excitement with it and a peace to the day. Of course, we still end up with those crazy days where really nothing gets done because of bad attitudes. BUT, we are learning together how to avoid them and let go of expectations.

And I am learning the beauty in patience.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

(Ephesians 4:2)

The AHA! Moment

“Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.”

(Charlotte Mason)

 

As a parent, it is so fun to see your child have those moments where they just get things. The algebra equation finally makes sense. An often misspelled word is finally mastered. A long and challenging book is conquered. It is the “aha!” moment.

As a home school parent, we often get to see the majority of those moments with our kids. And even though there may be many, each one is still a joy to see!

And then there are those PARENTAL aha! moments.🙂

This morning, the kids and I started school time like we normally do. Dad happened to be home because he was scheduled to work later in the day. He sat working on his college classes on the computer and encouraged us to stay in the room with him to do our schoolwork, even though I offered to take the kids upstairs (because I know how loud we can be!). So, there we all are in the same room. Dad is typing away on computer. The kids and I are spread out in the room. The boys brought out every single Megablock we own (somewhere close to 300, I imagine). The girls had coloring books and crayons sprawled out on the table.

Now, I have learned to accept what my children need in order to listen to me read. When we first started the read-aloud times, I forced them to sit still on the floor or couch and look at me, so I could be sure they were paying attention. This did not work. I found out my oldest would get lost in her thoughts about the wrinkles on my face. The boys wouldn’t even look at me and started fighting with each other. And the other two girls cried…a lot…about how boring it was. I decided, after a lot of reading from Charlotte Mason’s books and others like her, that it would be OKAY if the kids did something while they listened.

So, I allowed them to bring Legos to the table or crayons and coloring books. The boys could bring action figures or blocks. We had deflated balloons filled with rice or flour they could sit and squeeze. I let them string beads on old shoelaces to make a personalized string thing. Whatever would keep them in the room and semi-quiet. My only rule was they could not talk to each other while I was reading.

Back to the story…today we had megablocks everywhere. The boys were building. The girls eventually abandoned the crayons and books to sit and build with the blocks, as well. I was reading fine, until Ethan decided to pester a sister, causing her to scream. I had to get after them about being quiet and keeping hands to themselves. Dad had left the room for something and as he came back in, he finally noticed the mess of blocks and children on the floor. Knowing how particular I am about school/mess/crazy 3 year olds, he asked, “How can you get anything done with him(Ethan) in here? And how can they hear you read if they’re playing with all the blocks?”

I could see he was genuinely worried that we were not getting any school work done with the blocks and that Ethan was just irritating everyone. I did not really have an answer right then, so I just smiled and shrugged my shoulders. And then our Bible lesson was done, so we moved on to reviewing maps and our Paddle to the Sea book. Not even a minute after Dad had asked me that, Buddy (5 years old) answered my question about the lake in our story and the Great Lakes. When he shouted out “Lake Nipigon!”, Dad turned around and yelled out “Wait a minute! What in the world is Lake Nipigon? And how does Buddy know about it?”

Realizing what was happening, I just smiled again and shrugged my shoulders. And then the kids went on to explain what and where Lake Nipigon was.🙂 What I saw happening was Buddy had just showed that we were getting things done and that the kids were hearing me while they played with blocks. We have been reading that book for a few weeks and matching up the locations it describes on our own little map. Buddy, while playing with blocks and keeping his hands busy and his mouth quiet, was able to absorb everything I was reading and explaining. He was getting it!

I had my AHA! moment this morning. The methods I had forced on the kids prior to this Summer were not working. The methods I had implemented this Summer WERE working. When I let go of my desire to control everything – their environment, how they learn, how much mess I would allow (!!) – they were able to relax and learn how God created to learn. Through play. Through a relaxed environment. Without pressure to memorize every little fact. We were reading history, science, and other subjects in books with stories that contained the facts I wanted them to learn. Because it wasn’t just a textbook of facts – boring old facts – the information came alive for them and they understood it. They enjoyed hearing more of it, loved remembering it.

Up until a few weeks ago, I had no clue about Lake Nipigon. We have a giant map of the U.S. on our wall, and I really didn’t pay much attention to just North of the Great Lakes…..where our map clearly has “Lake Nipigon” marked. Haha! And yet, now, my kids know of a location that most adults don’t. They can name the Great Lakes because Paddle (in our story) is travelling from Lake Nipigon all the way to the Atlantic Ocean by way of the Great Lakes. The kids are absorbing the information about geography and science through a story of a young Canadian Indian boy who sent out a wooden boat on a journey to the ocean!

I have had my AHA! moment. I understand what Charlotte Mason is saying in all her books on education. Children need a relaxed environment. They need good books….LIVING books. They need reading and to be read to. They need to be able to process the information in whatever way works for them – whether keeping hands busy or pacing the room or lying on the floor staring at the ceiling. I cannot expect them to sit in a chair at a desk and stare at me while I read – they don’t all learn that way. Some do, and that is great. But some don’t, and I have to embrace that and give them what they need or they may never take in the information they need. They may never enjoy learning or pursue it on their own.

While I love to see my kids finally get it, I loved that I saw myself get it today. And I love that we are learning…in a mess…on the floor…all together.

Character Study – The Real Lie Detector!

IMG_1415

Yesterday, we started our Character Study back up. I had found free printables a few years ago and thought they’d be an excellent addition to our school day. We could learn about one positive character trait every week or so and memorize a Bible verse that correlates.

Well, that only lasted about three weeks. I forgot to change out the character trait, so I kept saying “well, we’ll study this same one a little longer.” AND, I was not exactly working to incorporate the trait into my own daily life…which made it even less of a priority. The study quickly fell off the radar.

After seeing some major bad attitudes from the kids (and myself!) the past few weeks, I decided we should start the study again. And this time, I told myself, I would work to make sure I was displaying these attributes as well. Since we seem to have extremely short fuses around here, I chose Patience as our first study.

Yikes! Talk about conviction!!

We sat down to talk about it yesterday, and after reading the definition the kids did not appear to completely understand what it meant. The definition is “bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint.” I could tell that, for sure, the boys (ages 3 and 5) did not get it. The girls seemed a little unsure, too. So, I thought we’d give some examples.

“When we are waiting for the bathroom and we are banging on the door and jiggling the handle and yelling at the person using it……is that patient or impatient?”

“IMPATIENT!”

Ok, so they totally understood.😉

But then our examples got to be a little too personal for me. And we were describing MY talk when I am trying to get everyone out the door. Or when I am putting them to bed. Or when we need to sit down for group school work.

Nameless child: “What about when you are yelling at us to hurry and get our shoes on? Or when you tell us something one time and then start yelling?”

Whoa. That was a bit eye-opening. I sound AWFUL when I am in a hurry (and not even in a hurry for a serious reason – just because I want to be in a hurry). The kids thought it was a funny exercise, but I was quite ashamed. Almost embarrassed in front of them. We talked for a while and discussed the correct way to respond to people and situations and what actions we could take that day to be more patient.

And then we went grocery shopping.

(I could probably end the post there because I know you moms understand the amount of patience needed to shop with children. And not just walk through the store and grab items, but when we need to price compare and figure out our coupon situation and cross off list items and figure out where the sale item is when it is not in the normal spot.)

Why does mom always have to be the one to lead with the correct attitude and reaction?! Why can’t the kids just do the right thing while mom acts impatient and sulks?🙂 It was a rough shopping trip, I must say. I did catch myself several times before I said something snippy or sarcastic to the kids, but I still failed multiple times with the rest of my patience attempts. The one thing that was different was at the end of the trip – we were all in the car driving home, and one by one the kids apologized for their bad behavior. And then I apologized for losing it on them. They weren’t even that bad in the store; it just wasn’t what I expected out of them. That tends to amplify the slightest misbehavior in my eyes.

While our actual shopping time was just awful (as far as my actions towards them), we did make up in the car pretty quickly….which is new for us. We will be reviewing Patience again today, and I am a little nervous at the opportunities God is going to bring for us to practice using patience! I am praying we tackle it much better than yesterday. And I am thankful for the turnaround time in making things right with each other. Baby steps, right?

As much as the Character Study really shines a light on our (ok, mostly MY) flaws, we should probably keep it around and see how much we can grow from it!

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

Ephesians 4:2

The School Plan

Well hello there! It’s been a while!

I took a break from a lot of things to regroup and stay on track with our Summer homeschooling. And now it is August! I just cannot believe how fast that went!

We took off the month of June for outdoor fun in the sun and lots of playing. We eased back into schooling the first two weeks of July before taking a week off for our church’s Vacation Bible School. Then, we jumped right back in with a little bit heavier schedule. And here we are in August with an almost-back-to-normal school day. The schooling through the Summer went exceptionally well; I tried not to expect perfection or too much focus from the kiddos, and I think that helped.😉

Last year, we dabbled in the Ambleside Online curriculum. I love how they lay everything out online and that it is heavy on the reading (group, individual, and LOTS of classics). This Summer, we completely immersed ourselves in the Ambleside curriculum and will continue that into the rest of the school year.

Ambleside is a Charlotte Mason-based curriculum (not completely Charlotte Mason, but they pull a lot from her principles and ideas for most of their curriculum). It relies a lot of books for the material. Many of the books are old, which is what I love. Obviously, some of the history and science have to be supplemented with more current things, but all of the children’s individual reading is older books. There aren’t any dumbed-down books. A lot of what my girls have been reading the months before Ambleside were books with no substance. I am sure they were enjoyable stories, but they weren’t challenging. And I was having to look over A LOT more of their modern choices because of content (boy/girl stuff, name-calling, witchcraft, etc). After becoming frustrated with a silly comic book that included a very sensual picture of a female character (thankfully Iris saw it before the younger kiddos and brought me the book), I decided I would “push” the older books more. For any school or free reading, I am selective on their choices. I still let them choose – but I give them the selection from which to choose.🙂 Sure, it’s a little sneaky, but we are avoiding a lot of the less-challenging books and offering more books with morals and characters to model themselves after.

I thought it was maybe a bit silly at first to limit what they read. I mean, why not just let them read if they are WILLING to read? BUT, I kept coming back to that verse in I Corinthians 10:23 – “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.” Just because they are reading books doesn’t mean those books are benefiting them. I wanted to be able to say what they’re reading was helping them read better or BE better. No offense to the author but Dear Dumb Diary isn’t really the kind of book I’d be proud to say my girls read (though they have…).

With that verse in mind, I have noticed a lot more of what we should be reading and trying to stick with it. (By the way, that verse is quite convicting for myself….not everything I read is beneficial either, and I have to be just as selective with MY reading!)

So, here we are in our school routine, and I think we have a handle on good books. Iris is reading The Borrowers for her free read; Lily is tackling The Peterkin Papers. Both books have bigger words than they are used to in their reading, but they both seem to be understanding and enjoying the stories! Addy and I are reading The Courage of Sarah Noble together; it is set back in early American times, and the words are definitely a challenge for her to understand. I am doing all the reading (she still struggles, but I wanted her to get a lot of these stories in!), but I have her narrate every few paragraphs so that I know she is following well.

Speaking of Narration – that’s a new(er) thing for us. I am very intentional about having the kids narrate because then I am completely aware of whether or not they are following/listening. If they can’t tell the story back to me, then we re-read it. This goes for all subjects – history, science, Shakespeare, Bible, and so on. I don’t want to be reading and no one listening!🙂

For what we’re covering this year, I have Addy doing mostly Year 1 from Ambleside. She is moving along quickly, so we may be able to move up to Year 2 before the end of the school year. BUT, I am not pushing it. I am more concerned with her understanding and absorbing the info than just checking off the boxes! She is working through Level 1 in her math curriculum as well, and she is doing great – really catching on quickly! Iris and Lily are completing Year 4 with Ambleside. Iris is technically 5th grade, but Year 4 has many “heavy” books, and I don’t want to move her to Year 5 before she has a firm grasp on the older language used in the books. They are both doing Level 4 in their math curriculum as well, but I suspect they will whiz through that and both move to Level 5 before Spring! Again, though, not pushing it – understanding is much more important than a certain level. (I should mention – Year 4 with Ambleside includes Plutarch….having no clue who Plutarch was up until last year, I am not yet ready to dive into that his works. Perhaps in January we can revisit that and start reading. For now, Shakespeare and all the other subjects are keeping us quite busy!)

Below is our lineup for subjects we are covering. I have marked in parentheses the different looping groups they are in. I have looped several of the subjects because we just don’t need to cover new ground every single day in every single subject. Reviewing them every day might be fine, but some days we have a large project in another subject and we miss other subjects….and that is ok!

(And for those not familiar with “looping”, it is just taking a certain number of subjects and rotating them, rather than try and teach every subject every day. We don’t get to each subject every day in the loop, but we get to it each week however many times we get through the loop. I know some moms create the loop so they touch on some subjects more times than others in the same loop – like ordering Spelling, Grammar, Spelling, Writing, Spelling, Literature…3 times of spelling for 1 of grammar, writing and literature – but I think the 1:1 ratio is good for us now.)

In the morning, as a group, we have these items in a basket to complete together (I call it Morning Time….real creative, eh?):

  • Bible – story/passage/topic
  • Character Study/Review
  • Verse Memorization
  • Hymn Study (morning basket loop)
  • Picture Study (morning basket loop)
  • Composer Study(morning basket loop)
  • Map Drills (morning basket loop)
  • Poetry – Recite/Review
  • Shakespeare

Hymn, picture, composer, and map drills are rotated in on a loop. I don’t spend more than 30 minutes together with the Morning Time…so whichever of those four is rotated in for the day is probably the only one we will get to in order to complete the rest of the list. And we don’t cover a whole Shakespeare story, just a few pages to read and narrate. Shakespeare is heavy, and I don’t want to overwhelm the kids (or myself!!).

After the group time, the boys will go play or find something to do, while the 3 girls together will do Loop #1, Loop #2, and Dailies:

  • Nature Study (Loop #1)
  • Geography (Loop #1)
  • Science (Loop #1)
  • History (Loop #1)
  • Biography (Loop #1)
  • Spelling (Loop #2)
  • Grammar (Loop #2)
  • Writing (Loop #2)
  • Literature (Loop #2)
  • Math – done individually, with my help as they need it (daily)
  • Copywork – Iris and Lily typically have larger portions to copy than Addy (daily)

For Loops 1 and 2, we spend about 30 minutes on each loop. Whatever subjects we cover (one, two, or all!) during that time is fine. Wherever we stop is where we pick up the next day. So, if we only cover nature study one day in the 30 minutes, then the following day we start up with geography and carry on. The second 30 minute loop time on the first day might be able to cover spelling, grammar, and writing; so, the following day (when we start geography in loop 1), we would start at literature for loop 2’s session. Does that make sense??

Math and Copywork are daily items, so I did not loop them. I want them to learn/review math concepts every day, as well as become excellent in handwriting. And the time spent on those two subjects just depends on the math lesson – whether new or review – and how long the copywork is. I usually have the girls copy the same passage/poem for the week (4 days at least).

After all the morning subjects and loops are done, the kids all have free time. They can play outside, inside, have a snack (if we didn’t work one in already), or finish up any work they didn’t get to while we worked all morning. Lunch follows free time. Then nap time for the boys. I am hoping to work in a regular walk after lunch….but we haven’t gotten that far. Usually I get super lazy after we eat!

While the boys nap, I have the girls work on some independent Afternoon items (that require little or no attention from me, so I can read or do housework or work on the following week’s schedule):

  • Typing – Iris and Lily are using a free website (https://www.typing.com/) and are loving it. I haven’t been consistent with every day lessons on there, but now that it is August and we are back into a full day’s schedule, it will become a daily afternoon lesson.
  • Foreign Language – I am still figuring this one out. I like the free site DuoLingo but have not been disciplined enough to work it into the schedule. I would like all 3 girls to work on this each afternoon together. They are all very curious about speaking Spanish, since it is a part of their heritage.🙂 I think they mostly just want to impress their Hispanic grandparents with some skills.
  • Free Read – these are the books I mentioned above, the ones they choose from a selection I give them. They can get through these as fast as they want, but I require them to at least read a chapter a day. And I have them narrate the chapter to me, even though I probably shouldn’t. I just want them to be in the habit of sharing what they read, so they understand the story.
  • Drawing/Handicraft – I have a list of handicrafts for them to choose from (soap carving, crochet, and a bunch more I found online!), and the plan is to incorporate the craftiness a few times a week. For drawing, it will usually fall on the days we do nature study. We typically draw whatever nature item/creature we are checking out; I search for a YouTube video on how to draw it, and we follow along. It has been pretty fun so far! I may or may not have my own Nature Journal that I draw in as well.😉

At least once a week, after the boys are up from nap, we have a Tea Time. I was not sure how apt they would be to have tea in the afternoon, but all five kids seemingly love it! They ask for different flavors of tea, and we even do it English-style with cream and honey. Unless it is a flavor that would not go well with cream in it. But, we all get tea cups and saucers, a snack of some sort, and we sit together to eat and drink while I read some poetry (usually A Child’s Garden of Verses) or our group read-aloud book. We started The Water Babies but got off track and stopped reading it after just a few chapters (though I would like to eventually go back to it!). Now we are reading Old Yeller. I LOVE this book. I remember reading it once or twice as a child and then seeing the movie. We are only on the second chapter because our reading times have been rather short due to rambunctious boys, but we are all enjoying the story. The boys especially enjoyed the part when Little Arliss ran naked from the drinking water pool to the house! They laughed so hard at that part!

I am excited to work in the last couple items (handicraft, spanish, etc) and be “officially” into our school year. At first, coordinating the subjects into a decent schedule seemed overwhelming…and then it WAS overwhelming when I tried to use other people’s plans and schedules. Even though I know our home is different from every other homeschooling home, I still felt like I needed someone else’s plan. I finally gave up that idea and worked up my own plan. And so far, it is working! Go figure – our plan working best for our family. Haha! Also, I am not following each subject exactly as Ambleside shows. I have the same subjects but we adjust them to the best way for us to incorporate and learn them. Some, for us, will be a lot less in-depth than for other Ambleside families, while we may choose to go more in-depth for other subjects. But I know we are still giving the kids a very rich curriculum, much richer than what I know of the public schooling atmosphere. (I am not knocking the public school, but homeschooling allows us to get more involved in each subject when we want/need to…and we don’t have a classroom of 30 students. We just have a lot more flexibility for my kids’ learning styles, and I am so grateful!)

At some point I would love to have some pictures of our morning basket or of the kids doing a nature study or something, but I haven’t been very great with the camera lately. If I don’t try and do EVERYTHING, I feel a lot less stressed. So, if I don’t get pics on here that is ok. But, my goal is to eventually post some, to give you an idea of how our day works for us!

And I plan to share a bit more on loop scheduling and bullet journaling (this is a newer item for me, but I am LOVING it), details on working through our morning basket as a group, and many other things. I am feeling inspired and motivated to get back into blogging. It will probably be a lot less about food things and much more about homeschool. I have really fallen away from my uptightness with food, but that is a whole other post for a different day. For now, I am just rejoicing in our plan for homeschool and the start to a brand new year!!!

 

Silence and Struggling

I have, obviously, been quite silent on here lately. I shared about our exciting month of May, but beyond that I have just been kind of stuck with what to write about. Menu plans get old after a while, especially when I am not really mixing it up with too many new recipes. And then no new recipes on the menu means I don’t have any new recipes to share in a post.

I am reading (and it is taking me forever – finding quiet time to read is hard!!) Sally Clarkson’s Own Your Life. WHAT A BOOK! Never have I felt such conviction while reading a book (outside of the Bible, that is). Sally shares, chapter by chapter, about “living with deep intention, bold faith, and generous love.” It seriously has gripped me on several occasions…almost like a smack across the face would.😉 She really gets real about cutting the crap, not feeling sorry for ourselves, and getting out their and living Christlike.

Throughout the year, I have ups and downs (as I assume all moms do). Motherhood can almost make you feel crazy at times. You get into a good rhythm and feel great about your schedule and the kids’ behavior and all that you can accomplish in a day (which probably isn’t that amazing compared to most people, but still…).

Then you have an upset – someone gets sick. A child, for no apparent reason, acts out in the most annoyingly ridiculous way. Your husband has a bad day at work and it spills over into home life. Plans get cancelled. Last-minute plans or appointments come up and you aren’t all that thrilled with it. And a hundred other scenarios you can imagine…

Life just goes nuts.

And I just can’t recover.

I try the old routine – doesn’t work. I try a new routine – doesn’t work. I try reading other mom bloggers’ ideas and implementing them – doesn’t work. I completely shut down and then blow up on anyone that ticks me off – that works, but ends up making it all even worse afterward!

And I am led back to my Bible and the reminder of contentment. Philippians 4:12 says “…I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,…” and then following verse (13) goes on to say “I can do all things through Christ…” Obviously, contentment is only found in Christ. Duh! Somehow I forget that every.single.time. And I also forget that contentment does NOT equal perfection. 

God has NEVER promised this life would be a breeze, that motherhood would be overflowing with amazingness 100% of the time (if only!!), that marriage would be completely fulfilling every second of the day, or that we would ever have it all figured out! In fact, I can guarantee we will never have it all figured out. Only God will. While that should make me content – I don’t have to figure it all out!! – I find myself frustrated and unfulfilled when I cannot figure it all out.

Thankfully, each time I fall into one of these ruts, I am drawn back to God. It is like He taps me on the shoulder to ask “remember Me? I’m still here.” I don’t have to keep going on my own – in fact, I shouldn’t have ever been doing it on my own. Those routines, or lack of, was all me trying to just carry on as if I can do life by myself. When things are going well, I forget that it is because of God – HE is guiding and leading and directing. And I get all caught up in my awesomeness….and then I fall hard, and it hurts. A lot. And then I remember I can do nothing on my own but “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

NOTHING amazing in this life is because of anything I have done. I simply have to lean on God, follow Him where He leads and HE brings about amazing things. And sometimes things aren’t amazing. And it isn’t necessarily because He is punishing me (unless I have made a poor choice…not that I’ve ever made a poor choice or anything…), but He is refining me. He is leading me through the struggles and the challenges to help me to learn to rely on Him.

Life can’t be all roses and sunshine. How would we learn anything?! We would never know what it is to fully trust in the Lord. Sin exists, so life will have bumps and valleys and tough times. But God is faithful and will ALWAYS be right where we need Him to be. I can lean on Him. The struggles and challenges will still be there, but I won’t have to go it alone! He carries me through it. I will still experience the challenge, but I have the ability to experience peace and contentment throughout the difficult time. A peace that is ONLY available through Jesus.

And, let me tell you, it is AMAZING peace. I don’t think I would be writing all this if we had not gone through all the financial stuff last year. What a year! So many times we could have just put our heads down and quit. Just given up. But God, in His awesomeness, kept providing and showing us He was there. Each time we thought it was too much or too awful or too embarrassing, God would shine a little light on the situation and show us a blessing. He continued to provide and answer prayers (not always what we asked for, but turns out it was much better that what we thought would be best!). He continued to show us He was in control. And here we are, a year later….and so much wiser in our faith. Arthur and I have grown closer to each other and the Lord. I love being able to be one of those people who says “let me tell you about the time the Lord provided…” I love hearing those stories from people, and now we have a story! It really was not pleasant to go through, but I am grateful for the perspective and experience it gave us.

I feel like I am rambling now.🙂

I just haven’t had a whole lot to say lately. I was in a rut with the kids. Kinda still am. I lose my patience ALL THE TIME with them.

We have a chore system (finally!) that seems to be working; we’re only on week one, so these nice feelings may change in a week or so.😉 My husband is almost done with another online Bible class (praise the Lord! that was a challenging class!!). And I am finding my groove as a homeschooling mom (only took me like five years).

Life is good. Yes, there are still challenges and a lot of not-so-great days with my temper, but life is still good. God is good. He is refining me, working on me to make me pure, wanting me to reflect Him in my reaction and give Him praise in every situation. “These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (I Peter 1:7 NIV)

If you know Jesus, then you know how good He is. No matter what the trial, He is still good. And He will carry us through it – yep, we’ll still go through it, but we are not alone.

If you don’t know the Lord, I am praying that someday you would. (Today’s a really good day to meet Him, by the way!) He did so much for you and I. And He wants you to get to know Him. So, let me tell you about the time the Lord provided…

 

Menu Plan

Breakfast

Cinnamon Roll Baked Oatmeal

Eggs or Cereal x 2

Waffles, fruit x 2

Pancakes, fruit x 2

Lunch

Simple Orzo (recipe later this week or next)

Quesadillas

Leftovers x 2

PB&J x 2

Snack lunch

Dinners

Chicken, Wild Rice and Broccoli Casserole

Pizza

Spaghetti

Fried Rice

Hamburgers and Hot dogs, chips

Corn Fritters, corn salad (lots of corn! lol)

Chicken and black bean nachos (build-your-own)

One Pot chicken, rice, and veggies

Crockpot Lasagna

Snacks

Blueberry Cream Biscuits

Apple Scones

German Apple Strudel

Fruit

May’s Adventures!

Well, well, well. Long time, no see.🙂 SO much has happened in the last few weeks; blogging has really had to take the back seat.

My husband was in a car accident in early May. His car was  not repairable, and we had to deal with that whole issue of total loss and settlement. Thankfully, the insurance of the gal who hit him took care of everything and very kindly gave us a wonderful settlement. So, then we had to get him a new car. Again, thankfully, we found a really great deal and were able to put down more than 50% of the purchase price. We haven’t had a car loan in over 5 years, so we were hesitant to get into that again….but, since we were able to put quite a bit down, the monthly payment was not awful at all.

We got about two weeks out from that and our van (that I drive) started acting up. Braking sounds, shifting sounds, stalling when parked. No bueno. We had taken it in once right before the accident, but the car guy couldn’t hear anything and didn’t see anything wrong. So, we kept driving. Last week, as the kids and I were driving to go get some flowers for our front yard, the car stalled. Thankfully, I was able to pull off the busy road as it was slowing. I waited a few minutes, and it started back up again. I dropped it off on Wednesday at the car place and went two whole days without it! Stressful! The weather was beautiful, though, so the kids and I just played outside and had no appointments or anywhere to be.

God has really been so obvious in all the details of the crazy happenings last month. He has shown Himself in so many ways in each situation. My husband’s accident happened just up the street from our house. His destination was about an hour away, but the accident happened close to here. Our neighbors were just about to leave but were so gracious in cancelling their plans to help us out that night (picking up Arthur from the hospital, helping me with the kids, etc). Had they been gone already, I don’t know what we would’ve done. And if his accident had happened further away, that would have been even more scary and challenging.

The other driver’s insurance responded quickly and politely. I used to work in liability claims; I know the kinds of claims adjusters out there.🙂 We were able to work with one who was on top of his company’s best practices and really hustled to get it settled. We had to pay out-of-pocket for a rental initially, but the timing worked out for my husband to take the van a few days to work and the rental was only needed for 2 days. We incurred ZERO costs after all was said and done!

Usually, I feel like we have a million appointments (doctor, dental, or others) or places to be. Both the week of his accident and the week of my van troubles, we had nowhere to be. Any other week, we would have been scrambling to find a car or a babysitter or help, but God’s timing is always perfect and He helped me see how He is always in control.

Honestly, I don’t think I will ever understand how people go through life without the Lord. There are no coincidences. There is NO WAY the universe aligns just so, in order to have all these things come together.

At our moms’ group at church, we revealed our Secret Sisters (we have a name for someone to pray for or give little gifts to…in secret, from September to May) and the gal praying for me ended up being the woman who mentors me in another program at church. She was given my name by the person in charge of the Secret Sister program….someone who had no idea that Karen and I were connected through another group.🙂 Karen already knows a lot about me and was able to pray for specific things and situations; her little gifts were absolutely a blessing and perfect for the challenges we faced this past year. To say that her getting my name was a coincidence is just crazy. God knew how much I would need her, and He placed us together for a second time. She and I have really grown a lot closer and have such similar stories right now in life.

Life is not perfect because I believe and trust in God. Challenges still happens. Loss still happens. Financial struggles DEFINITELY still happen.😉 Kids still misbehave (I have a little boy yelling “stupid” upstairs right now). Dinner still gets burned from time to time. I am still grouchy occasionally (yes, I am going to claim it is just occasionally) and fly off the handle with my kids.

BUT, here is what is different: I have God. I have the CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE with me. He is in control – knows all, sees all, and is everywhere. He offers me a peace that I absolutely cannot explain and have never received from anything else in this life. He offers a promise that no one else can deliver. He offers a salvation that required so much on His part and so little on mine. He tells me that there is nothing I can personally do to earn His love and an eternity in Heaven with Him. HE handles it all. My only job is to believe and accept it.

I have had this discussion several times in the last month….

So, if I believe and trust in the Lord. If I live my life morally and according to the Bible – full of love, hope, and peace. If I enjoy life, with the hope for an eternity with my Savior. If I die and find out I was wrong….what have I lost? Absolutely nothing. I simply lived a great life full of love and peace and hope.

If you do not believe or trust in the Lord. If you are not filled with the love, hope and peace of God. If you then die and find out YOU were wrong…what have you lost? Absolutely everything. You missed out on the best life here on earth. AND you have lost the best life in eternity.

So, while the month of May might have been a struggle for us….it was definitely full of peace, knowing the Lord was in control. I worried so much less because I knew that regardless of how hard it got financially, He was in control. He is going to take care of us. Will it always look like I want it to? No. Will the timing always be what I expect/hope? No. Will it work out like I imagined? Not always. That doesn’t mean He is a mean God or that He can’t handle it. It means His plan is not the same as my plan, and that is totally ok. He sees the big picture, so I would rather go with His plan that my own.🙂