on joy instead

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This week has been haphazard in terms of getting things done. Between the snow day last Friday and President’s Day Monday, the school week didn’t get off to it’s usual start. My daughter was away for a week with my in-laws, and Wednesday morning school time was used to drop off my son at school and then go pick my daughter up. The first thing my daughter and I did upon seeing each other was embrace for a long hug. It was great to be together again, as my heart had missed her very much.

We had company over for supper this past Tuesday. A pastor’s family recently moved to town from a nearby circuit. The wife and I had already met and been getting together off and on over the past year, but now that she is no longer an hour away, I’m hoping to make a semi-regular thing of getting together. They’ve also joined our homeschool group for the time being, along with another pastor’s family who does still live about an hour away. The fellowship was wonderful and natural, with no awkwardness at all.

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I’ve been pondering my years as a stay-at-home/homeschooling mom. I mentioned before how I’ve been realizing how much I’ve myself to a standard that God has not asked of me. It has been the world’s standard. How much is out there these days about “deep work”, efficiency, and getting things done? If I could just do this, if I could just be that–then I could get to where it is I’m supposed to be! I’ve thought the path of humility was to force myself, train myself, and beat myself up for being something I’m not.

Turns out, wouldn’t you know, God is doing a perfectly fine job with the training! And how exceedingly kind He is, that He lets me do it in the all ways that He chooses. God is good, friends, and the Gospel of Christ has set us free in a way that truly does touch our everyday lives. The world has no other way to reach perfection, or to even get close. But God is not asking perfection from us, nor is our definition of perfection without flaws. I’m just over all the pressure to get to a certain point when God has given me joy instead.

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clearing paths

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I don’t typically come to this blog with an agenda. If I sit down to write a post here, it’s simply because I like to sit down and write posts here. I don’t need to say much, but it’s nice to say something.  I write here to figure out what it is I need to say.

When I try to sit down and make any attempt at an official article, for example, it’s like trudging through three feet of fallen snow. I can feel what it is I want to say, but to turn my thoughts into something other people can understand is extremely difficult.

When I go to the Y, one of the things I like to do is jog in the resistance pool, except I like to run with the flow of the water and not against it. The resistance pool is an oval shaped section in a greater set of pools. They have jets that push the water to form a current. When I’m running with the current it feels like a rebellion, or more closely, a freedom. “Yes! Finally! Something that makes me feel light, swift, and strong!” It feels like a break from the daily life business of doing all those good and normal things that can start to feel hard after awhile. When I occasionally turn around and do try to swim against the current, it takes a long time for me to gain any distance. Eventually I make it up the ten or so foot section of pool to the handrail, but it’s a very, very slow process. I usually imagining if this is what it’d be like to futilely attempt to swim toward the shore before being thrown over the rim of Niagara Falls.

I feel the need to say that I am not an athlete, not am I in any kind of great physical shape. I’m honestly just an average person. I think I gave the wrong impression one time to a man I was talking to over the summer about running and walking. We both wanted to run the camp 5K that fall and were talking about running through the trails. He asked if I ever ran here and I said I did sometimes, meaning, I have on occasion ran out here. But mostly, if I do anything at all, I walk. Fast forward to later that after the 5K run, in which I jogged occasionally but mostly walked, and finished last. My husband and all four of my kids who participated had finished before me. I was proud of them all, especially the littlest one, for sticking with the whole thing and doing it all in the rain. I was satisfied and proud of myself for doing and finishing something I said I wanted to do. That same man came up to me at the finish line, and after telling me “Good job” he said, “I thought you said you’d been running?”

I wasn’t upset or hurt by his comment, but I felt like I’d somehow not been clear or disappointed him.

I’m just me here, friends.

What you see is what you get.

 

 

 

 

 

friend of all

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The kids and I had a library play date today. We met another homeschool mom and her four kids. She and I end up getting together about once every three or four months.  It’s funny how that sounds like a very long time but in life time it really isn’t that long. Life happens, we blink, and suddenly realize we haven’t done anything but “life” for months. We come up to the surface for an hour of air and conversation, but alas, kids get squirmy and the wintry mix is on its way.  We announce to the kids it’s time to clean up the toys, and do most of the picking up anyway because it’s easier, and faster, and less humiliating than having to repeat ourselves too many times in public.  We gather coats, check out a book, and look around and take a breath, before diving down into the sea again.

I realize that’s a negative way to describe it.

We actually had a good time. The kids were good and played nicely together. Our library has a cozy and comfortable play place where moms can sit and keep an eye on smaller kids. It did not go unnoticed by me that several moms of tinier children were there utilizing it. One of the moms, who was there alone even asked us if we could keep an eye on her crawling baby while she took another young child into the bathroom. Of course we said, “Of course”, and for a minute or two while sending smiles and faces to the baby I wondered if this was what it felt like to live in a community where moms were not alone.

My mom and I were talking about loneliness recently. She says loneliness is a part of this life, but what matters is what you do with it. My first gut reactions are either anger or compassion. Angry that the world and all of its people are screwed up, or compassion toward this vast sea of people all around me. But anger is a harsh emotion to live with, and not a single soul needs any more harshness in this life. Compassion is soft, and much gentler on the world at large. Jesus says, “Learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly of heart.” The promise is that we would find rest for our souls, and this is where I think we need to start with as moms, with our very own souls. I’m realizing more and more lately that I hold myself to a standard that God has not asked of me. The gentle and lowly Jesus says, “Come here, dear. I’ll take that.”

We had a good time at the library today. This other mom and I understand each other and that’s a rare gift in life. It’s a blessing to have not only another mother to relate with, but also to have a Christian friend who shares the same faith as you. In the midst of our mothering, God provides for me and God provides for this friend, and sometimes the way He does that is through the company of each other. My mom says she can see how God always seemed to send different people in different seasons, and I would say that has been very true for me as well. The past several years have brought some painful experiences with friendship which have severely served to wound me further, but have also sobered me up quite a bit. In all this I am warmed, for by my side has been the Lord who truly is the friend of all.

 

 

 

 

thus the heavens

In the center of the Garden of Eden were two trees. There was the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In Genesis 2, God told the man he was free to eat of any tree in the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he was not to eat. The Bible doesn’t say how many trees there were, only that he had made all kinds of trees to grow up from the ground, trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.

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The Genesis account doesn’t tell us everything. We also do not know the proximity of the tree of life from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It might be said that if both trees stood in the center of the garden, then to be near the tree of life was to also be near the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The shade of one might have merely been a stride or two from the shade of the other. But one tree was forbidden and the other was not. Access to the tree of life meant being near to, but not eating from, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. For to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil meant you could no longer access the tree of life. When it came to the two trees standing in the center of the garden, it was one or the other. You absolutely could not have both. 

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I was pondering all this while we were down at the lake today. It’s interesting to me how the human interest in wisdom and knowledge is tied to the fall into sin. Genesis 3 says the woman saw three things regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It was 1) a delight to the eyes, 2) good for food, which are the two things the Bible tells us about Eden’s trees back in Genesis 2. The last thing the woman sees was that the tree–the tree of the knowledge of good and evil–was to be desired to make one wise. So she ate from it.

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The world is full of wisdom and knowledge. It’s almost like the living situation on earth has been reversed. Before, there was a plethora of trees to eat from and be satisfied, and only one to avoid. Now, there is no shortage of human wisdom and knowledge out there. Years upon years of time and generations have produced book after book, thought after thought, podcast after podcast, information after more and more and more information.

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The homeschool world talks a lot about fostering a love of learning in our children. This is causing me to ask the question, “What IS true learning?” I look around at my house and see all the wonderful books on my shelves. To even read one of these, to know it inside and out, and truly understand it would take years and years of time and study. There’s a level of mastery that can never be reached, a hunger that can never fully be satisfied. This leads me to believe that while worldly learning is great, it isn’t everything it’s being made out to be. I want to take an English class, and read all the classics, and get lost in a documentary immersing me in any given point in history. Yet today I thought, and it again became clear, I can have worldly knowledge or I can have the tree of life.  

 

on the prairie

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We’ve seen the sun a little more over the past several days. Winter is typically cloudier here, but it seems like it’s been a cloudier winter this year. Between our daily school work during the weekdays, occasional trips into town, legos, local library books and movies, and a warm shelter with plenty of food, cabin fever thankfully hasn’t harried us too much. I have though quietly missed the sun, and enjoyed the time we had together during his latest brief visit. The boys were happy also to bundle up and play outside.

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Here’s something I just realized–the boys got dressed for the snow by themselves. What a ridiculous way to say it, but I believe it’s true that God recycles. He takes something that seems so inefficient and not worth all the puddles and effort, like putting boots, hats, and gloves on little boys when they want to go outside and play in the snow, and turns it into boys finding and putting on their own boots, hats, and gloves. It’s a miracle, friends.

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The geese have started flying back

and even through wind, rain, sleet, and snow

the oak trees never lost their leaves.

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Whatever kind of tree you are

I’m hoping, friends, your days are blessed.

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