Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful for the little things...

My husband and I have eight children, and taking family pictures every year has been one of my favorite events of the year.  From the time our children were little and we had only two or three or four kids, I absolutely looked forward to the day we set aside to capture our family at that moment!
As the years have passed, our oldest son joined the Navy and was stationed in Naval Station Mayport in Mayport, Florida near Jacksonville.  He was there over the Christmas holiday, and I remember sobbing because he wouldn't be in our family picture.  The next year, he came home on leave in October before he was deployed to Iraq.  The highlight of him being there was an opportunity for us to take family pictures.  It was a precious time for each of us to have that constant reminder that we were all together.

Just last year, my husband and I and our five children under 18 years old were living in north Florida (our son was, and is now, stationed in Cuba, and our 20 year-old son and 18 year-old daughter stayed in Colorado!), but we still took family pictures.  I'll admit it helped being at Disney World, but my heart still ached for the family pictures with ALL our children!

This year, our son came home after being deployed to Honduras for over a year, and just guess what was on my list of things to do while he was here!  YES!!  That family picture!!  And I got it!  This year was even more precious because it included our daughter-in-law!!!  Next year, our family picture will include our first GRANDBABY!!!!

I am so thankful that the Lord is mindful of us and that even the little things we desire are on His mind!

Have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving!!!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Balancing act

Ever since I can remember, I've enjoyed balancing.  I was a gymnast in my younger days and the beam was my favorite apparatus!  Then came the time following my parents' divorce when I felt, at 14 years old, that I needed to balance my display of affection equally for my mom and dad.  As the years passed, I became a victim of rape and balanced being a socially functioning high school student with the very real feeling of wanting to hide away from everything and everyone in the world.  (See my earlier post Revealing the Illusion).
After I graduated high school, and accepted the fact that I was pregnant (NOT a result of the rape, fyi!), I also accepted that God had a plan for my life.  I began dating my now-husband when my son was just five months old.  Within three months, we were engaged, and I began a new balancing act:  mother and soon-to-be wife.  Eventually, I felt as though I was doing pretty well with the whole balancing thing, especially as our family grew from just one child to eight children in just over 12 years!  I balanced homeschooling, breastfeeding, sickness (the kids and me at different times), homemaking, meal planning, taxi driver for the activities our children participated in, Sunday School teacher, singer on the praise and worship team at church, even going back to college at age 34!

But I felt a gentle prompting of the Lord telling me there was something I wasn't balancing quite the way He had planned.  I had neglected the gift of writing He had given me!  I would write news reports, write research papers just because I enjoyed doing that, and spent a lot of time writing essays, poems, and non-fiction pieces for college, but had still not done what HE had called me to do.

Well, I am thrilled to say that when our church decided at the beginning of 2012 to challenge everyone to a 90-day challenge that could include anything from reading the Word more, spending time in intercession, or even writing a book, I accepted that challenge!  I didn't complete my book in the 90 days, but accepting that challenge gave me the opportunity to say, "Yes, Lord!  I'll do what you called me to do!"  I continued to write that story, but then felt the Father telling me it was time to put my schooling on hold.  It was a distraction and something I wanted to do; it wasn't something God had planned out for me. 
It was kind of scary letting go of what I wanted to do and relying fully on the thing He wants me to do.  But I have never written so much in my whole life!  I can see this book, the characters, the little fictional town I created, and it's all through the goodness and grace of God that I am able to do that!
I also positioned myself with an amazing group of fellow author/writer moms and people who will build me up in my walk with the Lord, my journey as a rookie writer, and as a wife and mother.
Regardless of what you may be balancing today, make a point of positioning yourself with people who will come along side of you to steady your walk, help keep the plates spinning, or keep your from falling off the tightrope!  And of course, lean on the Father when you feel as though you are starting to fall...HE will catch you! 

"When I am weak, that's when you are strong.
When I let go, I fall into Your arms..."-- Jon Thurlow, "Divine Love"

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

When days just don't go quite right...

As a mom of eight children, there were days we would get up on time, be dressed and ready to start school at the scheduled time, complete work ahead of the planned time, and have only wonderful positive teaching times of solid, strong learning.  But those days are also marred by days when I woke late, the kids were tired and still hadn't eaten breakfast by 10 a.m., schooling was a struggle, and I just got irritated more and more with the lack of understanding of certain concepts and skills we had already learned! 

I know now that I wasn't alone.  I felt like a homeschooling failure some days, barely able to complete one lesson for each child!  But our God is a gracious and merciful loving Father, and He positioned me to receive guidance and knowledge from other moms who said they had experienced similar things during their homeschooling journeys.  So how do you combat those days when nothing goes quite right?

Well, I have a few suggestions:

Take time to do one thing, no matter how small it may seem, just for you!  The Lord wants us to be wholly prepared each day and if we need to take a step back and get ourselves "unfrazzled" that's okay!  If we're frazzled, our souls aren't prospering, so we need to refresh that by doing that thing that will restore our souls.  Maybe play music, dance for joy, pray, take a bath (if you don't have little ones and can!), read, make a cup of your fav coffee/beverage, do something that makes you feel better (for me, it's cleaning!), or just take a walk and have some alone time.  Realize that there is only so much you can do in a day; stop trying to be the perfect Proverbs 31 woman!  Ask the Lord to strengthen you and praise Him for days that you accomplish much, and days you accomplish little!!

Remember, tomorrow is a new day!  God's mercies are new every day!!  And you are NOT alone in these days, so don't allow the enemy to sell you that lie!  Just as no one has perfect, harmonious work days, we as homeschooling parents struggle with that, too...and it's okay!