Friday, August 19, 2011

How Did I End Up Here?

I am currently sitting in my comfy green chair, watching my four children do their school.

First, how in the world did I end up being the mother of four children?

Second, how did I become this mother who patiently (mostly) schools her kids at home?

I am blown away. Ty and Brody are at the dining room table doing English assignments. Mags and Grace are sitting on the couch, one doing English, the other math. The house is quiet and still. They are content to do their work... at the moment. All I hear is the gentle scratching of their pencils and the tapping of Maggie's laptop.

I never, ever, thought that I would homeschool. I remember thinking that all those homeschoolers were a little bit crazy. And then God ushered me into it. I remember being overwhelmed with the choices in curriculum and teaching styles, thinking that the entire world hinged on my decision. I remember being stressed out and euphoric, by turns. I remember when Maggie and Ty learned to read and realizing that I did that... that was me teaching them.

And here it is... 10 years later. Ten years. Wow. I have two children in high school, for pete's sake. My days are now mostly quiet affairs. We start early with Bible immediately after breakfast. Then spelling, reading, math, science, history, english, electives... We move from one subject to another, no yelling. No screaming. Minimal complaints. How in the world does that happen?

God moves me into places that I never knew or wanted to go. He shows me mercy and grace when I have no idea that I need it. Now, I can't imagine not being with my kids all day, every day. Something that used to overwhelm me, is my new normal. All I can do is enjoy it. Who knows how long it will last? Sure, I would love to teach them until they graduate, but I don't know what my future holds. Only God knows all that.

I watch them as they search for knowledge. I watch them, right now, as they furrow their brows in concentration and lean over their books. I watch them nod to themselves when they finally understand. And I ask God to teach them, hold them, grow them. I ask God to bless the efforts we all put into this. I ask Him to call each of my children into the path He has already established for them. Maybe one day they, too, will ask, "How did I end up here?"

That makes me smile.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Fear and Enjoyment

How do I teach my children to face their fears? How do I help them understand that we should never make a decision based completely on fear?

I guess, maybe, I push them to jump in the deep end, go to the class, attempt the sport, etc until they see one of two things. They either see that a.) it wasn't so bad and there was nothing to be afraid of in the first place or b.) they failed and survived it and even learned from it... failure wasn't the end of the world.

And if they fail, I am there with the gospel to remind them who they actually are... they are loved by their Creator and that is all they really need. And when they succeed, I am there with the gospel too.

But in all of it, I remind them to enjoy it. Enjoy it. Jump in, tackle, pirouette, write, learn... whatever... and enjoy it. Enjoyment glorifies God if we remember Him in the midst of it. He is there in the midst of that fear and He is all that truly matters.

Is that too big to pass on to someone who still depends on me for clean underwear?

A sure sign that I have forgotten the gospel is when I've forgotten how to enjoy God in the simple things.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Do Not Entrust Yourself To Them

John 2:23-25

23Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Uselessness and Glory

In my last post, I was mulling over the brokenness that comes from God stripping away all that is not his. Since that post, I've been pondering the meaning of useful/useless and also the meaning of blessings. Here are new thoughts:

I found a song by Frou Frou called "Let Go" that I am currently listening to somewhat obsessively. If you doubt, ask my family. The chorus says:

Let go.
Let go.
Jump in.
Well, whatcha waiting for?
It's alright,
'cause there's beauty in the breakdown.
Let go.
Let go.
Just get in.
It's so amazing here.
It's alright,
'cause there's beauty in the breakdown.

It then mentions how everything else is just a sideshow and there is boundless pleasure to be found. I have no idea what Imogen Heap was thinking when she wrote it but it made me cry when I first heard it. I have fought true brokenness for a long time and here was God reminding me through this song that there is such beauty in brokenness. It doesn't feel beautiful, but it is.

Which leads me to the subject of usefulness vs. uselessness...

I have felt utterly spent and useless for months. I labor, toil, work... all for the zeal of the Lord... and nothing happens. I don't think it was wrong for me to get tired. But I do think the exhaustion caused me to forget some things... Today's devotion from My Utmost For His Highest said this:

"[We] notice God's unutterable waste of saints, according to the judgment of the world. God plants his saints in the most useless places. We say - God intends me to be here because I am so useful. Jesus never estimated His life along the line of the greatest use. God puts His saints where they will glorify Him, and we are no judge at all of where that is."

Can I just say??? Ouch. I have always said that I want to be "used by God". And when I know that I am useless then that must be wrong and bad. Right? But what is my chief end? To be useful, or to glorify Him? It is not my decision to determine my usefulness. It is only for me to obey.

The devotional above was on the subject of suffering in 1 Peter 4:19. He says, "To choose to suffer means that there is something wrong; to choose God's will even if it means suffering is a very different thing." I think it is a kind of suffering to put your own desires and dreams to death. And that suffering leads to brokenness. And that brokenness is beautiful. And God is still God. And he still loves me.

Selah.

So where does that leave me? In the same place. Only now, I realize that I don't know what my future holds. And I'm okay with that. And I realize that I cannot contribute one thing to God's work. But He uses me anyway, for His own glory. I can do His bidding, show His love, rest in His peace, all without thought to my own life.

And I know some may read this and think "Of course we don't know the future!" But I think we still maintain this small nugget of our past dreams for our future. (Read THAT sentence ten more times! Geez.) I mean... We all have some residual, lingering dreams from our childhood. Marriage, minivans, children's graduations, retirement. We think we know the general direction of our lives. We make plans for after our kids are grown. We determine where we are most useful. That's the kind of thing I'm talking about...

Now, I pray for the grace to remember it...