Tuesday, September 5, 2017

years later...

I logged back into my blog after two years.

funny, how I look back over time, what I have said/written here, and everything is different and yet, somehow, it's all the same.

I now have an eight year old and a ten year old.  they are smart and funny and a little bit snarky.  They can make their own breakfast, do their own laundry, and help with all major cleaning/work around the house (with much encouragement).  They are starting to think things through before they do it (sometimes), and are kind and considerate towards the feelings of others around them.  Nick and I are defiantly seeing the fruits of our many years of labor in training and disciplining these boys.

And in case all that paints a skewed misrepresentation, they are also moody, sassy, disobedient, lazy boys who watch plenty of netflix, disappear into the basement to avoid school and work, and occasionally come to blows over minuscule differences of opinion.  They are very wonderful, very normal boys.

I am still a stay-at-home homeschooling mom.  I still struggle accomplish the daily tasks that keep a home running, possibly even more than i did when i had littles.  I still fail to get into the precious Word of God everyday, even fail to spend much time in prayer everyday.

God is still growing me, just the same as He was all those years ago through babies and cancer and infertility.  But it has changed.

I am in a very different trial today than i was those many years ago when i last wrote.  I am in a long, very long, trial.  The kind that has been going on for so long, that it's hard to remember what life was like before it.

It is a physical trial, a combination of lots of little things that finally came to a head during Nick's cancer, when I had to be strong for my family.  God gave me a strength that surpasses understanding, but I neglected to care for myself the way I should have.  I ignored my body for many years after that, thinking that it would go away.  But instead it messed with my thyroid, it wreaked havoc on my adrenals, and tried to start up menopause a couple of times.  And this summer, I absolutely fell apart.

I had taken my physical trial to the Lord many times.  But not like this.  This was a new level.

My brain was in such a fog, I couldn't concentrate during church services and Bible studies. Biblical conversations with friends were almost entirely one sided because I couldn't follow them.  And personal devotions felt like a mindless chewing something hard, and dry, and flavorless.

So i would simply sit and pray.  Not as often as i should have.  But I still prayed.  They were short and simple.  A quiet, 'please help me.'

It is an awful hard place to be in when you feel like you can't even think, when you can't find words, when emotions are too exhausting, when you know you are a mess and yet you look just fine from the outside, when you just sit before your God with your hands open and hope He understands what you need because you sure don't.

And yet, He knew.  I knew that He knew.  He's good like that.

And He has shown me a few steps to take that are helping.  But it's still hard.

You see, this is my Isaiah 40 trial.

Isaiah  40:27-31

"Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Isreal,
'My way is hidden from the Lord,
and my right is disregarded by my 
God'?
Have you not known?  Have you 
not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the 
earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint, 
and to him who has no might He
increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be 
weary, 
and young men shall fall exhausted;

but they who wait for the Lord 
shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings 
like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary; 
they shall walk and not faint."


You see, I think there is a very good reason God puts that last verse in the order He does.
fly...
run...
walk.

Because some trials hit you hard.  They assault you with such passion, you feel like the many psalmists who say that the world is full of wickedness and that enemies are out to destroy you utterly.  Those are the trials where He gives you wings.  You are filled with vigor and strength.  You rise above it all and you cry out the praises of God.

Some trials are not quite so aggressive.  They prowl around you for a little while, measuring you carefully and stalking you.  These are the trials where He helps you run.  You keep going, you keep fighting, and by His good grace, you push through.

Then there are the trails where you walk.  Those trials that slowly surround you and turn your spirit into a barren wasteland.  The ones that slowly suck you dry.  The kind that you can't see the end of, where you simply have to put your head down against the relentless heat and put one foot in front of the other.  The kinds of trial where the steps are slow and monotonous, and the prayers are simply a 'please help.'  And we get weary... we get so weary.  But we don't faint; at least, not if we are relying on His strength.

I'll admit, there are times in the long trial where I sit down and cry out, "why?"  Where I see that I have no more strength and I simply stop.  But that is the point of that trial.  To show me that I really have nothing more.  And I have to remember to go to Him.

Remember to back up to verse 28.  "He does not faint or grow weary."

And see verse 29. "He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength."

When I call out to Him, He gives me what I need to keep going, even if that going is slow and monotonous.

Psalm 18 has been very special to me the past 5 weeks or so.  I would love to pick it apart for you sometime, but right now I will just share with you the verse I have clung to with desperation.

Psalm 18:19b
"He rescued me, because He delighted in me."

Not because I am worth rescuing. Not because He needs me to do thus and such.  Not because of all I've done for Him in the past.  No, His rescue is solely because He found delight in doing so for me.

That has been so reassuring for me.  Because He is the One who is unchanging.  He is the One who always does what is best, what is really good for me.  So thank God that my rescue is because of who He is and not because of me.  

This trial is far from over. Lord willing, I will see it's end before glory.  But until that time, i will cling to the little verses like these that i can wrap my tired brain around, and I will keep walking by His strength.  For His glory and my good.



Friday, January 9, 2015

preparations...

this week, we have been in the thick of kitchen remodel madness.

i have been battling headaches and migraines, and dealing with a cold that has me coughing when it's least convenient and most annoying.

but lately i've been working hard to establish the habit of preparing.

WHA? preparing?

life is hard this week.  forget preparing!  this is the kind of week you prepare for!

yes, i always used to think that preparing is what you did when you were all caught up and things were easy, so you worked ahead for when the days are ruff.  for that month when you remodeling your house. or that week when you are sick.  that is what you prepare for!

well, occasionally that might be the case.  but for me, that is almost never how it works.

i'm a stay at home momma that homeschools two rowdy boys.  i'm telling ya', things are never "all caught up" around here!  there is always something a mess, always something that needs to be washed, someone that needs to be fed, some activity that is going on or isn't going on due to someone not feeling well.

for me, learning to be prepared is a little different than getting ahead on the easy days.  instead of thinking about what i can do to make the hard days easier, i try to think about what i can do NOW to make LATER a little easier.

recently, Proverbs 14:1 was brought up by a friend.  "The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish tears it down with her own hands."  my friend pointed out that in the book of Proverbs there is no middle ground here.  you are either building or destroying.  nothing is neutral.

that feels a little harsh!  but that's because, like most things, it comes down to the heart.  so often, it's the attitude that determines whether an action is building or destroying.

i may leave a pile of dishes in the sink until the next morning.  but... is it because i have been working all day and i just want to have a little me time and not deal with one more thing right now (destroying)? or... is because the day has been hard and it would do my family well for me to slow down and take some time to rest and recharge so that i can serve them better tomorrow (building).  both ways the action is the same, but the heart makes a huge difference!

now, let us not gloss over the fact that, most often, preparing, or building your house, will mean working.  it will mean doing something!  it will mean getting up out of the chair and taking care of some work that is waiting!

and for each family, a woman's preparations/building will look a little different.

here are three examples of preparing/building that i have been working to make a habit of...

1) making a big batch of soup on Thursday (my "kitchen day") for the family to eat throughout the weekend.  

this is mostly a selfish one.  i hate to cook on the weekend, when many of the interesting projects or fun activities happen for our family.  so, by having something all in one pot that only takes a few minutes on the stove to heat up, we are able to enjoy these activities (or enjoy doing nothing together!) and still have a reasonably healthy home cooked meal.  i'm building my home by being a good steward of my time and my money, cuz we all know how easy take out is!  yes, this will have to change come summer (who wants chili in July??), but if the habit is there, i hope the transition to a cooler dish will be an easy one.

2) laying out Sundays clothes on Friday!

this one is partly for the boys (so that they know what is acceptable church wear) and partly for me.  by taking FRIDAY to lay out the clothes, i have a chance to see if there is anything that needs to be washed and i can take care of it now, before the weekend fun starts.  i mean, there are few things that spoil my attitude quicker than running around the house with hair and makeup half done, looking for a pair of socks that don't "bother" a very particular little man that lives in my home.  not exactly the best way to be preparing a heart of worship on a Sunday morning!  now, my boys have everything they need waiting for them and i have a little less to do that morning.

3) chopping extra onion and cooking extra meat

i love to cook!  but lets face it, sometimes it feels like a never ending chore.  after all, not only do these boys want to eat everyday, they want to eat several times a day!  the nerve!  just kidding.  i love serving my family in this way, but i can grow weary of so much time in the kitchen.  so, when i have a meal that calls for chopped onion or cooked meat, i do double, sometimes even triple, and throw the extra in the fridge or freezer.  don't brown 2 pounds of hamburger, brown 4.  don't cook two chicken breasts, cook the whole bird!  now, next time i need it, it's waiting for me in the freezer and i have just saved myself that step and a chunk of time.  it's usually little extra work, but for me it can make a big difference in fighting off that feeling of always being in the kitchen, which often comes with feelings of resentment or self pity = destroying my home!

now, there will be plenty of hard days where take out will be ordered or the mad dash for specific socks will happen.  and my heart will determine whether i have spent my time building or tearing.

yet, i hope that i will be known as a woman who works hard to build her house.  someone who takes the few extra minutes to prepare so that my home runs a little smoother for my family.  someone whose heart is honoring to my Lord, even when the week is full of tools in my living room, holes in my counters, and headaches that come and go.

praise the Lord for dear friends who point out how black and white the Lord's Word is.  i am incredibly thankful for these people in my life!  i hope that you also are thanking God for these no nonsense people who aren't afraid to exhort and challenge you to do better for His names sake! 


Saturday, August 2, 2014

the long, quiet trial...

infertility.  a burden you don't see.  a term not limited to those who can't have any children, but sometime also applying to those who can't have anymore children.

i am a mother of two beautiful boys, the result of my husband looking at me.  ok, that's not how it works, but that's how easy it felt.  and oh, how blessed we were to have children at a young age!

because while we waited for the second boy to enter our lives... cancer.

i won't hash up the details here (though i'm happy to tell you of our blessing of cancer in person if you like). after 2 major surgeries and 4 rounds of chemo therapy i was so thankful that God chose to remove this disease from my husband and give us (Lord willing) many more years together.

but the side effect of all that life saving treatment?  infertility.

flash back: when Nick and i were first married, we talked about kids.  he wanted 12.  i agreed to hit 6 and reevaluate.  seriously.  now, that silly conversation was just that.  silly.

it was out of our hands and in His huge, loving, all knowing hands.  where it had been all along.  really, there was no change.  only a change of mind on our parts.

i would not be receiving 6 or 12 or anything greater than 2.  and i am blessed!  i am blessed to have two beautiful boys who are best friends.  i am blessed to be past diapers and potty training and (mostly past) nap times.  i am blessed to be able to be a part of many ministries at church because i don't have a nursling or curious toddler in tow.  i am blessed to get a little extra time with my hubby most days.

but it's still hard.

yes, i have 2.  that's so much more than the woman who has none.  but i also know the immense joy of carrying a child, the love that seems to instantaneously multiply when you bring home a new family member, the happiness and laughter of watching them grow and learn and giggle.  i know, first hand, what i will never again experience.

it's strange how emotions that we are taught are "opposites" can exist and blend together in our heart at the exact same time.  there is joy from the blessings, but also sorrow over the loss.

when a friend announces a baby on the way, my heart nearly bursts with joy for them!  and yet, there is a thorn of grief that pricks.  i praise God that He has seen fit to bless and grow their family.  even more, as many of my friends who waited so long for children have received answers to that prayer.  i rejoice... and i then run to Him and cry out and He holds my heart together as it breaks again, just a little, but a fresh wound none the less.  yet, that sorrow in no way diminishes my happiness for my beloved sisters and brothers.  it is a strange concoction of emotions.

stop and note!  this is in no way saying i don't want to hear when you are blessed with child.  not in the least!  i pray often for those seeking to have a baby.  and i love to thank my Lord for answered prayer.

but, may i ask, please stop hinting.  stop suggesting.  stop teasing.

because you don't know who lives that the long, quiet trial that is infertility.

i know you are just kidding, but that little 'hint hint, nudge nudge' feels more like a hammering on my chest.  i laugh along, i smile and nod, but later i will retreat to a private place and run headfirst into my Fathers arms.

sometimes i will share with you how we can't have more.  and you tell me the funny stories of those who gave away all their baby things and then suddenly they were pregnant.  yes, it's a funny story.  but it's not my story.

God has different things in store for my and Nick's lives than we expected.  and while i pray for help with the heartache and peace with the desire for more children, i don't pray for another baby.  i trust that He knows my heart, and also what is best.  i have peace that i have asked enough and He knows my longing even better than i do.  so, i don't ask for more.

and really, i don't need you to pray for more for me.  again, He knows what is best.

if you desire to pray, pray for wise words in my mouth when others don't know the heartache their comments bring.  pray for healing of my body, that i would no longer have these symptoms that feel like pregnancy, but really are not.  pray for my dear friends who are up all night with their newborns, my sisters in Christ battling nausea and heartburn and bedrest, and pray for my beloved friends whose hands are full and schedules are busy because of the many arrows in their quivers.

and pray that our Savior comes back quickly!  because when He comes, when He sets the world right, there will be no more sorrow or pain or tears.

i look forward to that day.

yet i hope i always remember what this long, quiet trial has taught me.  that He is good and wise.  that He knows what is best.  

Psalm 105:4-5
"Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face continually.  Remember His wonders which He has done, His marvels and the judgements uttered by His mouth."

i'm sorry that this post is a little all over the place.  as you maybe can tell, this subject carries with it a crazy mix of emotions and thoughts.  but these are things that have been rattling around in my mind, things that i have wanted to write about for quite some time.  i hope that they are an encouragement to you.  that you will look to use grace in your speech when you really don't know why someone hasn't had another baby.  and that maybe, if you too are sharing this heartache, that you will draw courage that you are not alone and that God is, indeed, very good!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

homeschooling doesn't have to be hard...



days like today help me remember that homeschooling doesn't have to be hard.

isaac had his garden journal outside while i was digging a garden bed.  i dug up a clover and we found a 21 inch tap root!  he recorded it in his garden journal (drawing a picture and adding the measurement) and we spent a good chunk of time reading about different kinds of clover and finding that a man in Lincoln NE who did research about clover and found a Red Clover that grew a tap root over 9 feet long!

science?  done!

this mornings, Christian had a question out of the blue (as most of his questions seem come).

Christian - "mom, are all armies good guys?"

and so followed a discussion of how all are sinners, how the same country can sometimes fight for good (things that line up with God's Word) and sometime let their selfishness take over and fight for wrong. various examples drawn from the revolutionary war and WWII. 

and that concludes our history lesson for the day.


see?  homeschooling really isn't that hard.  ;)

Monday, May 26, 2014

put up a fight...



1 Timothy 4:6
"In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following."

Jeremiah 15:16
"Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts."

I know this.  I've known it for years and years.  The Word should be my sustenances.  In it i will find strength and peace and be filled.  my day goes smoother and i am not ruffled by every little bother when i am nourished by His Words.

yet, as a mommy of littles, it's hard to get there.  my day seems to slip away with every school lesson, with every book we read, with every meal cooked, with every load of laundry washed, with every temper tantrum i have to correct.  and even though the day feels so very, very long, before i turn around, it's gone.  and i fall into bed without a second first glance at the inside of that Precious Book.

maybe you sit and read my words and shake your head and say "tisk, tisk!  that girl!  she should know better!"  trust me, i know that i should know better.  but i'm being honest here.

there are many more weeks than i would like, where sit down in the church sanctuary and realize that the last time i sat and soaked up these Words was 1 week ago in that same seat.  it's a painful realization.  and i hate it.  and yet, i'm being honest here.  because if i'm not honest, if i smudge the facts and say that it only happens "sometimes" rather than telling you truthfully that it's happened nearly every week this month, then nothing is going to change.

why?  why is it so hard to find time for the Thing i love most?  why does it seem as though there are a million little things that come up and i let them take priority over what i know needs to come first?

i know that my flesh is wicked and selfish.  that my flesh would rather work on a project, or just finish this one thing, or just sit and do nothing for a few minutes.  and that is a battle that i have to fight daily.

but, i wonder, if sometimes there isn't more to it than just my flesh.

maybe the reason mommies of young children have trouble finding time to be in the Word daily is because Satan works so hard to keep it that way.  at a stage when our kids are little sponges and soak up everything we say and do, maybe he works to keeps us from The Thing that would bless us with patience and peace.  and maybe he tries to prevent us from devouring the Scriptures so that we will not speak forth The Lords Words, but will instead have nothing but short tempered words.  maybe he works so hard to keep us from the Word, so that we will not influence our children toward the truth of the Lord.

if that is the reason, we need to fight harder!  we need to fight our lazy flesh that thinks a nap would be more helpful than the life giving Words of Scripture.  we need to fight our cunning and ruthless enemy by letting go of all the little things that get in our way and turn to the only thing that can really give us strength and peace.

we need to fight to consume His Holy Book so that these little sponges that we live so closely with will hear only blessings and praise coming out of our mouths.

just maybe, we need to act more like warriors and ready ourselves for battles with this ruthless foe.

Ephesians 6:10-12
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places."