Well, here we are again. Another homeschool year has been successfully wrapped up. My papers have all been filed and approved by the state (thank you, Lord!). We are all set for the next year. Sometimes I really wish we lived in a state that was not as restrictive in their homeschooling laws. It’s pretty ridiculous considering that we are choosing to homeschool our children and WANT them to have a great education. Are there some people out there who would slack in educating their kids? I’m sure there are. However, I also believe that the vast majority of parents who homeschool are doing so to give their kids a better education than is available at public school. Yes, we homeschool because we value what they learn. Yes, we are trying, to a certain extent, to shelter them from the world until they are old enough to discern for themselves. Yes, we do want them to learn certain things that the world doesn’t value. But ultimately, we also want them to know how to read, how to write legibly, and how to use math in real-world situations. I have, in our “official” seven years of homeschooling, switched curriculum THREE times. I am, so far, happy with what we are primarily using now, but I also wouldn’t mind trying out a couple more. (Cue our oldest begging me not to switch it up on her…AGAIN) The point is, as homeschooling parents, we are constantly trying to find the “best” curriculum for our children. We WANT them to learn. We even, dare I say, want them to LOVE to learn. We want learning to be fun and engaging. We want our kids to finish up the year saying, hey, remember when we learned about x, or y, or z? So all I’m trying to say is, can we make it a little easier on parents at the end of the year? Can we maybe not make homeschooling such a process? Well, since we have our own theories on why “they” might not want that to be the case, I won’t ask that question with any sincerity.
Ultimately, it is what it is and we will keep plugging along. I will keep doing our end of the year assessments, we will keep getting each child “evaluated”, and we will keep teaching our children values, morals, and truth. I will keep stressing about whether we are doing enough, whether there is a better curriculum we could be using, and whether or not our children actually understand that we are, ultimately, doing this for their own good! God Bless!
6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Perfectionist. Does this word describe you? I used to think I wasn’t a perfectionist. After all, I am a world class procrastinator. I have trouble putting things away when I am done with them. I can even be termed messy. Disorganized for sure. But a perfectionist? Aren’t perfectionists neat and orderly? Don’t they always want things picked up and put away? Don’t they have a place where everything goes? Don’t they care enough about their work to make sure it is done on time and then gone over multiple times to make sure it is perfect?
Well, it turns out I am a perfectionist. It has taken me a long time to accept and understand this view of myself. I just didn’t understand how I could possibly be a perfectionist and not have a clean house and have everything put away in a neat and orderly fashion. It turns out, God created us all differently. And my perfectionism doesn’t have to look like someone else’s. Instead of spurring me into action, my perfectionism is paralyzing. I am afraid to even start something for fear of it not being done perfectly. And so instead of taking a small step towards beginning, I just stay still, out of fear. Instead of taking a small step towards cleaning up my craft area, I think about the fact that I would love to have it cleaned up. It would be so wonderful to have that nice little space to work on projects. But I don’t have the time to go through everything. I don’t have the time to get it all cleaned up right now. And so all I do, is think about how nice it would be, but don’t actually take any steps towards making it happen.
This is very frustrating. It is frustrating for me and for those who have to live with me. I am constantly struggling to keep the counter cleaned off, and usually fail more often than I succeed. (You don’t want to see it right now…trust me!) I have finally come up with a somewhat successful laundry routine. As long as I remember to nag, I mean ask, the children often enough to fold, that part runs pretty smoothly. Which is a good thing considering there are many people in this house who need clean clothing! But the other parts….like keeping things picked up, organizing items, making a permanent home for things that need a place, those are the things I struggle the most with. I would much rather toss something down on the counter to deal with later than take the extra two minutes and put it away now. Why don’t I take those extra two minutes? This is something that I don’t completely understand about myself. This is something I am still trying to come to grips with and overcome. Just put it away! Just do it now! But, there is always something else that needs to be done that obviously needs my attention right this second. Or at least, this is the constant battle in my mind. It’s not true. I know it’s not true, but it takes time for me to overcome old habits. It takes longer than I would like and I often get discouraged. See, there is the perfectionism again. I want to be better now! Not later. I don’t want to take time, I want to be the “perfect” woman right this very minute.
1 Peter 3:3-4
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment
such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.
Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a
gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight”
Does that sound like the spirit of a gentle and quiet woman? I already know the answer. I struggle with the answer. It trips me up time and time again. How can I be gentle, quiet, kind, patient, etc., until everything is lined up? How can I be like that until everything is perfect? How can I get anything done until the house is cleaned up? How can I pick up the house if I don’t have a place for all the stuff? How?
“Am I trying to win the approval of men, or God?
Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men,
I would not be a servant of Christ”
Well, right there is my answer. Everything in life doesn’t have to be perfect in order for me to journey closer to God. I don’t have to do x, y, and z first. I just have to try and seek God’s approval. Everything else will follow. If I am seeking God’s will and approval for my life, then I will be making a forward journey. I will become the woman God is calling me to be. I will be gentle, quiet, patient, kind, etc.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
That’s what I want my legacy to be. I want to be like the Proverbs 31 woman. I want to be her now. But I’m not. I am still on my journey. I am still struggling to “get it right” (ie perfect). But here’s the good news. Here is the positive in all of this, I have a God who loves me. A God who wants me to succeed. A God who is with me every step of the way and who picks me up every single time I stumble and fall.
It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed,
because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning:
great is thy faithfulness.
Every day is a new day. Every minute is a new opportunity for me to put my faith in God and follow Him wherever He leads. I just need to choose to do so. Life doesn’t have to be perfect for me to follow our Lord. I simply need to follow.
It’s been quiet around here. Sorry about that. I wish I could say it was because I was taking a much needed break and recharging and reconnecting with God and my family. Unfortunately, this has not been the case. The truth of the matter is that I have been working on our end of the year homeschool evaluations. These have taken up all of my brain space and I have not had any leftover. Now that they are finally finished (Halleluiah!) I am hoping to get back to my regular once a month posting. 🙂 And I figure, what better way to do so then to kick off with three days of posting!
Way back in May, Linda from Amazing God Stories nominated me for the Three Day Quote Challenge. I am finally getting around to actually doing it! I have been especially enjoying her Life is a Beach posts and the pictures of her adorable granddaughter.
Ok, onto the first quote:
If you don’t have children, who will you download your files to? –J.K.
This quote came from my husband. Can you tell he works with computers all day? We were driving in the car one day with the kids and were talking about the point of life. All of a sudden this phrase just popped out of his mouth. It was funny at the time and still makes me laugh, but it is also so true. What is the point of living and learning if we don’t have anyone to pass our knowledge down to? Of course it is good to learn and grow for ourselves, but without passing on our knowledge, how can we hope to influence the world towards good? If we keep all of our life experiences and knowledge gained through those experiences to ourselves, then really, what was the point of them? I know that some would argue that it is the betterment of ourselves. Sure, to some extent that is true, as it should be. But, that is also ultimately a selfish viewpoint. And selfishness is something this world has too much of. We should seek to share our knowledge with others so that we can bring others and through that sharing, ourselves, closer to God. So whether your children are biological, adopted, or otherwise, download your files to them. Pass the knowledge, love, and life onwards!
6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old,
he will not depart from it.
I would like to nominate Christina from Justified and Redeemed. She is a wonderful young woman who is well on her way to blossoming into an example of a Proverbs 31 woman. She is a great example for all young women going through their season of singleness as well as for the rest of us. I learn a lot from her posts and always leave with something more to think about and ponder. Head on over and check her out. 🙂
The rules of the challenge are as follows:
Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
For 3 days, provide a quote each day and why you like or chose that quote.
Nominate one or more bloggers each of the three days for the Challenge and then send them a comment letting them know they have been nominated.
(When you receive a nomination, if you’re too busy, you can do it later if need be.)
I am not an optimistic person by nature. I am more of a ‘the glass is half empty and is most likely going to stay that way’ type of person. This is probably part of the reason this verse has resonated so much with me. I want to be the type of person who is constantly blessing God and thanking Him for all the blessings in my life. And there are so many blessings. But they are so hard for me to see at times, and I become overwhelmed with LIFE and when I open my mouth, it isn’t praises that come out. It’s complaints, it’s whining, it’s why oh why aren’t things easier?? And let’s just be honest, it isn’t a good model for the children, my husband, or even myself. After all, if we let ourselves dwell on the negative, what are we going to think about? If we take our focus off of God and all that He has blessed us with, we don’t see those blessings. We just see the negative in life. And my friends, there is a whole heap of negative. We see it everywhere. In the news, online, in magazines, EVERYWHERE there is Satan trying to bring us down. Trying to distance us from all the good in life. All the good that God has placed there. The laughter of a child, the sun shining through the trees, the colors of autumn, the smell of freshly cut grass. All of it, goes away as soon as you take your eyes off of it.
My husband is a wonderful reminder to me of all the good God has given us. Anytime I start to feel this way, he will so often, even without me sometimes saying anything, mention something good that God has blessed us with. And with that reminder, I am prompted to bring my focus back to God. It isn’t always a smooth process, honestly, it’s usually with me kicking and screaming. But I’m trying. I’m trying to let go and let God. I have heard this phrase so many times in my life. And I’m going to be honest, I never truly understood it. If you think about it, what does it actually mean? It means total and complete surrender. And as a child, when I first accepted Jesus as my Savior, I didn’t understand surrender. I still don’t completely get it, but I feel like as a thirty-something year old, I am beginning to understand. Even just a teeny tiny bit. Because after all, it’s never too late. It’s never too late to accept God’s gift to us. It’s never too late to change your life path. Even though it won’t be easy, it’s never too late to change your focus and behavior. You won’t get it right the first or second, or even the thirtieth time! But, we need to pick ourselves back up, recommit to following our God, and step out in faith. I am not an optimistic person, but taking this step of faith, is for me, a step towards optimism itself. If I can believe that God sent His only Son to die on the cross to forgive my stupid, repetitive sins, then I guess I can count myself as an optimistic pessimist who is learning to bless our God at all times, and to continually, no matter how difficult life may be, praise Him with my words and actions.
The other night when I was putting G and Baby Z to bed, I started praying. Now this is not an unusual occurrence for me. I have admitted before that my “serious” prayer time is usually at night. This is just how it works out for this season of our lives. I have great dreams of waking before the children and getting in some morning prayer time, but it’s just not our reality.
Anyways, as I was sitting there, actually spending some real, quality time with God, I heard Him speak. Now, we all experience God in our own ways and in different manners. Sometimes it is just a feeling, or an emotion, but other times, it’s actual words. I’m going to admit something else here that is a bit painful. It’s been a while since I have heard Him actually speak. It’s not because He hasn’t been talking, I’m afraid I just haven’t been listening closely enough. I have started reading my Bible again on a fairly regular basis. I try to read a quick chapter at night, again, after the kids are in bed and, mostly, asleep. Remember how I said I have outgrown my bonsai faith? Well, never has this been more evident to me than in the past week. I have been hearing His voice for the past couple of nights and after such a long period of not actually hearing, it has been like water to my parched soul. It has been such a wonderful thing. I missed hearing His voice. I missed hearing what He has to say to me. And boy, has He been talking now that I am actually listening!
So as I sat there, I was hit with this passage.
“And behold, a voice from heaven said,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Now the significance of this passage for me was the fact that one word was changed. Just one word changed the whole, entire meaning for me. It no longer became just that passage in the Bible where God revealed Himself to His Son and told EVERYONE that He was pleased with His Son. Oh no, it became much more. It became about me. Me, personally. Instead of “This is my beloved Son” it became, “This is my beloved Child”. And God was talking about me. I am His beloved child. I may stumble, I may fall, over and over and over again, but I am still His beloved child in whom He is pleased.
When we search for God, we always, inevitably find Him. He always makes Himself known to us. If we search diligently, He will not fail us. For we are His beloved children. All of us. We are not perfect like Jesus, but God loves us just the same. God loves me as He loves His Son, because I am His child. Just as Jesus is His child, so am I and everyone in this world. We are all children of God and He loves EACH and EVERY single one of us. Such a simple concept, but so completely revolutionizing. Hold onto that knowledge, hold onto the fact that when we are doing God’s will, He is pleased with us, just as He was pleased with Jesus. He loves us, without fail and without wavering. Forever and ever.
It’s the beginning of the fourth week of a brand new year. How are your resolutions looking? Are you still giving them a go or have you already dropped them? To be honest, I didn’t make all that many resolutions beyond the usual eat healthier and exercise more. But really, I only “made” resolutions because I was already thinking about it. Baby Z is nine months old and I’m feeling ready, mentally and physically, to get back to a better way of eating and exercising. So honestly, I’m not sure I can even call them resolutions! But that’s alright, because I have been contemplating something different for this year. Something that again, has been on my mind for a little while now.
I have noticed, as I have been reading other people’s blogs and whatnot, that a lot of people pick a word for the year. A word that they contemplate and think about and generally use as a focus for how they want to shape their year. I never really understood the concept and I honestly felt a little overwhelmed by the idea. How am I supposed to pick out one word to concentrate on for a whole, entire year? I mean, how can I find just one word to sum up a year? Well, it just so happens, I found one. A word that has been on my mind for several months now. A word that I am going to mull over and pray over and try to apply to my life in general. And that word, is contentment.
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.
Contentment has always been a struggle for me. I think, to a certain extent, it is hard for everyone. Why else would there be so many wars throughout history? We always want what we don’t have. And then when we have, it is hard to not want the next thing. It is part of human nature. But we are called to be content with what God has given us. To be content with what He has blessed us with. And sometimes, it is so hard. Especially when things aren’t going your way. Especially when you are struggling. It is so easy to look at other people and their things and not be content. To wonder why they have and you are struggling.
This has not been a great year for us. Yes, I am aware it has only just started, but oh boy, has it been a heck of a year already. And I am trying to be content. I am trying to focus on all the blessings we do have. And there are many. I know this, but when times get tough, sometimes it is hard to see beyond the here and now. So I keep reminding myself that God has plans for us. Plans for our family that are specifically for us and for our future. Plans that are not to harm us. This is just a season. It will pass and in time, we will look back and see how far God has brought us. How far we have come and how far we have to go. God wants what is best for us. So we must try and find contentment in the bad. It is so easy to be content when things are going well. When there is extra money in the bank account, when the children are behaving, when everything is running smoothly. It is easy then to be content. But it is when things are not going your way, when the deck and the entire world seem stacked against you that true contentment is tested.
11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
So whatever our circumstances, I am focusing on being content. Content with where we are financially, content with this season in our lives, content with enough being enough. God will provide us with exactly what we need, when we need. All that is required of us is to be faithful and seek our God with all of our hearts, minds, and souls. He will take care of the rest.
How are your Christmas preparations coming along? Tree set up? Decorations placed around the house? Presents wrapped? Yeah, not here. We don’t have our tree yet. There aren’t many decorations, besides the occasional cut-out snowflake, and I haven’t even started wrapping. This is unusual for us. We usually have the tree up and decorated a good two weeks or so before Christmas. The house usually has some decorations placed out and since I love wrapping presents, I have usually at least started. But not this year. This year has been different. It hasn’t been intentional, but for one reason and then another, things have been put off until later.
I have to admit, the kids are kind of freaking out…ok, it’s mostly A. But that’s really only because she likes to know when things are going to be done. She has been this way since she was little. If we told her one thing, and then plans changed, OH BOY, meltdowns ensued. But now that we are down to the wire, she is really anxious about when things are going to be done. On one hand it’s fine, I’m calling it a life lesson. We are trying to help her see that life doesn’t always go the way we want it to. It doesn’t even always go the way we planned! But everything will work out in the end. Because one way or another, Christmas will get here. No matter what we do, or don’t do, Christmas will still come.
And I think maybe that is the whole point. No matter what we do, no matter what life throws at us, Jesus still comes. He is still born. He still saves us from eternal damnation. And we still get to live with Him and God in Heaven forever. And what an incredibly powerful message. No matter where we are in life, Jesus still comes. He still meets us wherever we are. And He still, always and forever, calls us home to Him.
Merry Christmas everyone!
May your Christmas be filled with the love and light of Jesus Christ, Our Savior!
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,