Friday, January 27, 2012

How is my resolve holding out?

   As the last week in January comes I find it hard to believe that only a month ago we were winding down from Christmas and getting ready for a new start in 2012.  It made me look back a bit to see how my January has gone.

   Surprisingly a lot of my resolutions are still holding their resolve.  Perhaps because I made them into several small steps I could take every week.  And there are a few that I have not been doing consistently...yet.  I think I can pick them up as I start getting back into a routine.  I am also considering that perhaps some of these goals can be shifted around a bit.  Meaning I can focus on some more each month and some less.  That not only gives them some flexibility, but I think it will also keep me from getting bored or overwhelmed by my lack of progress.  I hope at least.  I am concerned that there is also a possibility that if I don't focus on all of them continually I run the risk of never setting up good habits.  I think I remember that it takes 21 days to make a habit and 3 days to break one, so goals like regular exercise or focusing on my husband more can't really be moved around much, but some things like spending more time with friends can be focused on more some months than others. 

   Not surprisingly I am not accomplishing some of the goals as quickly as I would like.  I do have a whole year to do them, but every week I have a few small steps to complete towards each goal and some of those are not getting done on my time frame.  Perhaps some of them are unrealistic, given the small amount of time I have every week, but some seasons are busier than others, so I keep thinking there is hope for me.  And come July if a lot of things are still left undone I guess I will have a better idea if my expectations are unrealistic or if my time management skills are. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Homeschool Mother's Journal (1/20/11)

The Homeschool Mother's Journal  In my life this week:   Well, most of my plans this week got changed and up-ended (is that even a word?) somehow.  This is my week of flexibility.  A kid with stomach flu on Monday, and then I had planned a couple of coffee dates with friends this week, both of which fell through.  And those were some of the lighter things that didn't go right.  However, now at the end of the week I actually am not feeling too much regret over how I handled things.  A couple of things, yes, but overall fairly satisfied with my response and that is a nice surprise.
In our homeschool this week:   Well, having homeschooled now for more than 10 years I can honestly say that it's just hard to get your groove on in January, or in other words a good routine in January is hard to come by.  So, imagine my surprise that this week my kids have actually completed several of their assignments already and not left them until the end of the week.  This is a shock because it appears that they are actually following some of my advice, namely that leaving all their assignments until Friday makes for a really long day of trying to finish everything so that they can have their privileges for the weekend.  And I didn't even hear many complaints.  This does confuse me, does it mean they realize it's futile to resist, or have they actually learned that it's better not to procrastinate?  Time will only tell on that one. 
I am inspired by:  One of my teenage boys has a slight learning disorder and has for years struggled with being a little slow in some things and with his self-esteem over feeling stupid and therefore that no one would like him.  However, this week I have seen such improvement in his personality and confidence, and a sweet endearing moment where he tried to encourage one of his younger brothers that he would find something he was good at soon enough.  I also saw some major improvement in his playing of his favorite sport this week and it gave me hope.  One of those mom things where we have talked about these issues and worked on them and prayed about them, etc for years and I am finally seeing the fruit of his struggles.  And as it turns out God is always right.  Giving my son these things to struggle with hasn't turned out horrible, it is in fact making him into who God wants him to become.  I see him becoming a little more each day of the man he will be and I am impressed.
My favorite thing this week was:  My daughter's birthday was on Sunday and now I officially have 4 teenagers/young adults in the house.  (I say officially because 12 year old girls really act like teens, or maybe worse than teens).  Anyhow, whether you prefer the term teen or young adult there is a challenge with having them, but this time of life can be so exciting as you watch them becoming (as previously mentioned).  What's funny is when the kids were little I got tired of so much cake.  So, instead of having cake on their birthday (and then for birthday parties) we did birthday muffins for  breakfast.  I make muffins and then put a candle on one.  Simple....sooo very simple and yet my kids look forward to this more than the other things we do (although they do like to get presents).  
What's not working for us:  Well, I wish it was something easy like curriculum, but this week was one of those where my daughter and I hit some bumps and had a rough couple of days.  We are at peace now, but honestly, riding that hormonal tide sometimes I just can't find the ebb and flow.  And in terms of what I need to be working on I must confess that my attitude could also use some adjusting.  
Things I'm working on:  Well, I am trying to complete one unfinished project a month in 2012.  So far, I have made some headway, but I don't know if I will complete my project for this month or not.  I started with a simple one, and with a little more than a week to go it's hard to gauge.  I am also wanting to make my home a more inviting place this year, but I am not sure where to start.  I am not even sure if my home is uninviting, at least no one has ever said it isn't.  But I am trying to change a few things here and there (with very little cost) to make it a more enjoyable place.  I am starting with the laundry room because it is the smallest room in my house.  I haven't changed anything yet, I am just contemplating how to make this room work better and be a place that I love.  This room won't make my home more welcoming per se, but it is boring and I spend a lot of time in there.  I would like it to bring a smile to my face, and I would like to manage some of the clutter that is in there.  
 I'm reading:  One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer and they are inspiring.   

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fruit of the Harvest

    There are days when I feel like my sacrifice of homeschooling is accomplishing nothing.  Days when my children fight, bicker and act selfish and I think they have learned nothing about character.  Days when there are tears over math problems that I thought we mastered months ago.  Days when no one can answer any questions from the reading that we just did.  Days that make me wonder if I have been wasting my time.

    Yet it seems like just before I decide to throw the towel in God gives me a gift of seeing some of the fruit of my harvest.  A child with a learning disorder who reads aloud to his siblings, or who reads a book for fun.  Going through a lesson and having children understand exactly what I am talking about.  Or having children with bad attitudes turn around the next morning and offer to do something nice for a sibling. 

    If homeschooling produced quick and easy results then everyone would do it.  My attitude and sacrifice as a homeschool mom is part of what plants the seed that harvests the fruit.  Oftentimes it takes months or years of doing something before I start to see the fruit (good and bad) of the seeds that I planted. 

     Sometimes I am so busy trying to keep my schedule running according to plan and trying to make sure that I "get everything done" that I miss the sprouts, the leaves, the buds, and even the fruit that I have helped produce in my children. 

  So while I would love a whole harvest I will be content with an apple or an orange here or there, and I'm thinking I may even keep a journal of those apples and oranges, just like I keep a journal of my garden.  Then the next time it seems like my crop isn't going to come in I have somewhere I can go to recall the fruit that has already been harvested.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Same Kind of New Year as before...sort of

   So I had grand plans for the New Year.  I had broken up my goals for the year into bite-size pieces, which I was sure would make them easier to accomplish.  I was going to blog today about the bite size goals I had made for myself so that I could accomplish some of the things I had resolved to do this year......and then I had one of those days.

   I woke up certain that I could make headway on some of my goals and get a few things done today.  I didn't even think I had overloaded myself and I was sure that I would have a few minutes of free time at the end of the day to do with as I wished.  However, not only did I not manage to accomplish those few things, but I also messed several things up today making more work for myself. 

   I was so frustrated.  I have been reading some great books since Christmas break.  One Thousand Gifts  by Ann Voskamp, The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer and Mastering the Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success by Andy Andrews and I have been so motivated that this year I can make some of the changes that need to be made.  So, it was discouraging to me that I couldn't even take a few small steps towards my goal.

   A couple hours later it makes me chuckle to just think about it.  As if I expected that the resolve I have for the New Year of 2012 means that my days are full of accomplishments and free of the hiccups and wrinkles that come with life.  As if having six children and a husband never cause me more work than I expected.  It does seem silly now, but a couple hours ago it was almost enough for me to just chuck it and give up for the day.  One day lost is certainly not the end of the world. 

   However, I also know that giving up on even small goals one day can make it easier to give up on them day after day.  So, I decided it would be better to take a deep breath, and then determine which of the goals I am still able to accomplish.  Certainly not the three that I had intended for the day, but I can at least try to get one done. 

   So, there it is.  I discovered today that 2012 will be much like 2011 in terms of the things that I am able to control.  I will still have days that don't run smoothly, or anywhere close for that matter, but I decided today to do my best to redeem the hours that I had left.  So, it's the same kind of New Year as before...sort of.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Dread or Anticipation?

   For many of us today is the first day back to homeschool for the Spring semester.  Talking with another homeschool mom yesterday I found that she didn't really want to go back to school today, and as it turns out my kids don't either. 

   I must admit that my first response thinking about school starting back again was similar.  Homeschooling takes up so much of my time and having a few days to just hang out with my kids, or read a book was like taking a breath of fresh mountain air (which seems fresher than the city air I normally breathe).   Part of me wanted to stay on break forever, even if my kids were starting to fight and asking if they could have more video game time, etc. 

   Yet, this morning just about all of my friends who send their kids off to school are thrilled that Christmas break is over, and I realized I should be equally excited about this opportunity to be on this journey with my kids.  When they were small, and I was new in my homeschool journey everything was fresh and I was excited.  Now, I have been homeschooling for 11 years and there are days that I am counting down the years I have left--trying to hurry through this journey that God has called me to.

   I think I have forgotten that I am connected to the ultimate Lifesource.  I have Living Water to drink from.  If I am drinking that water then my well should never run dry.  Moreover,  I know from experience that when I am doing something that God has called me to do then I will be filled over and over again, just when I need it.  The problem is that sometimes I am doing more than He wants me to do, or I expect more of myself than He does.

   So, this morning I woke up anticipating this gift that He has given me this morning.  This gift of teaching my children, and not just academics but so many other things.  This gift of learning with my children.  Mostly though homeschooling has given me this gift of being broken and spilled out for the sake of my children, for the sake of the call that He gave me.  Rather than asking why He called me and not those other moms who are enjoying a cup of coffee in a quiet house I am going to ask why not me.  Why shouldn't I have been given this privilege even if it comes at great cost to what I perceive to be my needs? My thoughts reminded me of a quote I had read before.

   "One morning I was reading the story of Jesus' feeding of the five thousand.  The disciples could find only five loaves of bread and two fishes.  'Let me have them,' said Jesus.  He asked for all.  He took them, said the blessing, and broke them before he gave them out.  I remembered what a chapel speaker, Ruth Stull of Peru, had said : 'If my life is broken when given to Jesus, it is because pieces will feed a multitude, while a loaf will only satisfy a little lad.'"--Elisabeth Elliot

   Happy homeschooling today!

Friday, December 30, 2011

I'm Just Too Busy

    Funny thing about this time of year is that we tend to look back and evaluate what we've done and think about the things we want to do.  We can call them resolutions or goals, but I think most of us really do have a "resolve" to make something in our life a little better.  Once the hectic atmosphere of Christmas passes I always feel like there are things that I want to do better next year---don't we all?  I know a lot of us hate to make resolutions that we won't keep, but if you're anything like me, you know there are things in your life that need to change.

   Which is why I am back here on my blog.  I have not kept up with it the way I imagined and over the last couple months I have been thinking that I would just let my blog become inactive.  I am just not a blogger I said to myself...I just don't have time for it...and many other excuses I could come up with.

    To be honest it was hard for me to even sit down this morning and write, because I haven't written anything in several months and I feel a bit sheepish.  However, I realized that for the last few months I have just been making excuses.  The truth is we make time for the things that are important to us.  I know as a homeschool mom I am always busy, but I also know that if my best friend calls I will stop and take a few minutes to talk to her.  If one of my kids gets sick I will take them to the doctor.  I routinely take the dogs for a walk and clean my house, and I homeschool.  Even though these things can eat up my time (and A LOT of it) and sometimes make me cranky the truth is they are important to me and I am not too busy to do them.  I have made choices about those things (conscious or unconscious).  

   If I hadn't enjoyed blogging then that would be a different thing, then it wouldn't be quitting.  It would have been an experience.  No different than trying a new food and deciding it's not something you would eat again.  No one feels like a failure for not eating something they didn't like after giving it a try or even two.  However, I do enjoy blogging.  I just felt frustrated that I had great ideas of what to put in my blog and then when I finally sat down to do it at the end of the day I wasn't motivated, or the post I had thought of earlier is no longer to be found in my brain.  I felt like it wasn't as wonderful as I thought.  So, in essence even though I didn't think I was making a conscious decision to quit I was.  Every thing we do in life is by our choice whether we do something or do nothing.  Letting things go by the wayside, whether it's friendships, or hobbies or a blog, is a choice to not do those things. 

    So here I am again, because I enjoy blogging.  I am here again because if we try again then we aren't failing.  If Edison could attempt to make the incandescent lightbulb thousands of times before finally getting the right combination then I have many attempts to fit blogging into my life and find the way that it works for me. 

   For that matter as I start 2012 I have many attempts to "re-try" other things in my life that haven't gone the way I wanted them to this year, and maybe I will finally succeed, or maybe I will have to try again next year, we'll see.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Stripped Away....

    I have been thinking the past few days of the words to the Matt Redman song, "The Heart of Worship."   When the music fades and all is stripped away and I simply come...

     It has been on my mind because that is how I have been feeling the last couple months...and thus the reason I haven't been blogging.  It's hard to know what to write when God is stripping so many things out of my life.  There are days when He is my lifeline and my rescue and days when I feel like I am hanging on by a thread.  Unfortunately the good days I get so many things done that there isn't time to blog and the bad days I don't want to write anything.  As a matter of fact the bad days I am unmotivated to do much of anything.

      But here I am because I love writing, and even if I have to go based off a list of topics I am going to start blogging several times a week.  Right now all the good and bad thoughts are just swirling around in there together and I think it will be freeing to have some of them out on paper.  Writing about the good things will make me feel better.  I have been having my kids write about what they are grateful for and what they are angry about.  I thought it might help them deal with some of the transitions we have experienced this year, and some of those that we are still processing.  Then it occurred to me that it would be a help to me as well.  So, while some things will remain in my own private journal, some things will be shared here as well,  as a way to remind myself that not everything going on around us is a trial we must walk through.  Our lives are filled with sorrow and suffering, but also with glory and grace.

     God has been asking me to let go of some things the last couple months and they are big things, and they are painful.    He has some big changes for us on the horizon, and as hard as that is it's also exciting.  After all He led the Egyptians through the desert in order to get them to the promised land.   I am not looking for a land of milk and honey, but I have to admit it would be nice to leave sorrow and suffering behind at least for a little while.

   So, if anyone is still reading I hope that you will join me on the journey of looking for the little love notes that God is leaving me along the way.

     The way that God reminded me of His love today was that He helped me find a missing library book.  That seems small, but there are times that it seems like if one more things goes wrong it will put me over the edge.  So, one less worry today is more helpful than it seems.