It is the first day of school, and my husband has started a new, though temporary, job. So I will be starting my daughter on her new lessons, while supervising (and trying to keep them from killing each other!) my 4 and 2 year old, and making sure my almost 1 year old doesn’t get all the books off the shelves (again…)…all while coping with the first trimester fatigue and morning sickness of my fifth pregnancy. Yes, we are expecting again!

But I can’t help but smile. As busy as life is, as chaotic as my house stays, we are blessed.  We are blessed with happy, healthy children, with a beautiful home, with freedom to choose how we educate our children, how we parent them and how we worship our God. We are blessed with friends and family who love us and support us, with a community that is safe and friendly. We are blessed with a marriage that is growing stronger and closer than ever.

I can hardly bear to read the need feed on my Facebook page today. So many parents celebrating the first day of school, and their kids leaving home. It makes me want to cry. I couldn’t imagine leaving my kids in the care of someone else for that long every day, of not seeing them for that long, and letting someone else impart to my children their values and worldview.  I’m thankful that my husband and I are in complete agreement that our children will never set foot in a school institution, if we can help it.

But we are blessed! Incredibly so… Thank you Jesus!

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I have a new phone that”Swypes” not types, so please forgive any typos.

I cannot wait for next week. A are going on vacation, to my parents. A have plans to meet old friends, new friends (like my brother’s girlfriend, finally), and then there’s the family reunion at the end of the week. I live seeing my family, even if they aren’t quite sure what to do with me.

It’s funny how even thinking about a vacation energizes you (not that I have much energy lately, but that’s a different post.) I am excited and so looking forward to this. Packing hasn’t started yet, but will in the next day or so.

We even planned this weeks menu around going, to prevent leftovers and dishes being left behind dirty. Just wish I could have arranged for my hair cut before we left, but time did not permit.

Yes I meal plan. I have to! When you feed five mouths (baby doesn’t count yet…) and need to do it on a budget, you’d better meal plan. I did better before we moved, but I’m out of practice a bit now. Hopefully once we are back into school routine, I’ll be betterat doing a lot, more regularly.

When I waa a girl, I had a difficult time with “I told you so”. I was very bright, and like any child who umderstands they are talented in some area, I liked to show off. This resulted in the phrase “I told you so” (in the obnoxious voice only a 9 year old can master) frequently crossing my lips.

My mother patiently explained a few truths to me. And I soon learned that correcting my elders did not endear me to them (the fact that I learned more by shutting up and listening helped — my curiosity was bigger than my need to show off). But the truths she shared were real. “I told you so” is the height of arrogance, self-centred and unloving, and shows no mercy or grace. It is plain rude.

As the overly intelligent 9 year old, was I conceited. I knew more and could think faster than most people — and I knew it. I delighted in proving my quickness, usually by proving another wrong. But “I told you so” doesn’t help anyone. When did pride ever help? All I did was alienate those close to me and keep them from asking me for help. Which in turn prevented me from serving others and kept me from opportunities to best use my gift. Which is what I wanted to do in the first place. My arrogance didn’t serve me or them.

“I told you so” also came from a place of hurt for me. When I didn’t feel listened to our that my input was valued, I felt validated in keeping score and reminding others of my (ignored) contribution. I was more interested in demanding my due than in genuinely serving. But love never keeps a record of wrongs or keeps score. True love prefers others’ opinion over its own and rejoices when another succeeds.

There is no mercy in “I told you so”. That phrase doesn’t allow for human mistakes or human failures. It places a burden of expectations and the disappointment in failure on the target or victim of it. Grace and mercy recognize the imperfections of our fallen natures. But “I told you so” expects perfection. I hated being let down, as a child, and my “I told you so”‘s were my childish demands of attention and my refusal to forgive human failings.

“I told you so” is the ultimate form of disrespect. It gives no honor or kindness to the other. It is selfish and rude. And it is the childish response to the hurts caused by the fact that we at all human and less than perfect. It has no place in the grown up vocabulary. My mother was right. Thank goodness she won’t tell me “I told you so.”

I have been struggling a lot lately with feeling beautiful. Normally I don’t give my appearance a lot of thought — neat and clean and pleasant is my goal, usually. Recently, however, I find myself avoiding mirrors and feeling ugly every time I catch a glimpse of myself in one.

Maybe it’s the knowledge that all eyes will be on me when I share on Sunday. Maybe it’s just a longing for something to change. And since I don’t want to change husband or house .. Myself is about all I have left.

Perhaps the biggest changes shouldn’t be external, but internal. If I’m feeling and thinking bad about myself, but not doing anything about it, something’s wrong. Either I need to change the way I’m thinking, or I need to take my feelings as an emotional indicator of a behavioural change. Probably both.

Emotions are like other senses. We don’t live by what we see, hear, smell, touch or feel, and we shouldn’t live by our surface feelings of sadness, happiness or anger. All the senses and emotions are simply information. Like seeing red-hot embers, hearing sizzles and sparks, smelling smoke and feeling heat warn us of a fire, being sad and angry warn us of spiritual fire and pain. When we sense a physical fire our behaviour changes – we move away, and process whether this fire is safe or unsafe, and whether or not it is usable or should be put out. When we sense a spiritual fire, we should do the same — change our behaviour, and seek more information to make decisions. Too often we don’t change our behaviour or seek information, we simply react, like little children too young to understand.

I don’t want to be emotionally and spiritually immature. Time to take my feelings in charge, instead of letting them be in charge. And I need to figure out what’s really going on, instead of dwelling in the ugliness of my feelings.

I was reading another blog this morning, by a lady who’s marriage self-destructed, kinda like mine did. Only.. She’s divorcing. I don’t claim to know any details beyond what’s on the blog, but all I could think, as I identified repeatedly with post after post was:

There, but for the grace of God, go I.

Not just grace though, but miracle-working power. Undeserved, amazing love. Mercy unmerited and refreshing.

Different choices, different opportunities, and a different ending.

It could have been a crash and burn. But instead of trying to piece my life together, I sit on the front porch of a beautiful new house, in the gorgeous sunshine of a summer’s day, relaxing with my husband, and only a week away from recommitting our lives to each other in a vow renewal ceremony.

God is incredible.

It takes courage. It takes three people to do it. There has to be willingness from both husband and wife to work with God. But happily ever after does exist.

I’m living it.

It has been an interesting couple of months. We bought a house!! What started out as an unexpected proposal ended up being a beautiful surprise, and I for one am thrilled. We have a house that literally fits my dreams, and made some new friends in the process.

New seems to be the theme of my life. My husband and I are renewing our vows in another week and a half. I need to write out a testimony along with my vow, to share. We’ve decided that I will share from my side of this journey, so our friends and family can truly understand what a miracle this is.

I’m sitting here on my (new!) front porch, listening to the last drips from the trees. The world seems new again, having been bathed by a series of terrific thunderstorms. The air is renewed, and finally comfortable.

“His mercies are new every morning.” An amazing promise — isn’t it just like God to give a new gift to His creation, each and every single day?! And He also has made us new creatures, and offers us the chance to “renew our minds” as often as needed (which is more often than I care to admit!!)

New. I love getting something new. I bought a new dress for our recommitment, and my husband has a new suit. New clothes make us feel our best. New books create anticipation of new adventures. New shoes make one stand tall. And they say the best smell is that of a “new car”.

It’s new. There’s a feeling of freshness and the ability to start over. Theme of my life — we’re still getting started!

Lately, I’ve been asked about homeschooling and challenged to clarify our why’s and what’s and how’s. Here’s what we teach:

1. We will teach purpose and choice, not chance and fate. This includes the special creation of humanity, the plan of God for each and every human being ever conceived, and the concept of free will. This does not include the fairy tales of evolution, karma or any other modern-day religion.

2. We will teach love, not tolerance. Our children will learn that there is an absolute, and that absolute demands a response. We will teach that there is a difference between person and behaviour, and that people are to be treated with respect, and more than that, to be loved and served without conditions, but that certain behaviours are to be condemned and not tolerated, with help to change.

3. We will teach holiness, not morality. Choices have consequences, and our reactions don’t have to be our responses. There is a right and wrong, and we cannot compromise on those. Our guideline is the Bible, the Word of God, and we will declare holy what God says is holy, and we will name sin what God says is sin.

4. We will teach responsibility, not genetics-and-environment. We may have tendencies and patterns wired into us, but we can and should choose. We may be “born this way” but we don’t have to stay this way. We will own our mistakes and teach about making it right, from apologies to restitution.

5. We will teach truth, not political correctness. It may be unpopular, it may even seem foolish to the world, but we will stick with what we know to be true, and to the One we know is Truth. And we will speak truth, even when the consequences hurt. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel..”

6. We will teach passion and conviction, not peer pressure and convention. We will teach our children to carefully think about why things are done, and to choose the right way, even if it is not the easy way. We will teach our kids to follow God, and to stand for what they believe in.

7. We will teach with relationship, not by rote. We aren’t seeking to fill our children’s heads with information, but to fill their hearts with wisdom and knowledge of God and a desire to love Him, and each other.

Homeschooling is a lifestyle choice, not just an education option. We keep our children home out of a desire to raise a godly generation, not just because of a reaction against public school, or for any special need. We desire to truly live for God, in all areas of life, including parenting and family.