Saturday, March 31, 2012

The List

Examples of things that suck joy out of my life:

disobedience WITH attitude
all types of disrespect (eye rolling, shoulder shrugging)
an imperfect hubby who is messy and forgetful
dealing with the same "sin" everyday (mine and the kids)
always something to do, think about, plan for
lack of gratitude and appreciation (by me and the kids)
interruptions when I want to do something for myself
when someone does something better than me or that I want to do
so much to read so little time
high expectations
getting older
constant questions and need for attention
when I don't eat
forgetting (follow through)
when the new dog chews on stuff left around
the feeling of being ignored
when I try to have a serious conversation and I am interrupted
the feeling of being totally responsible for everyone's choices and happiness
being pulled in 10 different directions
uncontrolled chaos
having to many places to be in one day
when my well thought through plans get changed

This list keeps growing, although the rate at which I add things has slowed down some.  And, this is not an exhaustive list.  Some things are just a little too personal to share.  And, I know, there are some things that you might say "really?"  But, I am just trying to be honest.

Some of these things might take a long time to change, some of these things may NEVER change.  But, I am confident, with the help of the Holy Spirit, that my outlook can change.  I will have bad days, I will fail and progress may be slow and even backwards.

If I have read it once, I have read it 20 times, I can not change others' hearts, but I can change mine.  Yes, I will have to work at it.  But, God has called me to be joyful so I know that it will happen.  If I rely on Him, put my faith and trust in Him and I don't give up . . .

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Joy, Joy, Joy Down in My Heart

Not.  I am not by nature a joyful person.  I very proudly tell people I am a glass half empty type of gal.  It has served me well for 44 years.  It is a lot easier for me to deal with disappointment if I don't have huge expectations to begin with.  Just being honest.  I tend to look at the negative things but in a humorous sarcastic sort of way.

No big deal.  Until the kids start doing it.  And I don't like it.  Then I have to examine where they get it from.  And then I have to point the finger at myself.

I LOVE being a stay-at-home wife/mother and a homeschooling mom.  During our worst days I have never, ever wished I were some where else.  I know, that I know, that I know, I am right where God created me to be and right where He wants me to be.

But, most days are not filled with joy.  Now, I am not saying that I am sad and crying and wondering "why me."  Although I have those days too.  But, the deepest hope of my heart is that we have a house filled with peace and beauty and joy and happiness.  A house where our soul purpose is to love and serve God.  And we can feel rested and refreshed.

I can tell you, most days that just is not happening.  It is survival mode.  Love is not the word of the day.  Service to one another are acts to be avoided.  Our hearts, my heart does not have the right attitude.  There is just something missing in our house.

So, as I was talking with a friend the other day about all the Christian kids that are abandoning their faith the minute they leave the house (or sometimes even before) and that homeschooling is not the whole answer, I started to think.

We do all the outward things well.  We pray, we have morning devotions, we go to church, we volunteer and serve others, we talk about God and Jesus and what the Bible says about life.  We discuss worldview and biblical world view.  We discipline (and sometimes encourage).  I have a quiet time and discuss weighty subjects with friends.  We have started a multi-generational family LIFE group at church.  But yet, in my heart of hearts, God is telling me there is something missing.

Something huge.  I can do all those things.  I am goal oriented, task driven and an excellent list maker.  I love reading, love doing school, love helping others.  But, absolutely none of those things produce joy or love or peace in my home.  They are parts of a full life, though.

As my kids get older, I want them to LOVE our home.  I want them to not want to be a whole lot of other places.  I want them to view our home as a sanctuary, a safe place, a place of love and fun and peace and joy.  I want my children to esteem me, hubby and their siblings.  Most of all, I want my children to love and seek God IN EVERYTHING.  Because faith and hope and love for Him produces true joy no matter what the circumstances.

God has put a bunch of stuff in my path the last couple of years.  I won't write it all out because it would take me forever to list it all.  From scripture, to people, to books, to circumstances (mostly beyond my control.)  He is telling me I have no love.  I have no joy.  We have no peace.  And it is because of me.  Not all because of me.  But, I can guarantee beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am the catalyst of all the bad feelings in our home.

I lack love in the everyday, little things.  I love the big picture.  But I struggle mightily with the everyday little annoying, frustrating, confusing things.  And isn't that what makes up life?.  All the little things?  I have boundless joy suckers in my house all the time.  I need to do something about that.

So, I am in the middle of the book The Happiness Project.  And that gave me an idea.  I am starting my own "joy project."  I am going to spend the next few days, weeks, months, years working on my joy factor.  From the inside out.  A true change of heart.  (I know I can not do it on my own.  Phil 13:4 I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me.)

I am keeping a list off all the things that suck joy out of my life.  Everything from a forgetful husband to kids who can't sit at the table and just eat their food.  I am going to pray over the list, evaluate the list (as to why they suck joy out of my life), figure out whether the things on the list really matter in light of eternity, figure out what practical things I can do about the things left on the list,give God many things on my list.  And go from there.  The list, so far, in three days, is front and back of a sheet of notebook paper!

Most of it is just little things.  Just little, little, little things.  That get under my skin and "ruin" my day.

After praying over my partial list on Tuesday, I have decided to tackle LOVE first.  In 1 Peter God says it covers a multitude of sins.  And I am talking about love in my heart.  I am working on me first.  Be a catalyst of a loving attitude.  In all things.

I want to love the everyday little things that drive me crazy and suck out joy.  I want to learn to be thankful for those things and see them as opportunities for growth in me and my family.  Aren't we all on a journey of a relationship with Christ?  We are always growing, always maturing.

I truly do love my life.  I just want it to be filled with more true joy.  Not one that comes from circumstances, things or anything temporal.  I want my joy to be focused on the eternal. And the work that I am called to do for my King.  Being a joyful helpmeet to my husband, being a mother that someday my children will rise up and call blessed.  A parent who has eternal goals for her children.

So, as I progress through my Joy Project, I will be relating things through my blog.  Mostly because it is therapeutic.  And, blogging is something that brings me joy . . . .

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Book Club

About two weeks ago was book club.  We read Archimedes and the Door of Science.  Normally my kids just get up and do and impromptu report.

But, this month, responding to some of the cute things the other kids do, they each decided to do a little bit more.  All on their own.

Boop had Daddy create a pulley type system in the backyard and he told everyone just a little bit about the pulley.  Then everyone got a chance to try it out.

Then the girls did a little interview skit and it was so adorable.  Little Mama dressed up and pretended to be Archimedes.  Nature Girl was an interviewer named Carly Vinson.  NG would ask questions and LM would give answers according to what they had read in the book.

I was proud of all three of them.  I had been thinking to myself that we needed to be a little more prepared for book club.  Really take advantage of some of the learning that we do when we read.  And, before I could even verbalize it, they had come to me with their ideas.

One of those great parenting/teaching moments. . .

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

LIfe is a Beach

We just spent this past weekend at one of the most fabulous places around.  We camped RIGHT on the water and it was fabulous and relaxing and beautiful and the kids (and adults) had a great time!

We left Thursday afternoon and were where we needed to be, right when we needed to be there.  We met up with our friends and set up and just relaxed, cooked, talked and the kids played.

The place was packed and the sites kind of close together but they were still pretty "private."

Ellie on the rocks right behind our camper.  The kids had a blast crawling from our campsite to their friends' campsite on the rocks.  They also caught a ton of starfish and there were a great many different types of birds flying by, just skimming the water looking for dinner.  We also saw dolphin!

Massive houses across the bay.  How the other half lives.  At night the lights were fantastic.

Friday was the beach.  It was a little overcast.  When we got there, there was a double red flag which means no swimming.  But, this was the "kiddie" area which was protected by a big jetty.  The water never got past their chest and the waves were manageable.  The kids each had boogie boards and had a blast trying to figure out how to ride them.  By the time we got all unpacked and everything it was down to one red flag which was extreme caution.  

It was a perfect place for two families with a bunch of kids.  We could actually relax just a little bit.  Over the dune in the following picture was the "adult" beach.  The waves were massive and there were even surf boarders catching waves.  We walked over to look at the huge waves and the surfers.  There was also a wall of sand about 12 feet high that the kids and adults were able to pull shells out of.  I wish I would have brought my camera because you could actually see the different layers of shell, then sand, then shell.

Saturday we went back to the beach but I didn't bring my camera.  We stayed a lot longer, it was busier but it was beautiful!  The single red flag was still flying, which really didn't mean much in the "kiddie" area.  The dads got brave and took the bigger kids over to the adult area to ride the waves with their boogie boards.  Hubby said the waves far out where about 10 feet.  Closer in they were about 6ft.  All the kids had a blast riding in the waves.  It was crazy exciting!

But, then things got a little hairy.  The dads were in the water so the kids went a little further out.  Boop got tumbled in the water a little too hard and got out.  Then, at the same time, Little Mama took a tumble and the riptide got a hold of Nature Girl.  She said the sand just felt like it was coming out from under her and she just kept going out further in the water.  She said she tried to move closer to shore but just couldn't.  She started to panic and call for daddy.  Near as I can tell from the story, LM had just fallen off her board and he was in between the two.  Thankfully both had their boards to grab onto.  Hubby was able to go after Nature Girl.  He said NG was visibly shaken (and she is a pretty tough little cookie.)  They all opted to come back to the "kiddie" area after all that.

The kids teaching the neighbor how to hunt for starfish.  She was out bright and early the next day trying it for herself!

We had to get in the car to get to the actual beach, which was just about 5 minutes away.  But, down a couple sites was a little wading area.  We went down a little before sunset.

The kids and their very special friends.  They picked up an extra friend.  It seems when camping, kids bond just so naturally.  She was a sweet, sweet girl camping, from Alabama with her dad and his girlfriend.

Best buds.  They got along so, so well.  

Big breakfast Saturday morning.  As always, camping food is the best.  And hubby is a fabulous cook.  We had beef kabobs and brats and I actually made a cold pasta salad with toasted bread made on the fire.

What a great, great, trip.  It was so nice just to relax on the beach with great friends and just watch the kids play.  We will definitely be going back there. . .

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bitter Sweet

My dad called me yesterday.  My Grandmother, who was 100 years old (and 22 days) passed away yesterday morning.  I know she will be missed.  I am so, so thankful we made the trip in January and were able to see her.  Praying for my family so far away . . .

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

This Week

This week is spring break for all the school kids.  We really had no intention of "taking the week off."  But, we got home from my mom's on Monday.  And we are leaving tomorrow to go camping until Sunday.

So, the week has been spent doing laundry, going to the grocery store, shopping for summer clothes and packing the camper.

So, all that to say, we have managed one math sheet.  We have been focusing on honor, respect and first time obedience.  So, I feel we have been doing something even though there is nothing tangible to show for it.

Anyway, we leave tomorrow for the beach.  And the kids are very excited.  Pictures when we get back . . .

Get Away to Grandma's

This past weekend we celebrated St. Patrick's Day and Grandma's birthday!  The kids, the dog and I packed up early Friday morning and headed down south for some sun and fun with family.

My aunt is visiting my mom for a couple weeks so that was an added bonus!  We arrived early afternoon on Friday and the kids immediately headed to the pool.  As everyone says "what would you do without that pool?"

We hung out and visited and the kids swam.  On Saturday Auntie K took us to Beef O'Brady's for St. Paddy's day and wings!  We did a little shopping and I mean a little.  Then we went home and enjoyed the pool for a little bit more.  Grandma came home from work and we had a fabulous corn beef and cabbage supper.

Sunday was my mom's birthday and we did whatever she wanted.  We hung out at the pool, ate hamburgers (which she grilled) and watched a movie.  The day was topped off with an excellent birthday cake!

We had a great time celebrating with Grandma . . .

Friday, March 16, 2012

Walk for Life

We have a pregnancy center in town.  The center encourages moms to keep their babies and then provide all different types of support from counseling, to diapers, to letting them know that God loves them and their baby.

I have always had a strong desire to help out there.  In the beginning I looked into counseling.  But, it was pretty intensive and I was right in the middle of raising my own growing family.  So, in the past we have brought donations of clothes, diapers and such.

About two weeks ago, a lady in our church got up and gave a very impassioned speech about the need for support for the annual Walk for Life for the center.  It is one of their big fund raisers.  Honestly I hadn't thought about it.  But, on Monday I got some info about the walk and found out the kids and dog could go.  So, we signed up.  A bunch of people supported us.

It was a beautiful day.  We walked with a friend and my sister and her friends were there also.  We saw a ton of people from out church.  The kids and I enjoyed the walk and they had a few activities afterwards for the kids.

We raised a little bit of money and showed our support for life.  I was so glad we went and look forward to supporting them again. . . .

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Red Hills

This past Friday the family went to watch the Red Hills Horse Trials.  It is an annual event in our area and it is a pretty big deal as far as horse people are concerned.

It is Friday through Sunday and it covers dressage, cross country and jumping.  Friday was dressage and I figured it would be the best day for us to go.  Not crowded and we had other stuff going on for the rest weekend.

Anyway, Little Mama is quite the horse lover these days so she was excited.  The horses were beautiful and the riders were very skilled.  We learned a little bit about dressage that day.  It is French for training and it is kind of like an ice skating competition or ballet but with horses.

We had snack food, hung out with friends and took in most of the sites.  It was a beautiful day to soak in all the activity.

We are definitely making plans for next year . . .

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Secret Keepers

A week and a half ago, the big girls and I and a bunch of mom friends and their daughters went to a program called Secret Keepers LIVE!  The program promotes beauty for young girls being defined by modesty and that true beauty comes from God.

In this day and age where 7 year olds look like 17 year olds, it was refreshing to hear from God's word about what is truly beautiful in a girl/women.  And none of it really has to do with the outside.  Yes, we should be neat and clean and properly dressed but that is not what defines true beauty.  God, in Scripture calls each one of us beautiful.  And He would know because He created each and everyone of us.

We got tips on dressing stylish yet modest.  And she challenged each young girl there to spend more time in God's word then she does looking in the mirror.  I thought that was cool!!

She explained, through a parable, that each girl is a Princess in the Kingdom of God.

Anyway, it was just nice to hear from another source that beauty is truly from the inside and that modesty is the way to go . . .

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Close to God

I am never much closer to God as when I have to go to the dentist.  I know that may sound a little strange but this is the deal.

When I go to the dentist, especially to have major work done, like today, I am a nervous wreck.  I practically hyper ventilate.  I shake and tighten my whole body so taunt that I am sore the next day.  The dentist has to remind me to breathe and to relax my jaw.

The hygienist and the dentist are constantly telling me I am doing fine.  I literally am one breath away from a panic attack.  Today, I thought for sure, my hubby was going to have to come pick me up.

What does this have to do with God one might ask.  Well, let me answer.

I have absolutely no control over the situation.  I can't do or say anything to make matters better (or worse.)  I have no knowledge of what is going on.  I am at the absolute mercy of the dentist and his wisdom and knowledge.

All I can do is just lie there.  And say a few unintelligible words.  For a control freak like me, that is huge.  I have absolutely no other choice but to pray.  To ask God to calm my nerves and help me to control my shaking body.  To ask Him for wisdom and a steady hand for the dentist.  Pray that the extent of the damage is not too great and that there will be no pain.

Today, for two hours, I laid there, in the hands of dentist.  I just kept repeating verses I had memorized and singing worship songs.  I would pray when things got really nerve wracking.

I know there are lot worse things than going to the dentist (which makes it even worse to know I am such a wimp.)  But, for me, in that moment, I am very close to God.  And so thankful He hears my every word . . . 

Monday, March 5, 2012

A New Addition

Well, we did it.  After many weeks of looking and comparing and convincing daddy, we are now the proud new forever family of a puppy!

He is seven months old and better behaved than the kids. ;)  He is part Dachshund and the rest we don't know.  He is black and tan with a spot of white on his chest and under his belly.  He doesn't bark, is a snuggler and is housebroken and crate trained!  The perfect puppy.

We went out yesterday just to look.  We had three dogs in mind and Snoopy was NOT one of them.  But, the kids fell in love right away.  All of them.  And they all agreed on his name, Snoopy.  We had been praying for quite some time for the perfect dog.  And, when we chatted with the lady about Snoopy, the first thing we did was huddle up at Subaru (the Humane Society was having an event) and prayed if this was the one.  Then we called daddy.

He was still a little hesitant.  He made sure that we understood the dog would be our responsibility.  I understood.  The kids understood.  So here we are.

We made it through the first day.  He snooped around, the kids are fussing over his attention, he slept in Little Mama's bed for his nap and he scoots to his cage to get peace and quiet.

We are in love . . .