Chirp…

The faint chirping of birds…

If I concentrate, I can dimly dice the conversation.

The tweets cascading down from the oaks in front of me are met with distant song to my left.  What are they saying?

There is a pattern to their song.  Verse, chorus, verse again…a back and forth chant and response.  The pitch of the two are different, one distinctly higher than the other, but the quick staccato rhythm the same.  Are they talking about food, the weather, the nest?

I have been listening to birdsongs of a different flair all week.  It’s been deep meaningful discussion on matters of faith, “outreach”, and Jesus.  I sit here in the woods, on retreat, processing all the hymns and anthems I have just taken in, hoping to digest even half of the wisdom I encountered.

At the very core of my melodic meal, Jesus has been singing a song over me.  He has been feeding His goodness and mercy straight to my hungry belly.  He has been wooing me with His love.  His Spirit has been reminding me of all that He said and all that He has done.  His sweet tunes have been everything from savory, slow, and melodic to salty, fast, and turbulent.  In every lyric is a nutrient for my heart.

The rain comes.

Pat, pat, pat, pat….

piddle, piddle,

Pat….

Fading are the birds, all but one.  In the sound of the softly falling wet, I hear but one little chirp.

Chirp.

Chirp.

Chirp.

She is constant, her beat like the ticking of a grandfather clock.  The rain falls gently.

The air fills with the fragrance of peaceful showers.

Chirp.

Chirp.   Piddle.  Piddle.

In this solitude, Jesus has a message for me.  He has been pouring music of His truth and His gifts over me for months now, but here, in this peaceful place, with rain tenderly tapping 16ths on the leaves on the snare drum of His orchestration, and the bird steady on the count…

Piddle piddle piddle piddle piddle piddle piddle piddle.

Chirp.

Chirp.

It is here that I start to piece together the message of His month long score.

The Spirit is at work around me and in me.  I feel Him moving as I sense the bugs squirming under the leaves.  A small section of dry scrap on the ground jumps as a wooded lizard runs for cover.  I see the Spirit wiggling under the surface of our lives.  Some jump at His dance.  Some respond.  Some run for cover.  He is mixing and stirring our pots.  He’s up to something.

Chirp.

Chirp.

An acorn falls in front of me from the heights above.

clack…

and bounces on the wooden deck…

click, click.

More percussion in this song.  I am learning to listen.  To learn I must practice.

Chirp.

Chirp.

That unrelenting chirp that never misses a beat, it is constant and exact.  Such is the message for my heart–a constant and exact word for only my soul, speaking personally to the depths of my spiritual being.  Yet, I see in the songs I have shared with others this week, the songs I have listened others sing, that the message is being broadcast worldwide.  The movement is wild and far-traveling.  While He speaks straight to my soul, He is speaking directly to the souls of others.  He is amazing.  He is big.

Chirp.

Chirp.

Clack.  Click, click.

What is this message?  What is this great orchestral composition leading me to?  I don’t know…yet.  But I am simply enjoying the concert.

Clack.  Click, click.

Chirp.

Pat, pat, pat, pat….

piddle, piddle,

Pat….

The message is to listen…to learn His voice.  To practice the art of listening to Him.

The rain from the roof has gathered in the gutters and soon a faint trickle of drops turns into a spout of bubbling brook.

Drip.

Drop.

Pour.

He is here, even now, and I know this because I listen.

I fear no evil, for He is with me.  His soft showers of grace turn into rivers of gratitude in my heart.  Somehow this listening transforms me.  My spirit lifts, and I believe it is because I am hearing His Spirit with all my senses.  This is the message He has for me.  This is one of the many gifts He has given me, to have at my disposal His Holy Spirit, the Helper, the Comforter, the One who reminds me of the Father’s love and of Jesus’ words. If I don’t hear, how will I know?

I am learning to be a sheep that listens, that is known, and does not wonder.  “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).  He is speaking to me in daily current parables.

“This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.  Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:

“‘“You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’
But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.  For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it” (Matthew 13:13-17).

In His mercy, my dull heart is being illuminated.  My ears are being tuned.  My eyes are being opened.  His mercies are new every morning.

Chirp.

Chirp.

I hear His mercies falling anew:

Pat, pat, pat, pat….

piddle, piddle,

Pat….

Drip, drop…

pour.

He has healing and I turn to hear it and receive it.

His Spirit is here, with me, with you.  Listen.  Keep your eyes peeled.  Don’t over think it.  Simply sit and listen and start with what you hear.  My friend, I want you to know the joy that comes from knowing.

chirp.

 

Baby blue…like the Colorado skies…

So again, I’ve been feeling sad, a little blue, you might say.  I think it’s pretty simple—no need to over analyze.  I just miss my people and places.  I miss the Broken Spoke, my Buda HEB cashiers, the simplicity of THE one stoplight on Main Street, South Congress, Gordough’s Big Fat Doughnuts, House Pizza on Airport, Town Lake, and the list could go on.  Even sitting in this Katy Starbucks deceives me into believing I am sitting near IH-35 in the Buda Starbucks and life hasn’t changed.  When we lived in Austin, I used to get frustrated at the “Austin is the best place on earth” mentality.  It seemed so self-righteous.  But now I get it.  It really is the best city on earth. 🙂

Earlier this month, we had the opportunity to go to Colorado as a family.  It was the first time to be on a plane for the kids (that they can remember) and it was the first time for us to travel that far with four kids.  In short, we all grew a little. 🙂

We had a moment in the car when one child did not want to go into the mountains.  Despite the prospect of snow, adventure and fun, the fear of the mountain was too much.  I don’t know if it was the foreknowledge of steep cliffs, avalanches or rock slides that was causing the trepidation, but whatever the source,  it was all too much.  In an effort to encourage, I tried to describe how fun the snow would be, how beautiful the trees would be, how amazing and worth it the drive up to the top would be.  None of it was convincing.  So, with tears rolling down the cheeks, we just forced all parties in the car up into the Rockies.

It ended up being worth it. (Go figure.) While this annual trip was not as restful as it has been in the past, we did have good fun family time together.  Here are a few pics of our adventures:

Manitou Cave Dwellings
Manitou Cave Dwellings
The boys and SNOW!
The boys and SNOW!
The Wolf Sanctuary
The Wolf Sanctuary
Feeding time for all.  Notice the wolf eyeing Judah for dessert.
Feeding time for all. Notice the wolf eyeing Judah for dessert.
Gold Mine Tour
Gold Mine Tour

 

We hunted for cave-dwelling Indians, gold, snow, and even wolves.  Well, they were easy to find because they were behind the fence and it was feeding time.  And everyone had no regrets about being in the heights of the mountain range.  Once the wonders of the mountain had been experienced, all fear and concern was gone.

In all the traveling and excitement, I rarely had to time to process anything.  This trip has become a mile-marker of sorts.  Every Cinco-de-Dyer (our friend, David Dyer’s, May 5th birthday) we trek to Colorado.  In the past the week of solitude and reflection has made every trip memorable and unique in that there has been a lot of introspective and identifying of the season we are in or the big lesson for that year.  It’s been a time to pause while on the outside of our normal life and take note of what God is doing.  We’ve been afforded the opportunity to take a “Colorado skies” panoramic of life and how the Spirit is guiding us.  (And if we’ve been following or not.)

This year, that didn’t happen.  At least not with the same intentionality.  But I remember that it was last year on this trip that as we drove down the mountain paths with huge vistas of blue sky and snow-capped mountains on either side, Family Rehab was born.  It was while in the beauty and splendor, without our kids, that a yearning to share it with them was born.  “It” was the beauty of the Lord—all that He has created and all that He has done.  His majesty spreads farther than the baby blue Colorado skies.  His splendor and power is also evident in our lives.  And by “our”, I mean everybody.  Whether a believer or not, God is working in your life.  Whether you confess God as your creator and Jesus as your Redeemer, or not…He’s at work in your life.  Whether we believe or not, I dare say we don’t notice or acknowledge the majority of His workings in every facet of our lives.  Whether we believe or not, He is pursuing all of us.  He pursues not to destroy and condemn, but to love and lavish forgiveness and mercy upon us.  Contemplating this, and knowing that He is pursuing me and loving me, no matter how small I am in comparison to Pike’s Peak, makes me feel amazing–so amazing that I want to make sure my children feel the depth and breadth of His love for them.  It was the desire to share with them the truth of how much they are loved and treasured that fueled Family Rehab.  And I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t just telling them from a philosophical or religious mentality.  I wanted them to hear it from my heart, as someone who has experienced His love.  But let’s get real.  I don’t always feel it.  I don’t always believe that it’s there.  Like right now…I mean, if He loved me, He wouldn’t have called me out of Austin!

To a warm-weathered Texan, it doesn’t make much sense why anyone would live in sub-freezing temperatures and shovel snow.  In the same way, believing that 1) God exists; and 2) He knows me; and 3) that He pursues me with love doesn’t make sense to everyone either.  I don’t always see snow.  I am so far removed from it at times that I don’t remember exactly how it feels in my hands.  I can’t adequately describe in words the crunchy sound it makes under my feet.  But if I took you to the mountain, made you kneel beside me and make a snowman, you would know and understand the thrill and joy it brings because you experienced it.  I think this is the tricky thing for a believer.  I can tell you with all manner of words how knowing and trusting Jesus is better than life, but until you experience it for yourself, it just won’t compute.  And if I asked you to travel with 4 kids through an airport then drive in a tear-filled SUV up a mountain trail to experience it, you may not take the challenge, because without knowing the value of the view at top, the view of the journey holds no worth.

It takes risk to climb a mountain.  It takes faith to live on one.  It takes commitment to shovel through ice and snow winter after winter.  But if we go to the mountain together, we can remind each other of the scary cliffs and the exhilaration of making the journey past them.  If we go together, we can communicate with fewer words of convincing and more across-the-room glances of solidarity and connection.  Taking my kids to the mountain daily is a key part of Family Rehab.  It’s not about me simply sharing bible stories or rehearsing scripture memory verses.  I am inviting my children into my personal experience with Jesus.  When I struggle, they need to see it–because Jesus will show up.  When I am sad, they need to hear about it–because Jesus will say something.  When I am happy, they need to know the source of it–because Jesus will be pursuing them with storehouses full of it.  If I don’t help them experience Jesus, they might miss Him like so many others.  They might believe in Him, but they might miss experiencing Him and all His goodness.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!  (Psalm 34:8)

I want my kids to not only taste and see that snow is good.  I want them to taste and see with all their senses that Jesus is good.  I don’t just want them to push past their fears and see that snow and mountain-fresh air is worth it in the end.  I want them to push past insecurities and doubts and the fear of being fully known and see that freedom in Jesus is worth it.  In a world that sometimes portrays a Jesus who is disappointed in us and pities us, I want them to know from experience that “Jesus is always good news” as my husband puts it.  He loves us and wants good for us.  He pursues us with grace and mercy and open arms.  He wants us to be happy and full of joy, not guilt and shame.  Experiencing that freedom first hand is key.  To be loved for who you are right now, in all your failures and insecurities, knowing that right now, without changing a thing, you are worth dying for–that’s worth the pain of being honest about your imperfection.  That kind of love doesn’t exist in any other religion, with any other god, or in any human relationship.  We’d like to think that we can love unconditionally, but if we are honest, we really do expect quite a lot of good behavior from those that we love.  Jesus does what no one else can.  He loves me completely and freely…no strings attached.

Oh, kids…taste and see that the Lord is good!  Oh, friends…taste and see that the Lord is good!  Oh, believers…taste and see that the Lord is good!  Oh, Angie…taste and see that the Lord is good!  (even when I’m homesick)  I need to listen to my own rant here.  In my sadness over seeing and tasting familiar Austin things no more, I need to remember that Jesus looks better and tastes better.  What He has for me here makes everything else pale in comparison.  It may take awhile to see it, to experience it here, but He is at work and He is lavishing grace and mercy on me every moment.  I need to heed my own advice.  I need to push past the tendency to withdrawal in the safety of my house.  I need to gather around me the people He has given me in this place for a journey up the mountain so we can experience His wonders together and remind each other that, yes–He is here, He is good.  Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good. 🙂

 

A Hand To The Face

I thought I would share our bible verse from last week and how we have started to practically apply it to real life situations.  I just walked up the stairs from trying our practicum on the children, and it actually had a positive impact for the first time. So, I thought I’d better share while it’s fresh and still true that it’s working.  (I better type fast!)

Last week our verse was, “We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19.  I had the girls draw a heart in their prayer journals.  In the middle of their heart they wrote their name.  Around the edge of the heart, they wrote the verse.  Then we talked about what it means.

Q: “Who loved us first?”

A: “God”

Q: “How did God love us?”

A: “He sent Jesus to die on the cross for us.”

So we drew a cross to the left of the heart with an arrow pointing to the heart.  Because God loved us, the arrow points from the cross to our hearts.  The love of God enters our hearts by way of the cross.

Q: “Because God loved us, what can we do?”

A: “Love others”

Then we drew some stick people to the right of the heart.  Again, we put an arrow in between the two to show that love flows from our heart to others.  When you trace back the path of the arrows, it all starts with Jesus and the cross.

Q: “So what is unique about the way that God loved us?”

A: “He gave up his Son”

Q: “What is unique about how Jesus loved us?”

A: “He gave up his life.  He died for us.”

So there was a “giving up” of something.  That’s called sacrifice.  God loved us with a “sacrificial love.”

Q: “So if the same love that starts with Jesus on the cross flows out of us onto others, how can we love others?”

A: “We can sacrifice for them.”Image

“Great discussion”, you say, “but how do you put that into practice…with children especially?”  Below is what we have been trying, and as of 10 minutes ago (and counting) it is working (well, once so far…)

Here is our plan:  When someone is yelling (usually in our house it’s “STOP!”), whether it be to stop kicking, singing, smacking, or generally stop being frustrating, the new rule is to hold up a hand to the face to accompany the “STOP!”  In our family, the “STOP” seems to be second nature and takes no training, so I decided to use that to my advantage.  Usually our yelling is self-seeking and is accompanied by name-calling.  Having the hand up reminds us all that we need to stop.  It doesn’t matter if we are the one doing the yelling or the name-calling, or the annoying, we all need to stop.  We need to think about our heart drawings in the prayer journals.  When a hand goes up, everyone should stop and say the verse together.  “We love because He first loved us.”  Then we have to pause and ask the questions: “How did Jesus love me?” ( He sacrificed for me.) “And how can I sacrifice for the other person right now?”  Our frustration and yelling and difficulty in loving each other usually arises when we are thinking more about what we want to get out of the relationship or situation than what we can give up for the other.  So, in an effort to retrain our first response in those situations, let’s ask ourselves not what I can get, but what can I give, remembering all the while that it is only because of Jesus that we have the capacity to love sacrificially.

Earlier I ran into the kitchen because I heard a cacophony of screaming and yelling and name-calling.  The kids were playing their own version of “town” or “life” where playing cards are used as currency and someone is manning the bank, the store, and the cafe.  Instead of joining in with my own self-righteous yelling and name-calling, I just held up the palm of my hand.  All three little hands went up and the room was silent.  I almost didn’t know what to do next, I was so shocked.  I started, “We love because…”  and they joined in.  (Oh, don’t screw this up, Angie!) I lead them through the simple explanation of how Jesus taught us sacrificial love and how that same love lives in us.  I asked, “how can we give up something right now in order to love one another?”  Helen, without hesitation said, “Here, Gideon, I will give you some of my money.”

GULP…it worked.  Without further thought, I ran upstairs and started typing.  I probably should have followed up with them more, but I was so encouraged and shocked that I didn’t think about that until now.  Honestly, in retrospect, I don’t even know if the money was the issue at the center of all the yelling.  I probably should have at least checked that much, but needless to say, as of yet, there still has been only happy play noises down there, so I don’t dare dig up old bones.  This moment is going on the “Count Your Blessings” board.  Hopefully, having a practical way to apply the gospel to those intense situations will stick.  My hope is that they will eventually start leading the way themselves by putting up a hand without me even being there.  Who knew a “hand to the face” could be such a gesture of sacrificial love?

floored

Real conversation when Paul got home yesterday afternoon:

Me:  I feel like I was the worst mother ever today….

Paul: What ma…(interrupted)

Gideon: AGH!!! (as a plastic swimming fish goes flying down the stairs)

Me: (sigh)

Paul: (laughter)

Me:  Okay, maybe they haven’t been the best kids today either.

At the risk of sounding crazy, at three separate times yesterday, I found myself lying on the floor.  Not playing with anyone.  Not cleaning anything up.  Just enjoying the silence way down there.  It’s like the whole world stands still and peaceful in that little world that exits in the last 5 inches of space before hitting the floor.  (And we even ended school at 9:30 in the morning!)

The day started with our end of the week little tests to make sure my kids are actually listening to me and learning something.  Like I said, by 9:30, we were done.  I promised the kids earlier in the week that if we ended early on Friday we could go visit their friends during recess at school.  Talk about motivation!  So we spent an hour out there in the hot sun at the elementary school playing it up.

My goal for the rest of the day was to clean the house. So, because I had already worked on cleaning the kitchen a little before we left, we ate lunch AWAY from home.  When we finally got home, it was time to get back at it.  But as soon as we walked in the door, a drink slipped through a pair of little hands and it was all over the floor.  Good thing that floor was going to get cleaned anyways as soon as we finished eating.  

The kids were given the task to play or watch a movie and let mommy clean.  This worked for awhile until someone (they shall remain nameless to protect their identity) got a splinter.  When splinters breed with this particular child a new beast is born.  Oh, man…D-R-A-M-A.  That kind of thing tests my patience like none other.  Especially, when I am trying to fix the problem, namely get the splinter out of the finger, and am slammed with a reaction that would suggest I am taking a chainsaw to it.  Momma did not do so well.  I eventually had to just get up and leave, letting the screaming beast figure it out on its own.  I did not speak with love or care or concern at the end of that conversation.  Not a good moment for Mom.

Amazingly enough, walking away actually made the splinter hurt less…go figure.

It was after this, that I had found myself on the floor for the first time…upstairs in my bedroom.  I had just finished picking up all the school folders and books and papers that had been collecting there by my desk all week.  I had picked up the laundry that the raccoon got into and I could actually see the floor again.  

Oh, sweet floor.  You don’t talk back to me.  You never run away from me when I am talking.  You are there…even under the crap I leave on you.  Ahhhh…before I knew it, there I was face down on my floor.  I think I could have even fallen asleep for a little, if it weren’t for the little pieces of paper I could see all the way across the floor on my new tan carpet horizon.  The impulse to vacuum overtook me and stole my moment of floor peace.

After vacuuming I hightailed it downstairs to mop.  I swept first and finally got that done after quite a few interruptions by Gideon and the raccoon.  I sent the girls upstairs to work on their rooms, and Gideon outside with the raccoon in his new swing.  (Don’t worry, he was buckled in and the blinds were open.  I could see them the whole time.)  In the five minutes that lasted, I got about a quarter of the floor done.  Judah was crying.  Time for a nap.  

I got him out of the swing and upstairs to his bed to try and take a nap.  I intercepted the girls going down the stairs to put in a movie (yes, again) because they were tired of cleaning, (if they only knew).  After singing him his song, laying him down, putting in his pacifier, tapping his nose and giving him his love-ie, he smiled at me and I walked out.  Sweet boy. 🙂

And then he cried.  

And cried.

And so started the routine: in and out of his room to “replug” him with the pacifier over and over again.  His sweet smile accompanying every nap-time rendezvous.  In between our little visits, I scrubbed toilets and wiped down counters and carried monster trucks out of my room and back into Gideon’s room.  Then, the girls decided to take a break from the movie and play outside with Gideon.  It was a good thing, because honestly, I forgot that he was still out there.

To take advantage of the moment I laid on the floor again…this time in the hallway outside of the raccoon’s room.  It wasn’t for long.  I was on my back silently pleading… Oh, please…go to sleep, little man.  You have to be tired.  You have to be…(I think I fell asleep, maybe…) 

But not Judah.  He was not having it.  In again, song again, pacifier again, love-ie again, nose-tap again, smile again.  Exit.  Cry.

Stinker.

I finally rescued him from my motherly torture.  I guess he is 7 months old, a real big man on campus. I guess he knows what he needs and he doesn’t need an authority figure to help him see when rest is essential to his temperament.  Sigh. Whatever.

Then the kids came back in.  “Oh, good! Judah’s awake!”, I heard.  (If they only knew.)  They started picking up their rooms again.  One needed my permission to hang stuff on the wall, the other needed my overall help and encouragement to throw away practically everything in her room.  Everything is special and important and has a future use.  If the world comes to an end, I want her on my team.  We will have plenty of McDonald’s toys (and wrappers) to throw at the zombies.

Finally, it felt like everyone had a task and didn’t need my help and I could sit for a minute with a glass of water.  Then, I remembered the three-fourths of the floor downstairs that still needed to be mopped.  And, yes, it was necessary.  This was the sticky area that had previously been polished with a rag and Sonic Ocean Water Slush.  I flipped on some music and got to mopping.  The raccoon was up in his crib, out of actual physical harm, but I could hear him fuss, and little Helen trying her best to sweet-talk him.  I could hear Ava at work in her room.  And Gideon…poor Gideon.  I forgot about him again.  I can’t remember where he was or what he was doing.  Not a stellar Mom day.

But, the floor was finally mopped.  It looked so good.  It was clean and smooth and cold.  Yes, floor-moment number 3.  On my face again.  That little piece of floor heaven looked so good, I even moved the kitchen table out of the way so I could really stretch out.  Oh.  To feel the length of my entire spine release from the pressure of just standing, it was amazing.  The cool floor against my face…and it smelled good…really good and clean.  Just thinking about it as I write makes me want to close my eyes.  It was so peaceful, in those 5 inches above the floor.  So calm.  So clean.  So cool.

“MO———–M!”  “Judah in his bed is not working for me anymore!”  

I picked him up and as I was headed back downstairs, in walked Paul.  I sat on the bench, which was out of it’s normal place.  Oh yeah, now I remember what Gideon had been up to!  I had completely forgot about the fort that Gideon had asked me to build him earlier when I was upstairs with the girls in their rooms.  That’s where he was!   OH…  That’s where he was…waiting for me.   Not a good Mommy day, at all.  All the furniture was rearranged and his entire set of sheets, bedspread, blankets, and pillows were waiting in the center to be constructed into a much anticipated fort.

Thankfully, Paul was already on it, tucking and stretching and building a much needed and well-deserved fort for Gideon.  Gideon ran upstairs to get a few things.  Ava came down the stairs ready to play.  Helen came down, saw the fort, and said, “Y’al’ve been building a fort while I have been cleaning my room?!  That’s not fair…”, and started to play.  (If she only knew.) Paul sat on the couch across from me and just said, “You gonna make it, Goeke?”

And this is where my, “I feel like I haven’t been a good mother today,” comment happened… and the fish flying down the stairs in a loud crash.

I think I wasn’t a good Mom yesterday.  I don’t think I am a good Mom any day.  I often lose my patience.  I often lose my temper.  I often breed my own little devilish beasts that take over my attitude and dealings with others.  

But thank goodness for those heavenly floor-moments.  And while the actual laying on the floor moments are good respite for a day like today, they don’t compare to the floor moments at the feet of Jesus.  When I lay at His feet,  when I sit in meditation enjoying sometimes a mere 5 inches of space between the world around me and the acknowledgment that Jesus loves me, I am surrendering all over to Him.  I don’t get distracted by the paper from the 3-hole punch stuck on the carpet.  I don’t worry about how many times I forgot Gideon, or how I may or may not have thrown Judah completely off a nap schedule.  I hand it all over to Him, asking Him to forgive my shortcomings, to heal the hurts that I have caused.  I can plead to Him- not to take a nap, but for all my restless moments.  I ask him to show me where and how I can love better, and even clean better.  I ask Him to make all this “family rehab” worth it.  I ask Him to give me more floor space- more time with Him to focus on Him.  And sometimes, even literally more floor space for our growing family and all their Happy Meal mementos.

And in those moments before His throne, in His house, if I am quiet and still enough, I can hear him remind me of his forgiveness, his mercy, his unfailing love.  Psalm 23:6 says it this way, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  Being in His presence, sometimes, face to the floor, reveals my meekness, sinfulness, and weakness.  I need a god bigger than me.  I need a god who actually cares that I find joy in laying on my floor.  I need a god who takes huge measures to show me that even though I fail time and time again, he does NOT ever fail me.  My God gave it ALL on the cross for me, even when I can’t give my own children simple splinter first-aid.  He forgives me and remembers my sin no more, even when I can’t remember where I left my own children.  Through his sacrifice on the cross He cleans me and erases all my sticky accusations of a horrible mom.  Like my clean floor, He washes me clean with his forgiveness and I am clean, cool, and peaceful.  When I acknowledge Him in all my ways, He reminds me of ALL the ways He has acknowledged me…even when I am on the floor.

“…but, God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

I don’t do anything to deserve my floor-moments with Jesus.  My little piece of heaven that exists somewhere in between my heart and my head is there because of what He has done in my weakness.  It is the gift of Jesus in me, connecting me to the Father and His truths.  

Thank you, Jesus, for times spent in front of your feet, wiping them with tear-filled locks.  Thank you for your gentleness and kindness, loving me there, where I am, how I am.  Thank you that when I am literally sent to the floor with overwhelming tasks, I am still floored by your overwhelming goodness and grace.  And thank you, Jesus, for freshly cleaned, good-smelling floors.

 

 

A “wholly” day

Well, we made it.  Day one of school is over.  Whew!  I am exhausted.  At about 10:00 this morning, I was highly questioning my decision from earlier this week to switch to decaf coffee!  As tired as I am, words cannot adequately explain how my heart bubbles over with joy and a new found energy from the experiences today…and it’s only day ONE!  God is amazing. I can’t explain it, but even though our day was non-stop packed with school stuff, the pace and the general atmosphere of our house was completely different.  The day truly felt “holy”- set apart.  I was quick to take a mental note:  at the end of the next 9 months, how do we keep our days set apart for Jesus, even when life returns to normal.  (I don’t have the answer, but hope that God reveals it to me at some point between now and then!)

Our day was not picturesque perfect by any means.  There was a good hour to hour and a half in the morning when the baby was crying and wouldn’t take his nap, both girls were frustrated and had questions with their work, and Gideon, well, he was playing with silly putty on the carpet.  But, there were times, when everyone was quietly working at their designated areas and the house felt still and peaceful.

Here’s a quick overview of what our day looked like:

We began with breakfast as a family…never, hardly ever does this happen in our house!  Then we all headed upstairs to our make-shift school room and did our “kindness starts in the heart” bible study.  I planned for half an hour, but we spent an hour coloring, pasting and talking.  Gideon launched his heart over the balcony, but given the length of the lesson, he did pretty good.  

The best part was when the girls on their own talked about the examples of kindness that were hard for them.  It was so nice to hear them say it, rather than me pointing it out to them in the middle of disciplining them.  To know that they get it on some level was so satisfying and hopeful.  Helen said it’s hardest to let someone help her.  (Right on, for her personality.)  Ava said it’s hardest to let someone else have a turn, even though you have been waiting.  And they added their own act of kindness…wait for it…having nice manners!  We discussed how it shows respect and love and care to say ‘thank you’ and ‘your welcome’ and in our house, not smack your food while eating.  As we continued the day, they encouraged each other and shared…the pom-pom balls were definitely the motivator, but I pray Jesus is working in them.  We will see what happens when the novelty wares off!

Next we moved on to calendar time.  This was mainly for Gideon to learn the days of the week and daily weather etc.  Ava had to work on her handwriting by doing everything in cursive.  Hopefully tomorrow this time will go a little smoother.  There was a lot of explaining for something that was supposed to be relatively self-guided for the girls.  But at least we set into motion the routine.Image

From then we were off to working through our work binders.  They were my compromise to a workbox organization system in our small classroom space.  I think it worked well, but we need to make a few revisions.  Once I get the system down, I will have to share more.Image

(that’s my decaf coffee next to Helen, not hers.)  🙂

We learned about science safety rules, common and proper pronouns, expanded notation, Thurgood Marshall, Abigail Adams, and Sojourner Truth.  We started filling in our timeline on the wall and setting up our reading and writing journals.  It was a busy day, but a holy one.  And well, as it turned out, a wholly one too.

Gideon’s scissor skills need a little priming:

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And Helen lost a tooth:

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To end our first day, we celebrated by buying some wholesome chocolate and powdered mini doughnuts.  Ava said, “Can we do homeschool again next year?” (sigh… dude!  I am exhausted!  And it’s only been one day!)  I wonder if it was the doughnuts, or if she, too could sense feeling set apart.  I think that perhaps she, like me, could sense that this was what God desired for us.  We weren’t misunderstanding his command.  I think, that like me, she could feel the fresh start of a special little adventure for our family that has been designed to “set apart” the next 9 months to a year and focus on inclining our hearts to Jesus.

And maybe it was the doughnuts. 🙂