Saturday, July 14, 2007

Summer Blogging

I have just spent a while looking at other people's blogs and reading such great stuff! I am always amazed at the funny and insightful things you come across when floating around in blogland. The only drawback about reading so many wonderful writings is that it really puts the pressure on!

This summer has been pretty tame. Garth has been visiting his mom and grandma, Caleb went on a trip for a week and half, and Hannah has been in Mother's Day Out for the first time. I have actually had some alone time. On one day, I went to the local thrift store, had a quiet lunch (where I actually read a book!), then went to the library where I did not step foot in the children's section! The radio in the car stayed on the classical station and I did not have to referee any arguments at all.

All in all, the summer has been great. But my mundane summer has one doesn't leave ANY material for blogging! Oh well, I have a feeling things will get interesting once school begins again.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Perilous Panic

Maybe the problem was that I stayed up too late. I am usually in bed at least by 11:00 or so, even on the weekends. Friday night, I was not really sleepy. I worked on my cross stitching a while, and watched a show that was not that interesting. Then, about midnight, I was almost ready to call it a night just because decent people are usually already asleep by now. While I was putting away my sewing, another show began that caught my eye. It was about the science behind a super comet impacting the earth and the devastating aftermath. Another one of those shows, I thought, where they pummel you with statistics and predictions until you are so confused that you run into the yard screaming, praying that a super comet would put you out of your misery. This show, however, was very different.

It was a docudrama that followed people from four different points in the world in the weeks before and after a super comet collides with earth. The failed attempt of the space programs to explode the comet with a nuclear warhead is really what hooked me. I think we all live with the assurance that even in the face of major disaster, those people “in charge” will come up with a solution that will allow us all to continue our lives with a sense of normalcy. During the aftermath of 9/11, we were all glued to our televisions watching our country pull together. Disaster relief teams, human goodwill, government authority restoring order; these were the evidences that someone, somewhere was in charge and calling the shots. How would you feel if there was no clear authority on the subject? No one with an idea, no one with a plan, no one with the assurance to tell you that the future was going to be better…this is where our docudrama characters were when the last hope failed. The comet was not deterred by the best plans of men and they were all left waiting for the impact and the uncertain aftermath.

The aftermath was devastating. Of course, the immediate loss of life from the impact was overwhelming. But for those who survived, it was the ensuing circumstances that were surreal. All communications were fried from the electromagnetic wave that encircled the earth. Shock waves leveled cities and massive tidal waves obliterated coastlines for hundreds of miles inland. The impact disrupted the climate of the entire world. Depending on where they were located on the planet, survivors faced temperatures from 50 below zero to 200 degrees. Fire rained down from the skies as debris from the comet impact re-entered the earth’s atmosphere. All social and lawful infrastructures broke down as people moved underground to survive. Life resembled nothing that our main characters had ever seen before.

When I watch anything gripping, it is easy for me to put myself in the place of the characters. I must tell you that sitting alone in my living room in the wee hours of the morning, I was gripped with fear. It was a physical fear that caused my heart to lodge in my throat. There was even a sense of panic as the events unfolded in front of me. It was almost irrational. On one level, I knew that I was watching a television show. On the other hand, the drama part of this show was interlaced with interviews from scientists confirming that this sort impact had happened before, causing the extinction of the dinosaurs and the Ice Age. They said it was inevitable that it would happen again…it was just a matter of when. And they are the authorities, right?

As I sat there in the moments following the drama, I struggled with my inner turmoil. Things seem so much worse in the middle of the night and I was wondering if I should go ahead and start stockpiling my underground secret shelter. My problem, I eventually surmised, was the power I was attributing to the unknown future. A lot of our battles are waged in the recesses of our own minds. We give something power by focusing our time and attention on it. What we don’t realize is that as we give something power in our mind, we turn away from the power of the Lord. God is all powerful and we only have to turn toward it and bask in its glory to see it. David knew this power and mentioned it all through the Psalms. He admonished us to focus on this perfect power. In Psalm 66: 3-4 he says, “Say to God, ‘How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you. All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing praise to your name.’ ” Now that is powerful! Our God is powerful! Does that mean natural disasters will never occur? No, but know that our God is still in control even when the world around us does not make sense or it makes so much sense it scares us silly.

And what of our docudrama characters? Well, most of them made it, resilient and hopeful for the future. Their lives had forever changed, never to return to the sense of normalcy they once knew. I am so thankful that our future is not resting in the hands of our leaders to save us, for they are men just like us and capable of making mistakes no matter how good the data seems to be. I am thankful that our future, even though unknown to us, is safe and secure in the hands of our God. No matter what awaits us, whether it be small personal tragedy or a catastrophic meteor hurtling toward Earth, we know that God is in control and he works everything to our good and for his purpose (Romans 8:28).

Monday, July 9, 2007

Convictions in the Light of the Morning

Today I am burdened by two things in my life. I pray for all areas, but there are two that are constantly before me: our finances and my desire to be a good mom. Financially, we are on that perpetual roller coaster of plenty and scarce. One day, we are doing well and seem to have more than enough. The next day, we have creditors calling us again and wonder where all the money went. We try desperately to be good stewards of what God has given to us. We tithe and we try to put the remaining money to good use. That is not to say that we have not made some bad financial decisions. Sometimes we “nickel and dime” ourselves to death. In other words, we spend ten dollars here and twenty dollars there so it doesn’t seem like a whole lot, but in reality, it adds up quickly. I wish we could get this financial thing down pat! I feel foolish going to the Lord AGAIN to ask for his hand in our finances. Then I realize that I should have never taken the finances from His hand. Is that what we are doing? When things are good, do we still consult Him with what to do with each dime? Do we seek His counsel even though there is no “problem”? I think that is our downfall. We pray and the Lord helps us to get out of financial bind. We begin to do well again and we forget to pray and ask the Lord where he wants the funds to go. We get this haughty attitude that after we have given God His share, we can delegate the rest as we see fit. Let me tell you, this realization is coming to me as I type these very words and it is not a nice feeling! 1 Corinthians 10:31 says that we are to glorify God in everything we do, whether we are eating or drinking or WHATEVER. I don’t think we have been glorifying God with our plenty. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul tells them that through Christ and Christ only, he can survive when he has nothing and he can survive when he has plenty (Philippians 4:12-13). Why would he need Christ’s help in the times when he was content? Because having enough is just as dangerous as not having anything. We get complacent and apathetic toward our relationship with God because we just don’t see how we “need” Him. Oh, that I could wake everyday in desperate need of my God even when things are going great! I wish that my walk could be consistent and my need for Him be ever present regardless of my circumstances. It is going to be my prayer that I can say, every morning (regardless of the good and/or bad around me), “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” (Psalm 42:1)

The other burden I have this morning is in regard to my children. I am not a negligent mom. I take care of my children. But there are so many aspects to raising kids that when you get one area settled, there are three more to take its place. And even if you happen to get one child content and going the right way, there is always another one with a problem to correct. Isn’t there a time when everyone is doing great and traveling the right path? Parenthood is full of joy and contentment, but it is also littered with guilt and feelings of inadequacy. Caleb is my oldest and I see him as my “pioneer”. He and I are traveling a road that neither of us has been down before. He has hit this “preteen” age. He has never been 9 before and I have never been the parent of a 9 year old before. So we are gingerly making our way down this path. There are times when he cops an attitude and I want to strangle him. I tell him to do something and he looks at me like I must be talking to the wrong person because surely I WAS NOT talking to him! I am waiting for the day when he rolls his eyes and says “Whatever!” I will need the strength of Samson at that moment, not to tumble columns in the temple, but to sit on my hands to keep from strangling him! In that moment, I am the diligent parent, ever teaching and correcting while I lead my little lambs on the right path. Then the clock ticks and the moment is gone. In the next moment I may be the proud parent as one of my children finally “get” something I have been trying to teach them forever! They may help each other with chores without being asked, or I may overhear a conversation with their friends where they are talking about scripture or doing the right thing. Or they may do something as simple as thank someone for a gift without being prompted or say they are sorry when they hurt someone’s feelings. Those moments are wonderful and I get to take a deep breath and praise God that some of the teaching is sticking in that head.

And then…I have to start a new paragraph for this one…there are those moments when you feel chastised by your child. You are put in your place by a word or look or deed that reminds you that you are wretched sinner in need of a Savior and not a parent who deserves a pat on the back for anything. Such a situation occurred yesterday morning. I was not feeling well and had decided that we were not going to church. I was hurting physically and I was in a really bad mood. I was not in any mood to get dressed and teach little ones (it was our turn) or pretend I was having a great morning to the adults. I just wanted to lay in bed and feel bad. Dewayne didn’t argue with me, which for some reason made me angry, too. He was supposed to lead our household spiritually, right? So he should have put his foot down and made us go to church! The irony in that is that if he had actually done that, the fallout from that explosive confrontation may have been enough to actually disrupt church services in the three adjoining counties. It was a lose-lose situation. As I am laying there watching news, there is a knock at our door. It was Caleb. He had showered and completed all his chores for the morning. He had eaten breakfast and even fixed his sister something. He was dressed and ready to walk out the door to go to church. My eyes slid over to the clock and the time sealed my fate. Even if I had jumped up then to get ready to go, we simply did not have enough time to get ready and be there even remotely on time. I gently explained to Caleb that I did not feel well and we would not be going to church. I cannot explain the look that came on his face. He was genuinely disappointed. That in itself was enough to make me melt into the floor. But then he seemed to shake off the disappointment and said, “That’s okay…I hope you feel better soon, Mom.” Well, I think I would rather he had pitched a fit and called me names for keeping him from going. Instead, he acted like a mature young man and put my feelings above his own desires. And the real kicker was that his desires were RIGHT. That is what we were supposed to have been doing. To be put in your place AND realize that your child is acting more mature than you are all in the same moment is a lot to swallow! I was so proud of him, yet so chastised myself, it was a strange sensation…kind of like sitting in front of a campfire on a really cold night when your front is nice and toasty and your back is freezing. I was warm and toasty from pride, yet cold and freezing from my own conviction.

In a nutshell, the Lord and I are working out the mistakes from this weekend. I have spent time reading my Bible, praying, and journaling this morning struggling to get my mind and heart to the place where it should be. It is not quite there yet, but it is moving in that direction. May God give me perseverance and determination.

A confession....and excitement!

Less than a month before school starts! My friend, Gayle, and I went to Walmart last night because we needed something to do while the boys played their video game (for those of you who do not know, we are NOT talking about the kids here, we ARE talking about the hubbies!) So I needed some thread for my current cross stitch project and it seemed like as good of an excuse as any to escape and buzz through Starbucks before we dropped by Walmart. While contentedly sipping our lattes, we spied the school supplies, freshly stocked on the shelves. Here is where my confession comes in…I am an office supply junkie. I love pens, pencils, sticky notes, paper clips…whew! I could go on and on. This addiction extends to school supplies, too. I have been known to sniff fresh, new crayons or stand for five minutes debating liquid glue versus glue sticks. When I saw that 24 count Crayola crayons were 20 cents per box, we had to snag a shopping cart! Needless to say, I stocked up on few things and am more excited than ever about school starting.

I have almost all my textbooks and workbooks in. I love getting everything in order. I am currently working on lesson plans and getting the schoolroom in order. It has been kind of the dumping ground this summer. I have my work cut out for me this week! The danger in this is that I tend to neglect other things while I am focusing on the fun stuff. So, the housework and cooking department becomes really tedious and boring. I have to make myself get the day to day chores out of the way first, then I can focus on school planning and organizing.

I am so thankful that the Lord has allowed me the opportunity to homeschool. It is never something I ever thought I would be doing. But it is truly the hardest, challenging, most REWARDING thing I have ever done. Praise God for allowing me this chance!