Tuesday, April 29, 2008
I wanted to offer a theme that you could center your post around, if you wanted. But of course, you don't have to. I'm all about seeing what you can come up with on your own. Besides, I can't really think of a great theme so there. Now I've taken the pressure off of myself.
Mark your bloggy calendars for MONDAY, MAY 19.
Here's the button code if you want to grab the button for your sidebar!!! (Thanks, Blogging Basics 101!)
<a href="http://familyrevised.blogspot.com/search/label/Keepin%27%20It%20Real"><img width="210" src="http://i197.photobucket.com/albums/aa83/julietsoukalas/BlogStuff/KeepinInReal5.jpg" height="200"/></a>
Sunday, April 27, 2008
I guess that's how.
Today we read Matthew 7:24-27. Here is the text so you don't have to look it up:
24"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
We were talking about how our foundation is Christ and what it's like when storms come. It reminded me of 1998-1999. In about 3 months' time, S changed jobs, I got pregnant, my mother-in-law passed away, and we moved. We literally were receiving flowers from the funeral home while our home was being shown by realtors. It was a crazy, horrible period of time filled with highs and lows. Those are the storms this passage is talking about. Our house was shaken. Hard. But nothing...NOTHING happened to our foundation. Christ stood as firm as ever and we were thankful we had chose Him to build our lives on.
We are getting shaken right now. It doesn't feel good. BUT we know, as in times past, that Christ stands firm. Unmovable.
He is our solid rock.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
It has been a great year at home. I have adjusted to being a homemaker and homeschooling mom. I still have a LONG way to go, but I really enjoy it. I feel honored to be the one teaching our girls. I am thankful every single day for the opportunity to be a helper to my husband, a keeper of our home, and the trainer of our children (along with my husband). This is how it's meant to be, folks. I feel so protected. I think about all the struggles I had when I had my "career" and how things were and I really think that God would have preferred I never be in that situation. That our family never be in that state. I'm not saying "every woman should be at home and there is no other way God can work in your family. " At all. Because obviously He took our family where we were many years ago. In this fallen, sinful world things have gotten really out of whack. However, if you feel God calling you to be obedient to scripture, but you think, as I did, "But I CAN'T. I'm stuck in this job and there's NO WAY (how many times did I say that, Lord?) that I can stay at home so that's that" then pray. Pray. And then pray some more. God's way works and He is not too small to handle your situation.
OK, I'm off that soap box now. Anyway, I wish I could say that we are done with all these revisions and God now has our family just like He wanted so end of story. But I can't. Truthfully, without going in to detail, just about everything feels up in the air to us right now. I don't feel that we are now where we are going to end up. It feels like big changes are looming on the horizon. There are a lot of unknowns right now.
But this I do know: God is God. He is powerful. He is all-knowing. He is in control. And He will take care of us. Part of the reason I wanted to write our story down was so I could have an account of God's faithfulness, lest we forget where He has brought us from. The God who has done all of this is capable of handling our future as well. I know that.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Just after Little Bit turned 2, I began working at our church. The job was from 8-12 and daycare was just down the hall--and cheap! Pretty soon afterwards, we moved Sweetheart from her public school 20 minutes away to the private school at our church. It was so nice to put everyone in the car in the morning and all drive to the same place together. I had never done anything like this job before and I rather enjoyed the peace and solitude that came from working in my own office all by myself. Very different from teaching! It was a bit disturbing, for someone who swore they would never turn out to be their mother, to find themselves sitting in their mom's old office doing her old job. Oh well.
So I still had the afternoons to be a homemaker, had much more involvement in raising my daughters, and we could pay the bills again. The job was a blessing, no doubt. Looking back I cannot believe God's timing. At the time, of course, I had no idea what was coming next or when the job would end. They were talking about expanding the private school through 5th grade and I just assumed there is where we would stay. As it turned out, I began praying for the opportunity to homeschool, to be a homemaker. I had no doubt in my mind this is what the Lord wanted. Everything had worked together for the last 2-3 years to change my way of thinking and convince me of how family roles work and give me a vision for raising our daughters that was nothing I had ever even considered.
The only question was HOW? S was working his regular job, getting paid a little for being the youth minister at our church, and I was bringing home a little money. Those 3 salaries were working out just fine. We couldn't do without any of them. When I prayed, I felt like I was asking for the moon. I mean, we were so blessed! I was working part-time...not full-time. Sweetheart was in a private, Christian school...not public school. My hours were flexible, I had so much to be thankful for.
But I told you...I wasn't satisfied anymore. By the world's standards we had it great. Even by most Christian's standards! But I wanted to help my husband by keeping our home. I wanted to raise our daughters and train them for the Lord. So I prayed.
Then one day a guy my husband worked with just walked into his office and asked him if he would be interested in a job. He interviewed for it and the salary he was given covered all 3 of our former salaries. This is unheard of. This is absurd! He didn't do anything to look for this job. It was just dropped into his lap. I just knew it was an answer to prayer. It was May when he took the job so we were able to save Sweetheart from the dreaded summer daycare (one downside to my job). I came home last June. God is good! I think I literally walked around with my jaw on the ground for weeks. I just could. not. believe. it. This time, I had trusted God. And...without any "help" from me---He had provided. How about that? :)
And right after that the private school fell apart. If we had stayed, Sweetheart would have had to return to public school. And right after that, Little Bit's tics got bad. If we had stayed she would have had to deal with the stress of daycare every day (and she really didn't like "school" to begin with). S quit youth ministry at the end of the summer and we were, for the first time ever, a one-income, wife at home, homeschoolin' family. TALK ABOUT CHANGE, PEOPLE!!!
Next time: An Update
Monday, April 21, 2008
I had already sorted out the letters she would need and I did the activity with her a few times. But then she was independent with it and learned a lot in the process. "Dorothy has 2 o's Mommy!" If she got stuck I gave her a hint, "You need an A? I see a red one." Now, I don't think she would have liked this activity had it been just generic words. Find what your tot likes and adjust accordingly. Also, this is obviously an "older tot" activity.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
I thought I was so lucky. I had a part-time job at our church. My girls were down the hall in daycare and first grade. We were paying our bills. I was able to help my husband with youth ministry stuff while I was at the office (I was the secretary, after all) AND get paid for it! :) I was off in time to still do some housework and run errands. My hours were flexible enough to handle doctor's appointments. Things were great.
Let's back up a bit. I taught for 6 years before having baby Sweetheart. After she was born, and we determined that there was no way I could stay home, I returned to work sobbing and kicking. I had to find a way to cope with this. I surrounded myself with other working moms. I looked for examples of children whose parents both worked full-time and were turning out OK. I prayed. I told myself it would all work out. And I ran out the door everyday as soon as I was off of work.
We continued like this until baby Little Bit was born (and she was anything but little when she was born!). If our friend had kept on babysitting, I would probably still be working today.
Of COURSE I was thrilled to be only working part-time. I used to tell myself how blessed I was, as a working mom--to be a teacher. I had summers and holidays off. The hours weren't too bad. But now that I was only working part-time, I thought I was even more blessed. So what was the problem? Why was I not satisfied?
The problem was you people! :) I started reading a few blogs back during this time. I started reading articles online. I "met" Christian ladies who thought about things quite a bit differently than I did. Or anyone around me. There was a whole other world out there NOT living like we were. And I was interested, to say the least.
It was during this time that I really began to understand that our family didn't look much different than any other family in the world. Except where we spent our Sunday mornings, we were pretty much just like other families. And I used to be OK with that.
But these blogs and these articles and these websites...they pointed me to scripture. And we started reading and praying and thinking and talking and.....I was no longer satisfied. I wanted God's way. Don't misunderstand me. I wasn't trying to copy the lifestyle of anyone. I wasn't taking anyone's writing as fact. But it piqued our interest and got us into scripture.
And now I wanted to be a homemaker. ME?!!!!! WANTING to be a homemaker? (Did the world just tip on it's axis?) And I wanted to homeschool. ME?!!!!! WANTING to homeschool? To join the "freakshow" that I so loved to gripe about? What was happening?
Yep. You guessed it. God was shaping me.
Next time: Coming Home
Monday, April 14, 2008
So, here we were. Just a few years before we had been a two-job, two-income, two-child family. And now? Now we were a two-ministry family. See, my husband was the "part-time" youth minister at our church and I was voluntarily coordinating the children's ministry. The year I quit my teaching job I figured, "I have enough time now to help in ministry." I began using my own talents for the Lord. I was terribly qualified for the job. I chose and purchased the curriculum for Bible classes, helped organize Children's Church and the nursery, wrote lessons, taught classes, decorated classrooms, purchased needed supplies and even coordinated VBS one summer.
It eventually occurred to me that what I was doing was wrong. What? How can serving the Lord be wrong? How can using your talents and strengths for the Lord be wrong?
Oh but it was.
I quit the whole thing. Handed it over to whoever would take the job. All my hard work was going to go down the toilet, I just knew it. BUT, I finally got it. I understood what God had been teaching me over the last several years. I knew what I was supposed to be doing.
I spoke with S and told him I was quitting. I told him from now on I would help him with the youth ministry (even though I was really scared and felt out of my league with teens). I believe he said, "Thank you. I've needed your help." Don't think I didn't shed some tears over how I had chosen to use the gift of being home. Instead of taking better care of our home, I had been working at the church building. Instead of playing with my beautiful baby girl, I had my back to her while I typed away on lessons and schedules and VBS plans at the computer. Instead of helping my husband, I had left him to do things on his own while I worked on my stuff.
I hope someone reading this will think about the lesson I learned. I see so many wives and mothers who are SO busy doing volunteer work and ministry work and pursuing things that make them feel really good and are good things to do and are for the Lord, etc.....to the neglect of what scripture says we are to be doing.
I am a helper for my husband.
I am busy at home.
I am training my children.
I must weigh every opportunity to do things outside of this house against what I know of scripture. We don't stay secluded within these walls, but my husband and I decide what we will do and how it will affect our family.
What a relief! It was such a wonderful feeling to know I had "permission" to NOT do all the things that there are to do. I learned to say "no." People got mad. People didn't understand. And our family was blessed.
Next time: The End of Satisfaction
Friday, April 11, 2008
At the end of my year at home it was obvious I would need to go back to work at least part-time. Neither one of us really wanted to see our lifestyle go back to the way it was with me working full-time and the kids in child care. So, I found a job as a teacher's aide at Sweetheart's old preschool. I loved that place when she had gone there 2 days a week and working there was great too. Little Bit was almost 2 years old and went to the toddler's class down the hall while I worked. I was still able to drop Sweetheart off at 1st grade in the mornings and pick her up in the afternoons. There was time to run errands and cook supper. Things were pretty good. Except the small detail about how we couldn't afford it. It seems being a preschool aide, while enjoyable, does not pay well. At all.
I prayed and prayed. Oh how I prayed. I'll tell you, I was one thick-headed woman. It took over a year of near-panic-worrying about money before I finally learned (in my heart AND head) that God provides. Here was a great example. I will tell of His excellent ways, my friends.
So, I knew God would provide. I kept remembering what a friend had told me, "Brenda, of COURSE God wants you home with your daughters!" I believed that to be true, but we had built ourselves a little life that didn't include me staying home. We had not been very purposeful about making that happen. What? Was I to believe that God would just sweep away all of our years of mistakes in one move and "fix" everything? Is that God's job? But I couldn't help it...I believed He could fix it. I prayed for His will to be done. And I meant it. Since I had no more ideas of how things could possibly work themselves out--I HAD to depend on God. I had nothing left but to pray, "Your Will be done."
I'm sure He was waiting on that.
I had only spent the last year working, striving, and trying everything in my power to make things work. I had run out of options. I had to turn to Him. So I left work at the preschool one day and needed to drop off some receipts with the church secretary for my husband. I prayed all the way there and I believe I was praying as I walked through the parking lot. I thought this was just another mindless errand. After dropping off the receipts I casually threw out a "You don't know of any good jobs, do you?" to the secretary. She answered, "As a matter of fact, you can have this one. I'm looking for a replacement."
You could have knocked me over with a feather! It worked out. It was more money than the preschool job. It was 4 hours a day (less than the preschool job) and the childcare right there in the building was FAR cheaper. Plus, Sweetheart could go to the private school there instead of being in another city 15-20 minutes away from me. God is good.
I like to think of that job, which lasted for 18 months, as the "bridge" year. Or year and half, as the case may be. God was getting us ready for even more revisions. And He was taking care of our little family in the meantime.
Next week: Part 3
I blogged about this story last year when my blog first began. Here's a post I liked about God providing. I liked it, but at that time I only had one reader. And he was sitting on the couch right by me. :)
Thursday, April 10, 2008
I still feel grateful that what she has is not something that is life-threatening or something that will require lots of treatment. We have the diagnosis. Life goes on. I know I have a lot to be grateful for.
But recently the tics came back. Full force. Oh, it's nothing compared to how she was back in December with all the excitement that month brings, but still. We are learning what situations "set them off." We noticed one day, for example, they were particularly bad after a memorial service at our church. The building was very crowded, much more than on Sunday mornings, and lots of people who knew me and S were talking to her. "Oh, look how much you look like your Mom!" etc. The next week we went to a wedding. As soon as we got in the building and she saw the crowd of people she wanted to be picked up. Then she laid her head on my shoulder. I told her that no one was going to talk to her here because we don't really know anyone. She relaxed. So, crowds + too much unwanted attention= tics get worse.
We were eating at Subway the other day for lunch. It is a very small Subway and the lunch crowd line was right beside our table. The tics were going CRAZY! Her current tic is shaking her head, and it tends to get pretty jerky. I could feel people looking at her. It was honestly the first time I have felt self-conscious about her tics. And I felt terrible about that. SHE doesn't seem to be concerned yet. Why should I be?
And then I was instantly reminded of some friends of ours. The L family's youngest son is autistic. They have lived with this for years. He also doesn't speak, which at the age of 9 makes him stand out a bit more than he probably did when he was younger. What kind of looks have they gotten from people? What comments? How do you deal with this? How many parents have gone before me who have learned to deal with people staring at, glaring at, making comments about (well-meaning or otherwise), or avoiding your child? Your baby? Who you know is completely a wonderful child in spite of the thing that causes the staring.
And then I realized I have no answer if someone did say something to me. Just last night we went to the ER (Little Bit had twisted her ankle, she's fine) and they asked me if she had any medical conditions. Do I say she has Tourette's? Is that a medical condition? Or is it just a neurological concern? Do they need to know? I went ahead and told them because I was thinking if they needed her to stay still for anything, they would need to know about it because the tics make sitting still hard. So I said it, "She has Tourette's." I'm not used to saying that. It sounded weird coming out of my mouth.
The day will come when we have to explain this to her. We will have to bring it up. She will have to learn to answer for this herself.
And I am even more grateful to be homeschooling. Tic away, baby, we're home today! And here, it doesn't matter.
In the meantime, here's the latest post I found. Thanks for playing along, everyone!
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
It seems God might not be finished with revisions around here. Really, it's not Voddie's fault. But I can tell this book is going to challenge me even further.
He speaks about a "biblical worldview" in the book. This is a fairly new phrase to me. The more I learn about it, the more I realize that for most of my life I have NOT been operating under any such view. I have been pretty good about staying on the prescribed path our culture (the world) has laid out for me. Start dating in high school, graduate, go to college, get engaged, graduate college, get on birth control, get married, start career, decide I'm "ready" to have children, have 2 children, return to work after each one...
...and here's where it starts to get interesting. But first let me say that not everything I listed above is evil and sinful and should never be a part of any Christian's life. I'm not saying that. I'm just saying that I never thought about doing anything differently. I read the Bible and applied it to my situation as it benefited me to do so. I never read God's word and allowed it to determine my course of action. I never got off the path....or even thought about getting off, really. That's why I am so in awe of homeschoolers from the 70's and early 80's. Really? Keep the kids home? How did it ever occur to them to do such a thing?
So anyway, a good friend of mine was keeping my girls while I was at work each day. She had been keeping Sweetheart for about 2 1/2 years and Little Bit for 3 months. When I picked the girls up one day, my friend told me she didn't want to babysit next year. "OK," I replied. "Don't worry about it. God will provide another babysitter." I started praying all the way home. But the thing is...He didn't. A few months later we still had not found an arrangement that would work and I told S, "I'm qualified to keep them." Then we just kind of looked at each other.
It was a scary, scary decision to lose around 50% of our income. We knew we could make it for one year. But if I quit and it didn't work out, it's not like I could go back to my old job. I would have to find a new one...and we would still have to find child care. But we did it. Talk about a step (or leap!) of faith.
But I wasted the whole year by sending Sweetheart off to Kindergarten ten days before she even turned 5, (why didn't I keep her home with me?) and worrying over money. Our situation had changed, but my thinking had not.
Then I read a book by Debi Pearl. That book shifted my thinking on marriage. I got it! I understood the way God intended things to work. I must say, it's interesting to me now....looking back...that God began re-shaping our family by working on our marriage first. Hmmm.
Tomorrow...the next revision.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
My girls' morning chores consist of personal care and their rooms. It can take Sweetheart upwards of an hour to get her room in order some mornings. Sometimes I get very discouraged because I have worked with her on this skill so much. I remember feeling completely overwhelmed sitting in the middle of my mess as a child not knowing where to start or what to do. So I have done everything I can think of to help my daughter.
I bought her a book and taught her to do the method, I check in every few minutes and make a suggestion of what to tackle next (she likes me to do that), we have cleaned it together countless times, and we even took pictures the other day. I said she should make it into a book so next time she is cleaning and thinks she is "done" she can check the book and see what clean really looks like.
But still we struggle. Still her room resembles something the news ought to be covering.
So I realized something. It isn't the method I use to teach her how to clean. It isn't the inspirational speeches I give. It isn't a book or a reward or a system.
It's the plain old everyday-ness that is going to do the trick.
We will continue to work on this every day. She will improve. She will learn. One day, I will walk down the hall and without any effort on my part...the room will be wonderful. It has to be because it is my job to train her. I am the older woman to her younger self spoken of in Titus 2. So we will keep meeting each morning to clean her room.
And with just as little fan fare...God's word can be instilled in my children. It isn't a curriculum. It isn't a certain church. It isn't found in which Bible we read with them. But our children will grow in knowledge and love for the Lord in part, simply because of the everyday-ness of our efforts.
There's something to be said for the plain old every day things.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
As Jess once said, we don't mean to project the image of Mary Poppins (Practically Perfect in Every Way) to the blogosphere....it just sort of happens. So if you do consider yourself to be a flawless wife, mother, homemaker, homeschool mom, cook, etc....well, you're still welcome here. May we all be encouraged by what we read today as we discover that everybody's got something.
OK, I'll start. My name is Brenda and this is my blog. You can start here and then move on down to the Mr. Linky to read more of the fun stuff. Enjoy and join in if you like!
Keepin' It Real: Why There Is No Reading List On My Blog
Sometimes I feel so illiterate. All these blogs have "What's on My Nightstand" or "My 2008 Reading List" in the sidebar. Some bloggers even use the little strikeout feature to show all the books they've already read. It's a pretty common thing. Helpful too, if you like book recommendations.
Except here's the problem. This is my nightstand:
That's a Bible laying there although that really isn't the one I read. Also I don't read in bed much because my husband spends the entire time blowing at my light as if it were a candle. His way of hinting that he likes to go to sleep with the lights off. I keep explaining that when you close your eyes...well. Anyway. And that's a picture of my sweet husband when he was 1. Check out those threads! He has a baby picture of me on his nightstand. They're from our wedding. And those are MY golf clubs on the right. I'm so athletic. And I'm not entirely sure what that piece of tree is doing there. But that doesn't have anything to do with this post.
So, no reading in bed limits things a bit. But by golly, I read!!! I read lots of things. I will not be out-done! Here is what I've read in the last few days:
I started by reading some library books. See? There's even a CHAPTER BOOK in the lot!
But I needed something more realistic. So I moved on to this:
(Ug. Please help me. I'm only doing it so I can go camping with my daughter rather than send her off with strangers.)
But that was too dry. So then Goldilocks tried this:
And it was JUST RIGHT!!! (I highly recommend the Pink Pie.)
Still, I minored in English in college for goodness sake! Surely I can handle more reading material than this! Then I opened my mailbox and saw this:
So that is why you will not see me posting my exciting reading list in my sidebar, or launching a new blog to review the books I have read.
I used to read. Honest, I did. I read real live grown-up books. Long ones. I promise. But what can you expect when your "reading room" offers toilet paper and a hand towel?
OK, now it's your turn! Help us "Keep It Real!"