Thursday, August 21, 2014

On this, the first day of Back-to-School

I long to live from a place of rest,
to teach and mother from peace rather
than anxiety. I'm quite certain
that He desires that for all of us--
His beloved daughters
called to the educating
and raising up of little hearts
and minds.
by Sarah Mackenzie

So I made the kids their back-to-school Schultüte (locally known as “tooter poopers”) and they were happy. I was happy too, seeing their joy, but the closer I got to the first day of school...

The first day of our school, Our Lady of the Angels...

The more anxious and overwhelmed I felt.

Every new school year, it's the same old fear. In short, I don't how it is that someone as impatient and disorganized as myself can be a constant and—somehow—loving presence to my children.

Well, I can't do it...

 I almost didn't make him a candy-filled Schultüte, thinking he's still too young to notice.
Ha! Not this kid! Not a chance.

...but God can.

* * * * *

Today I woke up at four with a knot in my stomach, made a cup of coffee and sat down to prayer. "I give You everything!" I told Him, in tears, "Please take it despite my imperfections. Please take my everything through the hands of Mary."

He, in return, gave me a sense of peace.  He gave me the "everything" I needed.

Hershey's Kiss Whiskers 
(patent pending)

I thought, I need to re- read Sarah's Teaching from Rest.

Her words were just the balm that my worried heart needed.

"We have to stop fretting over every little detail. We need to stop comparing. We've got to drop the self-inflated view that we are the be-all-end-all of whether the education we are offering our children is going to be as successful as we hope it is. After all, our job is not to be successful- success itself is entirely beside the point. 
"It's faithfulness that He wants. God is good! He isn't going to let us pour out our hearts for our children only to be left choking on the dust of our mistakes."

She's right, of course, but I needed the reminder. ; )

 May God bless you today as you make your way! 

I wish you a peace-filled back-to-school. ♥

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Serendipitous Approach to Spiritual Growth

ser·en·dip·i·ty (noun) the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for

According to my Facebook feed, many home schooling families began their school year yesterday. We start tomorrow, despite my delusions about when and if ever summer should end.

It's been such a nice summer, really.

A game-changing summer, serendipitous and grand.

Grand?!  you say. What are you, British? Nope, still just a lowly little Minnesotan. (Thus the name I've stuck on this blog.)  I do admire the Brits, however, especially their penchant for drinking tea.

Except in my case, it's coffee...

...and hanging out in the Jeep.

(The giant marshmallows are optional.)

The reason that I've been hanging out in the Jeep has to do with this thing that Francis does. He toddles over and flashes those big blue eyes, holds up one hand, and gestures "Come."

It's totally cute. In fact. there are few of us that don't cave when Francis asks us to come. 

Also? This is a multipurpose gesture. By it, Francis communicates all sorts of needs, from "May I have some water?" to "Read me a book" to "Let's go hang out in the Jeep, okay?"

Being a mom to this kid is so very different from when my now-teenage kids were growing up. Back then, I felt stressed and busy pretty much all the time. There is so much I don't remember from those early days--all those little moments, you know?--because basically, I was just trying to survive.

I've said this before, plenty of times, but it really helps when the kids start helping.

Also, I'm calmer now because so much of it doesn't matter.

So much that I thought really mattered doesn't matter.

* * *

What does this have to do with serendipity? 

I'll tell you. It has to do with Francis' come-hither fingers and God's exhortation to "Come and see." The more time I spend simply...being with him, the more I give myself to the moment and be (as they say) truly present to others...

The more I see God.  The more I hear God. It's as simple and wonderfully uncomplicated as that.

* * *

Would you like to know what's worked for me this summer? I've narrowed it down to three little habits that (truthfully) are not very little at all. On the contrary, they are HUGE. 

1. Think win/win when it comes to your kids. Stop resenting them for interrupting your "real" work or looking at them as merely a means to an end. Also, (and this is kind of random but it's been on my heart) stop beating yourself because they love the computer.  Ask me how I know about this! I have spent years lamenting the fact that my kids weren't...I don't know...these perfect little naturalists that prefer spending time outside to every other activity. I'm letting go of the guilt and this is why: They love the computer--i.e. Club Penguin, Minecraft, Animal Jam--because it's fun.  Their wanting to have fun doesn't make me a bad mom; they want to have fun because it is FUN. I do, however, need to teach them temperance, and I'll do that best by my own example. How do I have fun? How do I seek inspiration? Do I draw? Do I pray? Do I read great books?

And with that said...

2. Limit the time that you yourself spend on the computer (or whatever electronic device you use).  Really limit it! Cut back on the news-checking, the blog-reading, the Facebook. You will be happier and much more content. You have to trust me on this one! (And I know that you do.) You gotta let go of the endless Internet clicking. You gotta put a cap on your curiosity and look for inspiration within, because it's within yourself that you'll find God. Let go and let Him. Those Pinterest links can wait. 

Again, this habit isn't easy. I am an online inspiration junkie, always looking for the next quick fix. Unfortunately, I can spend so much thinking about what's "out there" that I completely ignore what (and who) is on hand. 

Which brings me to Habit Number 3...

3. Be happy with where you are right now. Stop thinking "if only" and instead, seize the day. Why seize today? Because tomorrow never comes. 

God wants nothing more than your trust and your joy. He's got your back! Stop worrying! And for heaven's sake, please stop feeling petty and envious. There is no greater kill joy and you  & your family deserve more. Again, you have to trust that I know about this, because I am the queen of turning green.  

You don't believe me? Okay, how about this. As a mommy blogger with biggish aspirations,  I felt quite...forlorn about that Edel Gathering last month. "It is good you are here!" Hallie said at the start, and I thought, "It is not good that I'm not there." 

In short, I turned into a big pouty thing.

And then God started to work on my heart. He worked on me via the talks, which are wonderful; He worked on me via blog re-caps like this one; and he worked on me--surprised me!--by this book on my shelf.

I've had this book for years and years--had no idea I owned this book but there it was and here I go. 

A work in progress, dying to self or at least trying.

Letting go and letting Him...

Letting go and  let them.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Weigh-In Wednesday

The "Can I do this? I think...maybe...I can!" Edition

When I announced on Facebook, perhaps presumptuously, that I was beginning the Whole30 plan, some of my friends expressed strong negative opinions. I don't blame them, really. It seems counter-intuitive to not eat whole grains for a month, let alone forgo my beloved dairy.

Look who's back! He got in yesterday. : )

[For what it's worth, I've been cheating by adding heavy cream to my coffee. I feel guilty but not enough to stop.]

One friend, though, put it most succinctly: "It's only one month. I will do it with you."

Hi, friend! Being accountable to you has made this journey fun!

And then there's this whole "feeling really good" thing. I mean, I feel good--really good. The bloated feeling is gone and the energy is back. The mental fuzzies are gone as is the depression, and my libido? Hello! How I've missed you, libido! (Clearly the timing on that one was perfect. ; )

Best of all, and this is a BIG one for me, temperance is becoming a habit. I have served Kettle potato chips without eating a one; we've had movie nights where I did not gnosh; and (perhaps the biggest test of all), I made a French Silk pie and didn't cry as I served it.

[There will be other French Silk pies, believe me. I'm thinking I'll have some on Day 31.]

[Along with a moderate serving of pasta.]

[And perhaps a glass of chocolate wine.]

So that's how it's going.  I'm on Day 19.

It's been fun! I feel grateful. I made a deal and I've kept it.


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