Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Why wasn't I warned that motherhood would come with many broken hearts and lack of sleep? Who forgot to tell me that being a mama to boys would be HARD? I never did meet that one brave mama to give it to me straight. She would have said something like, "Being a mother is the best job you will ever have. You will be overjoyed at every accomplishment, laugh harder and cry more. You will have nights that drag on and mornings that come far too early. You will have way more laundry than any ONE child could possible make... And meals, well, they may occasionally feel more like a battlefield than that serene setting you always imagined in your head. Your heart will turn liquid with every hug, and, oh, when he comes to Christ and speaks of Him as friend...it will be too much for words. But, when his heart breaks, when he is rejected...when the kids at church make fun of him or he comes home from school after a day of being left out....your mama's heart will have you crying yourself to sleep at night, on your knees for him. You will want to jump in and defend him. You will, but you can't...you can only carry him to the Father and wait...wait for Him to move. And for all the laughter and all the joy, the tears and heartache will cut deep and you will have to find a way to help him through, to navigate his emotions without spilling your tears. I promise you, one of the sweetest sounds you will hear is his prayers flying to the Throne of Grace. Oh, and the whisper of his 'I love you!' while he snuggles warm in your lap will make you come undone." Yeah, she would have said something like that.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Riding Shotgun

So it is my turn to ride shotgun as my oldest learns to drive. It is my turn to buckle myself in, grip the door and try to refrain from slamming on that non-existent brake that my mama used so often when I was in the driver's seat...the one she still uses today when she rides with me! Ha. I am the one trying to gently instruct and correct mistakes. It is my turn to be the one annoying my son with panicky, screamed calmly spoken instructions when he does not see the car pull out from a hidden drive or when he nearly runs a stop sign. I get to be the adult...sigh.

Then there is the tightening of the chest every time we go somewhere because I KNOW the question is looming, "Can I drive, Mom?" UGH. I try to say "sure" in that "this does not stress me" voice, try to hide that my throat is constricting and I think I may just throw up. I continue to smile and pray...pray for the other drivers as much as for my son. I pray that they don't do something foolish...'cause, let's be honest, that scares me. He has less than fifty kids at his school, and last year alone, three of the students were involved in car accidents. So, yeah, I am concerned about letting my guy drive.

I pray. Silently, under my breath, on my face, constantly, without ceasing, pray. I pray he has wisdom and insight...that he is kept safe. Because at the end of the day, the most I have ever been able to do to protect him is to entrust him to the care of his loving Heavenly Father.

And to all of you mamas who have survived riding shotgun with your "student driver," I just want you to know how brave I think you are. I whisper a pep talk to myself sometimes that goes something like this: "Look at all those mamas who have survived this. Look at all the kids who have grown up and survived this...and who now know how to drive....and who still talk to their mamas! Entrust him to the Lord. He will be fine. Trust in the Lord. We will both survive this."



Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Our Little School at Home: Bigger Hearts Unit 1

Bigger Hearts for His Glory - Unit 1

What an incredible week! I admit, I was hesitant, not quite sure if my little guy could handle the intensity of Bigger Hearts for His Glory. Thankfully, he has grown so much that the first week went smoothly! Probably my greatest concern heading in to this guide was that my guy just turned 7 and the written work is so much greater. This is the only HOD guide that I have never used and really did not know what to expect. So far, it has not disappointed!!

Science has always been a favorite around our house, and this week did not disappoint. In One Small Square we learned about high tide and low tide. Jacob actually explained how the moon affected the oceans to his older brother who tried to tell the little guy he was wrong. But no, the notebooking page had set it firmly in his mind and Jacob was ready to respectfully dispute his 16 year old brother. HA! Then, the two science experiments thrilled his little heart. :) Jacob liked "guessing" at why something happens and did not mind if he is wrong. Jacob was excited to make his own waves and even added a notebook page to record the experiment. Our only regret is that we live so far from the seashore with no trip planned for the near future.

For History, we studied Christopher Columbus. I confess, I was amazed at Jacob's ability to orally narrate. He easily recalled the stories and details. He talked all week about how persistent Columbus was in seeking to sail west, how many times he was told no, but he did not give up. Jacob also made his own map. I had seen some of the other kids' maps who have completed Bigger and thought, "Uh-oh, Jacob is not going to be able to do that." Surprise! He did an excellent job.

And this brings me to our absolute favorite thing....Bible study. Jacob is not only memorizing Scriptures, but learning godly character qualities. Persistence tied in so well to the history this week! I am thankful for all the planning and work that the author puts in to this little curriculum, making connections whenever possible. As we were talking about persistence, Jacob continually related it to Christopher Columbus and how many times he was rejected.

Overall, our first week back to school was a huge success. No squabbles, no complaining, no dragging of feet. Our schedule seemed to flow and everything was completed. No Mommy meltdowns here. WOOHOO!! And oh, having had more than a few years that were not like that....I am giving thanks and praise to God that He graciously blessed us with such a great start to our school year!!





Friday, August 21, 2015

Matters of the Heart

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" -Jeremiah 17:9


The other day, I picked up my little devotional book as I met with the Lord. It was fairly new and I had thoughts of passing it on to a struggling friend because the daily insights were so focused on Christ...but then...there it was. The glaring lie that we have all been fed, "Just follow your heart." I have to tell you, I forced myself to read the entire devotional, hoping that the point would be that where I feel the Holy Spirit directing me, I should follow. But unfortunately, no, that was not the message. It was an "if it feels right, do it" mentality, just "go ahead and follow your heart." I sat the book down, disappointed and frustrated. I wondered how many of my sisters in the faith have picked up this little book and read it. How many have been misled?

And you may be sitting right there, reading this, wondering, "What is the big deal? I follow my heart all the time. I do what I think is right and..."

Here is the real problem:
If I believe the Word of God to be true, and I do, then this little phrase screams at me from the very beginning that it is wrong. My heart, just like every heart except the heart of Jesus, is darkened with sin. My heart, apart from the light of Christ, is dark and troubled, selfish and blind. My heart calls good evil and evil good. The only hope that MY heart has is this promise in the Word of God, that He will give me a NEW heart...and I am not going to lie...I desperately need it! Once His Spirit is alive in me and I have a new heart...I can trust HIM! (2 Cor. 5:17, Ezekiel 36:26, Psalm 51:10)

Too often, I get confused when that sinful heart that has been thrown down and defeated tries to lead me astray, tries to make me feel overlooked or tries to tell me that my selfish thoughts are right, tries to whisper lies, promising I won't get caught, that it will be worth it in the end, asks "but did God really say?", groans that I deserve this thing the Lord has withheld. The truth is, sin is sin. Once I know the truth of the Word of God, then I know anything in my heart or mind that calls me to something different, something that is contrary to His Word, is not from God, is not from the new heart He has placed in me. It is that old heart...just trying to reclaim its hold on me, trying to resurrect itself. There is good news for us Jesus-followers! The good news that the old heart is POWERLESS against Christ, powerless unless I choose to follow it. Dangerous words, these "just follow your heart" ones. These ones that claim my heart, apart from Christ, has anything good to offer.

So, when I feel that old heart of mine tugging, crying, lying, trying to make me turn away...what do I do?? Where do I turn? I turn to God in prayer and the trustworthy heart of God found in Scripture (Romans 12:2). I use it as the plumb line and pray the Lord will help me bring my feelings, actions and thoughts in to line with His Word. Pray that I will have ears to hear and a heart to believe His Word over the crying of that old heart. And then I act on the Truth found in Scripture...not the feelings of my heart.

In the news a day later, a well-known proponent of Christian values is named as a man who has been caught on an adult website seeking opportunities to cheat on his wife. Was I surprised? Not really. I believe this little verse in Jeremiah. I believe, that if left to our own hearts...we would end up right where this man is...right in the midst of sin. It is daily, hourly, moment by moment, relying on the God who removed our hearts of stone to give us a heart of flesh that keeps me - keeps you - from stumbling. Jesus Christ, alive in me, is the only difference between this man and me. Jesus is my only hope and promise. And I, a believer, may stumble and fall...but only when I turn away for even the briefest moment from the face of my Savior - like Peter, when he walked on water. He walked until that moment he gave in to his fears, took his eyes off of the Christ and let his eyes focus on the waves crashing around him. (See Matt. 14:25-43)

Oh, sweet sister, may you and I be different. By God's grace may we cling to His Word, the only real Truth that exists. When temptations come and that old familiar voice weaves lies in order to draw us back to sin, when fears call our name, may we run to the only One able to win the battle of our hearts! May we seek Jesus and find His grace sufficient to carry us through the storm. And, as His Beloved, may we not be fooled in to thinking that anything good lives in our old hearts. Instead, may we confidently claim the new heart He has put within us and may we trust His leading through His Word.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Wedding Vow Renewal (January 10, 2014)

Dearest Todd,
I never cease to be amazed by the man of God you are, the kind and loving heart and the tender, thoughtful spirit. I can think of no better words to express my deep love for you, commitment to you and gratitude to God for the gift of you, than by revisiting the vows I spoke not quite two years ago...during that dark time when the migraine stole my memory! Ever grateful to God for you as we celebrate our twenty-second anniversary.

"Over twenty years ago, we vowed to remain husband and wife in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, until death. Today, I neither remember that day nor the speaking of those vows, but as I look back over our life together, I see your life consistently whispering the words lovingly to me. When I have been sick, you have remained steadfastly by my side. When God closed the womb, you held me close through our tears and sought out God. When God opened the closed, you held me through the joy and turned our praise to God. When jobs were lost and bills piled, you have been a constant companion, reminding me always of God’s unfailing love and provision, ever grateful to Him for His many gifts. When the times were plenty, you have held my hand and led our family in thanks and giving. When I have been poor in spirit, beaten down by the world and overwhelmed, you have pointed my eyes to Christ, reminding me of who I am in Him. When I have forgotten, you have been my memory. For this, your love, today and every day, I give thanks, humbly to my Father in Heaven.

Today, by God’s grace and according to His power, I reaffirm this covenant with you. I, leaning into His strength and trusting in His enabling, affirm to you that I am committed to be your helpmeet, to stand faithfully by your side as your wife, your friend, your encourager, through all of life’s circumstances, to demonstrate His grace and love to you, to honor and respect you through the aging and graying, the falling and the standing, the sorrows and the joys, the times of enough and the times of need, through health and through sickness, the forgetting and the remembering, through the making of mistakes and the getting it right. I speak these words today, praying that the Lord enables my life to whisper them to you every moment, as your life has whispered them to me. My life, made one with yours through the mystery and power of Christ, until that day when one of us parts to meet Christ in our heavenly home.

Today, I thank God for you, your love, for His strength and grace, carrying us through every circumstance over the years. I love you and am trusting the God who brought us together to continue to pour His abundant grace out on us, enabling me to keep this covenant with you, to serve faithfully by your side and to be your helpmeet."

Lovingly,
Shelly

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Mama's Struggle

This mama is a-struggling! Not because I did not realize that my time was limited- in fact, as a mama, that is exactly what I signed up for. Yet, how was I to know...that the hours would gather too quickly in to days that would speed in to weeks that would rush in to years...and those years would lead my children in to adulthood and away from me. I am not ready. Is it okay to say that? I have done all I could to prepare my oldest for this growing up thing. I have spent so much time on my knees...pleading God's grace and mercy, His wisdom and strength to do this His way, pleading that His Spirit whispers my boy's name and draws him to Jesus, begging that I not get in the way. I have spent so much time reading and teaching and walking the Word with him - but, I must confess, not as much time as I have spent falling and failing to get it right. I have hugged and kissed away boo-boos...ones that have bled red and ones that were unseen matters of the heart. I have taken innumerable trips to the ER for those injuries that proved too much for a mama's kiss to fix, to comfort. His daddy and I have driven him to church nearly every Sunday, read the Word to him daily, prayed continually...this task of raising a son is not an easy one...but preparing to release him to the world, well, I am finding that even more difficult. As he finishes his sophomore year of high school...this mama's heart is not ready.

And so I wonder, is his? Is his heart ready to lean heavily on God? Are his mind and heart established in the Word, in hope, in faith and in love? Have his daddy and I prepared him in the most important places that matter...the heart and the mind, to trust our Jesus, our sweet Savior? Have we prepared him to face a world that is contrary to truth and that stands against his God at every turn? Have we been consistent in showing him how to walk by faith and not by sight? Has he seen a living faith..in us??

And so, today, as I congratulated the graduating nephew with a hug and a silent prayer...my heart turns to this graduation celebration, that Lord willing, will be my son's in two years. And my heart cries out, "Oh, loving Father, make him ready! Where his daddy and I have failed, pour out Your grace - reveal Yourself to this boy-man! Take the mistakes and work them out for his good and Your glory. Oh, Father, help, teach, enable this boy-man to walk by faith and not by sight...to be a Daniel in a culture that has set itself against You. May his eyes turn to Jesus to quiet the storms of his life. May his heart give praise to Jesus during times of rest. May he hunger and thirst for Your Word and be filled with nothing less than You..every moment of every day."

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Whispers from God

There are whispers of God's grace and mercy all around us...in the warmth of the sun on my face, the whistle of the wind through the budding trees, the song of the goldfinch perched on the feeder, the squirrels playing in the big oak tree. They are there every day, these graces and gifts - in the gentle kiss of the six year old on my cheek "just because" or in the teen choosing to sit next to me and chat after school. Two boys that came from my broken womb...two boys that are gifts from the Giver Himself. And there are days that the gifts are overlooked, missed...but they are still there...still everywhere about me. There are the hard gifts...the ones that don't seem like gifts, but hard places. The loss of a job, the sickness of a child, the migraine that wears on for days. These gifts drive me to my knees, cause my eyes to clear of the distractions of this life and to recognize afresh the deep need I have for my Savior...in every circumstance.

As of late...I have been struggling. The migraine wears on claiming more of me than I want to give as days turn to weeks and the weeks turn to months. But then, God whispers through the voice of a sweet couple at church. He whispers that He sees our struggle, He knows our tiredness in battle and He cares about even the small things. And so, His whisper comes through new furniture. As I sit this afternoon, head throbbing, stomach churning, I see this gift from Him anew...and I give thanks to Him for His kindness, mercy and love...and I give thanks to Him for His children who listen to His voice. And I thank those children who listen to His voice...the ones who say, "Here I am, Lord, send me." And I pray that I am one who listens to His voice...that I am one who says, "Here I am, Lord, send me" in response.

And I am humbled by God's love...love that saw the holes in upholstery and broken down furniture and provided something far above anything I could ask or imagine. Beautiful furniture that matches the paint on the walls and the draperies that I made several years ago. Comfortable furniture that welcomes us in. Only God could give me something so lovely through the people who listen to His voice.

And to this sweet couple who blessed us: Thank you! Thank you for this lovely gift. Every morning when I arise and snuggle in to this comfortable chair, cup of coffee in hand, I lift you and your family up in prayer. I pray to the God who sees that He will prove faithful, that He will see you in the midst of any struggles and He will speak peace to your hearts...that He who promises to bind up the brokenhearted will bind up any brokenness in your hearts...that He who promises to heal wounds will speak healing in any wounds in your hearts...and may His mercy, grace and love shine brightly through every struggle. May His joy fill your hearts and His wisdom guide your actions. Know that I give thanks and pray for you daily!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Our Little School at Home: Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory Unit 22

Another week passes with the little guy. He is a crack up!

"Mom, sometimes I do not like school!" little one cries to me.

"Why is that dear?" I innocently ask.

"Cause it gets in my way of playing."

Yep. I get it. But seriously, just gotta love his honesty! Even so, he really does enjoy school...even if it does get in his way occasionally. :)

This week, we completed Unit 22. Finally, Jake learned to skip..physically skip! Hooray!! He was supposed to skip in between reciting his memory verse...not the first time he has tried, but the first time he has succeeded! His big brother taught him, skipped step by step with him. Nothing brings as much joy to this mama's heart as seeing her 6 foot 6 inch teen teaching the 6 year old to skip...hop by hop. And as for encouraging, "You are doing great. I don't think I could skip until I was 8! So proud of you!" big brother whispers to little guy thinking mama doesn't hear. :) I love these guys!

For reading, we began the emerging readers sometime before Christmas. We started rather slowly, but I am just amazed at Jake's fluency. He is reading the Early Reader's Bible, answering the questions easily and rarely stumbling over words. He picks up other books and reads on his own, still surprising himself.

In history we learned about the kindness of Benjamin Franklin and his inventions - from stoves and spectacles to lightning rods. We studied the building of Feneuil Hall in Boston and how there came to be a copper grasshopper as the weather vane. Of course, our assigned readings would not have been complete if we did not pull up pictures of lightning rods, the stove, the hall and the copper grasshopper weather vane on line...and read more information about each. For science, we studied insects and made models of grasshoppers (why wouldn't you study a grasshopper when you learn about a copper grasshopper?). We also studied lightning (what else would you study when you are studying Franklin's invention of a lightning rod??). Love how HOD ties everything together.

Spelling is so easy and Jake is having such an easy time with it - thanking our gracious God for this gift! He is also progressing nicely in copying and handwriting skills. Poetry is one of Jake's favorite things. He thinks it is so fun on day one when he is asked to "guess" what the name of the poem is.

Math this week introduced multiplication. Jake was so excited to finally get there, since he has been doing it on his own for months. Filling "donut boxes" with sets of five pieces of cereals was such an effective way to demonstrate the problems. I almost enjoy teaching math as much as my son enjoys learning it with the hands on lessons provided in Beyond! And, his question everyday, "So, Mom, do I get to eat my math lesson today?" And, quite often, the answer is "YES!" :)