Thursday, July 7, 2011

News from the homefront

Perhaps I should say "News from the Frontlines" - some days it seems more like a battlefield than a homefront!

This last month has brought a wave of changes.  I started up my Gold Canyon business again (the beauty of being in business for yourself) and have started meeting lots of other women who are building their businesses.  I really try to find out how I can help them, what they need and how I can connect them to resources.

A few things have really stuck in my mind the last few weeks:
Seek first the kingdom of God, and then all these things (provision and possessions) will be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)
and
You do what you can do, and let God do what only God can do. (Pastor Zack Miller of The Crossing Church)
This is hard for me.  I like to think.  I like to plan.  I like to succeed!  It's a challenge for me to sit back and rest, once I've done all I can do.  It's a challenge for me to prioritize time with God, learning, praying, worshiping over all the other stuff that needs to be done (let's not even talk about all the stuff I want to do!)  Yet, that's what is required.  I greatly admire people who maintain schedules and routines.  Sort of.  I mean, I love that my life is fluid and flexible.  I love that William and I make quick decisions and can turn on a dime to do something.  Homeschooling (unschooling, specifically) has been a great fit for this.

Yet, I know that I am actually very undisciplined and very selfish.  I know that my day would be better if I were to get up BEFORE the kids and visit with my Father.  I know that my relationship with William would be enhanced by breakfast together before he leaves for work.  I know that the entire family would benefit from a more dependable schedule.  The problem is... me.  The only thing standing in between me and what God called me to be, is me.

This prompts me continuously to pray "less of me, more of you"  and "oh that you would increase and I would decrease."  For which I promptly pat myself on the back and am proud of my Christ-likeness, then facepalm for the utter lack of humility that I've just shown.  So. Far. To. Go.  !!!

This inner struggle is probably invisible to all but my closest companions.  The outer struggle that is most apparent is parenting.  I know that to wonder about whether I am a good parent is in itself an answer to the question; bad parents don't care if they are bad parents.  I know that we have done a good job, our children are well-behaved (although still children!) and things could be much worse.  But I also know they could be much better!  Our children struggle with each other, argue, bicker, show selfishness (oops, sounds familiar - wonder where that came from?)  We strive to show leadership, grace, mercy and faithfulness in our parenting.    Many times we fail miserably.  We aren't afraid to ask for forgiveness and confess our shortcomings to them.

A friend and mentor said recently that she felt I had lost confidence in my parenting.  I have thought about this a lot!  It's true.  After we lost Ian and dealt with CPS, I was crushed.  I felt guilty, even though I did nothing wrong.  I felt that others blamed me, I blamed me.  It makes sense then, that I would lose confidence.  I didn't know that it was still this way though.  I have relied heavily on my husband, chosen to ignore the disrespectful attitudes that cropped up in my older kids (and are being repeated by the toddler).  As I have begun to realize this and try to regain confidence and re-assert my authority, there has been much resistance!  Daytime with an infant and toddler are trying enough, but add in a 10 and 12 year old that are adjusting to new expectations and that live in constant conflict with each other - well, it's almost unbearable some days!

I know that the kids need more structure, and I know that area is one of my weaker points.  I have some really good days, but then there are some really bad ones too!  I'm not expecting perfection from myself or my kids (I don't think!), but I would like a little consistency in all of us.  William has frequently asked if the kids "act like this" all day/week long with me.  This usually happens when he is home from work.  I used to excuse them, saying that it was just because they were out of "normal" with him home, that there were other factors.  As I've realized that I was circumventing the real issues, I started saying "yes, this is pretty much what it is all the time."

Last Friday was one such day.  William was working from home in advance of the holiday.  I left for 2 hours to meet with a friend to help her plan a women's conference.  When I returned, the decision to a long-pending question had been resolved: the kids are going back to school.

I have mixed feelings.  I am elated that I will not have to constantly settle petty disputes (at least for 8 hours of the day).  I'm glad that Jordan is super-excited and has already started planning her wardrobe and sharpening pencils (seriously - when she was supposed to be cleaning her room, she was collecting and sharpening pencils!)  I feel good that I will be able to focus more attention on my 2 little ones, and "home school" Gavin for pre-school.  I know that it's good for us all to get more structure, that the kids will meet new people, reconnect with old friends and be exposed to lots of new ideas.

On the flip side, I'm feeling a bit selfish for being happy to be without them for a while.  I'm sad for Calvin, who will have to cut his hair and who is not interested, in the least, in returning to school.  I'm not looking forward to back-to-school shopping, uniform procurement and the arguments that will ensue over "Why do I have to wear this?  Why can't they just let us wear jeans?"  I am bummed at the prospect of packing healthy lunches, getting breakfast in them before they leave and whether or not they will ride the bus.

All of this swirling has caused me to remember another verse:
"Be still and know that I Am God." Psalm 46:10
Since I have a migraine headache right know, being still sounds good!  As a stay-at-home mom to 4, it's just not realistic!  Even when daddy gets home, there is work to do, errands to run, pee-pee to clean off of the bathroom floor (don't let a 3 YO brush his teeth BEFORE he goes potty!)  So, instead I have to still my heart, still my mind, and know:

verb (used with object)
  1. to perceive or understand as fact or truth; to apprehend clearly and with certainty: I know the situation fully.
  2. to have established or fixed in the mind or memory: to know a poem by heart; Do you know the way to the park from here?
  3. to be cognizant or aware of: I know it.
That HE is God.  I am not.  I cannot control, I cannot reason it out, I cannot come to the right conclusion on my own.  I don't hold all of the puzzle pieces.  I don't have the lid to the box!  I don't even know what I'm supposed to be piecing together - but He does.

Which makes me think of another one:
"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." Romans 8:28
 Know - there's that word again!  ...that God CAUSES everything to work together for my good.

Even my mess.  Even my imperfections.  Even my hurts, my failures, my pride - he MAKES them work together for my good.

Amen.

Be Still and Know from Zazzle.com

Don't stop - there's lots more good stuff...

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