Wednesday, September 3, 2014

More or Less

Funny isn't it, how in the span of a few moments you can be made to feel as if your life just isn't "up to par" with the expectations of the world! As a "stay at home"schooling" mom, this happens to me quite frequently.

There was a time that I always held a "job". In fact, I had my first job around the age of 15 when I went to work in the local dairy bar during the summer. I moved up to a restaurant, then factory work, back to the restaurant scene, and just kept right on going. I held jobs as a secretary in different types of offices. I have been a cashier, and moved up to managing aspects of the store. I have worked in the public school system as an aide and a substitute teacher. My list of "jobs" is rather long! During much of that time, I was also raising three daughters and trying to be involved in their day to day lives as well. That was, after all, how it was "supposed" to be done. In the eyes of others, my life had worth!

Now that I am staying home and schooling Michael, I have found that in the eyes of (most of) the world, what I do is of little, or no, importance! I really do find this quite sad, and not just for me, but for the countless other moms who are being made to feel this exact same way!

At a recent gathering of a group to which I belong, the "pedigrees" of those involved were being touted to the audience.... doctors, nurses, professional musicians, computer techs, artists.... the list went on.... and not once was a "stay-at-home-mom" (SAHM) mentioned! Now, I was not surprised by that in the least. But it did get me to begin thinking about how people view those of us who have made the choice (dare I say sacrifice!) to stay at home. We are viewed as being "less" by the world, but I believe that we deserve more than that!

When we made the decision that I would remain at home, it was a sacrifice of an additional income. That means that, while we have everything that we "need", we don't always get everything that we "want". I have had to become careful about our spending. I have learned to be on the look-out for deals and shop the clearance aisles. I have  become knowledgeable about the best times to shop the meat department, and I've learned that there is nothing wrong with being frugal! While I do not "make" money as a SAHM, I have found creative ways to save money!

Our decision was a sacrifice of "alone" time. I am now with our son 24/7. That means that from the time that his feet hit the floor, until the time they lead him back to bed, he is by my side. From his first words of the day, to his last words of "good-night".... I get all the words in between. And let me tell you, there are a LOT of words! Occasionally, I will sneak away to Walmart while he stays with his Dad... it is kind of like a mini-vacation!!! Time for myself is not very plentiful!

Our decision was a sacrifice of career. You see, I had gone back to college, and had just switched my major to Early Childhood Education (from a medical field), having made the decision to finally go for that teaching degree I'd always wanted. When I was younger, I had dreamed of being a teacher, it just didn't happen. Having been a substitute teacher for several years, I knew that this was what I wanted to do, and I was determined to make it happen.  God had other plans, and while I may not have my degree, I AM the teacher that I knew I was meant to be. Yet, if I had that degree, people would view my teaching in a much different light!

At times like these, when I am feeling that I am "less", I am learning to dig deep and remember WHY I am here. I remember that it was answering God's call on our lives that led us to adopt our son. I remember that He placed him with us because he trusted us to do what was in his best interest. I remember that God, who created me with this purpose in mind, isn't the God of "less", but the God of "more", and that my worth is found solely in Him alone.

I trust in that.... I truly do. And when I am made to feel "less", I just remember that God has "more" in store for me than I can even imagine. He has given us "more" so that I can stay at home and give Michael all that he needs. He has provided "more" patience than I thought it was possible to have! He has led me to "more"ways to help Michael learn, even at those times when I thought I was "less" than capable.  God has led us to a church home, where I can continue to grow in Christ. We have become part of a Community Group, and even on those nights when Michael goes with us, I find that I am able to recharge by "adult time" batteries! I love the "more" than comes for listening to God's prompting!

I love being where God has planted me..... I am His child, I am a wife, I am a mom and nanny, and I STAY AT HOME.... which also makes me a doctor, a nurse, an office manager, a teacher, a cook, a custodian, a transportation expert, a personal shopper, an accountant....and the list goes on an on!!!

And before you say it.... this is NOT a slam to those of you who not only work, but do all of the above... I have been where you are!!! You are AMAZING!!! You deserve a huge pat on the back, because I know that it is hard to work and juggle a household. In fact, you deserve a standing ovation!!! 

But.... to those of you what have chosen a different path... a path that has led you to become a SAHM.... you deserve the same affirmation. You are AMAZING!!!! Don't ever let anyone tell you any different!!!

YOU are MORE than enough!!!

Have a Blessed Day!


Friday, August 1, 2014

It Isn't How you Learn...

We have started our fifth year of homeschool. It really doesn't seem possible that we've been doing this for that long, but we have!!! While there are times when I still question whether or not this is the right choice for Michael, I can honestly say that God has always stepped in to give us a clear answer.

Michael has made great strides in the past month... yes, we just finished day 26 of his 5th grade year. We have chosen to go to a year round format, and there are many that would say that just "isn't right". For us, it is going to be what makes all the difference for Michael.

At the end of Michael's third grade year we took off the entire summer, as we had based our calendar on the public school's calendar. When we started back up in August of that year it was a total disaster. Talk about stress!! He had forgotten just about everything he had learned. Oh, he could still read, do simple math, and could still write, but anything beyond that was, simply, gone!  I knew that neither one of us was ready to go through that again. The solution was simple - don't take such long breaks.

This year we took off for three weeks at the end of his fourth grade year. We are now on a four day school week, taking Friday off each week. If something comes up during the week and we'd like to take off an additional day, we do it. We make it up the following week on Friday! So far, it has really been great. We have been able to pick up right where we left off, and he has retained everything. This has been a huge blessing for both of us!

I have also found out over the years that Michael likes to move around when he works. There have been many a day where he has stood up while learning a subject.  And when he reads... well, I'm never quite sure just what position I will find him in!!!

This used to drive me crazy, but now I don't even mind, as long as he is reading, and retaining what he reads.

As long as I allow him to "fidget" he gets the work done. This is something that would never be tolerated in a public classroom.  He would be forced to sit in a chair, and that just does not suit his learning style!

When we first began our homeschooling adventure I tried to keep our day as close to a public school day as I could. After all, I had worked in the public school system for a number of years in a substitute teacher capacity, and that is what I knew. Now, if he wants to stand to do his math... go for it! Stand, sit on the floor, work in the dining room, work in the school room... I don't care, as long as the work is completed and retained! 

You see, it isn't HOW you learn that is important, but the fact that you LEARN that truly matters. Here, we work at Michael's pace... and we keep plugging away until he has the concept down. We don't rush through things just to say that we're finished.... slow and steady wins the race!

I'm beyond thankful that God has given me this time to spend with Michael, and that we have chosen to head his call to homeschool. It isn't always easy, but it IS what we've been called to do. I know there are many who feel that kids who are homeschooled don't get enough "socialization". Many feel that kids need to be "making friends" and that the only way to learn to get along with others is to be out in the classroom. Mickey and I??? We feel that a classroom environment would force Michael to retreat into his shell... we fear that he would be bullied because he is "different"... we know that he would be "lost" in a world that moves at too quick a pace. We trust that what we are doing is following God leading, and that He wants only what is in Michael's best interest. We will continue to ask for God's direction, and follow wherever he takes us. Homeschool isn't for every child. It isn't for every family. For us... it is right where Michael is meant to be.

Have a Blessed Day!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Garden

When we moved into our newest home in Madison, we were thrilled with the size of the lot. We own roughly 1/2 an acre... which is a lot of room in town. In fact, there are three full back yards and a smidgen of another that butt up to our property! Why were we so excited??? We could finally have a garden!!

During all of the years that we lived in the Pekin area, we had a garden. Each year we put out tomatoes, peppers, squash, and green beans. Every year, Mickey canned salsa for himself, and green beans that were enjoyed at nearly every family function. He does make THE BEST green beans you've ever eaten. I no longer try!!!! While they are tasty when he has fixed those bought from the store, using his canned green beans makes them even better.

Last year we had no garden, our Wolf Trails home just didn't have room for one. By Easter of this year, we were using the last three quarts of our home canned beans. So when spring rolled around, we put in a small garden - 7 rows of beans, 10 tomato plants, two jalapeno plants, and green onions. I must say, the green beans have already outdone themselves!!

Our first pick, Mick was able to can 35 quarts and we gave a "mess" to my in-laws. The second pick, Mick canned 19 quarts and I fixed a huge amount for the family to enjoy on Saturday. This morning I walked out to check the garden after all of our rain, and the beans are ready to pick again!!! Mick said he guessed we'd just keep picking and canning until we ran out of jars!!!

I must admit, when I first walked up to the garden this morning I thought, "Oh no... we will have to pick beans again!!!"  However, I was quickly reminded that I need to be THANKFUL!!!!!

I should be THANKFUL that we have the space for a garden, where so many would just love a yard of their own.

I should be THANKFUL for more beans than we anticipated, when so many go without even a mouthful of food in a day.

I should be THANKFUL for the rains and the sun that God provides that help our garden to grow, while so many areas of our country are in a drought.

I should be THANKFUL for a husband who takes the time to can what we have grown. You see, I am terrified of the pressure canner... yes.... I'm a chicken!!!

I am reminded that I need to be THANKFUL IN ALL THINGS.... not just in those times that I get what I want, but at ALL times!!!!

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says:  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.  

It is God's will that we BE THANKFUL....  so I think that it is time to change my way of thinking!!! How about you??

Have a Blessed Day!


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I love VBS... Yes I Do!!!!

What fun we are having at Jungle Safari!! Day 2 under our belts!

This is my first year to work at the Community VBS in our new home town. This is a huge event, with several churches offering their time and money to make it happen, including our home church North Madison Christian Church. It takes a lot of volunteers to pull off an event like this... and I think that those who don't volunteer their time... even for a night... are missing out on a wonderful opportunity ... teaching about the love of Christ to the next generation.

Now, I not only do VBS, but I am back in the saddle teaching Sunday School again, and I'm enjoying it immensely. I would like to share a few reason why I feel that volunteering to work with kids is important.....

* Seeing a child who might not have the greatest home life come alive when they feel loved. Kids need to see that someone cares... even if it is only for a short time... it can make a difference.

* Being available to answer questions about Christ, his death, and resurrection so that kids can meet the REAL Jesus...  humbling!

* Knowing that for one week, you can build a relationship with a child who might not meet Jesus any other way... so needed in our world today.

* It is a joy to serve alongside others who have the same love of Christ that you do. Watching them love on these kids is a truly amazing experience.

Now.... not all VBS (or kid's ministry!) positions require you to teach!!! This year, I'm a crew leader during VBS. My job?  Simple... take kids from point A to point B, C, D, and back to point A without losing any kids!!! I get to sing with them. I get to hear the lesson with them, and help drive home the point. I get to work on their crafts with them... all the while talking to them, learning about their lives, their likes, and their dislikes. I get to give them high fives, hugs, and tell them "Way to go". How easy is that???  There is no planning... I just show up and love on the kids!!!

If you've never volunteered to work a Vacation Bible School, I encourage you to give it prayerful consideration. There are so many spots that need to be filled, and you might be surprised at how well you might fill the bill!!!Even that little smile given to a child as they are handed there snack speaks the love of Jesus. THAT is what it is all about!!!

Have a Blessed Day!


Saturday, May 31, 2014

Are your True Colors Showing???

Our Community Group recently finished studying the book of James.... what a wonderful book to dig in to!!!  Seems like I spent most of that study thinking wow... just... wow!!!! I mean, come on... the first chapter starts out powerful! No "sliding in to a topic", BAM... right to the point!

James 1:2-4:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete,
 not lacking anything. ... NIV

That is powerful.... but I LOVE looking up different versions, they sometimes make things a little more clear. The Message translated these verses this way :

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. 
You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its 
true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work 
so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. 

This is one of those instances where I feel that the message really opens up the Word, in particular where it says your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. That really makes me sit back on my heels to ponder what colors (if any!) I show when I'm under pressure?

How true it is that when our lives are going great, and we have "balance", our faith-life looks pretty good. We go along saying the right things, doing our best to do the right things. We go to church, we smile, we sing songs of praise, and then we leave the building with God tucked right back in that little box, all safe and snug, to be taken out again the following week. From the outside, we look pretty good to those around us. We 'have it all together', so to speak. It is pretty easy during this time to have our colors shine like a sunset... calm and serene, the picture of contentment.

What happens when we come under fire? When the pressure is on? When our life starts to resemble a roller-coaster ride instead of a leisurely ride on a carousel? What do we look like when our faith-life is forced into the open then? During times such as these do people look at us only to find a total lack of color? Do they find that our contentment is gone? That our smiles falter? That our songs of praise have lost their fervor?

What is MY true color? Have I become mature in my walk with Christ? Am I deficient? Where will I stand when the "heat is on"?? These are really hard questions... and I think that James is right on target when he says that we must "consider it pure joy... a sheer gift.... when we suffer trials... when we are tested... when we are challenged". I think it is then when we learn how deeply our faith is Christ is rooted. It is then that we either choose to  draw closer to the one who sustains us and let HIS light shine for the world to see, or we choose to keep Him in that box we've created for him and only take him out when it is convenient.

The gift we receive?? Christ IN us... where he holds us up... where he gives us peace and comfort... where His light shines through us so that others can be drawn TO Him.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.  James 1:12

Have a Blessed Day!

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Art of Waiting

If there is one thing I know about myself it is this.... I struggle at times with patience, I am NOT good at waiting.

 The quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.

There are some areas where I am VERY patient. Waiting.... now that is an area where I definitely need some work. Oh, I can wait to be called back for an appointment. The other day I sat in the waiting room for over an hour before I was called back to the exam room. There were those who came in after me who made no bones about the fact that they were hungry, tired of waiting, had other places to be, and that their time was valuable. Was I happy about the wait, no.... but was I patient? I think so.

I have fibromyalgia, and while I always have pain, there are some days that are just worse than others. Most of the time, no one knows. It is just something that I have to live with, and I do. Now, there are times when I might say that I've had a bad day/week. I try not to let my irritation show...I  try not to complain ALL the time. My patience can run thin, it is annoying. It is life.

I do, however, struggle with waiting. I hate waiting to schedule a test. I want it now. I hate waiting to find out the results. I want them now. I hate waiting on other people to do what THEY have to do, so I can do what I have to do. I have always been a "take charge" sort of person, and when I see that something needs to be accomplished, I don't wait around to make it happen, I do it. So it is very hard for me to relinquish control of things, to let them happen in another person's time frame. It is in this situation that I complain, lose my temper, and become irritated. I do them all, and this accomplishes nothing. I must still wait.
Today, the chorus of a song runs through my mind... over and over.... and it based on this verse:

 those who wait upon the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will rise up on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:31

Another translation uses the word hope in place of the word wait. I like that.... hope in the Lord. If I say that I am turning all things over to God, that I am placing my situation in HIS hands while I wait, then I can have HOPE!!! He already KNOWS the answers to the questions that are being asked. He is already IN my situation. He will renew me daily. He will give me strength to face anything that life throws my way. 

So today I choose to wait with hope, knowing that my Father has me in the palm of his hand. Today I rejoice that he walks beside me, even when I am walking through the unknown. As the chorus to the hymn ends.... " teach me Lord, teach me Lord to wait".

Have a Blessed Day!

Friday, May 23, 2014

A Conversation that STILL has me wondering!!!!!

I recently was in conversation with a group of people about the use of technology. Is it good? Is it bad? Do people rely too much on it? Are kids really getting what they NEED in life by constantly utilizing their cells, I-pads, and Kindles?  You get the drift, right???

So I happened to mention that one of the kids in my 4th grade Sunday School class recently asked me if there would be technology in heaven. He wondered how he would manage to be in heaven if he couldn't have his phone (yes, 4th grader with a smart phone!!!). I told him that I doubted that we would have need for our devices in heaven, as our sole purpose will be to glorify God.

Well, one of the ladies in this conversation just looked at me and said, "Oh, I think we'll have technology in heaven. The bible says that we will all have mansions and that they will be filled with the things that we love, or are good at, in this life. So if I use my phone or computer a lot here on earth, and it is important to me, then I will have it in heaven."

I sat there, dumbfounded... as I've read the bible through completely once... and other portions many times... and I just can't seem to place where that is in scripture!!!! John 14:2 tells us, "In My Father’s house are many mansions;[a] if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you."  I'm just not sure that we will have access to our gaming systems, cell phones, or The Hopper!!!!

So, what are your thoughts??? Pretty sure I know which side of the fence I'm standing on, how about you????

Have a Blessed Day!