Thursday, August 03, 2017

It Is Not Death To Die - Sovereign Grace

It's hard not to be moved at the pageantry of a full military funeral. The colors, the symbolism, the honor caused my heart to swell in gratitude. Even the very aged soldiers who were preforming the ceremony made me proud. I kept wondering why I couldn't hold myself together. Mr. Alonso was a kind-hearted, Korean War combat veteran with numerous medals, but I barely knew him. Then I realized, he and everyone of these men offered up their lives to die for my freedom and the freedom of our country. He was willing to die.

The next day, as I continued listening through John Piper's sermons, I came across the sermon entitled "Let the Nations Be Glad." I almost skipped it because I know the message and that God hasn't called me to leave my home to pursue full time missions to another culture. I was thinking, "Oh that sermon isn't for me." But for some reason, I listened. At the end of the sermon, I was fighting tears again. Why was I so emotional? Piper asked those in his audience who were called to full time cross-cultural missions to stand. I realized at that moment that those people were pledging to lay down their lives, their homes, their comforts to tell others the Good News. They were giving their very lives to share Christ. They were willing to die.

What is that like? What is my life? Do I give my life for any noble cause? If I don't lay down myself for the cause of Christ, then my life is wasted. Laying my life down doesn't look the same as war veterans or missionaries to Africa. But it should look differently from the lost world around me.

I'm a stay-at-home wife and mom who homeschools. That may look easy to those who've not looked at it closely and it requires a lot of me laying down my life for others. A  conference asking me to stand for everyone to clap for my service will not be necessary. A funeral where my coffin is draped in a flag won't happen either. But, I hope that in the end of my life, someone will be moved by my example to know that dying to serve others is a life well lived. I am willing to die.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Ballet Begins Again

Rachel took ballet for a couple of years when she was very young. Today, we started ballet lessons for Abigail and Susannah with one of our favorite friends. Mary Margaret has been close friends with Mary for so many years and has agreed to teach Abigail and Susannah at our home. My face hurts from smiling so much while watching these two little beauties dance with her. They looked at her like she was a queen and she treated them like little princesses.

We haven't been able to figure out a good schedule for each child to do a sport and a music or art class. With so many daughters, it's really impossible for everyone to get to do all they want. We feel like sports, music and art are all important, but it's  impossible to do everything. It takes a lot of creativity and organization to get homeschooling done as well as extra curricular activities.

We have grappled with this topic for many years as the older girls grew. I'm sure there are gaps in a lot of their learnings, but so far they seem to be doing okay. There are no easy answers to growing healthy, well-rounded, contributors to society that love and honor God. Today, we got to enjoy a little bit of the process.

Josiah watched in amazement the whole time.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

It's Been a Happy Day

Adrian and Susannah had their birthdays today and it was a great day.  At every birthday meal each person tells something they love about the birthday person or a favorite memory that they have with them. It's so fun to hear how each person impacts the others!

Until Adrian came along, I always thought it would be hard to give my daughters away in marriage. I'm so thankful for who he is and how he loves his family. He takes care of Rachel and the children with the sweetest spirit. One of my favorite things I've ever heard him say to Rachel (who was pregnant at the time) was, "You're growing a human, go sit and rest. I'll do the dishes." He is always willing to serve anyone in need and is passionate about the gospel.

Susannah Joy lives up to her name. She lives life as fully as she can, giving everything she has to what she does. When she hugs, it's a full hug. When she smiles, her whole body smiles. And when she laughs, oh, what a wonderful laugh! She's a girly-girl who can play as hard as the boys.

Ray always takes the birthday kids out on their own special date. This year Susannah was old enough to go by herself. I think Ray was glad she chose Waffle House. He and Adrian will go out later, because for some reason, Adrian has a little busier schedule than Susannah.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Parenting Grown-Ups

Well, here we are with another real adult, kind of. Sarah started working with an ambulance service in Athens as an Advanced EMT. She begins paramedic school in August.

I am more convinced than ever that parenting adult children is much harder than small children. Walking through the decision making process with her is just as hard as it has been with Hannah and Rachel.

Each child is different. They must be treated differently. Should she move out to be closer to work and school or should she commute? How should she pay for what she needs, who should she live with? She's making real life decisions.

God is faithful to guide us through His Spirit, but I am still fearful. When I am fearful of her living on her own or making long commutes after working through the night, I am trying to do God's job for Him. It's like I am telling God that He isn't able to protect her when she isn't under my roof.

She's a sensible girl who is trying to make wise decisions. I know God is faithful to His people and will work everything for their good. As we seek to love and obey Him, I'm praying that my heart will follow. It is hard on this mama's heart for her children to grow up so quickly.

But don't you think she looks too sweet to be a grown up?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

I'm a Helper

Is someone in your home very disorganized, losing things, forgetful?
At a recent wedding

For years, I would get so mad that Ray couldn't find his keys, phone, wallet, glasses or any combination of those things. He would walk in the house and put them down in random places, then forget where they were. He has a drawer right beside the back door to put those things in, but he often doesn't. He's intelligent, creative, compassionate and an all around great man, but he was (and sometimes still is) very disorganized.

When it would be time for him to leave the house, oftentimes he'd be rushing around looking for what he had lost. I would call out to everyone available to help find the lost item, then he could go on his way when it was recovered. If you're thinking that this post is about how to make someone else more organized, think again, it isn't. I have no idea how to help you.

But Ray's losing very important things was constantly making me mad. It took up my time, the kids' time and his time. It created unnecessary frustration.

The day that I realized that disorganization is not a sin was eye opening. It isn't a sin for him to put his things down wherever he wanted. How I responded was often very sinful! My irritation was sinful and it rubbed off on the girls. I could see their sinful eye rolls or irritations when they had to stop what they were doing to help their daddy with something so silly. After all, he's a grown man, why can't he find his own glasses?

Over the years, either, he has gotten better, or we have figured out where he is putting his things. There is less time digging, searching and scrambling than I remember. But the change may be that I realized that my job is to be his helper. Maybe focusing on what God has called me to do has shifted the big deal from his forgetfulness to my own sinful heart.

God created me to be Ray's helper.
Genesis 2:18 "Then the Lord God said, 'It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.'"
So, when he says, "Have you seen my glasses?" I can respond with a cheerful heart. If I'm able to stop what I'm doing and help him, I do, and hopefully with a better attitude.
Ray and me with some of the most adorable people in the world - Caleb, Susannah and Josiah
But it's time to close now, I need to help him find his phone....

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Lydia Cello

Lydia was given a cello at Christmas with a year's worth of lessons. I am still overwhelmed by the generosity of the gift. Thankfully, Lydia is too. She loves the lessons and the practice. Her teacher took this picture for me to see that she has a "perfect bow hold" and that he was thrilled with how quickly she's learning.

Music is a wonderful way to glorify God and as a parent that's what keeps me driving to lessons. So, if you think those monthly fees and weekly trips to lessons are worth the effort - remember - they are! It's never money wasted to learn more music.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Keep Going

Easter 2017
I have found that it's harder to keep going after discouragement in parenting. It's easy to say, "I've done all I could, it's up to them now." Parenting is a long road, it shouldn't stop when the children get older.

Some time ago at church, I asked all of the children who had memorized their scripture memory verses to come to me to see how they are doing. The oldest child who came was eleven and said, "Oh, I'm the only one?" and walked off. She didn't even attempt to tell me how far she had gotten.

I found it sad to think that none of the teenagers had come to say their verses. Then I realized that one of my own children was in that group. I had told her to memorize, but I hadn't followed through, I had left it up to her.

There does come a time when we have to take a step back and let them take care of themselves. But I hadn't even attempted to follow through. Parenting teenagers is difficult. They have opinions and real life needs.

A few days after that night, that particular daughter mentioned something about the verse and said she had forgotten to come to me to tell me what she memorized. Whew, I'm off the hook, right? Wrong.

Just because she did the right thing at that moment, doesn't mean I could stop doing my job.

My job may look different, but it doesn't stop. Parenting Mary is a lot different than parenting Abigail. I no longer hold her hand to ensure she pick up her toys, I don't even tell her to. (Well, I try
not to.)

Mary knows that her things need to be picked up. If she doesn't, they may disappear, and she pays the consequences. Those consequences could be the time it takes to find the lost items, having to replace the lost items or living without the lost items.

I often have to remind myself that Mary isn't as old as Hannah and Sarah and she still needs guidance. Hannah and Sarah do too, but not as often. Parenting Rachel looks different too.

But how do we parent these older girls? One particular week I was in quite a dilemma. Hannah had been very sick and I have told her many times that she shouldn't go to work. A sick teacher produces sick students. She didn't think she could miss, saying that she thought she could do it.

I had to make a decision. Was I to let her go or not? In the end, she went.  It was a decision that I had to turn over to her.

Questions about concerts, over nights at friends' houses, parties with people we don't know send me into a tailspin sometimes. Can't I just pull all of my cubs inside my bear cave? That's what I want to do!

God's mercy to our family is so evident as the girls grow. He is the one to uphold us, as well as our children. They continue to grow and will make mistakes. But God will remain faithful to the end.

Easter 2017 at Nana's house
Catherine, Sarah, Lydia, Aunt Robin, Rebekah, Mary, Hannah

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Monday, April 17, 2017

Yes, there is a such thing as selfish prayers.

What do your prayers sound like? Are they littered with requests for yourself and those you love? Or, are your prayers focused on the One that you're praying to?

There is a time to make requests of God. We have clear examples of making requests in prayers from scripture. But, as you pray, your heart should be drawn closer to God and praising Him. There is a reason the ACTS acrostic is so helpful in praying. It gets your heart and mind thinking about God, Who He is and what He has done for us.
  • A-Adoration
  • C-Confession
  • T-Thanksgiving
  • S-Supplication
When you spend time praising God, confessing sin and thanking Him for blessings beyond measure, your supplications change. For example, being truly thankful for the car that you have may change your request for a new one.

Another way to make sure your prayers are God centered instead of self-centered is to pray Scripture. Psalms is the easiest way to start praying God's Word back to Him. Read Praying the Bible by Don Whitney. I've said it before and it's still true. It will transform your prayer life.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Mary and Lydia

These two beauties are growing so quickly. They have proven over and over that God is gracious to my failings. It would be easy for them to check out of life and be like the rest of the world.  My heart is often divided and parenting children such vast ages, the middle girls too often get slighted. Mary and Lydia have taken over nearly all of the household chores, all of their school, music and jobs. I rarely hear a complaint.

If you were ever at our house during the morning basket time, you may or may not see something like this.  The "spanish game" gets out of  hand sometimes and one or the other needs to use drastic measures to win. Clearly, they aren't having much fun at school. (Just kidding, but they aren't going to like these pictures being posted.)