Comparison games.

They say “comparison is the thief of joy”.

And I absolutely believe that to be true.

But lately I’ve been thinking how when we think about comparison, we often think of it in regards to other people, not in regards to ourselves.

As I’ve been reflecting on this, I think the latter is just as dangerous, and often, more hidden than comparison with other people. 

Just today, I have been reminded how much I do this in my heart. Today was one of those days where it felt like my kids were deaf to my call, disobedient more than obedient, plus Theo is at this age where screaming and throwing a fit are his preferred forms of communication. He broke one of my favorite glass jars from Magnolia Market, he put a magnet in my morning coffee, spilled pearler beads all over the kitchen floor, as well as several other things. And how quickly in those moments I would go either backward or forward. “Things were so much easier when we only had two/one/no kids.” OR “In a few years, motherhood won’t be so difficult.”

In a sense, I was wishing away the very moment that God has placed me in. 

Sure, this stage of motherhood IS hard. There are days where my kids act more like monkeys than humans (no, I don’t think we evolved from monkeys. Although, it does sound like a logical theory today… Just joking people). But what if I am missing the very blessings of this stage because I am enviously longing for my “former life” or the “years ahead.”?

The blessing of instructing and disciplining and discipling my own children. The blessing of having my home be FILLED with toys, children playing and laughing, sometimes screaming, and little voices. The blessing of being the one to wipe the tears, mend the boo-boos, clean the stinky bottoms, and prepare each meal that my children consume (with the help of Chick-fil-a, of course!). The blessing of being the one who answers the “why” question for the 100th time in the same day, answers their curiosity about God and the Bible, the one who sometimes doesn’t know the answer to their tough questions about evil. The blessing of being THEIR mommy. (God, help me to remember these INCREDIBLE BLESSINGS!)

Just recently, Jordan and I were looking through old photos of our kiddos. I was astounded at how quickly my kiddos have grown and at the same time I was so sad because “I just don’t remember them that little.” I am almost convinced that in those moments, I wasn’t living in the present- I was sinfully longing for the future when things “would get easier.” And I missed the beauty of the stage. The sleepless nights. A baby nursing. The chunky toddler faces of my two beautiful girls. The funny phrases and words they used. Their innocence. All because I was living in my made-up future world with my family.

In my Thursday night Bible study, we are going through the book “None Like Him” by Jen Wilken. The book is AMAZING and I recommend EVERYONE read it. But something she said in our recent study has been on my mind a lot. In the Chapter titled “Eternal, The God of Infinite Days”, Wilken explains that because God is eternal- He has always been and He will always be- and we are not, that we have to trust Him with our yesterdays, our today, and our tomorrows.  She also says that “Trusting God with our time means we make good use of the time we are given… We are commanded to be time redeemers, those who reclaim our time from useless pursuits and employ it to the glory of God.” (pg.74)

She goes on to spell out three ways that we can be “time redeemers”

  1. Let Go of the Past
  2. Let Go of the Future.
  3. Live Today Fully.

In the “Let Go of the Past” section, she says,

“We can cling to the past by indulging in two different emotions: sinful nostaglia or regret. Sinful nostalgia causes us to idolize a time when life was ‘better’ or ‘simpler’, resulting in perpetual discontement with our present circumstance… The antidote for covetousness is always gratitude. We can combat a sinful love of the past by counting the gifts we have been given in the present. Regret, on the other hand, causes us to dwell on past mistakes or hurts, robbing us of joy in our present circumstance and often dragging us back into old sin patterns. … ” (pg. 75)

In the “Let Go of the Future” section, she says,

“We can cling to the future by indulging in two different emotions: sinful anticipation or anxiety. We indulge sinful anticipation when we constantly covet the next stage of life… We feed anxiety when we live in dread of the future… Our prayers become marked with requests to know the future rather than requests to live today as unto the Lord…The antidote for anxiety is to remember and confess that we can trust the future to God.” (pg.76)

GRATITUDE and TRUST. 

Am I grateful for all this day presents? The blessings, the hard moments, the struggles?

And do I trust God with my future? I need not fear or worry or try and plan out every nuance of the future, because He has it all in His hand and in HIS timing.

Seriously, we compare so much in our own lives. Just reflect on your own thoughts this week:

“Life was so much better/easier when…. [fill in the blank-past]….” (When I was fitter, when I traveled more, when I had that job, when my kiddos did [blank], when my kiddos didn’t do [blank], when I lived there, {the list goes on and on…})

OR

“Life will be so much better/easier when [fill in the blank-future]…” (When I get fit/lose weight, get a house, live there, get that job, my kiddos start/stop [fill in the blank], and of course, this list goes on too.)

Are you REALLY living today? Like IN today? Of course, it’s okay to miss the past, but it’s not okay to live there. And of course, it’s okay to plan and be hopeful for the future, but it’s not okay to live there either.

So as I share all of this, I am challenging myself in those moments of difficulty where the past or the future seems more gloriously bright than the moment that I am in, that I DO NOT want to miss the moment and the lessons that are to be learned within it.

Comparison is the thief of joy, and I don’t want that thief to steal the joy that is being offered today. Do you?

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(These were all from just a few months ago, and yet, they have changed SO MUCH!)

I did it! Whole30, that is.

You guys, I cannot even believe I am typing this blog. But I am. I have officially completed my FIRST-ever whole30. Sure, I’ve attempted a few times before, but this was my first time to finish entirely with NO cheats!

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If you are familiar with the Whole30 program and rules, you probably already know how rigid the program is. No dairy, grains, legumes, sugar of any kind, or alcohol (along with a several other rules.)

But to give you a little insight to how my personal experience was, I thought I would share here.

Days 1-10– Not horrible. I was mostly tired, felt hungry all the time, and was still trying to figure out what I could and could not eat. I wasn’t sleeping this first week. Had headaches. And just felt blah. Also, during this time, I realized HOW MUCH I was stress eating and mindless eating. If I was packing the kids a lunch for the park, I would snack as I packed. If they dropped food on the floor, I would eat it no matter how long it sat there prior (3 second rule only works outside people!). There were several times during these first days that I would be picking something up to put it into my mouth, and would have to stop before it reached my lips. I had no clue how often I did that until those first days.

Days 11-17– I wanted to die. I was so mad at everyone and everything. Every day I would contemplate quitting at least 10 times, talking myself out of it every time. Even on Day 16 as I was walking out the door to go to Annie’s homeschool co-op, Jordan said, “Don’t kill anyone today.” I guess it was evident how poor my mood had been. During this phase of my Whole30, I realized how DEPENDENT on sugar I had been for my moods. If I was tired, sugar. If I was mad, sugar. If I was sad, sugar. Sugar, sugar, sugar. By the way, they say sugar is more addictive than cocaine, so this detox was INTENSE. If I wasn’t mad during this phase, I felt very melancholy. Almost like I didn’t know who I was apart from the sugar high.

Days 18-30– During this phase, my main goal was to not get bored with my food. When you’re limited in what you can eat, it’s easy to have the same things every day. But creativity was KEY during this phase. I started feel really good too. No more sugar cravings. Sleeping well. Skin and eyes looked clearer. And all around just happy.

Which brings me to my NSV results (Non-scale victory, that is!):

  • Falling asleep quickly
  • Staying asleep better
  • Waking up early without an alarm clock and feeling energized
  • Mood swings were not as noticeable
  • Clothes fit better
  • Feeling more confident
  • Not snapping at my children as quickly as I had been
  • My muscles were more evident (I have been actively exercising since January 1)
  • Today is Day 31 and I honestly don’t even WANT a single thing that I have taken out (ice cream, bread, pizza, anything…. I can’t even believe I am saying that!)
  • And one of the BIGGEST takeaways I had: Even I was the only one eating a Whole30 compliant meal, I didn’t feel deprived. My husband and kids could eat ice cream in front of me and I didn’t feel like I was missing out. I was content with what I had just eaten and actually satisfied to the point that I didn’t want the ice cream that I had just scooped into bowls for them.
  • And this isn’t NSV, but I am all the way down to pre-baby weight- first time in YEARS! (I wasn’t one that would drop the weight like it was hot while I nursed. I have to work EXTREMELY hard to see it come off.)

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(I wish I would taken actual measurements and a before/after photo to give you more accurate results, but this is the only pic I have on my phone…)

So what made this time successful?

  1. Preparation is KEY! Every week I would make a Whole30 compliant mayo that I could use for chicken salad, dressings, and dips. Just having that available was HUGE. I also would meal plan and shop accordingly. If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail. I also left my spiralizer (for noodles) and my food processor on the counter the entire month so that I had easy access when I needed to make a meal that required that equipment.
  2. Accountability is a MUST! I actually started this round with two girlfriends. Knowing that I had two friends who were also experiencing some of the same things I was, was very encouraging. Plus I didn’t want to let them down!
  3. Pinterest is your BEST friend. Don’t just pin the recipes, make them. You will be surprise how many different meals you can make with meat and veggies when you let spices lead the way.
  4. Have a clear goal in mind. For me, I had been experiencing SEVERE bloating that was painful and made me look 6 months pregnant. Also, my mood swings were awful, which I wanted to see if food had an affect on that. And, as I told my Annie, I wanted to have the discipline to tell myself “no” even if everyone around me said “yes.” Which that is a whole other lesson that I could write about and has many applications for life (but I will spare you today ;))

 

So if you are thinking about trying Whole30, YOU CAN DO IT! Surround yourself with supportive people, make the commitment to see it through until the end.

And if you are REALLY serious about giving it a try, here are my favorite recipes that I found!

Grumbling against whom?

“What an odd title for Valentine’s Day”, you’re probably thinking.

But this has been on my mind lately, and no doubt, there are some of you who are struggling with this very thing today. Even if not, I hope you will read on.

About a week ago, Jordan and I were looking through our finances, and decided we need to overhaul everything. Cut out any extras and save as much as we possibly can so that 1) we are debt free, and 2) we have a large chunk of change for a down payment on a home. In theory, this sounds like a great idea, but in reality, it cut quick to my heart.

I like comforts. I like extras. I like being able to put my kids in extracurriculars. I like date nights. I like purchasing clothes. To put it bluntly, I like buying things (experiences or material items). And if you know me, you know that I’m pretty frugal. I don’t spend my money unless I ABSOLUTELY think I need something or that it would add value to our lives. So when I cut out the extras, I took it tougher than I thought I would.

The very next day, I had returned some clothes that still had on tags, canceled all of our memberships to extracurriculars and monthly boxes shipped to our door, and the like.

And how did I act?

Like a baby.

I was so frustrated with Jordan that he was so strong on us cutting back. Maybe I didn’t cry out, or even complain too much outwardly, but inwardly, my heart was cold. I was frustrated. I wanted to rebel. I was comparing my life to those that never even have to think about cutting back on anything, and wondering WHY US?

But wouldn’t you know, that God would convict my heart the very next morning. Since January 1, I’ve been sticking to the “Read through the Bible in a year” plan in the back of my ESV Bible. And that particular morning, I was reading in the OT in Exodus. The people of Israel had just followed Moses through the Red Sea that GOD HAD PARTED COMPLETELY for them, although the Egyptians were swallowed up by the waters immediately afterward. GOD had performed a MIRACLE. But just three days later, the people began to complain. They accused Moses of taking them out to the wilderness to starve. They had no water. So the LORD gave them water. Three days later again, they started to complain again. “You have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger” (Ex. 16:3). However, God had plans to rain bread from heaven (manna) so that they would behold His glory and provision. But as the people were grumbling and complaining against Moses and Aaron, he rebuked them, saying, “When the LORD gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the LORD has heart your grumbling that you grumble against him– what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the LORD.” (Ex. 16:8)

Dagger. To. The. Heart.

That day prior, I wasn’t grumbling against Jordan, I was grumbling against the LORD. Had He not provided ALL that I needed already? Doesn’t He promise that He will supply all of my needs in the future? My actions only showed that I didn’t TRUST Him for those things. That I didn’t believe that I had been given enough. That I deserved more than what He’s given me.

So quickly, we forget what God has done for us. What He’s given us. Even the miracles He’s performed. And instead of looking to HIM to bring us through our circumstances, we quickly put the undue pressure on those closest to us. The people of Israel had just witnessed an absolute miracle. Can you image a giant river being parted so thousands of people could walk through it. Imagine the water pulled back like a wall. And three/six days later, you’re worried where the food will come from. Why do we do that? We need to be reminded, and even remind ourselves, of all that God has done PREVIOUSLY for us. Which will only spur us on to ask HIM for future miracles.

And oddly enough (circumstance some would say, but I say the providence of God), the very day after we cut back on EVERYTHING, including date nights that cost money, God provided a date night for us. We were able to get away to the Denver Avalanche hockey game with the Harvest Worship team for FREE. Two FREE tickets. We had a babysitter come over for FREE!

In that moment, God just whispered to my heart, “If you will just let go of the things you hold onto so tightly, and trust me, I will show Myself faithful to you.” And He has.

Maybe this story isn’t pertinent to some, but maybe there are other areas of your life that you need an overhaul in.

Maybe you’ve been complaining about your spouse (especially on Valentine’s Day) that your expectations were not met or he/she isn’t like so-and-so’s husband/wife, instead of thanking God for who He has made your spouse to be.

Or your children. Or your job. Or your Church. Fill in the blank here.

Instead of finding faults, complaining, or wishing for something different, let’s thank and praise God for all that He’s ALREADY done for you. He may have parted the Red Sea for the Israelites, but He has graciously SAVED YOU FROM SIN & DEATH if you believe in Jesus for salvation. And isn’t that enough for our eternal praise? 

Overhaul your grumbling today, and turn it into thanks. 

Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day!

1 John 4:10, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
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Giving yourself GRACE in an ungracious world

This post is probably more so for me than for anyone else. Sometimes when I write things down, I take it to heart more seriously. So that’s my goal in this: live out and believe what you’re writing.

Today started out pretty well. The kids were all pretty well-behaved, Theo took a very long morning nap, I helped Annie with homeschool, made a yummy lunch, and yeah, nothing to complain about. But things can change rather quickly, can’t they?

Shortly after lunch, I loaded up the kids in the car to run a couple of errands. We ran one errand without too many hiccups, but then I needed to run into Target to get Theo some diapers and a couple of other items. Shortly before we were going to leave, Theo decided to make a stinky. I grabbed some wipes along with a diaper and headed into the single restroom by the pharmacy, but there wasn’t a changing table in there, so I decided to just check out quickly and then change him once we got to the car.

Once we got to the checkout line, both of the girls suddenly dismissed my voice and my commands and started doing whatever they wanted. I had been holding Theo but put him down so I could pay. But since he is a curious little 14-month old, he started walking everywhere, including behind the checkout counter. So I scooped him back up. I got both of the girls to finally sit quietly in the double cart, but Theo was screaming because he wanted down. I didn’t want to put him down because he is rather quick, and I was done paying, so I placed him in the part of the cart where you normally put your groceries. He was standing up, but trying to reach for the counter. I kept pulling him back, but he insisted on touching the conveyor belt. I pulled him back again, but I needed to put my TWO small bags of items into the cart. I literally lunged to grab the items since I didn’t want to leave the cart, and in the split second that i grabbed the bags, Theo lunged over the cart and fell onto his head.

S   L  O  W    M  O  T  I  O  N ….

I kicked my leg out to try and stop his fall, but I don’t really thing that did anything. Immediately, he let out a blood curdling scream. And if you’ve ever heard the pipes on that boy, you know how piercingly loud he can be. This… times ten. I dropped my bags and scooped him up as quickly as I could. But I could feel every set of eyes in the place looking at me. The young teenage clerk undoubtedly had no idea how to help. And neither did I. I felt completely helpless. Completely inadequate to be a mother. Completely embarrassed for my little family. I just sat on my knees and cradled him in my arms to try and comfort him. And while he was crying, I wanted to as well.

Once he calmed down, I got out of there as quickly as I could. When all of the kids were loaded in the car, I called Jordan and started sobbing. Thankfully, we are only 1 minute away from Target, so Jordan was waiting for us when we pulled into our garage. I could not even catch my breath from crying so hard. Yet, Theo was completely fine. He has a minor bruise on his forehead, but by the looks of it, I’m thinking maybe his arm caught the fall first. I called the doctor and told her all of the details, to which she told to watch for signs of concussion. And I’m so grateful that all afternoon he acted completely normal. Ate fine. Looked fine. Was his happy self. Walking around everywhere. (Thank You, Lord!)

But as I have been reflecting on this day, I’ve been thinking how difficult it is for me to give myself grace. When I “fail” or make a mistake, I have little to no patience for it. I quickly become a scrutinizer of my own faults and tell myself all of the “should’ve’s”, “would’ve’s”, and “could’ve’s”. But why do I do this? I think one of the main culprits is that I hold myself to the world’s standards of a perfect mother. You’ve seen it. In the news a mom who turned her eye for one second and her child got away, and then the world throws proverbial stones. A child chokes on a piece of food or tips over a dresser and you hear “where was the mom in all of this”? Any sort of publicized incident with a child and you read”She should never be allowed to have children.”, “I would never do that”, “I cannot believe she let that happen”…

But can I just tell you, we all make mistakes. There is no perfect mother, even if she seems like it on Instagram.

I think another reason I’m so hard on myself is because I don’t trust that God’s grace is enough. When I make a mistake, or sin against my children, or am just having a bad day, I think it’s my responsibility to punish myself. Instead of trusting in His love and forgiveness, I hold onto unnecessary burdens. What if I could just let it go? (I know that all of you moms of little ones are singing that last line… SORRY!). Elisabeth Elliot has said, “Leave it all in the hands that were wounded for you.” I know that God saw every mili-second of the day at Target. I know He saw my intentions and that what happened was a complete accident. But the Enemy would love for me to believe that God’s grace isn’t enough. But today, I’m choosing not to believe that lie. And I hope you won’t either.

His grace is enough. For you. For every moment of your day. For the moments when the world scrutinizes and stares. Walk in His grace today. And learn to give grace to yourself.

Self-image & self-deception

This post is something that is REGULARLY on my heart. I will do my very best to convey the good intent behind this burden that I often carry. I hope you will be encouraged, blessed, and FREED as you read along. 

How do I start with this one? This is a tricky topic, a touchy subject, and often hard to communicate without making absolutes. But here I am, at my most feeble attempt, trying to write a blog for all the world to see with this message.  (YIKES!)

We live in a world where women are constantly being bombarded with messages & images. Some good, some not so good. “How to be a better mom,” “How to lose the baby weight in one month,”, “Best beauty/fashion secrets,” “How to… how to… how to…. Do this… Do that… Don’t do this…”and the like. The world is screaming: “Be better. LOOK better.” We ooooh and ahhhh at women who have babies without so much as a piece of fat on their bodies afterward. We get googley-eyed at those how have the perfect physique. We get jealous when others seem to “have it all.” And often in that comparison game, we lose. According to a study from 2004, only 2% of women will call themselves beautiful. 2%.

Honestly, growing up, I NEVER ever thought about my weight. I rarely thought about what size clothes I was wearing either. I was a strong athlete. I lifted heavy weights. Could run with the best of them. I competed in a sport that not-so-casually flaunted my behind. But I NEVER EVER thought about my weight. My mom would never talk about her weight either. I don’t ever recall hearing her blurt out a number. She would never comment on my size. She would compliment me  and tell me I was beautiful, but I don’t remember it ever being based on what I was wearing, my make-up, or my body size/shape. (Just a note for your moms out there (myself included): we should take this approach.) Thanks, MOM!

Then shortly after Jordan and I were married,  I got pregnant. And boy, did I pack on the pounds. I thought for certain that I would be one of those “skinny pregnant girls”, but I wasn’t. I was 22 and I gained 50+ pounds with Annie. Everyone kept telling me, “Oh you’re so young, you’ll lose weight quickly.” But guess what? I didn’t. It took me TWO AND A HALF YEARS (!) to lose it. And shortly thereafter, pregnant again!

When I was pregnant with Annie, I remember so distinctly at my baby shower some women talking about beauty and marriage and someone said that some of the best advice they had ever heard was “Why would your husband come home to a hamburger when he could go out and have a steak?”

Ummm… excuse me? (Clearing my throat here) Like, uh, what?! (Blinking profusely) Are you serious? Is this a real piece of advice? (Tilting my head) From a highly respected Christian woman? 

Sadly, this conversation is the most imprinted thing on my mind from my baby shower. I came home that night, feeling completely insecure. Here I was, HUGELY pregnant, fresh stretch marks, and newly married, and did I feel like a steak that night? NOPE. I felt more like a whale. How could I compete with a steak when I had turned into a GIANT meatball? Jordan gave some great insight that night and reassured me of my fears. He said “Steak isn’t on the menu. God gave that husband a delicious hamburger, and if he goes out looking for something else, he will miss the blessing of what God has given him.”

Yes. And Amen.

But do we REALLY believe that? Do we REALLY believe that we are worth MORE than the sum of our parts? (I am asking YOU. Answer honestly.)

See, we are constantly telling ourselves and our children that it’s what’s on the inside that counts, yet EVERYTHING we do and talk about says otherwise. I can count on both hands right now how many of my friends are selling weight-loss supplements, workout dvds, and make-up products. And PLEASE hear me out: there is NOTHING wrong with any of those things! They can be a great benefit to many people, and I think some people need accountability/jumpstart/motivation to do those things, and I have even used them! BUT (and a big but here-no pun intended), when those things, like weight-loss, become our ultimate goal/achievement/satisfaction, we are completely deceiving ourselves. If my actions do not back up my thoughts or ideals and really, BIBLICAL TRUTH, of what beauty is, my life will be full of insecurity, vanity, and self-centeredness.

I can tell myself that I believe that true beauty comes from the heart, but if my exercise is more important than spiritual disciplines, I am self-deceived.

I can tell others that it doesn’t matter what size I am, but if I am constantly weighing myself on on the scale, OR against others, I am self-deceived.

If my diet (not for food allergies but for self-improvement) imposes my willingness to be hospitable with my neighbors, friends, and family, I am self-deceived.

If I am more concerned with my hair style, make-up, teeth being white/straight/perfect, clothes being the new trend than I am about my heart attributes, like kindness, gentleness, patience, and joy, then I am self-deceived.

Friends, especially my girlfriends reading this, you are beautiful. I wish I could stare across the table at you, hold your hands, and look you square in the eyes and tell you: “you are absolutely stunning.”God created YOU exactly as He wanted you. Is there room for growth or improvement on things that have gone array? Absolutely. Is there benefit in being healthy and working out? Of course! But ultimately, God wants your heart. He wants your affection. He wants your life to reflect HIS glory! Do not be deceived by this world in thinking that you are less than or that your ultimate joy comes in a pant size or symmetrical facial features.

There is FREEDOM and JOY and SATISFACTION and LIFE in knowing that God created you as you are. He has called you out of darkness and into the LIGHT, so walk in that light. Know the TRUTH. Be in HIS WORD. Ask for accountability on where your motivation lies.

And please know: I am struggling too. I can say this very easily as I type it into the abyss of cyber world. But as I stare at myself in the mirror, struggle to button my jeans,  see a “tagged” (not filtered/photoshopped) version of me, or am feeling down at my lack of “exercise & diet discipline”, the Enemy’s lies whisper louder than I care to admit. But guess what: God’s Word does not return void. And if in those moments,  I can declare the GOODNESS & TRUTH of the BIBLE, I can tell the EMEMY to “Shove it! I am worth MORE than the sum of my outward parts!” And I hope you will do the same- for your sake, for my sake, and for our daughters’ sakes.

WORDS to LIVE BY:

Psalm 139:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

1 Samuel 16:7, “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Proverbs 31:30, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

1 Peter 3:3-4, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”

1 Timothy 4:8, “Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next.” 11010530_1130304483663233_8484372407896549485_n

The homeschool journey begins

(Before I begin, let it be known that I do not believe that this is the only way to properly educate your child. I do not believe that I, as a “homeschooler”, am better than, more righteous, or more holy than anyone else that chooses a different route for their child. There are so many options for education these days, which is amazing! This is SIMPLY my point of view/experience so far.)

Really, I cannot even believe that I am sitting down to write this post. Annie is “5 and a half”, as she likes to tell everyone she meets, and will be 6 in November. Where in the world has the time gone? When your baby is born, you think you have all the time in the world before deciding anything related to education, but that’s not true. And here we are, already on the journey.

Last year, before I even was pregnant with Theodore, Jordan and I had been talking about the possibility of homeschooling our children. His parents were on a dinner date with some friends, and the husband happened to work at a publication company that made Christian homeschool material, and he graciously gifted us with a free homeschool set for preschool. We were so thankful for the gift, but I have to admit, it was overwhelming! Three+ pages of work a day, and I felt like I could not keep up. Add in being pregnant (tired!), having a one and half year old (more tired!) and trying to be respectful of your in-laws’ space (since we were living there at the time) all made it challenging. We did homeschool consistently for a few months, but then when I had Theodore, we entered “LIFE SCHOOL” -aka reality. Mommy was WAY too tired to keep up with school and a baby, so Annie got to learn the realities of newborn life, like helping get diapers, giving mommy space, and learning to use an inside voice when the baby was sleeping.

The thought of homeschool has honestly DAUNTED me for the last few years. HOW IN THE WORLD CAN I DO THIS?! And can I just say, I still feel that way sometimes? Like, “people do this for 20+ years? HOW!?” The reality of educating your child, playing with the younger ones, cleaning the house, doing the laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, bedtime routine, and trying to have a social life… AHHH! (That angst you feel just reading this, yep, it’s real.)

But that is why I LOVE Classical Conversations so far! For those who aren’t familiar with C.C., you’re probably wondering, “Well what the heck is that?”. Classical conversations is a faith-based education that supports parents to train and equip their children through three distinct phases: grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric. You can read more about C.C. here.

So what does that look like? Every week, we meet with our co-op at a church. All of the students come together to memorize Scripture, say the pledges, and have a family presentation. Then, the kids break into their classes by age group. During that class, a “tutor”, which is one of the moms, reviews all of the memory work from the week, which includes history timeline, a history sentence, latin, english, math, science, and geography. The kids also have to do a presentation every week, so from a very young age, they are learning the art of public speaking! The parents of the students get to sit in on the class, learning new techniques to help during the week, and see how his/her child is progressing (or where he/she might need some more attention.) And I love that I get to be involved in Annie’s education. I get to be the one to teach her how to read, how to do Math, learn about history, teach her the Bible. We really get to cater her education based on her needs, strengths, and interests. (During the week, on top of learning the memory work for C.C., I do basic school with her- phonics, math sentences, grammar, sight words, art, and we do family devotions every morning. We also check out books related to whatever Annie has expressed interest in that week. And we do LOTS of reading.)

Obviously I am only a week into this, and we’ve already been met with our challenges. But this is teaching me, stretching me, and giving me a newfound appreciation for my kiddos.

So here’s what I’ve learned so far:

1.) RELAX! (I keep thinking of that part of “Father of the Bride” where George & Nina go to meet the “in-laws”, the McKenzies, for the first time. When the McKenzies invite them into their mansion, George and Nina are greeted with some Rottweilers. Mr. McKenzie says, “Oh they look scary. But when you’re relaxed, why they’re relaxed.” To which George tries to get close saying, “Hi, puppy, puppy!” and the dogs attack. ) Treat your kids like Rottweilers. No, I’m totally kidding. But in all seriousness, homeschool can be overwhelming. If I get ahead of the day, start stressing over “will my kid learn this?” or “when will the dishes get done?!” my kids can sense that, and they are not easy to work with. When I approach the day, and them, with calmness and a relaxed nature, they are much more receptive to what I have to say.

2.) Check my motives. We live in a hyper-competitive culture where parents are constantly comparing the “progress” of children, and we are consistently comparing ourselves to others. Am I ok if my child is average (God-forbid?!)? Am I concerned about being the best mom in homeschool? Is it my goal to look like we have it all together? I am already having to check these motives, or ulterior motives, and make sure that my heart stays in the right place. (Also, just a reminder, even to myself: Don’t compare your bad days with someone else’s good days. And don’t compare your weaknesses with someone else’s strengths. Don’t compare your reality with someone else’s Instagram/Facebook-filtered post. And PLEASE: let’s not compare our kids one to another- they are UNIQUELY INDIVIDUAL!)

3.) Hold everything loosely. What do I mean by that? For now, our family has the opportunity to homeschool. One day, we may not be able to do that- whether it’s financial, something better comes along for our children, or any other scenario. But I am not married to homeschool. Homeschool is NOT the most important thing/activity in our lives. Knowing Jesus is. So if the reality of being able to homeschool/not is of most value to me, I may be holding onto it too tightly.

 

4.) Just enjoy them (your kids, that is). I know that even though these days have felt INCREDIBLY LONG, one day, I will miss this stage of life. I will miss Annie being excited to learn (for the most part), the kids crawling into my bed at night to read stories, having devotions at the breakfast table, answering the questions, and sometimes even learning things WITH my daughter. One day, all too soon, this stage will be over. So for now, I want to CHOOSE to enjoy every second!

So whatever method of school your child is, I think these 4 things can apply!

I would love to hear about your education experience for your kids, and what you love, have learned, and would love to teach other families!

Enjoy the weekend!

 

The sting of generosity

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be generous, and why it can be so difficult as humans.

Webster defines generosity as: “the quality of being kind, understanding, and not selfish : the quality of being generous; especially : willingness to give money and other valuable things to others.”

Often, I have been generous with time, energy, and resources to other people, yet after I have given in good faith, and even had a loving heart, slowly the sting of that generosity sets in.

After you’ve given time, and no one has noticed or been appreciative. 

After you’ve given resources, and what has happened with those resources isn’t what you would necessarily choose.

After you’ve given energy, yet it seems like it’s difficult for others to give you their energy in return.

IT STINGS.

I’m sure you’ve been there. These scenarios happen all the time. Maybe you’ve experienced this if you’re a church member and give a tithe, or if you have family whom you’ve given resources to. You give more than you think you can even afford, and once the time/resources/energy has left your possession, it hurts.

But WHY does it sting so much? Why do we quickly want to take hold of the things we’ve given so freely, and maybe even given with an attitude of love and compassion?

For me, I think the sting boils down WRONG THINKING.

Wrong thinking that what I have given away was mine to begin with. 

When I think that the time I gave was mine…. but it’s not. God has given the time.

When I think that the resources I gave were mine…. but they weren’t. God gave the gifts.

When I think the energy I gave was mine… it wasn’t. God supplied me with the energy. 

When I recognize that “every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17a), THERE IS NO STING. I’m happy to give FREELY without fear of what will come. I trust that God sees my heart and my actions, even if those actions are never recognized.

As I’ve been reflecting on this and praying that God would show me what it means to be generous, I heard Him quietly speak to my heart, saying, “What have you done with what I HAVE GIVEN you?”

What have I done with my time? Am I spending it wisely?

What have I done with my resources? Am I holding a loose grip and praying how God could use the finances, the talents, the resources (home/car/food) He’s given me?

Where am I spending my energy? Am I investing in eternal things? In other people? Or am I focused on myself?

These are questions we must constantly go back to. We need a HEART check when we get that STING after being generous.

A few verses I’ve been reading on generosity:

  • “Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” -Proverbs 11:25
  • “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.” -Proverbs 19:17
  • “Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you.” -Deuteronomy 16:17
  • “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” -Matthew 6:3,4

So BE GENEROUS, and trust that God sees you!

“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” -Author Unknown