Thursday, November 24, 2005

Lisa's Christmas Reflections: Joseph

As the Christmas carols began playing today, I heard a beautiful song from Joseph's perspective. I think Joseph is a wonderful example to us of how God trusts humans to do things that He could easily do better. One of my struggles as I wait for God's direction in marrying again is worrying about all the possible problems a new husband could bring into our family. How could anyone love my children like a father, when he is not their father? Joseph gives me such encouragement. A few years ago, I wrote in my prayer journal the following:

Lord, I thank You for reminding me today that You understand how I am feeling about another man raising my children. You entrusted Your only Son to the care of a man who was not His father. How it must have been hard for You to watch Joseph lose his temper with my Lord. How You must have watched as he did child-rearing so humanly.

I am grateful for Joseph's example. God has entrusted three little boys to my care. I do it so imperfectly. If I marry again, the man I marry will do it imperfectly. Yet God is going to use my efforts, and his, to do amazing things . . . in spite of us!

A Day of Giving Thanks

The Baker Thanksgiving was celebrated a day early. I hadn't planned on cooking. The boys were spending the day with their dad, and I was going to visit friends and family. I'm not exactly an enthusiast when it comes to cooking. The boys had other plans for me however. They begged me to cook, so I did, on Wednesday. I actually don't mind cooking a feast, and that is what we had. With Dad gone this year, I anticipated some emotional ups and downs. I was surprised again by grace--the holiday was a blessed one. As always, I find so many things to be grateful for, but God's amazing love and grace still surprises me! We had a great dinner, and the boys enjoyed just hanging around at home.

A homeschool project? No, Stephen is just disecting the turkey innards. Ok, yeah, even I think it's a little wierd, but he had a great time.

This is what Josh spent much of his holiday time doing. He rented a Playstation game with some of his own money, and has beaten the thing! Oh well, one I don't have to buy now!

. . . And then there's the turkey! AJ spent the day playing with a friend he invited over. Callie had dinner with us as well, and complained when it was time to go home that she hadn't been over long enough!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Feeling EmPowered!

Whoooo hoooo! I paid some bills tonight (not usually something I'm cheering about) and took a few minutes to really look at my electric bill. We have managed to cut the bill by almost half!!! Of course, I'm sure the cooler fall weather and the slight drop in oil prices did have something to do with it, but I'm SOOOO thrilled! It was worth every penny I paid to buy Star Wars III for my light hounds! Hmmm. . . I think we have relaxed the vigilant efforts to cut the bill down this month . . . maybe I need to remotivate us all. I can't wait to tell the boys in the morning! Let's see. What could I promise them if we could get it down some more?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Only in Middleburg . . .

Yes these are things I have really witnessed personally (or have first person knowledge of!). Only in Middleburg . . .

  • . . . do you find a mobile home with a second-storey addition

  • . . . do you find a mobile home with the windows boarded up for the approaching hurricane

  • . . . do you see a poster-board sign directing you to a wedding

  • . . . do you attend a wedding in cut-offs with a beer in your hand (OK, no. I wasn't the one with the beer!)

  • . . . do you see a business advertisement on the back of a vehicle (written by hand in the dirt on the window)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Yes, Lord, I Get It . . .

I was really challenged by part of a Bible study I'm working on. I have been really discouraged lately with the imperfections of the church. I wasn't sure if it was genuine flaws I was seeing, or just unrealistic expectations on my part, but I was really stewing over it. I have felt very angry lately at just about everything.

Last night I read a quote from George Muller that said: "It is not enough to begin to pray, nor to pray aright; nor is it enough to continue for a time to pray; but we must patiently, believingly continue in prayer, until we obtain an answer; and further, we have not only to continue in prayer unto the end, but we have also to believe that God does hear us and will answer our prayers. Most frequently we fail in not continuing in prayer until the blessing is obtained, and in not expecting the blessing." . . . Guilty! This is exactly why I am discouraged. I'm not really telling the Lord what I need. When I do, I am not expecting Him to really care about and take over that need. And I am going ninety to nothing trying to fix my own problems only to face futility.

A verse that really convicted me was Psalm 81:7,14 "You cried to me in trouble, and I saved you; I answered out of the thundercloud. I tested your faith at Meribah, when you complained that there was no water. . . . For it was I, the LORD your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it with good things."

"LORD, there's no water here. I'm tired and hot, and I want good things! When are you going to meet my needs? Lord, nobody's listening! Lord . . . !" I haven't done well on the test.

"OK, I'm ready to just open my mouth."

This morning, without even a reminder call on my part, a friend showed up on my doorstep to fix my lawnmower. OK, Lord, I get it.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Once Again Wondering Why . . .

  • Why does my five-year-old know more about Star Wars and Lord of the Rings than George Lucas or JRR Tolkein?

  • Why do I have to say again, "No we cannot take light sabers to church!"

  • Why do I have to go to another neighbors house to beg for an arrow, football, baseball or clothing item shot over thier fence?

  • Why does my eleven-year-old roll his eyes when I talk to him?

  • Why do I see him roll his eyes even when he doesn't exactly roll them?

  • Why is my eight-year-old wearing two different socks (not similar ones-a red and a black one!) to church!

  • Why do they think they can go outside and play in the morning before church? (Remember the "Do not play in the dirt" comment from yesterday?)

  • Why do they tease the dog and then get upset when she snaps at them?

  • Why does everyone want to sleep in my bed?

  • Why do I love them so much in spite of all these things?

Saturday, November 12, 2005

How a Boy Enjoys a Square Dance

For us, the hay ride at the beginning of the evening just lured us in. Especially when a loud tractor was pulling a small cart where we could attempt feats of danger and adventure. The whole evening became a recipie for adventure when we realized that no one was really watching the kids. Oh, mom might have checked every now and then to make sure we didn't just take off, and that we weren't in the pond, but for the most part we had freedom! Then there was the food. At these things, the food was served buffet style, and there were so many choices! Of course, we weren't actually going to try all of those casseroles and things--too many ingredients!--but at least there were lots of choices. Once we saw the desert table--now that we could sample liberally from! Why exactly did mom say we could only have two things? After dinner, the grown ups wanted to dance. There was no way I was going to dance! Well, it did look kind of fun, so maybe just one dance with mom. . . but if I have to touch another girl, forget it! Most of our evening was spent running around, getting hot and sweaty and playing as rough as we wanted. Don't you just love being somewhere that the grown-ups are distracted and busy! As the evening progressed, someone started a fire. Then we were allowed to burn marshmallows in the fire. Of course, if you burn too many of the marshmallows, you don't get to make a s'more, so I made one, then used any other marshmallows as fuel. But the best part of the evening? Demolishing things with the sledge hammer in the relay race. Who doesn't love smashing things with a sledge hammer? This was the way to spend an evening. Mom got to talk to people, and I didn't have to listen. Only at the end of the evening did I have to remind her that it was time to go. When do we get to do this again?

Ramblings on Our New Family Member

OK, it's only half-way through the day and two of the boys have already needed the bath tub. Today has been the kind of day I love. First of all, I slept until noon. Really, I needed it! I'm fighting a cold and was up and down all night, so I needed to sleep in today. When we got up, we had a leisurely breakfast, then the younger two took to the great outdoors.

I moved outside to fold some laundry while I watched the boys and enjoyed the sunshine where I heard AJ talking to Casey. Casey? That's a new name. He and Casey were out in the great hole to China, so I wondered what it was all about. Not one to keep things to himself for long, AJ finally introduced me to his new pet, a female earthworm! Please don't ask me how he knew it was a she, I think the answer I got was that he just gets to decide. Anyway the event I have long awaited finally happened when I caught AJ trying to sneak Casey into the house. I explained to him that if he really loved Casey, he needed to put her back into the dirt where she belonged, otherwise he would kill his beloved pet. He was a little discouraged since he didn't know how he would find her later, but I guess he put her back. No worm found inside yet!

While all this was going on, Stephen was shooting arrows. After I got laundry done, I decided to head inside to finish cleaning the carpet. My last words to the two boys outside were "Don't get in the dirt!" Of course, I looked outside later and Stephen is laying in the dirt digging the hole in the back! So the two little boys have already had to wash their legs and hands today. (I didn't bother with whole bodies. We are going to a Fall Square Dance tonight, so we will be outside most of the evening.) Hey, I even think my clean-conscious friend would be impressed! I think the boys have had a shower every day this week! I love the fall!

Friday, November 11, 2005

No Schedule for Me, Thanks!

I am not very disciplined with a schedule. I don't really like them, and since no one in my house is going to take the initiative to stick to one, my rebellious nature usually wins and we follow the newly designed schedule about a week and a half, then pitch it in favor for flying by the seat of our pants. One of the good things about keeping other kids this year has been that we have been forced to do certain things by certain times. So this is our general routine. (Notice I didn't say schedule. I can handle a routine, but please don't put me on a schedule!)

  • 8:00am Wake the boys up with tickling which turns into wrestling. Josh is always the last one out of bed since he didn't go to bed the night before until really late.

  • 9:00am Start school work--hopefully! The boys have already gotten their breakfast and done some morning chores.

  • 12:00pm Stop work to frantically run out the door to pick up the little girl we keep from school. We listen to a book on tape in the car. Right now we are listening to A Wrinkle in Time. Josh and I are really hooked, so I am looking for ways to stretch out our time in the car!

  • As soon as we get home, we have lunch and the boys jump on the trampoline or play outside with the dog.

  • 1:00pm Finish up reading or schoolwork, read aloud, work on history or science together. This is our favorite school time of the day.

  • 3:00pm Pick up the boys we have in the afternoon from school. Now the fun really begins. I look over homework, and check to make sure all of our schoolwork is done. Once everyone is finished with work, the kids all play--lately outside. I work on projects inside, or usually just on getting the house back in shape from the morning.

  • 5:30pm Kids are picked up, dinner is made, baths taken and our evening chores begin.

  • 7:00pm Clean up dinner, finish any housework or evening routine chores, then we decide what to do for the evening. Wednesday is usually a movie.

  • 9:00pm Redwall time! We are working our way through our favorite series of read aloud books. AJ always falls asleep during this time.

  • 9:30pm or so the boys go to bed and I finish up any chores or school planning I have to do. At 10:30pm I talk on the phone, catch up on blogs, or study and read.

  • I would like to say that I am in bed by 11:00pm, but that would be a lie. I wish I wasn't so much a night owl, but I am. Of course, I pack a lot more into the day than appears here. So far this works for us, and we are managing to keep it together. I sure love being home with my boys!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Dear Mom,

I wish that I could write this letter to you in person. Some day, when we meet again in heaven, I hope I will be able to tell you all these things. If not, I know they will not matter, for the One who deserves the glory for your life and mine will already be receiving it. I want to thank you for the mom you were. I am astounded now as I carry the great burden called motherhood at the amount of work that is involved, and you did so many things I don't even try to do. You sewed clothes, baked and cooked (real meals, not chicken nuggets and jar spaghetti sauce). Your house was always spotless. It seemed to me that you knew how to take time regularly for God, spending time in study and prayer. Did you ever struggle to find that time? I never saw it if you did. And I remember how you loved women. You had not only my sister and I, but you had spiritual daughters and sisters in abundance. Perhaps that is why it is now so hard for me occasionally. It seems I had the perfect mom, with passions similar to mine. I just wish I could do it all as well as you did.

Mom, I'm sorry, but it used to be that when I remembered you I remembered the quirks. I remembered a tantrum you threw because we assumed you were the household maid. You seemed so unreasonable then. But now I think we probably deserved worse. I remember you making me rake the carpet, so great was your desire to make a good impression. I remembered you using so many words to try to get through to a self-centered teen. I'm sorry these are the things I remembered for so long, because now I understand them. And I remember more . . .

I remember having kids in and out of our home all my life. You really took time for me and for my friends, and for any child God brought into your life. You taught Good News Clubs, Sunday school, and kept children in our home for friends. You were a mom to more than me. I remember how much you put into serving others, not just because you wanted to please them, but because you wanted to honor them. Remember how you said that being late is being disrespectful of others' time? That comment still rings in my ear, even when I am running late. I remember being read to on the black comfy couch, every band trip you chaperoned or attended (I don't think you missed one), and the incredible variety of music you taught me to love (everything from Beethoven to the Mama's and the Papa's).

Most of all, I remember watching you as you became more and more like our Savior. I honestly think He took you home that Sunday because He was done making your character lovely. I remember how there near the end your whole delight was in focusing on the Savior every moment of your day. Well, maybe except for the few you focused on Joshua. Thanks for taking the time in those months when you didn't feel well to tell me that you thought I was doing a great job as a mama. You don't know how your last letter to me has kept me going. It makes me sad that you have never gotten to know any of the boys, and more so that they don't know you as more than a passing name. I am trying through my albums to change at least some of what they know about you.

Mom, life is so hard now. I never thought it would be like this. I thought I could do what you did, and just be a mom and a wife. I am glad you haven't had to see my pain and struggle. I wish I could hear your thoughts on how I am doing home schooling, or how it's OK to take a relaxed attitude toward the house so I can do more important things. I do wish I had you around to teach me a few more things about it, but you did OK. I can follow a recipie, fold fitted sheets, and clean a bathroom like I had years of experience (oh yeah, you made me do that every Saturday for over a decade!). I missed having you teach me how to be a mom after I had Josh, but I am so grateful to you for teaching me how to be a mom during the years before that. Thanks for leaving me some friends of yours who stood in the gap for you when you were gone. Their love for you is evident even now. I hope my love for you is obvious also. Please know that even though you have passed through the gates, your daughter is still praising you in them. I love you Mom.

Your daughter, Lisa

The Male Pain Gene

I was left wondering tonight if my oldest son had just whizzed through adolescence straight into mahhood. He jammed a toe, a painful injury I realize. When I first looked at it, after he had complained like he had a mortal wound, it didn't even look swollen to me. I told him to wear shoes for a couple of days, knowing that even an M.D. wouldn't be able to do anything for a jammed or fractured toe. Later, after playing on it for hours outside, he bagan to complain like he was in labor! We removed the shoes, which he announced were not keeping it from hurting, to examine the toe again. This time it was slightly swollen. Just to be on the safe side, I advised him that in my Mommy M.D. wisdom I thought we should soak it in cold water. I filled a bowl and told him to keep his toes in for about fifteen minutes while he and his brother did Spanish. Oh! The agony! He wailed. He cried. He claimed he was dying. For a while I considered all the reasons I had to torture him, but after about five minutes I told him that if it hurt that much it would be OK even if he didn't soak it.

The toe is feeling much better now. While we were going through Mommy M.D.'s medical persecution, I also thought to give him some Motrin. Guess the real M.D.'s really knew what they were talking about when they told our mothers to "take two asprin and call them in the morning."

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Learning to Trust God Together

Dear Josh, Stephen, and Andrew,

Tonight I had to tell you that Daddy wants me to put you in school next year. I was so careful to make sure you know that he is concerned about you and that he wants what is best for you. We just disagree on what that is. I really debated over whether to tell you or not, but all to often, I protect you from knowing things, and unintentionally protect you from seeing our amazing God do amazing things. I want you to see Him work in this situation. I want you guys to pray with me and watch Him move mountains if home schooling is His plan for us. I want you to see Him provide for me, a single mom, to stay home and care for you and teach you about Him. That is why I told you. It was very hard.

None of you were happy. In fact, you were worried, upset, angry. I don't blame you. It is hard to be a kid and have so many difficult things happen and not have any control over it. I know because I am an adult and it has been hard to not have control over so many of the bad things that have happened. But at least I have a lot of promises from God to fall back on, and I believe them, even if I am often filled with doubts. I cannot imagine how hard it is to face problems and not have a stong faith in Him to cling to. But hopefully as you watch me, you will learn how good He is, that He can be trusted, and that He really does love us. I am praying that His perfect love will cast out our fear.

Please know that I am praying about all of this. The three of you are my greatest, most valued treasures. Sometimes the value I place on you controls my heart, and that controls what I want to do. But I am praying that God will help me to know what HE wants us to do, and I have promised Him I will do that, even if it doesn't make me feel so happy. As much as I love spending my days learning phonics rules and math facts, and exploring medieval castles and various kinds of whales with you, I do not ever want to stand in the way of what God wants to teach you. Nothing I could teach you would ever help you please Him if it wasn't what He wanted us to do. So I will pray, I will wait, and I will listen. And I will encourage you to do it with me.

I love you boys with my life. Only God loves you more. Love, Mom

Saturday, November 05, 2005

What a Jedi's Mommy Does

As I tended to my sleeping Jedi tonight, I realized that a Jedi's mommy:

  • Removes his mass of cloaky, drapey clothing when he's fallen asleep in them on a warm night.

  • Carefully treats those nasty bugs you pick up on strange unknown planets

  • Picks up his light sabers, robes, boots, etc. and puts them away when he's forgotten

  • Levitates the couch to look for lost credits, blasters, and so on.

  • Makes sure the force stays strong by feeding him nutritious food and insisting he stop hopping the galaxy early enough to get a good night's rest.

  • Lets him duel to the death, and sends him back into it even when he gets injured. Jedi have to learn to be tough!

  • Washes the Jedi suit that has been on his body 24/7 for 6 days (except on the occasion she was able to take it off of him while he slept!)

  • Listens to the endless tales of Sith Lords he has defeated, planets he has visited, and amazing feats he has accomplished

  • Teaches him the to be a good Jedi, sometimes the way of peace must be pursued over the way of battle

  • Remembers that what a young Padwan grows up to become is in part determined by how his imagination is handled today

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

It's Here! It's Here!

Get Out Your Light Sabers and the Remote Control!

I couldn't blog last night because the boys and I were watching Star Wars 3! I promised them a while back that if they helped me get the electric bill down, I would buy it for them the first day. Needless to say they have been light hounds! I am proud to say that my electric bill has only gone up about $10 through all the hikes, and went DOWN last month. So yesterday at lunch time we went to Walmart and bought Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. We watched it in the dark last night with light sabers (half-priced glow sticks from Halloween clearance) in our hands. And yes, it was just as cool as when we saw it at the midnight showing on opening day! The only sad thing is that now the series is complete, and we don't have any more of them to look forward to . . .

The boys are currently trying to figure out how to convince me to have a marathon of all six movies. Not a bad idea on a day I'd like to sleep all day!

Guess I can homeschool a few more years!

I Passed 8th Grade Math

Hooray, I got 10/10 correct!