Feeling Forgotten

As a mom, wife, woman, do you ever feel forgotten? Like everyone else is out doing the important work and you are just left blending in with the pile of laundry on the couch and the stack of dishes on the counter?  Ever have a day of just wanting to escape that blending in? Just wanting to be noticed for something other than meeting a need?

Those days usually hit me out of nowhere. They usually follow a day filled with highs. Then out of nowhere, I am found focusing on myself and my need to be noticed.

Picking up my pen today, I begin to write words of truth.

You see my pain. You see my loneliness. You see my frustration. You see my broken heart. You see my hurt feelings. You see my longing for more in this life. You see my need for rest. You see my need for contentedness. 

You see me making ME the center of my world. 

Oh, it’s the last line that stops me in my tracks. It happened again. I got stuck in emotions that began and remained with ME at the center. But, that realization leads to a clearing of my heart and mind and the beginning of the Lord’s answer to me.

You see me and You say, “Come to me, all who are weary and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

You see me and You say, “I am your shepherd, you shall not want.” Psalm 23:1

You see me and You say, “My compassions never fail.” Lamentations 3:22

You see me and You say, “Abide under my shadow. I am your refuge and fortress.” Psalm 91:1-2

You see me and You say, “I will not forget you.” Isaiah 49:15

Let His Word wash over you today. Let Him see you. Let Him fill you. Let Him remind you that you are not forgotten. Let Him remind you that you are His.

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What I Learned in July

Psalm 25:4-5, Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.IMG_0018Beautiful July in the Pacific Northwest. Hikes, the beach, overnight camp, parks, swimming, reading in the backyard. Love, love, love!

Our Reading

Admittedly, we haven’t been reading as much as I’d like. Both of my girls are participating in a writing contest and it seems like any spare time we’ve had has been spent working on their writing. I am so excited, as they are both doing a fabulous job and will have really nice historical fiction masterpieces when finished.

We have two ocean beach trips planned this summer so we decided on a read aloud with a setting at the beach:

  • Pagoo by Holling C. Holling

And, we have continued our Old Testament reading through:

  • The Child’s Story by Catherine Vos

My Reading

I have continued my reading with our women’s group at church in the book titled:

  • Taming the Giants: Stripping the Power from Overwhelming Emotions by Cathy Dickinson

Audiobooks I thoroughly enjoyed this month are:

  • When God Doesn’t Fix It by Laura Story
  • No More Faking Fine by Esther Fleece

My Learning

My learning this month originated with my children. How did I ever learn anything before they came along? The growing, refining, stripping away, changing, and learning that happens in parenthood is exhausting but, oh, so good.

Never Say Never

My youngest daughter went to overnight camp. 4 nights away at overnight camp. This doesn’t sound amazing, but let me tell you, it was. Years ago when we brought my oldest daughter to camp, Abby, our youngest looked at me and said, “I never want to do this.”

“You never want to do what?” I naively asked.

“This. I never want you to leave me here overnight,” she replied with a straight face, looking me in the eye.

“Okay. Camp isn’t something you have to do. If you don’t want to go, you don’t have to go. But, you may change your mind when you are older.”

“No. I will never change my mind.”

Okey dokey. Count her out!

But, about 6 months ago, out of the blue, Abby began talking about camp. “I want to go to camp this year.” This same statement or some variation was repeated weekly up until the day she finally got to go to camp.

She did suffer some homesickness while she was away at camp. But, she made friends, had fun, and learned to rely on God while away from the comforts of her home!

This process for my sweet Abby, reminded me of myself with God. “I will never have peace in situations like that, God.” “I will never speak in public, God.” “God, I will never make it through this trial.”

He says to me, “Today is not the day. But, one day, with my love, refinement and Spirit, YOU WILL!”

Interruptions are Ministry Moments

Our church, Calvary Chapel Marysville, has been going through a parenting video series by Paul Tripp on Wednesday nights. I have had so many take aways in the 4 episodes we have watched so far. But, the biggest, life changing take away so far has been viewing interruptions from our kids in a different light. 

Paul Tripp told about the importance of seeing our children’s interruptions as ministry moments rather than interruptions. When our plans are interrupted by our children, rather than being annoyed and angry, we can see it as a God appointed opportunity to listen to, possibly counsel, and love our children.

Immediately after learning this new thought process, I was put to the test. During my quiet time, no less! My sweet child knows not to interrupt my quiet time, but nonetheless, the knock came.

The words were on my lips to say, “Not right now. Just wait!” But, then the message from the night before flashed in my mind, and I asked, “What is it?”

She entered my prayer closet and told me of her need for which I couldn’t meet. Then she said the sweetest words, “That’s okay, mom. But, will you pray for me?”

Yes! Yes, sweet girl. Take your every need to Jesus. Let that be your first thought…pray for me.

Can you view changes in your plans today as “ministry moments”? Can you look for what God is doing in the interruptions? Can you open your heart and mind to the possibility that you are not to be annoyed but instead interested in what God is doing?

Lord, you are King and Creator. Help us today. Help us to have your eyes and heart during the interruptions. Soften our hearts and minds to look deeper at the people you place in our lives. Amen. 

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What I Learned in June

Psalm 25:4-5, Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

IMG_0581June! The month with the longest day of the year. Days full of light. More freedom from routines.

I love this path photo above. Sometimes the Lord just lays out the path in front of us. He says, “You have been stumbling over the rocks, sticks, and waves long enough. I have set this path before you. Take it! Follow Me!” He cuts away what needs cutting away and reveals His perfect way. His way which may not feel perfect, definitely doesn’t feel easy, but nonetheless, it’s His sovereign, Holy, wise plan. When I follow it, His fruit is displayed and my heart is at peace. Oh, Father, you are so good!

Books I am reading (which are encouraging me to follow Him):

  • Matthew
  • Taming the Giants: Stripping the Power from Overwhelming Emotions by Cathy Dickinson
  • Anything by Jennie Allen
  • Quick Tips for Busy Families by Jay Payleitner

Books I am reading with my girls:

  • 24 Family Ways
  • The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein
  • The Child’s Story Bible by Catherine Fox

We are participating in a reading challenge, which encourages us to read books from all over the world: Give Your Child the World. Some books we’ve thoroughly enjoyed during this challenge:

  • Owen and Mzee The language of friendship. By Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, and Dr. Paula Kahumbu
  • Off to class: Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the World by Susan Hughes
  • Stories to Solve: Folktales from Around the World by George Shannon
  • A Life Like Mine: How Children Live Around the World

June books

A Summary of My Learning This Month: 

Traditions

Kids love traditions! They love having special things that are unique for our family. They love knowing they can count on the repetition of the fun activity or event or food. We have developed a couple of easy, new traditions which are helping to bring greater family connection. With our girls nearing the teenage years, we are facing a new dynamic…our kids don’t always want to spend time with us! It’s strange, new, sometimes nice, and sometimes a threat to our closeness. Traditions are helping to maintain some together time.

America’s Funniest Videos (AFV) in the big bed! We ALL load up in our king-sized bed. All the humans in the house as well as our 2 cats and we laugh and gasp at the crazy things people do on video. Fun, light-hearted time to relax and laugh together is a beautiful thing.

Visiting Tree Houses! Can a tradition be a tradition if it’s only happened once? I don’t think so. But, can we can count it a tradition if we plan to repeat this activity? I think so! My husband found us the most lovely “House in the Trees”in Tigard, Oregon where we played games, ate snacks, read books, watched Lassie and Little House on the Prairie, pretended to be pirates, slid down a slide to exit the house, drank coffee, and connected as a family. This activity is begging to become a tradition!

Sunday afternoon tea. We bake gluten free scones, put some cheese and fruit on a plate, and each get a warm beverage of our choice, and enjoy a little sit down, lovely time together before the busyness of the week takes off the next day.

Schedules

Although my children fight the idea of using a schedule for homeschooling, we all breathe a sigh of relief now that we have made the adjustment to having blocks of learning times scheduled each day. I purchased some cheap, very basic planners from Michael’s. I have always resisted using any kind of planner or schedule book because I feel so boxed into the format they use. But, the planners I found have very little on them. On a two page layout for each week, they contain only 5 days of the week, Monday-Friday, and contain 6 boxes per day, as well as a notes section.

Planner pic

Sunday evening, I sit down and think through our week and each day. It takes a considerable amount of time and brain power, but it avoids so much conflict, anxiety, and debate throughout the week. We often make adjustments to our schedule. It’s all written in pencil. But, it’s working very well for us to have a general idea of what each day holds. It’s also giving us a chance to see how long things actually take and helping to provide necessary and important breaks.

Recently, while visiting a science museum, our children’s anxiety and moodiness heightened after we’d been there for several hours. No one was ready to leave, but there was so much talk about what we were going to do next. I thought of our planners and the boundaries they provide, and quickly and verbally explained a rough schedule for the rest of our time at the museum. Everyone let out a deep breath, and my one daughter looked at me and said, “Thank you, mom. I just needed to know what was coming.”

I pray you are learning, growing and seeking what the Lord has for you. I’d love to hear what new “take away” you have to share. Please consider sharing in the comments. Blessings, dear reader!

What I Learned in May

Psalm 25:4-5, Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

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Each month, I am looking for pictures of paths as I go about my life. I love paths. They depict a journey, which is exactly where I find myself. On a journey. A journey of leaving behind old, non-fruit bearing patterns, and seeking out the path the Lord has for me. The picture I chose for this month depicts my journey through the month of May. Sharp edges, beautiful, rugged, cutting away, some smoothed down rocks, trees rooted holding on to their foundation for life. Yes, that describes my month.

It’s the cutting away that is rough. It leaves me feeling rugged and edgy at times. But, when it’s all said and done, I am smoother. My heart more beautiful. And my foundation more secure.

Thank you, God. Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for not leaving me the way I was. 

Books I am reading (which are aiding in my refining):

Books I am reading with my girls as read alouds:

books in May

A Summary of my learning this month:

Let Your Yes be Yes

Matthew 5:37, Jesus says, “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ be ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”

When I have a deep conviction or belief about something, but I allow something to continue which goes against that  belief, I will have anxiety, unrest, turmoil inside…no peace!

An example of this is our homeschool schedule. If I have a belief that our school day should start by a certain time, but I allow my kids to sleep later each morning, dawdle, procrastinate until past our start time, then I am already beginning the day with conflict within myself. In contrast to this approach would be to clearly communicate the expectations the night before and have a plan in place for how and when the kids will wake up. I can expect there will be conflict and complaints about waking up and adhering to the schedule, but I won’t have conflict within myself. I will have peace within myself because my yes will be yes and my no will be no!

Letting Go of Control

The following quote by Sally Clarkson in the book, Different,  summed up what I am learning about letting go of control, “It is possible to be content even when life feels out of control. And, that as long as we assume we could not be happy until we control all the circumstances of our lives, we will continue to be unhappy.”

My prayer closet preparation for the day each morning, allows me to remind myself of God’s greatness. I speak it aloud to Him, not because He needs reminding of His power or Sovereign control, but because I desperately do. I speak it aloud to my loving Heavenly Father, and then I breathe and rest in knowing I don’t control this life. This life which feels so out of control at times, is actually out of MY control. But, it’s not spinning wildly. It’s being held together. It’s been perfectly planned. And, I have a joy in knowing HIs purposes are greater than mine.

People Need Hope

Through desperate actions, an old friend reminded me how hopeless the world is around us. People around us are taking drastic actions each day. Taking deadly drugs, downing large amounts of alcohol, leaving their loved ones, harming themselves, and even killing themselves because they have no hope. If you are a Christian, a follower after Christ, you have a responsibility, I have a responsibility. We need to be sharing about the source of our hope. Jesus is the only never-failing source of hope, and the world desperately needs to hear our message.

1 Peter 3:15 says,  “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect“.

Whew, and we are on to June. I don’t know about you, but for me, this month has been exhausting. Sometimes the Lord turns up the heat and the growth He takes us through is a bit grueling. But, it’s done in love. Oh, dear one, never forget, it’s done in love. Whatever place you may be stuck in right now, He won’t leave you there. He loves you too much to ever leave you there. Look to Him. Keep looking to Him and He will pull you out of that place. 

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What I Learned in April

Psalm 25:4-5, Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

April Path

A few months ago, I began blogging about my monthly learning. I hope to be a life-long learner and I find it helps to solidify my learning if I take some time to reflect and write about it. I would love to hear about your learning in the comments below. This month, I will begin listing books I am reading or listening to as well as books I am reading with my daughters, ages 9 and 11.

  • Headstands are hard! I used to be able to do headstands  anytime I wanted. They required little effort. Out of nowhere, I began to wonder if I could still do a headstand. The answer is a big fat NO! But, I am working at it. There are YouTube videos with tips to help build up the muscle and balance needed. And, just attempting a headstand is hard work!
  • “Crooked” talk vs. “Straight” talk. “Crooked” talk is saying things or asking things in a sideways way, uses guilt and manipulation rather than just talking “straight”. “Straight” talk is saying exactly what you mean or what you are requesting. Example: “I wish I had some ketchup to put on this dinner.” (Insert whiny voice) Me, “So, think about what you need and what you want to ask me.” “Straight” talk example: “Mom, can you please get me some ketchup?” It may seem like a small change, but I think it can have a large impact. I had noticed a lot of whining and complaining in our house. When I learned about “crooked” talk and “straight” talk, I realized how much  of this complaining could be eliminated by simply stating our requests directly to the person we’d like to ask.
  • Rereading the same passage or chapter of the Bible, over and over again for a month, is an excellent way to gain meaning from the passage. Scripture is truly a living book! My girls and I read chapter 4 of Philippians almost every weekday this month and gained something new each time we read it. Now, I am looking for which chapter we should focus on in the month of May. What is your favorite chapter of the Bible and why?
  • At 9 1/2 and almost 12, my girls are not too old for read alouds! This month, I began reading aloud to my girls during school time for about an hour each day. I am reading science books, fictional books, biographies, and historical picture books. Suddenly, learning came alive! Now when my husband gets home from work, the girls are able and excited to tell about some of our learning from the day. A favorite topic this month has been Ruby Bridges.
  • Spring is a beautiful time for “Nature Walks”. My girls have thoroughly enjoyed checking out books from the library about birds, plants and animals in our area and then looking for them when we are out in nature.
    nature walk abby
  • Books I Have Been Enjoying this Month:
    • 1 Timothy
    • Titus
    • 2 Timothy
    • John
    • Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson
    • Teaching from Rest: A Homeschoolers Guide to Unshakable Peace by Sarah Mackenzie
    • The Lifegiving Home by Sally Clarkson
  • Books We Have Been Enjoying this Month as Read Alouds:
    • Philippians
    • Among the Farmyard People by Clara Dillingham Pierson
    • The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary
    • Discovering Evidence for Creation and the Biblical Flood by Michael J. Oard, Tara Wolfe, and Chris Turbuck
    • The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles
    • The Young Birder’s Guide to Birds of North America
    • National Audubon Society First Field Guide Mammals
    • Common Wildflowers of Washington and Oregon

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What I Learned in March

Psalm 25:4-5, Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

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Last month, I decided to begin summarizing my monthly learning. It’s almost like I am testing myself to see what learning took place and how the Lord led me. Maybe something will resonate with you. Or, maybe you will share your learning with me in the comments. In my learning, you may read spiritual lessons, cooking tips, homeschooling tips… you just never know. Feel free to share your learning in any area below.

This month I learned:

The power in setting a timer: I set a timer for Talk Time with my kids. And it works for exercise, keeping track of how long I’m exercising. Why not try it in other areas of my life? This month I began setting a timer for 5 minutes to simply be in the presence of God. Not talking, praying, or reading. But just being with God. It’s such a beautiful, sacred time. The timer helps keep me on track and also keeps me from talking myself out of it with such ridiculousness as, “I don’t have time.”

Juicing lesson: Beets taste earthy and sweet when juiced. And they make my juice a beautiful, vibrant, bright color!

Beet juice

Listening to my children can solve so much: Much of my reading this month has been focused on parenting. The Lord has revealed to me that I have not been listening to my children and it’s time to make it a priority. At first, I thought, “No, no, Lord. You have this all wrong. My children, they talk all the time. I homeschool them. We are together all the time. Lord, I listen to them.” Until I started focusing on verses such as, Proverbs 18:13, To answer before listening— that is folly and shame. And, Proverbs 1:5, let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.  And, reading books such as The Explosive Child, Parenting Your Spirited Child and Sibling Rivalry, and I realized I wasn’t really listening to them. I was allowing them to talk just long enough and then rushing to a solution that would work for me. In my listening to my children, I have discovered:

They are able to solve problems collaboratively with a little coaching.

When I repeat what I hear them say, they diffuse quite quickly.

When I acknowledge their frustration, even when it’s about their sibling, they don’t become more frustrated and actually act less negative toward their sister.

They notice I smile more now! My oldest daughter had to change my icon on our Wii, “because you smile more now, mom.” Praise God! And, I am so thankful I heard her say that!

Sometimes rather than teaching manners it helps to work on listening to your child. The healing that can come results in greater respect from your child and thus genuine manners. A heartfelt, “thank you”, goes so much further than a taught, “thank you”. 

Riding a bike really is just like a riding bike:

My husband and I had a rare afternoon all to ourselves and it wasn’t raining! On a whim, we decided to get our cobwebbed covered bikes down from their hanging spot in our garage, pump up the old tires, and head out for a 15 mile bike ride. “I hope my bike doesn’t disintegrate underneath me!” I declared as we headed out of our neighborhood. Riding a bike, feeling the wind blow against our faces, and breathing in the fresh air, made us feel like little kids again. I highly recommend going out for a bike ride as soon as possible! And, don’t worry, you haven’t forgotten how to ride a bike!

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One on one time with each child during homeschooling is invaluable:

One of my children explained their desire to spend one on one learning time with me, just as I spend time with the students I tutor. This particular child had been struggling emotionally, so I was ready for a change. We loaded our arms with school books, pencils, and notebooks, and headed for the quiet of her room. Again, we set a timer. We would spend one hour just the two of us plugging away at her school work. Sometimes I was just there. Other times, we woud pray together. And, still other times, we had discussions about her work. Still considering myself new to homeschooling (Overcoming School) (this is year 2 for us), I am still relaxing and learning how to teach without creating a classroom feel. It’s tough. But, the fruit came when my daughter, often agitated during school work, was pleasant and engaged all throughout the morning.

Now, it’s your turn. I would love to hear what you are learning. Please take a minute and share with me in the comments below.