Lessons Learned at 3:00 am

He’s been relentless. For years now, He keeps reminding me about it. Not giving up on me. Encouraging me. Calling me to change. It’s my life. The life I claim is His. The life I hold out to Him during Sunday worship. There are parts of my life I freely hand over to Him. Those aren’t the parts He’s nudging me about. It’s all the in between parts. He’s been gently speaking to me about these for years.

When am I going to let the distractions go.

When am I going to begin living in the moment.

When will I stop needing to escape in some kind of mindless activity.

When will I stop planning for tomorrow and missing out on today.

He’s used sermons. He’s used scripture. He’s used friends. He’s used my family. He’s used  the Holy Spirit. He’s used experiences. Now, He’s using a complete stranger.

It started the other night when I couldn’t sleep. 3:00 am. The hour the Lord likes to wake me up. It’s before my husband’s early work alarm goes off at 4:00 am. Long before my girls are even considering waking up. Hours before my coffee and brain are ready.

Rather than seeking the Lord…why, Lord? Why do you need me awake right now? What do you have for me at this hour? No. No quiet hour of prayer. No intense scripture reading. Nope. What do I choose? Facebook scrolling time for me at 3:00 am.

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Thankfully, the Lord can speak to me even in my distracted state. I came across a Facebook post by Hands Free Mama. The title of the post was The Ten Minutes that Changed My Distracted Life

Words by Rachel Macy Stafford (Hands Free Mama) rang in my head, mind and soul, such as, “I was able to look at her as a child, not a miniature adult. I was able to realize yelling or forcing were not going to help the situation. I was able to keep what really mattered in perspective while my best laid plans went terribly awry.”

And, “If you are having a hard time believing, offer a few minutes of time and presence to someone you love. Watch what happens when you offer yourself—messy, scarred, and broken, it doesn’t matter. By offering to give love, you are offering yourself a chance to be loved.

In her book, Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters, Rachel Macy Stafford, gives weekly assignments to solidify the lessons. The first task I read about was journaling.

Journaling  would not be hard for me. This would allow me to process what I am learning and have my learning in writing.

Upon further thinking, I decided to take my journal entries and add them to my blog. Because the lessons I am learning in this book, are lessons the Lord has been putting on my heart for years, I know I need to take this seriously.

He has a better life in store for me. He has a better plan for my family. His redirection is for my good, for the good of my family, for the good of His kingdom.

I can’t live this life, this life He’s gifted to me, this life He’s allowed  me to continue despite a life-threatening  diseasethis life, this one life. I can’t live it well, being pulled off track by the distractions I allow in this life. This one life.

First lesson: Rather than reaching for my phone first thing in the morning, I will reach for my journal. I will spend a few minutes writing on the subject of living with less distraction even before making my coffee.

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Here are some cleaned up tidbits from my journaling since beginning this daily task.

  • I have been distracted, in my own world, focused on my agenda, not giving the ones I love my full focus. I think I am multi-tasking. I am not. I am giving each task a small portion of my focus. I am including my loved ones as one of those “tasks”, the same way emptying the dishwasher is a task.
  • I want to choose love. I want to choose the people I am with at the moment. Choose the situation I’m in at the moment. To be present is to be available to love.
  • Jesus was present. Jesus…Immanuel, “God with us”. God sent Jesus to earth to be with us. To live on this earth. To love us. To ultimately die and send the Holy Spirit to live in us.

Can I be with my loved ones? Truly be present with them? Can I lay down my agenda in order to love?

I am excited to be on this journey. Fully aware of my human nature and my susceptibility to fall away from what God is calling me to. Fully aware of the vulnerability I am displaying by admitting my failures and telling anyone reading this that I am attempting to change. Fully aware.

Are you on this journey? Are you further along than me? Can you encourage me? Are you right where I am and we can encourage each other? Connect with me. Let’s not do this without supporting each other.

Philippians 4:8, Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

 

Back to the Basics

“I am just overwhelmed with how to get it all in…” my homeschooling mom friend and I commiserate about our schedules and determining what to teach. “My son worked on algebra all morning yesterday! He never once picked up his history or literature books!”

“We overslept and then had a cooking project we worked on all morning, ” I fire back.

“What science curriculum do you use?” another friend inquires, “I haven’t even touched on science with my kids,” she continues.

I am hearing a theme lately among my homeschool mom friends. It’s a theme I heard throughout my time as a teacher as well. “There’s just so much to cover and so little time. How do we get it all in?”

Refinement. I have heard it said our greatest refining comes through marriage and parenting. In order to have any peace as a spouse or parent, we have to allow the Lord to refine us, remake us, soften us, mold us into the instrument He can use. But, I have found another area in my life in which the Lord is greatly using to refine, cleanse, and change me: homeschooling.

She came to me, sobbing, rightly confessing her wrong doing. Genuine in spirit, no prompting, no guilt, no pressure from any source. Broken hearted over her sin. Broken. An opportunity for God’s love to better reach into her brokenness…my brokenness. 

Continuing on, my daughter explains the distant feeling she has had lately from God. Hesitantly letting the words slip out about wondering if God will hear her if she does go to Him. Her eyes shyly reach up to mine, fearful of what I may say. Fearful of what she may see in my eyes.

I am quiet. For I know of what she speaks. Small repeated sin, creeping in. Slithering between her and the God she does love. The God she does know. The God she has come to trust in dark hours.

Oh, dear one, I know this distance. I know the guilt and shame. I know the space between you and the Lord growing ever bigger and darker. And, I know that it is not the Lord that moves.

Dear one, I also know the Lord’s voice when He continues to call to you, even when you silence that voice. I know, because I have been doing it for weeks.

My turn to receive His cleansing. Dear one, the Lord has been calling me to refocus our days. He’s been telling me to go back to what He first told me about homeschooling. He’s been prompting me to see that it doesn’t matter my children’s age, they still need teaching from the Word and prayer to focus our hearts each day. He’s been reminding me of what He showed me last school year…a child with a deep knowledge of history, science, and math, without a deeper knowledge of Him and love for His Word, will be lost in this world.

Dear one, I have put math facts above the God-breathed instructional manual.

I see it in your eyes. I hear it in your voice. Your heart is heavy. And, I can no longer ignore the Voice that has been calling to me for weeks.

I am sorry, dear one. Your soul is more important to me than any academic learning.

Dear one, I have been neglecting my part in instructing and preparing you for the spiritual warfare on this Earth.

Jesus’ words in Matthew 6 ring in my heart:

Matthew 18:6 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Although I didn’t model the sin, I didn’t encourage it, and I didn’t endorse it, I wasn’t doing the last thing the Lord told me to do in order to equip my children against the evil in this world. I must take responsibility for my part in my daughter’s broken heart over her sin and separation from the God she loves.

I  remember our times of closeness with the Father. The times my daughters uttered beautiful heart-felt words in prayer. The times when their Bible journals overflowed with art capturing the glory of the Word we read.

I cannot change their hearts. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. But, I will be obedient in teaching the Word and allowing time for my dear ones to hear from the Lord.

Math can wait. Instruction from the Almighty can not. 

I will return to the Lord I love.

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Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

God Appointments

“It’s metal on metal,” my husband declared. “The brakes need to be done today. It’s no longer safe at all to drive that car the way it is.”

“But, the girls’ music classes? Our Thanksgiving outreach time this afternoon?” I whine in protest. Read about the outreach here: The Answer is Jesus and Missed Opportunities

“I don’t know what to tell you. The brakes are shot.”

“My books. We have to get my books on hold at the library. Oh, it just has to work out for me to get my books today,” my daughter chimes in.

All our carefully laid plans for the day, are out the window. Plan #1…uncheck.

Plan #2: We pack up our school stuff, planning to spend the morning at the car dealership.

“I need to leave my car here to have the brakes replaced and my goal is to be out of here by 3:00 this afternoon, ” I state with all authority.

“Well, we can’t get to it for an hour and then we can see what all needs to be done to it.  Then we will let you know what time it will be done. In the meantime, Bob, our shuttle driver would be happy to give you a ride home and we’ll call you to tell you what we find and give you an estimate,” the kind man replies. Plan #2…uncheck.

Plan #3: Bob gives us a ride home, where we will do our school work as usual today.

“Girls, go ahead and get your math books out.”

Rustling around, papers being shuffled, grumbling voices. “Uh, mom, I think you may have done something with our books.”

Blank, crazed look back at the girls.  I rack the inner recesses of my uncaffeinated brain. Books? Where in the world are the books? Back up to Plan 2…oh yeah, they were all packed up into the car to take to the dealership, where we were going to do be doing school for the morning. Poor, neglected books, sitting unused in the back of my car at the dealership. Plan #3…uncheck.

Plan #4: Math games at home, art, walk outside for exercise, and reading.

20 minutes into Multiplication War, my phone rings. “Hello?”

“Hi, this is Larry, from Marysville Ford. We took a look at your car and you need a full set of rear brakes. You will likely need front brakes in about 6 months. Oh, and the check engine light you mentioned? Yeah, we are going to need to order the necessary part.”

The rest of the conversation is a bit of a blur. Huge, amazingly large numbers being thrown out for replacing the brakes and an even huger, amazingly ridiculous number tossed out to replace the part causing the engine light to come on.

“I will have to call my husband and get back to you.”

“I am sorry,” my husband says, “we just don’t have that kind of money. Please call them back and explain that to them. And, then you may need to call around and see about a better price.” Plan #4…uncheck.

Plan #5: Have shuttle driver pick us up at home, bring us back to dealership to pick up our car, take car to Les Schwab (where the price quoted was about half of what the dealership quoted), shuttle ride home from there and wait for our ride to church later to participate in our outreach opportunity.

Whew. Not one thing I planned today went as I had planned it.

A couple of weeks ago, when we were heading out to do outreach work for the Lord, my car would not start. Now, today, I have no brakes and thus no car to use. Coincident? No. These stumbling blocks and changes in plans are not coincidence. The enemy would love for us to stay home. To hang our heads in defeat and say, “I guess we were just meant to stay home today.”

A couple of weeks ago, when my car wouldn’t start, I reached out to our church through Facebook. Sandy said, she just happened to check Facebook at that moment and quickly responded with, “I can come pick you guys up!” 20 minutes later, she was at our door, picking us up, delivering us to the church not a minute late for the outreach.

So, today, I recognized the enemies attempt to foil the Lord’s plan for outreach immediately. Again, I posted our request on Facebook, and even before securing shuttle rides to and from car repair places, I secured our ride for the outreach. The Lord immediately provided our ride and my mind was at ease.

It was tempting to see the middle part of our day as sort of a wash. No math instruction, no science, no history, no reading, no writing. Running around place to place just to get a car fixed.

But, then the Lord brought to mind ALL of the many people we interacted with today. If my Plan #1 had taken place, I never would have interacted with:

  • The service department man who read a portion of my daughter’s Bible study lesson along with her. Did that spark a remembrance of a time when he sought the Word for wisdom?
  • The shuttle driver who heard my daughter reading her Bible memory verse aloud. Did the power of God’s truth resonate in his soul as she said the words?
  • The 2nd shuttle driver who told us her adoption story and then heard our adoption story. Was she reminded of the beauty and sovereignty of God through hearing our story? And, were my girls touched by hearing her tell them, “they were chosen by their parents”?

I imagine little seeds dropped about to people that we may have never come in contact with had our plans not been disrupted.

Although I believe the enemy tried to derail us today,  the Lord prevailed.

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Teacher’s Kids

The other day I heard it again. The comment that makes my skin crawl,“Teachers kids are the worst.”

I don’t know how people expect a mom who is a teacher to handle a comment like that. (And, for the record, all of my teacher friends have wonderful, kind, articulate, caring children. So, I am not sure why teacher’s kids get a bad rap.)

Did this person make the comment because she saw my children doing cartwheels through the parking lot? Did she hear them singing at the top of their lungs in my car? Oh, she didn’t notice the way they struggle to listen to adults talk without always voicing their thoughts? Was it all the times they need to get up and move around during a church service?

My girls did not grow in my womb. They do not have any of my same DNA, nor my husband’s. My girls are loud. I am quiet. My girls have brown eyes. I have green eyes. My girls are active. I am calm. My girls are extroverts. I am an introvert. My girls are spontaneous. I have a plan. 

Loud, feisty, strong, creative, impulsive, high energy…none of these personality traits describe me. Yet, God chose my girls for me. While talking about essential oils the other day, one mom and I decided I need peppermint oil and my girls need lavender oil and then we may come closer to a middle ground. Yet, God chose me to be their mom. When I am feeling guilty that I don’t have the energy or personality to keep up with my girls, God whispers to me, it’s okay…this was all part of My plan. When I desperately need quiet, and my girls are acting as though they just drank a Red Bull, God shows me how to find my quiet.img_8151

The Creator put us together. Not by chance, but by divine design. Apparently my girls needed a calm, quiet, mom and I know I need my spirited, loud, active girls.

I will walk into a room with my loud, energetic, personality plus girls and know that I am living God’s plan for my family. Thank you, God. What do you know? The God who makes all the planets in the solar system sync together, also cares about syncing my family together.

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? Psalm 8:3-4