Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The First Day of School

Okay, I'm super proud of myself that it only took me three days to post these pictures.  Three days of Algebra, Logic, Physical Science, Vocabulary, Grammar, Spelling, Writing, Handwriting, Math, Medieval History, Astronomy, Reading/Phonics, Piano, Violin, etc., etc., etc.  Whew.  But it's totally worth it.  Here ya go:

Yes.  That's a giant chocolate chip cookie.  

By the way, I'm trying to renovate the blog...I have some new plans for its use.  But the start of school has sort of waylaid my big plans. The start of school, and...well, baking giant chocolate chip cookies and other stuff like that.  More to come soon.  :) 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

An unwanted haircut and a lesson in grace (or "Driven and tossed by the wind" part 2)

I sent the following e-mail to Jim at work today:

Dear Jim,
Where are the wire cutters?  This morning, because I am stuck on the couch with a bad back (for the second day), M asked if she could brush my hair.  I said yes.  She asked if she could part my hair with a comb.  I said no (I knew from experience that M doesn't handle a comb well).  She did it anyway.  By the time I realized what she was doing, most of the hair on the back of my head was snarled around a rat-tail comb.  R and N have spent the better part of the day trying to untangle it while I lay on the couch.  It isn't working.  I've been online searching for solutions.  I didn't like the idea of shaving my head, or of cutting my hair off with hedge trimmers (seriously...Google "hair tangled around comb" and see what you come up with).  The only helpful idea I found online was to try to cut off as much of the comb as possible with wire cutters so that it would be easier to untangle the hair from the comb.  So....dear you know where the wire cutters are?

About an hour later, Jim came home from work to try to salvage the situation. I had just gotten out of the shower, where I had tried to rinse out the half-bottle of conditioner that had been rubbed around the tangle to try to give it "slip."  The girls had actually untangled a fair amount of the hair, but the tangle remaining was pretty hopeless.

 Jim cut out a lot of the comb, but still couldn't get the hair untangled.  Out came the hair scissors, and off came a hunk of tangled hair.  I haven't seen the back of my head yet (I'm still on the couch with the heating pad), but the children insist that you can't even tell. Maybe you can picture their earnest little faces as they looked with large eyes at the pieces of comb and hair in Jim's hands. We'll see.

Funny thing is, I had spent the whole day battling anger, irritability, and just plain sin, and it wasn't even all about the comb hanging off the back of my head.  It's true, there's a fair amount of pain involved with my back trouble.  It's true, I've been sweating like a pig, because I really need the heating pad despite the 90 degree August weather.  It's true, the house is a wreck, the laundry isn't done, and yesterday I already did pretty much everything I could do from my spot on the couch.  I can sense the moments until school starts sliding by while I sit here, and feel my tension rising.  So I kept trying to preach to myself.  These are just "blips"."I am not a wave."  But I failed.  I failed somewhat miserably, in fact.  I was less than loving with Jim last night, and less than patient with the children today.  It wasn't anything fact when I truly evaluate my actual words and actions, I'm, surprised to realize that I had more self-control than I felt I was having at the time.  But it's my heart.  I called all of the children into the living room (right before Jim got home with the wire cutters) to repent and ask their forgiveness for my attitude today, and I realized that they weren't really even aware of the extent of my sin against them.  I really wasn't expressing it nearly as clearly as I thought I was...thank goodness. But I was certainly thinking and feeling it. So I guess the bottom line for me is this:  1) I have a long way to go.  A lifetime, really, of continuing to seek God's help, continuing to ask Him over and over to empty me out of me, and fill me up with Him.  I think maybe I even need to have days like this one just to continually remind me of how much I do need His help in everything.  If the "little ants" or "blips" that I'm troubled by really aren't much trouble at all, or if there aren't too many of them for me to handle, then it's easy to convince myself that I'm in control.  When of course, the whole idea of me being in control is laughable.  And 2) I am deeply, unspeakably thankful for the process of sanctification that God has begun in me, and continues to work in me.  As deeply as I felt my sin today, I am aware of His goodness, and honestly of the good He is working in me.  As much as I felt my failure today, I am aware of the growth...of the ways in which, by God's grace, I didn't fail.  The harsh or hurtful words I didn't say.  The ways that He kept drawing my attention away from my fretfulness, and back to Himself.  I am meditating on these words (from Psalm 73:28) "But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works."  The nearness of God is my good.  If He is near...there is good.  My good.  If there is any good in me...He is near.  And I will tell of all His works.

N spoke up from across the room as Jim was finishing my haircut.  "Are you going to let M brush your hair anymore?"  The question took me by surprise, but my answer was quick...yes.   Of course.  The long day behind me flashed through my mind, and my own need for grace felt heavy.  R was sitting close by listening...the daughter who struggles the most with grace, both for herself and for others.  And I said it for her and for myself...there is grace for this.  There is grace for M from me, because the grace that's been offered to me is boundless and costly.  I am grasping it for myself today, with a grateful heart.  And, in all seriousness...a lesson in grace is worth an unwanted haircut.  :)     

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Driven and tossed by the wind. Or not.

It hasn't been an easy day. I got up a bit late, partly because I spent some of the night in bed with Y after he had a bad dream.  I stopped in the middle of my quiet time this morning to take a shower while R and E went out for a run.  According to my plan for the day, I would definitely be able to get back to my Bible (left open on the couch) after breakfast.  While I was getting dressed, R knocked on my door to tell me that she had a migraine.  She's been getting them for the last two years; at first only every few months, but recently it's been every few weeks.  She generally sleeps them off, so she went back to bed just as someone knocked on the front door.  I went to the door (with my hair still wet) to see my neighbor...for whom R was supposed to be babysitting for the next 4 or 5 hours.  I had completely forgotten.  He had to get to a meeting, so I told him to go ahead and bring his three children to me.  Usually R is sleeps off her migraines in a couple of hours and is back to normal, so I figured when she woke up she could take the children home and babysit them there, and I could get on with my day as planned.  Meanwhile, the neighbor children could play nicely with my children, and I could still get a few things done.

As the morning passed, I quickly realized that the children were going to require my complete attention.  Enough said.  I mentally looked over my "to do" list, thinking that once R took them home I could still accomplish a lot.  Jim was supposed to take E and some other friends on a camping expedition tonight (a "roughing it", backpacking and foraging for food kind of adventure).  I wanted to help get things ready for them, along with all of the other "back to school" work I needed to tackle.  At around 1pm, I finally admitted to myself that R wasn't going to experience her usual 2 hour recovery.  She was still in bed, and just moaned when I checked on her.

Meanwhile, I had gotten a call from a friend asking if the camping trip was still on, considering the weather forecast.  I checked, and the forecast was calling for showers and thunderstorms...90% chance of precip. during the night.  The boys were supposed to hike into St. Mary's Wilderness for a couple of hours, and throw down their sleeping bags.  Hmmm.  I checked in with Jim, who said he had a lunch meeting and would make a decision after that.  Turns out the there was an issue at work which required his immediate attention after the meeting, and he wasn't even able to think about the camping trip until 3pm (he was supposed to be home by 2:30, and leave for the trip at 3).  He finally got home and decided to go ahead with the trip, and we were frantically trying to get things ready for he and E to meet the other guys, when I noticed that A had fallen asleep.   On the floor.  Right in front of the front door.  Odd for a 7 year old.  I went to check on her and noticed that she was flaming hot.  To the tune of 104.3 degrees, as it turned out.  I ran to get some Tylenol, and tried to get her to swallow the prescribed 2 teaspoons full.  She hates medicine.  As soon as she got it all swallowed, she threw up.  On the couch. I think I recognized peanut butter sandwich.  I cleaned her up and went to get some Advil...didn't want to give her any more Tylenol because I couldn't be sure she had thrown up all of the first dose.  Of course, we didn't have any Advil.  Jim was still trying to throw the backpacks together, and meanwhile was receiving calls from work about the previously mentioned situation, and kept having to sit down and with his I-pad to deal with something.  I sat A on the couch (not the vomited-on couch; a different one).  I then sat N next to her and made her promise to watch A and make sure she was okay while I ran to Kroger for some Advil (R was helping Jim pack).  In case you're wondering why I made N sit and watch A...well I don't know.  I suppose I thought that if A started to have a febrile seizure, N could call my cell phone and describe it to me as I rushed home with the medicine.  Who thinks perfectly under those circumstances?   I got the Advil and got home just in time to point out to Jim that I hadn't had a chance to fill up the gas in the van because of the whole babysitting fiasco, so he would have to get gas.  He was already almost 2 hours late leaving for the trip.  Oh, and the clouds were starting to roll in.

Jim and E drove off, A swallowed her Advil (I got the chewables this time), I turned on a video for the children, and I sat down at the kitchen table and surveyed the damage.  Crazy mess, piles of paperwork untouched, disgusting couch to clean up.  Oh, and I haven't mentioned that yesterday the toilet overflowed upstairs, causing two inches of water in the upstairs bathroom which then rained down into the kitchen below.  So there are holes in the kitchen ceiling.  And the dog has a cough, which led me to give her Robitussin (I checked on the really is okay to give a dog Robitussin), but she doesn't like it so she spits and thrashes and she now has pink stains all over her face and feet.  I think I've cleaned up the pink stains on the floor and walls, but I might have missed some.


And now,  you might be asking, the point of it all?  It's just this: I am not a wave.  I. Am. Not. A. Wave.  (I haven't completely lost it...keep reading and maybe this will start to make sense).  I've been learning to pray.  Seriously...I've been learning some things about what it really means to pray (yes, I thought I already knew, but I'm now realizing that I'll be learning it forever).  And I've been praying more.  In the spring, we were memorizing the first chapter of James, and there is one line that has continued to speak to me, from verse 6.  It says that "he who doubts is like a wave in the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind."  James goes on to say that "that person" (the one who doubts) "must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord."  In the passage, he was specifically referring to asking God for wisdom.  But certainly this applies to...well...anything.  Because clearly, as you read James 1, the contrast to the man who doubts is one who is steadfast.  This probably has stood out so strongly to me because...well, let's just say that "steadfast" is not exactly my middle name.  I can be a little high-strung. I definitely think of myself as more of the "driven and tossed by the wind" kind of girl.  But God has a different name for me altogether.  And I truly believe that in His plan for me, He really might just re-make me into a "Steadfast."  Because that's who He is.  Check out the Psalms; He is described as steadfast 128 times there.  And He calls me to be like Him, and if He says it, He will help me accomplish it.  So...prayer.  A deepening desire to be more and more like Him, and to be less and less  A more and more frequent drive to turn to Him throughout the day and seek Him.  Just Him.  Wanting Him to wash me away, to fill me, to flow through me.  "Whoever believes in Me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."  John 7:38.  And so I am noticing, slowly, that the more I turn to Him, the more I dwell with Him, the more I am becoming less "wavelike."  All of the events of my day today (and yesterday, and the day before), they are really just blips.  They are just so small.  But it's all of those little things, piling up, day after day, that generally drive and toss me.  It occurred to me recently that the image of sin prowling like a lion to devour me doesn't always seem to fit.  Sometimes, it seems more like a million tiny, biting ants.  There isn't a single one of them that could devour me, but altogether they seem devastating.  If I doubt.  But if I am steadfast...if my desire to be intimate with my Lord is driving me to Him over and over and leading me to lay each little issue...each little His feet in order that I can keep my eyes on Him?  If we are truly "more than conquerors through Him who loved us" (Romans 8:37) against tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, or danger, or sword, then how can I not trust Him to conquer my little ants?  To keep the wind (which He stills with His voice) from tossing me?

Enough said.  I'm well aware that I may be driven by some wind on another day.  The next flooded bathroom, or migraine, or messy house, might temporarily undo me.  But it won't conquer me.  I am finding joy in glimpses of His face, and the ants and the winds will never hold out for long against the beauty of that.

Oh, by the way, I've been typing this to the sound of thunder and rain outside.  I'm guessing things are quite wet in the woods by now, but I'm thankful that the guys ended up taking along a couple of tents.  They'll make some memories, right?  I just hope Jim has already stored up some great memories before tomorrow morning comes and he realizes that he forgot to pack his coffee.  I found it sitting on the stove after he left.  I could tell him that it's just a "blip."  Just a little ant, really.  But probably I'd better just have some strong, black coffee brewing when he gets home tomorrow afternoon with a caffeine-withdrawal headache.  :)