Friday, August 30, 2013

Shower Colors Strike Again

Please note that this is MY story and I would never tell anyone to write theirs in imitation of mine.  However, that does not make my story any less true or valid.  Just a thought to keep in mind.  :)

So, when life is a want to enjoy it.  Treasure every moment.  Daniel and I began to make some big changes in our life.  We got rid of a LOT of stuff.  We'd already moved like 6 times and so we'd condensed our material possessions down to "minimal."  Or so I'd thought.  But when you begin to live your life on purpose, with purpose; you open your eyes and realize just how much and WHAT in life has been owning you.  What has been telling your money where to go?  What has been telling you how to spend your time?  So we got rid of a lot of "stuff" that had been owning us, our space, etc.  Years ago we'd made the commitment to be home as a family at least 3 out of 7 nights a week.  But still, with youth ministry and Chaz now in 2nd grade we were still just as busy as every other American family.  How could each second of life be a gift if we were rushing through them all?

Adding to this fact was the mantra that Daniel and I had going on:  "September..."  (Note: You have to say it in a James Earl Jones voice as Mufasa in the clouds speaking to his son, "Remember..." to get the full effect.)  Anyway, whenever I'd get stressed out by Hannah's constant chattering and needing attention (like a 4 year old girl is prone to do) and I would want to "start doing something with my life", Daniel would look at me and say, "September...."  And I would smile and breathe deep knowing that in September of 2013 Hannah would be off to Kindergarten at Centerville Elementary School with her brother.  And I?  Well I would begin to live my life again.  I could finally write to my heart's content between the hours of 8 and 3.  I could even substitute teach if I wanted to.  I also could join Daniel at the office and get back to my much more involved role as youth minister.  Or I could do a million other things.  Obviously God had given me these gifts and talents: to write, to work with youth, to teach in different ways.  So I looked forward to being able to use them.  I wanted to be a good steward of the gifts He'd given me.  And...I looked forward to my freedom!

And then....those darn shower crayons convicted me.

Suddenly, as I was thankful for the clear and creatively witty ways that Hannah expresses her needs and thoughts- I didn't want to think about her going away to school.  Even if she sometimes stressed me out, did that mean that I WANTED to send her away?  She was my gift, my daughter, given especially to me!
And the way Chaz and I would snuggle while we read together.  It was such a gift, that he loved me that much.  He had an amazing teacher and GT teacher, I truly did/do appreciate them and how much they cared for my son.  But no one loves him like I do.  No one cares about his success, his heart, his character as much as I do.  That is not the teacher's fault.  That's not her job.  She's not his mother.  I am.  (Although there are plenty of adults who DO expect teachers to parent their children!)
Every minute of every day, even the arguments, were a gift...and I was re-gifting my kids to someone else.  I can always write years from now.  I can still help with the youth, even now.  But I will never, ever get to be 5 year old Hannah's mom again. Once they are 18, my "job" is pretty much done as a parent.  I can write and do all those things later, once my kids have left home...but I can only raise my children NOW.  Not later.  Later will be too late.  

If my children were a gift; how could I be so eager to send them away?  

Here's the other funny thing.  We'd decided last year to start reading the Bible together as a family at mealtimes.  At lunch we read from the Psalms.  I was doing some reading ahead one day and I came across Psalm 127.  Here and in so many other Scriptures, God says that children are a blessing.  A blessing!  As Americans, we say about our children, "There goes my heart!"  But get into a conversation with other parents, even at church, and what you'll begin to hear is that children are an inconvenience.  They cost too much.  They need too much.  They get in the way of our personal pursuits.   And we can't wait for them to be in someone else's care.  Out of our hair.  That doesn't sound like we're really viewing our children, or children in general, as a blessing.  And I was one of them.    ("September...")

And so...with my thankfulness of seeing my kids as a blessing and gift, my attitude began to change.  I wanted every last moment with Hannah before she went off to school to count!  And she and I would literally wait by the door every day for Chaz to get home so we could be a whole family again that day.  We wanted to spend time together.  To go on adventures and learn other things, new things, together as a family.  We each loved the time that we were together, just "doing life together."  
Chaz had begun asking months before to be home schooled.  At first I was concerned, why did he want to not be at school?  He loved his teachers, he had friends...was he being bullied?  But we talked to him (and his teachers) over and over again and everything was fine...and Chaz would always consistently say that he just wanted to be home with us.  He missed out on the things we were doing as a family without him.  (Granted sometimes it was just grocery shopping...but he felt he was missing out.)  I had never really thought about homeschooling and even had some bad experiences with a few home-schooled teenagers in our youth ministry in the past.  (They could not read or write even close to on level)  I had strong objections personally as well; what about being a witness in the dark places like public school?  What about socialization?  What qualifications did I have to be my kid's teacher?  But God would not leave Daniel and I alone about this thought.  True to my nature, I began to research it all.  Reading blogs, visiting websites, learning the legality of it all, talking to friends and acquaintances that currently or had one time home-schooled.  And as Daniel and I talked and prayed about it....I experienced the most peace I have had in years.  I am not saying that lightly.  It was somewhat stressful making the decision (What would people say?  Would this affect our ministry position?  Most youth parents were teachers or administrators!!!) but once we'd made the was like I finally felt at rest.  I had struggled, like so many other mothers, how to balance so much in life.  How to have an occupation, be a mother, be a wife, volunteer, etc.  When I did well in one area, another area always seemed to pay the price.  But all made sense.  My most important job (and joy!) was to be Chaz and Hannah's mother, their natural teacher.  Youth ministry and volunteer positions had to take their rightful place in my priorities because I'd finally said yes to my most important job, and I could make that decision peacefully because I knew I was doing the right thing...the most important thing...what I'd been created to do and be.  

Is it easy, just because I have peace?  No, of course not.  I still want to compare myself to the world.  I don't have a paycheck to give me validity in life.  (My"contribution" to  But then again, as a dead person who's only alive in Christ...I know where my value is anyway.  
Another blessing?  I used to struggle with feeling alone, I had no workplace where people understood how I spent my days, and I needed that adult interaction!  But now, I have 5 other truly godly women that I meet with once a week while our kids play at the park or take their Art lesson together (now that school is back on for all of us) and it is amazing.  The first true community I have been a part of in a long time!!  And our discussions aren't shallow water cooler talk- these girls are extremely funny- but they are passionate about their children, their marriage, their own ministries (One of them will be living in Africa for 6 months this year...pray for her and her family?) and being a Christ-follower above all.  Here, I can share my fears and worries.  One of these friends and I text every day, and we know how to encourage and laugh with each other!  God is so good to give us good gifts!
But guess what started happening when I saw children as a blessing?  Daniel and I began to think, "Well, if God has called us to do this then what about.....adopting?"  If children are a blessing, if that Scripture is true....and true religion is to care for orphans and widows, those who are powerless and need defenders....then maybe WE can do something about that.  "Actually, I think we're commanded to do something about that!" Daniel said one day.  But THAT is another story....

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