It’s Happening Again
A Page From My Journal
I had just changed Ben. It had been a doozie. And with it packaged and disposed of, I just wanted to hold my little boy. I just wanted to remember back to when he was just a little wad, less than ten pounds. Back to when we would snuggle and nurse. Back to when sleep was allusive, but the midnight feeding was more precious even than rest. Back to when he lived on my breast or hip, when he totally depended on me, when I was his world.
That is no longer true. No, now he weighs twenty-five pounds and gaining. He loves to run and jump and play. He drinks from a cup, feeds himself and sleeps through the night. And I miss his dependency on me.
So as strange as it might sound, I am not too anxious for him to be out of diapers. I mean I am but I’m not. I am for the obvious reasons, but I’m not because I love talking with him in the process and hug that follows.
Just a couple of days ago, when I had finished changing him, I picked him up and turned out the light in the laundry room. I wanted to hug him just wanted to snuggle with him for a minute.
But he was squirming. “I want some orange juice,” he said.
“Okay,” I replied, “Lets just cuddle for a moment.” And I pulled him close.
But he wasn’t interested. He put both hands on my chest and said, “I want some orange juice!”
“In a minute, let’s just be quiet for a moment.”
Reluctantly, he put his head on my shoulder and then popped it back up. Thoughtfully he told me, “It’s in the frigerator,” as if I did not know.
“I know,” I said as I slowly rocked him back and forth to the Mozart in the background. But he wasn’t falling for it. He was singularly focused on orange juice. He did not want to snuggle, didn’t appreciate my memories of his infancy, and couldn’t imagine the depth of my love for him. He just couldn’t. He didn’t even try.
As I stood there hurt by this realization, that my moment with my little boy, inhaling his scent, rubbing his head, enveloping his little body in my arms, was going to be interrupted by something as trivial as physical thirst and a desire for orange juice over a hug with me, I got it. Do you see it?
I am Benjamin. I want God to take care of my stinkies, but then I want to run off and play. I want Him to get me some OJ, without the hug. I want to tell Him where what I want is and I want Him to get it for me now. I don’t want to wait, not even to pause. I am not particularly interested in waiting even a little bit for Him to fulfill my request.
Snuggle? In the darkness? Couldn’t we do that later, like after He gets me the OJ? And the part about being quiet together-why? Listen to what? The dyer run? The birds sing? The train in the distance? His heart beat?
-Yes, His heart beat.
I am convinced that far too often we know what we want, where it is and we know Who can get it for us. And we are more interested in getting it, than getting Him. We even sometimes rudely tell Him what He can do for us, as if He hasn’t already done enough. I mean after all, wasn’t the sacrifice of His Son enough? Forgiveness of sin, debt paid, mercy extended enough? And then there is more-Grace. The gift of heaven, forever with Him.
And here is where we miss it. Where at least, I miss it. We want to put off those hugs with our heavenly Father until eternity; He wants to start now. Why wait? He wants to hold us in His arms and rock, just the two of us. He wants us to be so quiet that we can hear His heart beat as our head rests on His chest. But we put Him off, content for someday when He wants to get started today.
I had to sit Benjamin down on the island of the kitchen to retrieve his juice from the refrigerator, right where he said it was. And He was grateful complete with a juicy ‘thank you’. But I had wanted to give Ben more than something, I had wanted to linger with him, just to be with him, unencumbered by any thing.
And so does my heavenly Father. He wants more from our relationship than to merely act as my personal cosmic genie, who grants my every wish or whim. He wants for me to be satisfied with just being with Him, resting in Him, trusting Him completely. He wants me to be more interested in the love in His eyes than the gift in His hand. He wants me to listen for and hear the beat of His heart and ultimately for our hearts to beat as one.
Does this all mean that He is uninterested in hearing about what we want or need? No, of course not. Just like I appreciate it when Benjamin or any of my kids makes me aware of their desires, God likes to hear from me too. That is the kind of relationship He wants to have with us, the kind of relationship where we are in constant communication with Him about everything.
But here is the catch. Just like I didn’t mind knowing or even fulfilling (as appropriate) Benjamin’s desire for some OJ, I would hope that as he grows up and matures, he would come to appreciate relationships more than stuff. So does my heavenly Father. I believe that too often I am asking Him for things that I should have out grown, the stuff instead of requesting the character qualities first exemplified in His Son, the One to whom I am to be conformed.
Right now my husband Davis needs a job. We have bills to pay like everyone else. We need health insurance. We need have some money to put away for college. And the good news is that our heavenly Father knows all of that, even before we ask, He knows. In fact He knew all of this would go down and we would be here. Our taking our needs to Him is not calling His attention to them but rather submitting them to His good and perfect will. And I know that what He wants from us now is that we would linger in His arms, head on His chest, listening for His heart. He wants us to relax and not panic knowing that He knows, cares and is in control. He wants us to focus on getting to know Him more intimately, to gaze into His eyes,
The orange juice will keep….
Twelve Baskets Full
A Page From My Journal
It is my prayer that this post finds you walking in the joy of our Lord and Savior.
Dear sisters in ministry,
Once again I had the privilege to minister and encourage a group of women over this past weekend. And once again, He came and spoke to my heart.
My “appointed time” was on Saturday but we arrived on the scene two days earlier on Thursday. I was already excited about sharing with other women who share my passion for motherhood. I already had a spring in my step, I was already going over and over my outline in my head.
Early Friday morning He called me out of bed. I had not been sleeping very well and I was really hoping that I would be able to drift off for a couple of hours, why did he need me out now? Couldn’t it wait until I had to get up and I was in the shower? Apparently not. He persisted, and sleep evaded, and 30 minutes later, I was up.
I decided to take a bath and try to just listen to what He wanted to tell me. And wow, did He speak to me. The key verse for the first talk I was to give on Saturday was the subject. There were two verbs in the verse and I had missed the first because I had focused on the second. The first verb, of course! How did I miss it all this time.
After this insight, I was singing His praises the rest of the day. I shared how He had come and given more! During the day I even joked about how I was looking forward to Saturday morning to hear what He had for me then. “I can’t imagine!” I said, “I am so full now; He is so good!”
Well the next morning He was right on time, 5 am. By His grace I had slept better than the night before and was much more easily roused. After the day before, I was anxious to hear from my Master again. I gathered my things and slipped out of our hotel room leaving the boys in my life in the middle of a tight snoring contest.
The hotel was freezing and I tried to find a quiet and warm corner. I ended up in the closed lounge downstairs. What an interesting setting. As I pulled out my notes and prepared to review, He started pouring again. I got on my knees, trying to take it all in. I got up occasionally to write something down on my outline, then I was back down again. I kept getting lower and lower trying to make sure I did not not miss anything. It was so humbling and overwhelming and awesome. I did not want Him to stop pouring so I just cried as He continued to speak.
I startled the person at the front desk when I finally got up. I don’t suppose she was used to seeing someone pour over God’s word on their knees in the bar. Praise God!
Well if I had had a spring in my step earlier, now I was almost flying! At breakfast I was sharing with my husband all that God had shown me. I was so excited about His insight and grace. My oldest son commented, “Dad, we’re going to have to put a lid on Mom. She doesn’t speak until 11!”
He was right! I could not sit down. I walked and paced and prayed for God’s will and God’s audience to show up. Wow! That hour of sharing was probably the most powerful I have had the privilege of sharing. I do not know how to describe it other than to say that His spirit came and ministered in a mighty way and I was humbled to be a part of it.
Sunday morning I was sharing this experience with a man who has the gift of teaching God’s word. We share the same passion. He could tell I was still flying high and he too was encouraged. Our text for our study of the word that morning was John 6, the feeding of the 5,000. After listening to my description of my experience, he shared this insight. “Its like the story in our text today. When you get to share the truths of God’s word everyone in the audience gets fed. In fact the Bible says that they all got all they wanted. And then after everyone is fed, you still have 12 baskets full. That is His special gift of grace to you.”
Wow! What an honor to have so many opportunities to share Him and His truths with others. Thank you God for your plentiful and overflowing provision as we seek to obey your leading and proclaiming of your Son.
So, what are you doing with your 12 baskets?
In His Grace,
Waiting And Resting
Pages From My Journal
As you continue to work out the kinks in the plan you had for this homeschool year, would you like to hear a story of God’s faithfulness? Would you like to know how this homeschool mother is finally resting after years of waiting while you figure out what you need to do to amuse your toddler? I’d love to tell you about it as you are in the middle of potty-training your three-year old, getting your laundry done, preparing your grocery shopping list, or cleaning up after a rough start to the day.
Would you like a word of encouragement from someone who vividly remembers homeschool life back when I had kids in diapers and young ones who didn’t sleep through the night? Would you like to know that what you are doing is not in vain, not insignificant, not unnoticed? Would you like a little reassurance that God knows your concerns, that He hears your prayers, that He cares, and — get this one — He is working on your behalf. Even now, even today, even though your voice seems to be bouncing back in an echo chamber, even though progress seems minuscule — God is working!
Do you feel like the only evidence you have to show for your daily progress on this path is weary footprints in the dust? If this is you, or someone you know, read on. Let me tell you a true story of how God has encouraged me.
This last March, Davis and I traveled to New York City to visit The King’s College with our oldest son Charles. Boy, I never could have predicted this one. New York City? Really?
The college was hosting a special weekend for interested students and their parents. Davis and I arrived separately from Charles as he was flying in from Atlanta where he had classes at Impact 360 (his gap-year program). Davis and I landed at the airport, took a taxi and settled into an extraordinarily small hotel room.
When Charles joined us, we were all excited about our weekend together. We headed on foot from our hotel to the Empire State Building where King’s has its offices, student center, and classrooms. The students and faculty greeted us warmly and offered coffee and muffins. The air held an anxious anticipation for the would-be students. After all, this is New York City.
We proceeded to enjoy a “campus” tour (The King’s College considers New York City its campus since the students dorms, some classes, and the internships are spread across the city) which included different locations in the Empire State Building and across the street where the professors have their offices. After a New York style pizza for lunch, we had the opportunity to listen to faculty members and professors. Charles was completely focused, intrigued, and introspective. The goals and objectives of the college (as stated by an executive staff member) took my breath away as I had always hoped and dreamed that these options would one day be available for Charles.
After going through their agenda, the panel took some audience questions. One person asked about the history of the college. The answer included an explanation that it had started in 1938, but had run into problems in the mid 1990’s and closed the doors for four years. In 1999, the college re-birthed itself when a group of dedicated men (including Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ) gave leadership, focus, and renewed purpose to the school.
My mind started racing. Did he say all this happened just over ten years ago? Really? Is that what he said? Oh dear heavenly Father, You did hear my cries.
My eyes filled with tears. I wasn’t listening to the speaker. His voice now muffled, and distant. I sat really still trying to control my emotions. The tears ran down my cheeks; Davis took my hand, not understanding, yet showing support. Why wasn’t there a tissue in my purse?
Ten years ago.
The memories came easily and vividly, but not gently. That time was not just a blip on the screen or a bump in the road. No, that was a really tough time when my homeschool journey was filed with loads of self-doubt. Many of the old insecurities resurfaced. That was the year defeat and discouragement lurked about stalking me every day.
Charles was in pre-adolescence, a time when his body was being charged with hormones. This displayed itself with feelings ranging from anger and frustration swinging all the way over to elation and joy — often within moments of each other. His reading skills had only recently taken off and so did his questions, his intensity, and his abstract thinking. All this change caught me off guard. I expected this down the road and with my daughters, but I thought I had a few more years until these battles set in. Unfortunately, there was no denying – we were well into it.
In the middle of all this, Charles was struggling with some focus issues, which were affecting his schoolwork. I fought against the “testing” option. I thought I could teach and pray and love him through it. But that year, nothing seemed to be working. He seemed to need major intervention. Maybe private school was the answer; maybe this was the end of the homeschool road.
And so I prayed
I prayed that Charles would hear from God and grow in confidence, that the Lord would become real to him, and finally that God would prepare a place especially for Charles. As his mother, I had come to realize that it was going to need to be a very special place, where our goals, values, and vision for our son, our precious Charles, would be supported, where he could soar, where he could grow, where he could lead, where he would be prepared for God’s will and plan for his life.
We are now in our 15th year of homeschooling. I still stand by my characterization of this homeschooling lifestyle as the adventure of a lifetime. God knew that I enjoy the breath-taking rides offered by roller coasters, and my life’s journey has been nothing short of exhilarating.
Sitting there in a meeting room of the Empire State Building, I felt God’s peace. He had answered my prayers. Jesus told his disciples that He goes to prepare a place for us. He does the same thing for His children here.
As a homeschool mom I have missed many opportunities. Many things have gone untaught. We haven’t even gone to the library as regularly as most families do. We have missed some good field trips, and for what it’s worth, our annual test scores are pretty average. But this I know, God has given everyone of us opportunity after opportunity to see His hand, to experience answered prayer, to enjoy His provision, to rest in His plan, to trust Him beyond our understanding, and to rest in His providence.
When I speak, I regularly advocate for God’s providence and His sovereignty. I believe, but I must confess, I didn’t know what it meant to rest in His plans until that moment. During Charles’ senior year I wasted many a night worrying about where he would go and what he would do.
In that moment as I felt God’s peace wash over me it was as if He was saying, “I’ve got Charles. I heard your prayers all those years ago. I already know it is New York City, but do you trust me? I do have amazing plans for Charles. You persevered and obeyed. Though imperfectly, you trusted Me though tears and even doubt. And you recognized that Charles is really mine. I’d like you to do something now that you haven’t done in a while: take a deep breath and let him go. Let him come here to New York City, to The King’s College. I have some people that can continue what you and Davis started. I know it is a risky proposition, but that is why it is called faith. You can breath now. I have proven Myself faithful. I have answered your prayers. Now rest in my peace.”
So, as crazy as it might seem, Charles is at The King’s College in New York City. He lives 1.5 miles from campus and rides the subway regularly, which he has already mastered. And he is thriving. God has met my son in New York City for a kind of divine appointment. God even threw in some scholarships to boot. His grace truly amazes me.
Charles turned 20 years old in 2010. Through this journey our hearts have been knitted together by the Master. I miss him, his energy, his enthusiasm, and even his intensity. I miss the debates over breakfast and the 11:00 pm knocks on our bedroom door, “Mom? Dad? You got a minute?” Yes, I miss that. Every morning I go into his room, turn on his bedside lamp and say a prayer. At night I reverse the ritual. I haven’t stopped praying or missing — I’ve just started resting!
A Page From My Journal, continued…
Be sure to begin with Part One first (if you haven’t read it yet).
A page from my 2003 journal
If you have ever thought that homeschooling is just for other people, read on.
If you have ever said that you are not organized enough to homeschool, read on.
If you have ever commented that you don’t have enough patience to homeschool, read on.
If you are sure you wouldn’t know where to start homeschooling, read on.
And if you have ever wanted to experience the power of the risen Savior every day, read on.
I believe that I could successfully argue that I was the world’s most unlikely candidate to ever become a homeschool mom. In retrospect I can now see how graciously, and patiently the Lord was preparing me to take this huge step of faith. But I never would have guessed it at the time.
I had not even heard of homeschooling when we first moved to Ohio in 1990. And I remember when I first met our new neighbors and she mentioned that they were homeschooling. I thought that she was crazy, especially since the local school bus stopped right in front of her house. My son was only an infant and I was already looking forward to getting my life back. To me, at that time, the little yellow school bus looked like the solution to my problems.
I believe that God has a great sense of humor. He did not providentially place me in a neighborhood with just one homeschool family, no, there were three. I couldn’t believe it; what were they thinking? Didn’t they know what they were missing out on? I mean, what about lunch with friends? A romantic rendezvous with husbands? Unencumbered errands? House decorating projects? I thought they just didn’t get it.
Early on, as I began to get to know Lesa, Carolyn, and Kathy I was sure that they were homeschool moms because they had incredible patience, were extraordinarily intelligent, and naturally organized. Notice I said ‘early on’. God in His wisdom allowed me to live along side of these women for three years. We started getting together for Bible study and prayer on Thursday nights and I learned the truth: they were moms just like me. They loved their husbands and their children, but more than anything, they loved their God and wanted to seek His will in all things.
I believe now that it was the first time I was able to see people living out their faith on a daily basis. These women had not avoided being peculiar, they had embraced it and even celebrated it. They loved their kids and believed that they were the ones responsible for discipling them in the knowledge and admonition of the LORD. But even in the midst of all of this, homeschooling was still something that was for other people, not me; I was still looking forward to the little yellow school bus.
Then we moved to Charlotte. And guess what? God put more homeschoolers in our path. I know now that He was preparing a network for me, a type of safety net before I ever stepped out in faith. He was working, even though I was not interested in the project. We did not consider homeschooling. No, we bought our house based on the local public school report. We knew we could not afford to put them all into private school, so we put all of our money into a house right around the corner from the best elementary in the district.
Through a series of events, and 13 days in the “best elementary in the district”, we found ourselves at home, having pulled our son out of the system, discussing our options. Homeschooling was not on my radar screen. I had not ever seriously considered it. In fact I was trying to think of creative ways to finance a private school tuition, like a second mortgage on the house. I was not thinking about homeschooling as being the answer.
As my husband and I were discussing our options, he asked, “What about homeschooling?” You might be able to guess my first reaction. He says that my head actually spun around on my shoulders; it wasn’t pretty. I spouted off all of the reasons I did not want to homeschool, all of the things I was looking forward to doing, all the places I was looking forward to going, and all of the “alone” time I was looking forward to spending. He patiently listened. “I’ve just been thinking,” he answered after I had paused for a breath. “We have been praying all summer for Charles’ teacher, and I think we have been praying for you.”
I will never forget that moment. It was overwhelming and yet it was encouraging. It was shocking and comforting. It was intriguing, exhilarating, and exhausting. It was a great vote of confidence on my husband’s part. I will also add that I believe my husband showed a great deal of courage and boldness, given my initial reaction to his idea to homeschool.
You see, I had thought that homeschooling was something that only really organized people do, only really patient people do. I thought that the only people who homeschooled had always wanted to homeschool. I thought that homeschooling was something that only other people did, people who didn’t have any other plans. Since I had plans, was only average organizationally, and generally failed the patience test, I was sure that homeschooling wasn’t for me. I couldn’t do it, and I didn’t want to either. Praise God for his grace and mercy! He performed open heart surgery on me. I did not realize how clogged my spiritual arteries were. They were clogged with my own selfish ambition and desires. I had not allowed Him to live in and through me, because I was too busy filling myself with me.
We are about to start our eighth year of homeschooling. It does not seem possible, and the statement my husband made all those years ago continues to shape our daily life. Now you know how I got into this, but perhaps you are wondering, why did we keep on going? Was the heart surgery successful? I am happy to report that the procedure was successful, although I still have daily check ups and have had some minor incidents along the way. But bottom line, why do I homeschool?
In short, I homeschool because I can’t. I homeschool because He can. I homeschool because “in my weakness He is strong” (1 Cor. 4:10). And I homeschool because “He is able to do immearsurably beyond what I can ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). I homeschool because it gives be a front row seat to the miracles and faithfulness of a mighty God.
You see, being a homeschool mom is not about being organized. It is not about being patient. And it is certainly not about being highly intelligent. In fact the only qualification is motherhood, no other experience is necessary. In other words, if you are a mother, you are qualified. Once that qualification is met, the only other requirement is a desire to be used of the LORD. The Bible teaches that He works the most mightily in the weak but willing. So if you are a mother and think you can’t homeschool, you are right where you need to be for God to come and do a mighty work.
In His Grace,