What do you want?

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When I was in elementary school, I wanted to be older and looked up to.
When I was in middle school, I wanted to be liked, to be popular. And if God chose to give me straight hair, that would have been awesome.
When I was in high school, I wanted a boyfriend. And still would’ve loved straight hair.
When I was in college, I wanted to know what to major in…and I wanted a boyfriend.
When I got a boyfriend, I wanted to get engaged.
When I got engaged, I wanted to hurry up and get married.
When I got married, I wanted a house.
When I got a house, I wanted a baby.
When I got three babies, I wanted peace and quiet and maybe some sleep.
When I got settled into our new normal as a family of five, I wanted a new house. You know, to better accommodate us all (insert eye roll here).
When the big new house came and the real estate job Josh had was slowing down, I wanted out from the big house payment and back to our old house.
When we got the old house back, I was content for a little while. Thankful for the gracious hand of the Lord that guided us and protected us from financial ruin.
I can remember not wanting to work outside the home, but now that I have been home for over 13 years, I sometimes think I want to go back to school for a new degree and eventually work outside of the home.
Sometimes I want to exercise and be healthy.
And sometimes I want to eat all the ice cream straight out of the container. In my pajamas. While I watch all The Blacklist episodes.

Desires. They rise up within me often. Some divine and some quite selfish.

Over time I have come to distrust my desires. So much so that my prayers of asking over the last year and a half or so have been pretty quiet on my end. There’s been a building of more and more trust in God’s plan and ways over anything I can conjure up on my own. A building up of faith as I take mini-steps in what I believe the Lord is showing me. Just recently a specific prayer has risen to the top of my heart and made its way to my lips.

“Lord, teach me to want what You want for my life personally. Teach me to want what You want for my marriage. Teach me to want what You want for each of my kids. Teach me to want what You want for my neighbors.”

Writing out this prayer made me want (there I go again) to pick back up a book I read earlier this year. In TEACH US TO WANT by Jen Pollock Michel, she writes:

“As we see and are seen, we will begin to wrestle with the nature of our desires, even find the courage to admit when they fall painfully short of God’s glory…we may want to reject this new sense, not least because spiritual ‘sight’ commits us to a posture of sustained humility; humility before the Scriptures as they ‘read’ us; humility in our relationships, which we injure; humility in prayer to the God before whom we are ‘naked and exposed.’ (Hebrews 4:13). Humility is one of the hardest habits to wear— which may be why talking about desire is sometimes the last thing we want to do. But we must see the truth, own the truth, tell the truth, receive the truth, live the truth—about who we are and want we want.” (Page 45-46)

This struggle of sorts with my desires, or lack thereof, has been an interesting journey that I am far from wrapping up. I am finding it easier to praise, and I am ok with it being harder to ask for what I desire. I will close with another quote from Michel’s book:
“By the grace of Jesus Christ, struggle has the potential to become praise; this is the gospel chain of cause and effect. Struggle challenges me to trust, but when I do eventually surrender, it means I’ve entrusted my life to God. And every time I do this, I’m heartened by the knowledge that God is eternally capable. The Lord’s Prayer does not offer explicit thanksgiving or praise to God, but I realize now how impossible it would be to trust God and address him as ‘Our Father’ without inspiring the knowledge that he has loved us eternally and freely—which is, of course, a truth that can make a heart sing.
Prayer that becomes praise: and this is proof that God is becoming our desire.”

Maybe you find yourself struggling with unmet desires or confused about what to want from a holy, loving God who has already saved your soul through Jesus. Stay consistent in The Word. It is life and breath, a mirror and a well of refreshment. And then, maybe you should grab a copy of TEACH US TO WANT by Jen Pollock Michel. It has been a help to me.

Family Photos

We haven’t had a family photo professionally taken in a couple of years. I decided to schedule them for October 28th at 4:30.  Little did I know that this would be in the middle of a football game–University of Georgia vs Florida.  Evidently, this was a big deal to Mack.  I sent this text to Josh:

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I mean, not that Josh would be that upset or anything, but he might have been slightly annoyed. And Mack let me know that “No matter how Dad responds, I’m gonna be mad about it.”

Ok, then.

The photographer, not realizing the debacle I had found myself in, happened to email and say that Sunday afternoon (yesterday) was open for her.  She hoped we could work it out to take photos on Sunday instead of waiting until Saturday since the weather was so great. Talk about a relief! I told her I thought we could work it out. ha! And we did. Thankfully, I was prepared with everyone’s outfits and we could be ready! Needless to say, the guys cooperated beautifully. All smiles.  No complaining.  They knew full well what disaster has been averted.

I can’t wait to share some family photos soon. Before we went, I snapped this one of the kiddos to get their smile warmed up.

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And this one was after they were all over and we were waiting on some grub:

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MOLLY: “Why are you taking more pictures??? We are done.”

We told the kids (mainly the girls) that I would be picking their clothes and doing their hair and fixing any makeup that they would wear.  These were our (parents) pictures that we were paying for, and I wanted them to be good. Sounds mean, doesn’t it? Well, they were all happy (enough) with their clothes. And they both fought me some on their hair, but I stood my ground. I’ve lived with these curls for over forty years, and I think my experience with them trumps their preferences. The curl fairies were on our side, as all three of our curls cooperated….may not sound like a big deal, but trust me, it is.  Lots of people think it is “wash and go” with curls.  Many days it is, but that doesn’t mean it looks good! So between redeeming next Saturday’s football game and winning in the hair department for family photos, we were all happy when they were over.

So, I close with Mack’s “lucky UGA pumpkin” that he sets in a prominent place each Saturday as he cheers on The Dawgs.

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Reading

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I don’t read one-on-one with the girls every week, but I always love when I do.  Something about reading a book together is just so perfect.  Mack and I read together almost every day.  And we are all reading a biography on Paul Brand at lunch time.  I read our History out loud about four times a week.  I read from our Bible book every morning. I have to wonder if these kids get tired of hearing my voice because between reading to them and just generally directing their day with what is next on the to-do list or what chores they need to do, it can be a lot of words coming from my mouth.

So today I made sure that I would have time with each of them in my bed, reading or listening to them read. The kids like to be in my bed. Plus, it gave me an excuse to not make my bed today! The books they are reading these days are good ones! I am particularly enjoying The Hobbit. Mack gives me constant commentary on what was in the movie and what wasn’t. I have to tell him that the book came first and is the right way.  Debbie/Gran would be appalled that Josh let Mack watch the movies before reading the book.

So, I am thankful for this day of school work….of reading…of bonding…of making progress in our studies.

Happy Reading to you!

 

Groaning

Sometimes living in this world can leave you feeling like this:

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I read encouraging truth this morning and found comfort in knowing I am not alone in my groaning here on earth.

I read Romans 8.

Creation groans.

I groan.

The Spirit groans.

“For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will also be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.”

Creation groans under the brokenness of earth. Every spring we see it trying to becoming new. Blooms. Green leaves. Life. Yet, every autumn, creation ushers in the beginnings of winter. Death. Disintegration. Creation will one day be made new, delivered from the consequences of sin. Until then, we will have thorns and earthquakes.  Hurricanes and tornadoes. Fires and floods. Lord, as the seasons change, help me be reminded that one day this earth will be set free and made new and cry GLORY to Your great name!

“And not only this, but also we ourselves groan, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”

As a Believer, I groan. Even with the Holy Spirit alive in me and the fruits of His presence, I still groan for the redemption of this body.  I groan for sinlessness–in my own heart, first and foremost.  But also for every broken person walking this planet.  Have you watched the news lately?  Horrific stories spewed out at us day after day with no signs of letting up. Mothers killing their own children. Overdosing on drugs in staggering numbers. Hold-ups in every kind of neighborhood.  There are no safe places on this earth.  Broken people everywhere you look.  I groan when I think about the world my children are growing up in. I didn’t grow up in Mayberry, but it was a far cry from where we are today.  This is why hope is such a big deal. Hope in God. Hope in His promises. This world is not our final home. All things will be made new.  Lord, give me eyes to see what I cannot see and to live with contagious hope in You.

“In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

How comforting. He comes alongside creation and His children in their groaning. The Spirit provides us with the ability to hope, to live graciously on this earth. The Spirit helps God’s will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. We humans need Him in every way….to endure this broken world, to overcome discouragement, to find victory over sin, to submit to our husband, to love our children well, to be a good friend, to serve the less fortunate, to praise Him. We need Him for all the obvious reasons and for so many that we cannot even see.  He prays for me according to the will of God. I am thankful He groans for the day of complete restoration. Lord, Thank your for the Spirit who intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Help me find comfort in knowing that the Spirit groans for the spiritual welfare of all believers, and that includes me!

I am encouraged by The Word in Romans 8.  I am encouraged in my groaning to continue to HOPE and to wait eagerly for the day when all is made new and perfect–when The Lord establishes His kingdom of peace here on earth.

Romans 8:31 “What shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?”

Weekend of Friends

This past weekend we had some Georgia friends come for a visit.  It was so good to see them! We did pretty much nothing but talk and talk and eat and talk some more.  The boys watched lots of football. The girls snuck away to talk and laugh most of the time. I wish I had taken more pictures, but I just didn’t.

Today we went to church and then grabbed lunch and ice cream.  Fun times on a beautiful day in Charlotte.

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Time with friends that are like family is good for the soul. I am grateful they came!

Plugging Along

Dorminy Academy of Higher Learning (ha!) is plugging along. I think we are in week 7 of school, and I am enjoying our days.  It is not a strict schedule, but more of a loose routine. Got to stay flexible!!

My favorite part of this year so far is our morning time. I get up before the kids and enjoy coffee and time in God’s Word, leaning in to Him for help and guidance.  Then, I start waking up the kiddos so that we can all be at the breakfast table some time between 8:30 and 9:00.  They like plenty of time to wake up and make their beds, brush their teeth and get ready for the day.  We start with Bible (using 30 Days to Understanding the Bible…though we are taking more than 30 days!). Today, after reading about Paul’s epistles and trying to memorize the main theme of each book, we went into the living room to watch a video from the Bible Project on Philippians.  Love those videos! After that, we played a game to review what we had learned at the breakfast table.  Then, we watched CNN 10. Ten minutes of news with some discussion.  After news, we jumped into History where we read excerpts from Christopher Columbus’ daily diary as he explored and eventually landed on San Salvador.  We then watched a video on how Columbus treated the Indians he found on the island–quite disturbing.

After our morning time routine, we went upstairs to do Spelling (Phonetic Zoo) and Grammar (FixIt!).

These are quick and easy parts of the day that I love. Power punches in Language Arts that I think are quite valuable!

Next, we switch gears into Math.  Mack and Molly each have a test this morning. Ruby continues her Math with Mr. D and is really enjoying Pre-Algebra! Last year in 8/7 Saxon math, we both had our struggles.  I would get frustrated when she didn’t “get” a concept because then I would have to figure out how to teach it, and I am NOT a math teacher.  I would find youtube videos to help and would ask for Josh’s help if it was an emergency.  We decided to not go on to Algebra 1, but instead to use this year for Pre-Algebra.  I want her to be confident in the concepts before we just move on because “most 8th graders are in Algebra.” Our goal isn’t for Ruby to be like “most 8th graders.” It is to guide her and help her to be the Ruby that God made her to be! And if that means Pre-Algebra in 8th grade, then so be it!

This week we worked more on a writing project about a natural disaster.  We chose Hurricane Maria and how it changed Puerto Rico.  We watched news videos, looked at maps, read some articles and charts together and discussed photographs.  Then, we took notes–making lists of the most important facts. And lastly, they each could do anything they wanted to present the information.  Molly focused on the effects of a power outage. Ruby stated facts and then highlighted some of the relief efforts. Mack created a 3-D image of the flooding of someone’s home.

We bought some pumpkins so that they can draw or paint on them for fun.

The girls practice piano and chorus daily, and I want them to practice typing every day, but it seems to get forgotten a lot.

Mack has been sketching a lot lately.  He also jumps into creative writing quite often, and I love to read his stories…even if they are mostly about football.

I often hear Molly strumming away on her guitar and singing.  Love that.

Our weeks seem to fly by.  Don’t know what or why or how to explain it, but these days seem to go by much faster than the elementary days. Some times, despite the fact that I home school and am under the same roof as my kids most of every day, I wonder if I am spending enough time investing in them. I don’t want our relationship to mostly be telling them what to do next or what math problems to correct.  I want connection with who they are as a person….that is not always as easy as it might seem. It takes intentionality and time.

So let me jump off this laptop and go find one of the children to be with. 🙂 Happy Thursday!

If you give a house new shutters…

I was telling my mom about why we were painting our house, and she said it reminded her of that book If You Give A Moose a Muffin. You know, if you give a moose a muffin then he will want some jam to go with it. Then, when he will eat all the muffins and want some more…the moose wants to go to the store and when he steps outside, he realizes he needs a sweater…that’s when he notices the button is loose, so he sews it on and then he is reminded of how his grandma made puppets, and he will want to make some puppets…and on and on and on it goes.

Yeah, that is pretty much how we ended up having our house painted.  It was a very creamy colored painted brick…read: yellow. We didn’t love it, but we were choosing to live with it. One day we got a new front door installed. We thought we should get new shutters to better compliment our front door, so we did. But, the shutter color was ugly with our house.  It made the yellow more yellow. In certain light the shutters even looked reddish. Ick. I couldn’t even see our front door for all the ugliness going on.

Here is before:

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BIG SIGH. {And just to be clear, this was the best lighting…in person at most any other time of day it was U-G-L-Y.}

We decided that maybe we should paint the shutters.  But if we were going to hire a painter, why not have him paint the whole house a color we actually liked? Soooo, we did. And here is AFTER:

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And now that we have a new door, new shutters and a freshly painted house, it is painfully obvious that we “need” some serious landscaping.

If you give a house a new front door, you’re gonna need new shutters.  And when you see how ugly the shutters are, you’re gonna need a painter.  And when you hire a painter, you’re going to decide to paint the whole house.  Once you paint the whole house, you’re gonna need to install better landscaping….

In short, if you give a house a new front door, you’re gonna need a lot of money. 🙂