I was having a conversation on the phone with a friend the other day, and she was having trouble hearing me. “Can you hear me now?” became something we asked to one another back and forth across the line. I drove faster to get to the top of the hill. She changed to speaker phone. She eventually hung up and tried again. We hadn’t talked in a while, and we wanted to hear every word the other person was saying. It was taking a lot of effort to just talk. We were trying to get in to the best position to hear and be heard. We decided a face to face talk was necessary, so we scheduled one to look forward to! I can’t wait to actually be in her presence. It will make communicating much more effective.

Moses wanted God’s presence more than anything else. And he told God that in Exodus 33. God’s response was “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.”(Exodus 33:14)

What a special word from God. God’s presence with me in any situation, no matter how traumatic, can still allow room for rest.

I have had some challenges here lately and reading God’s words to Moses greatly encouraged my heart. I need God’s presence. I want the rest He offers.

Rest from worry.

Rest from trying to figure everything out.

Rest from the heaviness of feeling so responsible for every person in my family.

Rest from anxiousness that is always right around every corner.

Rest from insecurities.

Rest from people-pleasing.

Rest from frustrations.

Rest from feeling misunderstood.

Rest from performing.

Rest from feeling like I operate in life from a defecit.

How about you? Need rest from some junk? God is with you. He will give you rest. Go to Him. Read His promises. 

In Exodus 33:21 God told Moses (after Moses asked to see His glory), “Behold, there is a place with Me and you shall stand there on the rock;”

Have you stood by God in a while? Simply wanting to be near Him? Sensing Him as the only solid foundation in all of life?

Moses put himself in positions to hear from God. God told him in Exodus 34:2, “So, be ready by morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai and present yourself there to Me on the top of the mountain.

When is the last time you presented yourself to God? Just showed up as you are expectant to hear from Him?

God’s Word is to us and for us. As we spend time with God, we get a better sense of Him and that allows us to rise above the junk of the earth. We see things as they truly are after being with God. We are able to release our worries and rest in His goodness and faithfulness. 

“The Lord, The Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindess and faithfulness.” Exodus 34:6

It’s worth any effort or energy to put yourself in positions to hear from God. You won’t waste a second of your life seeking Him. He speaks to His children. He offers us rest. I want to take Him up on that!

Tuesday.

This is our first full week of “real” school. I don’t know why we have been calling it “real school.” As if the past ten years have been fake school??? I don’t know, but here we are on Tuesday morning of the week and things are going well.

Ruby gives me a very methodical overview of her day that I follow with ease. Molly tells me random stories about this girl and that boy and what she did at lunch. Mack always starts with something negative. That is so special. But he does eventually end with telling me how fun P.E. is. 

The first evening, I sat with each kid and went through their binders and got a feel for how they were organized and went over their syllabus’ and teacher expectations. I got to Mack and told him to bring me his bookbag. “Umm, I didn’t bring anything home in my bookbag,” he said. “Well, just bring me your bookbag and let’s take a look,” I tell him…because surely there’s something in your bookbag from the first day of school. “Mom, I LITERALLY have nothing in my bookbag,” he clearly re-stated. And, indeed, he left everything in his locker because, “They said we didn’t need anything.”

I cleared it up with him that he should bring everything home for a while so that we can be sure we stay on top of assignments.

“Mom, you’re gonna have to let us do this on our own, ya know.”

“Yes, I know, but not THE FIRST DAY OF REAL SCHOOL IN YOUR ENTIRE LIFE, BUDDY!”

And some have asked what I have been doing with all my time. My immediate thought is that I don’t know how in the world I homeschooled three kids. THERE IS SO MUCH TO DO! Things like laundry, cleaning bathrooms, grocery shopping, drycleaning runs, organizing cabinets that have been cluttered for too long, and many other chore-like things.  THEN, there’s the fun stuff like working out without feeling like I should be at home, reading for pleasure without guilt of ignoring my kids, walking the dog, meeting friends for lunch, and Target runs, of course.

Mondays are what I call “Moving Mondays.” I must keep moving—wake up for quiet time and coffee, take kids to school, go workout, home to clean bathrooms and do laundry, get dinner in crockpot, back for afternoon cardio workout and then pick up kids and then home to help kids with homework, finish dinner and eventually fall into bed.

Tuesdays are eventually going to be filled with a morning Bible study. Then, the afternoon will be bill paying, email sending, school check-in on the program that tells me how the kids are doing in their classes, a blog post, etc. And dinner prep. Always dinner prep. 

Not sure about Wednesday’s name yet. There will be a workout and eventually evening church. And Thursday is my free day where I aim for solitude and rest and reading, listening, prayer and HOME. Maybe “Thankful Thursday.” Friday is a workout and then I don’t know exactly….gearing up for the weekend, I suppose. 

But today could have been “Target Tuesday” because I totally dropped off the kids and went to roam Target. It was awesome. I thought clearly. I bought what I wanted and needed to buy. I am pretty sure Josh would not appreciate a legit “Target Tuesday” though. That place is dangerous. 

But I sure did have fun this morning. I’ve been doing laundry, talking with a friend, and snacking on chips and salsa in a quiet house. It’s a good Tuesday around here. 

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Molly is 14

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This is our family before heading out the door for Molly’s birthday dinner.

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This is the table we sat at while we waited two hours to get our food.

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This is the photo we got a lady to take for us after dinner. She wasn’t all that happy to do it, but this is the party group.

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This is Molly with her cake that states a fact: “Molly is 14.”

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This is Noah standing with his fact cake: “Noah is 21.” (Except he won’t be til Tuesday.)

And this blog is a post to poke fun at myself, as all of the birthday party attendees did when they saw my choice of wording on the cakes. Josh and I had tried to be creative. We came up with some funny sayings to put on the cakes, but couldn’t decide. Then, I was left alone and was feeling DECISION FATIGUE after the past couple of weeks. So this is what they got. The facts. And a very funny birthday song Grant came up with after being inspired by these facts on the cookie cakes.

But the fact is–Molly is awesome. I love her so much. I love how God made her and how she stretches me in a million ways. She is a people person to the core. The more, the merrier is her life motto. She cannot have enough of partying and people and talking. She was born a teenager. Persistent is the word that most described her as a little girl. And she is still persistent today, but I seem to handle it better…or ignore it….not sure which. She likes peace and does her best to make peace all around her. She loves music and worshipping. She is independent and has a ton of common sense. I always call on her to do stuff for me or find stuff for me. I am grateful for 14 years of Molly in our life!

Happy Birthday, Molly-Moo! We love you.

New Beginnings

This day arrived. It really did happen. The kids started traditional school today for the first time in their lives. 

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I often got the question throughout the past ten years, “Will you homeschool the whole way through?” 

I always thought I would, but I wasn’t arrogant enough to think I had a ten year plan for my life, so I usually answered with, “We just take it year by year.” And for the most part that was true. 

But today marked the official end of ten years of homeschooling and fifteen years of just being with my kids every day. They never even attended Wee School or Mother’s Morning Out. I always felt so responsible for them, and I never had a peace about spending money on someone else taking care of my kids when I was home and not working outside of the home. I’m not sure that was right thinking, but it was my reality nonetheless.

But this morning, with lunchboxes packed, bookbags hoisted over backs, and some butterflies in bellies, we drove to their new school. I was feeling strong and happy…giddy even. Until I walked inside to participate in surprising the middle schoolers with a parent tunnel as they made their way to their first class. The parents were cheering and clapping. I felt the tears coming, but I was fighting them off hard. Biting my lip. Looking away. Clearing my throat. Smiling, but not making eye contact with anyone. 

But they came anyway. Dripping slowly out while we cheered for the kids. I spotted my freckled face seventh grader and made sure he saw me without making too big of a deal about it. And once the line was over, I wanted to high tail it to my car to cry, but I managed to walk composed through the parking lot. “Enjoy the Journey” played through my phone into my car as soon as I started driving…I did not set that song to play and haven’t heard it in many, many months. And the tears came heavy. It has been an amazing journey as mom and homeschool mom, and I know this new section of our journey will be just as amazing. Deep gratitude filled my heart and mind as I thought about God’s good guiding hand on our lives. 

Even this week God met me in the pages of Exodus. I read about the Israelite’s deliverance from Egypt as slaves {not to compare homeschooling to slavery or being with my kids every day as something I needed deliverance from…though some days that wouldn’t be a stretch}. But God told Moses and Aaron that “This month should be the beginning of months for you…” The word BEGINNING jumped off the page to me. God is ever the God of new beginnings. He guides us to new places. He supplies our needs in the new places. He calms our fears in the new places. We get to proclaim His faithfulness in the new places as He proves His trustworthiness to us over and over again.

I rode the rest of the way home without crying until I got to a stop sign in my neighborhood and saw this:

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Oh my gracious!!! Here come the tears again. I just can’t help but think God timed this. A little glance back to when my three were right with me in those younger years. I wanted to roll my window down and cheer on that mom—the same way I had cheered for those middle schoolers this morning. “Woooohhooooooo!!! You go, Mama!!! Look at you peddaling that bike with your baby attached. And wow, you are keeping three humans alive and thriving. I AM SO PROUD OF YOU!!!!!! I see you!!!!! What you are doing matters more than you know!!! Keep, It. Up.!!!!!!!” 

And I wouldn’t say this outloud to her, but I would know it in my heart—The days are long, but the years are short. Enjoy the journey with your children. 

And never forget that you are God’s child on your own journey with Him. Enjoy Him. Listen to Him. He is your biggest cheerleader. 

“In Your lovingkindness You have led the people whom You have redeemed; In Your strength You have guided them to Your holy habitation.” Exodus 15:13

        Ruby (10th grade), Molly (9th grade), Mack (7th grade)

MOM-retired teacher                        ROLO- confused dog

Lunch Convo

I suppose you could say we are getting a jump on our kids being in school all day. Josh and I met for lunch today! On a regular old Tuesday. And it was so fun. I got my hair done and then rode over to his office to wait on him. While I was in the parking lot, I listened to a podcast (Nothing is Wasted by Davey Blackburn). His counselor was on talking about marriage. I took notes and had some great talking points for our lunch conversation. 

I was sharing with Josh how a text he sent earlier that morning could have been a little softer, a little kinder. 

He simply said, “I was in a meeting and just needed to answer your question.”

“I get that. I know you are a simple person with texts. I know you don’t coddle people or have much patience with big emotions or touchy people, but you married me and I need you to know that you could have simply added, ‘I know you are capable of (what we were talking about), but I only need you to do this at this point.’ Just letting me know that you know I have a brain in my head for more than switching laundry and picking up your drycleaning would be helpful.”  He smiled and said, “True. I receive that.”

He rebutted that he did tell me all the things I accused him of not telling me last week when he asked me to do this certain thing. 

I normally would have said, “No, you didn’t say that.”

He would have insisted that “Yes, I did say that.”

Then, I would have said, “You didn’t say that. You think you did, but all you said was…..”

And then he would have said, “I really did say that. I don’t think you heard that part.”

Then I would have pouted and not wanted to talk to him during lunch. I know, I am real mature. 

This bantering could go on forever. And we would sound like our children arguing in the backseat of the car.

Thankfully I was prepared for this because of the podcast. So, I said, “I don’t remember you saying anything like that. I could have not heard you, but I don’t recall that part at all.”

He was able to, instead of defending himself immediately, admit that, “You know, I have said it so much at work that maybe I thought I was clear with you, but maybe I wasn’t.”

And we moved on instead of getting stuck in “YOU said that…..No I didn’t say that.”

And I went on to talk to him about the podcast. In particular, we discussed communication. She encourages couples to schedule  “Marriage Staff Meeting.” This meeting can be once or even twice a week. It’s your scheduled time to talk about the hard stuff you may be dealing with in your marriage. She mentioned adultery specifically…saying that many times one person has lots of questions while the other person wants to talk about nothing pertaining to this topic. Scheduling a time of discussion will give one person a chance to ask questions while the other person will be able to answer and discuss because it is for a set time. Bringing up the issues and questions at any time of any day or night can be stressful and invade your whole life in a way that blocks out fun or joy of any kind. Makes sense to me. 

Thank the Lord Josh and I don’t have adultery to discuss, but we do have plenty of other bumps in the road of life that need our attention. One of the main points about communication was to recognize that communication is a two-way street. There is a SPEAKER and a LISTENER. She made the point that even when you are the speaker, you don’t always pay enough attention to what you are saying. I may say one of my kids’ names in a story when I meant to say the other kids’ name. Or I could say something happened yesterday when it was actually this morning. I don’t always speak exactly what I mean to speak.

The Listener has a filter of their own life circumstances that could cause confusion. Or maybe the listener is distracted or thinking of what they want to say. 

At this point I told Josh we could discuss home renovations, next vacation, financial budget, etc. at our Marriage Staff Meeting. He perked up when I mentioned finances. Now I was speaking his language. “Yeah, I would like to go over the budget soon.”

I told Josh I need a cap on Amazon prime in the area of books or maybe I should get a library card! Here’s how the convo went:

Kristy: I think I spend way too much on books, but I need you to tell me to stop. I have no self control.

Josh: Well, I don’t mind investing in books. How many would you read in a month?

Kristy: I could read three books a month pretty easily. But that’s just too much.

Josh: No, three is great. {at the point he is thinking in his head. I am still at the lunch table; I have not entered his head} That would be sixty a month or so.

Kristy: Huh? You mean a year…{I am slow at math and figured he was trying to see how many books I would read in a year at that rate}

Josh: {Looking at me like I am sloooow} I mean a month.

Kristy: I don’t understand.

Josh: 60 a month.

Kristy: 60 what?

JOsh: 60 dollars. I said that.
Kristy: No, you said, “Sixty a month.” I didn’t know what you meant.

Josh: I think I said Sixty dollars a month if the book is about $20.

Kristy: You had that whole conversation in your head because I just heard you say “Sixty a month” with no clarifying points or additional words. 

 {At this point Josh recalls the conversation, repeating how it went and then realized he did indeed say “Sixty a month” and expected I read his mind.}

We both laughed and thought how great to have had two specific instances happen about this little tip on communication….you don’t always say exactly what you think you say. And the person listening would do well to summarize in their own words what they heard you say so that you can be sure that you are communicating well. I love that. And funny thing, I have heard this before, but I think you know as well as I do that we tend to not always practice good communication even though we know what might work best. Life gets busy. We get impatient. And that’s when things can go bad. 

So let me encourage you to show some grace to your spouse {and others!} when it comes to communication. Recognize the potential for miscommunication. And, like the counselor’s second point emphasized, be a truly good listener. Put your own concerns on hold and give your spouse you full attention—no interrupting, no commenting, no defending yourself and then when they are done, ASK OPEN ENDED QUESTIONS. Any Who, What, When, Where or How questions…usually no Why questions as they are often just hidden statements or even jabs at the person. I think I will give this a try this evening!

It takes effort, intentionality and genuine love to be a good communicator—-speaking or listening. I want to be good at both! 

Sometimes it’s the little things

We left Sabor around 5:45pm and headed towards home. We were driving separately. Me alone, and Josh and Mack in the truck behind me. It hit me that I actually did have time to make it to Ember, a local gathering of ladies that gather under the banner of Jesus. I took a right on Providence Road at the last second…the irony was not lost on me. I sensed that I was supposed to go. I hadn’t particularly been super anxious to go because, first of all, I was alone. Secondly, after dinner I am usually ready to be home and chill out. And thirdly, I am just in a season of deep introspection and it can be exhausting. But I knew that the Lord was saying, “Go and Be.” That sounded simple enough. And that is what I did. 

I made small talk with a girl standing alone waiting for her friends to arrive. I caught up with a sweet lady I met when I first moved to Charlotte three years ago. I even ran into a lady I had been in Bible Study with a couple of years ago and had just seen earlier that day at the mall. We caught up a little bit more, realizing maybe God had caused our paths to cross and meant for us to have a conversation, and I now know better how to pray for her. 

So far, so good. 

I walked in the sanctuary at 7:00pm, roamed around a bit before deciding to sit in the middle section more than halfway back and in the middle of a row. 

I was soon surrounded by ladies. Nice ladies who came with other people. They talked with me some, and we made some connections while we chatted. As the service began and the worship music started, my heart was warmed and I was glad I was there. I noticed the two rows in front of me and the ladies to my right were all together. A young group that obviously knew and cared for one another deeply. It reminded me so much of our days in Woodstock, Ga. at First Baptist Woodstock. Man, I was missing my friends. Missing those days when I was in my twenties and newly married. Life was there for the taking! Time was on my side. I grew up with many of the ladies that became my dearest friends. The community we built in Woodstock was unique and special and such a support. My mind stayed there in Woodstock for a little bit while I watched the girls in front of me interact and worship together.

The speakers for the evening were on a panel and were asked questions about personal Bible study, prayer, discipleship and community. They did a great job and gave wonderful examples of how God has been personal to each one of them through His Word and His Spirit and His church. I was encouraged. If I am honest, I wasn’t blown away with anything new, but I was definitely saying, “YES!” and “Amen!” in my heart and head. 

When Whitney Blight began to close the evening with prayer, she asked for those in need of prayer to raise their hands and those of us around them would pray for them. She mentioned that she had prayed that each of us would be divinely seated in the exact spot that we found ourselves. As I prayed alone, I thanked God for getting me there that evening. Thanked Him for stirring my mind to memories of past community and friendships and asked that He might help me cultivate more of that in my life in this season. I prayed for my current church to continue to grow, for God to bring ladies who also want to grow in their knowledge of Him and grow in their friendships. It was a sweet time. Then, we stood up to sing some more, and I watched the group in front of me continue to pray for each other and talk to each other. I saw two of them hug for a very long time. I think one of them was praying in the ear of the other. I felt the hot tears pop out from my eyes. So thankful to see their friendship and love. So sad that moving here seemed to stifle that for me. I continued to sing. I continued to pray. I continued to feel tear after tear roll down my cheeks. 

Then, the lady to my right leaned towards me and said, “I think you need a hug.” She hugged me; I cried some more, and I thanked her for being so kind.

 I drove home and smiled as I thought about how personal God is. He heard Whitney’s prayer to divinely seat us. And He heard my need for a hug and provided just the right person to sit next to me. It may seem like a small thing. And I guess in one sense it is. But that is just how God is! He knows the small, little things we need. What a thoughtful Father! I am thankful to be His child.

Matthew 6:8 “…for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”

Losing my mind in the laundry room

Several years ago I was in the counselor’s office discussing what a great day looked like for me versus what a horrible day looked like for me. We were also analyzing the days in light of what could be a warning sign for me that things were on a downward spiral. I immediately thought of the laundry room. 

The laundry room is where I have most of my mental breakdowns. It’s where I begin yelling at the kids and asking them if they have a clue about anything in life if they still don’t know how to complete one load of laundry. It’s where I may or may not have yelled to one kid that I would beat him within an inch of his life based on his horrible laundry room practices.  {Of course I wouldn’t ever actually beat my child. It’s just a figure of speech….that I probably shouldn’t use.}

So yesterday when I heard my voice getting louder and louder as I called all the kids to the laundry room to explain what in the heck was going on in there, I knew deep down that I was indeed on a downward spiral. There I stood in that laundry room about to lose my mind… again. 

What’s your red flag of warning? Do you have one? Do you recognize it for what it is? Do you use it to get yourself to step back and take a deep breath before ruining the whole day with your harsh words and actions? It’s interesting to think about and figure out. Give it a try…think about what warning signs you have in your life that can be used as a wake-up call to reign yourself back in. 

I am going to take a few deep breaths right now and then head into my laundry room to start some clothes. Prayers are appreciated.