It’s always worth remembering.

October 26, 1997 was a sweet day for us. Josh and I met halfway between our dorms at Middle Georgia Junior College in the tiny town of Cochran to have a little talk about “officially becoming a couple.” Josh had asked on a Friday afternoon if I wanted to date exclusively. I took the weekend to pray about it. He says he wasn’t worried one bit about my decision. I made a list of pros and cons (analytical much??) and talked through my list with him on that Sunday night. My only con was that I was about to head back to Augusta to finish college. Josh was going to be at Middle one more semester and then would be transferring to University of Georgia in Athens to continue playing baseball. We ended that night with a side hug and walked back to our dorms, “officially a couple.”

So what did we do today, 22 years later? We had our coffee this morning together in the sitting room and just talked and caught up on a few things going on. Josh cooked a big breakfast, and we woke up our 15, 14 and 12 year olds to join us at the table. We all talked and caught up and then the kids went to a soccer game. Josh and I went to Home Depot for a few things and then picked up the dog from daycare.

When we got home, Josh asked me to help him put the dimmers on the light switches. I stood there holding a light for him so he could see what he was doing. I got this tool and that tape that he needed. I turned the main electricity off and then back on and then back off and then back on at his request. And I kept holding the light.

This little interaction reminds me of our relationship a lot. I feel very much like I have been the helper while he has been out and about doing so much. Whether he was playing baseball while I watched and cheered from the bleachers or when he has traveled to Turkey or Afghanistan or Iraq or Africa and India for mission trips while I held the fort down at home or when he meets important people at important places, and I have no idea who the people even are….and I stay home to make sure the kids are taken care of and that groceries are bought and clothes are clean. I am the helper. And I like my role. Just like installing the dimmer on the light switches today–he probably could have figured out a way to do it without me, but I know I helped make the process easier by simply holding the light and helping where needed.

We make a good team. I am thankful for the past 22 years of exclusively dating Josh. We celebrate 19 years of marriage in January, and we will celebrate then. But this special date, October 26th, is also worth remembering. A sweet, carefree time of learning each other. A season when side hugs were exciting. When dinner at Village Pizza was a good time. When we would travel to a little Dairy Queen halfway between Cochran and Augusta to sit and talk for a few hours and then head back to our separate cities. When we got lectured every month for having a long distance bill that our parents paid for. (Dating long distance before cell phones was expensive!) So grateful God saw fit to bring Josh and me together.

Sidenote: The girls had PSAT and PACT tests last week at school. They were worried and telling me how different friends said their parents are really on them about making a good score because it determines which college you would get admitted to. And I get that. I do. It is an important test, but God determines their steps. I told them that I had a terrible SAT score. My ACT score was good enough to be accepted to a Junior College–it didn’t take much. But I met Josh there! I am sure God held me back on the SAT score so that I would be at Middle and meet Josh (at least that helps me not feel dumb). Clearly, I missed out on nothing.

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DRAW YOUR CIRCLE.

I am often asked what I do with “all of my time” now that the kids are in school for seven hours of the day. And I have to admit— I’m shocked how quickly those hours pass by. I knew there would still be dishes to put away, clothes baskets full of dirty laundry needing my attention, and dinner would be expected each evening. But somehow I thought the quiet, down-time would be easily accessible. 

It’s not.

I am finding that this quiet, down-time I so desperately crave must be scheduled much like my workouts that have become a non-negotiable for me—they’re good for my physical well-being as well as my emotional, mental and spiritual well-being. And quiet, down-time is also good for all of those things, so I need to make it a priority.

A few weeks I found myself googling local seminaries and researching their Biblical Counseling degrees. I hosted a seven week Bible Study here at my home, which I loved doing and am glad I did for that stint of time. I have felt this overwhelming need to prove that I have a brain in my head that is useful for more than drycleaning pick-ups and toilet scrubbing. I am capable of more than carting kids to and fro and helping with homework on occassion. Maybe the ground got shaky under my feet as the “homeschool mom” rug got pulled out from under me. {A welcome pull, don’t misunderstand, but a pull nonetheless.}

One day as I drove down the road in silence (one of my favorite things, by the way), I was grappling with all of this in my mind, asking God to help me discern my next steps. And just as clearly as He could have, He reminded me of a yoke. I pictured the yoke we have hanging over our fireplace. And I heard in my heart, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me for I am gentle and humble of heart and you will find rest for your soul.” Matthew 11:28-29 

The yoke is a picture of a Leader and Learner. I am the Learner, obviously, and God is my Leader. To put the yoke on my neck, so to speak, I must lower my head in humility, admitting my need. The yoke puts me in close proximity to a loving Lord. The yoke keeps me walking in the direction He chooses and at His pace.

I sensed a peace at this moment. A big exhale and calmness. A freedom from needing to BE someone different or DO something different at this time. It was an invitation to rest and grow, to serve my family willingly, to sacrifice some more and mature in my walk with the Lord. What an opportunity He gives me in this season.

In a recent email from Jen Pollock Michel, she mentioned a circle and how once a circle is drawn, there is inevitably “inside the circle” and “outside the circle.”  There is no circle without the line, no shape to the whole without the definitive boundary of in and out,” she writes. Not everything can fit inside my circle. I can’t be everywhere and do everything at all times. I am human. No matter what message society likes to try and send, you cannot have it all. But you can have what matters. You can have what God intends for you. 

So I have asked myself, “What does God have in my circle?” And part of this process is recognizing the very good and fun and appealing things outside of the circle. 

Josh, Ruby, Molly and Mack—-their needs and lives are in my circle. Prayer for them as a priority in my day is in my circle. This is no small matter. Unseen, yes. Unimportant, no way.

Workouts are in my circle. House responsibilities are in my circle. Grief—processing it, working through it—is in my circle. Keeping margin in my days for writing is in my circle.Though I would much rather someone else train my twelve year old son in organizational skills, this is in my circle. It would be easier if dealing with two lost PE uniforms by the same twelve year old boy was someone else’s challenge, but it’s in my circle. Teaching Ruby how to drive a vehicle is in my circle, and ohmygoodnessgracious do I wish it wasn’t. Saying yes to what is in my circle is also saying no to all the things outside of my circle.  I have a responsibility to God as it relates to what He has entrusted to me in this season of life. I want to be found faithful. 

What’s in your circle? What is not in your circle? Both are worth considering.

These girls😍 I love hearing them play and sing together! I pray they always use their gifts to worship God. He alone is worthy of a lifetime of praise!

sabbath.

Raise your hand if you’re sick of me saying how different the pace is around here since we started traditional school. 

That’s what I thought. And I am sorry to belabor the point, but unless you’ve homeschooled and then jumped into traditional school, you probably just won’t get it. Suffice it to say, Mama is tired. I know, I know…you think, “But you have all day alone. Why are you tired?!?” Or maybe you, like Ruby, would say to me, “Just take a nap.” It’s not that easy. Well, yesterday it was that easy. I totally took a thirty minute nap and was better for it. But for the most part, I have plenty of things to do and places to be. 

But this morning Josh took the kids to school and that allowed me to sleep in a bit. It allowed for an unrushed morning with coffee and my Bible. Petting the dog and staring out the window. For washing my sheets. There was no glancing at the time to make sure I am staying on track and getting anywhere on time. Today is totally free (until pickup at 3:15). 

I finished a book by Ruth Haley Barton, Sacred Rhythms. I highly recommend it. It’s a book you read in snippets and then think about for days. The chapter on Sabbath was deeply convicting. On page 137 she reminds us, “The point of the sabbath is to honor our need for a sane rhythm of work and rest. It is to honor the body’s need for rest, the spirit’s need for replenishment and the soul’s need to delight itself in God for God’s own sake.” YES to all of that!  On Sundays especially I remind myself and our family that this day is different. Let’s try to let go of all the to-do lists we have running through our brain, turn off the phone, turn away from ourselves, our schedule, our wants, our troubles and turn fully to God. Quit worshiping ourselves or any other thing and remind ourselves Who alone is worthy of worship and adoration.  We are not God. We are not in perfect control of anything. He is. 

Barton also says, “There is something deeply spiritual about honoring the limitations of our existence as human beings—physical bodies in a world of time and space.” We need rest physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally. I personally love the verse in Psalm that says he is mindful that we are but dust. He knows full-well our limits and humaness. He created us! And relying on Him is how He knows this life works best. And we humans need reminding that we aren’t “all that.”

She quotes Muller’s book, Sabbath:

“Because we do not rest, we lose our way. We miss the compass points that would show us where to go, we bypass the nourishment that would give us succor. We miss the quiet that would give us wisdom. We miss the joy and love born of effortless delight. Poisoned by the hypnotic belief that good things come only through unceasing determination and tireless effort, we can never truly rest. And for want of rest, our lives are in danger.”

I loved these words from Barton also:

“What I do know is there have to be times in your life when you move slow…times when you walk rather than run, allowing your body to settle into each step…times when you sit and gaze admiringly at loved ones, rather than racing through an agenda…times when you receive food and drink with gratitude and humility rather than gulping it down on your way to something ‘more important.’ Times when hugs linger and kisses are real………when you let tears come rather than blinking them back because you don’t have time to cry.”

So, order this book. Then, take a nap. You will thank me later.

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