Wednesday, May 25, 2016

musing of my heart on time and change and eternity



life is such an interesting tension. in some ways, it feels as if i am always changing, and yet at the same time like i have always been the same. i look back at me 15-20 years ago, and it is looking back at a dreamlike me that exists in only my memories. many people who know me now and have met me since i have had kids do not know the parts of me that largely defined who i was before marriage and kids. (or would it better be stated, who i thought i was? i am just as much me now as i was then, and yet so much has changed and shifted) dear friends from the past would probably not recognize the me i have become - the me that i have grown into and become comfortable with and who has survived and been molded by the ups and downs of life. i know that i myself at 18-20 would have never guess i would be a mom of 6 kids who home-schooled. just not what i saw for my life down the road.

and yet, i feel so much the same. i understand what people mean as they get older that it is really just our shell that ages. part of me feels exactly the same. i was jumping on the trampoline with my kids the other night and i felt just the same inside as when i was 12 jumping on the trampoline. i wasn't sure if i dared try the flips i used to do, but i felt that same thrill inside... i feel the same impulses to sing out in a crowd or dance for no reason just to be silly... i still love so much that i have always loved and feel like so little has changed inside.

where i am in life, i almost forget the parts of me that largely defined who i was before. when someone brings them up in a conversation, maybe just finding out something i used to do in the past, i feel this little spark light up in my heart and it is then that i start to miss so much that i used to do and love. and yet, i would never trade the life i have for the life i had. that is the thing of it all... what i have right now is so much better than i could have planned or picked for myself, even with all the hardship it carries in itself. really, the trials have matured me. i am the same, but a wiser me... a less impulsive me... a more compassionate me... a me that has to lean on the Lord more because i am more acquainted with my own weakness, with sorrow, with the fragility of life.

in all this rambling, i wonder what my life in 15-20 years from now will look like... i wonder if the people who meet me then in that season will be surprised at this current season i am in. i wonder if anything in my past will be reawakened and woven back into my life in the future. i wonder if this present reality will also seem like a far away dream.

life is funny like that. i feel so much the same and so much different. maybe turning another year old recently made me super reflective. i know it has made me even more thankful for the reality of eternity. i can't help but wonder how all the pieces of a person will be worked together to make who they are really called to be in eternity - when we don't feel bound by time constraints and feeling as if we have to choose what we will focus on and give our attention to. i wonder what it will look like to be able to explore all the desires and dreams the Lord has placed in our hearts and not feel somewhere inside that hour glass that is ticking and the finite nature of life. i wonder what it will be like to love more freely without feeling constraints of the brokenness of human nature inside and without misunderstandings or the weight of sin. will i finally be patient with my own brokenness or will that brokenness finally be whole? probably a little of both i expect. what will it be like to not be in a hurry or not wishing time would just slow down?

i look at my kids and i see how my oldest is 12. six more summers, in theory, until he is an adult... and who knows what lays in store for him. i straddle the tension of feeling the speed at which my older kids are growing up and still changing diapers and waking in the night to nurse my youngest... and i know that we aren't promised a certain number of years. i want to keep my heart present and fully thankful in each moment - not grieving or missing the past, or dreading or longing for the future, but being here. right. now. and allowing the Lord to do with the past, present, and future me whatever He wills to do.

charis

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

ramblings on education and my sweet baby girl

i have been so quiet around these parts that i am sure you can hear the crickets chirp.

life hasn't been quite so quiet in my off screen life however.

we just wrapped up our 2nd year homeschooling. there are so many wonderful things we have experienced in our homeschooling adventures. there are also many things that make me know that no one schooling approach is without its hardships and flaws. no one approach is for everyone or for every season.

our family prays about what school is going to look like every year. we don't have a mandate or direction from the Lord that we feel convinced is the one way we will go the whole way through school. it is interesting because it makes me feel a little awkward as a mom because i don't fit into either of the schooling (or any, as there seems to be even more than the main 2) camps. i totally see the benefits and shortfalls of the classroom education. i also totally see the benefits and the shortfalls of the home education. neither are perfect, and so often i find people, women in general, want me to take a hard fast line saying i am a 'believer' in one of the other. we seem to feel validated in our choices when we form a club around the way we do things.

i just am not a part of a club.

i have taught in the public education system, and i actually had a wonderful experience. i think there are really good teachers out there, really good schools, and a really good education and experience to be found. i still serve on the school board of a private christian school in town, and my kids attended there for 5 years. i have had a wonderful experience there and miss many of the benefits that school had to offer. i have homeschooled 3 kids one year, 4 the next, with little ones in tow and pregnant... i have had great experiences and some that still leave me unsatisfied. we have been a part of a co-op and i have been the lead teacher of many of those classes - again, benefit and difficulties.

i am personally the product of secular schooling through graduation from high school, both private and public education, and had wonderful and hard experiences. for me the good greatly outweighed the bad, and i wouldn't trade my experience for all the world. i went to a christian university (actually 2!). amazing and difficulty intermingled.

all this rambling is to say, i am probably always going to be a bit of a loner in my hesitation to jump on the bandwagon of homeschool or bust or the club of classroom or bust. i will always be someone who can see both sides. i will probably always feel a bit like i don't belong because i am not as sold out on most ideas or ways of doing things, especially education, as many of my friends and acquaintances. it really is a lonely place to be in.

but maybe just writing this and putting it out there will make one of you dear readers feel like you aren't alone if you feel like you also don't fit into either camp. i love the way God leads our family, even though sometimes it is stressful to not be sure what we are doing the next fall when everyone is asking for a commitment to plan like 6 months in advance. but He is always faithful and has always led us. i know He will continue to. i know that the way we do school may change from one year to the next, even from one kid to the next. i am okay with that.

one beautiful part of homeschooling this year has been having all the boys home with their little sister for her 1st year. this little one has been our absolute delight and icing on the top of our 5 layer chocolate cake. i love that they have had this special time with her... that she has had that special time with them. for me, i feel like i haven't had as much special time with her and my littler ones as i did with the older ones simply because i have to teach the olders so much. i know that God fills in those gaps for them, but i think it makes it feel like it goes by that much quicker if i can be perfectly honest. i am not ready for my littles to grow all the way up.


the beads are from her brothers for her 1st birthday gift. you better believe she knew exactly what to do with them. our teeny tiny sugar, not even 19 lbs yet at a year old. such a little love. my 3 year old was just telling our neighbor who came to the door to chat this morning, "see our baby girl? see our girl? do you see her? our baby girl?" it is as if all our hearts have had parts unlocked by her that we didn't realize were even there.


life is full. life is sweet. and, as everyone knows of their own life, the sweet is laced with painful. life is just that way. but, i do believe that the more acquainted we are with the depths of pain, the more the sweetness of life is just that... sweet and full of joy. i have to remind myself in the midst of the busy busy life of 6 kiddos to stop and look at these ordinary moments and soak in the delight... to take those mental photographs that will be etched onto my memories forever.


i guess this is just a rambling of my thoughts. what are your thoughts on education and life decisions? do you have a clear word from the Lord that is steering your direction consistently over a long stretch of time? do you come fresh to Him each year to find the directives for that year? do you see life from as many complicated angles as i do? i think it helps me relate to people... but it makes it hard to feel like i ever fully belong because i always see the other side. i would love to hear from anyone who has still hung around this long while i haven't been writing much. love you to all!

charis

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

even the one


i know of a man who recently went to be with the Lord. about a year before his death, his wife had a dream that when he entered heaven he was greeted by the many many people that he shared the gospel with and led to the Lord. what a beautiful welcome into glory! can you even imagine seeing people in the presence of the Lord who you spent time praying for, sharing with, and discipling? a reward like that makes a life seem so worth all the hardship and sacrifice that surely came with it.

i lay in bed one night after hearing this story so moved by the life of this man who lived his life for the gospel, and reflected on the simple unimpressive life that i lead. my heart envied the life this man lived - a good righteous life that influenced others to walk with Jesus. i thought about my days - so routine, so monotonous, and without much reach or influence. laying there in bed i asked the Lord, "when i get to the end of my life, who will i have i even led to You?"

a sadness filled my heart - not the kind of sadness that is akin to self-pity, but the sadness of a child who wants to be pleasing to her Father and yet feels as if she has so little to show for her efforts. i am reminded of the apostle paul who said that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. i just felt small and weak. my desire to live a life like this man was definitely there - but i wondered where was the opportunity to be faithful as he had been.

then i heard it as clear as if you were speaking to me, and yet it was that still small Voice that one can only hear with her inside ears:

"you are leading your kids to Me."

the anxious thoughts left. the burden of shame at the smallness of my days lifted. it was enough. the Holy Spirit reminded me that if i am faithful with the assignment that lays before me, it would be counted as righteous and the joy of His reward would be sweet.

i have thought back to that moment several times the past couple weeks. so often we envy others whose ministry and reach look big to us. these men and women are being faithful to what the Lord has laid before them, and He will reward their faithfulness. but the size of the ministry He has given us does not determine the eternal significance of His calling on our lives to lead those in our influence to Him. mother teresa said,  
"If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one."
i am not sure what the assignment is that the Lord has put before you. it may be so large that you feel small and unable to do what He has asked. it may look so small in the eyes of man that you wonder if it will have meaning in the end.

all i can tell you is this - He will give you opportunity to share the gospel with the one who is before you and encourage that one to live a life faithful in following our Savior, and leading even the one to following Him will have great reward for all eternity. we all have people in our lives whose eternity may be affected by our faithful witness of Jesus. He sees what men do not see. this you can count on.

charis

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

how is your heart today?



today, if you would hear His voice, 
do not harden your hearts... 
psalm 95:7-8

how many times i cry out to hear the Lord's voice. right now is a time for me that i am looking for direction; i am looking for answers. i ask the Lord to speak to me in a dream. i ask that He would speak to me through other people. i ask that He would speak to me in His still small voice. i don't care how He chooses to speak - i just want to hear His voice and know it is Him.

reading my bible this morning i opened to the next psalm as i read through the book of psalms. psalms 95 starts with a exhortation to sing to the Lord, to worship the Lord, and to give thanks to the Lord. then it ends with a warning to not their harden hearts like they (the israelites) did in the wilderness.

i get it. i get how so often we harden our hearts in small inconspicuous ways because of hurts, disappointed expectations, or simply not understanding the Lord's ways. i know i have hardened my heart in little ways that i thought probably didn't really matter because i am still serving Him, right? but to protect myself and not completely lose it, i felt i had to harden areas just to survive.

i know that i have questioned God a lot about what it is that He is wanting for my family and me. i have all these dreams and hopes and as good as they are... what if the Lord's answer to me is -wait- ? what do i do with His voice if He corrects me in the little areas of my life that i have allowed self preservation to creep in? what do i do when i disappoint others expectations of me and carry that burden when it isn't mine to carry?

i want to be mindful as i ask Him to lead me and speak to me that i check my heart that it is soft and repent of any hardened places. i want His pleasure on my life more than i want everything to go easily my way. i am convinced that the way to soften my heart is to do the things that the beginning of the psalm mentioned - praise, singing to the Lord, worship, bowing at His feet, giving thanks for what. He. has. done.

all the disappointment and entitlement and hurts and confusion melt away when i fill my mind and heart with how faithful He has been to me.

let's not be so concerned with protecting ourselves, but let's concern ourselves with worshiping our King and let Him be the One to protect us. i am speaking to my heart this morning - keep your heart soft, charis, keep your heart soft.

charis

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

saying no, self-control, and joy



i have missed writing here - so many times this has been an outlet for me both as a ministry to others and as a chance to express myself. i had a few moment this morning, so here are some thoughts i have been having in no particular order... 

1. saying no - right now is a time of my life when i am throwing myself into my life that is right before me. i am not able to add a lot to it in writing or in taking on new commitments. i am learning how to say no. i am learning that it is okay, not only okay but really really good, to say no. saying no means i can say yes with a whole heart to the things He has asked me to say yes to right now. i am learning that saying no doesn't mean it will be no forever. i think a lot of times i am hesitant to make decisions because i feel like i am locking myself into a forever commitment to either do or not do something; however, this just isn't the case on most things of life. we follow His lead and He leads us day by day.

2. self-control of what comes out of our mouths (and our fingers) - it is an interesting time we live in where so much of our communication happens online via a screen that we can hide behind instead on face to face like most communication has traditionally taken place. my dad was a communications professor at a local university, so i would say i have some well grounded thoughts on communication. i find it interesting that so many people feel so much liberty in what they say in an online setting that they may never say to someone's face. i find it interesting that so much of our communication in these settings lacks the non-verbal communication elements that they say make up 80% or more of communication. i find it very interesting, interesting and sad, that people, especially believers, type out statuses and comments on forums like facebook that insult other people for choices they make in life with demeaning language and haughty speech and words (and this is often on non-sin issues... i am not talking about taking a stand for righteousness). there are so many hot topics these days, largely fueled by the media swirl (which is another topic for another day), and it seems people are so quick to demonize "the other side," not thinking that those of "the other side" may be the brothers and sisters in Christ that we worship next to on Sunday morning. so many Scripture references pop into my head including Jesus' admonishment that calling your brother a fool could endanger one's soul of the lake of fire itself... or how about the places where the apostles paul, peter, and john plead with believers to love one another? i often wonder if people think about who is reading their words and if they would want to say that to someone's face? how would these discussions take place in a living room over a cup of coffee? or, even more important, do we want these side issues, no matter how passionate we feel about our perspective, to take the place of importance of the REAL issue of following Jesus and displaying his sacrificial love to one another and to those who have not yet believed? i believe in not compromising what Jesus and the scriptures say following Him looks like - i am not one of changing the scriptures to say all paths lead to God. i am thinking of side issues... i am thinking of things that are left up to us and not described as sin. even confronting sin issues should be done in love and coming to a brother or sister personally... just thoughts that i think when i watch this dynamic that is specific to our particular time we live in.

3. joy - what does it look like to walk out true joy? joy isn't tied to circumstance - joy is tied to the secure place we have in the One to whom we entrust our lives. i am finding for myself joy is more and more tied into giving thanks. as i am reading through the psalms daily, i am finding the command to give thanks over and over again. i read the reminder to israel to remember what He did for them and to tell others of what He did... i think as believers we are to do the same. when my thoughts and words are filled with thanking Him for His faithfulness, something bubbles forth from my very depths that can't help but cause me to trust Him more and to experience this joy that cannot be stolen by anyone or anything. no one can steal my joy when i am anchored to Him who is trustworthy. i do not understand a lot in life, but i know that joy is available to me when i choose to give thanks in all things.

blessings to you and yours - may God show you what He has for you to say yes to so you can feel confident in saying no to what which isn't for this season. may God give you grace to choose your words lovingly and keep the main thing in focus, that the worries and cares of this life won't cause you to forget that we are first called to walk as He walked and talk as He talked - full of mercy, truth, and always pointing to the hope of reconciliation to the Father! may God bring you to experience true joy - joy that lasts!

charis
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