Thursday, March 09, 2017

How to Keep Going: Part Two

Part One can be found here. I appreciated hearing from so many of you!


Literally, I declared Boot Camp one Monday morning and we began working on some specific things that needed correcting. And, may I say that Mom was not exempt either. We did jumping jacks, sit ups, extra chores, push ups, whatever it takes. 

I announced our chain of command:
·         Chief Commanding Officer: God
·         Chief Supervising Officer: Daddy
·         Drill Instructor: Mama
·         Recruits: Emily, Rachel and Samuel

We began memorizing Hebrews 12:11, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

I spent some time thinking through that verse too – it helped me realize that for me to feel like this was extremely hard business is perfectly normal and expected! But this also came with promise when I invest a heart committed to God and being His woman in my home – it also reminds me that the harvest comes later on, not right away.

Oh how impatient I get and want to see the fruit of the harvest now! But the seeds are still being put in the soil and developing their own roots. I love the promised harvest – righteousness and peace. Isn’t that what we as Christ-following mothers long for?

I’m reminded of Isaiah 61:3, “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.”

This, dear friends, is knowing God and making Him known! First it must be lived out in our own hearts before our children will adopt this mindset and lifestyle we pray for them.

From what we know of gardening, when we hear gardening sort of words: planning, roots, harvest, we can learn some specific things. We know when we hear harvest it implies a certain amount of waiting: we have to prepare the soil, care for and even feed/nourish the soil, we select just the right kinds of seeds and choose the appropriate time to plant, then our seeds must be cared for with sunlight, water and even food. Now the hard work of tending really begins – the longest part of the growing season. We will see tender shoots rise up and feel the excitement of new life and growth and then we will see weeds appear as well. We must be diligent as these little shoots can easily be smashed, stepped on and choked out by weeds. This is the hardest part! There may come pruning and supporting of our plants and we will eagerly look forward to seeing buds, flowers and fruits appear.

As moms of any school choice, but probably especially homeschooling, it is valuable for us to revisit why we made the choices we did so we do not lose heart and do not give up when not if but when things get hard.

A Bible story I love is found in 1 Kings 19 – Elijah has just been on Mt. Carmel with the 450 prophets of Baal. Do you remember the showdown? Elijah has been through an exhausting time of being the only known and still living prophet as the rest have been reported killed. He perseveres through this fear for his own life, hardship and spiritual weariness and God shows Himself faithful. After this, Elijah puts the 450 prophets to death, and that had to be a very draining experience as well. Now Queen Jezebel is on the war path and after him and {quite understandably} he fears for his life and takes off.

Things to notice about Elijah’s situation: Life was coming faster than Elijah could keep up, he is exhausted in many realms, and just like my tendency is to hide – even when my life is not really in danger – so Elijah runs away to hide and spare his life. I can relate, my life is not in danger but sometimes it feels like it when mothering is suffocating and exhausting to the point of despair.

Let’s start by reading 1 Kings 19:1-16 - grab your Bible, I'll wait!

What can we learn from Elijah when we are in a season of overwhelmed:
.       * Minimize our commitments for a time: while running away may not be the best way to accomplish this – there is some truth and beauty to this example.
          * Appreciate the value and necessity of rest and nourishment: when we are physically depleted or even mentally, emotionally, spiritually – a season of rest and caring for ourselves is needed. I am a Mom and one who homeschools at that, so to think of a season of rest may seem impossible but look at how God cared for Elijah and trust that He will also care for me; how can I lessen expectations on myself to lighten my own load? Sometimes we need to pull back to the basics: rest, care of our body and soul. What are the extras that I can get rid of?
         *   Seek spiritual nourishment: Elijah was supernaturally strengthened by the food and rest to journey on for 40 days/nights. He went to Mt. Horeb, the place where God had given the Ten Commandments to Moses. It was a 200 mile journey and he fasted during this time. I think Elijah was so desperately wanting an encounter with God that he wanted to be in a spiritually meaningful place. We will likely not fast from food for 40 days as we embark on a 200 mile journey by foot! But we long for a meaningful encounter with God wither way.
          * Sometimes we need to vent: Elijah just lays it all out there for God – and kind of lets Him have it! God wants to know what Elijah is doing there – why are you here? I go back and forth between thinking Elijah is on the defensive or thinking he is kind of whining over where he is in life. Oh, can I relate! I feel overwhelmed as a homeschooling mother without a break from my children or time to really rest and be restored. I feel justified in having a pity party for myself and must remember that it isn’t wrong to vent and get it out but I can’t move there and set up residence. It is interesting to me that God doesn’t really seem to even acknowledge what Elijah said – He moves right to the next thought.

           *   God reminds Elijah of who He is: rather than enter the pity party as a participating guest, God tells Elijah to go out of the cave where he’d spent the night and declares He is going to pass by. God demonstrates His power and authority over nature/Creation by controlling some of the strongest forces of nature.
a.       Wind: a great and powerful wind that tears mountains and shatters rocks; think of how unsettling a furious wind is – some of us know firsthand since we just had Matthew swirling through our area.
b.      Earthquake: what fright would we feel to have the ground underneath us move/shake?
c.       Fire: terror and fear would be easy feelings with a looming fire coming at us
After all of this, there is a gentle whisper and Elijah knows “this is it!” God is so good to come so gently to us.
          *   Analyze what voices I’m listening to. First, about that gentle whisper: gentle, quiet, soft. It isn’t screaming at me or swirling around me in a chaotic way. A whisper is calm, peaceful – it beckons me to quiet myself and really strain to listen.

This reminded me of a day over five years ago where I woke up not feeling well – I shared the following on my blog: {part one and part two}

A Friday morning wakes me with a sore throat and tired body. The day begins - breakfast, laundry, putting away clean dishes.

I am willing to just have a go-with-the-flow day. We stay in our jammies and play paperdolls and read and just hang out together.

We've been studying the Pilgrims this past week and I just don't want to pass the opportunity to make Wampanoag Corn Bread (thank you, Story of the World) so I set out the ingredients and get ready for little helpers.

We don't exactly have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner since I'm under the weather. But, I had fun pulling out homemade things - grape jelly, applesauce, local honey, a trivet that David made as a child and hot tea for soothing throats.

I opened a non-homemade can of soup for further comfort and what a comfort it was! Even when I wasn't feeling good - it revived my soul and mind to just do these small things of beauty. Setting a table, arranging glass jars, pouring warm liquid and smelling the homemade bread.

Simple, lovely, cultivating thankfulness. This is truly what the first Thanksgiving was all about wasn't it?

It was a milder day outside and our porch beckoned (mainly because the table was clear - ahem) and I enjoyed the simplicity and lovliness and nourishment of the food and time.

As I was forced into a day of whispering to preserve my throat, I was thinking about quiet and what I could learn from this forced silencing.
How my words meant more to my children when they were fewer.

How my whispers quieted their little voices and the tone of our home was quieter and more peaceful.

How my to-do list sort of faded away in light of just resting and doing a few things for my children.

How I was more aware of simple joys and graceful looks. There was a definite slowing and awareness. Sweet, sweet.

My next thought was of Elijah and when he heard the gentle whisper of the Lord passing by. And, I wondered what other verses there might be with that word: whisper.

Here are a few:

"After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave." ~ 1 Kings 19:12-13

"And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power?" ~ Job 26:14

"He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed." ~ Psalm 107:29

I'm not asking God for a sore throat very often, it really is no fun. But, I've learned something in the quietness of my voice.

I need to weigh my words more carefully and use them more sparingly.

Quieter words are softer words to hear and speak. It is less stress on the tired mama and on the children trying to just grow and do what pleases.

The few little things we did do together went more smoothly, were more enjoyable, etc... My quiet voice also quieted my heart and expectations by lowering my views of my to-do list to meet my energy level.

I made sure I really needed to say something to use my limited voice. Oh, what I could learn from this!

Since we look to God for our ultimate example and model, I love that He comes in a whisper. Am I listening to the things around me that shout or that whisper? Do I have a guard over my ears and heart?

Part 3 tomorrow!

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