Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Another Year At The One Room School House

When August rolls around and another year at the One Room School House is upon us and I have that perpetual pit in my stomach over how impossible the idea of it all seems... 
The question I need to be asking myself can't be, "How awesome am I at homeschooling?"

And when the pastor at our little country church down the road asks it on the Sunday before we begin a new school year, I realize that the best question to ask myself is rather, 
"How big is my view of God?"

The best way to homeschool is to take my eyes off myself (my abilities, my grand plans) and to look UP. Have I used the gifts God's given me (not the Mama down the road or at some Co-op) to teach my children to lift their eyes heavenward? I long to remember that every ordinary day we are standing on holy ground. No task is too trivial, no assignment too small. Educating our children is an offering of love we make to the God who was so gracious to bestow them upon us in the first place. Every moment in the daily grind of raising and teaching and loving on them is hallowed, because we do it for HIM and because there would be no point of doing it without HIM. 

I long to remember that God has called me to be faithful, not successful. Faithfulness is a willingness to show up__ to get out of bed, to seek His face, and to lavish HIS love on these kids day in and day out in every single task. 

My goals, 
To guide with grace.
To lavish love.
To trust without borders.
To be faithful to the tasks I've been given for the day.
To laugh loud and long.
To hug them often.
To speak words that make their souls stronger. 

I have no idea what these little peeps of mine will grow up to be, but the only things that matter to me are that they love well, because they know intimately the ONE who first loved them, and that they learn to stand firmly on HIS truth. 

That's it. 
Nothing more, nothing less. 
It's a lofty goal I suppose, but not to big for my God. 

My Hal__

This girl, she needs words of affirmation. Her Mama has an insane desire to feel in control.
The combination can lead to both of us in tears. She needs to know that I'm proud of her and that she can do all things through Christ and that God has made her able to do everything that she has to do. She needs to know that putting forth her best effort is praiseworthy and that perfection only comes in time and with a diligent, never-giving-up type of effort. She needs to know that she was never meant to look and act and be like everybody else and that God didn't mess up when He allows her to struggle through certain subjects. She's got a stunningly gorgeous heart. She's generous and kind and she's gonna be the best Mama someday. 



The whole crew__

My Charmer__

This kid has always been the quieter one (not to say his voice can't get crazy loud. :) ) I am so looking forward to my time with this one this year. His goal is to learn to read and I can't wait to see his face light up when he figures out that first word. Those three dimples are my joy on so many days. He's funny and fiesty all in one hug. He lost his first tooth last week and he loves that he's starting to be able to hack it with the big kids. I'm praying that my relationship grows deeper with this one this year. 

And the Spunky Girl__ She's just as spunky as ever. She reads like a rock star sings, with passion and joy. She's actually one of the easiest kids to teach. She goes with the flow and takes on each assignment with a smile. Her greatest struggle might simply be sticking to the task at hand. She gets distracted easily, but with a gentle reminder she can usually find her way again. 

My Big guy__ It's hard to believe that he's in middle school this year. No one ever told me what 10,11,12 year old boys are like. All the emotion and ups and downs has taken me by surprise and left me wide-eyed and lost on some days. The best thing about this kid is his humble, repentant heart. It blows me away how quick he is to recognize his wrong and make it right. Middle school is rough for most folks I think. I'm so grateful for these next few years that we have at home together. The older four go to a class day once a week and he had an assignment where he had to fill out questions about himself. One of the questions was, what is one way that you might want to impact the future? His answer was becoming president of the United States so that I can tell the whole country about Jesus.  I can already see this one turning into a an incredible servant leader for the glory of God. 

This kid's motto for this year__
If He can hold the world He can hold this moment
Not a field or flower escapes His notice
Even the sparrow knows He holds tomorrow.
{Jason Gray's Sparrows}

When he's on the verge of loosing it I simply say, If He can hold the world He can hold this moment, and it's amazing how his body takes a deep breath and his heart softens and he remembers that freaking out adds nothing to his day.

And this peanut__ She simply brings me joy. I don't even know what to say. She's content. She's cuddly. She reminds me daily of God's wild grace towards me. She's my Shy-Shy.

The second I turned my back he found himself a stick, pulled up his pant legs, and waded right into the water. That's my Solomon, utterly fearless. I'm actually looking forward to this year with this guy.  He's my challenge, but he's also my love. He teaches me to quiet my voice when I speak correction. He reminds me to get down low and seek my Savior's face. He_is_so_incredibly_cute, I smile just looking at him. He's finding his words and is brutally honest. I LOVE THIS MONKEY so much it hurts. 

Remember your true task. 
Surrender everything. 
Bring your loaves and your fish, even if you think them completely insufficient. 
They are insufficient. 
You are insufficient. 
But His grace is not. 
God is not limited by objective reality. 
His yoke is easy and His burden is light. 

Happy First Day of School from the One Room School House.

{Thoughts from the sweetest little book: Teaching From Rest}

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Solomon {Interruptions vs Opportunities}

{He loves these giant balls so we had ourselves a ball party.}

He's got the strongest personality of the six under this roof.

He's opinionated, jealous & prideful.  He is certain that he knows more than anybody knows and he will not back down.

He's also determined, convincing, tender, passionate, & loving__ Oh__soo__loving.

He comes in close and squeezes my cheeks with his pudgy little hands. He loves to hold my hand (on his own terms of course) and he lavishes kisses and gives full body hugs all day long.

His voice__ his sweet little voice__ it'll make you smile even when you think you're angry.

His newest thing, when I say "I love you Solomon," is to respond with, "I love me too!"

He's animated and expressive and insanely cute which makes it crazy hard to discipline him.

He's been my hard one.

But I'm learning a deep heart lesson right now.

The other day he introduced himself to a friend, "Me Solomon. Me crazy." (He doesn't use proper pronouns yet.)

When I heard him say the word "crazy" my heart sank.

I long to speak life into my kids. And the truth of the matter is that my Solomon is so outwardly challenging in every aspect of my life in this season, that the word crazy just naturally falls off my tongue. I'm fairly certain it hasn't damaged him for life at this point. But he is hearing the way that we talk about him. And he's hearing words that are not making his soul stronger (Ephesians 4:29).

Yes, he challenges me to the core, but I think I have been looking at the challenge the wrong way. I have spent much of my mothering years looking at the challenging moments as interruptions from more important things, when in reality they are really opportunities to truly foster the most important thing__ the heart.

A little boy refusing to obey is really an opportunity to remind that boy of the unspeakable joy that comes from willingly coming up under God's authority in his life.

A yelling little boy, demanding that his brother give him the truck that he wasn't even playing with just because he doesn't want his brother to have it, is really an opportunity to teach that precious heart about stepping up and laying himself down, because living a life for others is so much richer than living a life for self.

A crazy dinner hour with a little boy who doesn't want to eat what's given to him, is an opportunity to speak gratitude into the boy, to kindly hold him accountable to a grateful heart. He doesn't have to like everything given to him, but he can refrain from calling everything that he doesn't like, "yucky," and he can learn to say thank you to his chef for working hard to make good healthy food for his body.

A little boy who can't seem to gently pat his sister on the back, brings opportunity to show that boy what a gentle touch looks like, to show him with my own actions how to practice kindness and self control with the people around him.

Do these same scenarios come up a dozen times a day?


Do I get tired of repeating myself?


Is this wonderfully made little soul under my roof worthy of my time?


More so than the laundry, or the meal prep, or the math lesson?


His precious heart is worthy of a perspective change on my part.

Seeing these challenging years as opportunities and not interruptions is molding my little guy's heart, much more so than when my exasperated self kept trying to micro-manage his behavior. It's changing our family culture and bringing joy back into our days.

There's no such thing as a perfect kid and there's no such thing as a perfect Mama. God put the two together that they BOTH might grow into His likeness through a life time of seeking His face.

My little man is three today and I have been asking myself these questions__

Have I led my boy to the foot of the cross today?

Have I shown Him God's greatness and grace?

Have I lowered my voice and lowered my posture so that my eyes meet his and my own actions are able to imitate Christ's humility?

"The mundane, ordinary things are genuinely tremendous undertakings requiring Christ-courage. 
Who has the courage to live a life of little, unnoticed sacrifices? Loving an angry child, making a bed, kneading dough in the kitchen. Voluntarily picking up a trail of discarded socks. Gratefully, folding up a damp towel abandoned on the bathroom floor. Carefully placing a tossed pair of shoes into the closet.
This is our life: a mosaic of little things, daily sacrifices in small, quiet pieces. 
And it's beautiful because at its very essence, this Christ-life is about the little things being the greatest things of all. Christ Himself told us: Whoever wants to be great in God’s kingdom must learn to be a servant of all. And when will I hands-and-mouth-and-feet-remember that this little stuff is the truly noble stuff—the Jesus-stuff? Didn’t He too do great things that seemed so little: washing feet, and gathering children close on lap? Dying on a tree. In His kingdom heroes live hidden, medal-less lives, lives laid down.” 

If we really wanna raise these kids up, we've got to get down low, and ask the Lord to help us steward well the souls He's given us.