Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday, At Long Last!

The school week finally came to a close. What a relief! That makes for one less thing to think about.

It has been hot and sticky here, with the forecast only promising it to get worse. September is feeling like summer more than July and August did, and by the afternoon I'm pretty much melted and deplete of energy. But Fridays seem to call for something a little special and I've learned that if I have even the smallest desire to do something fun with my kids, I'm best to run with it. I asked them if they wanted to hop on our bikes and head to the beach. Because of the heat, the boys nearly chose to play Legos instead and Olivia would have been content to lounge on the sofa with a book. We almost didn't go, but we are all glad we did. Swim suits, water bottles, and camera were our basic gear.













The water was wonderfully warm, and we stayed as long as we could. We had a late dinner of oatmeal with fruit and nuts in exchange for more time at the beach, since Jon wasn't going to be home till later in the evening. One of my boys said it was the best beach trip ever. I'm not sure about that, but it certainly was lovely.

Tomorrow morning we'll be at the soccer field at 7am, so everyone is tucked in and the car is loaded. I am much more of a night person, but it's probably best if I call it a day.

Good night and happy weekend!

~Katherine




Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Mid-Week Moment

It's a quiet moment here, thanks to Jon. He is running errands with Michael while Olivia is at soccer practice. The little boys are listening to an audio book in their room with a little bowls of nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate chips. I had some too. My feet hurt and it feels good to sit down.

The fans are all whirling at full speed. It's been uncomfortably hot this week, with humidity and still air making it all the worse. Jon slept on top of the blankets last night, and I slept with one leg in and one leg out. This morning I have mosquito bites on one leg on one foot, thanks to open windows with no screens. It doesn't feel like fall is anywhere near coming but I'm looking forward to mornings in my jeans, hands cradling a cup of coffee. A good, loud thunderstorm would be nice too.

School is whooping me this week. I'm not into it at all, and the days have been long and grueling. It seems that every day is hard in some way, no day sticking out as being a really good one. I think that's just part of the curse, this hardship of pressing on in and through the mundane incessantly. Over and over is the cycle of doing and doing again, working only to repeat, dealing with sin and replaying it yet again. I am weary today.

But it's OK. God tells us to draw near to Him and He will draw near to us. My heart stills and I remember Him and His promises of comfort and help. I am not defeated and I continue to lean on Him regardless of the difficulty. Sometimes I forget and act on my own, but my heart returns and I find hope in Him once again.

Jon and I get to go out later tonight. Date nights can be such a refreshment, and this one comes at the perfect time. I'm not sure what we'll do or where we'll go-- typically Jon has some ideas up his sleeve-- but I am certain it will be wonderful. I am thankful for this husband of mine and more in love with him as the years go by.

The little boys have moved to the backyard. I think they are playing with the bow and arrows Andrew made. I feel the first breeze of the day wafting in, and it's now time to start dinner for the kids and getting my undone self ready to go out. These quiet moments, no matter how brief, always do me such good.


A song for the day: Lord, I Need You.


~Katherine



Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Adventures of the less-than-desirable variety


"Seek the Lord and His strength;
seek His presence continually."
1 Chron. 16:11


A new school year and new mercies. We're in week two and I'd say it's shaping up to be a pretty good year.

New mercies. Yes, I need them every day and in every way. I am thankful because when things take an unexpected turn and when work and fatigue increase, God is faithful still. His strength and His presence carries me through another day.

As each new school year approaches, I wonder how I will be able to fulfill all of my household responsibilities AND school my children. I make lists and schedules, I work hard to establish good routines, and I strive to train my kids to pitch in wherever needed. This all helps, but I still wonder how the addition of several hours of schooling each day will actually fit in. As the first few days unfold, it gets a little crazy and I wonder about my decisions; then soon the dust settles as things begin to fall into place. Compared to the summer, there begins to be a new rhythm, a faster beat, and greater accomplishment by the end of each day.

But just as my confidence begins to build, the unexpected happens. It's the kind of thing that broadsides you and leaves you in utter disbelief.

Lice!

We joked that his itching was lice, then for good measure I called my son over to the kitchen sink to have a look. He leaned over our white sink as I searched the back of his head and he yells, "Look! A bug just dropped!" I bend over intently looking into the sink to see the tiniest of insects. Panicked, I begin searching his scalp only to confirm an infestation.

It's what every parent does not want to find. I gave myself a couple moments to collect my thoughts, suddenly beginning to feel like bugs are crawling in my own hair. I checked the others, but no one else had any signs of lice.

Lice! The word itself is still such a shock.

I instructed the kids to stay away from each other, I stripped the beds and gathered towels and clothes. Let me just say that my poor machines have been workhorses. After consulting Google, the infested boy and I jumped in the car and went straight to the store for poison shampoo because now was not time to experiment with healthier alternatives. There was no time to waste...

As I rounded the corner leaving our neighborhood, a calming thought came. It was a new mercy from God.

"You know," I said, "God only gives good things to those He loves. God is sending us these lice because He knows this is good and needful for us right now. I don't know how this is a good thing yet, but I trust He knows best."

"Yeah," he answered in a tone that expressed greater-than-expected agreement. It was a new lesson about the sovereignty of God right there in the middle of our day, and an unexpected mercy that it was brought to my mind and received by my boy.

Even though I have grumbled and complained at times, there were mercies throughout all of this drama. These were evidences that there's goodness all around me for which to be thankful, and reminders that God is working in me to change me. I have been thankful for Jon bringing home dinner on a couple nights, for a reliable washer and dryer, and thankful for closeness and conversation with my kids while I nit-picked (I have a new understanding of that phrase now!) or checked for bugs. I have been humbled, too: Aren't dirty people the ones who have lice?! I was encouraged in ways I may not have been otherwise, through middle of the night embraces and thankful words whispered in the dark.

A week later now, and we seem to have it beat. In addition to the poison shampoo, my boy did his school work with his head basting in olive oil under a shower cap, I did about 1000 loads of laundry, repeatedly vacuumed, filled our freezer space with straw hats and hair ties, boiled brushes and combs, and nit picked for hours! No one else contracted the lice, which is amazing given the physical closeness of my family, and my one affected boy has been free bugs and nits for several day now. What a relief! Just in case, though, we are taking precautions and acting like they could still be present. I'm combing through his head daily, checking the others, and postponing Jacob's sleepover b-day party to a later date. (Jacob is happy because now he gets two birthdays! Not a bad deal for him.)

>>:<<

Enough of that. Really, I've had enough! Moving on...

I think this will be a good school year. For once my kids were at least somewhat eager to get started on a new year, and it seems each of them are motivated to see progress. I have two boys that have decided they enjoy reading now, one that is going crazy-long on his writing assignments, and another that seems to have figured out the benefit of learning his lessons. Olivia has always been an eager learner, and this year will stretch her in new ways and she is up for the challenge. Me? I don't know. I just go along for the ride and try to learn with them and cheer them on as best I can.

A few recent pictures:


A little family get-away down town before school started. Thank you, Jon!



Out for an afternoon walk

Making slime-- a summer favorite





Andrew's completed Popsicle stick house



The roof flips open on one side, revealing an attic bedroom with bed, side table and lamp, desk and chair.


The interior rooms can be seen when the second floor is removed

Cozy dining room with chandelier 

Another bedroom

A place to study

Fireplace and chairs, ladder/stairs to the attic

Olivia was his trusty helper and companion during construction. Here, Andrew's reaction after she planted his cheek with a kiss...


The school day is over, and my kids are still up in the school room coloring medieval art and listening to a supplementary history curriculum on audio (with an "after school snack").





Always some sort of  project on the go

The boys found the binoculars in the school cabinet



A helpful tool for me this week. If you ever find yourself in my predicament, this is your best bet.

A helpful reminder stuck on someones school record book for me to see daily this week: "SEEK the Lord and His strength; SEEK His presence continually." I am not to be passive in this, but rather I must continually go to Him again and again...

This recent event has been a reminder that life is not about me. When unpleasant, inconvenient, or disastrous things happen, how I respond will show others if I believe the world revolves around me or if I strive to live for God. My response to a disrupted schedule, ruined plans, or dashed dreams will prove what I believe, whether life is about my glory or God's. My kids especially will see through what I say if I am not careful to keep my attitude in check. And it's not easy. So everyday and in every way, I need God's strength and His presence continually.

Another mercy: I have laid down late at night with a contentment that did not come from me. Who would be content in the fight against lice? Who would wish to spend her days combing through hair and wondering if her own hair was infested? I sure would not volunteer for that. But there was a contentment in knowing that this very thing was my work given to me by God. There was no question about it, it seemed so very clear. I found fulfillment in doing His work to my exhaustion, knowing that my days were not squandered. It seems strange, I know. But it tells me God is at work in me.

~Katherine




Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Reeling

Reeling. It's the first word that comes to mind to describe myself this month.

According to my google search, to reel is to "lose one's balance and stagger or lurch violently".

I'm not sure who has been coming around this blog of mine recently; in fact, I've hardly ever known. Few comments are left but the number of visitors go up. It doesn't matter really, but occasionally I do ask myself why I write of the intimate parts of my life for anyone to see. I'm generally more of a private person, so it hardly makes sense that I'd be so open. Still, I have a certain ease here. At times writing helps me to process the things that go on in and around me, other times writing brings me a sense of closure. As for writing publicly, I figure I'm hardly a unique person and the things of my life are probably more common than not. Maybe in my honesty someone out there can relate, probably not in the particulars but possibly in the experience of emotion and, more importantly, in the learning. I think all of my life is really about learning: It's about learning of God, and who I am in Him. That part is the exciting part, the part easiest to share. I hope that my life (and therefore my words here) point onlookers to God. I know it isn't always the case, but it's my desire nonetheless.

So about reeling:

I've lurched violently and I've been off balance. A couple days after I last wrote I was faced with possibly the hardest decision I've had to make in my life. Of course there have been huge and impactful decisions to make before now: Following Jesus in repentance and faith? An irresistible choice! Marrying Jon? Yes, please! Beyond that there have been other big decisions to make, but none have had the same weightiness and permanent ramifications. None were quite so risky. No decision has ever been made under such duress and with so many lingering unknowns. It's one thing to make a life altering decision, it's quite another thing to make a life altering decision (one that could impact generations of our family) and have lifelong regret.

I didn't know which way to go, what to choose. I've never been so conflicted and in utter turmoil in all of my life. Paralyzed.

One afternoon I sat in a hot car for a moment just trying to get away to think without the distraction of people and responsibility. Silently I prayed for clarity and direction, desperately wanting stability of thought and emotion, desperately needing God to guide me in an undeniable way. My mind and heart raced. There was a tap at my window and the parking police said that I'd overstayed my limit and he would right me up if I didn't move immediately. I drove out of his sight and parked illegally, the only option in the area. I called Jon hoping that through prayer and thought he would have a decision made. I'd go with whatever he said, and I would have confidence in whatever decision he made.

But no. He is supportive of me. The decision wasn't a clear moral or ethical one, and since the weight of it ultimately fell on me, the decision was mine to make. Tears that I'd fought so hard could no longer be stopped and time raced and the world spun. It was as if everything I understood was pulled out from under me. What I'd desired for so long was now questionable at best. 

The next day was our anniversary, but even though my mother-in-law was visiting and we had the option of going away for a night, the sentiment of the day was heavy and we decided to stay nearby for our evening out. Up to that point Jon and I had not had focused time together, but in the end I think it served to point us in the same direction. Sometimes God leads by giving his children desires, or by redirecting desires, or by removing them entirely. We weren't sure of many things, but we were coming to the same conclusions. It seemed right that in the celebration of our marriage, we would be united and likeminded.

I'm still reeling. I do think we made a good decision, but this experience has caused me to questions many things. I've had questions about how God answers prayer and about my relationship with Him because, yeah, he had seemed silent to me. I've questioned the way I've understood certain Bible passages. I've wondered how to differentiate between feelings and the guiding of the Holy Spirit. I've wondered why God is doing what He is doing, and I know that is not my place.

I have also wondered if I acted like Peter, stepping out of the boat to meet Jesus in the water only to look around at the danger and begin to fear and doubt. It comforts me that Jesus pulled Peter out of the water and lead him back to the boat. Peter later went on to serve the Lord bravely and wholeheartedly. God doesn't allow our weaknesses and doubt to go to waste when He is at work in us.


>>>:<<<

I've been in my head a lot this month. The days race on around me, and I've had a hard time pulling myself out of deep thought and being present and helpful to those around me. Summer is ending soon, and I commit and recommit to enjoying those around me...



(On a short hike to the beach with my kids last week)








(I had lost interest in taking pictures, so it was good to see things through my lens again. Unfortunately, I forgot to check my white balance and exposure settings.)




(Mud fights for the boys)















"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul." 
Ps. 143:8


"Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God."
Ps. 42:11


~Katherine