Time to Lean In and Listen

If on one’s epitaph the quote of what the person said most frequently when they were living had to be written, I suppose mine might say, “I need to go switch laundry.” Although, “Have you finished your math?” might be a close second.

This mothering business is for real, y’all. My kids are 12, 11 and 9 right now. You could say we are about halfway through raising them under our roof, and to be honest, I’m getting tired. I thought I was tired when I was changing diapers and wiping runny noses. I thought I would never make it out of the “teach-them-their-colors” and “how-to-read” phases, but I made it! And they all know their colors and how to read. Amazing. Even more amazing—no one asks me to wipe their behind or to help them blow their nose anymore.

But halfway through and I am feeling myself (read: MY FLESH/SIN NATURE) rise up against the daily tasks of motherhood and home schooling. I daydream about what it would be like to not “just be a mom.” Because let’s be honest, motherhood is just about the least glamorous thing going. Most of motherhood is work. It’s laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, listening to stories about wrestling or stories about what happened at youth group. It’s vacuuming and dusting. It’s picking up toys, reading books, kissing boo-boos. It’s cleaning toilets and sweeping and mopping. It’s monitoring time spent on devices—oh, the devices. I hate them, but I know I need to train the kids in how to use them and warn them of the dangers. We don’t live in the 1800’s. It’s lying in bed at night wishing you had handled that issue with more patience and grace. It’s wondering if you are teaching them well and praying they will not remember all the times you fail miserably.

This is not intended to be a pity-party. I promise. I know I could also list all the joys of motherhood—and there are many! I just felt the need to be real for a moment and say out loud (or type and post) that IT’S OK TO ADMIT THAT THIS IS HARD. It’s ok to not love every part of what you are doing as a mom. But it is not ok (I’m particularly speaking to me here) to quit. To wallow in the hard places. To throw up my hands and say, “Whatever!” Nope. It’s not time for any of that.

This reminds me of Florence Chadwick.  She wanted to swim to the shore of mainland California from Catalina Island. She swam for fifteen hours and then begged to be taken out of the water.  Her mom encouraged her to keep going and told her she was so close.  Yet, Florence, completely exhausted, stopped swimming.  She was pulled into the boat and then realized she was less than half a mile from reaching her goal.  Here is what she said at a news conference-

 “All I could see was the fog.…I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it.”

So what is it time for? It’s time for perspective.  It’s time for strength to rise.  It’s time for faith to swell. How does a mom do that?  How does a mom see what she can’t see?  Only the Lord and His Word gives me the strength and perspective I need. Just like any other time or under any other challenging circumstances, it’s time to, as Joshua 3:9 says, “Come here, and hear the words of the LORD your God.”

And as I have leaned in to hear what The Lord would say to me over the past few weeks, these are some of the things He has spoken to my heart:

From Psalm 3— “But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head. I was crying to the LORD with my voice, and He answered me from His holy mountain. I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustains me.”

From Psalm 4— “You have put gladness in my heart, more than when their new wine and grain abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You, LORD, alone make me dwell in safety.”

From Psalm 5— “But let all who take refuge in You be glad, Let them ever sing for joy…And may You shelter them, that those who love Your Name may exult in You. For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O Lord, You surround him with favor as with a shield.”

From Psalm 9— “I will tell of all Your Wonders…..That I may tell of all Your praises…”

From Psalm 16— “ I said to the LORD, ‘You are my Lord; I have no good besides You.’…You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.”

There have been recurring themes like ~ Joy ~ Gladness ~ Favor ~ Shelter ~ Shield ~ Surround ~ Sustain ~ Sleep ~ Awake ~ Alone ~ Rest ~ Trust ~ Submit ~ Yield ~

And in my journal I have written prayers and thanked God for the Truth of His Word that is meeting me in the tired days of motherhood. His presence gives me strength and wisdom that I need to press on and do the work of motherhood with gladness. It’s daily—moment by moment even.

No matter where you are on your journey of life, let’s all listen to Joshua in chapter 3, verse 9 and

“Come here, and hear the words of the LORD your God.”

Evolving

Oh, this blog.  Oh, this life.  My kids are disappointed in my lack of posting on the blog in any consistent manner.  They say they want me to write down stuff about our life, but the stories I have these days with tweens are VERY different from the toddler days.

When they were 2, 4 and 5 years old, they would say and do some hilarious stuff.  We still talk about the time Mack stuck his head in the potty.  Molly still asks him, “WHY would you ever do that???”  We also laugh about when Mack pooped in the woods and told us he did it because he wanted to see what it was like to be a bear.  Hmmmmm.  I can’t say the word “pilgrim” without thinking of Ruby telling me about her teacher at church dressed up as a “pig worm.”  I was so confused until I realized she was saying “pilgrim.”  So cute.

Since the fall of 2008, I have posted pictures of chubby kids running around half-dressed or photos capturing them playing in the sprinkler in the back yard, pictures of them eating with food all over their faces, photos of princesses, cowboys, superheroes, detectives and more.  Cute, funny, adorable stuff that needed to be documented.  I am so thankful I recorded the stories here on the blog before I forgot them.  Those years can be such a blur.

I miss those days.

We watch videos sometimes from when they were young, and Ruby usually asks me in disbelief, “So, this is what you did all day?”

Yes, Ruby.  That was what I did all day.  Diapers.  Food.  Books.  Bottles.  Costumes.  Toys. Make-believe. Lots of answering questions and settling disputes over snacks and sippy cups.  What a fun, messy, exhausting, blessed way to spend my days.

These days I’m not physically exhausted, but mentally and emotionally I am.  The disputes involve iPods and favorite shirts.  The questions are heavier.  And after snapping a picture of Mack, he says, “Don’t post that anywhere!!!”  The girls want to see it to approve it before I post it anywhere.  I was mortified to hear Molly say, “Yeah, that one is good.  It is ‘instagram-worthy.'”  HUH???  Dear goodness.  We had a little talk about social media at that point–The way we select only certain photos that reveal the best sides of our lives. I gave warnings and cautions.

Big Sigh.  Parenting in the 21st century–not a simple pursuit.

How in the world did I get on all of that?  I suppose I am just trying to say that blogging about the family is a bit more of a challenge than it used to be.  Don’t want to embarrass the kids with stories they wouldn’t want me to share.  And definitely can’t post pictures that aren’t approved.  I am keeping up with some of our life on Instagram and just started receiving chat books, so that is exciting.  But it doesn’t help me know what I want to do with the blog.  Maybe devotional thoughts as I have some time?  Key words: as I have time.  

But for now I am going to try out our new electric pencil sharpener.  Exciting times around here, people.  Exciting times.

 

Lunch Time Talk

We all want the best for our kids.  I admit that sometimes I have grandiose ideas of what they might do as a career one day.  They will be successful and give me full credit for all of my hard work and sacrifice throughout the years as their home school teacher/mom who invested YEARS of her life and time into each one of them….or something like that.

Sometimes though, these kids of mine remind me that they, indeed, have their own thoughts, ideas and goals for their own life (and this is a good thing).

Go with me for a moment– Yesterday we were on our field trip to JAARS, learning about how people devote their life to having the Bible translated into another language. We learned about pilots who risk their life on a daily basis going in and out of jungles to reach people who have never heard about Jesus.  My imagination ran away from me, and I could picture each of my kids in a certain role that the folks at JAARS told us about yesterday.

Well, my dose of reality came today at lunch.  Each kiddo was eating quesadillas and chips while sitting on their stools.  I was standing opposite them and Mack said, quite randomly, “I don’t want to die.  I want to be like Elijah.”

“Oh, really?  You just want to be caught up in the sky to heaven?” I asked.

“Yes, I think that is way better than dying,” he said, confidently.

Molly sits up straighter and announces, “I don’t want to go to heaven for a while.  I have stuff to do…like have kids and stuff.”

I gently told her that having kids is good and all, but it also comes with a lot of heart ache and hard work–and that heaven would surpass anything she desires here on earth.

She gave me a You-Are-Crazy look and then said, in all seriousness, “I have to get married.  It’s my life goal.”

Then, Mack confirmed that not dying, but just going straight to Heaven was his life goal.

Interesting conversations around here…..and good reminders that the kids need direction and love and prayer, but in the end, they will make their own decisions and career choices. Super glad that isn’t all on me.  Whew.

 

Too much rolling around in my brain

The kids told me that I couldn’t just document our home school life on Instagram and be done.  They said that I must start blogging weekly about other stuff we do and things they say.  It’s fun for them to look back and read funny stories from when they were little, so they want me to keep the blog going.  I hadn’t intended to NOT blog.  I just don’t have time, it seems.  I cannot tell you how many stories I have rolling around in my mind, but I just never make it to the computer to type them out.

There is so much to do to keep a house running and to home school all three kids.  Laundry is just hilarious–how it never ends.  And the cooking and eating.  Wonder why God didn’t make it so we had to eat once every other day?  That would be neat.  And less messy.

With all that is going on in the world these days with politics and Christian leaders casting doubt on the Word of God and all, it’s not like there isn’t plenty to talk about…but it’s probably best we not talk about those things out here in crazy cyber land.  I felt sort of bad for the guy helping me with my groceries though. I have a lot of pent up words. I mean, last time he helped me with my groceries he was telling me how he thinks I should grow my hair out and kept asking me why I was buying so many groceries.  “Hold on, Jim.  We just met.  I don’t care what you think about my hair, and I have a family of five to feed–three of which are growing children.  Back off.”

Well, last time I was gracious and just smiled and tried to explain why I bought over $300 of groceries.  Today, however, since I am here in our new city without friends to vent to over politics and religion, he didn’t get many smiles or gracious explanations.  He asked me where my kids were.  I told him, even though it is none of his business.  “At home doing school.”  He remembers that I home school and asks me how I like it in a tone that made it clear he thought I was a bit off for schooling the kids.  I told him I loved it (that is a half-truth…half the time I love it and half the time I hate it, ok?).  He then asked me what I like about it.  “Well, I get to spend time daily with my kids.  I teach them in the way I think best suits them and at our own pace.  We have lots of flexibility, and I teach them according to the Bible.”

Then, he asked THE question, “What about socializing?”

Seriously?  Do people still think this is a question worthy of asking.  For a second I thought of saying that I don’t worry about socialization or socializing.  I just lock my kids in the basement with their books and throw them a sandwich every day at noon.  But instead, I told him, “Oh, we go out and about.  They talk to people and answer questions.  We attend church where they make friends and go to parties.” (Why am I explaining myself to this stranger?)  He looks concerned and tried to finish my sentence…I continued, “They aren’t only around–” and this is where he broke in to say, “you all day.”  I corrected him.  “No, they aren’t only around kids their age most of the day, like in a school setting.” Personally, I  don’t really count it a high priority (or good way of learning how to socialize) for them to be in a room full of peers.

Bless him.  Bless me.  Bless this crazy world we live in.

So, ok now that I am so off track from giving my children glimpse into their life…..wonder how I should transition?  Hmmmm.  How about pictures?

I love fall!  We got out and about today to run a couple of errands.  Molly took pictures, and I am going to post them and end this post on a happy note!

The bakery we went to was beautiful!  I couldn’t get over how many delicious treats they had on display.

Then, we enjoyed driving back home looking at the trees and the gorgeous houses.

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The house above is in our neighborhood.  The houses below are not.  ;) img_8576-2img_8580img_8582

We appreciate our weekends more than ever these days.  Tonight we’re having lasagna and bread with salad. And we are planning to play games.  This is fun for everyone in my family except me.  I am going to be demonstrating what it looks like to sacrifice this evening.  I would prefer to be sitting in front of the fire with a book and quiet, but I will do my best to embrace a “Fun-Filled Friday Night Game Time” instead.

Happy Weekend, y’all.

Book recommendation!

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If you are a home school mom, I highly recommend this book. A friend of mine sent it to me, and I am so thankful she did. I laughed and cried. I felt conviction about how I spend my time with my kids, but not because she tells how great she did everything, but because she was honest about what she wishes she did differently. I was inspired to teach and encourage my children to be life-long learners. I was reminded that home schooling doesn’t need to be as difficult as I sometimes make it in my mind. I wanted to share a few of my favorite quotes from her book here to encourage you and maybe inspire you to go buy this book!

page 6 “We have to repent of that idea of control, repent of our little kingdoms over and over again. Maybe the greater part of our sanctification comes as we remember that those around us were not born as appendages to us; they are unique individuals made in the image of God. In return, we are not appendages to our family either. I was born a person. My mother found this just as shocking about me as I did about my first son.”

page 7 “Motherhood is a place of dreamy hopes and crushed fantasies and the hard, hard work of sinners in relationship with one another day by day.”

page 120 in regards to her children leaving home, “It was a bit of a shock for me to watch my family dwindle over the last ten years, because ten short years ago we had all of our children squished into the pew with us. And while my other children are all generally in a pew somewhere, they are not with me…There’s just no way to see something like that coming, and maybe it is wrong of me to even mention it to young mothers.”

page 113 “I read once that a nine year old boy is the most pleasant of all children to be around. I believe that is true. As moms, we have this baby, and then we have this nine-year-old boy, and our relationship with him is sweet to us, but that is not the end of the story…….Ultimately, we have to let our boys be men. Whatever satisfaction we got out of our relationship with our son must be turned toward the one who is better than ten sons. Isn’t that how our hearts work? Our longings are triggers which find their fulfillment in Christ. That fulfillment is always available to you as a mother ever in the midst of letting go of relationships we treasure.”

SIGH. Mack is nine years old. He is the sweetest thing, too. After reading this section, I may have gotten up and walked over to his bedroom where he was sleeping and kissed his freckled cheek and whispered a prayer that I would be a mom that could love and not smother. Be a mom that raises him to be a man, a strong and bold and kind man of God.

page 110 “We are living in an increasingly feminized society. Some people view that as an increasingly civilized society, but it has left our boys with deep desires for honor but few outlets for displaying it properly.”

This next quote in particular made my stomach sink. Being a stay at home mom that home schools her three kids can, at times, feel isolating. Social media can be your main connection to the outside world some days! Or maybe you want to pretend like you aren’t a home school mom, so you immerse yourself in what other people are posting about their lives or you read news articles for an hour about the two crazy contestants for President (doesn’t this feel like a game show that will end instead of Presidential election with real nominees?). Whatever the reason, I do NOT want to harm my relationships with my kids when I ignore opportunities for big, juicy conversations just so I can see what so-and-so did on Fall Break or how far Suzy Q ran yesterday. I mean, seriously. It is absurd as it sounds. I do think there are positives to social media—no doubt. But we must be mindful of how it might be affecting our family.

page 88 “Perhaps I did not watch my children as well as I should have during those years. It seemed like I was always with them, but was I paying attention? It turns out I was not, and some of my children suffered deep wounds because of it. It would be convenient for me to skip this fact, except that I feel compelled to warn other mothers not to make the same mistake.”

page 148 “If we read a book knowing we have to tell someone else about it, we will read with attention. Without attention, no child or adult learns anything. Narration, oral and written, trains the mind to pay attention.The attentions the child gives engages his mind so that he is not merely reading, he is processing what he is reading.”

Oh, so much good stuff in this book, Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins. This book is one I will need to read again…and again. Go out and get a copy and let me know what you think!

Simply Rest (easier said than done)

The weather here in Charlotte has been divine. Fall is my favorite season already, and I am enjoying it immensely in our new city. Long walks with the kids, sitting on the front steps watching the kids ride their bikes, eating lunch outdoors when we can.

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Schooling the kids is the main way I spend my days. Math, History, Science, Reading and Writing.

So the days are calm. I’m a slow learner, but I think I am starting to embrace the season of rest that the Lord has given me. I went for a walk the other evening while Ruby was at a youth group social. I was praying as I walked and just said, “Lord, I am not re-hashing to you all of my thoughts and emotions. It’s exhausting, and I know you already know. I am going to listen to You. Anything You want to say?”

It was pretty clear what came to me next. I was immediately reminded of the simple (not easy) priorities from The Word of God.

1- Love God.
2- Love and respect Josh.
3- Love and train the kids.
4- Manage the home.

Short little sentences packed with a gracious plenty to keep my days full.

I remember reading in a book about how to be an excellent wife that it would be a good idea to ask your husband every day if there was something you could do for him. In the season I was in, with little needy kids, I laughed to myself at that piece of advice. I mean, you must be kidding. I wasn’t asking anybody for anything extra to do in my day. I knew I was going to work my tail off around the house and for the kids…that’s what I would be doing!

But it has been a helpful question to ask lately. It’s a reminder that I am Josh’s helper, and I do want to help him. It makes me feel good to take something off of his plate. And it sets an example for my kids.  I mean, in your life, how many people are approachable?  How many people truly listen to you?  How many people are just available to be there for you?  How many people ask you how they can help you?  I want to be that kind of person.  If I want to be that approachable, caring, listening person, I can’t have a jam-packed life full of places to go and people to see.  I need margin in my life, and I am thankful for how God brought me to this place of such simplicity.  You can bet your bottom dollar I will pray and think very carefully before adding anything to my calendar. Not out of a selfish guarding of MY time, but out of a desire to “number my days that I may present to God a heart of wisdom.”  It matters how I spend my days.  And the way the Lord wants my days to look might be different than how other people want my days to look.  It might be different than I want my days to look, but I want to hear from Him.

I have been challenged in how I show love to my kids during these days, too. I am notorious for letting my kids know that, “I am not your maid!” In my ambitious spirit to make sure my kids are not total brats, I may have missed opportunities to serve them in ways that make them feel loved. Like when Molly forgets her drink at lunch, I want to say, “Didn’t you know you were going to want something to drink before you sat down at the sandwich and chips?” Instead, I could be an example to her of how to respond to someone who needs something or forgot to do something and needs help. When Mack asks for help when he is making his bed, I can joyfully walk in and help him. I know how much easier it is to make a double bed when you have someone on the other side, so why not give him a hand if I am able? And I definitely have time to help the kids.  It’s just them and me all day long—doing our school and going on walks.  That’s it!

Rest. Simplicity. Reminders.
Just what My Heavenly Father has ordered; I want to graciously, humbly, thankfully receive it.

I pray you are also hearing from The Lord in this season of your life.

Deliveries, Fallen Limbs, Road Trip and Family

Today we did school and waited on our new kitchen chairs to be delivered.  I was very excited to have them arrive!  The house is coming together, slowly but surely!

We were then able to go out on a walk.  The weather is absolutely perfect.

And here is the little “library” on the corner up from our home.  Ruby and I looked in it today and picked a book to take home.  It is the neatest little thing….

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Let me show you the huge limb/part of a tree that fell off in our front yard while we were out of town….

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It is rather large.  Thankfully, we have already had a couple of limbs fall, so we now have a tree guy!  He plans to come this week and do some more pruning and also cut this limb up and take down the whole tree. We are thankful it didn’t hit the house!

We were out of town because Josh’s step grandfather, who was 102 years old, passed away. We wanted to be there for Charlene, and we were glad we were able to make the trip.  We got to see my family on the way there and on the way home, as well as Irvin, Aunt Pep, Uncle Jerry, Uncle Tony, Aunt Denise, Al and Linda, Great Aunt Norma, Uncle Jason, Aunt Merrilee, and baby Deacon….and numerous other friends and family!  I especially like seeing SaraBess and Susan because they just remind me of Debbie so much.  They were all such good friends, and they know so much about how she was.  I am glad they got to see our kids, too!  Sweet ladies!

We also made a stop at Middle Georgia College in Cochran, GA.  What great memories!    You just don’t know how free you are during those college days.  At my age and with my responsibilities, I now know.  Too little, too late.  Riding those country roads and driving around campus flooded my mind with memories.  Loved it.

 

We told the kids about when Josh took me to Village Pizza intending to ask me to be his girlfriend.  I noticed he didn’t eat very much.  He said I talked the whole time and didn’t give him time to ask.  Not true….I don’t think.  He finally did ask once we got back to the dorm.  I told him I needed the weekend to pray and think about it.  (The kids did not understand what that was about… haha! ) Village Pizza is now a mexican restaurant.  Can I just say that I am so thankful that there weren’t chips, salsa and guacamole so nearby when I went to school there?  And Hardees is now Wendys.  I much prefer Wendys over Hardees, so again, I am thankful that it wasn’t there while I lived in Cochran. Freshman fifteen would be more like freshman forty.

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Never would have dreamed that the past almost 20 years of knowing Josh would have been such a journey!  He’s a fabulous leader for our family and loves us all well.  He is NOT a boring husband, that is for sure. And to think it all started in the little town of Cochran, Georgia.  Thankful for the providence of God.

 

Funny Days

The days around here are so funny to me.  I wanted to document this so that I will remember the first days of this move and appreciate when things are calmer.

Yesterday, a couple of guys got here at 8am to remove all the old grout and put back down nice, bright white grout in the girls’ bathroom.  It made such a huge improvement in that 1952 bathroom!!!  The shower got new grout all around and everything was sealed up nicely.  Hopefully, no more leaking from this shower down to my room!

At the same time, a tree guy, Caleb, came by to give me a quote on taking down a few limbs from some trees in the yard.  He was so knowledgable and told me all about the different kinds of trees in my yard.  I wish I had know I was going to learn so much because I would have made sure the kids were with me out in the yard and counted it as a horticulture class. Caleb is a believer, and we got to talking about how he was an MK in Peru until he was 11 years old.  He informed me that there is an organization in Waxhaw named JAARS that I can take my kids to and learn about how they get the bible translated into other languages.  Very nice guy!  (Sidetone: There are benefits to living in one of those neighborhoods where they take down every tree and just build houses!  If hurricane Matthew brings too many strong winds to Charlotte, I’m not sure what our yard is going to look like!!)

The tree guy left, and then our yard guy, Cruz, came by to finish cutting up the huge limb that fell last week and loaded it on his truck to take away.

During that time, an older gentleman came by to ask me a “few” questions for the census.  Lots of personal questions, too!  Like, how much money we make and how old I am.  He realized my kids were home schooled and then proceeded to quiz them with math questions.  I don’t know why that annoys me so bad, but it does.  I would love to know if he asks kids who are schooled other ways if they can solve his math problems.

Ok, then David (we’re on a first name basis) came by.  He was here last week and the week before.  He is our chimney guy and installed our wood burning stove…evidently he needed to measure something one more time before the company felt comfortable ordering the last piece for our stove.  I will see him again next week when he comes back to install that last piece.

In between all of our visitors, we were schooling and fixing lunch and doing laundry.  I was reminded of this quote I saw the other day about all the regular, mundane stuff we do in a day.

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So even all of these appointments with people in and out of the house can be used for God’s glory, instead of just thinking that they are interruptions in my day.  And when all the deliveries and work in the house are done and all we do is cook, clean, and do school together, it will all be important work.

I am instagramming our school stuff, so I don’t feel the need to document that here, but I am probably going to wish I had one day.  Maybe soon, if you’re lucky, I will do a home school post and update everyone (….whomever “everyone” is) on what we are learning  at the Dorminy Academy of Higher Learning.

I am sure you can hardly wait.

Goings on of late

Well, life here in Charlotte has been rocking along just fine here lately.  I mean, besides the riots and such going on in Uptown.  That has, obviously, not been “just fine.”  A sad situation, indeed.  It makes the sermon from last week (before any of us knew what was about to happen in this city) even more meaningful. One of the points of the sermon, after exhorting us to realize our address is a sacred place and to settle in where God has us, was to SEEK the peace/welfare/shalom of my neighborhood and city.  Jeremiah 29:7 says, “Seek the peace of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its peace you will have peace.”  The word peace sometimes reads “welfare,” but both are translated from SHALOM. Therefinersfire.org explains it this way: Shalom is more than just simply peace; it is a complete peace. It is a feeling of contentment, completeness, wholeness, well being and harmony. According to Strong’s Concordance 7965 Shalom means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. Shalom comes from the root verb shalom meaning to be complete, perfect and full. 

This past Sunday we were challenged to see each person as one made in the image of God and to continue to let this affect how we interact with anyone, in particularly, our neighbors.  The church we have been visiting has had a Word from God each time we’ve been there.  I love how God is so personal to His people!  Another example of this was that Josh and I discovered a leak from the girls’ shower before leaving for church.  We discussed how it could be a source of anxiety and worry–even frustration that would distract us from tuning in at church. Josh prayed for us before we got out of the truck and rolled our concerns over to the Lord because He cares for us!  We went into a class and on the power point was the title of the lesson, “Anxiety, Worry and Frustration.”  Ok, then.  Amazing how God just knows.

Ok, that’s enough words.  Let me see if I can share a few pictures with y’all.  Some have wanted to see what our house is looking like.  It’s a slow process, and we still aren’t settled, but we are getting there.  This Wednesday we will get a wood burning stove installed, and I am happy about that!  I think it will cozy up our living room.  We also hired a yard guy to help get our grass looking better and to keep it clean when all of the leaves on those trees start to turn and fall!

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So this is what our house looks like from the road as you drive up.

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This is the side door that we use; it opens up into the sun room with the kitchen on the right.

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This is the backyard from under the carport.  It needs a ton of work, but for now, the sweet spot is the hammock…which I am sure will get even sweeter in the fall weather.

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This is our front door, and that little black box is our mailbox.  The postman walks the mail to my front door and puts it in that box.  Isn’t that interesting?  I have only lived in neighborhoods with mailboxes at the road, so this is different for me!  The kids love it.  They fuss over who gets to unlock the box and get the mail each day.

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This is looking down our driveway from the carport.

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This is one side of our living room.  That little door opening to the right is my office area.  Small, but quaint.

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Here’s the other side.  Still a work in progress, but it is much more “homey” than a couple of weeks ago!

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This is the grocery store I go to.  The Publix is literally going to be across the street from here.  Also, there is a Chickfila, Bojangles and Krispy Kreme across the street.  Dangerous.

So, that’s a little peek into the house.  Maybe one day when it is all cleaned up and a little more settled, I will post some other pictures.  The girls room is cute when it is clean.  The school room works just fine, though it needs a rug.  Mack’s room is great.  Our room is just not coming together very well yet.  I make the bed every day and then leave as soon as possible.  One day I will be inspired to make it whatever it needs to be, but for now, it will have to do.

Happy Monday to you.

 

Home-a sacred place

I still remember distinctly driving away from our Woodstock home. Ruby was with me in the front seat and was playing a song on her ipod. “His Eye is On the Sparrow”—very appropriate. And very true.

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It was a song I should have played non-stop last week when no hot water was flowing through the pipes here in our new “old” home! The hot water heater had died, gone kaput. It was under warranty, but waiting over a week for hot water was not going to cut it. Call me a wimp (I can just hear my sweet missionary friends sighing and see them shaking their heads at me). I admit, I was not able to function without hot water. I needed it in order to be clean, to wash my hair, to wash dishes. My kids needed it. My husband needed it. So after five days without any hot water and a warranty company moving at a turtle’s pace, I took matters into my own hands and hired a plumber. He showed up with a water heater and realized it was damaged. He returned the water heater and picked up another one; he opened it once he returned to my house and saw that it was also damaged. He decided to go to another store and to check the water heater before coming all the way back to my house. So, four hours after he first arrived at my house, he was able to start working. It took him quite a while to get the new hot water heater connected and working. I had 20 minutes to shower before taking Mack to his first flag football practice. But I was not leaving the house again without a shower. Just gross.
The conversation with the Lord was kind of hilarious. I kept telling Him that I was sure He had a plan. I even waited for someone to randomly ring the doorbell and tell me that they felt impressed by the Lord to install a new hot water heater for free for me. I was really praying about this hot water situation. I also asked the Lord some questions. “Did we buy the wrong house?” I haven’t doubted for one second that we are where we are supposed to be as far as this move to Charlotte and the job the Lord gave Josh. God has made that abundantly clear. But aside from moving to Charlotte for Josh’s new job, did we pick the wrong house? We prayed and prayed about that decision as well. And it happened super quick, yet we both felt this was the place for us. HOWEVER, when things start getting difficult, it is amazing how quickly we start doubting the whole kit and caboodle. As if somehow this was in my control. I asked God to quiet my doubts, clear them from my head, and give me (another) anchor from His Word to help me KNOW that He planted us right here in the city, on this street, and in this specific house.

Allow me to backtrack a bit…..When we were searching the internet for a home before coming to Charlotte to house hunt, the houses we liked were either too expensive or under contract in a day! It was kind of crazy and got me worrying. I wanted to be able to move one time—-not move to an apartment and then move again or rent for a year and then move again. I just really, really was praying that God would open up a home just for us within 5-10 miles of Josh’s office. I was a little too consumed for a few days with how few houses were available in this area. I decided to give myself a break and when I was tempted to look online for houses, I would read scripture and pray about our house. Then, the day before we were going to come house hunt in Charlotte, I decided to hop online and just see what was available. Sure enough, this house popped up that I had never seen before in all my perusing. I sent it to Josh. He said he liked it. He called our agent. At the time she said that she was with a client and would go by and see it later in the day for us. However, her client only wanted to see one of the houses that our agent had lined up for her, so our agent was able to swing by a lot sooner than anticipated. She called me on FaceTime and walked through the house with me. Sure enough, we still liked it and put an offer in and then drove up that next morning to see it. There were other offers on the house, but since we were first we had another opportunity to put in our best and final offer before the seller made her decision. She went with our offer, and we proceeded from there. In less than thirty days we were in Charlotte, closing on this house. In the midst of all of that, our Woodstock home sold in six days.
It sounds so simple and easy when typed out on this side of all of it. But in the middle of making high pressure decisions and praying that the other offers weren’t chosen over ours unless the Lord wanted us to NOT have this house, and making all of the small repairs to our Woodstock home and all of the good byes that nearly did me in, life seemed hard.
Somewhere along the way, because the decision to move to Charlotte seemed clearer than anything ever before, I had adopted the thinking that the move would be easy. Things would be simple and clear and….easy. Now, if I was taking some sort of Christian questionnaire I would have never answered that life would be easy for a Christian who had heard clearly from God on a decision. But sometimes we know one thing, but believe another. So, yes, I was surprised that God allowed our house buying time here to be so “heavy” and “high pressured.” I was surprised that we had so many things to do at our Woodstock house that really took a toll on our last couple of weeks in that city.
And I was frustrated that the upstairs bathroom needed a new toilet and that the hot water heater had to be replaced our third week here and that the chimney either needed thousands of dollars of work/repair or we could get a wood burning stove installed for thousands. We’re going with the latter next week. There are more frustrating little things around here that will need to be taken care of, but that doesn’t mean we are in the wrong house. Just because it isn’t easy doesn’t mean now it’s time to doubt that we made the right decision.
There’s this thing called the providence of God.

Dr. J. Vernon McGee says:
“Providence is the means by which God directs all things — both animate and inanimate, seen and unseen, good and evil — toward a worthy purpose, which means His will must finally prevail. Or as the psalmist said, ‘his kingdom ruleth over all’ (Psalm 103:19). In Ephesians 1:11 Paul tells us that God ‘worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.’ Our God is running the universe today, friends, even though there are some who think that it has slipped out from under Him.”

Sooooo, back to the week when the hot water heater was not working I asked God for more confirmation that we were in the right house. One morning my quiet time scheduled reading was Acts 17. I started this scheduled reading back in January with a group of girls in Woodstock. During our history lesson that day I read about Paul’s missionary journeys and one of the scripture passages we focused on was Acts 17 when Paul was in Greece. THEN, the pastor of the church we have been visiting sent out an email. He challenged us to read Acts 17:26 and Jeremiah 29:4-7 because he was starting a series about “Loving Where You Live.” The first Sunday was going to be about your address and considering the theology behind where you live. At this point, I was like, “OK, Lord. Forgive my weak, feeble self that needs so much of Your patience and encouragement and help.
Acts 17:26 says, “and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,”
And Jeremiah 29 is a passage to the exiles in Babylon who didn’t want to be there and were tempted to believe false prophets that said they wouldn’t have to be in Babylon long. God said they would be there 70 years and that they should, “Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. 6‘Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. 7‘Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.’ 8“For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Do not let your prophets who are in your midst and your diviners deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams which they dream. 9‘For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them,’ declares the LORD.

When Josh returned from a business trip, I was telling him about these verses and how I thought the Lord was really helping me. He shared that while he was away he heard a devotion from Jeremiah 29 on those same verses.

The Lord was obviously speaking to both of us. The sermon on Sunday was amazing. We were challenged to 1) see the sovereignty of God in making this address a sacred place, 2) settle in to where God has you, and 3) seek the peace and welfare (shalom) of your neighbors and neighborhood and city.

The message could not have been any more for us. It was amazing how clear the Lord was and how personal He chose to be with me. I sure did need it. And I am so thankful for His kindness towards me.

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

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