Friday, January 28, 2011

The Spin

I was the kid who loved to spin.

I would spin around and around and around, then collapse in the grass and let the world keep spinning around me.

I loved that feeling.

I also loved the way my stomach would drop as a roller coaster dropped on the first big hill of the ride.

I loved anything daring and thrilling.

One summer, my neighborhood friend and I decided we would jump off the roof of every house in the neighborhood.

We did it.  I have major back problems now to prove it.

Another summer was spent building and jumping bike ramps.  We did all kinds of tricks, but we mostly liked to jump for distance.  Measuring each biker's jumping length was a bit of problem.  We solved this by laying all the little kids in the neighborhood in a row from the ramp down the street and measured length by the number of kids we could clear.  I'll never forget the image of my neighbor running towards us screaming, "STOP!!  STOP!!!"

It's a miracle we didn't kill anyone.  It's a miracle we didn't kill my baby brother.

Sometime after my first child was born, I began to notice that my recovery time became longer and longer after a roller coaster ride, or a swing set ride, or even just some spinning fun with my daughter.  I felt a little sick.  I would get a headache.  Standing on a high ledge, bridge or building has VERY negative repercussions for me these days.

The spin isn't working for me anymore.

What's funny is that I still find myself often caught in a spin of a different kind.  It's like there's still something of that thrill-seeking, but reckless child inside of me that tries to perpetuate the feeling I craved so much as a youth.

The thing is this kind of spin is more dangerous.  This kind of spin keeps me in a place of restlessness, discontentment and anxiety.

Spinning is NOT conducive to peace.

This last year I've worked at intentionality in this area.  I try to make decisions throughout my days that keep me in or lead me to a place of peace.

It's a battle to be sure.  It requires me to create space in my days and nights for quiet, thoughtful reflection, reading, conversation, and quiet.  It requires me to "under" schedule rather than over schedule.  It often requires me to say no when I would rather say yes.

Not that my life can really be described as peaceful.  We are a very busy family and I am a very busy woman.  But I'm finding that my heart and mind are maintaining peace more often.  Because of this, I recognize the spin more readily and am learning to make choices that pull me away from it.

Getting there, but not there yet.

Won't that always be the case?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Why I Ever Homeschooled in the First Place

I never dreamed I'd be a homeschool mom.  In fact, I was adamantly against it.  

When Morgan reached preschool age and we started looking at the school options for her, I felt some outside pressure to consider homeschooling and I resisted - VEHEMENTLY.   But I felt the Lord challenge me and say, "You've never even considered it.  You don't know anything about it.  I want you to at least look into it."  

So I did.  I read lots of books and spent HOURS on the internet reading and researching and my heart began to change.  The Lord changed my heart.  

I homeschooled Morgan and later, Jackson and Charlie until the fall of 2007.  Morgan had completed fourth grade, Jackson, first grade, and Charlie, kindergarten.  

I'll tell ya.  I'm a good homeschool mom.  No, I'm a GREAT homeschool mom.

I pour my all into it.  We read, play games, read, play games, go on fun field trips and work really, really hard.  I even started a small co-op with some friends in 2005 to complement and enrich our experience.  It's still going strong.  

But by the spring of '06, I was depleted in every way.  My marriage was in trouble.  My parents were separated and my father's health was failing rapidly.  I was severely depressed and pretty much at the end of myself.

It was at that time that I felt the Lord say, "It's time for school."

I'll admit it was tough to let them go.  But off to school they went.  And they thrived.  It was shocking, really.  I mean, you get into this homeschooling groove and homeschooling community and you find yourself thinking that really the ONLY right way to educate your children is to home-educate your children.  I was quickly reminded BY the Lord THAT the Lord was, is and has always been watching out for my children - they're really His children, after all.

The year that the kids were in school was by no means a year off for me.  No, I spent the first half of the year caring for my father as his health continued to decline.  Then, after he passed away in December, I spent the second half of the school year trying to recover and heal from the trauma of his death, my parents' divorce, and the toll life had taken on my own home.

The time was well spent.

At the end of that school year, we began to pray and consider plans for the next school year.  All the kids had done well in school.  We decided to take advantage of a good situation and leave the boys there.  They were loving it.  I wasn't quite up to full running capacity just yet and so it seemed right.

But Morgan came back home.  I have homeschooled her through middle school and I am so thankful to have done so.  It's been wonderful to have her here with me as she's entered adolescence.  We have built quite a beautiful relationship and I'm grateful.  We believe she is ready to face the challenges of a big high school and I think she'll do so with grace and style.

So is it the boys' turn to come home?  They seem to think so.

I've said that it seemed right to have them home through the roller coaster ride of middle school.  Those three years are so formative - and can be so precarious.

Soooo, we'll continue to pray and trust that God is big and He knows what He's doing and will show us what's best - for everyone (READ:  "for me").

Thursday, January 6, 2011

To homeschool or not to homeschool, that is the question

So, Charlie came home after school on Monday and dropped a bombshell in the midst of my only recently well-ordered life,

Charlie:  "Mom, I've been thinking about this for a while and I've made up  my mind."

Me:  "What are you talking about, Charlie?  Made up your mind about what?"

Charlie:  "I'm SURE I want to homeschool next year."


More silence.

Awkward silence.

Charlie:  "Mom?"

Me:  "Ummmm..."

Charlie:  "Mom?"

A little more silence.

Me:  "Where is this coming from?  You've been so happy in school!  What's going on?"

So then for the next 45 minutes I listen to him pour his heart out about what's going on at school.  What's REALLY going on at school.

Man, being a kid is tough.

At the end of the conversation, I took him in my arms (not so easy to do these days) and told him I loved him and asked him to be patient because I simply couldn't give him an immediate answer to this.  He was frustrated.  In his mind, it's simple.  In mine, not so much.

I've been homeschooling at least one kid for all but one of the last nine years.  Morgan's become a very independent learner and will be going off to the big high school next year.  Jackson will be in sixth grade next year and we have planned to bring him home for middle school.  I thought for sure Charlie would want to stay in school and take part in all that the system has to offer.  I've kind of reveled in that thought because it meant my day-to-day life would be that much easier.

He is officially ROCKING THE BOAT.

Pray for me, people.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Dancing with my baby

Yesterday things got back to normal after a wonderful Christmas break.  Truly wonderful.  I haven't experienced a restful holiday in years.  This one was.  I'm so thankful.

After the boys trudged off to school and Morgan settled back into her homeschool routine, I turned on David's favorite music - Jared Anderson's live worship album, "Live From My Church."  I don't know why he loves it so much.  He's just a baby, but if he is upset or fussy about something, one sure way to settle him down is to turn on this music.  He loves it.

I turned it on and he toddled over to me, raised his arms up and said, "Uh."

This means, "Dance with me, Mama."

Don't ask me how I know.  I just do.  He says "uh" for everything but somehow I always know what he means.  Maybe that's why he's not talking yet.  He doesn't need to.  I understand him perfectly.

Anyway, we danced.  I love dancing with David pretty much any day of the week, but yesterday was special.  He laid his little head on my shoulder and let his body kind of melt into mine and we danced.

Within a minute or so, I felt a sudden surge of emotion and remembered a promise God made to me in the summer of '07.

"I can redeem anything."

I began to cry while I danced with my baby because this baby is one fulfillment of that promise.

In the midst of the brokenness in my heart, mind and marriage, the Lord spoke to me and promised me that things can not only get better, but the brokenness and the hurt and the despair can be redeemed.

This little boy is a DAILY reminder that God does redeem.  He took back what had been stolen from me and from my husband and brought LIFE to it.

And I'm grateful.