Sunday, February 07, 2016

Looking inward and outward

This is the time of year when many people are writing about personality tests and goals/calling. I have had a really fun time participating and rediscovering things about my personality. It is fun along the way to predict how the kids and Andy would score as well. Honestly though, it is often hard for me to take those tests without feeling a pang of remorse and discontentment.

My personality in a nutshell:
Myers-Briggs- ESFJ (The Supporter)
Enneagram- Type 2 "The Helper"
Marc Accetta's color test- Yellow

I truly envy the introverted women who homeschool or stay at home full time with their children. They seem to draw so much energy from being at home for large stretches of time. I am definitely extroverted. And that is the part of my personality that feels the most out of place in my current calling. My detail-oriented, organized, "feel all the feelings" traits are A-Okay. But my extroverted need to deeply connect with friends is struggling. I could never imagining thinking, "Yes! I am at home in my pajamas for the third day in a row!" Unless it is the week after Christmas, that would not cross my mind.

New plaque in the school room: "In life we should leave our children two things Roots and Wings"
I have found that in my stage of life right now, I am extremely busy serving the children and Andy. He travels often and the main way that I serve him is by keeping things running smoothly while he is gone, and being understanding and patient when he comes home tired, needing to recover. These sweet children not only depend on me for their education, but for meals, transportation to ALL THE PLACES, and advise, etc. My youngest is the only other extrovert in the family and her needs are a full time job.

I find that by this time in the year, I am exhausted. Although I am seeing people at the gymnastics classes, youth group drop-offs, co-op drop-offs, etc. I am not really connecting with many friends the way I need to. And it actually exhausts me. All the running around, cooking, cleaning, educating, parenting, wifely stuff is my joy. I have no greater earthly joy than seeing my family walk with the Lord and grow. But I am missing friend connections that came so easily when I worked full time at school.

Math- First hour of the day after coffee and devotion
It would be so lovely to not feel this way, but alas, I am who God created me to be! I love all the responsibilities. They fill my day and use every bit of my energy. And yet, some days they leave me lonely. (And some of this may be due to Andy's work travel, which has always been hard. And I struggle in winter around this time every year, but especially when I am homeschooling.)

I absolutely know it will pass. This is where being 40 has its perks. I know it is only temporary. I see God's provision coming in ways that will meet these needs that are so small, yet so BIG. I see what he is orchestrating for next school year to serve Lydia Joy and me so well. I remember that summer is just around the corner, and I am so excited already for our pool days to start where we hang out almost every day with loads of friends. My cup will run over like it did this past summer, I know it. I see my children doing very well. The boys are in 7th and 9th grade- SUPER HARD YEARS, and they are thriving. Too much texting- but hey, life's not perfect. And Lydia Joy is a beam of sunshine. And of course, my husband continues to be adorable and my favorite person on earth.

Jogging at the park on a cold, gray day
Although I am reminding myself it is just a season, I am praying about little changes for next school year. I found out about women's discipleship groups at church. Sign me up. Lydie will be re-enrolled at school. She is simply too dependent on day-to-day community to thrive long-term at home. I have no idea where she gets it from! Ahem. Maybe I should be on the sub list so that I can be at her school with our precious community there from time to time. Either way, this will free me up to meet someone for coffee, volunteer at her school, or meet with other parents, etc. The boys will require very little help from me next year. They are so driven, independent, and capable. I am going to teach at their co-op- art and history- next year. Looking forward to being on staff with a very fun group of teachers there!

Head banging to the vbs music in the car while we were waiting on Jackson. We live *and party* in the car. :)

For now, I think I MUST date my husband more. Period. And, I need to renew my Y membership. I tried to cut it in order to boost our budget. But Zumba makes me happy and fit. It makes me a better wife and mom, for sure. And I need to organize more fun nights with friends. I can do these things now and finish the school year well.
So I guess my mantra is to hang in there! I had dinner last night with friends, in fact, and it was a boost. I think a more extroverted-friendly schedule is on the way! And winter doesn't last forever!  I hope every women out there will take the time to think about her personality/gifts and listen closely. We were made with a purpose and it serves everyone around us well to be honest and wide-eyed about who we are and how we spend our days. Sometimes we don't get to pick exactly what are daily circumstances are. Or we pick, and we have to shift things around to serve the needs of our family. But we can listen closely when we are feeling distressed, assess who we are and how we were made, and make small changes to take care of ourselves. These are self-serving and OTHER-serving tasks, and our families and communities will benefit from a little self-examination!
Art project from a cold day indoors- Epsom salt votives.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

My word

I have no idea how an entire week has slipped by in this new year already. This week has been extremely busy, each day with many things left undone. And we are looking ahead to two weekends in a row with a full calendar and a major house project in the works. Needless to say, my exercise and house-keeping goals are NOT off to the best start.  But I have been in prayer that God would use my time as He sees fit. I have already in the seven days of 2016 had phone calls from friends who need help, been able to offer our home for a retirement celebration and small group gathering, and hosted friends.  I have had coffee with a Mom who needed advise and had some really rich conversations with my children. I feel like God is keeping me busy with the people under my roof and those outside my family. This is a beautiful thing. So all is well.

In the rush of it all, I haven't recorded my word for 2016.  It is CELEBRATE. I hope, in all the days and circumstances of this upcoming year, to celebrate the Lord's goodness and faithfulness.  I have found that a life of celebration is always possible and when I am willing to embrace it life is rich and good.  I look forward to looking for opportunities to celebrate, both the special and mundane, all year.

Here are my words from previous years:


Psalm 118:24
"This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."
Proverbs 15:15
"All the days of the afflicted are evil, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast."

Saturday, January 02, 2016

A change of heart

January is so lovely. I used to absolutely hate this month. I grew up with happy Christmases. My parents loved us and loved each other. My Dad is a gift-giver. And our grandparents really enjoyed us and were always so happy to have us in their home. If holidays made them feel tired or weary, we never knew it. They hosted all of our holidays until I was beyond high school. We were so blessed with so much love and happiness during Christmas time.

So naturally, when it was all over I felt so pitiful. January was the dreaded month. All the Christmas décor came down (my Dad would even use our tree for firewood which would break my heart), the parties were over, and there were no birthdays until April. I hated winter once Christmas was over, and with good reason.
But eventually I grew up and now have three beautiful children of my own. I absolutely love Christmas still. Some years my husband and I host Christmas and/or Thanksgiving and always Easter. We have our own family traditions and parties, too. There are shows, crafts, and baking projects that are yearly traditions. And when it is all over, I am so sad. But unlike recent years past, I long for January.
I have just in the last few years realized that January is the sweet month of quiet and calm. The twinkly nostalgic Christmas tree is put at the curb. But it is replaced with winter décor... snowy, white, peaceful- which are such gifts for me in this stage of life. I am so thrilled for January this year. What made me so desperately sad in earlier years- no holidays or birthdays- thrills my soul now. I strive to make Christmas time full and magical. We make messes, attend every party, and always go a little over budget and stay up late. We watch Christmas movies, drink hot cocoa, read our beautiful books and devotions, sing and celebrate until I am exhausted. Then comes January and my body longs for the restoration it will bring!

I am so excited to get back to the rhythm of our usual days again. Chore lists? Yes! Resolutions? Love them! Lists of books to read? Squeal!  A new calendar that does not have events written in every day and along the margins? Yes, please. It's all so slow and good.
When the children sigh and groan, maybe even shedding a tear or two, at the end of the Christmas season I whisper with confidence, "Christmas comes back every year!  It's not a once in a lifetime event!" And they begin counting the days...363, and so on. They can hardly wait for the month of endless treats and events. They haven't found any appreciation for January yet. Probably won't until they are much older.

One of the greatest joys I have in knowing Jesus is that there is ALWAYS SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO! The joys never end. Even in death itself there is life! Every season possesses beautiful gifts if we mean to find them. Including dreary, cold, boring January!

*List of things to love about winter from a few years ago when I still dreaded it!
*Something I want to make on a cold, dreary day coming soon!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Good-bye 2015

These girls have known Lydie since her birth!

Good-bye 2015!
We ended our year the same way we have ended so many years in the past, at the Harpers in Atlanta. It is exciting and yet predictable. We love this family so much. So being with them every year when we welcome a fresh year feels perfect. The children are getting older and so are we. Did I even have a conversation during the party with my children? Not really, I don't think. They are all occupied and growing so independent. It leaves a night to fellowship with friends, which is pretty special.

This past year was extremely challenging for some of my friends. It broke my heart to hear about some of the trials they have faced, which I knew nothing about. We have known them since our boys were babies. We have been in very intimate Bible studies with them. These are some of our forever friends. And I want to see their children and marriages and lives thrive so desperately.

So thankful to catch up and know how to pray. I need to remember to call and check in more often. This year we will all have joys and triumphs and also trials. There may be deep sorrow involved and specialists and pain. So glad that we know a Savior who transcends all the brokenness and pain that could possibly be brought to us. So glad that He loves and walks with us in our joy and pain. He is our constant and I hope my friendship will be a reminder to these beautiful people of His love. Here's to 2016! I hope the last day of the year will find me in this same kitchen with these friends again. It will fly by in a flash!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Making much of Him: Battling Selfishness

“Do you feel loved by God because you believe he makes much of you, or because you believe he frees you and empowers you to enjoy making much of him?”   -John Piper

There have been so many times here lately that I have come face to face with my selfishness. It's staggering. It seems to be the ugliest with my husband. It is easier for me to be self-sacrificing for my children than another adult, apparently. Between my husband's travel schedule and using his gifts and talents at our church, at some point I have become weary and possessive, at least on the inside. My reaction has nothing, though, to do with him and everything to do with my heart.

Even when he is serving God I hesitate to pick up the slack around here.  It is unbelievable to come face-to-face with the motives of my heart.  Along with that ugly, I am always looking out for being taken advantage of.  This is another sign of a selfish heart. Lord, help.

I have figured out a helpful habit. It is actually pretty simple. Give of myself with a cheerful countenance and pray for my heart to follow. Literally I can count on my first reaction when he needs to be away to be selfish almost every time. Therefore, I almost always need to react with the opposite reaction than what is going on in my mind. This choice is not being fake. It is just battling sin! I have had a few friends remark this past week on how kind I am. It is absolutely not my natural reaction, just a choice when I am wise enough to follow through.

Also, with this tendency towards serving self, I realize I need a bigger picture of God. I need more time with Him, pouring the gospel into my heart and mind. I want so desperately to grow in love and wisdom and to truly love others more than myself for the glory of my Savior.  In Christ, there is hope! I am never permanently stuck in my sin! Praise Jesus!

"It may be possible to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor's glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken." -C.S. Lewis

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Filling the gap: Christmas Show

It's amazing how God takes care of us. This school year, for example, I was mostly concerned with my girl's reaction to being at home after three years in private school. She, like me, leans heavily on her community of friends. I predicted being at home with the boys and me might leave a gap...or possibly a gaping hole.

God was so gracious to bring along a brand new opportunity, in fact several, that kept her from being lonely. One thing that really filled her extravert cup was finding this little program that is like show choir. Every Monday she and her little friend, who is also homeschooling for the first time this year, would spend a couple of hours singing and learning choreography.  They had a blast and made many new friends! 

This past weekend they had three Christmas shows. It was really an impressive, two-hour show. She was on cloud nine all weekend and actually cried when it was over! What a sweet gift this program has been! We look forward to summer camp and participating in the program next year!

It has been unbelievable that God has orchestrated so much interaction for Lydia Joy this fall! She has seen her friends on the playground while the boys run or have meetings, she has had many play dates, and she has made new friends at co-op, gymnastics, and this program.  Looking forward to his provision this winter and spring!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Christmas art memories

Paper plate angels

Cone-ifer trees

Nutcracker drawings

Ballerina snowflakes

Baking goodies for a night with friends

Making gingerbread houses with friends

The Nutcracker ballet with friends

Christmas fun

Seussical the Musical