Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Fruitful Goodbye to Summer

We have officially been back to homeschooling for almost 2 weeks now. It did not feel like a stranger this year when we returned. It has been a subtle and smooth transition back to a more structured schedule. I did feel the sadness just like the kiddos as we returned though, and it is good to go through the experience with them. The challenge for me is to remember that even though i feel the same as they do, I am the one who will set the tone and example for how to handle disappointment. Being mom is sometimes like being the rudder on a boat, when the rudder turns, so does the boat. And just like that, which ever way I turn in emotions, most of the time, my family turns the same direction. Can be such a good thing, but when I am not checking my attitude and thoughts against what the Lord thinks and says in His Word, it can be SO BAD! I am also learning to face difficulties with a sense of humor. Now going back to school is not a tragedy, although some of my kids may think it at times, but even the little obstacles need humor as we prepare for the bigger obstacles in life! So, on our first day back to school, Matt got up earlier and took the kids on their traditional donut run for the first day back to school. Since we do not have the great excitement of getting on the bus or putting on our new back to school outfit(cause hey! we get to do school in our PJ'S!), we decided to at least get dressed for the first day of school and start off the day with an, OH SO HEALTHY" breakfast-DONUTS! And then, I keep the wee ones with me and plan my newest greeting to the new school year-something that makes them laugh when they walk in the door. So, I years before, I have dressed up like an scary old school teacher with the cat glasses, gaudy make up, crazy hair, and funky dress(which being I sell vintage clothing, it is not too difficult to find one of those!), I have also been a clown and the kids this year said as they left, "You did get rid of that clown costume, right?!) So, I said, yes, don't worry this year I decided not to do anything since I have scared you the last few years instead of making you laugh. And I was being truthful when I said that this time. I figured it was one of those silly ideas I had thought was so much better than it really was, and it was time to let it go. Besides my brain has been feeling a bit burnt on the creative side, so a rest was welcomed, BUT! When I said that, they protested and said that they were expecting something and they didn't want me to stop. Well, nothing like scrambling at the last minute! So, I went with an old faithful to our family. ..Star Wars, can't lose with that! Yes, of course we have a Darth Vader costume! I just had to find it, put batteries in and suffocate while waiting for them to return home! And it was well worth it to remind the kids that "THERE IS NO ESCAPE" when they walked in the door! And I know some of you, my lovely facebook friends, wanted pictures, but I am smart-there is no evidence of the looniness that I reveal within my own home! But Bell did have to wear it once I took it off, so you will certainly enjoy that much more than seeing me!

Nothing like the contrast between good and evil!

It is so nice that our first two weeks back into a school schedule has also brought with it some good memories. I know many of you wonder how I work full time and also school our kids. It is not easy, but it has been a blessing I would never change and know the Lord has given his strength for me to do. I am no supermom! Far from it, I fail everyday in one way or another but the Lord continues to shower his grace and mercy on us, and we learn so much as a family through where he has placed us and what he has given us to do. And I do let a lot of things go so that I can focus on the priorities at hand. I cannot do everything, but I can try to do a few things well! And that is where I am at. Our first conviction and priority that determined how life would be concerning our children was that I would be at home with them no matter what and we would go without in any area we could so that could be accomplished. Next came the passion for teaching our kids at home. That was a natural transition since we had always been at home together anyways. As time went on and we started adding to the size of our family, doors starting opening very subtly and rather easily in that I was able to start selling my creations. At the beginning we were just tickled with the idea that my hobby could be self sustaining as well as bring in a little extra to help around the house and in giving. But what I came to see was that the Lord had been preparing the future for what we would need, before we even realized it! By the time we had our 5th and have now come to have 3 1/2 of them in school(Bell is in a pre K kind of year), the basic expenses could have taken us a bit by surprise! So, working at home was something I have gradually grown in to, it was not something I set out to do, it was something the Lord provided when we needed it. Now, it is just a part of life. And I thought I would show you a small glimpse of how it works. The kids take turns sitting with me at different parts of the day in my studio, so we can go over questions and new concepts in their lessons. It gives me the ability to work in between the lessons and questions. I do alot of my packaging, cutting, pictures, answering emails, listing, etc when they are quietly working on their seat work, but am available to answer questions as well.

We used to have a classroom, but found out very quickly that being chained to one area was actually not very good for any of us. We move around alot. Outside is the best in the fall and spring. But if i am working in the kitchen, they all come and plop down at the kitchen table. If they need silence from the wee ones, they head to my desk in my bedroom. they read in their beds or out in the hammock when they can. We do have desk areas for them in the basement where they work as well when everyone is down there. I love the flexibility, structure has never quite suited me and this does.

And as far as work is concerned, it goes on for many hours every night after the kids go to bed. That is how I do it. Sometimes, every once in awhile I feel the stretch of working and morn the simpler time when I was just mom, but most of the time, and I mean this, I am blessed with work. There are so many parts of scripture I cling to. Of course, Proverbs 31:10-31-I always hope to become this woman some day. I do think I have the selecting wool and flax and works with eager hands part down(haha), but i have a lot more to go! But i have also been very intrigued with the book of Ecclesiastes right now. I am so far from being a scholar, so it takes me awhile to understand sometimes what I am studying. But I have been caught by Ecc 5 :18-20 I have seen what is best for people here on earth. They should eat and drink and enjoy their work, because the life God has given them on earth is short. God gives some people the ability to enjoy the wealth and property he gives them, as well as the ability to accept their state in life and enjoy their work. They do not worry about how short their life is, because God keeps them busy with what they love to do.

It is true in my life. It is busy, being a pastor's wife, mama to 5, school teacher, and full time laborer, amongst the other treasures of family and friends, but I love my work, all of it! My wealth is that of eternity with the Savior who created me, but he has allowed me to enjoy the labors of this earth, even the ones that are toilsome. And Moms, you know that the chores you finish today will have to be done again tomorrow, that is toil, but are you able to enjoy them? Are you able to praise the Lord for having laundry!? I am finding myself, thanking the Lord many days, that I have this insane amount of clothing to wash-can you enjoy your wealth!? We are wealthy here in America, we have a lot!!!!! But why is it, that we forget many of our tasks come from the wealth we have , have you been blessed to enjoy it, to appreciate it? I hope I am making sense. There is also a favorite movie of mine, "Return to Me" and in it, her Grandpa says in one of the scenes, after another long day of work, "I am blessed with work" It really is a privilege to have work and purpose.

This is something we have started as a family at night during our devotions. When I began reading "In His Steps" to the kids, I was struck with the idea that we need to be dwelling more on being thankful as a family. That we needed to "NEED" less and have a need to "GIVE" more. And I am convinced that giving the Lord our gratitude on a daily, if not hourly, basis is one of the biggest ways to extinguish selfishness and have our eyes open to His purpose for us. To really begin to enjoy what He has given us and what He has done for us! So we began a "Thankful" journal in our family. Even Bell who does not write or read yet, has been drawing picture in it. I hope this journal to be the first of countless more! It is back again to the idea of being the rudder in my family, if I can start showing my thankfulness to the Lord in everything, it will hopefully start to take root in my children as well.

One of the other joys of these past weeks was the harvesting of the gardens! Sad in some ways, but so fun to be able to pick some of those long awaited veggies and fruit. I have now pulled out quite a few of the plants in some of the gardens, they are done producing and it was good to clean them up a bit. We got 2 large pumpkins this year! It was quite amazing to see them grow and change so quickly! We got a lot of really yummy fonzy melons which are like a cross between a honeydew melon and a cantaloupe. Too many cucumbers that we are hoping to find new owners for before they rot! Tomatoes finally turned after a pretty cool summer. And my fave-lots of squash!! Bring on the turkey, and roasts, and all the comfort foods of the fall and winter seasons!

Josie has also decided she would really like to learn guitar, so we are needing to find a teacher for her! I would love to have her learn, she has loved music and singing since she was very little, so I am not surprised! She loves to just sit and strum on the guitar and I love to listen!
I was able to find another trash to treasure shelf for helping around here with the clutter! I picked it up for just over $6. And i am proud of myself, it only sat in the garage overnight! Noah was my painting partner this time! Yes, you heard right~ He walked into the room when I had just began painting and declared "I WANT TO PAINT!" I am still a bit shocked by the full sentences, so he of course won that battle all to easily with my overwhelming awe of his intelligence:)- I had fun with him. He is at a tough age, especially at a time in my life that I have more going on than I ever did with the four older kids. So he and I have come to meet in the middle. When he has to tug on my leg to get my attention, I now know, it is time for me to put all else aside and get down to his level and play. We are facing new challenges together! It was fun to paint with him!
Here it is to begin with....

and here is Noah putting on the finishing touches...

And the finished product......
Matt has been very busy with the new school year and all the planning and meetings that go into it. We enjoy his Monday off and then say goodbye Tuesday morning until Friday night it feels like. He gets in to the office around 9 and most weeknights has youth group or meetings that get him home almost always after 10. Even late afternoon and early evening after he leaves the office, he has to set up for the night events so dinner at home doesn't always happen. With an hour here and an hour there, the kids especially miss him during those days. But I have always appreciated and felt blessed that the kids are home schooled because it complimented his schedule and the need for flexibility . Sometimes lunch time is all they will see him in a day, blessing number one. And since the weekend is pretty full since he is a Pastor, Monday, his day off is pretty sacred to us around here and I am glad the kids are not at school when he is home, blessing number 2. And then there are some events he can take them with to that they learn to help with and see what Dad is passionate about, blessing number 3. I am looking forward to blessing number 4 this Friday-A DATE! Matt and I are not real good at getting out. We tend to gravitate to staying home after busy schedules, we are definantly homebodies. But, every once inawhile, I get a bit anxious to have a Friday night date to look forward to! So my baby sis has agreed to come and hold down our fort while we go out and play! I am also so excited for Aunt Molly to hang with the kiddos-they adore her! The only bad thing is I want to hang with her too! Another time I guess~

1 comment:

  1. mandy - i was REALLY blessed by reading this post! it so encouraged me. you are awesome!! thanks for continuing to "sharpen" me and challenge me as a mother, wife, homemaker, and proverbs 31 woman. you are so right, we as mothers act as rudders in our homes. our attitude can change the atmosphere in our homes. and it was neat to see how you combine your mothering, homeschooling, etc with your etsy work. i needed to see that! i also love the concept of truly be thankful and feeling blessed to work. we are blessed!! (i love return to me, too - its one of my favorites. and that line you quoted has always spoken to me, too)
    have fun on your date!!