Reflections on turning 35

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When I was in middle school, I won an essay contest. The topic was 50 years in the future and looking back at what your life had looked like. I found my essay a year or two ago and showed it to Tim. His was response was, “Pretty sure of yourself huh?” I had definitely named myself the first female President of the United States and had been an Olympic gold medalist in addition to being a mother of six children (some of whom were adopted), an author, a teacher, and a lawyer.

I think that my middle school self would probably have been disappointed to see what my life looks like at 35 years old since I am not on track to doing most of those things. But my 35 year old self is learning to be quite content with exactly how my life is going. I have really reflected a lot about my life this fall.

I always thought that I wanted to be a teacher, from like three years old. But when I think back, I really enjoyed Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables, Christy, and Boy Meets World. Even now one of my favorite shows is When Calls the Heart. Most of those shows/books have a teacher in a one room school house. And even Mr. Feeny somehow managed to teach the same group of kids from sixth grade through college.

I really loved my students for most of the four years that I was a classroom teacher. I didn’t care for the politics or the emphasis on standardized testing. But, I enjoyed watching the students grow and change as the year went on and I liked to be able to keep in touch with them when they left my class. I also really liked teaching Sunday school or being a youth leader at church because I could be with the same group of kids for several years and really pour into their lives. So really, what I wanted was to be like the teachers in the one room school houses of long ago.

When school started again on post, I had a very emotional day. I questioned if we were doing the right thing keeping Clarissa home. I grieved that I wasn’t going to have pictures of her first day riding the school bus to kindergarten or meeting her kindergarten teacher. But she and Tim didn’t care about any of those things. Once I processed that, I realized that I love having Clarissa home with me during the day. We have so many fun adventures together, and half of them are on the couch reading books upon books! I appreciate that I am the one who will teach her to read. We get to learn about the Bible, history, science, and math together.

I have also really enjoyed writing for as long as I can remember. I remember writing poems as an elementary student for the school newspaper. I won every essay contest I entered in middle school. And I was the editor of my high school newspaper. I also really enjoy research.

So I think that a homeschool blogger mom is probably my sweet spot. If I would just own it and not compare myself to other moms or other bloggers. I watched a movie recently called The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Watching the main character, I was like, “Oh. I like to research things because I like to write…” I had so many thoughts and feelings during this movie. Really, I walked away from it more inspired to write. And enjoy MY life instead of worrying about everyone else’s.

I can’t believe that I have been blogging for 4.5 years. Sometimes it seems like forever and sometimes it feels so new. In that time, I have published over 350 posts. Sometimes multiple posts in the same day and other times a month would go by without a single word. This year, writing for the Homeschool Review Crew, I have gotten into a more consistent habit of blogging once per week. I think my goal for this year will be twice per week. I really have so many thoughts swimming around in my head, I think I would enjoy actually organizing and writing them. I have a few book ideas too.

Sometimes I also forget that we have lived in South Korea for over 3.5 years. We have had so many experiences and seen so many places that others will not. I don’t really know what to expect when we leave here. I don’t have a date for our departure other than that our DEROS (Date of Estimated Return from Overseas- the end of Tim’s contract) is in April. But I have no idea where we are headed. And I’m learning (well, I’m trying to anyway) to be okay with that.

God knows exactly when we will leave Korea, where we will go, and how long we will stay there. He also knows what family life will look like when we return to America. I am so blessed that I have been able to stay home with Clarissa the entire time we’ve been in Korea. We would both love to continue that when we return to America. And we’ll see what plans God has for growing our family while we’re there.

 

Just walk already!

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Clarissa started pulling herself up to stand around Father’s Day. In July, holding her arms up toward you meant she wanted to walk around the house instead of wanting to be held. By her birthday in August, she could practically run around the living room while holding on to the furniture. Since then, I have been waiting for her to start walking on her own.

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I am convinced that Clarissa is physically capable of walking on her own. She just doesn’t know it yet. At this point she drags whichever adult is “helping” her walk. She is really steady on her feet and can hold thing while standing without support for a minute or more.

This week she has taken a few steps but no more than three or four at a time. It is like she realizes she is doing it herself and then gets scared and stops. I know I should be thankful because once she realizes that she can do it, there will be no holding her back. She will be running in no time.

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I think we can be like Clarissa. God has put gifts and talents in each of us. Equipped to do the things He has called us to do. But sometimes I think we get scared. We are afraid to step out and live those dreams in our hearts. We don’t realize that God is really big and if He put that dream there, He can make it happen.

We don’t have to do it all at once. We just need to take the first step. The rest will come in time. Eventually we will be unstoppable!

One thing that I know God wants me to do is start a mom’s group at my church. But I was scared. First of all, I don’t know a lot of people. And I have only been a mom for a year so I am not an expert (I mean, I still can’t go to bed before midnight!). That fear really held me back in a few ways. I finally did the first step and talked to the pastor in charge of small groups. There is a process before you can lead a group anyway. So I don’t have to be ready yet. But I know that when the time is right, there is going to be peace and God is going to work it all out. So I am excited for that. But in the meantime, I am going to enjoy the process.

What has God called you to? What are you afraid to step out and try? What are you afraid of? God is a good dad so it’s okay. He can pick you up and hold your hands and help you walk to the next place until you are ready to walk there yourself.

Clarissa’s dedication and first birthday party

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I was already in love with my church. Clarissa’s dedication made me appreciate the leadership even more.

We had been waiting to dedicate Clarissa until both sets of grandparents were in town. My parents live here so that wasn’t a problem. Tim’s parents live in Pennsylvania and were planning to come for Clarissa’s first birthday. That was when I found out that Forefront usually does one baby dedication service per year in October. But, because they are awesome, the lead pastor and family pastor were willing to come to the house to do a private ceremony as part of Clarissa’s birthday party!

The week before, the family pastor emailed me three mp3s of parent talks. The talks were about thirty minutes total. Each one was well worth listening to. Each talk was different, but important. One talked about who you wanted your child to become. Not about what what profession you thought they should choose, but about character traits and who you think God created them to be. Another was about family life and the third was about our marriage. I am thankful that our church does a really good job of equipping parents to disciple their children.

We dedicated Clarissa outside on the deck. There was a nice breeze. It was beautiful. The family pastor talked about the significance of dedicating your child to the Lord and how a baby dedication is really more about the parents than the child. Then, I got to speak about Clarissa. What Tim and I see in her. Our goal for her is really just to be who God created her to be. Even if that looks different from what all of the other families are doing. We know that Clarissa was created for a purpose and that God has a huge calling on her life. After that, everyone laid hands on Tim and I and the lead pastor prayed over us. That we would seek God and raise Clarissa well. I really enjoyed it.

SONY DSCAfter the dedication, we had a cookout. Clarissa opened her presents. Or rather, I opened Clarissa’s presents and she played with the wrapping paper. We are so blessed with family who love us well and want to give Clarissa things she needs as well as fun things to play with.

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Then, Clarissa ate her first cupcake. The cupcake fell apart really easily. She had a great time playing with it and making a mess. She didn’t realize at first that she was supposed to eat it! Once I put a small piece in her mouth, she got the biggest smile on her face and started shoving pieces into her mouth. She loved it!

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Coincidence or warfare?

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I believe in a spiritual realm. Ephesians 6 talks about putting on the Full Armor of God because our battle is not against flesh and blood,  but against spiritual things.

I am not one who says that every bad thing that happens is a spiritual attack. But if there is a string of crazy things I begin to wonder.

We are dedicating Clarissa tomorrow. I think it’s a pretty big deal. We get to publicly declare that we believe God has a plan for our baby girl. And as her parents, we fully intend to help her seek God and His calling on her life. We are going to do our very best to make sure that she becomes who God created her to be. Even if it looks different than other families. Even if our decisions are not popular. Clarissa belongs to God. The Holy Spirit is going to help her do big things for Jesus. When I was 10 weeks pregnant with her, God told me that she would be a little girl with great faith. That is why we named her Clarissa Faith, because it means brilliant faith.

We have been waiting to dedicate her until all of the grandparents were in town. The enemy has tried hard to prevent all of the family from getting her for this special day. One family member has had some health issues over the past week and is not allowed to drive right now. Tim’s parents had a tire blow out on the way here, got stuck in traffic, and then are unable to stay at their hotel because of an allergic reaction. Even the cupcakes are falling apart!

When you know who you are in Christ, it makes the enemy nervous. Clarissa must be pretty important if there is this much warfare surrounding her dedication. I don’t know yet all that God has called Clarissa or our family to. But I am excited to watch it play out. In the meantime, we will be trusting God to teach us what we need to know. We have our armor ready. But we already know who wins!

What is God calling us to right now?

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So I read a blog post this morning that really kicked my butt.

What am I doing with my time? Am I wasting it on facebook and Netflix?

So I wanted to really sit and think about the things I am doing with my time. What should I be doing?

I think it really comes down to calling. What is God really calling me to do? And right now? What are the things that I’ve been meaning to get around to and are they things that God really wants me to do or things that I just think I should be doing?

I know that first I am to be a child of God. Jesus should be my first priority. Then, Tim and Clarissa. Everything else has to be under that.

That kind of puts everything else into perspective. Yes, I would love for my house to be spotless. But if I have to keep Clarissa in her jumperoo for hours a day in order to make that happen, it’s not helping my relationship with my daughter. I would love to publish these ten books that are swimming around in my head, but not if it means that I don’t have any time with Tim and Clarissa. So they’ll have to wait…

I was so convicted this morning that I spend a lot of time on Facebook during the day. I know that there are times during the day that I am confined to a chair while I’m nursing, but I could be spending part of that time writing my books.

I was also thinking about how I’ve been lazy lately and watching netflix during naptime because I am tired or just want to veg on the couch. But then, the dishes and laundry aren’t done and I have to spend time doing that after Clarissa goes to bed when I could be spending time with Tim. Now that Clarissa is actually napping, I should be using my naptimes more wisely.

There are so many things that I want to do. I have thought about starting a mom’s group at my church because I currently go to a mom’s group that blesses my socks off, but as far as I can tell, that doesn’t exist at my church. I have ideas for several devotionals. I would love to go on our church’s mission trip to Vietnam.

Then you’ve got the shoulds…I should be eating better (but its more fun to experiment with dessert recipes for the blog). I should exercise more (well let’s be honest. I should exercise. period. because I don’t at all right now). I should be journaling or making a baby book for Clarissa. I should be making more of an effort to keep up with the extended family, even if it just means sending more pictures. I should be volunteering at some capacity at church. I should be organizing my school stuff so that I can hit the ground running in the fall. The house should be cleaner. I should wake up earlier so I can get things done.

But that is all just me. What does God want for me? right now. What has He called my family to? right now.

I think that I really need to take some time and sit and listen. And just ask God what He really wants for me right now. What should I be focusing on? How should I be spending my time with Tim and Clarissa? What should my free time look like?

I would encourage you to do the same. Sometimes we are involved in really good things. Last fall, I was planning to do Good News Club again. Clarissa was still really young and I knew that I was going to have to work part time at some point, but I figured ministry was something to keep doing right? But as the date for the planning meeting got closer, God really made me uneasy about it. As much as I love teaching and the kids at Fairfield, my first ministry needed to be to my family. Even though Good News Club is a great thing and I was good at it, it was something that I had to stop doing. At least for now. We have different seasons in life. God was teaching me when Clarissa was very young (like four weeks old), that I have to do what’s best for my family. Even if it means saying no to something good. Or even something I had already committed to.

What are you focusing on right now? What does God want you to do? Is there something you should stop doing? Or something you should start doing? God has called you to something. Right now. It might be loving your husband and kids really well. It might be something else. But I encourage you to ask Him what it is. And go for it. Even if it means disappointing other people in your life. I would rather be walking in God’s best for me than to just be doing good things.