Monday, January 29, 2018

Choosing Joy in My God-Created Personality

I've written before about how I have felt shame for needing to be home a lot. I have definitely compared myself to other women with young children, seeing their busy lives, and feeling like there is something wrong with me that I can't do that. It's so easy to compare in areas we feel weak in and allow that sense of shame to creep in and make us doubt. 

But two things have created a shift in me and my perception about myself.

A Personality Is Created

In my post about being easily tired, a woman left a comment that hasn't published (for some unknown reason, I have tried to figure out why) that really made me think. This woman said, 
"You're not a low energy, easily tired wife and're an introvert! However, those do come along with it. Introversion is not a bad thing, it's just not very well understood...If you've never read about being an introvert, please do. You will be amazed (and encouraged) at how well you'll identify with it and understand why you feel the way you do!"
Firstly, I just want to say thank you. I really believe God used you to plant a light of Truth in my heart about myself. I had never seen the connection between being an introvert and the struggles with energy. Suddenly, it made sense to me and just shone a bright ray of sunshine on my heart. 

I've known for so long that I am an introvert but have never read into it. I just assumed it meant I like staying home a lot and having quiet! Yet, I have never thought of the wider ripple effects of introversion. It is now my goal to learn more about this aspect of my personality that God has made me to be.

Which leads me to...

Contentment Within the Boundaries

God again led me to a woman who's words have blossomed more light into my heart about myself. I was listening to Durenda Wilson's podcast on The Distinctiveness of Boys (so good, you need to listen to it!) and to lay the foundation of her message, she spoke on loving and trusting God with the boundaries He has laid on His people.

It was in the context of the innate differences between boys and girls, but something in my spirit stirred and I knew there was a word for me about this struggle with shame I have had. In essence, Durenda was saying that it is God who has put us together. He has knitted our frames, our hearts, our personalities - He has laid the boundaries of who we are as individuals. 

When we accept and choose joy in those boundaries - wherever He has drawn them in our life - we will find the freedom and beauty that He sees because He made us:

"It's so important to have faith and confidence in God's good plan for us. And part of us understanding what His good plan for us is understanding and embracing those boundaries that He has put on us." ~ Durenda Wilson
God has made me - and you - exactly the way we are as part of a good plan. This is no trite meme that is often shouted at spiritual gatherings to make us feel good. The depth and breadth of it is far beyond what we can actually grasp since we are so entrapped within sin-entangled bodies, even faithful followers of Him. I will never understand the joy in God's heart over me because I just cannot see it - I only see through dark-coloured glasses.

But one day I will be able to see: I will be eyes wide open and know how wonderfully I am loved and perfectly created. I will see why He made me to be an introvert. I will see why I think like I do and why my heart hurts so deeply for different things.

Until then, I will still have to fight for the joy of being me. Different, a little odd - but me. I will need to defend the lies with Truth and know clearly the boundaries He has laid on me. There will be times I step over them and I will pay the price. But I know, so know, that life abundance will come as I stay within them with a quiet and thankful heart.

Tell me one part of your personality that you have sometimes struggled in shame over because it made you feel different?

Saturday, January 20, 2018

What I Want Homeschooling To Be For Our Children

When I am asked why we are going to homeschool, I sometimes don't know what to say. There really just are so many reasons. And as a Christian family, there are elements that not everyone will understand, so I often don't talk about that part, even though our faith is ultimately our tiller, mast, and anchor of our life. 

As we sit on the threshold of a wonderful and adventurous life, I have been reading and filling my mind with the wisdom of mother's gone before me - both Christian and secular - feeding and cultivating the pasture of information and thoughts as a new homeschooling mother. The Lord has been gently guiding me to wonderful resources that have been laying such beautiful and noble ideals for our family life, helping me sift through chaff, narrowing down my hopes and dreams for our two wee children.

Aside from a living relationship with Jesus Christ, there are two desires I have for our children during our homeschooling years.

A Beautiful Childhood

I was blessed to have a pretty wonderful childhood, made more so when my family moved to a harbour-bay where my brother and I spent much of our time roaming fields, climbing hills and valleys, riding horses, slowly searching our way through rock pools, damming streams, and if the weather was too cold, writing stories, reading books, and making forts inside.

We cannot move to the countryside (oh, how I wish we could!), but I still want that freedom for our children. The country school we went to was small and was not like "school" at all. It was very childhood and learning conducive. Our children would not get that same experience in the city schools available to us. 

I don't want commuting, long hours, homework, and fractured living for them. I want them to have the time for slow mornings, reading out on the grass, experimenting with Mum around the kitchen table, doing any book work at their own pace, having days when - if we're all a bit flah and unmotivated - we can just go down to the park, read aloud on a blanket, and let the kids be kids.

I don't want stress, or bullies, or insecurity to darken the doorsteps of my children's hearts. Life will throw that at them plenty without us introducing it early on unnecessarily. Time with us for as long as they need it - to grow ready, equipped, roots well-established - will prepare them for time in the "real world".

Lastly, I don't want the idea of "coolness" to permeate their thoughts, spoiling innocent pleasures to satisfy child folly. If my daughter is still playing with dolls at twelve (like I was), having no idea that other girls would think that is babyish, then that is beautiful to me. If my son can build forts and make castles and fight dragons at twelve, instead of hanging round the mall with a smart phone, then he is living a beautiful childhood. Why would I want the alternative for them?

To Love Learning

There were very few times in my schooling years when I felt that I really loved going to school to learn. Most of the time I went to be with friends and because I had to. My two favourite seasons of school were my two years at the small country school and my final two years of high school (when I had transferred myself to a college-like school where I only had to do subjects I loved).

I don't believe that children should be forced to learn things that don't inspire or ignite a drive in them to know more. Certainly there are things that children need to have a grasp of - reading and numeracy - but the goal to "learn" so as to pass a test is not, to me, true education.

True education is when the natural curiosity in a child's heart - that I believe God put there for this very reason - is sparked, encouraged, fed, and nourished so they want to keep on growing. I want my children to want to know. I want them to always have the million of questions they have about everything and not have it stifled out of them because it's time (in the day and on the curriculum) to learn about photosynthesis (to pass the end of term test).

I also don't want them to feel like they are not enough if they are not skilled in a certain area. Math and I have never, ever been good friends and, oh, how I felt like such a loser when - no matter how many hours I worked to understand - I always failed the test. Always. My "try your best is all that matters" never mattered in the end, because my best never crossed the line.

But writing and creating and reading and living history? God wrote a passion for them in my soul from the beginning. And I know He has done that in our children for their good and His glory. I will help our children learn - at their pace and in their style - the things that are necessary for day-to-day life and that create the foundation stones for learning, but I won't ever make them feel like success in life depends on them continuing on in something that they clearly aren't created to thrive in. Nothing stifles the love of learning than force, coercion, and fear.


I don't know how long we will have our children at home with us. Our current plan is for all of primary school and intermediate (elementary and middle school). But we will follow God's plan for us - it could be less, it could be more. Whatever it is, it is such a privilege. I feel so humbled that God lay this not-the-ordinary way on our hearts and has guided us so graciously. 

I'm thankful for the time we have with these precious ones at home with us and the opportunity to be a part of the beginning of their wonderful journey of life. I pray that one day - even though it won't be perfect and I will make mistakes - that both our kids will look back and see what homeschooling gave them, and they will know what our hearts were for them in these important, formative years.

If you are homeschooling or will be, what are your hopes for your children? What do you want them to see when they look back on their homeschooling years?

Friday, January 12, 2018

Motherhood: "Is This It?"

As I fellowship and talk with fellow mothers in my life - and online - one thing is so clear to me: this way of life is hard. It really is. The differing lives and circumstances of each mother doesn't change the weight of child raising: these are tiring, draining, wonderful years. 

Some women wonder if this is normal... Is motherhood supposed to be so hard? A friend with newborn twins felt shocked by the dichotomy of absolutely loving being a mother (after such a long battle to get there) and yet, struggling under the weight of all that goes with having a new baby, plus one. I, too, remember pacing the dark room with a baby boy who would just not sleep anywhere else but on me, and wondering, 

"Is this it? Is this motherhood?"

There really is nothing quite like it. The mixture of joy and grief, delight and frustration, sweetness and anger, exhiliration and exhaustion, confidence and insecurity...And above all, the incredible blessing and love of being a child's mother - we love this so much - whilst having our feet tied to the daily ordinary of wiping, cleaning, hugging, and tearing. For many women, myself included, this dichotomy can create a sense of emptiness and doubt.

What Makes Motherhood Harder

From young girls, we have been drip fed this idea: we can do anything. We can do great, great things. We have so much to offer this world - brains, heart, strength, character, beauty, and femininity. Be a nueroscientist. Traverse the rain forest. Study those species. Solve that humanitarian issue. Deep, meaningful things that bless our world immensely. And we can do these things. We must be part of these activities.

Yet, when we become Mother, the great, broad world of anything is suddenly - and often, painfully - narrowed down to minutes and hours, the walls of home, the kitchen sink, bending in the laundry, following behind toddling feet. Day after day. The same dishes, the same clothes, the same letter learning, the same books, the same little faces.

How do we get from up there - in the broad horizon of anything - to the carpet floor building Lego and correcting speech? And how do we do it with joy, contentment, vision, and humility?

Choices We Can Make

The reality is, most of us don't know how to do it. Many give up because the abyss is so big. This is frightening and creates anxiety so they return to what they know - how they know they thrive - trusting others educated to institutionalized mothering. 

Others keep on for years - hard, painful years - sensing the doubt and insecurity but not knowing how to deal with it, thinking it is a character fault of their own.

A few have blessedly brought up to know what motherhood costs and takes. 

The rest of us want beautiful, noble, life-giving motherhood and, because we haven't been shown or taught how to, we muddle our way to find it. 

Has It Always Been Such a Shock?

For generations, ordinary mothering was normal. No-one knew anything different. Making meals, cleaning clothes, feeding stock, milking cows, educating at the table. That was a woman's life for forty or fifty years. It has only been in the last one hundred years that ordinary has been scorned for extra-ordinary, forgetting that the majority of people on earth will only ever have ordinary. 

I encourage you, dear friend, to not fear the doubt of "Is this it?" Yes, this is it. This is your life - if you do it wholeheartedly - for years. 

But, the depth and breadth of the rewards for a life of service to young children is incomparable.

Beyond The Question

One day we will see the fruit of our labour that God produces by His good pleasure. 

One day we will see the great and glorious tapestry of our days, which on the back were a mess of tangles, colour, and snags, and our hearts will sing for joy over His sovereignty and love. 

When motherhood comes calling, then, the change is on us. The struggles we have are our struggles and we must battle to face them. We must use Truth and choice and wisdom to grow beyond what we find hard. When something in us balks at the Groundhog Day-like life we begin to live, we must speak Truth to our souls. We must lift our eyes above our feelings to that which is solid, and true, and noble, and eternal, and real - Him who is beyond us and who perfectly designed the small and ordinary for our enjoyment and His good pleasure.

I write more in-depth about the cost and reward of complete motherhood in my e-book:

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Saying "I'm Sorry" When I Have a Bad Day of Mothering

Golly, I had such a lousy day as a mother.

And it all ended with me snuggling next to my almost-5-year-old (who bore the brunt of my parenting brilliance) and saying, "I'm sorry I have been so grumpy today. Will you forgive me?" And with the beautiful sweetness of a child, he said lovingly, "That's okay."

I could explain all the legitimate reasons why I was so grumpy... How my husband is away for the week...That I've come down with a cold...That both kids were late going to sleep but up just after 5am etc etc. There is no doubt that all these factors - and more - are reasonable situations to have caused said grumpiness in me. But, in the end, I can't be telling my preschoolers their behaviour is unacceptable when my own is equally so.

I was a grumpy mother today. I yelled, was not gentle, and definitely took it out on my boy who is going through some emotional changes himself at the moment (and is needing extra loving and patience).

It is always hard saying "I'm sorry" - especially to other adults. We have to acknowledge that we are not right, that we are not perfect. We are making ourselves vulnerable because, quite often, there can be a "I told you so" kind of response.

But children can be different, can't they? Even though his mother had been no fun at all that day and made her fair share of mistakes with him - and had certainly not been what he needed - he had not held it against me. He didn't say, "You should be sorry. Look at how you've treated me!" He didn't hold a grudge. He didn't manipulate me to make me feel worse.

He exhibited Christ to me. And he didn't even know it.

What's beautiful, too, is that he started telling me how he had been wanting to "listen to sin" today and be bad. He said he had tried to say "No". And I replied, "Well, Mummy didn't even try to say 'No' to sin, buddy." We got to talk about how when we ask for forgiveness from God, all the bad stuff we have done is gone - to the deepest of seas and forever!

What conversations I could have missed with my wee boy if I hadn't acknowledged my own sin before him. 

It's easy to want to look like the perfect mother, but it is more loving to our children to admit we're not and that we need a Saviour. 

Our children - if we've been teaching them about right from wrong and our need for Jesus - know very well that they aren't perfect, too. They need their parents to come alongside and say, "I'm not perfect, too" and head to the foot of the Cross together. It is not just individuals that need the blood of Christ, but families, too. 

May our apologies and asking for forgiveness be an important witness to our children's hearts as they grow up and battle with their own acknowledgement in needing Jesus as their Saviour.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Food For Thought #3

The first one, from Kari Patterson, is about how we naturally take the path that requires the least resistance. But, in doing so, we forget that the way to true life is by the narrow road - and it is a road that requires work and hardship. This was so good, friends.

And another from Mystie (because she is that good!) about how we, as mothers, just cannot let ourselves go. And not just our bodies, but our minds, too. I'm so passionate about this!

And a blogger, Cassandra, who I have loved for so long and who really introduced my heart to homeschooling and Charlotte Mason, now only guest posts (which made me so sad, but I am so happy I can still find her thoughts online) wrote about the beautiful and necessary like in the ordinary. It was perfect.


Hope these are hopeful, encouraging reads over your weekend. 

Next week I will be writing about how when we fail as mothers the best thing we can do is say sorry to our kids. I'll be writing from experience!!!