Sunday, July 26, 2015

Leap of Faith- Part two

As we began to look at stress in our life, I was once again humbled.  I just don't seem to be able to handle things other moms can.  Busyness stresses me out- like REALLY stresses me out.

We purposefully have kept our kids activities to a minimum.  We do very little by comparison and I realized I often feel guilty because the little we do sometimes feels like too much.  Though logically I know better, I constantly battle against what culture pushes on us.  Are my kids missing out?  I know in my head that activities alone aren't what's best for kids, that we want our kids to play and imagine and have free space in their lives to just be kids, but when few around us seem to be doing that, I find myself feeling like my kids are missing out.

This summer though we knew we just couldn't, I haven't felt well enough.  So, our kids went to VBS and one week of theater camp.  Chloe is taking three gymnastic classes this month and Phin tried basketball on Friday mornings for a month.  That was plenty.  We've spent time at the pool, played, they've Konmaried with me.  We're happy, we have more energy for others! 

We read a book by Archibald Hart called Stress and Your Child.  Hands down the most helpful book I've read in a long time.  We have a kid with psoriasis.  She has stress.  As we looked at simplifying our lives, we wanted to decrease stress for everyone, compare ourselves to no one.  It's easy to look at others and say, "well, they are busier so we must be fine".  We just asked God to show us what was best in this season.  We laid our entire lives before him in surrender.

Our two most stressful times of day are bedtime and morning during the school year.  Every holiday and summer break, I dread the return to school.  We've gone to a private school 20 min. away.  Marc works 45 min. away in the opposite direction.  I have to leave the house with four kids fed and ready to go by 7:30am.  Because of this we try to do bedtime early, starting 7-730pm.  Marc gets home at 615.  Trying to fit in dinner and dad time, is crazy.  We try to make it calm.  Eating and rushing to bed when you haven't seen dad all day is just hard for kids.

Homeschool was put on the table.  I didn't want it on the table.  It's too hard.  I don't know how to do it.  I am supposed to be decreasing my stress not adding things to my plate.  Yet with time and tears and prayers and research God began to reveal that this was the path for us. 

As I journaled, I began to realize I DID have dreams of motherhood that I am not fulfilling.  During the school year, it's hard for me to help with homework and teach kiddos anything about cooking or caring for the house.  Family devos are rushed or pushed aside.  I started journaling what was appealing about the silly Christian fiction books I'd been escaping to- it came down to SIMPLICITY.  I love reading about settlers.  I realized how much I love the idea of families working and being together.  I WANT to teach my kids to cook and care for the house.  I want to work more again as a family, to play more, not just on summer break and vacations.  Ava is nine and I feel behind on what I think she is capable of learning to do.  I still have some fear, after all, I have never done this.  But as we have prayed, I really feel like God is going to help me become the mom and have the home I dream of having.  I realize I do have more dreams for us...and I don't have to ignore them. 

This decision is scary for me.  I like safe, sure decisions.  This feels anything but safe and sure and yet the more time that passes the more excited I feel for the journey ahead.  So we are jumping into this unknown...

I am now a homeschooling mother. 

I am now a homeschooling mother!  I still cannot believe it and yet I have not felt this excited and joyful in a long time.  I am facing fears about my own inability and trusting God's provision.  The kids are excited.  Marc is excited.  It feels like we have been fighting for two years to stay out of the fast lane of the expressway here and it's like God just pointed us to exit the road all together right now.

We don't know anything past this year, we just feel like God is calling us to a season of rest.  I am looking for someone to help me a couple days a week so I can focus on school.  We will be doing little else but school.  We found a homeschool community nearby and are excited to start Classical Conversations with them.  I am still figuring out our schedule and trying to leave it fluid enough to learn.  We'll be starting in Sept. and I plan on spending the month freezing extra meals with the kids to have them on hand.  We'll be taking every Friday as a catch up or field trip day.  I have many friends who homeschool and I know there will be really hard moments; we also know there will be joyous ones.  I am so thankful for their advice and authenticity as I prepare.

Marc is putting new boundaries on his work.  He was promoted in April and has a great job, but it will suck the life out of him before we know it.  So he is prayerfully asking God for wisdom in balance.

I want to be very clear that we are confident that this is where God is calling us right now.  We do not think this is the only way.  We do not think this is the only right way.  We LOVED the kids school and the teachers there.  Nothing was broken except it's not a fit for us right now.  The school itself is great.  Our neighborhood school is great, as well, we just didn't feel like public education is where God would have our kids right now.  We DO know God has built each of us differently.  I am so thankful for the mom who are rocking activities, rocking public school, rocking private school, and rocking the crazy various methods of homeschool out there.

This is our leap of faith.  This is my freefall.  I cannot even express the utter amazement I feel over the fact that we actually jumped!  I really believe though there will be many more moments where I feel unsafe, where I feel afraid or incapable, that as we seek the Lord, we will fly.

Leap of Faith- Part 1

In the spring, I read a book called Freefall to Fly by Rebekah Lyons.  For reasons I could not articulate, I cried through much of the book.  I didn't expect too.  I couldn't even decipher why?  She talks about fear and surrendering to God's call for your life.   I really felt like God was preparing me for something but I had no idea what it could be.  I ordered the journal and began a somewhat frustrating few months of trying to decipher what I was missing.

In the book and journal, she takes you through identifying neglected dreams.  I couldn't find any.  I tried.  I literally asked myself everything I could think of: "Do I wish I'd pursued music?", "Do I want to go back to work?", "Should I pursue a job dealing with adoption or Haiti? (passions of mine)"  Nothing resonated.  Nothing felt right or nothing felt like a dream neglected.  I certainly didn't have obvious discontent with my life or feel like I'd neglected something God wrote up on my heart.  Still the nagging nudge that God was preparing me for change continued.

I was uncomfortable with the nudge.  instead of dreams surfacing, fears began to run rampant.  I had to confront fear about moving again (I think I am still having some PTSD from moving two years ago and then the immediate transition to child number four!).  I began to worry He'd  ask us to have more children and I am barely hanging on with the four I have;)  Why is it that we always assume God is going to make us live our nightmare?  I started out exploring if I had neglected dreams and ended up assuming God was going to push me into the worse things I could imagine.   The unknown, unsettled feeling was a bit overwhelming.  Looking back now, I can see I felt so overwhelmed by it, I just shut off.

I found myself reading ALL the time.  That seems like a healthy hobby.  It's a socially acceptable form of escape and yet I knew I was escaping ALL the time.  Nothing in my reality is inherently bad, I just felt overwhelmed.  I was shutting off to God and truly to my kids, if I am honest.  They were stressful so I was pulling back emotionally.  Funny, how we've never talked about it, but they knew.  They were acting out, desperate for my attention.  We'd have good days.  Days I felt alive again and then I'd feel that nudge in my quiet time with God and I'd find myself retreating to the safety of fiction book in my kindle, to fictional worlds with predictable, always happy endings.

I knew something was off and the Holy Spirit was nudging me, drawing me gently, reminding me that God is a God of love and grace.  I knew I was letting the enemy deter me from whatever God's plans were and I know his plans are for my benefit.

Simultaneously, this has all be complicated by my struggle with Hashimoto's disease.  I was diagnosed last Sept. and I have had some times I have felt good, but it's been a struggle.  I knew what I was feeling was not all just emotional and spiritual.  This is an autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid.  I gained 8 lbs in 5 weeks between April and May.  Sure, I was eating a bit of sugar but nothing crazy, this was obviously physical proof the thyroid isn't functioning, that my meds weren't right.  It can feel almost like a depression and the exhaustion is something I can hardly find words to describe.  When it's bad, I feel like I can barely lift my arms and legs.  I knew I had to return to the doctor.  Four kids really ARE too much when you can't find the energy to get downstairs;) 

I just felt God call me to pursue him despite my fear and to take care of myself so whenever he revealed whatever this unknown was, I would be ready.  I joined weight watchers to help lose the weight cuz it's hard without a normal thyroid and I know progress will be slow, so I knew I needed support.  That step was life changing for me.  I cried going in and leaving.  It was so humbling.  I realized how terrible I am at admitting I need help.  T.E.R.R.I.B.L.E.  Let me just tell you, now its the highlight of my week.  It's fun, the ladies are awesome and I feel encouraged every week in just taking steps to take care of me.

I started purging and organizing the house using the Konmari method.  Again, just life changing to get rid of anything that doesn't add joy to our lives.  Simplicty, freedom from clutter.  I felt like I was getting rid of physical, emotional, and spiritual clutter all at the same time.  My heart felt decluttered, as did my mind.  I found myself able to enjoy stillness and trust God with the discomfort.

I found a new doctor.  I'd started having migraines that were unspeakable painful and that affected by vision (temporarily when having them, nothing permanent).  The underlying disease process has worsened over the year (the antibodies attacking my thyroid have increased 200%)  She increased my medicine and has made me go gluten free.  Again, tears.  Who knew giving up Dunkin Donuts and Panera triple berry scones was so emotional;)  I prayed.  God is good.  It's been four weeks and barely a struggle.  I never had digestive issues, so I don't feel any differently so I'm so grateful it's not been a struggle.  She said it's worth a try; it sure is.  I have four kids- that's my incentive. 

She also said to manage stress.

That visit began our journey of how we can more effectively manage stress and it's been the journey that showed the elusive unknown.  It's been a journey of confronting fears and we finally decided to jump.  This is my free fall....