Messy Valley #1

 

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I have one great fear when it comes to blogging.  It’s one of the things that I consistently argued with myself over when I was deciding whether or not to start blogging again.  I think that one of my greatest blogging fears is that I somehow present myself and my family as perfection, as knowing it all, as having it all together.  I think that is a great downfall of blogging.  Bloggers post their most beautiful wreaths, their most engaging homeschool activities, their very best ideas, and if the readers aren’t careful, it can begin to breed discontentment.  I know this because I’m not only a blogger, but I’m a blog reader.  I love looking at blogs such as Money Saving Mom and Confessions of a Homeschooler.  But if I’m not very careful, I can allow myself to think of these women as superheroes…absolutely perfect mothers.  And I know that isn’t true.  In fact, being on the inner workings of the blogging world has made me see ever more clearly that it’s not even remotely true.  And, it’s something that I really want to guard against.  I never want people to feel that my family or I are perfect, or even close.  Now, what I do hope that we can be is a picture of imperfection redeemed by the only one who can make anything glorifying out of our lives.  And the reason that I write things is to hopefully inspire people on what we have done right.  We love and want to help people in any way that we can.  But please do yourself a great favor and never be tempted to think for a second that we know everything, that we are perfect, or that I am a supermom. 

So I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you a little more about all the things that I won’t be making lots of posts about here at Redeeming the Days.  I won’t be telling you about how to keep a clean car, because to be honest, while trash in the car bothers me, a little (or even a lot of) dirt never has.  I actually insist to Tim that we not wash the outside of our car because we live on a dirt road and it’s pointless and a waste of good water and energy.  Tim says that even with that being so, we need to at least knock off the dirt occasionally.  🙂  You won’t see a post on decorating.  In the five years that we’ve been in this house, my living room has been 3 different colors, my kitchen has also been 3 different colors and my son’s room has been 3 different colors.  This is because I’m a horrible decision maker.  The stinkin’ paint swatch never looks the same actually on the wall.  Also I get easily overwhelmed.  It just happens.  I don’t work under pressure well, and if I start feeling too many demands, I will just shut down until my hero, Super-Tim comes in and helps me get started by seeing one thing at a time. That’s what he’s really good at. 

And, since I’m on a roll today, I wanted to share with you my most recent horrifying mothering experience.  Actually, I have to say that this would have to be my most humiliating experience up to date with my sweet, precious children.  And keep in mind that we’ve had some dilly-whoppers.  I mean, I’ve had a whole pound of frozen hamburger meat in my toilet and remnants of said hamburger spread all over the bathroom making it reminiscent of a murder scene you might see on television.  So, let’s just say that this one is up there…on top of the list. 

It was about two months ago or so.  Tim and I had to go to Conway to get our fingerprints done at the DHS to get our adoption paperwork started.  I was going to meet Tim there because he was coming through anyway, but he was running late.  I thought nothing of taking them by myself into the DHS office.  I mean, I take my three kids with me everywhere…literally everywhere. We are always together.  And normally, we do ok.  Rarely perfect, but I almost always leave with all my hair fairly intact.  Today was not one of those days.  My family gets worn out easily.  It’s just something that has always been true of us.  And this was a Monday after a busy weekend, so it was not a good day to start with, but seriously 30 minutes in an office should not have been a big deal.  So, I marched my kiddos back into the office of our resource worker, and I pointed them to each sit in a spot. 

Things went well for a few seconds, and then the resource worker had a little trouble getting the machine to start up.  And that’s where things started going wrong.  I stood up to start my fingerprints, and my middle child immediately tried to grab my phone out of my back pocket.  This started a chain reaction of each child feeling cheated out of coveted play time on Mom’s phone.  So the fight was on.  I grabbed the phone back…after all, they know better than that.  But at that point, they were mad.  So, sweet, motherly Hannah turned temporarily crazy on me, and just whacked Lydia for no apparent reason.  Lydia starts screaming.  Of course, in my mind, I’m racing through what I should do.  The eyes of people looking to see if I’m a fit parent are watching, after all.  So, my first thought is simply to comfort Lydia and get her to stop crying.  But, that wasn’t the same idea as the resource worker as she immediately pointed her finger at Hannah and said, “She was mean to her!  She hit her!” fully expecting me to take care of it right then and there.  So I mustered my very best get-on-her-level, sweet, patient voiced, “Now that was not a nice thing to do, Hannah.  You wouldn’t want Lydia to do that to you would you?” Which by the way, did nothing.  And so the burning eyes of judgment just kept staring down my neck and waiting for me to come up with this brilliant parenting moment, which I just didn’t have in me at all.  My mind was completely void of any cohesive thought.  So I gave up and left it, knowing that I had not only disappointed the resource worker, but myself too.  Little Hannah was the only winner of the situation, knowing that she managed to get out of the mishap fairly unscathed. 

I once again redirected everyone to sit and be still, reassuring them that I was almost done.  Except I wasn’t.  Apparently, my hands are the driest hands in the world, and my prints just wouldn’t take.  After just a couple of tries, the resource officer and I were both getting antsy and my kids were even more antsy.  So, Hannah and Lydia then curiously peek out into the hallway, and upon seeing that DHS has a pleasantly long hallway full of interesting rooms and obstacles, they began to gleefully run up and down the hall through the offices where people were busily working and talking on the phone.  I stuck my head out of the hallway and told them to come back, but of course, the game was on.  They turned, squealed and ran. 

Now, at this point, Isaac was panicked.  I calmly told him that they wouldn’t go far from me, and turned back to the impossible task of fingerprinting.  But, the squeals of the girls got louder and I could tell they were getting further and further from me, despite my promises to Isaac.  The resource worker simply said, “I think if you go and get them, they’ll just run faster.”  Now, I knew this.  Really, I did, but I also know my girls.  If it had just been Hannah, my child who won’t let go of my shirttail for anything, I wouldn’t have bothered.  But this was Lydia….my youngest, most adventurous, most daring child, who stops at nothing, has no fears, no limit of how high she’ll let you toss her into the air or how high you can swing her.  THAT Lydia.  And Hannah was with her, so she had thrown all her caution to the wind.  This was a pair with no fear.  So I didn’t have a choice.  I had to go.  The resource worker once again put in her same two cents, and I just looked back at her and said, “Mam, I know you’re right, but I have to go get them anyway.”  I chased those squealing girls down one hallway full of DHS employees, down another hallway, and yes, down yet another hallway!  I chased those little girls until one of the employees finally stopped them, and got onto them.  Then she looked at me, and said the most humiliating words I’ve ever heard.  She said to me, “Are you here for a parental visitation?”  Those words hurt like crazy.  At that point, I knew that I had lost complete control, and I had to sadly shake my head and admit to her, “No mam, believe it or not, I’m here to adopt.”  She was very nice, and I’m ever grateful to her for stopping my girls because I question if we would have ever stopped the chase.  She sternly reminded the girls to, “Listen to your momma.”  And back we walked to the resource worker’s office.  But it was as if I were walking down the Hall of Shame.  The same people who were standing outside of their offices while my girls ran wild, were still there, and their stares were hot on my back. 

The resource worker took a minute to go make a copy of something (or maybe she just knew I needed a minute to collect myself).  Through the tears welling up in my eyes, I barked at my kids, “You sit there, you sit there, and you sit there, and don’t you dare move.”  Of course, who walked it right at that moment, but Tim Wood.  And all three of my sweet babies returned back to their original angelic form, further confirming to everyone there (at least in my mind) that I was just an incapable mother.  Of course, Tim sailed through his fingerprints with flying colors, joking and laughing with the resource worker, not having a clue what he just walked into.  I, on the other hand, couldn’t get out of that office fast enough.  When we finally left the doors of that place, I burst into tears right there in the parking lot.  In my fragile state of mind, who on Earth would give us another child after seeing that?  Tim, who I’m sure was just stunned at the amount of liquid flowing from my face and not knowing what to do or say, looked at me sympathetically and said, “You know, a dysfunctional family is better than no family at all.”  While I appreciate the sentiment dear, that wasn’t the right thing to say.  I cried harder and didn’t stop until late that afternoon.  I was utterly defeated.  My mother called and was trying her best to comfort me by explaining that my heart is just so soft, I’m just not a disciplinarian.  That wasn’t exactly what I was needing to hear either…but I appreciated everyone’s trying to make me feel better. 

The next day, during my morning porch time, I realized that Tim was right.  I am not perfect.  We are dysfunctional at times.  I lose control sometimes.  I don’t do things right every time.  It’s a perfect reminder that I need JESUS in my life every minute of every day.  It took me several days to actually “get over” that, but through it I’ve learned some valuable lessons.  This week, I get to face that same resource worker again.  Honestly, I’m praying that the Lord has miraculously wiped us completely from her memory.  But, if He hasn’t, I’m determined to use that as a reminder that I can’t present myself as something I’m not-perfect.  I am just Deana Wood, great at things like yearly birthday journal entries and fun homeschool activities now and then and writing notes, but terrible at things like hiding birthday presents, saying no to my sweet tooth, and working under pressure.

I told you in my Stones of Legacy post that I wanted my children to have a record of the beautiful mountains and the messy valleys of my walk with God.  Kids-this is one of Mom’s messy valleys.  This messy valley taught me a lot and is still teaching me a lot, and it has drawn me closer to God.  I think that when all this is said and done, God wants me to know that this adoption is not something that our family can do in our own strength, but only something that He can do through us. 

And for all my blog readers, I thank you for letting me share my heart and a few of my failures today.  And I would love to hear from you and know that I’m not alone.  (I’m not right?)  Have you ever had moments where you just feel defeated?  What have those moments taught you?  What have you learned about yourself/parenting through the messy valleys in your own life?

 

I’m linking up at the following places:

A Mama’s Story

The Modest Mom Blog

Your Adoption Questions Answered

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I know that several people had questions about our recent adoption announcement.  I didn’t answer these questions in the comments of my last post, because I wanted to answer thoroughly.  So, I decided to make a new post about it.  So, let’s get started.

 

Are you adopting internationally or domestically? Our family feels called to adopt domestically, meaning that we will do an adoption through the foster care system.  We want to give a home to a child who is already waiting.  In Arkansas right now there are over 500 children waiting for forever families.  That means that there are 500 children who legally have no parents and are open for adoption TODAY.  This is heart-breaking to us.  We are anxious to give a home to at least one of these children.

What program will you go through to adopt? We will be going through The CALL for Faulkner/Conway County.  We are really excited about this.  This is a Christian-based program in Arkansas which works with the Department of Human Services foster/adoption system to train parents to take in children from the foster care system.   The thing I love about The CALL is that even if your family is not called to open your home to fostering/adoption, you can still help. From donating clothing to the Call Closet to preparing meals for families in training to being a point of contact for your church, there is a way for everyone to fulfill the biblical command to take care of orphans in their distress.  I would highly encourage everyone to look into seeing what you can do to help the children in need in our state.

What age/gender do you plan on adopting? There has always been a noticeable gap between Isaac and Hannah.  Isaac is a great big brother, and if it’s God’s will, it’s our desire that he always be the oldest of our family.  He holds that position very well, and we believe that he is a good sibling leader.  However, Isaac has always wanted a brother, and we’ve always wanted another boy too.  It seems that those desires have worked out well so far.  According to state laws regarding adoption, our house only allows space for one more male child at this point.  We would like to adopt a little boy around the age of 5-6 ideally.  However, for the past year, it has been a consistent prayer in our family that God will bring us exactly one child, that he will be exactly the right child for us, and that we will not be asked to look through different children and decide between several.  I know myself well enough to know that I could not handle looking through several kids and feeling the weight of that decision myself, so we are entirely trusting God to bring us exactly the right child.

Do you plan to foster first?  It is not our intention to foster at this point.  I think that we will likely foster one day, but right now, strictly adopting is the path that we feel most comfortable with for the sake of our children and the stability and consistency of our home and routine.  Also, because we homeschool, it would make it difficult to send foster children off to school while keeping our own kids home.  There would be some separation there which we are uncomfortable with.

How do your kids feel about it? Isaac is thrilled.  He has trouble understanding why this couldn’t have happened yesterday.  I think of all of us, he is the most frustrated with the slowness of the process (although it hasn’t really been all that bad).  Hannah had some confusion at first.  She seemed to think that we would be trading in Isaac for a new brother.  She was not nearly as upset about that as I would have liked her to be, however, I think she is much more content knowing that she is simply adding a brother, not trading one out.  Lydia is oblivious.  I feel like of all our kids, she may be the one to have some adjustment issues, particularly having to share some of the attention she has become accustomed to getting as the baby of the family.  But, we understand that this will be a transition and a process.  There will likely be hard times, but as my husband often says, “Things worth doing are almost never easy.”

How do you feel about it?  Tim always comes to decisions long before I do.  And he’s been ready for a long time to do this.  It always takes me time….and a lot of it. So here’s how I feel right now.  I am excited.  I am kind of nervous.  I am a little scared. I want to tell you lots more about my feelings throughout this process, but that is enough material for an entire post in itself-maybe a series.  But, what I will tell you is that several months ago, I’d say the beginning of 2014, every time I talked to Tim about adopting, I would cry.  I don’t mean those cute little movie tears either-you know the kind you wipe away with a dainty Kleenex and your makeup is left untouched.  I mean the kind of tears that surprise you when they come bubbling forward, they wreck your makeup and they soak your clothes.  You couldn’t mop them up if you tried…those tears.  I couldn’t even control them.  I wasn’t even in a weepy mood.  It was just my immediate response just to the thought that it might be time to open up our home and our family.  Then, as we sat on Tim’s cousin’s couch and talked to her about adoption (she is an adoptive mom) and the tears came flowing there too-I knew then that something was happening.  God was preparing this mother’s heart for a new season.  And nothing less than obedience would do.  So, that’s where we are-on a quest to obey God and do His will.  And THAT is thrilling.  It’s exciting to know that your life is being directed by God Himself in such a tangible way.  I am in awe of how I have seen Him at work in our hearts over the past year…from our children to this blubbering momma to working out Tim’s schedule to be more available-God has everything in control.  That feels good.

What’s the latest on progress? Our home consultation was delayed another week.  We tried to take it in stride though, and of course it worked out well, as we kept extra kids this past week, and I was down with a cold.  So, we are scheduled again for this Thursday.  Please pray that nothing stands in the way this time.  I really need this to happen this week.  I need it to start feeling real and to start seeing some progress.  I’m now subconsciously counting that I have four children, so I constantly feel like someone is missing, and I know that feeling won’t go away until we do have our fourth with us.  If all goes well, we will start our CALL training the weekend of Sept 12-13 and one more weekend in September.  We will have to pass our home study and then we will be officially open for adoption.  It could be really fast and it still could be a year or more away.  We ask that you pray that we will continue to trust God’s perfect timing and please stand with us in our prayer that God has exactly the right child ready for us.

 

I think this covers most of the questions I got the other day.  Of course, if you do have a question I didn’t answer, let me know.  We want to be an open book, as you have probably noticed.  I have to tell you that making that adoption announcement last week was a HUGE step for me, and when I looked at my blog stats and saw that 575 people read that post, I was overwhelmed.  I am blown away by the encouraging words that were spoken to us, things that we needed to hear.  I am in awe of the fact that many people are now praying for our family as we start this process.  So let me just say from our family to you…THANK YOU.  You have no idea what your support, and most of all, your prayers mean to us.  We aren’t doing anything big, but knowing that we have the support of a community of people is so reassuring.  I hope to keep you posted on the progress here.  If you want to stay up to date, you can follow my blog through RSS feed (check the sidebar) or you can follow our page on Facebook.  Just go to the link in the sidebar.  If you’re on the mobile version, click on the menu button (the three tiny lines all together for those of you like me who are technically challenged) under the title of the blog, and you should see an option to follow us on Facebook so you can stay up to date.  Again, your sweet words mean SO much to us, and your prayers mean even more.  Thank you.

 

For more information about waiting children in Arkansas, please go to:

The CALL-Learn more about fostering and adoption and how you can serve the waiting children in our area.

Arkansas Heart Gallery-Find out more about fostering and adoption and search through their photo listing to see waiting children in the state of Arkansas.

Project Zero-See lots of photos of precious waiting children and find out how you can help.

 

Book Review: Idols of the Heart

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It’s what I have decided to refer to as “The Perfect Storm”.  It started with a nagging feeling for several weeks.  Then, my pastor preached a sermon from Zephaniah.  Yes, it was time to face it.  I had/have a problem with idolatry.  The Sunday of the convicting Zephaniah sermon, I came home and pulled the book, Idols of the Heart: Learning to Long for God Alone off my shelf and dusted off the cover.  It’s written by Elyse Fitzpatrick.  Her writing is always spot on, and her teaching is sound.  I purchased this book a while back when I realized that I really liked her as an author, but as I do with so many books, I bought it and then shelved it while reading another book and forgot about it.  But as my pastor was preaching on the various types of idolatry we harbor in our hearts, all the while condemning others whose idolatry is more obvious, I remembered this book, and knew that it was time to face the music, and allow Elyse to once again, with the great help of the Holy Spirit, guide me through the process of getting rid of the idols in my own heart.

Elyse begins the book with a staggering statistic.

 

Seventy-six percent of Americans polled consider themselves completely true to the First Commandment, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” –Exodus 20:3

 

And to be truthful, just a few short weeks ago, I might have been in that 76 percent.  But Elyse goes on to explain to us…

 

Idols aren’t just stone statues.  No, idols are the thoughts, desires, longings, and expectations that we worship in the place of the true God.   Idols cause us to ignore the true God in search of what we think we need.

 

Jesus said that the primary love in your heart has to be centered on God.  Anything less than that is idolatry.

 

And conviction sets in…I am a habitual person.  If I wake up at 6:00 am for a few mornings, I will continue waking up that early until something drastic stops my routine, such as a sickness.  If I have a sweet treat after dinner for a few nights in a row, I’ll have a tendency to do that every night simply out of habit.  Sometimes this is a good thing.  Because I am a very habitual person, I set up routines easily and quickly.  This is great with homeschooling and house cleaning, but it can be terrible when we’re talking idolatry.  Remember that nagging feeling that I talked about earlier?  Well, that started because I had realized that every time I sat down, I had to check my phone-email, facebook, my favorite blogs.  But it was every single time I had a spare moment.  Because of that, I was missing out on moments when I could have been interacting with my kids, stealing a few minutes to read my Bible or a thought-provoking book, or even simply meditating on God’s goodness and character.  Yes, I knew that my phone, as wonderful a tool as it is, had become an idol in my heart.  It’ funny how God works things out, but at exactly that time, we had been going over our data usage on our plan.  We don’t have internet at our house, so we use our data plan on our phones any time we need internet, and you can rack up data quickly that way, especially when you’re watching Magic School Bus videos to go with your Science curriculum.  Anyway, we had to shut the data completely off of our phones.  As much as I hated it, I knew how desperately I needed it.  I needed something drastic to break my habits and set me on the right track to freeing myself from this form of idolatry.  Since then, I have worked on resetting my mind and establishing some ground rules for myself, such as a schedule of when I can get online and when I can’t, and I’m praying that God will help me to keep technology in its rightful place.

The really funny thing is that I thought that was my main area of idolatry.  Little did I know that there are many more areas of idolatry that I never even considered.  I love the song, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. My favorite part of this song is the very last verse which says,

 

O to grace how great a debtor

Daily I’m constrained to be!

Let thy goodness like a fetter,

Bind my wandering heart to Thee.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,

Prone to leave the God I love;

Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it,

Seal it for Thy courts above!

 

I love this verse because it’s so true.  As Elyse Fitzpatrick puts it, our hearts have a natural bent to “manufacture gods.”  We are prone to wander.  And only God can truly keep us.

 

Without the work of God’s Spirit, we’ll worship everything, rather anything, but God.  He must work, then, to incline our hearts to worship Him.

 

One of my favorite parts of this book (there are several) is when the author says, “Incorrect thinking about God’s character breeds idolatry.” I think this is what plagues America right now more than anything.  We want to think of God as only loving, not as just and jealous.  We think wrongly of His perfect character, because we want to make Him more like us.  That’s wrong and that sets up idolatrous thoughts and desires.  As Elyse says,

“We must be careful to worship God as He has presented Himself in Scripture….If we worship a god who is anything less than this, or other than this, we’re not worshiping the God of the Bible.  We are worshiping a god of our creation….We want the comfort of a loving god without the demands of a holy god.”

 

There are many forms of idolatry, and many of these forms are not golden calves and little statues of Buddha.  We tend to serve the god of fear, the god of our reputation, the god of being liked, the god of money.  It goes on and on.  These gods are deceptive and sly.  They sneak in the back door of our minds and they have taken hold before we realize it.  In Idols of the Heart, Elyse says that we must get rid of these idols, but we must first, rely completely on God.  Without the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, our efforts are futile.  We need to pray daily (maybe even minute by minute) that God will help us to tear down these idols in our hearts.  We must replace these idols with God’s Word, memorizing and hiding it in our hearts.  We must remember that pleasing God is better than any pleasures that the world has to offer.

 

This is another book that I could go on and on about.  I have highlighted something on almost every page.  This book has been one of those lasting impact books.  I’ll read this one again and probably again.  Elyse uses scripture after scripture to back up her writing, and she puts it in a way that is thought-provoking.  I would highly recommend this book for anyone.  I know that my heart is changing because of the things the Holy Spirit brought to light while reading this book, as part of my “Perfect Storm”.

 

We’ll always battle against our sin nature, and our obedience won’t be perfected until heaven,

But the focus of our lives should be evidenced in a growing joy in obedience and submission.

 

I am well aware that this battle of idolatry is far from over, as sin is something I’ll always struggle with, but I do pray that my life is marked by a growing joy in obedience and submission, because a life used for the glory of God is a life fulfilled and a life lived with no regrets.

Stones of Legacy

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A few years ago, I was in a wonderful Bible study group called Bible Study Fellowship.  (Side note:  I highly recommend it!)  That year, we studied the 40-year-long journey of the Israelites into the Promised Land.  One thing that has stuck with me from that study was the very last thing we learned.  It comes from this passage from Joshua chapter 4:

So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”

This really impacted me.  I thought about what these men had done.  They set stones there at the the crossing of the river as a reminder to themselves to tell their children what God has done for them.  Hmmm…..that got me to thinking.  What stones have we set up in our family?  At that point, we got serious about what I like to refer to as “stones of legacy”-simple reminders to yourself to prompt you to tell your children about how God has been great in your life.  

Over the years, we have tried to establish some “stones of legacy” and I wanted to share with you today a few of these that work for our family.  

If you’ve ever read one of my Goals posts, you’ve probably noticed that I have a “Legacy Goal” each week.  It’s my desire to leave something behind for my children to see my deepest thoughts and ponderings about God.  I want to leave a trail of my journey walking with God.  So that’s what the Legacy Goal is all about.  It’s one reason that I have started blogging again.  This is just one way that I can leave documentation of my walk with God-all the beautiful mountaintops and all the messy valleys-for my children.  I hope that one day, my kids will read through the pages of this blog and gain new insight about our family and our walk with God.  Most of all, I want them to see that their mother loved God with her whole heart, and that she spent most of her days meditating on His goodness and character.  This is one way that I choose to leave a stone.

Another stone for our family is birthday journals.  I have a blank journal for each of my kids.  Once a year, on their birthday, I will take some time and write about their year.  I like to focus on how I’ve seen God at work in their life that year, and I also tell them all about their interests and any high (or even low) points of the year.  I always, always, always include how we saw the Hand of God at work in their life.  This past year, I was able to make a very special entry in Isaac’s journal.  Another “birthday” of sorts.  It was the day he was baptized.  What a beautiful day, and what a wonderful entry that was for this mother to write!  I’ve also begun a journal for our newest addition to our family….our precious adopted child who we don’t know yet.  I want this child to know that long before we knew him, God knew and had a plan.  And another stone is laid.

Finally, every year in our family on Valentine’s Day, we have a little tradition.  The kids and I spend the day decorating the dining room and cooking.  For dinner, we all work together making the very first meal that Tim made for me on our first Valentine’s Day together:  grilled chicken, rice, gravy, corn and a roll.  We sit together at our construction paper-heart-smothered dinner table and Tim and I force our kids to listen to the story of how God put us together and many of the stories of our early marriage.  Different years we tell them different stories, but we always try to center them around how God has been real and faithful to our family.  More stones….

There are lots of other ways to lay stones in your family.  My family does not by any means have the patent on it!  I have a friend who writes the blessings of the year on slips of paper and puts them in a jar.  Then, at the end of the year, she and her husband open the jar and read them together and think about how God has worked in their lives the past year.  

The practice of laying stones has been such a blessing to our family.  Consistently telling the stories of God’s provision, providence, and faithfulness through the good and the bad times is a healthy and necessary practice for the Christian family.  So today, I’m encouraging you…tell your story to your kids.

 I’d love to hear from you.  How does your family lay stones?

A Day in the Life

I thought that today I would share what a day in the life of the Wood Family (the home-stationed side) is like.  So here we go…

 

After breakfast, we start chores.  These are the girls’ charts.  Isaac’s looks similar.

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Then we have our Bible time.  We are learning all about American History this year, so I figured it was a good time to learn the Pledge of Allegiance.  So, we do the Pledge, (yes, complete with flag waving and “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”. 

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We sing a couple of hymns, and we’re learning the Books of the Bible this year, so we sing our Books of the Bible song.  Then, we read our Bible passage from Romans and discuss it.  I had to smile to myself this morning when after I read, Isaac said, “Now that was good stuff right there,” talking about Paul’s comments about sanctification.  🙂 

After our Bible reading, we do our Scripture Memory System.  Love, love, love this!  Click here to read more about how to set this system up for your family.  It has been such a blessing for us, and it costs nothing other than index cards!

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After  our scriptures, it’s prayer time.  This year, we are studying American History with an emphasis on Native Americans.  So, we read a day from our American Indian Prayer Guide.  Then we pray for that group of American Indians that they will come to know Jesus.  We also pray about our day and Tim and any other prayer requests we might have.

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After Bible time, our regular school day begins.  Isaac heads to the computer for his daily math lesson. 

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While he’s working on Math, I do preschool with the girls.  We read Nursery Rhymes, do flashcards, play alphabet and counting games, and read their Bible story.  Fun times!

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Then, we go to workbook time.  Isaac works on his cursive handwriting.  He’s doing great on this!

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Hannah is serious about her workbook.  She’s beginning phonics and learning to write letters.  And, we can’t miss workbook time for her!  She loves it!  She’s flying through her first book, and I have to make her stop most days.

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Lydia usually colors in her Dora coloring book during this time.  🙂

After that, we take a short break, and I use that time to prepare our dinner.  Roast tonight!!

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Then, we move on to history.  They get a small morning snack while I read to them, and then we discuss.

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At this point, Isaac works on his typing program on the computer, and the girls I and read.  Science and poetry!

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Today, the Eric Carle poem we read provided inspiration for our art time.  While no one ended up with a rooster (which was the intended outcome…), everyone’s art was very “Eric Carle-ish.”

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Then it’s on to our language block.  Mondays are usually light in this area.  We go over the dictation passage for the week, and that’s it for the day.  Isaac is one happy boy!

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After that, yep….more reading!!  This is our read aloud for American History and WE LOVE IT!  It’s called Walk the Rim and it’s an amazing tale with lots of great lessons and life applications.  I always let the kids play quietly while they listen, and we try to go outside for reading as much as possible.  You wouldn’t believe how much they listen even as their little hands work!

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For lunch, we either eat on the porch, or we spread out a picnic style lunch and watch an episode or two of I Love Lucy or Andy Griffith.

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After lunch, it’s a good long playtime for the kiddos…laundry time for me!  Then, the girls go down for rest time, and for Mom, it’s time for my weekly card-writing!

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While the girls are still resting, Isaac and I work on Science.  I forgot how much fun Biology is!  We’ve already made cell diagrams and this is a picture of an animal classification lapbook that we’ve been working on. 

 

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Of course, Isaac also has his own reading time too!  He’s currently reading Pocahontas and the Strangers.

 

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Later in the week, we’ll use this time for special projects like Embroidery for Hannah and Pocket Knife and Yard work skills for Isaac, but today, we’re exhausted, so our day is done!  🙂

We’re Expanding!

It began about 11 years ago now. It started as just a seed in our hearts, and over the last 11 years, it has been watered by many, and the seed planted in our hearts has grown. It began back when Tim and I first met at the Wesley Foundation at Arkansas Tech University. We both worked in a children’s ministry called Age 2 Age. It was a mentoring program that paired college students with an at-risk child. I can’t tell you how many times we looked at each other and said something like, “Can we take him home with us?” Or, “I’d keep her in a second.” It grew even more when we began teaching. The previous questions were no longer offered in jest, but instead turned into pleas to each other.   Seeing kids who desperately need someone to love them broke our hearts over and over again.

Then we had our own children. And it awoke our parental emotions even more. So over the past 8 years, even while we have had three biological children, the desire to give others a loving home was still there and still growing. It just hasn’t been the right time. It’s just been in the last year and a half that the four year gap between Isaac and Hannah has begun to look so very empty. It’s particularly glaring at the dinner table when we have that one seat left unoccupied. It’s been about a year now since we’ve felt the Lord’s leading us and nudging us, saying, “Now’s the time.”

So here we are, about to embark on this beautiful journey of Adoption.

Very much like having a biological child, I’m excited, I’m nervous, I’m a little scared. I’m not quite sure what this next season of life is going to look like. But, we are looking forward to following God’s will for our lives. And we are looking forward to adding a new member to our family.

We’ve debated about whether or not to tell anyone for several months now, but what we have realized is that the system is slow and it’s difficult to maneuver. We’ve already been delayed for various reasons, and it’s not easy for a mother’s heart knowing that you have a child somewhere out there who isn’t with you. So we’re asking for your prayers. We are scheduled to start the process this week with our home consultation, and then in September we will start classes through The Call. Hopefully by October, we will be open. Please pray that everything happens in God’s timing, according to His perfect will, and that He will begin preparing this child for becoming a member of the Wood Family. That would be an adjustment for anyone!

Book Review: *Pursue the Intentional Life*

I’ve never really thought much about the question:

“What kind of old woman will I be?”

Well…actually, I’ve thought quite a bit about it.  I’ve always envisioned myself as a gray-headed, cookie-baking, apron-wearing, sock-knitting, rocking chair-sitting grandmother who now has all kinds of time to give to her grandchildren and to other children who need some extra attention.  Yes, that’s the picture I have of myself at 70.  But, in reality, I was missing the true question.  What kind of old woman will I really be?  And in Jean Fleming’s book, Pursue the Intentional Life, I was faced head on with the question like never before.  

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Let me just start by saying that this is one of those few books that I can say truly gave me something to chew on for a life time.  I like to read, and a lot of books are great for the moment I’m in but I’m not likely to remember anything from them long-term.  My memory tends to be fleeting these days.  This book is different.  This book encouraged me to live every day intentionally, always thinking about my purpose in life, to glorify God in everything that I do-to use every day wisely.

I am only 30 years old.  To many, that is so young.  To some, it’s so old (ask my kids).  But, even in my early thirties, I’m already noticing that my eye shadow doesn’t spread smoothly across my eyelids anymore.  My son is constantly reminding me of how the veins on my hands are bulging more with each passing day, and it’s only a matter of time before gray hairs begin sprouting on top of my head.  I’m not complaining.  I’m one of those people who view gray hair as a crown of wisdom. I’m looking forward to my first gray hairs.  However, it is sobering for me to think that every day, my time grows shorter to glorify God here on Earth, to make a difference with my life that points more people to Christ.  

Here is an excerpt of one of Fleming’s thought-provoking points:

Have you noticed that the flaws and weaknesses of a forty-year-old concentrate with age?  A complainer at forty will, with much practice, engrave the response in his or her bones by seventy.  Self-centeredness will intensify.  Bitterness, allowed to take root and grow over decades, engulfs and consumes in advanced age.  Anyone living a frittering existence at thirty will, apart from a serious course correction, end up frittering away an entire life.  

Ouch.  

The truth is that everyone, regardless of age, is already setting patterns for the shape of his or her life.  These patterns of thought and practice will either serve the glory and purposes of God or hinder them.

Thankfully, Jean Fleming is not one who simply leaves us with these thoughts.  In Pursue the Intentional Life, she really guides us through self-examination and more importantly, relying on the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the hidden places of our hearts.  

An unexamined life surely leads to unnecessary regrets, especially at the end of life.

I also loved the way that Fleming looked at the future.  Here are a couple of my favorite excerpts:

What does it look like to live a beautiful life in a fallen world?  How can I prepare my heart and mind for the challenges, opportunities, and transitions that will come?  What does it look like to live Christ to the very end?

In addition to these thoughts, Fleming also looks at sufferings in the Christian life, transitions, numbering our days….

The truth is, that I could go on and on about all the things I loved about this book, but I would end up pretty much copying the book into a blog post.  This is a book that has had a lasting impact on me.  I think about Jean Fleming’s words almost daily.  And, because of that, I think about living more intentionally for the glory of God every day.  I think about how my habits and weakness will intensify with time, so now, I pray daily that God will show me these so that the Holy Spirit can help me overcome these areas of struggle.  In the past few months, since reading this book, I feel as though God has performed open heart surgery on me.  There’s a lot left to go, but I am so thankful for every step in the right direction.  It is my desire to live with eternity in mind.  I highly recommend this book.  If you’re like me, it will change the way you think about your life an your remaining years in the very best way.  

 

{Just so you know, I don’t have any affiliate agreements.  That means that I don’t make any money or get any benefits from recommending this book.  I am truly recommending it solely based on the fact that it has been so beneficial to me.}