A Place To Call Home

It is hard to believe that it has been a little over two months. If someone would have told me 6 months ago that we would sell our house and that we would be living in a 36 foot travel trailer…I would have laughed (and then taken measures to ensure that such a situation would NEVER happen). This new life of ours is not one I ever could have seen coming…even just a short time ago.

But here we are.

We have learned a lot in a short amount of time. RV life is certainly one that takes some getting used to, not impossible, but definitely an adjustment. A lot of people have questions and comments for us because of our newly acquired lifestyle. Honestly, I have a few questions and comments for us, too. I mean, after all, we are a family of five living in an RV, for goodness’ sake.

Here is the thing. Some days, we are just surviving. The waters rise and we can seem to barely keep our heads above the waves. It seems as if once one problem is fixed, 300 more arise in its place. There are also days when living in such a small space proves to be no longer bearable. The children’s voices permeate every place and space and the words ‘peace’, ‘quiet’, and ‘privacy’ mean nothing. These days, are hard. Sometimes, in these hard times, I doubt every and all decisions we have made. Were we crazy? What made us think we could do this? Are we doing the right thing? The latter one, is the one that sticks to your gut and keeps you up at night. It plays on all your worst doubts and fears. I would be lying if I said there were never times where a tear broke through here or there.

Then, somewhere in the bleak of night, the rays of sunlight come beaming through and it is like breathing in a fresh breath of hope. For the days where it seems as if survival is the only way of living, there also come the days were you can see that you will not only survive, but there is the hope to thrive.

These days are appearing more and more often. I would love to tell you that it is because of me and the things I have done…but, that would be nowhere near the truth. The only part I have in all of this turning out alright is in the surrender, the obedience and in trusting the One who holds every single moment in His hands. But, even then, I can only accomplish any of those things by and through His grace.

Since living here, we have had the opportunity to experience the lovely of His creation. We have enjoyed nature hikes, poem readings in seemingly secret thickets, we have watched the leaves perform their beautiful autumn dance, and have enjoyed listening to the calls of various birds flittering and fluttering all around us. We have enjoyed long nights under the moon and a few oak trees while listening to the crackling of a fire. Often, the tightness of our new home doesn’t phase me. We go about our day to day task with a smattering of ease. In fact, our family time has been richer and sweeter since moving out here. The close quarters is almost cozy in nature and I welcome its warmth.  These days, my heart swells and it is easy to see how everything will work out just fine; it is easy to enjoy the beauty of simple living; it all makes sense on these days. During these times, my heart finds its song again and it dances with joy.

But, there is a joy to be found in all times and in all seasons.

The hard days, they are getting fewer. I have seen where I needed to be stretched and where I needed to grow. Friends and family have certainly stepped in and encouraged us and often themselves lending a helping hand.  In the quiet moments, I have found myself giving thanks for the hard times…for the times where waves nearly drowned. I am learning there is a process – there is often a pain accompanied with growth, and not all pain is bad. I have learned that I can be shaped by hard times and grow from them or I can let them defeat me. In keeping my focus on Him, I am doing my best to let difficult times grow me. I am learning that in the growth, my walk with Him is closer and truer than I could have imagined it being.

So, the best answer I can give to people asking how life is going for us?

Well, it would be that we are learning to appreciate every moment of the journey. We are blessed with a sustaining grace that will bring moments beautiful and bring us through moments raw and rough. We are, every day, more and more confident and content in the place of life we are walking through and in the place where we call home.

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First Thoughts on a First Day of School

I don’t know where the time has gone, First Grade completely came out of nowhere. It seems like it was just yesterday when he was captivated by a little train named Thomas and all his friends. He was toddling about barely forming words, much less a full sentence. Yet, here I look at him, toddler turned boy. It seems just like that, too. I look at him now. He speaks with more knowledge than I sometimes give him credit for and he is a little sponge that soaks in as much information as possible – anxious to process and apply all that he has learned. Yet, here we are stepping into the first day of First Grade and I know for all that I have planned and prepared – it still is not enough unless offered up to the Life-Giver.

I awoke early this morning, though due to a restless night not as early as I wanted to, and I spent some time just thinking and praying. I have been preparing for this school year for months now…and now suddenly it was here. Part of me was questioning if I really had prepared everything I could have (or should have) for the new year. I was wrestling with the idea of perfection. I had a mindset that was intent on having everything “just right”. From all manner of curricula to hours spent researching the perfect books for our school year, it was all seeming to wane and that feeling of not enough was beginning to set in my mind and spirit.

Identify your goal.

It was the end product I was overlooking. The result, the effect, the outcome…I was missing a clear and distinct goal for my school year. While, the pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty is what I want to pour into the lives of my children, I felt the distinct gap of the goal for pursuing such worthy things. I had to ask the question, why. In this beautiful time of quiet, with just me and my God aware of the questions and struggles going through the maze of my mind – clarity began to form.

It was during my search for our school year’s verse that it was brought to me, so perfectly clear. I had been searching and searching for the right verse, the one that would perfectly shine everything I was wanting to obtain and reflect during this school year. That is when He lead me to the book of Genesis…the second chapter…the seventh verse. Where I had been searching for the perfect verse, the perfect verse found me.

So the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground, breathed life into his lungs, and the man became a living being.

So many things about this verse spoke to me. However, I will spare you the lengthy post. I will give you my 3 main takeaways from this morning.

  1. It stands as a reminder for me to do nothing apart from Him. He breathed life into dust, and man became a living being. I can have all the best resources, plans, activities and curriculum…but apart from Him, without his breath of life, it is but dust. I want Him to exhale his breath fully into the life of our school year, so that what results are young minds and hearts who pursue truth, beauty and goodness through the One who is Truth, Beauty and Goodness.
  2. It stands as a reminder for me to offer up all my great plans (which is mere dust) for His breath of life to produce living. I want the hearts and minds of my children to be living – truly living – as seen through the eyes of God. I want them to grow in Him so they can live for Him. Every moment I spend teaching and planning, may it be as an offering. “Thus grace in the soil grows not of itself in nature’s soil, but it is the work of God.” – Matthew Henry
  3. It stands as a reminder for me to cling to His grace and mercy. My soul to be opened to Him, so His breath of life be in me. May His grace cover my shortcomings and faults. His waves of mercy are new every morning – a hope to cling to during the days where I mess up. Grace and mercy; Mercy and grace, life-giving and life-sustaining.

I am thankful for the reminders I received today. I am thankful for this first day of school. I am thankful for One who walks with me on this journey of educating my children. I am thankful for sweet moments spent with Him. I am thankful for the opportunity to offer up this gift of homeschooling as an offering to Him. I am thankful for grace. I am thankful for mercy. I am thankful that this first day of school is but a small part of a continuing journey that He is breathing life into – for His glory.

 

 

The Parenthood Files: Fourth of July

Today, we celebrate the birth of a nation and freedom. My children and I will read some poems, sing some songs and listen to stories about the reason as to why we celebrate. There is a rich and powerful history born out of this old land, one whose stories and past beg us to continue to pass down to each generation.

It is my duty to relate to my children that this day and what it signifies for them, is more than just a time to eat, swim and watch fireworks explode in the night sky. While celebrations are good and have their place, to help my children really know the reason this day is worth celebrating is imperative to their understanding of the cost in which we are allowed to celebrate at all. It was a heavy cost, one that (often), still requires a weighty payment.

There are many things I hope to teach my children about being an American.

For my children to know how this generous land was a place of refuge for family so near and dear, is an absolute. I hope for them to know all the stories behind how they came to call themselves, American. Some such stories, may have taken place many generations ago…some of these stories happened within the generation of those they know and love today. To understand this land, is to know these stories; To love it, is to take that which we have been blessed with and, in some sort of capacity, share it with others. For this is largely impart of what makes America, who she is – beautiful and great.

The New Colossus

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” – Emma Lazarus 

I want my children to deeply understand that this nation was founded on many things noble and good –  a lover of justice and an indwelling of mercy was rooted into her being. I also want them to know that this grand country has made her fair share of shameful and grievous mistakes, in the 240 years of her existence. I want them to see her imperfect state. She is one who is marked by years and years of sin’s brokenness upon her land, for she herself does not have the power to rescue and redeem. While she is a land to be loved and cherished, she is not one to be worshiped and placed on golden pedestal.

I hope that my children will not look back on this country and wish for what once was…no, that is not what I want at all. I hope that I can model the love of Christ well, so that my citizenship is defined as such — I want my children to see the grace and redemption of my eternal home reflected in how I act while here at my earthly home. I want my children to not desire for their country a reversal, but, rather, for a strong movement forward – One that takes the good decisions made and couples them with even better ones for the glory of God and for His kingdom. For America, is but a reflection of her people and the choices they make. My hope is for a generation to rise-up within this great land and do great things. May there be a pride in country that is found: in the way her people love and seek the wisdom of a good, good Father, may it come from the way her people love all people as Christ loved them, and may it come from the ways her people act justly, love mercy, and seek to walk humbly.

Today, as we celebrate freedom, I hope I can impart to my children the gift it is and what it really means for all people of this American land. I hope that my children will know that freedom is a God-given gift to all and true freedom is found and experienced through Christ alone. I hope that I can help my children appreciate that they live in a land which allows them to choose that freedom without fear of punishment or exile.

Today, I do pray for God to bless America — if it will be a blessing well stewarded, if it will be a blessing that can be extended to others, and  if, it will be used to glorify Him.