Thursday, August 4, 2011

"Let MY Teaching Fall on You Like Rain"

I admit, I'm not quite sure exactly how to start this post.  It's nearly midnight and I've been glued to the computer almost this entire day working on school planning and household tasks.  Sleep is my priority, but yet I can't until I figure out what it is that God is trying to pull from my heart and send to my fingers!  I'm not even sure why this seems so heavy and why I'm struggling to get the words flowing.  I do know it won't be short and yet I have to be obedient. 

A bit of background about this week.  It has been stressful because I'm trying to get school plans in place.  Though I imagine the majority of this post will mostly be for the other homeschool families that read my blog, I am confident that some aspects can touch the hearts of many others.  Many of you homeschool moms can identify with the stress that this time of year brings.  Deciding on curriculum.  Drafting a plan of how to schedule the day.  How in the world do you keep a house clean to "tough" standards (OK---so I'm pretty harsh on myself and demand perfection in this area!), meet the academic needs of 3 different children with VASTLY different personalities and learning styles (kindergarten, 4th grade, high school freshman), meet the spiritual and emotional needs of each child, make sure a thriving marriage continues to grow, spend my own necessary time with God, take time for myself (hobbies, down time, exercise), etc...  How do I tame the mountain of laundry and keep hot meals from scratch on the table?  How do I make sure to MORE than just meet the physical needs of the little blessing that will be in my care a large part of each week?  Though I have EXTREME peace in adding her into our daily lives and without a doubt believe that God led both of our families in making that decision, it does definitely add another layer of "balancing".  I absolutely look forward to spending that time with her and see it WELL beyond just being a "job".  It's a gift! 

How do I_______.....the list goes on and on.  You moms know EXACTLY what kind of pressure I'm talking about.   It is overwhelming.  It's crushing. I've felt like I might absolutely crack under the pressure these last several days and school hasn't even started!

I've come to an important realization.  Maybe I should rephrase that.  I'm finally admitting what I already knew was true and giving myself permission to believe it.  I can NOT do it.  I can NOT balance it.  I can NOT meet all the different needs. 

The beauty of this is that GOD can.  GOD will.  God equips those He calls. 

Please hang with me.  In the words of my southern friends....I feel a sermon coming on.  It's going to be quite lengthy, but I hope God blesses those of you reading that are struggling with some of these same issues.  You don't have to be homeschooling.  It may just be that you are struggling with similar issues of balancing and measuring up.  Maybe you are being called to step out in faith on an issue and feeling a bit overwhelmed. 

When God called Moses to lead his people, he wasn't capable.  He begged for God to send anyone else but him because his words always got tangled and public speaking wasn't "his" thing.  (Oh boy, do I ever understand that.  Everyone knows I have a HUGE public speaking issue.  I don't even like to be put on the spot with just one or two people!).  God provided Aaron.  When God called Joseph, he was broken.  His life had been harsh.  His brothers pretended he was dead, had him sold into slavery and then later he spent time in prison for a crime he didn't commit.  God still used him in a MIGHTY way.  He called David.  David was far from perfect.  He committed adultery and murdered.  He called Saul.  Saul felt unworthy.  He couldn't understand why God had chosen HIM of all the choices He could have made.  He was from the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest tribe.  His family was the least important in the tribe.  God still called him.

When you are called by God to do something, no matter how big or how small, significant or insignificant in your own eyes, He has a reason and He WILL equip. 

I'm going to blunt and admit it.  This school year terrifies me.  Don't get me wrong.  I am absolutely excited.  Perhaps even more so than any other year besides the first one.  This will be our tenth year.  I'm terrified because I want so MUCH more than ever for our family.  Yes, academics are extremely important.  Time is getting short with Adriana starting high school.  Starting Bradlee in kindergarten is big to me because I want so much for him and want to do things different than I've done before AND those first two years are my ABSOLUTE favorite. Sandwiched in the middle is Peyton.  He is finally exploding academically and keeping up with him is going to be hard.  He learns differently than the other two, so he definitely keeps me on my toes.  More than just academics, I have BIG dreams for our time together in regards to spiritual development.  I feel burdened to REALLY spend more time focusing on that this year more than ever before. 

I can't do it.  In my own power, it's going to be impossible.  In God's power, it will be possible.  First of all, I have to be like Solomon.  I have to petition God to give me wisdom.  Wisdom to know how to balance everything.  Wisdom to cover all the bases.  Wisdom in making choices.  Wisdom in teaching. Wisdom in determining needs and then meeting them.  Solomon asked and He provided. 

I have to ask God to reveal HIS plans and HIS expectations.  I have to learn to put aside my "own" vision and ask God what His is.  Otherwise, I'm going to be running in circles and chasing my own tail.  I have to ask Him to show me what He wants for our family.  My expectations of what I want may not line up with what He wants.  Sometimes I may be demanding more and He may be demanding less.  Other times, I may be too lax and He wants more.  I have to ask Him constantly to open my eyes to see what He wants us to see.  I have to be obedient and step up where I'm failing.  On the other hand, I have to be willing to let the things go that He says don't matter even if they matter to me. 

Why does this even matter at all?   Why put all of this stress on myself, on our family, and on our marriage?  Now that all three of the kids are of actual school age, why not just put them in traditional school?  I could go to work or I could stay home and be home when they got off the bus. 

That answer is easy.  God asked.  We answered.  Though when we began this journey, I don't think either Kevin or I dreamed this would still be our path this many years later.  Now, I can't possibly see our lives any other way.  It isn't for everyone.  Homeschooling doesn't make our family any more "holy" than a family that attends public, private, or a Christian school.  We are just doing what God has asked. 

Because this is my calling in regards to my family, I am confident that God is going to provide ALL of our needs.  It won't be easy.  It WILL be stressful.  Days will come that I will go crazy.  Yet, days will come that my heart will overflow with joy.  We will struggle.  We will succeed.  Some days we will be under financial strain because of our choice to be a one income family.  We will have to say "no" to many things because of our commitment to be debt free (within the next 18 months or less---PTL!).  We will have to rely on God to provide things we need (like two additional laptops/netbooks in the coming weeks since the kids can no longer share one laptop time wise and the last of Adriana's curriculum). 

As I'm currently in the 4th week of our Bible in 90 days challenge (quick shout out to group 62----"just keep reading"!!!), I'm amazed at the things He is revealing on this third journey.  I admit that I struggle with the Old Testament.  The brutality is hard for me.  The first two times I did this challenge (both in the last year), I couldn't wait to get to the New Testament.  This time I have to admit I'm enjoying it.  I still struggle with the brutality and some other aspects, but it's reaching me in ways it hasn't before.  Deuteronomy absolutely spoke to me TIME after TIME.  My pink high-lighter was constantly going.  As I read it this time, it helped confirm and reaffirm my commitment to the path I'm on with my family.  A few themes kept jumping out at me over and over.  Keep my commands.  Teach your children.  Cling to me. 
  • 2:6,7  "For the Lord your God has blessed you in everything you have done.  He has watched your every step through this great wilderness.  During these forty years, the LORD your God has been with you, and you have lacked nothing."
    • Even through the trials and struggles, He is with me.  What He is in and working through, He blesses.  Even when we can't see it!  He provides.  Cling to ME!
  • 4:29 "But from there you will search again for the Lord your God. And if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him."
    • Search for him, I will find him.  Give all of me to HIM and I will not come back empty-handed.  Cling to ME!
  • 4:40 "If you obey all the decrees and commands I am giving you today, all will be well with you and your children."
    • What I do matters FAR beyond my own life.  I'm passing on a spiritual legacy to my children.  Keep My commands!
  • 6:5-7 "And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength'  and you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today.  Repeat them again and again to your children.  Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up."
    • Though these verses don't demand that you homeschool or say that it is the only "right" way, it is some of the verses that I hold dear.  Cling to ME!  Teach your children! 
  • 8:5 "Think about it:  Just as a parent disciplines a child, the LORD your God disciplines you for your own good." 
    • Keep My commands!  Teach your children!  Discipline is necessary. Actions have consequences.
  • 10:12 "what does the LORD your God require of you? He requires only that you fear the Lord your God, and live in a way that pleases him, and love him and serve him with all your heart and soul."
    • *only* requires---that's some TALL orders!  Yet, that's the key to a relationship with Christ.  Live in a way that pleases him.  LOVE Him completely.  Be obedient.  Keep My commands.  Cling to Me. He wants all of me and expects no less.
  • 10:20 "You must fear the LORD your God and worship him and cling to him."
    • Cling to me!  Give Him everything.
  • 11:18-20 is an almost identical repeat of 6:5-7.  If something is repeated, it tells me "Hey, Tracye, listen up.  Just in case you missed it the first time!"  Teach your children.  It goes on to say in vs. 22, "Be careful to obey all these commands I am giving you.  Show love to the LORD your God by walking in his ways and holding tightly to him."  Cling to me!
  • 13:4  "Serve only the LORD your God and fear him alone.  Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him."
    • Keep my commands.  Cling to me.  Can't get much clearer than that! 
  • 20:4 "For the LORD your God is going with you!  He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you victory."
    • He is going to make a way.  He will fight for ME!  He will fight against my enemies---even if they aren't in a physical sense.  Whatever my battle, whatever my obstacles...HE is going with ME!  This verse just runs all over me knowing that He is going before me and making a way.  I just have to believe it and cling to it!
  • 30:6 "The LORD your God will change your heart and the hearts of all your descendants, so that you will love him with all your heart and soul and so you may live." 
    • Again, my life is more than just about me.  Changing my heart to be more like His is leaving a legacy for my children.  Clinging to Him and teaching them opens the door for Christ to be alive in their hearts!
  • 31:8 "Do not be afraid or discouraged for the LORD will personally go ahead of you.  He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you."
    • This verse has literally left me in tears tonight.  He will PERSONALLY go ahead of me.  He cares enough about each of us that He will personally make a way for us.  He will ALWAYS be with me.  I'll never be alone.  I'll never face anything alone.  He's already there.  Though people that we trust and care about may disappoint, betray, or even abandon us....HE NEVER WILL!  No matter what my struggles are, He is my advocate.  When I'm overwhelmed, He can calm every storm.  For every thing I'm incapable of doing, HE IS CAPABLE of providing.
And finally (thank goodness I'm wrapping up!!!!), I came across a verse that never really caught my attention before now.  I've had to go back to it many times a day since I read it several days ago.  It has just really touched me in a deep way.  It has become what I hope to be the way this school year goes.  It's what I'm asking for God to do in my own life and it's what I'm asking God to do as I'm teaching the kids both academically and spiritually.  It's the prayer of my heart.

"Let my teaching fall on you like rain, let my speech settle like dew.  Let my words fall like rain on tender grass, like gentle showers on young plants."  32:2  Many of us are experiencing a drought right now.  We ache and yearn for rain.  We can't afford to water our plants and grass from a monetary or environmental stand point.  The few drops of rain that come is just ached for.  When it does come, the ground just literally opens up and soaks up every last tiny drop.  I want to be that with God.  I want to be like that parched grass.  I want His word to penetrate so deep.  I want to be open and soak EVERY blessing and accept every call He has on my life.  I want His words to speak through me and reach every deep hidden recess of my children's hearts.  Not pounding rain and thunderstorms.  The gentle rain that just settles and soaks in.  Nothing forced.  Just a soothing, gentle, penetrating rain.  Academically I desire the same thing, I want their hearts open to learning so that they absorb everything like tender plants soak up rain and like dew that settles on the plants in early morning.  Moses recited those words in a song to the people of Israel.  His greatest desire was for them to learn of the love of God, to keep His commands, to cling to God.  That is the same desire of my heart. 

As I continue to plan for this school year, I pray that God continues to work in my heart and in the hearts of each of those in our family.  I pray that I listen to His will and act in obedience.  I pray that I allow Him to provide His vision.  I pray that I allow Him to lead EVERY step of the way.  I pray that when we face battles, that He goes ahead of me and makes the way.  I just pray that I'm an open vessel for Him to use.  I accepted the call and I believe that He will equip and provide EVERY need and fill in EVERY gap!  I just have to trust, obey, and allow Him the lead! 

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