Friday, August 17, 2012

Full Disclosure Friday: Seeking Approval

In keeping with the "Full Disclosure Friday" theme....

another transparent, honest post.

I believe in honesty...even when it leaves you vulnerable.

I'm frustrated.

Well, that is an understatement.  I guess perhaps if I'm "fully disclosing" I should admit that I'm furious. Hurt. Sick.

There, I've admitted it.

I'm struggling with an issue.  One that isn't pretty.  One that reveals a struggle within my fleshly side that shows just how far from perfection and godliness I am.  Sitting in my own sin.  Needing His grace.

I'm aggravated.

I am totally caught up in the fact that I continue to allow the opinions of others to taunt me, hurt me, drive me in the wrong direction.

I'm tired of it.  I do NOT want it to matter.  I don't want to care.  I want to hold on to the confidence I have in Christ.  I want to stand tall in the fact that I know He is leading my life and directing my paths.

Yet, unfortunately, I fail at letting that be enough.

I think too much about what others think.  I look too often to their approval and I get stuck in the pit of their disapproval.

Even though I know....

their opinion doesn't matter.  It never will.

But it does.

I hate it.

I hate that part of me.

I keep asking God to rip it out and redirect my attention to His face, His ways, and His filling of every gap in my heart.

Yet, here I sit.  Once again.  Hurting again.  Wondering what I have to do to be good enough.  Even though I know without a doubt that I am already good enough.  My life should speak for itself.  Christ lives in me.  No other quality or trait matters or compares.

Yet....I sit.  Waiting for approval.

Knowing their approval is the least of my worries.

But it sits as a priority in my heart.

Ugly.  Paralyzing.  Disgusting.

Disclosure admits that though I say it doesn't matter, it does.  "Their" words hurt.  "Their" actions hurt.  "Their"  inaction hurts worse.  "Their" bold approval of others and disregard of me (or my children, husband, or family) hurts.

I KNOW better than to take stock in "their" opinions.  After all, I often tell my kids to not worry what others think.  Their keeping a clean heart before God and giving Him their best is what matters.

That IS the truth.

Yet, the truth still hurts.

I keep wondering and asking God why things continue to be the way they are in a few situations.  I keep wondering when He will change the circumstances.  All I hear in response is:  trust and wait.

I'm not so good at the waiting part.

I constantly and vividly look for the lessons in trials.  I keep my heart open for what it is that He is teaching or asking of me when in the middle of struggles.

Impatiently.  Waiting.  Desperately. Seeking.  Not giving up.  Not giving in.

I don't need the applause and approval of certain individuals to know that I'm doing something right.  Yet, being transparent, don't we all seek it on some level?  Doesn't it sting when it doesn't come.

The real question I'm trying to learn to answer is:  what now?

Do I wallow in self-pity?  Do I rage at the injustice of situations?  Do I act in defiance and lash out?  Do I let those hurtful situations justify poor behavior in response?

Unfortunately I have to admit I'm guilty of all of them at some point or another.  Not something to be proud of.

I typically try to let it drive me to improve, do more, succeed harder.  Though I realize that is a wrong response as well.  Nothing wrong with improving, but the attitude of my heart in these situations isn't as pure in nature as it should be.

Instead, the desire of my heart is for God to rip all of those negative responses out and fill me with His love, His grace, and His heart.

Thank goodness I'm a work in process.  Thank goodness He doesn't demand perfection.

He seems to be giving me LOTS of practice will dealing with these "negative" emotions lately.  I just pray that I learn VERY quickly to respond more in His way and less of mine SOON.  I sure hope I learn what He is trying to teach me quickly.

Mold me.  Teach me.  Fill me.

He's using that chisel on me and it's quite painful at times.  I want to rush through the process and get to the final result immediately.  Yet, I know I have to go through the process.  Each painful chipping away of the "ugly" one tap at a time.  Ouch.

Week in Review 1

First "week" of school of 2012-2013 is in the books!  (Actually only had 4 days.  We started Tuesday and had planned to take today off, but the kids demanded we have it!.  I sure hope this enthusiasm will continue!).

This year, we are taking a Five in A Row approach with MANY added in activities to expand learning deeper with Bradlee.

I'm also using Horizons Math and Kumon for supplement.  I'm using Explode the Code Level 2 and 2.5 along with Christian Light Education Language Arts to supplement the FIAR.  For Bible, I'm combining several different things to create our curriculum ("What's in the Bible" DVD series is a heavy focus at this point).

This week our FIAR  "rowing" is "The Story About Ping" so we had a duck and China themed week.

Here is Bradlee's week in pictures.  The big kids aren't much too interested in me documenting their school day in pictures.  :)

Here are the highlights:
Duck Pond with rubber ducks and blue punch
First Day of School Printable (have the matching page for the last day of school)
Reading Ping (with one of our little buddies joining in!)
Predicting buoyancy and recording actual answers

Math (Horizons)
Painted paper plate/handprint ducks (and both of the babies also joined in!)

Praying Jonah craft.  We talked about how both Ping and Jonah didn't listen the first time and what the consequences  of their disobedience were.  Both Jonah and Ping learned their lesson and became obedient.
Kumon Supplement "Time"

Flag of China and Chinese Paper Lantern

 We also spent a lot of time reading and working through our phonics/language books.  I was quite surprised with how amazing this week went.  It was fantastic to see how much easier it was with his ability to sit still and focus MUCH better than last year.  He also FINALLY doesn't refuse to color.  THAT is huge!  (Do you know how many times activities include "color __________ red " or something similar! It was a MAJOR battle last year!) 

The biggest surprise for me was how well we still managed to get everything on our list done with the babies. They were fantastic.  As often as possible, I included them in with what we were doing and took GREAT advantage of nap times.  We still managed to keep the house in tip-top shape and even hosted a dinner with some neighbors on Wednesday night.  I absolutely felt like a ping-pong ball bouncing back and forth and have been WIPED out physically at the end of the day, but I have been overjoyed with how well things have gone. I'm sure there will be many days that are a BOMB----but I'm going to celebrate EACH and EVERY one of the victories so far.  

The best news:  we are ALL looking forward to the next weeks with anticipation and excitement.  That is the most priceless feeling.  We will be taking most of this next week off because of a much looked forward to visit from my Sweet T (which is why I started earlier this year than normal).  After that, we will be ready to "row" "Storm in the Night" and I am most excited for this week more than any I've planned so far.  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

School time! 2012-2013

School is officially underway with the Goad crew.

Kicking off our 11th year of homeschooling has been so bittersweet.  It's so hard to believe where we started, where we are, where we are going, and just embracing each day!  Hard to believe that I only have three years left with my oldest and we are just really getting started with my youngest.  

This year, I've completely changed the direction of our education approach.  I just felt like God has been leading my heart in a different direction and needing me to get more hands on and invest MORE of myself into what we are doing.  That approach was "crazy" to many since life is more hectic than ever, especially with having two young toddlers in the house (currently 12 months and 13 months).  My head screamed go simple, but yet my heart knew it was time to go deeper.  

I spent the entire summer choosing curriculum, budgeting, ordering, and creating lesson plans.  Pinterest and other internet sites and I became attached at the hip! I spent countless hours: planning, stressing, planning, and stressing some more.  Eventually I relaxed and enjoyed the process, but I can't say it was that way all along! When I finally finished lesson plans that will take us all the way through Columbus Day, I literally squealed, shouted, and cried.  SUCH a huge relief and excitement all wrapped up into one.  I also gathered EVERY needed supply and boxed them according to each week/topic/child so that they are completely ready to go.  THAT is what is saving my sanity!

One of the biggest struggles I have had in lesson planning is that we ALWAYS get off track.  When that happens, my entire lesson plan book is off and I get frustrated beyond imagination (even to the point of stopping planning and that leads to DISASTER!).  I was so excited to find an idea on pinterest that literally made life so easy. 

Planning with post-it notes! A teacher posted how she used them by drawing grids in a notebook and then moves them around as needed.  I loved that idea, but hers needed a little bit of tweaking to work for our family (more subjects, needing more on a page).  With a little bit more research, I found one that used smaller post-its and it works perfectly.  Each subject is color-coded and can be moved around when we miss a day or don't finish.  It was a life-saver during the planning process!!!

Once those pages we're filled, I was ready to go (this particular page we have Friday off)

The absolute best part of the first day of school are the REQUIRED pictures in my book.  This year we put a different twist to them and I loved it!  (We are all wearing new homeschool back to school shirts purchased from Great Products!)  

And we started the year off with an end of summer/back to school weekend with treats and a fun trip to Starved Rock State Park for some hiking.  

(Adriana says the boys are "Scary").

Ready for a new year!  New goals.  New ways.  New inspiration.  Ready to tackle things in the way God is leading.

I may feel like a ping-pong ball bouncing between my three kids, the two babies I take care of, household responsibilities, volunteer roles, keeping connected to God in powerful new ways, and keeping my husband is top priority..........BUT God brought me here and He has yet to leave me.  He will equip.  He will guide.  He will provide rest and comfort.  He will be there on the days that I pull my hair out!  :)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Just to be Home

It's Friday for another hour, so it's the perfect timing for a "Full Disclosure Friday" post.

I've spent weeks stressed about many different things going on our lives.  I've remained joyful, hopeful, and tried so very hard to not let the stress overtake.  I've succeeded much of the time.  Yet, others....

I've failed.

I've felt such a heavy weight that is so hard to describe.  Tonight for the first time in so long I TRULY laughed and felt light again.  My heart was open without reserve.

In those moments, I realized what some of the weight has been.


I'm simply homesick.

It's been almost a year since I've been home.

We love, value, and cherish our lives here.  "Here" is where we have turned a house into a home for our family.  "Here" is where I've found myself in ways I didn't know possible.  Where I've grown into my own skin and found a deeper faith and connection with God.  "Here" is home for us.  "Here" is where life happens and joy has overflowed.  "Here" is where our marriage has healed, restored, and exploded.  "Here" is where God has placed us for a purpose.

But home is still home.

They say you can't go home again.

But I want to.

I need to.

I wish there was a way to just pack up, take a month, and go home.

Oh yes, there is family we miss and we would cherish time with.  Babies I've only seen in pictures, but never touched, smelled, or snuggled.  Relatives that mean the world.

I'd love to be home again.  It still hurts immensely to go home and not see Daddy waiting, but I still want to go home.  Drive those curves and pull up that hill to Windy Hill Angus Farm which we've lovingly called "Hurst B&B" the last several years.  Sit on that back porch with a view that proves that God created an amazingly intricate world for our pleasure.  Listen to the crickets and see the stars like they are as close as just reaching up and grabbing them.  Rub my hand over his tractor and look at his pride and joy classic cars (don't DARE touch those!!!! LOL!) Sit in his chair.  Sit at his big desk and spin around in his office chair.  How on earth could something be so organized and so disorganized at the same time?  Just see his files still sitting on his desk in his "PERFECT", teeny-tiny handwriting that seems so out of character for such a large, powerful man.  Oh yes, how I wish I could go home.  Even though "home" isn't the same without him.

I'd love to sit with Teresa.  OK---sitting isn't the right word.  It would be scrapbooking, cooking, gardening, sewing, or running every which way doing something that would put Betty Crocker or Martha Stewart to shame.  Just to sit and talk.  Oh my.  To go home again.

To go just down the road a mile and sit with Granny and Pa.  Listen to their stories and learn.  Reminisce about the most amazing childhood memories sitting on their swing.  Learning so much about life that I didn't know I was learning at the time.  Some biscuits and grape jelly wouldn't hurt either. People may try, but you just can't duplicate it.  Oh my.  To go home again.

Yet, as amazing as that would be, it's far more than that.

I'm homesick for so much more.

The pace of life. The simplicity.

How I wish I could just sit with so many that mean so much to Kevin, myself, and the two of us together.  Those we've learned so much from.  Those we've laughed with.  Those we've cried with.  Those that have shaped us through the hardest times of our lives.  Most especially those that led us along our paths that deepened our walks with Christ.  To get those hugs from special people that just can't be replaced through email/letters/facebook.  Just to go home again and SOAK it in.  No rush.  Ears and hearts open to the conversations that matter.

How I really wish we could just sit and listen to so many preachers that we crave to hear from.  Those that have already gained their heavenly rewards.  Those that are preaching from pulpits in different places.  Those that preached the Bible without regards to political correctness.  Those that brought life to scripture.  Even some that we value even though we've not heard them in person----those that have grown up with us that are now ministers.  Oh how, I wish we could go home and sit awhile. Get our toes stepped on, our sin exposed.  Driven to change.  Encouraged. Uplifted.

To soak in that praise and worship that is distinctly "home".  The kind where you feel God moving in your heart before you ever hear the first note on the piano/keyboard.  Seeing those special people with their fingers flying over the keys as if their hands never touched them.

Community church camp.
Friday night football and 5th Quarter services afterwards.
Back porch rockers.
Sweet tea in a mason jar.  Catching lightning bugs in those jars later in the night.
Cranking the handle on the ice cream freezer and waiting with mouth watering anticipation.
Hills, valleys, and curves that "tickle your tummy" as Bradlee says when we visit.

Just to go home again.

Maybe it's that our kids are growing up.  A new chapter of school is beginning.  The realization that some we hold dear aren't always going to be with us.  Maybe it's the melancholy of watching some of Adriana's friends that we value so dearly leaving for college.  Maybe it's seeing pictures of things from home and missing it.

Maybe it's just that longing that God has placed in us to crave heaven.  Our real home.

Just to be home.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Why I Didn't Eat "THERE" Yesterday

I have purposely not made any comments about the controversy surrounding one of my favorite places to eat.  I've actively pursued silence, though it has been very difficult.

Can't resist any longer.

I LOVE that place. I so very often salivate and crave their food and we HAVE been known to drive completely out of the way to find one!  I LOVE what they stand for.  I LOVE that a business is bold enough in their beliefs to go against the "norm" and not open on Sunday. I believe adamantly in the support of freedom of speech.  Anyone knows me knows where I stand on the "hot" issue at hand.  I FULLY support and believe in the sanctity of marriage as one man and one woman.  I am one of the biggest believers in family values.  I mean just look at the decisions our family makes daily in regards to living life as set apart and as Biblical as we can.  Everyone: you know me.  You know what I stand for.

Yet, I didn't eat at "that" favorite restaurant yesterday.

Yes, we only have a tiny "express" in the basement of our campus student union.  It would have been VERY inconvenient to have taken 5 kids there yesterday, navigating campus parking and such with babies.  I had an excuse.

However, I COULD have done it.  Perhaps, I SHOULD have done it.

I'm thrilled with how many people DID show up in support of freedom of speech and family values.  I'm thrilled with the stories I've heard of random acts of kindness, conversations, and fellowship that took place.

After all, I believe in what "they" do.  I hold dear those same values.

 I believe we are living in a VERY fallen world.  I lay awake at night (forgive me if I didn't use the right word there...I STILL can't keep lie/lay straight), struggling at times to breathe because of how difficult it is becoming to raise children in this world.  Look around.  Sin is no longer black and white.  We as a country and as individuals have become so blinded by what the world tells us is ok that we often don't even know right from wrong ourselves!  Go against what is "norm" is so very difficult to do and it gets harder with each passing minute.  Even finding solace and support in our churches is becoming more and more difficult (*note*---generally speaking!).

If you claim Christian beliefs, you are immediately labeled a hater, bigot, hypocrite, etc...  regardless of anyone considering your heart.

Yes, MANY cases are evident that the world accepts anything BUT Christianity when they speak of tolerance.



Here we go.  I'm going to step on some toes.  I'm going to step on my own.  Painfully.

God is LOVE.  God demands LOVE from us.

We have to be careful.  Sin is sin.  "Their" sin is no different than yours and mine.  WE are ALL sinful people. When I look in the mirror, it is a sinful reflection looking back at me.

No amount of righteousness changes that.

I'm still a sinner: only saved by the blood of Jesus Christ.

My sin still stinks.  I am not spotless.  I reek.

We too easily (myself WAY up on that list!) get caught up in being high-and-mighty when we proclaim right from wrong.

I will be honest.  I'm struggling.  I'm struggling with finding the balance of talking/teaching/encouraging to abstain from sin, living Biblical principles WITH accepting that we are sinners and treating others with love and acceptance.  I believe that we absolutely HAVE to stand up for morals and what the Bible says is right and wrong.  ABSOLUTELY believe in that!  Anyone that knows me, KNOWS that.  Yet, we also are responsible for loving.

Yet, there is the other part.  The ugly part.  The part that we wrongly think we are better than someone else because we aren't participating in the sin that they are.

We don't EVER drink and we honestly struggle with those around us that do.  Yet, it's a personal choice that people make based on their own convictions and understanding of scripture.  We don't watch, read, participate in certain activities and set high standards for what we allow our focus to be drawn to.  Our standards are different.  We search the Bible for answers and earnestly seek God's will.  He places a convicting spirit within us and we know that "something" isn't for us.  It's subjective in nature.  We can argue all day about what is right/wrong on those standards, where grace comes in, etc...

In the end. WE are ALL still sinners.

Some sins are easily defined.  Others aren't.  We are living in a world that can't even see black and white on issues that the Bible plainly states as wrong.

Guess what?  Even those that fall in the black and white category are just as sinful as the person that looks back at me in the mirror.

Why, didn't I eat "there" yesterday when I so obviously believe in their founding principles?

*I didn't feel worthy.
*I'm stepping in my own sin with every step I take.
*I'm confused with what my role in this world is.
*I don't know where to draw the line between encouraging "gospel living" and loving people exactly where they are at this moment.

I know this post seems very out of character for me.  People probably expected my facebook page to be all about the controversy that is swirling out of control.  After all, I'm very vocal about so many things in regards to spiritually protecting our children and families.  This issue makes me concerned about what freedoms will be attacked next and what that means for our family.

Yet, to be honest.  I'm stunned.  I'm stunned that *it* is even such an issue.

But I sat at home. In stunned silence.  I know what I believe in, I know WHY I believe it,  I BELIEVE the Bible.  Yet, I'm confused.

I don't know how to balance what I believe in with LOVE and RESPECT for others.  We are to LOVE our enemies.  We are to LOVE those that persecute us.  I LOVE my children even when they do wrong.  Yet, do I offer that same love to others when they do wrong?  Do I offer myself that same love when I fall short?

Yet, we are to HATE sin.  We are to FLEE from it.

I just don't know how to do it and how to balance it.

There you go.  That is why I didn't eat there.  There is a glimpse into the confusion in my own heart/head.   Here is a very poorly written/expressed post because I can't even make sense of it all in my own head.