Monday, February 15, 2010

Going to School . . . Without Going to School

The master's program I am attending is all internet-based. I've met two of my professors for this semester one time and one not at all. It has been the most challenging and frustrating school experience I've ever had, but has also been immensely gratifying.

Challenging because the burden is entirely upon me as a student. I have to keep up with due dates, figure out when I'll have time to complete assignments, and put as much work into each assignment as I'm prepared to live with comfortably. No shining examples of good work exist for comparison, and I receive very little feedback from my professors on my work. I have to be comfortable with my own work, often without any feedback of the 'right' answer. The gratifying part of that is coming to a realization that I can be comfortable with my own work, and I can reach a point where I am happy to put my name on it, call it finished, and hand it in.

That's also where frustrating has come in. Anyone who knows me well could tell you that I am not satisfied with being a 'Type A' personality; I'm really more of an A+. The lack of feedback and direct instruction has been frustrating, because I rarely receive the external stamp of approval for a job well done.

My level of frustration with that fact has led me to an uncomfortable realization - why does it matter so much to me? I'm realizing that I can be too dependent on others' opinions of me and my work as a validation.

The question really is, if I am truly free in Christ, can I also be a slave to insecurity? I think the answer is no. Beth Moore has written a book on insecurity that has just been published. I'm so excited to see what God has led her to say on this topic, because I think it's so important. As I get closer to 40, it's been so interesting to see where God has shown me growth along with areas for improvement. I'm hoping this is an area I can look back on in a year or two and see lots of growth!

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Winter That Actually Showed Up . . .

Or, what global warming? After almost ten years of living in Tennessee, we've had a real winter this year. We've seen more snow so far this year than all the other nine years put together. The boys are even a bit tired of it, and I've had to drive in it, which is a real stretch for this lifelong Southerner. I just don't know if I could live any further north without ending up with winter depression, though - we saw the sun yesterday, and my mood was noticeably better than it has been in a while.

However, as I look out my window and watch a cardinal and a blue jay hopping around the yard, 'our' herd of deer feeding on the grass, or see a rabbit crashing through the underbrush, all of which I've enjoyed this week, I'm reminded that seasons are necessary. Without the cold of winter, would I really appreciate spring? Without the dormant season, bleak and harsh with cold, would the lush green of summer be as beautiful? Without the times when God seems far away (or in truth, when I've wandered away from Him), would I appreciate His provision? Because He always provides, even as He does for His creatures I've watched today. Thinking about these things led me to these verses . . .

Luke 12:25-32 (New American Standard Bible)
25"And which of you by worrying can add a single [a](A)hour to his [b]life's span?
26"If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters?
27"Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even (B)Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.
28"But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? (C)You men of little faith!
29"And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not (D)keep worrying.
30"For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things.
31"But seek His kingdom, and (E)these things will be added to you.
32"(F)Do not be afraid, (G)little flock, for (H)your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Where did I put that peace?

Peace can be so fleeting. One minute the house is quiet, and I can hear myself think, perhaps even study a bit, and the next, the boys are fighting (oh, I'm sorry, loudly discussing) upstairs or I've thought of something I want to look up on the internet or my phone rings or (oh! loook! shiny!) and I'm distracted again.

I constantly struggle with focusing on right now. It seems I'm always looking down the road, planning, anticipating hurdles, trying to smooth the path, worrying about what's coming up next, and tripping over my own two feet in the process. I think I miss a lot along the way.

This problem would seem to be easily answered, but I've struggled with it for years. How do I just enjoy the moment? Become content with now?

Perhaps contentment is what I'm really missing. In planning, worrying, and focusing on the future, maybe I'm really trying to change things, because I'm discontented with them. I'm one of those weird people who is energized by change, so maybe I'm always looking for it, instead of learning to wait upon the Lord and His timing.

So today, instead of indulging that impulse, my prayer is for contentment - living at peace with right now, appreciating the gift of today. Reminding myself that it is a gift, and that is enough.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Did I grumble about being a SAHM? I was crazy!

I have a new appreciation for being at home full-time. I worked full time for a year, and it seemed I never had time for anything. I was gone from the house for almost 12 hours a day. Birthdays were a huge hassle requiring efforts in minimizing fuss, and food was fast, processed and not necessarily healthy. Errands were squeezed in after work or took up precious weekend time. Sick days or doctor and dentist visits were a question of "who did it last time?" or "who has more sick leave?" Childcare was a nightmare this summer, patched together pieces of vacation time, kind friends, even kinder relations, and a ridiculously expensive option provided by our employer. Our younger son also struggled in school last year, and I think me working was part of it. My hat is off to anyone who manages this all the time.

Most of all, however, Christmas was one more thing to check off of a list. I hated it. Anything I decorated would just have to be taken down again, and I had a horrible attitude about it. I don't remember one present I was excited about giving last year, and I am usually big on matching the perfect gift to the recipient. I did a lot of getting through it. This year, even with school, the pace is slower and we planned ahead of time what we wanted to do. We're finished shopping, and the gifts are wrapped and under the tree. I've started cooking and freezing appetizers for our Christmas Eve finger food feast. Maybe it's the closet control freak in me, but it feels so much more peaceful. The boys are happier, and so are the rest of us.

I am reflecting on what Christmas really means this year, and for me, it's this: peace. Before Jesus, it's impossible to know real, lasting peace, because carrying around a lifetime's worth of sin is such a heavy burden. Knowing Jesus, appreciating His birth and sacrifice for me, lifts that burden and replaces it with a peace, with God and with those around me. This year, forgiveness is the Christmas gift for which I'm most thankful, and I hope you have found it, too.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I think I'm getting too old for studying

Is there a time limit on brain capacity? Seriously? I'm taking my first standardized teaching test on Saturday, and it's amazing how hard it is anymore to stuff new information into my brain. I believe it's due to an overabundance of song lyrics and other worthless trivia accumulated in my misspent youth. No, really - I'm a great team member for trivial pursuit, but maybe not so much if you want someone to remember educational theory.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Merry Christmas to all!

Oh Rest Ye Weary Mommies, Let Nothing You Dismay,
It isn't long before it will be dawn on Christmas Day,
So finish all your Christmas cards,
Lest they should go astray,
Oh, Tidings of Presents and Time,
Presents and Time,
Oh, Tidings of Presents and Time.

God Rest Ye Merry Daddies, Let Nothing You Dismay,
Remember all those toys must be together by Christmas Day,
To save us all from crying boys,
Lest the instructions lead us astray,
Oh, Tidings of Nuts and Bolts and Tools,
Nuts, Bolts and Tools,
Oh, Tidings of Nuts and Bolts and Tools.

God Rest Ye Merry Families, Let Nothing You Dismay,
Remember in spite of all the parties, pageants and holiday
Goodies and presents,
It's not about the 'perfect holiday',
Oh, Tidings of a Savior born for all,
born for all,
Oh, Tidings of a Savior born for all.

In hopes that all families have time to reflect on the true meaning of the season and that night in Bethlehem when angels, shepherds and a new family worshipped God's son, Merry Christas!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Has It Been a Month? Really?

The job is great. Challenging, but pretty undemanding in terms of deadlines, overtime and such. The schedule, however, is taking some heavy adjustment. I'm getting up at 5:30 every morning, otherwise referred to around our house as dark-thirty, because really? I'm so not a morning person. I have always thought that a 3-11 shift would be about right for me. When I was a teenager, I used to be merciless in making fun of my mom because she was ready for bed every night around 8:30. Now? That is so me. However, the after school care has worked out in a way that's a real blessing, the Hawkeye and I have been able to work out a schedule that has the boys leaving about 7 and getting home about 5, and otherwise the whole thing has been pretty painless. We have our first real test tomorrow - Little Brother has the makings of strep and a 102 degree temperature, and Hawkeye will be taking his first sick day for one of the boys and making his first sick appointment with the pediatrician ever in the morning. I think it's good for him! I do, however, hope Little Brother feels better soon. He is the most pitiful sick kid you ever saw.