Home business, home education and health challenges: what makes us tic?

Posts tagged ‘lesson’

Job’s comfort

If you’re reading the Bible chronologically this year, then by now you’d have read up to the end of Genesis 11. and Job chapters 1-23.

The book of Job comforts me. When I had been feeling the pain of our situation (indebted and struggling to make ends meet some months), I wondered why God had allowed it, and what could be done to fix it. What sin had I committed?

My reasoning was that if I have confessed all known sin, repented, sought His will, changed my ways, forsaken all evil in my life and sought only truth why would we still be battling this way. (Of course, that doesn’t mean I had forsaken all evil and sought only truth, but I was hypothesising and doing my best).

However, the book of Job reminds me that it may be that I am not the problem. In fact, it is naive, immature and self-centred to assume persistently that I am the cause of all the trials we face.

It could be that someone else’s sin or personal growth is the cause for our straits when they occur. In that case, my role is to be patient and rejoice in the Lord always.

Or it could be that this is a test –

James 1:3-4 “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

In that case, my role is to be patient, and to rejoice in the Lord always.

God is just and faithful. He NEVER lets us down, and I should never let Him down, either. Because

Job 23:10 “But He knoweth the way that I take; When He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

Past Understanding

keep calm and run on

keep calm and run on

Most of last week was spent “getting organised”. This entailed:

  • making goals – and writing them down!;
  • getting diaries ready for use;
  • updating birthday calendars (in three places);
  • putting up calendars;
  • creating ‘To Do’ lists;
  • creating budgets;
  • creating income forecasts;
  • creating teaching schedules;
  • making lesson plans;
  • planning meals;
  • planning groceries; and
  • planning time.

By the end of the week, not only was I exhausted, I was utterly overwhelmed. There is so much to achieve, so much to be done, so many non-negotiables – and so very little time!

I went to bed on Thursday night sad, despondent, and actually feeling sick. Prov. 17:22 says,

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

On Friday morning I went for a run, then I prayed. I prayed about the year ahead and cried out in desperation to my Lord, asking how I could ever juggle all of this STUFF in my life.

Within moments I was flooded with peace. I had a deep assurance that since I have to do all this stuff, I can do it. It can be done, and by God’s limitless grace, it can be done by me. Yes, I can’t do it – alone! But Phil. 4:13 reminds me that

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Lesson #18: The Blessing Dare

Talk about your joys!It’s been so long since I posted! We went away to a remote farm in the middle of nowhere and the logistics of that trip have taken every spare ounce of thought processing power. I’ll dedicate a post to that some time soon, but this is more important.

Over the past few weeks I have been struck more and more by the idea of giving back in real, tangible ways that make an impact on the lives of those we know and love. As I so often find when our Lord is at work, this message has been coming at me from many angles and this past weekend was something of a melting pot in which everything arrived, boiled together and bubbled over into an Idea.

You see, before we moved seven years ago, we had Things. Steady jobs (with great salaries that we really did not appreciate). Cars (plural!). A house (which we owned). Friends, family, plans and all the rest. We gave a fixed monthly stipend to the Church but it certainly wouldn’t qualify as any kind of tithe. It wasn’t much more than a tithe of a tithe, in truth.

And we gave back.

Need new tyres for your car? Here we are. A place to stay? No problem. Food? Clothes? A home for your pets? Baby sitters? Money for movies? A lift to the movies? A night out? A lift home because your car broke down? A tow for your broken car? Fixing your broken car? Sure thing. We loved to give back and it was wonderful to be able to contribute to the lives of our friends and families in this real, tangible way. We never, ever even considered that this was a season in our lives, a time of blessing and learning and personal growth. In fact, we assumed that we were good, kind, generous, hard working and talented individuals who deserved what we had and would thus always have it.

Ha ha ha ha …

The past seven years have been sobering, to say the least. Having lost nearly everything we now mostly find ourselves on the flip side of that equation. Let me tell you about it: it sucks. You’d think it would be great to have people helping you out along the way, meeting your needs, caring for you. It is, and we appreciate it. But always being on the receiving end? Not so much of fun. We’re ill-equipped and we don’t enjoy it. Our pride has taken a serious knock and daily we have to learn a new lesson about faith in God’s provision. If we don’t have it, we don’t need it. Simple. It doesn’t matter what anyone says or thinks – not the banks, creditors, empty fridge … God said He’s meet our needs. He never lies nor breaks promises. Therefore, what we have is what we need.

I’ve started to notice a subtle mind shift in myself which is so insidious it’s almost diabolical. It cam disguised as a package deal of Faith + Humility. What it is, however, is greed and covetousness. Not only graciously accepting the gifts we’re given so many times by those around us, but actually looking for gifts, expecting help, support and more from those around us. Certainly, that attitude cannot honour God.

And so I’ve decided to start giving back. I’m looking for creative ways to outgive those who give to me. I am time-strapped and cash-strapped and sometimes stress and sleep-deprivation make me creativity-strapped too. But I’m praying for the ability to spot needs and to think of creative solutions to those needs that I can be a conduit of in some way – even if only in prayer (which is, after all, our most powerful asset).

I’ve challenged the ladies in our Church to join me in this blessing dare: let’s each try to outgive each other (and everyone else) this week! I even wrote the words:

“Who can I bless today, and how?”

on a piece of paper and stuck it to the ceiling above my bed, so that it’s the first thing I see each morning when I wake up, the last each night when I go to bed.

There’s more to this – so much more – but for now I challenge you to join me in the Blessing Dare: who can you bless today, and how?

Lesson #17: Times of Testing

Only Jesus can turn a MESS into a MESSAGE

Only Jesus can turn a MESS into a MESSAGE

I have been working through the book of Job in my quiet times, recently. What strikes me, as I dig deeper into the book, is that while Job briefly considered the possibility that God may have been testing his faith, he didn’t really ponder this option long enough to realise its truth. Aren’t we just like that, sometimes?

I know I am. When things aren’t rosy in my life (and we’ve had a fair amount of less-than-rosy in recent years), I always think it could be the result of one of three things:

  1. I am being punished for some sin. I fast and pray, read God’s Word and confess any and all sin that comes to mind.
  2. I am being tempted by the Devil and his team. I pray for protection and ask God for deliverance.
  3. I am being tried, purified and made stronger.

Unfortunately, I usually (like Job), gloss over number three. I spend so much time trying to work out whether the trial is a punishment or a temptation (or a purification) that I get wound up in knots. When I am sure that I am right with God, and I’ve prayed for protection, I become despondent that the trial hasn’t lifted. Unlike Job, I begin to doubt God’s grace, mercy, love, provision and justice. I begin to see Him as an arbitrary and cruel God who no longer cares for me – through no fault of my own, I might add! I become so downhearted and disillusioned that it becomes difficult to achieve anything at all. Sometimes I even mope around in my pyjamas for days on end.

What I am being taught at the moment, through the reading of God’s precious Word, is that sometimes we really have been justified and purified from sin and we really are protected from Satan, but we have something to learn or some new level of wisdom to reach, and then we just need to stay faithful and trust our good God for the outcome. Romans 8:28 reminds us that we know that all things work together for good to them that love God. And I do love Him.

So we can decide to pass the test. We can make a conscious choice that, no matter what the cause of our trial, no matter what the outcome or how scary it is in the midst of it all, we will never curse God. We will never stop trusting in His faithfulness or believing in His Word. He will be true and we will come through. As the saying goes, “If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.”

Right now, and from this moment forward, I will proclaim the goodness and faithfulness of my Redeemer. He is good. He knows my needs and He meets them. He loads my life with blessings – new ones every day! I will pass the tests He sends my way and cling to Him for salvation. I thank Him for taking the time to mould and shape me, to grow me into the kind of person He can some day use. I am grateful that He shows me my weaknesses so that I can run to His loving arms and be made strong, filled and equipped with all I need to serve Him.

How gracious and merciful is our awesome God.

Lesson #16: If God brings you to it, He’ll bring you through it.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying before, but that doesn’t make it any less true. I have been struggling with my workload and time management. I felt resentful that I had to do so much of the housework, the home education, and earn a living on top of that. My beleaguered soul cried out, over and over, “It’s too much! I can’t do it!” I started to notice, more and more, that the refrain was changing to, “I shouldn’t have to do it.”

Angry and bitter, I poured my heart out to the Lord. I apologised for my attitude and asked Him to change it. I explained the predicament and promised that I would do as He told me, since I was already learning that feeling like doing something often follows actually doing something in faith.

I was led to two key passages. The first one is in Titus 2:3-5, where women are encouraged to be “keepers at home.” I prayed about this and understood that the Lord has a clear role for me in my house. It is my job to keep things health, clean and in order. What’s more, I love to do it and feel fulfilled when I do. I do need to train my children to keep their own spaces neat and tidy (that’s part of my job as their mother, educator and mentor), and I can lovingly encourage Papa Bear to do the same. But ultimately, it really is my job and I need to “do it all to the glory of God.” 1 Cor. 10:31

The second passage which keeps coming to mind is Proverbs 31. We all know the story of a virtuous woman – so hard to find. She does her husband good and not evil all the days of his life. His heart safely trusts in her. I have been such a failure in these areas and I confessed that to God. My continual prayer is that He will bring this passage to mind before I cross the line and sin against my man, and so far He has. Not that I’ve always heeded His gentle admonitions …

The other thing about this virtuous woman is that she has a number of enterprises on the go. She buys and sells cloth and land. She plants and harvests. She makes clothes. She sells the goods she’s made and she gives generously to the poor. She works late and rises early. She makes sure her staff have work to do, and that her family have food and clothing. Because of her industry, her husband is well respected and confident to appear in public, in a role of importance. He knows he will never be ashamed by his wife’s actions, words or tales. In fact, he blesses her and teaches his children to do the same.

I have a lot to do but I am in no way as accomplished or enterprising as this lady. And my attitude to it all stinks. I was behaving like a spoiled child, and I realised that we have the assurance from God that “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” 1 Cor. 10:13

The things I have to do at the moment are all things that I really do have to do. It’s not a matter of poor time management or an unfair allocation of roles and responsibilities. This verse (above) means, in essence, that if I have to do it, then I can do it, because “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13

Realising this truth (on a daily basis) has encouraged me enormously. I have come to see each challenge as an opportunity … but more on that later.

Storms, calms, highs, lows, deep breaths and stepping back.

After my last post, I took a little time for reflection. It seems necessary in this life to step back and gain some perspective, and some of us need to do this more often than others.

The very next day, we sat down, zoomed through all our school work with no hassles of any kind, and the girls spent the rest of the day exploring their best friend’s wonderful new house and riding bicycles. It was idyllic for them and gave me a chance to evaluate things. I realised that I had expected far too much: we’d already done 30 minutes of maths when we had our altercation, and that was after reading, language, writing and Bible studies. Without a break. No one can be expected to stay focused for that long, especially when the work at hand is boring and repetitive.

I don’t think I was wrong to reiterate the value and importance of focus and concentration, but I do think I pushed too hard. I’m grateful for gracious daughters who forgive and understand (as much as they can) that their parents are human.

We all know the idiom “Calm before the Storm”, but I’d like to introduce (or revisit) “the Low after the High”. This weekend and the few weeks leading up to it have been full of energy and achievement. We’ve had wonderful family devotions, learnt valuable lessons, applied those lessons and seen the fruit of our labours. We have been deeply aware of God’s blessing in our lives on every level, and the activity seemed to culminate in DH preaching one of his most successful sermons on Sunday.

Since then, not so much. There seems to be a slump hanging over the whole family. Moods are low, health is quivering and tempers are short. I was listening to a sermon on the radio recently where the pastor described this very scenario. He gave some Biblical examples of it, too: Peter acknowledges Christ’s deity and messiahship, then denies Him three times! Elijah defeats and destroys 450 prophets of Baal in one of the Bible’s coolest demonstrations of divine power, then runs and hides in the desert from a single (albeit powerful) woman.

It’s comforting to know that we’re not alone in these experiences. Even heroes from the Hall of Faith share them with us, and received their due reward.

It was also interesting to be reminded of Elijah’s trials, since we’re studying this prophet’s life in Konos at the moment. In fact, we’ve just covered that very bit about the prophets of Baal being destroyed and we’re heading towards Elijah’s flight to the desert. When all the messages from all the channels say the same thing, you can be sure God’s got a lesson in there for you. What is this one? Well, I suppose it’s trust.

As I was trying to get through the appropriate amount of educational material today, while juggling some perilously late deadlines, I began to spin into my panic-mode: we’re only studying Elijah. We’re not doing any contemporary history, geography, science … I’m not giving my kids what they need! I’m a terrible mother – and everything else. AAaarrghh!

I took a step back.

I returned to the Konos resource material and saw that we’re about to start a unit full of geography, history and science. I remembered that this week the girls presented some of their own parables: allegories for Christian living today. The metaphors were rich, detailed, accurate and full of scripture. What a blessing! Who really even needs history or geography when you have a living relationship with the One who made and owns the mountains, who was there for all the history?

When I have a chance, I’ll transcribe and share their beautiful parables, but just for today I take comfort in the fact that they are getting what they need: they’re getting Life.

So we didn’t bake …

Yesterday I commented that I would much rather be baking than working. (Story of my life). I didn’t bake and I DID get some work done. But I also stumbled across this amazing art lesson site, which just reinforced my recent life lessons, namely: when you need something, it comes the moment you need it, not before (even if you identify the need before the time).

When I created my timetable yesterday I had specifically set aside time for art every day. We’re an arty family (my mom’s a professional!)  and the girls love to express themselves visually. I have some books on the subject but they’re not great and I don’t know the first thing about teaching kids art.  I’d pretty much decided to start with the simplest of the books when I found the site on Home School Year (thanks for posting it!).

So I set the girls to creating Peaceable Kingdom pictures, along the lines of the work of Edward Hicks and Henri Rousseau, the results of which can be seen below. How I love the internet!

 

Notes:

Objectives:

The student will learn about artist Edward Hicks. The student will look at paintings of “The Peaceable Kingdom” and create their own Peaceable Kingdoms. The student will compare the work of two artists. The student will learn how to layer with color pencils (or whatever drawing material you select. Crayon resist might also be nice)

 

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