Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ten reasons to take a break!

I recently had an amazing experience! A dear friend who frequently watches the girls for us when we have stuff asked the Admiral and I if she could have the girls on a weekend when we did not have anything planned. I had to think about that... "what?" Her reply " You need time together. Just the two of you." Me- "ok..." Then we went on to pick a weekend. What was originally a weekend turned into " bring them down Wednesday night... Send schoolwork I'll handle it." What a blessing! Then the Admiral decided he was taking Thursday and Friday off work. Wahoo!

A friend asked so what are you doing fun with all this time? No Plans. None. Just being together. It was sweet. We talked and talked and talked. We played and were silly. We folded laundry and watched movies. We visited with friends. This break from being Mom and, for him, from work was wonderfully rejuvenating. So Here it is my top ten reasons to take a break and BE together with your spouse.

#10. Dinner Out... and lunch. In fact, I didn't cook for 5 days. We ate out, or ate leftovers from going out or at at a friends house. This may sound spendy and impractical. However I am back at life feeling revived and excited about cooking for my family.

#9. Shopping together. We shopped for food, a car, new glasses for me, some clothes, shoes, crafty stuff, etc. Some were things we had put off  to do together. Let's face it you don't shop for a car without your spouse. Some things were just spur of the moment because we had no time constraints.

#8. Time to visit friends. We have 2 couples we have been trying to connect with for a while. We shared a meal with both of them! No worries about getting home to the sitter or feeling rushed. Just relaxing, grownup conversation.

#7. No need to hire a Sitter. We shopped. We dillydallied. We more or less ignored the clock.

#6. No bedtime and No Alarm clock. ( well on Sunday we used the alarm ;) ) Sometimes being without schedule can really throw off your system. This time, I felt refreshed. Refreshed that it was ok to stay up watching a movie til way after midnight. I had no guilt when we snuggled til almost noon on Saturday. Bliss.

#5. "Stay-cation". We didn't go anywhere special. We didn't spend months planning this. We lived our life. We still went to worship team rehearsal. We still met the financial planner, etc. But we were hand in hand for four solid days. No pressure, just time together. We chose to be intentional about not ending up on our respective laptops puttering around near each other. We chose to be together.

#4. Cuddle time, intimacy. So often it feels like we shoe horn in time to be intimate. I think this season of life can be that way. After all there are only so many hours when little ones are sleeping and we aren't. This break gave us a chance to be without those restraints.

#3. Flirting. This goes with #4 My hubby is so cute! We do flirt when the girls are around but carefully, more restrained. How fun to let loose and enjoy each other!

#2. Talking. We didn't just inform each other. We TALKED. We discussed, we batted ideas around, we shared concerns and worries. Talking when we were rested and relaxed. Sharing our hearts with each other. This happens regularly, yet we tend to squeeze discussions in between the stuff of living. It was great happiness to be able to talk whenever.

#1. Hand in hand, heart to heart for 4 days.

So there you have it friends. Take a break, renew your relationship, and over all, HAVE FUN!

Top Ten Tuesdays is now hosted at Many Little Blessings. Head over there and check it out.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Today is St. Valentine's day.

Lots of folks are being mushy and gooey and oh-so sweet about their life, their love, their kids, their faith. I think that is all well and good, even excellent. I just don't have it in me today. I am not really sure why I am so out of it.  I am having trouble engaging my brain. Today is good. I am Loved. The Admiral got me an amazing bouquet of flowers. I LOVE Tulips and these red ones mixed with deep purple iris made my day! I just don't feel all romance-y. ( I know - not a word.) I feel normal. We are doing school.

Here is something we are learning today. I thought it fit.

"Valentine of Rome (d. 269) A Christian priest in Rome, Valentine was known for assisting Christians persecuted under Claudius II. After being caught marrying Christian couples and helping Christians escape the persecution Valentine was arrested and imprisoned. Although Emperor Claudius originally like Valentine, he was condemned to death when he tried to convert the emperor. Valentine was beaten with stones, clubbed and finally, beheaded on February 14, 269. In the year 496, February 14 was named as a day of celebration in Valentine's honor. He later became the patron saint of engaged couples, beekeepers, happy marriages, lovers, travelers, young people, and greetings."

( Taken from "Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals (p. 145 by Shane Claiborne) ( Thank you Brother Will for posting this on FB)

Homeschooling is a challenge.  I knew it would be.  There are days my "want to" is missing.  There are moments were I am void of grace and patience.  Lately even when I am on top of things one or the other of my girls has serious focus issues.  This makes me completely insane.   It should NOT take two hours to do two pages of math or to copy ten words three times. Drink of water, stare into space, wander around, do a problem, and repeat.  I do not get it.  Sigh.

Focus is a precious commodity. My job is to teach them the self discipline to focus and do a job well. I get so frustrated. Why? Because my focus is blurry as well. I have just as much trouble zeroing in and getting the job done. I am sure this is not a problem for anyone else. I am the only one, right? That is what satan wants me to think. He wants me to throw up my hands and give up. I won't do it!  I know I am not alone. I know that focus is a skill we have to learn. I know that God is graceful with me no matter what. I am working on becoming the woman He wants me to be. I will be thankful for every day and work to give my precious ones grace when focus eludes them.

Lunch was chocolate chip, heart shaped pancakes because I could and we all needed some grace. Yummy!

 Lord, keep me each day; continue, please, to bestow your amazing grace, that my wretchedness would change into dancing. Thank you for the opportunity to help my children hone their focus.

All pictures are Property of Whisper to the wind 2012.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Blessings of Loss

Have you ever felt the sadness that accompanies loss? The sense of helplessness that comes as a friendship gradually fades or a loved one’s health slowly declines? A sudden loss is a shock, and it has its own pain. But there is something uniquely difficult about being witness to the “long goodbye”, as it is sometimes described. My experience with it this past Christmas felt that way. But there were also blessings I had not anticipated. 

On December 28th, my father's mother passed away. The process that led up to her home-going was long. I experienced very little of the journey first hand, as I live many hours away. I have known the challenge of not being local and able to help, beyond listening.

I was a bit in denial about my grandmother. Of my grandmothers, I really didn't think I would lose her first. From my distance, it felt like she went from lucidity to incoherence overnight. Of course, the reality is that she has been fading for years. Dementia is a long, cruel ending to a life.

However, even in the midst of all of the challenges of watching someone you love die, I have been struck by some unusual blessings. This was not easy for me to acknowledge at first; how can there be good things about dying – especially dying like this? As I’ve reflected, though, I’ve been struck by my memories of that hard time. They’re mostly positive. 

For instance, when Gram's journey sped up in late September, a friend asked me if I was going home. I explained that, because the end could come for any of us at any time, I always make it a point to leave with no regrets, so I didn’t feel the need to run home.  There was little I could do to help. Decisions like that are hard, yet so important. As a result of waiting,  I got to be there at the end to support my Dad and his siblings.  I am thankful beyond measure for my loving husband who made it possible for me to stay at the hospital. I needed to be there during the last vigil. It was a blessing, as strange as that sounds.

Now, this is even more odd to say, but the second blessing was that Gram finally let go. I had not been afraid for her to die, but I was worried about her being trapped in a body that didn't work and a mind that was playing tricks on her. I was relieved when Gram let go. I was comforted that she wasn't trapped in her mind any more. The loss felt huge, but the blessing was bigger. 

A friend told me of her disappointment when her hubby did not get a position for which he had applied. While he had been hired for another position, she was still discouraged. But then, after several weeks, the person who got the original position was let go and my friend's husband was given the position he originally wanted plus a raise. What a blessing in disguise!

All of this is painful. It was hard to watch Gram decline, and I can only imagine how much harder it was for my dad and his siblings. Yet the release that we are all experiencing from pain, from heartache, and from stress – these are a blessing. That Gram is finally with Christ is a blessing. Do we miss her? YES! But we also rejoice.

So often loss is so painful that I forget to look for the blessings in it. I forget that "God will work all things together for good for those who love him". (Romans 8:28)  He does that. I've seen it over and over again; He blesses me in times of loss when I turn to Him. I contemplate what life looks like after such a loss and how the gap will be filled, if it will be filled. I come to no profound conclusions. But I know – I trust – that He will bring comfort, He will fill the gap. God will bless my life and allow me to be a blessing to others. I rest in this promise.

Lord, God Almighty Help me rest today in the promise you have given to never leave me or forsake me even in times of pain and loss.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Homeschooling Thoughts

The adventure of homeschooling has been a blast. I am so glad that we decided to school our girls at home. Here are my top ten reasons for loving homeschooling

#10. Choice of subject material. I control what we learn and if we want to learn about wolves... we can. My girls have lots of interests beyond the three "R"s. This allows us the privilege of going deeper when their interest flares.

#9. Getting along. I was concerned about sibling bickering and Mama being totally unable cope. However that hasn't been an issue. I am amazed. We have some bickering but nothing I cannot handle. I believe that the girls get along better now than they ever did when they were in a traditional school. My theory on this is that they get the best part of each other's day. They play and carry on in the morning when they are fresh. We do school. Then about the time we are all sick of each other it is time for independent work. Has anyone else experienced this? Before when they did a whole day of school and came home they were tired cranky, and no mood to be gentle with sister. This is one of the biggest positives I have observed.

#8. Fun Field trips. So far this school year we have visited the 18th century twice. We have gone to Science Central ( A children's science center in our town.) Taken zoo expeditions. Traveled to KY to visit my sister. While there we went to the Lexington Explorium, Camp Nelson - Civil War Supply depot and training station for the union, and High Bridge KY  where the railway crosses the Kentucky River 700 + feet in the air. On the way home we stopped at the National Museum of the Air Force in Dayton Ohio! All these adventure are learning and growing school days. Loving this.

#7. Baking, Cooking, & Cleaning all include lessons. Working school into life is so great! My girls are learning to do laundry, cook, and knit.

#6. Sewing! I am teaching the girls to sew. It is so exciting to watch them create.

#5. Creativity. This journey is challenging me to meet my girls were they are and that means exercising my own creativity to solve the problems of making them understand new concepts like the 9 times table. What an adventure!

#4. Sports... Well this is not in full swing yet. But we are working on it. We have started soccer through the Y. We are also looking some other athletic outlets. This was something we never made time for before. Swimming is next :) !

#3. Contentedness. Prior to embarking on our homeschooling adventure I was sort of all over the place. Taking on this project or that one, generally over committing myself to lots of things. As our fall progressed I began to resent the things I had committed to that pulled me away from my kids. I spent some long prayerful nights and let some things go. Things that were dear to me, it was hard, very hard and yet... Amazement! I am loving my life. I love schooling my girls.

#2. Flexibility! Occasionally the Admiral and I both end up on worship team at the same time. This is no longer a problem because the girls can just go with us and sleep a little later the next day. Also when something comes up during the week that needs doing we can do them and fit school around these extra jobs. I do try to maintain a schedule for our schoolwork. But I am thankful for the flexibility when I need it.

#1. Sleeping In. Enough said. ;)

This is my shot at a top ten tuesday. Check out ohamanda she does one every week! http://ohamanda.com/2012/02/06/seo-how-i-write-a-blog-post-part-5-top-ten-tuesday-style/