Longings

We started homeschooling again last week, and are starting a new routine this week.  It’s scary how full our week is.  I don’t want to have such a busy life.  I’m also expert at wasting time, and procrastinating when I feel overloaded, which of course makes things worse.

We are doing both swimming and gymnastics, which is probably a mistake, as it means two afternoons out in a row, on Monday and Tuesday, and then on Wednesday I take Nature Boy and Kitty to violin.  The best thing about Wednesday is that I can sit in a comfortable squishy chair for nearly an hour at violin, and my husband and Curly cook dinner and look after the baby.  Bliss.  I also enjoy the music therapy.

There’s a pile of mending behind the couch, and a pile of books that need sorting out on the lounge floor.  But I’m learning that He is everywhere in every moment.  I want to know His Presence in the mess and muddle that is my life.  I want to know Him, not just about Him.  I’ve just dipped my toes in His ocean.  I want to swim.

Verses for Parenthood

I would like to say now that even though I am the mother of 5 children, and a stay-at-home mum, and a homeschooler, I do not consider myself to be an expert parent.  In fact, I can only point to the grace of God who sustains me, gives me wisdom when I ask Him, and who forgives my sins and heals both my wounds and the hurts I have inflicted on others.

Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up;

God is our salvation.

Psalm 68:19

Today I’d like to share some of the verses that have been signposts pointing me to a way of parenting that is more Christlike.  I have been transformed from a violent, angry and selfish parent to one who is patient and loving (though still not perfect).  This process has taken about 10 years.  My darkest time was about 7 years ago when my third child was a baby.  I wanted to change desperately, but it seemed impossible.   I wanted to kill myself, run away, anything to escape.  I thought that my family would be better off without me.  That was a lie.  Somehow God’s Holy Spirit got through to me that it would be better for my family if I was able to change and be a different person, than for me to die and leave them.   white_dove-wideHe gave me a thread of hope to hold on to, that better days would come.  And they have.

‘Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.’

Philippians 4 v. 5

The true Christian parent must be gentle.  This does not mean that the parent is weak or does not discipline their children.  However we can see the gentleness of Christ with children.  He valued them, He welcomed them and He was beloved by them.  They were drawn to Him because of the love that radiated from Him.  That is what I want to be like.

Human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

James 1 v. 20

This verse has reminded me many times that my human anger will not produce true righteousness in my children.  It may induce them to comply with my wishes, and behave as I want them to, but will not change their hearts.  My Heavenly Father has worked in my heart, taking away the anger and giving me peace.  I need to come to Him each day because it is easy to fall back into my old habits of becoming irritated and impatient, and using my anger to try to produce God’s fruit.  It won’t work!

She opens her mouth with wisdom,

and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

Proverbs 31 v. 26 (NRSV)

How can I teach others to be kind, if I am not kind myself?  The righteous mother teaches others to be kind and her words are wise.  They flow from a life that is full of wisdom and kindness.

For the Lord spoke thus to me while his hand was strong upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what it fears, or be in dread. But the Lord of hosts, him you shall regard as holy; let him be your fear, and let him be your dread….

See, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are signs and portents in Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion.

Isaiah 8 v. 11-13, 18

I call this my ‘homeschooling verse’ because God gave it to me about a year after we started homeschooling.  It is a reminder to me that I must not fear what anyone else fears, but only fear God and do His will.  He will make me and my children a sign to others.  They will see His presence with us as we obey Him.  There are so many things that we as parents worry about and fear, but Jesus tell us not to worry about the future.  Trust in Him for the days to come.  Seek the kingdom first!

Here is my last one to share, which the Holy Spirit pointed out to me only recently.

I know your works.  Look, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.  I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

Revelation 3 v. 8

God gave me this verse at a time when I was deeply discouraged about homeschooling.  I was afraid of what others were thinking about my children and about me.  I had a sleepless night, torturing myself with these thoughts.  Then in the morning, I asked Him for guidance, and turned to Revelation, the book I was reading then, not expecting anything encouraging, but that verse leapt out at me.  He was saying that He knows that I am weak (and I am), but I am faithful to Him and that is what matters.  This past year both my husband and I have been praying more, seeking God more, and putting Him first.  He is in control, and no one can shut a door that He opens.  🙂

Consider Your Ways – A post for the new year

One of the elders at our church presented the following questions to us this morning to help us reflect on our direction and how we can seek the Kingdom first.   He also read from Haggai 1, where God warns the people of Jerusalem that they cannot expect His blessing, because they are building their own comfortable homes when His temple lies in ruins.  The application for us is not necessarily to build beautiful churches for God, but to see that we are His temple.  Are we putting Him and His agenda ahead of our own comforts?  My answers follow the questions below:

1. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

2. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?

3. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?

4. What is the most helpful way you could strengthen your church?

5. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

6. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

7. What’s the most important need you feel burdened to meet this year?

8. What’s one new way you could be a blessing to your church family this year?

9. What’s one thing you could do this year to enrich the spiritual legacy you will leave your children or grandchildren?

10. To what need or ministry will you try to give generously this year?

My answers:

Heavenly Father, guide me as I consider these questions.  I don’t want to just make resolutions and try to change myself in my own strength.  May I walk by the Spirit and delight to do Your will.

1. How can I enjoy God more?

Sometimes it’s easy to praise Him and rejoice in Him; other days I am overwhelmed or grumpy and the praises don’t flow.  Father teach me to praise You and rejoice in You always, because You are worthy.

2. How can I improve my family life?

Be present when I’m present!  Enjoy my children and my husband and give them my affection and time.

3. What is the biggest time-waster?

For me it is the internet and computer (though of course I’m not wasting time right now…).  This is also related to no. 2 above.  I can ask God, “Is this what You would have me do right now?  How do You want me to use this time?”  I was recently at the swimming pool with my 5-year-old daughter, talking to God about something else, and then the thought came to me, “Play with her; enjoy her.”  So even though it’s really hard for me to play, because I seem to have lost the knack, I put the effort into interacting with my daughter in a playful way, helping her to float, playing catch, swooshing her through the air like a dolphin, and doing things I used to enjoy when I was a child at the pool.  It was great to see how her eyes lit up, and we enjoyed being together.

4. How can I help strengthen the church?

At the moment God is calling me to pray regularly for the church we attend and each person in our congregation.  I am sure He will reveal more as His plan unfolds.  I have lots of ideas but am not sure they are His plans.

5.  Whose salvation will I pray for this year?

I’m praying for lots of people, but one family in particular stands out at this time.  I have been praying for them at least once a week.  I could increase that to daily prayer.

6. How can I improve my prayer life?

It’s improved vastly over the last few weeks as I have been making it a priority over Bible reading.  I pray in the morning and read the Bible later in the day, usually in the afternoon or before bed.  I can also pray when I’m driving and when out walking by myself.  Making prayer a priority first thing in the morning seems to have made a huge difference.  When my husband wakes up early in the morning (6 am) to go to work, I can wake up at the same time and pray then.

7. What’s the most important need you feel burdened to meet this year?

I’m very disturbed and burdened by the problems of child abuse and exploitative materials that are being distributed on the internet.  I don’t know how I can help with these needs except to pray, and to support ministries like Hagar and Open Home Foundation.  I’m praying that God will expose those who are abusing children and producing porn; for the removal of corrupt officials and that police will not take bribes to turn a blind eye;  that children who are being abused will find help and safe and loving homes, and healing through Jesus Christ; for those that are addicted that they will find help to overcome it.

8. How can I bless my church family?

I can bless them by being faithful in praying for them, and encouraging them in other ways.  This year I will be helping in the children’s ministry and with music.  I will try to build relationships outside our Sunday meetings by having church members round for meals at our home, and by visiting those who are housebound.

9. What can I do to enrich the spiritual legacy I will leave my children?

Continue with our Bible memory programme, and spend time with the children one-on-one, praying and reading God’s word together.  Continue to point them to Him as the source of all goodness and life.

10. To what need or ministry will I try to give generously this year?

We’re giving to quite a few different ministries.  The one that stands out for me most is Asia Harvest’s China Bibles Fund.  This is a very cost-effective way of helping the kingdom of God to grow.  I would also like to support Hagar.

A good day

We had a relaxed morning.  I woke up early, with Bubs, but he hadn’t woken during the night, so I felt well-rested.  Curly woke early too, and played with Bubs, pushing him around in a plastic crate.  Kitkat and Nature Boy slept in until 8.  It was a good day not to be at school.

Bible – we read about the healing of the centurion’s son and the raising of the widow’s son.

Astronomy – stars – learning about the different types of stars, as well as black holes and supernovas, and the characteristics of our sun compared to other stars.  It turns out our sun is very average: in size, brightness and heat.  It is stable, and it is a single rather than binary star.  It is perfect!

Reading with K and M – We read ‘Smudge, the little lost lamb’ by James Herriot: one of my favourite Herriot stories.  It reminds me of the parable of the lost sheep.

Writing – writing letters to Nan and Poppa (my grandparents who live in Australia).

We also went for a walk down the lane, in the rain.  We sawVetch sheep, and foxgloves, and leguminous plants that we don’t know the name for, but they reminded us of vetch.  Vetch is a plain name for a pretty weed.