Wednesday, September 21, 2011

GRAttitude is Everything

Well, last week was "Fair Week" in our neck of the woods, which meant LOTS of learning opportunities and MAN did we take advantage of them. We saw goats being milked (the boys REFUSED to partake) ;) Cow milking, sheep shearing, horse pulls, tractor pulls, old fashioned cider mills, steam engines, and all the like. The week was filled to the brim and Sunday we were exhausted and "Fair Hungover" :) Each morning Hope got up and promptly went to the door after getting dressed for her mud boots and John Deere bow. :) Sunday was a day of rest...well sort of...since we had been gone so much of the week, there was much to be done so we plugged away at that.

When Monday rolled around, I was tired, the kids were tired and crankiness was in the air. I KNOW that attitude is important...I know that crankiness is contagious and yet I went into the week with a chip on my shoulder, feeling overwhelmed and cranky once again. (I'd like to also clarify that my house is fully in order...well as much order as one can have with three small know...just for the record.)

I tried to share my frustration with my sweet husband which only infuriated me further. He always reminds me that there is no room for a bad attitude and all too often I am tired and weak and instead of hitting my knees I get irritable and cranky. He assures me that I am capable of anything God wants me to do and if I set my mind to it and move forward prayerfully His plans always succeed and yet somehow that often times infuriates me more, until I do hit my knees and see his heart and intention.

This morning I was buzzing around the house getting packed up to head out the door because on Wednesdays we meet up with some other fab families for playtime/mommy time/lunch and then I go work with my dad while my Grandma spends an hour or two with the kids. As I buzzed, I fumed. Dirty socks on the floor...not mine...not the kids. Dirty coffee mug in the sink instead of the dishwasher, and toothpaste in the sink. I thought to, I am married to a neanderthal. Stomp stomp stomp as I pick up messes I did not make...a toddler fit because it just isn't fair follows. Just kidding...kind of.

Then in several conversations today with three different friends, as they shared marriage struggles with me, I realized I hadn't thanked Howard in a very long time. His minor little flaws are really nothing at all in comparison to the gift he is in my life. He is my very best friend, my biggest supporter, the most amazing father who LOVES having time with his kids, and a wonderful leader for our family. On top of all that he is a minister to many especially my own heart.

He is a wonderful and loving man of God and so tomorrow, when I pick up dirty socks and move that coffee mug from the sink to the dishwasher I will fight back the toddler fit and I will be trying to use those previous annoyances as a reminder to pray for Howard and give thanks for all he is to this family. If we take a close look we all have lots of flaws. I have more than I can count and yet he loves me in spite of and sometimes even because of each and every one. I am so very blessed to have found such a wonderful man of God and I know Satan loves nothing more than tearing marriages apart and so it is my goal from now on to stop when I find myself annoyed (one of Howard's famous lines to the kids is that annoyed is a choice)by the little things and give thanks for the MAJOR blessing God has given me in Howard Bolte. As my dad would say I "had an attitudinal problem that needs some readjustin'"(a quote from one of his favorite movies) Thank you Lord, for the gentle reminder of all you have given me. May I see this as another opportunity to lose the selfishness and die to myself. Attitude is of the utmost importance and as the wife and mother of this household I need to have an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude, much like ungratefulness is a seed...only each bears a different fruit. I pray to plant a seed of gratitude in this family where love and joy can grow wild. By grace alone.

Friday, September 9, 2011

American Idol

 Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.  Jonah  2:8

So, last week was tough.  I made it through each day by the skin of my teeth.  Being responsible for the education of my children weighed heavily on me and I felt overwhelmed and underqualified.  My fuse was short and I was not the graceful, patient mother I want to be.  Howard was frustrated with me I could tell.  He never said a word, just, encouraged me to seek the Lord and do my best.  He left my Bible open on the counter each morning and left me a sweet note.

Sleep seems to allude me when there are lessons to be planned, floors to be swept, laundry to be folded, toys to be picked up, sinks to shine, toilets to scrub, children to bathe, you get the picture.  Then I found when I did lie in bed, my mind raced thinking of all the things left undone.  I shared my insomnia with Howard who assured me I needed to take it to God.  He asked if I had prayed about it. Prayed about it?  Huh. Gee, I guess I forgot to start there.  And then it dawned on me.  I hadn't REALLY prayed in days...I mean we gave thanks at meals and I prayed with the kids at bedtime but it had been days since I bowed my head, drowned the rest of it out and asked the Lord for the grace that only he can extend.  

This week has gone considerably better.  We are learning our curriculum and how to best use it for our family.  We have gotten out and spent some much needed time with friends, but the real difference I believe is prayer.  We are beginning each day with prayer and I find myself needing (after reading the little reminders I leave for myself all over the house) to bow my head and commune with the One who can make it all so much better.  The One who knew we would be right here in this place and he orchestrated it all.

You see, I hate to admit it, but when I get busy, the first thing that tends to go is my time with God.  In a world where becoming an "idol" is a great accomplishment, I want so much different for my family.  He commands us to have no other God before Him and I have been so guilty of practicing idolatry on a daily basis.  When I decide I MUST scrub the floor or shine the sink or do just that one last chore before I hit my knees, I am basically saying that these chores are more important. When I sit down and check Facebook instead of meeting Him, I am making Facebook an idol.

I grew up in a home where "cleanliness is next to godliness" was the theme.  My grandma is an AMAZING lady and kept an immaculate house.  We never had the nicest "things" or anything fancy, but what we had, we took care of and cleanliness was of the utmost importance, but at what point have I chosen to put it ABOVE the One who gave me all I have?  I don't know.  I still firmly believe that God calls us to be a good steward of all He gives, whether that is money, possessions, children, or spiritual gifts, and we are called to take great care of such things, but if we are missing out on our one on one time with Him, aren't we missing the point?  Idolatry is sin.  While I still want my husband to come home to a clean house, it is more important that he comes home to a wife who is right with the Lord and children who are learning what it looks like to live this life for Him.

My goal for the next week is to rise just a few minutes earlier, to hit my knees before I hit my feet in the morning and begin each school day with prayer and to weave it throughout the day, we are called to "pray without ceasing" and for some reason I struggle with this.  I tend to compartmentalize my life and often forget that commune with Him should be a theme throughout.  I knew money could be an idol, other people can become idols, and graven images can become idols, but housework?  YEP!  I am constantly telling my children "When we disobey, things don't go well"...humbling for sure.  When we disobey, things DON'T go well.  God calls us to turn from idolatry an to consecrate ourselves to Him alone.  I am hoping that the shift in focus will make a difference in our school day.

The housework will still need to be done, but AFTER prayer, after a heart check with God.  I am not sure what this is going to look like, but I am certain it won't look as it does, what with the frustrated slamming of cabinet doors and overwhelmed sighs of despair.  Schoolwork will still need to be done, after meeting with our Lord for the morning and constantly throughout each day.  Perhaps if we commune with Him and invite Him into every single thing we do, there will be more joy and less frustration.

I have been in need of an attitude adjustment.  We started this school year and I was overwhelmed from day one.  I felt like adding the role of academic teacher to the bajillion roles I was already juggling was ridiculous and if I am being honest, I was a little resentful that I felt like this was what God wanted me to do.  I mean when would I have ME time?  At what point would I get a moment to do what I wanted to do?  What about me getting to go back to work one day?  (Oh wait, my going back to work would me getting hired in a school, to educate other people' children.  Should that desire be greater than my desire to shepherd and teach my own children?)  He is refining, and it is uncomfortable and a little scary.  He is moving me out of my place of selfishness and each day more into a place of servanthood and self-denial. If my children don't see me open my bible consistently and pray without ceasing, how will they know how crucial this is.  Is that not more important than learning about subjects and predicates?  :)  I believe education is very important, but knowledge without God is futile.  What am I putting first?  OY!  Reality check.  This girl has some serious work to do.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Schooling Your Own Kids Isn't For Wimps!

HOLY MOLY! What a whirlwind the past two weeks have been. If I am being honest, I ended last week in tears, certain I had made a HUGE mistake and that Luke might be back in school by Monday. :) I sat down and just cried and cried pleading for the Lord to just tell me what on earth He is doing here and what exactly He is calling me to. You see several months ago when we were pursuing foster care (which we still are and I will update you on soon)I felt the Lord pulling me in just a bit, He was reminding me that I needed to be intentional and invest all I could into the children I had already been given. I have this tendency to want to rush out and do HUGE things and change the world all the while missing the boat with the mission He has already set before me.

Just a couple of years ago if you would have asked me my thoughts on homeschooling I would have said, I thought it was nuts and that ALL children should be in school. I shouldn't be surprised that in the past two weeks when we have been out in public, I have had to field the question of why Luke isn't in school, but it has caught me off guard. I have been asked countless questions with varying intentions I am certain. I have had grocery store clerks ask why the boys aren't in school and then roll her eyes when I tell her we were done with school for the day because we are schooling at home.

Now, here is the thing...I am by nature people pleaser...all my life I have worried so much about what everyone else thinks, and this season in life is not allowing for that. We have had to stand firm on what we believe to be right for our family and just hold fast. We have had to think and rethink our position on things and we still believe without a shadow of a doubt that this is what is best for our family in this season. That is not to say that they won't return to public school and it isn't to say that they will. We have chosen to revisit the decision yearly and do what is best for each individual child. That is all we can do as parents right?

As a former teacher I was sure I would be a stellar teacher for my children and oh how they have humbled me. This homeschool stuff is not for wimps. It is constant and beyond exhausting. I have learned this week that I don't have to make "our school" look just like public fact that kind of defeats what we are doing here. We have loosened up and though we re following the curriculum we are also focusing on experiences and not so many worksheets. :) I am learning more about my own kids and about myself than I imagined I would. I am finding that the Lord is refining me and pushing me beyond my limits in this and He is stepping in to fill the gap when I allow Him full reign.

This week has been such an improvement from last week. It is still hard. I am still barely awake by the end of the evening as I plan the next day's activities, but I can't describe the overwhelming sense of accomplishment and joy when I see progress with the kids. I have found that if I start my own day with asking Him to fill the inadequacies that are so glaringly obvious in me, and hitting my knees and asking for help the moment things start to get hairy, He is there, He steps in and He makes it right. Keeping God focused has helped my attitude go from, oh my word, "I feel like a pinball bouncing between three children barely having time to pee or have a moment's peace" to "Thank you Lord, for allowing me the opportunity to do this, to pour into their lives as you pour into mine. Thank you for your peace that is able to overcome all of the chaos and fill my heart with joy."

So, I wont lie and tell you the "Bolte School" is perfect, that tears aren't shed or that frustrations don't ever run high, but I will tell you that we are working on it...together, with Him and that He is refining and making beauty from a complete and utter mess...and for that...I am so VERY grateful.

I might also add that I am also so very grateful for the new friends He has brought into my life gradually over the past couple of years for this very season.  While many are critical, I am so thankful for a group of friends who are right here in the trenches with us.