Abiding in His Word ~ Finding the Time

My nine year old daughter recently asked me, worriedly, “Mama, how can I remember to read my bible every day?

My daughter is a girl who loves God. She wants to read her bible every day. But sometimes she doesn’t do it. Life distracts her, just as it distracts many of us.

Perhaps you also face this dilemma. After years of struggling to read my bible daily, I realized the simple answer to my daughter’s question. I needed to make it a habit that fit naturally into the routine of my day.

Now you may be thinking “Ah, the early morning quiet time.” And yes, I do mean that, but not exclusively.

Getting up early to pray and read God’s Word is a great joy and blessing. But sometimes an early morning quiet time just isn’t realistic...

I'm hanging out at Do Not Depart today, 
chatting about getting creative with your schedule and making daily time with God a habit.
Will you come join the conversation?

Photo by Leland Francisco

Back to School ~ Our Tenth Year of Homeschooling

We started back to school last week. 

We know lots of homeschooling families who school year round... some follow a four-day-week schedule, or a four weeks-on/one-week-off schedule, or any of a number of variations.

Not our family.  We are summer-off variety homeschoolers.

Near the beginning of our homeschooling journey we tried schooling through the summer. Once was enough.  We all agreed that we do better when we take a long break.

We are ready for the change and feel of summer days by the time they roll around.  I am usually, I must confess, a bit burned out by the end of May.  Knowing that we will have ten weeks to go to all the annual appointments and have playdates and go on adventures and maybe even get the bookshelves organized (some day, some day) gives me a burst of energy.

It usually takes me at least a month to feel like I am ready to start thinking about the next school year.  This summer we spent our first two weeks of summer break absorbed in dress rehearsals and local shows, then a five day youth theater festival that included sleeping in a hotel (with a pool!).  After that the sixteen doctor and dentist appointments began, and before we knew it, we were off on a three and a half week week adventure in New Mexico and Arizona.

So this year it was really two months before I felt ready. And when I say ready, I mean I-can't-wait-to-start, listen-to-what-we-are-going-to-do, oh-look-at-these-wonderful-books ready. I get a wee bit excited.

Because honestly, it is so much fun to start a new school year!  When the older children were little, we'd buy new school supplies and such, but at this point we really don't need much other than books and maybe some new notebooks. The kids can't wait to open the boxes as they arrive, and sometimes "school" begins weeks ahead because people just can't put their books down.

I'm thankful that my enthusiasm finally kicked in full gear, because this year we started two new and fairly teacher-intensive curricula.  We are using the Structure and Style program from Institute for Excellence in Writing, as well as Tapestry of Grace.  I am so impressed with these programs. They both do take quite a bit of time but I think are well worth it.

In addition to that, we have added a kindergartener to the "official" school roster, and our oldest is now a high schooler. If you are one of those experienced homeschooling moms with ten kids you're all kinds of "whatever" now, thinking of me with with my three, but what can I say... it's a wee bit daunting to me.

I couldn't help thinking this month that my most slow-to-recover-from school year preceded this even more intense year. I won't be surprised if the next four years are my most challenging school-wise.  These will be the years I'll have the most children at one time. And all at extremely different levels.

But I also can't help being profoundly aware of God's grace in this enthusiasm. Of how it underscores a sense of this-is-where-our-family-should-be. Because when it is needful for me to be enthusiastic, despite exhaustion or busy-ness, God grants me the gift of enthusiasm.

It is a crazy wonderful thing, this homeschooling journey.  While I may be the one teaching my students reading and writing and math, I am also the student, receiving new lessons daily from my Teacher.

public domain art by Johnny Gruelle

Out of My Comfort Zone

Photo by Chris Getty

So there I was, privileged once again to be sitting with a group of lovely women, most of whom I know fairly well, ready to launch a new year of monthly bible studies. Since it was our first evening back, and some of the women were new to our group, I decided to start with a little background on myself, my faith journey, that sort of thing.

I had not gotten three words out of my mouth when I felt the heat start to creep up my cheeks. If you can call a flash fire "creeping." I can't tell you why this happens, but when a group of people all have their eyes on me, even people I know, even a small number of people I know, I blush. Like crazy. It is most disconcerting.

It's not like I've never led bible studies before. I've been doing it off and on for sixteen years. But truth be told, I am just not really super comfortable when I am sitting in that chair with people listening to me.

And not really super comfortable is exactly where I am supposed to be.

Have you ever noticed that God likes to get His kids out of their comfort zones?

Moses was afraid of going back to Egypt. Jeremiah didn't want to talk to people. Paul ended up becoming the kind of guy he was persecuting. Little David fought a giant, Esther risked death by talking to the king, Abraham had to be willing to give up his long awaited son.

Truth be told, the kind of things asked of me are puny compared to those.

I really don't like talking in front of groups. One-on-one suits me just fine. And I have always been kind of private about my written musings. I've filled many a journal. Many a private, personal journal.

And guess what. That was just a little too comfortable.

So I pray and I feel led to start bible studies and I just have to walk into it knowing He is going to carry me. I pray and feel led to write online and, well, here I am.

Do you see my red cheeks?

The fact is, I'm rather a bumbling sinful mess. A messy girl looking at a perfect Father and longing to be like Him.

And I tell Him, tell Him over and over, "I'm not really up for this, Lord. Not really equipped. And have you noticed all the things on my to-do list and how I'm struggling to keep up? Don't you have another daughter who is more wise and organized and perfect who could serve you better?"

He does of course, but He still asks me to be willing, and while I am almost always timid, I am also almost always willing.

When all is said and done, there is so little risk, so little lost.  Maybe some pride.  Maybe someone's good opinion.

But the gain?  To actually experience the reality that I can do all things through Him who strengthens me is a faith builder like no other.

Because isn't God's goal HIS glory? And boy can He be glorified when a trembly bumbling shy mess can actually pull off a bible study or write something coherent.

So I am trying to remember: just do it. I am trying to replace the anxious whispers with assurances like: don't worry... trust the God who leads you... it's not about perfection, it's about living.

And I hear Him whisper....

Enjoy the journey. You know the destination.

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