Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Desire of my Heart

Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.  Psalm 37:4

This verse is filled with such hope and promise.  In my journey of faith, I have seen God keep this promise over and over.  I'm so grateful that God sees and knows the desires of my heart.  Truthfully, I have seen that God knows my desires better than I do.  As you probably know, I often said (in my younger days) that I wasn't sure I wanted to have any children.  Now I have five!  That makes me giggle.  And I am so grateful that God has given me each precious gift.

I recently read this quote from John Piper:

"There is only on basic reason why we disobey the commands of Jesus:  it's because we don't have confidence that obeying will bring more blessing than disobeying.  We do not hope fully in God's promise."

I disobey more often than I care to admit.  However, I'm overjoyed that we were obedient to God's call for the plan of our family.  God has given me the desires of my heart....desires that I didn't even know that I had!  I'm sure that ten years ago I would have listed the desire of my heart traveling all over the world and teaching at a university.  God had a different (and better!) plan for my life.

I'm reflecting on this as school starts in our area.  I have enjoyed seeing my friends' first day of school pictures.  Here are some of ours...Savanna goes to Community Christian School.  She drove herself this year.  (still trying to get my brain wrapped around that!)  I am homeschooling the other three.  Davina could barely get her eyes open!

Homeschooling is another area where God has given me the desire of my heart.  With my oldest two, I never considered myself capable to homeschool.  I enjoyed working part-time.  The girls were blessed with awesome school experiences.  Things were good.  But then we decided that Yuly would benefit from homeschool.  So we decided to take the plunge.  

When we made the move to homeschool, it was with fear and trembling.  And I love it.  Truly.  As much as I loved my job, I love homeschooling more.  I tell my girls, a bad day of homeschooling is better than a good day at work.  And I mean it.

As I looked at everyone's pictures of the first day, here is what really struck me.  Most of my friends my age have sent one or more of their children off to college now and many of them now have only one child at home.  (I am definitely of the generation in which two children is the norm).  This easily could have been me:  Audrey off to college, Savanna starting her Junior year.  Only two years until Todd and I would be empty-nesters.

I am so glad that we have still several years (that will undoubtedly fly by!) before we become empty-nesters.  I love Todd.  He is my best friend.  I am always grateful when we have time alone together.  But we both agree that we are so happy that we have awhile before we are empty-nesters.  I know the time will come.  And when we reach that season, I hope it is filled with long walks on the beach with Todd and many visits with grandchildren.  But for now, I am enjoying having children from elementary to college aged.

Ten years ago, I could not have imagined writing these words.  The journey with God is one of adventure...of going places I could have never imagined (or thought I wanted to go!)  But God knows me.  He loves me.  He wants the best for me.  Obeying God, following God ALWAYS brings more blessings than disobedience.  Now, if only I could remember that all the time :)

Oh, and about those desires I thought I had to travel and teach at a university...I guess I was on the right track.  I have traveled...to Colombia and China to adopt my girls.  And I do teach, just not to a group of college students.  And I have no doubt that God's plan has brought me more joy than any desires that I imagined on my own.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Winging it

Back in the day when I had only two girls (imagine that!), I learned quickly that even though my girls were raised in the same home and had a lot of similarities, they each brought their own personalities, weaknesses, and challenges into the family.  And these were my biological children.

Now we have 5 girls.  It is really fun to see similarities and differences with all my girls.  Yuly has learned to celebrate the ways she is similar to her sisters (like a shared love for dance) as well as her differences (her beautiful skin and hair color).  We already see how Davina fits our family with her sense of humor.  She is athletic like Savanna.

But of course, there are differences.  And parenting each of them requires me to grow as a parent.  Before we brought Yuly home, I thought that I was a pretty good parent.  Not perfect, of course, but my girls seemed to be doing well.  (I mean, when the social worker asked my older two girls what they didn't like about my parenting, they replied, "She makes us eat whole wheat bread."  If that's the worst they have, I must be doing o.k.)

God used Yuly to show me areas of parenting weakness. Parenting her required me to stretch and bend and change.  I received a crash course in "How to be patient."  (Still a struggle, but I am sooo much better than I used to be).  I learned to pray more:  more often, more specifically, and more fervently.   God also used her to grow my faith and my trust in God.

And now, I am learning again.  We already had two teenagers when we brought Davina home.  I had some basic teenager parenting skills, but I am now enrolled in the advanced course.  And there is no syllabus.  Or textbook.  Basically, we are just winging it.  Parenting situations arise for which I have no precedent to base my response on.

Example.  We know that Davina has had a lot of trouble developing a good sleep pattern.  She goes to bed, says she is tired, but says she just can't sleep.  Sometimes she gets up and we find her reading in the middle of the night.  OK, we decided that sleep adjustments will come and not to worry too much.  Then one day, when we awaken at 7:00, we discover that Davina and Yuly have been up since 3:00 a.m. playing and eating (healthy foods!)

So, what is the correct response?  They didn't break any stated rules (I mean, we've never had to tell any of our kids, don't get up in the middle of the night and have a party).  Still, it probably isn't a good idea to allow this to happen on a regular basis. 

What did we decide?  We laughed and talked about it.  We celebrated the fact that two sisters had such a special, if somewhat unconventional, time together (they were both beaming when they came into our room!)  We are thankful that they were not sneaky about it...we heard all the details of their exploits.  And we gently talked through the fact that this was a fun, but one time only, party.  That night is for sleeping. 

Disclaimer:  I'm not saying we handled this the "right" way.  I'm just telling you that based on our family's unique personality, our parenting strategies, our teaching style, and our girls' needs, this is the way our family handled it. 

God promises us wisdom when we ask..and I am asking A LOT lately!!
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.  James 1

I have received wisdom.  Not all at once, but for each situation.  God is working within me, within the life of our family, and within each of my girls and I am grateful.