Tuesday, April 9, 2013

In the Middle

Most morning I meet a friend to walk the Discovery Trail just as the sun is rising, the rain is hopefully not falling, and the day is new.

Usually, within five minutes after the big hill is over and we have breath and words to spare, one of us will start talking.  Usually, we go back and forth sharing problems, and fixing them as women are known to do.  I think it's scriptural:

 where two or more women are gathered together 
for more than three minutes 
all of life's problems will be solved, 
if only everyone else would listen."  

I think that's what it says anyway. Except probably not in the Bible. 

Either way we usually end up finding a bright spot, something to hold on to and encourage us.  But today was weird.  We left with more problems than we started with. And truly there's nothing wrong with either of us, except that right now we are both in the middle of different things.  

That rotten, blessed middle where you aren't sure if you are actually moving forward or sliding back to where your frustration started in the first place.

And I thought about that as I drove home when we were done.  In the middle of difficulty it's easy to see nothing but problems.  The tunnel we find ourselves in is at it's darkest, and your mind starts to play tricks on you.  You begin to wonder if that glimmer of light you thought you saw was a ray of hope, or if it is in fact a train hurtling towards you ready to bring about your tragic demise. We both left discouraged.


I am discouraged.  And I hate admitting that. Lest you get worried, I'm not falling into utter despair - just frustrated and unsure of what to do in one area of my life - all is not lost :)  But as to that sorry I'm keeping it vague but it's just that way it is topic, I am totally in that middle place. I wanted to throw in the towel.  

But then, a spark. 

I found hope this morning in the middle of a word.  In the middle of discouragement is Courage

In the middle of the middle of my discouragement I choose to do the courageous thing - to not lose hope.

It doesn't make the fear and frustration go away, but it helps me take one more step, pray one more prayer

Really it's those unanswered prayers that grow our faith, isn't it?  If we only ever had to pray for something once and our answer for everything came clear as day, it wouldn't require faith.  It requires faith to ask again. 

Praying lead me to thankfulness.  Thankfulness is like killex on the weeds of discouragement.

Thank you God that you are growing my faith. It takes courage to get your praise on when what you want to do is give in to the hopelessness. Thank you God that you are teaching me to be an extravagant worshiper through unanswered prayers.  I will worship because God is good, even in the middle of the middle.

And maybe in the middle of the middle that is enough.  I will do what feels courageous today and not lose hope. 

Deuteronomy 31:8
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; 
will never leave you nor forsake you. 
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."

What do you do to grow courage in your life?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Snail Bait

If there's one regret that I have in blogging so far - aside from the tired I don't do this enough excuse, it's that I've never really talked much about homeschooling.  I kind of steered clear of it because I was concerned I would offend people if I wrote about it because they (whoever they are) might think that because I love it and it works for our family that I deep down feel like everyone else doing every other kind of school doesn't really love their kids, God, or both.  That's just silly.

The thing is: I'm forgetful and sometimes funny things happen that I might want to remember.   So maybe I'll write a bit more about some of this part of our life. Or maybe I'll forget to write about it.  That's possible too.

There is no denying that being pregnant five times did some permanent damage to my memory.  At least, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

What were we talking about?


I realized I had reached a new level in homeschooling nirvana when it became quite clear that we hit that strange animals living in your home that you did science experiments on/with stage.

We, as in - someone who wasn't me, but another Mom who is an overachiever when it comes to science did a bang-up job on the biomes/ecosystems science unit  for our co-op in January.  This included a lovely notebook they created full of information, definitions, experiments and also fantastic hands-on activity where the kids created biomes for aquatic snails in 2L pop bottles.  They were lovely little habitats and they included live plants and sticks and algae and some super cute snails.  Two in each.  Six biomes all..

The kids achieved stasis in the biomes and then they altered the environments to observe and demonstrate how one small change in a habitat might affect the biotic and abiotic elements in it.  I'm pretty sure this is homeschool talk for we tried to see if the snails would die or not.  I didn't conduct the experiment - it was my turn to gallivant that co-op module, so I can't say for sure.  But I'm pretty sure that's what that fancy science talk means.  I'm just a musician, man.

At any rate, many of the snails survived.  My 13 year old decided it was her destiny to become a den mother to the snails.  Over the six weeks they observed/ played mad scientist with them she got attached.  She and her lab partner NAMED them.  And now, 3 months later Ferguson and Bubbles are still alive.  They WILL NOT DIE.

They got a better home - an enormous vase. This is mostly because decorating is something I'm really good at. (Snort!) It takes up an unreasonable amount of space by the sink - cause they need sunlight y'all, and where else can you put a 2 gallon vase where you aren't worried about water damage or 4 year old inflicted snail damage? It's a mystery to me why more people don't want to homeschool. Snail home tutorials coming to a pinterest page near you!

 Ferguson keeps playing dead, but it turns out he's just extremely lethargic. Bubbles keeps climbing to the top and threatening to leave the lovely home I have created for him/her/it. Good times.

Just when you think it couldn't get sillier, said overachieving friend who practically encouraged this irrational snail love in my daughter and quite literally forced me to take them home at the end of January came over last week and told me my kitchen stank...stinked...stunk.  It turns out this is the litmus test of your friendship.  If you are truly good, lifelong, soulmate friends, you will be told in no uncertain terms if you or your kitchen stinks.  And they will start sniffing your entire premises and perhaps even your person trying to find the source of the stink.  If you're friends, this makes you laugh hysterically.

Confession: I had been looking for the source of stink previously.  I even showered thrice that week, just in case it was me.

Update: I have started changing the snail water. My kitchen smells better.

Have a died and gone to not-heaven?

We have pet snails, people.  This is a problem.

Mostly because it poses that larger question that looms in the heart of every woman who homeschools.

If the snails won't die, and I can't bring myself to do them in -

Does this mean I have to buy a denim jumper?

What's crazy things has having kids made you do? Or is it just me?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Easter that Was

This past weekend I had the privilege of planning and leading the worship/music at our church.  There were alot of exciting events that happened in the last week of planning of such. Mostly it was a lot of re-learning life lesson 147: no matter how well you plan things you can't control everything.

The good thing about that was that it was very easy to attribute any and all good things that came out of that weekend to the grace and mercy of God.  And I'm proud to say that the team wasn't just good - they were amazing.  It's quite something to see that level of service and dedication rise to the surface when you have to humbly ask your team to embrace plan...g, or h - I can't even remember what plan we were on by the time practice rolled around on Thursday.  So it was good.

Weeks ago, when I started planning and praying about the set I was looking over things and asking God to help me put together something that would lead to true worship and encourage people wherever they were at in their lives that Easter morning.   I have yet to receive a direct message from the Lord when I'm planning but I did get a real peace over a theme that emerged:

It's Friday night for a lot of people - but take heart, Sunday is coming!

That is good news, isn't it?

I tried something different this week and actually wrote out and rehearsed my "call to worship". While I often have an idea of what I want to say or a scripture I want to share I haven't planned it like that before. I was worried that it would seem fake or lacking authenticity, as though awkward pauses, saying "um, like...you know?" and wandering down rabbit trails that don't matter is helpful to leading well.

It actually helped me be more clear and I think I communicated better with our congregation, and that's always a good thing. Turns out those worship leaders who recommend the practice know what they're talking about.  There's a difference between winging it and letting the Holy Spirit lead :)

Here is the call to worship I shared with our congregation at the beginning of the service and the songs that we sang together. And I might have added a few more Amen?'s and left the page a few times, cause I just can't help myself, but this is basically it  It still encourages me today when I read it - truth is like that I think.  It always leads to hope when spoken in love.

He is Risen!

And that is why we are celebrating this morning.  Resurrection Sunday is what makes Good Friday good.  We serve a risen Savior.  And it’s right to remind one another of that because even today, many of us know people, or perhaps we are personally in the middle of  Friday night – life has just not turned out as planned and it’s hard.

We come together today to share our burdens with one another and remind each other of the Hope we have in Jesus because of this truth:  WE know the ending – because HE is Risen.

On the cross when He said “It is Finished” Jesus put everything that would try and exalt itself above God on notice.  Sin, Death and Brokenness do not get the last word.  

It. Is. Finished.  

Lets encourage one another as we sing and rejoice together through our worship service this Resurrection Sunday.

Let’s pray together:

God we thank you for the sacrifice of your son and for the eternal freedom it bought for us.  I pray our hearts will sense that victory and know that even in our darkest moments, you are with us, you are holding us up and that you have the last word.  You are worthy of all praise.  Thank you Jesus that because of your love you willingly paid for our sin with your very life.  We give you all that we are in return.  Thank you Jesus.  Amen.

He is Risen!

If you happen to listen to all of these songs - imagine a really great acoustic version of each one - that's what we pulled off this weekend :) We rocked the djembe and acoustic guitar like nobody's business, because that's what you do with plan j..k...lmnop :)

Joyful/ The One Who Saves by Brenton Brown

Call to Worship

Up From the Grave He Arose by Robert Lowry
Alive in Us by Reuben Morgan & Jason Ingram
Jesus Our Redeemer by Chad Langerud (our worship pastor!, such a great guy and an even greater song)
Hosanna by Brooke Fraser
Cornerstone by Edward Mote, Eric Liljero, Jonas Myrin, & Reuben Morgan

Special Music:
Victor's Crown.  This song took my breath away the moment I heard it and it took an incredible amount of practice and listening to be able to get through it - such a powerful song!

How Deep the Father's Love for Us by Stuart Townsend

And that was Easter 2013.  God was there, like he always is. More than ever it was apparent that in our weakness He is strong.

Thanks to my friends who prayed like never before when everything seemed to be falling apart!  Thanks to God for choosing to take away the brutal cold that hit me on Friday - everyone else in the house had had it, so I know how it was "supposed" to go, but thanks to my lovely, faithful prayer warriors and God's grace I woke up on Saturday absolutely healed so that I could pour everything I had into serving at church on Sunday.

If anyone from our team last weekend or the worship choir happens to read this.  Thank you!  You were amazing, I was absolutely blessed by your sacrifice, service and talent this weekend.  It is such an amazing privilege to serve God alongside you!

It was a great Easter weekend! How was yours?