Monday, April 25, 2011

"I will never..."

Have you ever said it or thought it?  "I will never ______!"  You fill in the blank.  I made a lot of these statements during my teenage years.  Some of them I truly have never done.  Others?  Well, some were just kind of silly.  With some, life took me in other directions.  And for some of my "I will never" statements, I believe God had other plans.

During my high school years, I spent quite a bit of time thinking about what job I would be happy doing.  "I know one thing for sure, I will never be a teacher!"  I made this statement with certainty.  I knew I didn't enjoy teaching, I was sure I wasn't good at it.  As I prepared for college, I was planning to get a degree in Psychology.  That was the goal until one day I felt God calling me to be an elementary school teacher.  "Are you kidding me, God?  I said I would never be a teacher!  I'm not good at teaching!"  But thankfully, despite my doubt and hesitation, I said yes.  I spent the first 2 1/2 years of my time in college learning about things related to education and how to teach.

I spent countless hours volunteering in classrooms.  And I hated it!  I am terrible with classroom management.  But I stuck with it, thinking it was God's plan for me.  Until one day I felt God saying, "Okay, that is good enough.  You don't have to teach.  You can change your major."  I was so relieved and so confused!  I tried to understand God's purpose in having me spend all that time learning how to teach.  Was God just testing me to see if I would say yes to him no matter what he asked?  I compared it in my mind to the Bible story of God telling Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac.  Abraham was obedient to God and was prepared to do what God asked, but thankfully God told Abraham to stop and not lay a hand on his son.  Had I been similarly released from a task I dreaded doing?

Maybe, but as time has passed I can see that perhaps God had a bigger plan.  After graduating with a degree in Sociology, I spent 3 years teaching in a prison.  I didn't see that one coming.  As a parent, I think my role as "teacher" is one of the most important things I do.  Kids need to be taught everything!  This has really surprised me a few times.  Of course I need to teach my kids how to tie their shoes, ride a bike, and be polite.  But who would have guessed I would need to teach them why you shouldn't eat mud (or a million other things that are too gross to mention).  And most importantly, I get to teach them about Jesus!

When my son was born, I had a rough time adjusting to having two kids.  He was not an easy baby and perhaps an even more challenging toddler.  My daughter was not too happy about sharing mom and dad.  And in the midst of it, I experienced severe depression.  Here is a picture of one of our good days during those tough months.

I dreamed about the day when I would send my kids to school.  I was quite surprised when I started hearing God gently guide me toward homeschooling my kids!  "No way, I will never homeschool!  I can't teach.  My kids will be weird.  I don't want to give up my time."  I'm sure the list went on and on.

But I am so glad that I said yes to the adventure of teaching my kids at home.  I love it!  I feel very blessed to be the one to teach my kids and spend lots of quality time with them.  We have so much fun learning about the Bible, about science and history, about math and reading.  It is messy and sometimes exhausting, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

These days, I think a little more carefully before stating "I will never ________."  I picture God watching me with a kind smile and laughter in his eyes.  Who knows what the future will bring.  I just hope I will never say no to God's plans for my life.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I can't believe it!

April has been a busier than usual month for us.  That isn't saying much really, as we tend to live a pretty low key life.  My daughter somehow ended up with 4 birthday celebrations in the past 3 weeks.  The first was a party with Grammie (Joel's mom) when she came to visit.

The second was a quick celebration with Anna's friends at her charter school.  The third was a party with my brothers, their families, and Grandma (my mom, who also came for a visit this month).

And finally she had a birthday party with a few of her closest friends.

She had 4 fun parties,  but I am now rather tired of celebrating birthdays.  Hopefully I find renewed energy in time for my son's birthday in July.

It was wonderful to have both Grammie and Grandma visit this month.  Anna and Arik loved the attention and time with their grandmas.  And Joel and I had the amazing privilege of going on 3 dates in one month!  Thank you Grammie and Grandma for babysitting!  We usually manage about 2 dates a year; so I guess this means we won't get our next date for another year and a half...  I sure hope that isn't the case. 

It was such a blessing to spend uninterrupted quality time with my handsome husband.  We enjoyed bowling one evening, went shopping for chicken coop supplies at Home Depot for another date (sounds fun, right?), and today we hiked 6 miles (which I must say is much faster without kids).  I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my time with Joel.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sweet Peas

The kids and I planted Sweet Pea seeds today.  Do you ever stop to think about all of God's amazing creations?  Large and small, when I pause and consider the works of God, I am always in awe.  About 20 years ago, I had my first experience with Sweet Peas.  So fascinated by their simple beauty, I remember that brief encounter with nature to this day.  Just some flowers planted along a friend's fence.

Consider the power of the ocean, the energy of the sun, the billions of twinkling stars, the intricacy and uniqueness of each person on earth.  I worship an awesome creator, the God of unfathomable glory!  Do you know Him?  He'd love to spend time with you today!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

On the home front

Last summer we moved out of the city to a smaller, farmish (that is a word, right?) sort of town.  Our goal was to find a place where our kids could have room to run and to dig in the dirt.... to have space to plant a vegetable garden and raise chickens.  We realized we were unwittingly raising city kids who were afraid to get dirty or leave the well-worn path.  My husband Joel and I both grew up near a very small town in Oregon.  We both lived in forested areas with no other houses visible from our own.  When I wasn't reading, I spent my time building forts out of hay bales, building dams in the creek, running through the forest, playing with the pigs...  It was a good way to grow up!

So here we are on our mini-farm:  our 1/2 acre Petracci Plantation.  We planted our first small vegetable garden last fall.  We are still enjoying the fruits (um, vegetables) of our labor.  During the fall and winter (we live in Southern California) we were able to eat lots of beets, carrots, lettuce, peas, cilantro, and parsley from our own garden.  We have now made our garden about 3 times larger and are digging, hoeing, and adding compost to try and prepare the soil for our spring planting.  Maybe some day we will be blessed by the use of a rototiller?!  I'm dreaming of tomatoes, beans, peas, corn, squash, watermelon, cantaloupe, zucchini, cucumbers, sunflowers, herbs, and more!  I need to scale back my plans to match the actual area we've managed to prepare!  Turning desert soil into a fertile garden plot is hard work.

Two weekends ago, we chose 4 chicks!  They are very cute and are growing quickly.  They should start laying eggs in about 4 or 5 months.  Now we just need to build their chicken coop before they outgrow their tiny home in a container in our garage.

Shauna, the novice farmer in training.  I keep wondering how I managed to grow up on the edge of a farm, with 2 sets of gardening and farming grandparents, and have absolutely no experience with gardening or raising chickens.  I am determined to learn how to grow and raise food for my own family and to help my kids learn these valuable skills.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

In my heart and on my mind

Why do I feel as if there is a ton of stuff on my heart, but no words to express it coming from my brain?  Why do I get caught up in the little things in life when I know that none of it matters?  How do I teach my kids to do without wants in order to meet the needs of others?

How do I find balance when living in this culture?  I feel like I am always saying no to buying things or participating in activities because of the cost.  And then I feel silly for even worrying about it because I am so very blessed with everything I need and spoiled with so many things I don't need.

I start to feel like I'm doing without because I can't afford to purchase x, y, or z.  But my goodness, I have a home and a bed to sleep in!  I have clothes to wear!  I have food to eat and safe water to drink!  I have a family to love and be loved by!  I can be so very, very shallow.  I change my thinking and go back to being immensely thankful... and then a while later I'm thinking about me and my wants again.  Ugh!  "It is not about me!"  I yell to myself.

How do I teach myself to do without wants in order to meet the needs of others?  How do I make that lesson stick in my mind and in my heart?  Why do I find myself trusting more in the paycheck that comes twice a month than in my amazing God who provides everything I need?  Why do I beat myself over the head, getting nowhere, when all I want to do is serve God?  He is the God of grace, the God of love.

Dear Jesus, Please help me daily to get my eyes off of me and focus on you.  Please help me to see the world as you see it; to see those around me as you see them.  Break my heart for what breaks yours.  And when it is broken, please pick me back up, strengthen me, and direct me to do your will.  Amen.