Friday, August 5, 2011

One of those days

Have you ever had "one of those days"?  The ones that make your hair pop out like Cruella DeVille?   The ones that as events unfold you find yourself asking "really"?  Yesterday was one of those for me.  I must  say that most of my life is fairly stress free compared to the average person and I have chosen it to be so.  You see, years ago I was under a significant amount of stress.  Probably not more than the average mother of two young children, with a third on the way, all the while trying to renovate a house with a husband that traveled for extended periods of time with his job. I noticed, at the time, that I knew more mothers taking some sort of "mood inhibitor" prescription drug than I knew not taking them.  I happened to be friends with a doctor and one evening we were talking and I asked her about them and if she thought I needed them.  She shared the most wonderful advice with me (this type of thing is why she is such a wonderful doctor).  She said to me, "Kerri, you have to look at your life and see what are elective stressors and what are required stressors."  Then, she pointed out that required stressors are things you cannot change at the time, but the elective ones are choices we make...good or bad.  What makes it more difficult is that something that appears "good" can be bad for your family.  You know the phrase our parents often used when we asked if we could eat all of our Halloween candy at once..."Too much of a good thing can be bad!".  Let me interject here and say that on any holiday on which my children receive candy I have a strict 24 hour rule.  They are allowed to eat all they can in 24 hours because at that point it goes in the trash.  My dear mother-in-law knows about the said rule and because she is a super-star she now only brings my kids each a candy bar (maybe 2) and a pack of gum and sometimes clothes instead....isn't she awesome?   I know homeschooling mothers who load their kids up and leave their house daily to do honorable things like Meals On Wheels, volunteering at the animal shelter, etc.   Don't get me wrong, I believe that the Bible calls us to serve but we must look at what we are giving up in our life?   Another godly woman and I were talking a while back and she said that we needed to be careful looking at the lives of others and measuring ourselves against them.  That each of us are only given 24 hours and that if we are impressed with what they have done or get accomplished we must remind ourself that there is another part of their life that it "cost" them. You see despite how hard we try, each of us only gets 24 hours in a day.  And, it's our choice what we do with those 24 hours. If we are constantly on the run are we truly spending quality time with our children?  What are we accomplishing in that?  But, we tell ourself the lie that it is okay because we're doing it all "for a good cause".  

Last year I was talking with another homeschool mom whose kids are much older than mine.  I asked her about their participation in a particular extracurricular activity.  She shared this with me...."Our motto is 'Say no to the good and yes to the best!".  Again, it was another moment that I took to heart.  She went on to tell me that there are so many good things out there for our kids, but we had to choose the very best.  And, it's true, kids today play soccer, do ballet, participate in karate, and 4-H (this one is my weakness...there are SOOO many wonderful projects it is easy to be consumed by them...and before you know it you are away from your home 4 days a week for meetings).

So, six years after those words were spoken to me by my doctor friend, I still hold them dear to my heart.  It was a moment when God truly used another person to speak to me.  I will say that six years later, I have gotten pretty good at slowing down and being able to say "No".  There are weeks that go by that I never leave my house and I LOVE it!  And, as for you Mr. Yesterday, you tried hard to steal my joy but I hope it made you mad when I laughed in your face.  It was a day filled with required stressors.....things beyond my control.   However, I took each challenge and addressed it and at the end of the day, my heart was not heavy with anger or frustration.  I laid down on my pillow (exhausted) and slept like a babe...

Living life in slow motion,

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Time Management....or lack thereof

An acquaintance recently sent me a message that read... "How do you find the time for all your activities? I get so behind in some to accomplish others i get lost."  Also on that day, my dear friend sent me an email with the above quote and a one line note...."The question is 'What do I really want?'".  Both of these notes made me really think about where I am in life.  What I am successful at and what am I failing at?  The truth is that I see far more failures than I do successes.  It also reminded me of how blessed I am to be surrounded from so many godly, Christian women.  Another dear friend, that the children and I get to sew with several times a month, once spoke words to me that made all of these things make sense.  She told me that when I look at other women who seem to have it all know the ones whose house is always spotless, dinner is always at 6:00, children asleep by 9:00, car spotless...when I look at their "perfection" I am not seeing their "imperfections".  And, that for everything they manage to get accomplished there are things that they can't.  You see, we are all human and no matter how hard some of us try (and boy let me tell you that I try) you cannot squeeze 36 hours out of a 24 hour day.  

I am a homeschooling mother of three beautiful kids who happens to live in a zoo on a farm. What this means is that I have more dirt on my floors than the average Joe...more muddy clothes (from the kids seizing the first warm weather day to play Salon Spa in the mud), more dirty dishes from the heavy grazing that apparently takes place with children.  All those things would and could and sometimes do drive me to near insanity.  Just ask my kids about that one.  Sometimes my stress level is seen by my singing crazy songs (since I have told my kids our life is a musical...more on that at a later time) or sometimes just good, old fashioned yelling.  I am NOT perfect...far from it.  I am as real as it gets.  And, because my kids are home-schooled we share everything.  We get mad together, we laugh together, we learn together, we cry together, we hurt together...all because we are always together.  And to tell you the truth...I wouldn't have it any other way.  They are treasure the Lord has blessed me with.  Matter of fact, just today we talked heart to heart about how we never know how much time God gives us with our family and that precious time should be spent showing each other love instead of fighting over who and how the horses needed to be fed.  See if I were perfect than that conversation would not have been necessary and it certainly wouldn't have been because a certain young gentleman was tapping (or smacking) his older sister over the head because she was or was not ignoring him while trying to be "nice" and feed all the horses by herself instead of together like it's normally done....nope those kinds of things don't happen here.  Oh, and just in case you were wondering...dinner's most likely at 10:00 and the kids might be in bed by 11:00.  

So, back to time management.  My oldest is now in her 3rd year as a 4-Her.  The first year and most of the second was a little overwhelming.  I was living vicariously through her endeavors because I never got to do them.  We did Food Challenge, Archery, Shooting Sports, Plant ID/Range, Method Demonstration, Junior Master Gardener, Horse Judging, Dairy Judging and participated in the County Fair.  Wow...what was I thinking?  During that time, we were involved in homeschool co-ops and I am sure at this point I have left something out.  The point is that we were running, running, running all the time.  My husband, whose words were not kindly received at the time, pointed out...."Aren't you supposed to be HOME-schooling?".  Later, when I had a chance to chew on that I realized that he was right....go figure.  I love/hate that quality about him.  I had got myself so stirred up by others voices...the ones saying your child is going to be socially retarded because you homeschool.  My kids are incredibly social creatures and I attribute this to my personality (not so much my husband's...he's not much of a social butterfly) much more than I do to all the unnecessary running around that we did two years ago.  

So, last year, I decided what I "wanted" for my children and our lives and I am now making that happen.  You see, I want my kids to be grounded in what's really important in life.  I want them to have a real perception of what life is.  When there's a drought, we have less food in the garden, less grass for the cows.  I want them to put there bathing suits on and play in the sprinkler on the first day it reaches 74 after winter.  I want them to learn that there is more to life than chasing someone else's standard of success.  I want them to know that I am less than perfect and that they are less than perfect and that it is the Lord that attempts to refine and perfect us.  To me that is success...not the big fancy TV's, latest technological gadgets, shiny new vehicles or a big fancy house.  It is my daughter not speaking to her brother today (while being whacked on the head by a stick) because she knew if she said anything it would not be nice.  That is proof of the Lord working on her "perfection".  By the way, I can't believe all those times I yelled softly spoke to her "If you don't have something kind to say, don't say anything at all!"...she was in fact listening.  

As for the balance of my life.  If you think I have a perfectly clean house...think again.  If you think we always have supper at 6:00...think again.  And most certainly know, most often my kids tuck me in to bed at night.  I am only one person...a mother, a wife and a friend...and unfortunately I can't do it all.  So, I have resigned to just do the best I can.  My family "usually" has clean underwear...won't go there...nope not ever.  They do get to eat fairly healthy foods and we allow ourselves a few select extra-curricular activities that don't cause unnecessary stress and are purposefully contributing to their greater good.  So, if you ever plan on stopping by, please give me at least a days notice so that I can frantically clean my house and kids up so that you in fact will look at me and, how do you get it all done?
Actually, better yet, just pop on in and see what real life is like here....if you can stand it.  Then, we can both take off our "Super Woman" costume (which is most unattractive on me at this stage in life) and we can be a source of encouragement to one another as Titus 2 calls us to be...

"the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things-, that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed..."  Titus 2 3-5