Wednesday, October 8, 2014

"I don't know HOW YOU DO IT"

I get that a lot. 
Or, people who want to come observe what in the world goes on in our house.
I remember the first time I saw a large family, scratching my head and thinking...
"how does that work?"
So, I get it. I just never thought I would be the one on the other side now. 

Since our daily life is not a glamorous show to watch, I thought I would just share a couple things on my blog for whoever is interested.  Maybe it will help the new mom who is struggling to believe that she will actually survive having young children.
I have shared before that Tim and  I did not have a plan to have a lot of children. It has been a walk by faith (and still is). Just like the verse says... this road has been "difficult". The road that leads to life is truly narrow... and lonely!
“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the NARROW gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.  But the gateway to LIFE is very NARROW and the road is DIFFICULT, and only a few ever find it."
Matt 7:13,14

Our road has been narrow and difficult. We have wanted to turn back many times. The childhood illnesses have been the hardest part so far. Good grief. Everthing with a large family is greater... the joy, the reward, the VIRUSES. 

The broad road sure seems a lot easier to travel and I am sure it is.  
But, I am so thankful to be one of the few that have found the narrow road. Because it truly does lead to life. 

"You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, 
with eternal pleasures at your right hand."
Ps 16:11

"The path of life leads upward"
Prov 15:24

The path of life truly does lead upward... it is steep. Not an easy climb but SO WORTH IT.
They just had the iron man contest here in Chattanooga. Like 3000 tough people participated in the race. They had trained. They were fun to watch. They were doing what they loved to do. Eyes on the prize. Ready and focused. 
Later, it is discovered that someone has sabotaged their race by putting oil and tacks down during the biking portion of the race. I was talking to Tim about it. "Who would do that? and why???? but isn't that just like the Christian race. We have an enemy who is mean and simply wants us to fall and FAIL. He is bent on revenge and booby traps our paths when we aren't prepared."
I wish there was no enemy. But there is and if you step out to train your children in the ways of the Lord, you will quickly find out that your race will have unexpected tacks and oil slicks. But, take heart! Greater is He who is in you...
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith."
Heb 12:1,2

Ok, so how do I do it? 
First of all, NOT perfectly and you will do things differently than me.
Seek the Lord for His vision for parenting and raising children. But, I will share with you things I have learned along the way. I am very grateful for mothers who passed things along to me. Especially in the early days. We NEED each other.

1. I have an UNUSUALLY helpful husband. He enjoys serving his family. He enjoys being with us. He finds purpose and significance discipling the children. He was pre-wired for fatherhood. He helps with cooking and grocery shopping. He is "head of logistics" which means he is in charge of keeping up with our sports schedule and finding uniforms and bats and helmets. That stuff really overwhelms me. I gave birth to my brain a few babies ago.

2. We have no family here. It's just a sad reality I have had to learn to deal with. Tim and I have to function as a team. I hope you have a family support system. But if you don't, pray for God to send help.
After both my parents were diagnosed with cancer and baby #6 projectile vomited so much he was "failing to thrive", I started looking for someone to help with the kids. I prayed and God provided. Brooke started coming a couple mornings a week over the summer. Now that life has calmed down, she comes maybe 4 hours a week for a date night. She is a gift from God that I don't take for granted. She loves the children and they love her. She is AWESOME. She helped me when I was drowning.
I have never seen somebody be able to step up to the "crazy plate" like she did. She jumped right in and started getting puked on like it was nothing.

3. Cindy, my BFF :) and house helper, comes about 5 hours a week to help me with laundry and straightening my house. She has worked for me since Hope was a baby. She has become a very dear friend and if someone was going to write a tell-all book about me, it would be her. She has become part of our family. 

4. The stress in my life during the last year has been OUT THE ROOF. So, about 2 months ago, I started working out regularly in the mornings. I cannot tell you how that is helping me with stress and helping me think clearly. I did my first Barre class yesterday and loved it. Being a stay-at-home mom can get a little drab so make sure you include exercise somehow. It has made a huge difference in my life physically and emotionally. I am very thankful for that time in the mornings. I roll out of bed and go. I make my tired body do it. It takes a while to look forward to it but you will.
I am a year out from my last baby. I couldn't get into a routine of exercise for a year. If you have a little  baby, just know that you will sleep again and have the energy to work out again.
Just be patient and try to go on walks when you can. 
Work on getting sleep first. 
Rhett's newborn stage almost did me in. I didn't know if I was going to make it.
I was so tired. I nursed him all the time just to watch him throw it up and didn't sleep through the night for months. 
I praise God for sleep and the energy to work out again. That was rough. The stresses of a stay-at-home mom can be oppressive and heavy. 
If that's where you are, hang in there. The sun will come out again. Don't worry about your love handles yet.
I do want to be attractive for Tim. I want to be healthy and strong to take care of the children. Prov 31 woman was tough.
I have to take care of my temple. It still has A LOT of work to do.
She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.

5. I go to Costco about once a week. I buy avacados, apples, rotisserie chicken, mahi-mahi patties (we eat a TON of those... stops my boys hunger pains for 5 minutes), milk, eggs, yogurt, etc... We eat hot sub sandwiches a lot (roast beef or turkey with provolone). Finding something that is quick, healthy, and that they all like is complicated. Boys need  protein or they are constantly starving. Especially if they are playing sports. I have to try and stay ahead of them or they will just want to eat cereal all the time. Tim comes home everyday for lunch too. We go through a lot of food. Thankful we can afford it (so far). We don't go out to eat much. Too expensive. I do get bean burritos at Taco Bell. Surely they have some sort of nutritional value and they are cheap. Food is definitely the way to my boys hearts.
Guys are simple. One of their simple needs is good food. Praise God Tim likes to cook! 

6. ABEKA DVDs. Jennie and I both use these. Oh my goodness... WHAT A BLESSING. I could not homeschool without them. It takes a while to get used to but once you get the hang of it, your children will thrive. The Bible teaching is EXCELLENT. Solid truth. Hymns & 
old-school-wonderfulness.  The academics are excellent too. Reece and Evan are in the same grade so they are on track to graduate together.
We take it one year at a time. The kids may eventually go to school but as long as the Lord continues to lead in this direction and they are thriving, we will continue on. 

7. Put marriage first. I tell Tim that this must be a taste of what it feels like being a pastor over a Church. The needs of the sheep can suck you dry unless you make provisions for rest and investing into your marriage. Since we don't have family and we can't spend 1 million dollars to go on a date, once a week... we make the most of it. Just sitting in the back yard looking at the moon and talking. Studying your husband and listening to his heart (although my husband tells me he isn't very complex). Guys truly are simple. They need to be respected and encouraged. They need affection and attention.
We have to keep this priority.
I am SO excited about where we are in our marriage. I think the we are entering into the best years yet. 
I have a huge crush on Tim. We came first. The children came second.
Their lives are a fruit of our love. That is the way it has to stay.

Having children can become an idol quickly. Its funny the things that can become idols. 
There are ditches everywhere. It is about the heart. Have your kids become an idol? Has having another baby become an idol? Has NOT having another baby become an idol? We have to continually go back and search our hearts and ask God to give us clean hands.
Is your husband withering spiritually? Set aside time to pray for him. How can you nag him if you aren't praying for him. Do you want him to be spiritual for your benefit or for his?
Put his needs above your own. Desire to see him become a man among men. 
Courageous enough to not fall into the traps and temptations the enemy throws at him everyday.
Ask if he would be willing to pray with you before he goes to work or to memorize a verse with you... or a passage.  God is raising up men. I truly believe he is pouring out His Spirit on fathers to give them a heart for their children.
"And he will turn
The hearts of the fathers to the children,
And the hearts of the children to their fathers"

Mal 4:6

You don't want to lead him. You want him to lead you. Pray for him. Be his biggest cheerleader. 
If there are wounds in your marriage, ask God to heal them.
Sometimes wounds canNOT be healed apart from God's touch. There is no medicine.
“Your injury is incurable—
a terrible wound.
 There is no one to help you
or to bind up your injury.
No medicine can heal you...
I will heal your wounds,” 
says the LORD.
Jer 30:12,13,17

If you have wounded your husband, ask God to heal those.
He is merciful. He is PRO-marriage and PRO-life.
God can breathe His life back into your marriage.

"Marriage is God's idea. He "crafted" it. If your marriage is broken, all the "repairmen" or counselors you take it to will be unable to fix it. Take it to the Creator Who made it in the first place. He can make it work again."
Anne Graham Lotz


Those are some practical things that happen around here. Homeschool simplifies our lives a lot. It gives us freedom. The boys get all their work done during the day so we aren't up late at night doing homework. They are excellent little students and are scoring high on their standardized tests. I am very thankful.
HOMESCHOOL is not the ticket to godly children.
Teaching your children the Word is.
Praying the Holy Spirit calls them each by name is.
Standing in the gap for them is.
Modeling a life lived out for Christ is.

I have no idea what I am doing. I just know that God has asked me to teach them the Word and how to serve Him. 
Some of my favorite verses for teaching them are...

"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."
Matt 6:33

I have seen the truth of this verse over and over. If you seek first the Kingdom, God will ADD everything your children need. Until my oldest 2 were in 4th grade, I taught them almost everything from the Word of God. It was a total walk of faith. God continues to ADD the things they need. He has been their "Rabbi"/ their teacher.

"Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like Him."
Col 3:10

"renewed" means: to cause to grow up
I want the children to be renewed and to learn to know their Creator and become like Him.
That can't happen apart from the Word.

As I have stated before, you don't have to homeschool to teach your kids the Word. It just gives you more time in the day to do it. 

"I am teaching you today—yes, you—
so you will trust in the LORD."
Prov 22:19

That is the verse I tell them when we study the Bible together. 
I tickle each of them when I say, "YES, YOU!". That is why I am teaching them. Not so that they can get scholarships to Harvard but so that they will trust in the Lord.

I believe that God has given us understanding so that we can KNOW CHRIST.
"We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true."
1 John 5:20

My goal for them is to know Christ through understanding. Obviously that is a work of the Holy Spirit but He has given us His Word to teach them. We plant the seeds and ask God to water them. And, if God's plan is for them to get a scholarship to Harvard, then they will trust in the Lord and go!

People always say, "I don't know how you do it!". I don't know how you school-mommas do it! You have way more things to remember than I do and you have to get up and out everyday. That seems much harder than homeschool. But, they both have their difficulties. 
Being home all day is hard. The walls start to close in on my at times. That is one reason we HAVE to do sports. I am to extroverted to be in my house 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week. The kids need fresh air and friends and so do I. We lean heavy on sports. Group sports have pulled character out of the children that I never could have at home. They have had to learn how to work as a team, persevere (especially in football), work hard, and listen to coaches. 
I am competitive so I enjoy the games. Especially baseball since I grew up playing softball. 
Its hard having little kids at the games (NO DOUBT ABOUT THAT). Especially toddlers. 

Here's the thing. I think God made me fairly laid back so I wouldn't go completely nuts with the unavoidable disorder and chaos of a big family.  Either Tim and I have slowly adjusted to the chaos over time like frogs in boiling water or God just helps us deal with it. We both do need as much order as possible though.
God is not a God of disorder but of peace. I always thought it was interesting the opposite of disorder in the verse is PEACE. That is why when you clean your house, it makes you feel peaceful. Ahhhhh... order.

It took me a YEAR to find my rhythm after having Rhett. I use that word "rhythm" lightly. His tummy made his sleeping and eating schedule crazy. It was a free-for-all. I am thankful that the older kids have already forgotten what that was like. There was spit up everywhere and a tiny baby who ate all the time but was losing weight. That was when I spent a lot of time on my face... on the tile... in prayer... in my laundry room. That was not pretty. I should have gotten help sooner. This is a big job. One person can't do it all. Especially with no family support system. The Prov 31 woman had help. I think that is why she was able to do all she did! 
"She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants."

She wasn't sitting around eating bon-bons while the servants did all the work. She was working her tail off along with them!

"She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness."

Tim and I are both working all the time. Around the clock. My main job is to teach the children the Word. First thing that happens every morning is reading the Bible. We all read the same chapter and the kids write 5 verses in a notebook before they eat. That may seem legalistic but if you aren't disciplined, it won't happen. Does your quiet time happen with no effort? I want to teach the children to feed their "inner man" before their "outer man". Daily Bread and Living water comes before Captain Crunch. They have been doing it for so long now, its habit. I PRAY it is a pattern that continues their entire life. If they don't learn anything else growing up, I hope it is to read their Bible everyday and spend time with the Lord first thing in the morning. There are tons of examples from Scripture about the benefit of meeting with God early in the morning.

"Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed."
Mark 1:35

"The Sovereign LORD has given me his words of wisdom,
so that I know how to comfort the weary.
Morning by morning he wakens me
and opens my understanding to his will.
 The Sovereign LORD has spoken to me,
and I have listened.
I have not rebelled or turned away."
Is 50:4,5

  Everyday at 2:00 (little ones are napping) is Bible Time with Momma. That is when we memorize and review Scriptures. We pray together-which I think builds close bonds/relationships... I can tell when we aren't praying together. The children fight more. IT builds unity and oneness in our home. I have to be a drill sergeant about this time or it won't happen. There are a lot of other things that need to be done but I am determined to protect that time. It is the heartbeat. We can't skip it. Abiding in the vine is what produces fruit. Not fruit chasing/demanding. Allow God to produce fruit in your children's hearts by spending time with Him. It's a lot like tithing. You don't have the money, but you do it anyway and God gives you more money. You don't have time to sit down and spend time with your children in the Word but if you do it, God will stop the sun and give you more time in your day. I don't know how He does that but He does. Try it.

In the beginning, it was more of my conviction to homeschool and Tim just went along with it. I wanted to jump ship when my dad was dying and put them in school but he didn't want to. He loves the opportunities that it has given us and he is a definite believer now. Having a supportive husband is huge. Just like in natural childbirth. You are going to want to turn back but if your husband is telling you, "you can do this! don't give up!" then it changes everything. I am really thankful God has given Tim a passion for it. It didn't happen over night but it did happen. Just as God had to change my heart and change the way I think, God has to do it with husbands too. Be patient and pray. And continue to follow your husband's leadership.
Pray that God would give your husband the heart of THE Shepherd. One of the names of God is Jehovah Raah. I think back on how MUCH God has changed me and how much God has changed Tim over time. Giving us the desires of our hearts. 
There has been wrestling over different convictions and respecting each other's desires. There has been sacrifice and dying to self. There has been prayer that God would bring us TOGETHER in vision. 
I think it has strengthened our marriage to be alone. We have been forced to lean on the Lord and seek His face in a way we wouldn't have if we had family to lean on.
That is the redemptive part of not living near family, I guess.
We have made so many mistakes. Some costly ones that I hope our children don't make. We simply don't know what we are doing!
And you won't either. That is on purpose. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. He redeems our mistakes somehow, someway.
So, how do I "do it"? Not perfectly. By faith. By the Holy Spirit's power. Leaning HARD on grace. Being diligent.

One of my favorite prayers for my children is found in Col 1...
"we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience"

My 3 little ones will have a totally different childhood than my 3 older ones. Their life is not nearly as structured. BUT, I am trusting that the time I used with the older ones will profit the younger ones. I know it will and is! The older ones help me disciple the younger ones and their example is a BLESSING.
I have no idea how any of this is going to work out. I am not naturally gifted to be a homeschool mom but God's Word is in my heart like a fire and I love teaching them. It brings me such joy. I don't know how long we will all be able to be together at home but I cherish every single day. My arrows will shoot out into the world one day, and I hope they soar. Until then, being home together is a gift.

I just rambled for a long time. I hope that some young mom is encouraged that you CAN do this through Christ. Not in your own strength. Your own strength won't get you past breakfast. My greatest strength has been my weakness. Power in mothering is found on your face... on the cold tile... in the laundry room. OR.. like me the other morning when I got on my face on my rug and there was dried shredded cheese all over the carpet that Crew must have dropped the night before. I put my face in the cheese and found strength.
In your weakness, He is strong.
You can't do this, but He can.

“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me...
For when I am weak, then I am strong."
2 Cor 12:9,10

Be blessed~


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing your heart. This has encouraged me so much as a mom of three! Are you planning to do a conference bible study again any time soon?

Anonymous said...

Such wisdom in these words... thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I haven't been blessed with children, but there are still lessons in this blog post for me. I wrote down these 4 words that I'm going to memorize...respect, encourage, affection, attention and I'm going to "test myself" to examine if I'm showing each of these to my husband on a daily basis. Also, I've always spent my quiet time with God late in the evening before I go to bed. But, after reading the verses you posted, I will try it first thing in the morning. Thanks for taking time out of your busy day to encourage those around you!