September 23, 2011

What a Week!

Wow!  What a week it's been.  It's been one of those weeks where I feel like I have been running around like crazy, nothings gotten done, and the house is mess.  Except, see, I can't seem to think what in the world had me feeling so busy this week.  I look back on the week and can't think of anything that happened this week that doesn't normally happen in a week.  What had me so crazy?  What had me running around doing everything but whatever it was I felt like needed to be done?  I still sit here without any answers!

But, with this feeling overwhelming me already on Monday, I sat down and read one of my favorite blogs.  You can read it here: http://www.aholyexperience.com/2011/09/when-longing-to-choose-joy/.   As I wrote on Monday this blog was about a woman I had learned about this summer and it moved me to tears.  I have spent the week using any spare moment I had trying to find out how Sara was doing and if she had passed away, yet.  I found no news on that, but read some of the most moving blogs I had ever read.  I was moved to tears by every one of them!  (Here are a few that you can read: http://www.jenniclayville.com/choose-joy-sara-frankl/; http://www.themomcreative.com/2011/09/choose-joy-celebrating-sara.html; http://www.jesusneedsnewpr.net/oh-how-my-heart-aches-a-blog-post/; http://dirtygirlsministries.com/blog/?p=5155; http://www.allthingsheartandhome.com/2011/09/15/its-not-good-bye-its-until-then/; http://lysaterkeurst.com/2011/09/my-last-text-to-sara/)  There are many more posts that you can read, but these were among my favorite. I have never met this woman and I've only read a handful of her blogs, but I feel as though we've been friends for years.  I feel an aching in my heart for the world's loss of a woman who could be so joyful and so God-focused in the midst of what I (and most other humans) would consider a miserable existence.  My heart aches that I never got to meet her, shake her hand, or soak up her joy.  My heart aches that, in my overly blessed and unencumbered existence, I cannot find even a fraction of the joy this woman lived with everyday.  After reading these posts, it put a whole new spin on my week.  I looked at everything with different eyes.  Don't get me wrong, the laundry still piled up, the dishes in the sink were dirty, and there were still school lessons that didn't get done and messes that were made.  But, oh, how those went from being aggravations to joys-joys because I had children to clean up after and to teach, I had dishes on which to eat plenty of food in the refrigerator, I had a washer and dryer for my clothes, and I had a husband to lay next to each night.  Oh, what a joy this blessed existence is that I have been gifted by my amazing Heavenly Father.  Oh, Lord, let me not forget.  Lord, don't let it take moments every few months to remind me to live with joy.  Remind me that joy comes from You and You alone, not from what's happening to me or around me.  Lord, when all is said and done, when people talk about me, let it be like it is with Sara, that all memories and words are filled with You!

Just a few of the joys in the McSmith house this week:
-birthday parties for miracle 3 year olds where the best and most important gift is a Bible
-fall weather
-beautiful reminders of God's hand changing times and seasons
-the reminder to be like the tax collector and not like the Pharisee (humble and admitting I am a sinner rather than trying to make myself look better when God knows the truth anyway!)
-Christmas music
-sign language
-smiling children on beautiful fall days
-a husband who cleans the kitchen
-soul cleansing tears
-laughter with my hubby
-deep, gut wrenching music
-the cross






September 19, 2011

Tears

I am sitting here in tears after reading this latest blog post by Ann Voskamp over on her site: www.aholyexperience.com.  It is about a young lady, Sarah Frankl, who was diagnosed several years ago with a severe disease that has caused her to be home bound 100% of the time for the last 3 years of her life.  About 3 months ago or so I randomly ran across her blog (http://gitzengirl.blogspot.com/) and was overwhelmed!  You really need to go there read about the life the Lord led her into and the faith, trust, and joy He wove into every part of her life because if this disease.  Lord, open my eyes to all you do in my life!  Lord, help me to see how You alone can use every struggle, trying time, everything that lacks sense or joy to mold me more into Your image, if only I will let go and allow You to do the work in my life that only You can do.  Lord, remove my blinders.  Remove the selfishness in me that makes me look at every situation based on the good and bad for me rather than looking at it based on how mightily You can move in the situation.  You know all, see all, control all, heal all, refresh all, mold all, change all, and make all things new.  Help me to get out of the way and allow You to work.

September 15, 2011

Another Week Has Flown By

Seriously, where does the time go?  And how does it go from like 100 degrees to 60 in a matter of 24 hours?  Ok, maybe it didn't happen that quickly, but it sure seemed like it!  Though, I have to admit, I love the fall weather.  I love watching the leaves change.  It serves as such a beautiful reminder of the sheer awesomeness (is that word?) of God's design in creation.  It also serves as an amazing reminder that God, and God alone, changes times and season!  He makes all things beautiful in His time!

I think that last part is the hardest: in His time!  Those who know me know that if there is one thing I am not, it's patient (which really helps with the whole homeschooling, thing!  Not!).  I just want things to go according to my plan and my schedule...I mean, that's why we have plans and schedules, right?  Ha!  Very much learning that, though God is a God of order and control, it's His order and His control that are most important and always perfect...NOT MINE!  Every day seems like a new lesson!

This home school adventure has been just that, an adventure!  It is sooooo many things all wrapped into one: fun, crazy, frustrating, rewarding, annoying, a joy, and so many other things.  But, I truly do cherish all the time that it has given me with both kiddos.  And I love being able to show her God in each subject (the book of Numbers is proof that God is even in math, right?  ;) ).  Most of all, I have loved getting see her learn her scriptures.  Not sure that she's really taking them to heart, yet, but Kevin and I pray every day that one day God will bring it all together in her heart!

It's also been so fun having Ethan around while we do school.  I won't lie, there are days he's more of a distraction than anything, but it really is a blessing having him there.  It is so fun listening to him repeat everything he hears us say, all while playing and never even looking in our direction!  Of course, that's pretty scary, too, knowing he's listening even when we have no idea he is!  Sure makes us think twice about what we say!!!!

Another exciting part of homeschooling for me has been watching Kevin teach Bible.  We bought a book for this year, Telling God's Story: Year One Meeting Jesus.  It is walking us through the parables, Jesus' miracles, and many other moments of Jesus' life here on earth so we can learn who He truly is.  On Monday, Kevin reads us the Bible story and then explains it and shows us how it still affects our life today.  He does such a great job at this!  I love watching his interactions with Sophie as he is explaining God's word to her!  Then, the other days of the week Kevin does a brief review of what we learned and I lead them in an activity that will help us remember what we've learned.  Ethan is still a bit young for several of the activities, but he hangs in there anyway, most of the time.

Overall, I am reminded more and more how blessed I am and how much love God lavishes on me and my family every day!  Here are some pics of just a few of the amazing gifts God has given the McSmith family:









September 10, 2011

Lots of thoughts rolling around this head!

Lots of things on my mind, show I'll just share them as they come to me:

I am really enjoying that now, on Facebook, it will show you what your status updates were a year and two years ago.  If not, I would have totally forgotten what was happening a year ago and would have missed out on a great praise of our amazing God, the one who heals!  It was a year ago this week that, while Ethan and I were visiting the Alpaca farm, Sophie had a seizure and Kevin had to rush her to the ER.  So many blessings in that horrible week.  First, that I was not there when it happened because I would have freaked out and made everything worse!  Second, that it turned out to be a one time event and that by the end of the week, she was totally fine!  Lord, you are amazing!  You alone are the healer of all, most importantly our souls. 

As I have been reading through the Bible this year in chronological order, it has been both enlightening and frustrating.  I hate to admit it, but there's quite a bit of the Bible that I've just never paid much attention to.   It's full of names that are hard to read, things that seem to have little impact on anything in life, and is just plain boring!  So glad that in the last week or so God has used those very verses and chapters to open my eyes a bit!  Right now I am in 1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Chronicles.  It seems so monotonous and arduous that at times, I have to admit, I dread reading it that day.  I just couldn't grasp what in the world God was trying to show us in these seemingly unimportant verses.  But God really opened my eyes to two things this week.  One was that over and over we see with king after king (with a few exceptions) that they followed in the footsteps of their parents.  They committed the same sins as their parents time after time after time after time.  And in doing that, they brought entire nations down with them as they led them to sin, as well.  I was really convicted about what it is I am teaching my children to do.  Am I teaching them to spend time in the word, to desire and hunger and thirst after God, to lean on Him in times of trouble, fear and doubt, and to place their lives, wholeheartedly, in His hands?  Or, am I teaching them to rely in their own strength, call on others when they need help, and to focus more on self than anything else?  Am I teaching them to follow in my sins or to follow Christ?  It was a scary thought to me that what they are probably learning most from me is bad habits and lack of faith!  Oh, Lord, lead me in Your way that I may lead them to follow Your way even more enthusiastically and wholeheartedly than I!  The other thing that stuck out was that, even those who followed Christ, every time they didn't "remove the high places and the people continued to offer their sacrifices there."  Even though they were devoted to God, they  "didn't follow Him wholeheartedly."  Though they wanted to follow God and do what was right, they refused to get rid of the place where the people offered their sacrifices to other gods.  It seemed like such a small thing, I am sure, to not encourage others to go along with them, to not get rid of all objects of idol worship,but, in the end, it destroyed them.  And, most of the time, it destroyed the whole nation.  Wow!  Not only do I need to follow Christ and make Him master and Lord of my life, I have to make the effort and do the work to remove all remnants of sin from my life.  If not, it will destroy me and most likely those around me, as well.  Ouch!  I cannot do that without relying fully on Christ AT ALL TIMES!!!!

This week has also been one with lots of fun, great family moments, and great friend moments!  I am so blessed and so thankful for all that God has given us and done for us, though I am sure I still probably only realize a small fraction of it!  So many gifts....
--cooler weather and the reminder of who controls it all
--healthy children
--time spent around a fire pit with sweet friends
--God is moving!!!
--sweet, smiling faces on sweet children
--Family Quest
--teaching my little girl each day, starting with time in His word
--playing on the floor with Ethan while Sissy is working on worksheets
--watching brother and sister play together
--children's laughter
--reminders that He alone is in control
--phones that work
--bicycles
--the park
--sweet, Godly friends
--Father's Heart Ministry
--the reminder of God's grace in the gap-toothed smile of his little creation
--family, near and far

September 04, 2011

A little of this, a little of that...and lots of gifts in between

Well, August is over.  How is that even possible?  Time has really flown by this year!!  Of course, I am pretty sure I say that every year...every month...every week...every day!

We've finished just a little over three weeks of school and logged a little over 100 hours.  Most days have gone pretty well, but we've had a few rough spots.  Every now and then Ethan decides that he need to have whatever it is Sophie is trying to do and Sophie decides she needs to do whatever it is Ethan is doing.  It's in those moments I try and take a deep breath, set the timer for 5 minutes, and let them fun free until the timer the goes off!  Overall, though, it's been a great experience and I am so glad that we were obedient, despite some doubt on our part (ok, mostly my part).  I will admit, it has greatly increased my prayer life, for me, my kids, and for all those working so hard to serve Christ in the public school system.  In those rough moments when there is no obedience, I thank God I only have one and pray for those who have a whole classroom of that everyday!  God has truly gifted you and called you to a very difficult task!  I'll be praying for you!

Sophie did her first Venn diagram this week.  We started reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and we are comparing the book to the movie.  She is really enjoying that.  Pretty sure it's her favorite movie and she can hardly let me get the sentences out before pointing out how the book doesn't match the movie on a certain point.  I am amazed at how smart she is and how much smarter she gets every day.  I know it's not from her teacher, but just the way God is molding and shaping her. 

Last week we started giving her the Tab each morning so she could listen to one chapter of the Bible each day.  She wants to do that before she does anything else in the morning, though it may have more to do with getting to use the Tab than reading the Bible, but I am clinging to the truth that God's word will not return void!  She gets 5 or so minutes each morning, in her room alone, and listens to a chapter (we started her in John), then she comes out and we talk about what she "read".  Can't wait until she can read well enough to read it on her own. 

I am also amazed at all that Ethan has started doing in the last 2 or 3 weeks.  His speech is now so clear and you can just see the wheels turning in that little head.  He can count to 10 and do his ABC's to "G" (when he feels like it, of course).  He has enjoyed learning sign language, though again, he'll only do it when he feels like it.  "Red" is his fave sign so far.  He's doing really well learning shapes.  I can't help but laugh, though, because any time he sees a shape he doesn't know, he just says it's an octagon.  Why he chose that of all shapes, I don't know, but it's cute!  It's also so cute that he'll sit at the table with us doing school and repeat everything I say to Sophie, or repeat all the letters as she is spelling a word or something.  I hope they both always enjoy learning as much as they seem to now!

That's already a pretty long list of gifts, but I'll share a few more from the last week:

--days spent as a family
--evenings with nothing on the calendar
--trips to the lake with sweet friends
--time to step away when I'm frustrated
--Redbox
--popcorn
--watching Sophie as she listens to the Bible
--sweet smiles from Ethan when he wakes up in the morning
--watching God provide for dear friends as they continue to place their trust in Him
--seeing God's hand move in so many areas at our church
--reading books snuggled up on the couch with the kiddos
--trips to the library
--a car full of children
--having hope in eternal life when things on earth don't go as we expect
--rain
--the beauty if lightning
--Veggie Tales
--Brother and Sister playing and fighting together