June 27, 2013

Where Am I?

That's kind of how I feel at the moment.  I feel torn and pushed in so many directions, that I am not always sure just where I am.  My heart longs to be in one place with God, yet I constantly seem to be in another, not sure where I should go or what I should do.  How do I accomplish what my heart so much wants?  How do I become the wife, mother and person that I know God has called me to be?  How do I get from here to there?  Though I find myself "stuck" much of the time, not knowing what to do or where to go, I am thankful for those brief glimpses of proof that I am growing, moving, and "getting it" at times.  Beth Moore, Jen Hatmaker or Ann Voskamp I will never be, but that's OK because that is no who God has called me to be.  He has called me to be Heather McSmith, wife, mother, teacher, hard worker, and servant to as many people as I can while on this earth.  Do I have all the answers as to how I am supposed to serve, no, and I don't think that I ever will.  I must remain awake, open, and willing to do whatever He asks whenever He asks.  Here are just some random thoughts on the summer, so far:

--A month without TV was not as difficult for me (or the kids...Kevin was a different story) as I thought.  God allowed me to use that time to study His word, prepare lessons for our church to use in Family Quest, read with my children, and just enjoy uninterrupted time with my husband and children.  I don't think we'll ever go 100% no TV or anything, but we'll be cutting back and using that time to love on each other and others as best we can.

--I am so thankful that though friends may be far away, they are still friends.  I am thankful for Skype so I can see their faces and emails so we can send prayer requests and silly thoughts.  I am thankful for Facebook, which allows me to still feel like a part of their lives.  I am also thankful for all these things when friends who are near go on vacation!!!  I know it probably shouldn't be, but email and Facebook are a lifeline to me, even with friends who live just across town, in this crazy, child-rearing time of my life.  If I didn't have those, I seriously think I would end every day by sitting down and crying!

--I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to home school.  Now, hear me out, I don't think it's for everyone (though I will admit that I wish everyone could home school just for a semester--you'd understand your kids better and you'd be much more sympathetic to their teachers), but it is what God has called us to do at this time.  God has used this to teach me so much!  First, I never even came close to understanding how selfish I am until I started homeschooling.  If a project took too much work on my part, then I just didn't do it.  It didn't matter if it would help the kids learn, I didn't want to take the time.  Yeah, teaching isn't my gift!  Second, I have learned so much about my kids, how they learn, how they think, etc.  I have been able to see God's handiwork in such a different way by being their teacher. (I am sure all you teachers out there have known all these things for awhile.  You get to experience these joys times like 20 everyday!  Of course, you also experience the bad times 20, so I guess it evens out!) What joy it is to watch them read for the first time or figure out a math problem for the first time!  Third, I've learned that if I will just rely on God, I will be far more capable of things than I ever thought possible.  I mean, really, me digging into the Word and history and science and teaching it to someone else?  I never would have dreamed it was possible, so I know it was all from God!  Last, I learned a whole new level of love and respect for those teaching outside of the home.  You guys, seriously, they don't even earn a fraction of what they're worth!  Lesson plans, projects, grading papers, field trips, it's all overwhelming for just 2 students, I have no idea how you do it for 25-30.  And without parental help?  That's amazing!  Hats off to all of you who get up everyday and do all you can to be salt and light in the dark world of public education.  You are warriors on one of the most important battlefields and protecting the most important assets on the planet, and no one gets it.  I know without a shadow of a doubt, I could not do what you do!  (Thankfully, God has not asked me to!)

--So, I have to admit, I sat and cried at the pool the other day.  Kevin was with me and we were talking and I just started crying.  Like weeping and sobbing.  It was a little embarrassing.  I had my sunglasses on, so I'm hoping no one else noticed, but I am guessing they were all just being polite and trying not to stare at the crazy lady!  It made me so thankful for a husband willing to put up with all my craziness, love me anyway, and pour out wisdom when it's most needed.  I was feeling very overwhelmed with insecurity and failure, and he said and did just what I needed at the time.  He is such a gift from God to me.  My heart so desperately wants to look in the eyes of each of those unadoptable orphans and tell them they have a Father who loves them more than they can imagine, I want to hug them, hold their hands, sing with them, laugh with them, just pour into them...but that door just isn't being opened right now.  And I have to admit that it's most likely because I am not even willing to care for the widow down the street.  If I can't do that, why would He trust me with more?  How will my kids every learn to love and sacrifice for others if they don't see it in me?  I don't want to live for me, I want to live for Him, to serve Him and serve and love on His people.  Why is that so hard to do?  Lord, mold me and shape me into the person You desire me to be so that You will receive glory.  Show me how to love those around me.  Show me how to serve those around me selflessly that they might see You through me.  Give me strength and boldness to reach out to my neighbors consistently.  Lord, help!

--As Kevin and I were talking the other day we really wanted to think of something that we could sacrifice as a family, that would affect all of us, that we could in turn use to help others.  We couldn't think of anything.  Not because we have so little that there was little to give, but because when we started thinking of it, none of it was really a sacrifice.  We wouldn't have to go without food or shelter or clothing or anything of true importance in order to help others, either here or around the world.  We were blown away by how blessed and spoiled we are.  Lord, I don't know why You have chosen to give us so much, but please show us how we can turn around and give it right back to You, to be used for Your Kingdom, so that many may come to know You.

June 21, 2013

Pure Randomness

Yeah, the title pretty much says it all!  My brain feels like it's been going 100 miles an hour lately and so much is happening there that I just can't keep everything straight!

--No TV June is going well, though we have declared a few "special days" and watched a show or two.  Our anniversary was one of those days.  The kids were with grandma, so we said they could watch a movie when they spent the night.  There wasn't anything on at the movie theatre that we both wanted to see, so we decided to watch something at home...and save money at the same time!  We also had a family movie night one night, which was lots of fun!  Today is my nephew's 13th birthday and the kids tried to convince me we should celebrate this special day with some TV, but they failed in their attempts.

--Some days I feel so jealous when I read about and see people headed out all over the world to serve God and others.  I want to join them.  I want my feet in the read earth of Uganda, I want to love on those sweet orphans in Romania, I want to have spas for street children in Haiti, I want to go to the ends of the earth to love on others so they can know the love of Christ.  I want my whole family to go with me.  I want to serve the least of these in forgotten lands as a family.  I want to see my children loving on orphaned children, playing stick ball in the street with the homeless.  But I know that were I to be doing those things right now, it would be disobedience.  Why is that so hard to swallow?  Why is it so hard to be the one who stays here and serves those at home?  Probably because I could serve for a week or two at the ends of the earth, and never see those people again, but here, I must face them everyday.  Here, they must see the real me, cluttered, frazzled, and having no idea what I am doing most of the time.  And I have to be OK with that.  I have to be real, not put on a mask, no fake smile, no half-hearted grins.  Real laughter, real tears, real messes, real aggravations, real joy, real pain, real life.  I do believe that one day this little McSmith tribe (yeah, totally stealing that from Jen Hatmaker) will step on a plane and end up in some distant land, for at least a short time, but I also know that right now, I must be faithful to the call God has given me now: home, family, and those around me where I am right now.  I must be real, sacrificial, loving, and always about my Father's business.  Lord, help me to be diligent in this.  Help me to be satisfied in You, no matter the location or circumstance.  Make me bold for You in my neighborhood.  Help me to love my neighbors as my own family, willing to sacrifice and move mountains on their behalf, regardless of their response or position.

--(Ok, it's been like 2 days since I started writing this post!) I wanted Ethan to lay down and rest with me a bit after swim lessons today.  He would have none of it.  But, he did sweetly say, "You lay down and rest your eyes and I will read you a book.  All at the same time."  So, that's just what he did.  He read me Another Monster at the End of This Book.  I love how much he loves that book!

--So, I haven't totally given up on the Dukan diet, but I am not completely following it either.  Make sense?  I am using it as a guideline and it has really helped my poor eating habits, but I am not being strict about it.  I would still like to lose 5-8 more pounds, but trying not to freak out about it.  We're working on cutting down the amount of sugar and carbs that we eat (the kids, too, though not as much with the carbs for them...they could both stand to add a little weight.)  This is very difficult as Kevin and I both love, love, love bread and pasta.  I could seriously have only those two things at every meal and be pretty happy!  But, even though it's going slowly, it's going well.

--Started the kettle bell class at church again last night after a year of not doing it.  Oh.My.Word!  I could barely move after just the warm up.  And no, I am not exaggerating!  It's going to be good for me, though, so I am looking forward to the next class.

--So proud of my sweet girl today.  I handed her a card and asked her to write a thank you note to her swim teacher.  She wrote a very nice note and then wrote out John 3:16 at the end.  I totally didn't ask her to do that, she did it on her own, because, "Well, his name is John!"  Love that girl!  Lord, grab hold of her heart and change the world with her giving and sweet spirit.

--Anyone else out there struggle with constant guilt?  Over any and everything?  That is me!  I buy my kids a new shirt or a pair of shoes and I feel so guilty, regardless of how much they might need them, because there are so many kids out there who have neither of those things, old or new.  Where's the balance?  I want to live a sacrificial life. I want my kids to live sacrificial lives.  My I also want to love on and provide for my children.  Lord, help me to see the line between need and want, providing and lavishing. 

June 10, 2013

Wnihjignmireogehj---Yeah, That's Sort of How I Feel!

Well, there's a lot going on in my head and not sure if any of it will make it out onto the page.  Yep, it's another post full of nothing but randomness!!!

--Kevin's not here.  I don't sleep well when that's the case.  Add in VBS last week and swim lessons this week.  I am fried!  My brain is toast.  Then add to that all the things I am trying to study and get ready for....ahhhhhh! 

--No TV June has gone really well.  Honestly, most of the time I don't even miss it (Bethany Woods, those were true words when you said that to me before we even started this journey.)  I miss it the most when I sit down to work on the computer or fold laundry.  I like the background noise.  I am rarely even paying attention to it in those times, but it's nice to have the noise in the room with me.  But, without the TV, the kids and I have had much more time for reading books, playing games, playing outside, and even doing some fun earth science lessons.  One thing that I am honestly surprised I haven't really had time for is cleaning the house.  It's a mess.  Seriously, a mess.  I think it's just because I am spending way more time with the kids.  That's a blessing!  But really, there must be some house cleaning tomorrow!  The hubs does not want to return to a pigsty (yes, Lauren, Sara, and Q, feeling some conviction from Titus 2 on that one!)

-God has such a sense of humor.  Or perhaps irony.  Or perhaps I am just loopy and don't know what I am talking about.  Either way, this girl who does not enjoy doing any kind of research or digging into things (there's a reason I love Beth Moore Bible studies--she does all the hard work for me!  Ok, and they are amazing!) is currently digging into scripture for three different things...at.the.same.time!  I am still working on my James devotional (7 of 52 weeks done!!!!), searching through Titus 2 for Veritas Women's Ministry (formerly Ladies in Purple) so we can create our newest conference, and digging through the covenant and it's many aspects, etc. to be able to write some lessons for Family Quest for the 2013-2014 year.  Say what?!?!?!  How did this happen?!?!?!  And that's not the scariest part...I am actually enjoying it (though the pace at which I am doing it would seem to say otherwise).  Who knew?!?!  Could it be that this little girl is actually growing up and growing in the Word?!?  It seems that might actually be possible!

-God totally hit me in the face this week with the realization that I just rush into things without thinking or planning.  That was one thing when it was just me, but I know pull a lot of other people in with me when I do this.  This really hit me this week when I was reading our book for small group about humility.  The author was talking about the prophet Habakuk and his humility (eventually) in his response to wait on the Lord.  And wasn't waiting for good things to happen, he was waiting for destruction to come.  It would be very hard to wait patiently for that!  Anyway, I have been so anxious to get out and do some mission work outside of my comfort zone that I have just jumped in, with no thought or plan.  In one instance, it cost an entire church an amazing opportunity to serve not just those in our neighborhood, but this entire area of MO.  There was a great plan that would have worked almost flawlessly if I had been patient and mature and waited on the Lord.  I feel I have done the same with my desire to get out of the states and get my hands dirty doing His work with those in this world who need this physical help the most.  I just want to go.  I want to pack up my family and hop on a plane and not come back for like a year.  I just want to spend time pouring all I have into the least of these in the least of places.  And I want my husband and children with me each step of the way, to watch them serve and watch them grow and watch the amazing things the Lord does with those who are willing.  But many times I allow this "itch" to take over and stop using logic (I know, hard to believe that I would ever do that!)  Lord, lead and guide.  Give wisdom and patience.  Open the doors, in Your timing, to send us out into Judea, and Samaria, and the ends of the earth as a family to proclaim Your truth.  Lord, move my heart to be OK with Your timing, not mine!  Lord, fill me with Your passion, a passion for the things of You and contentment in You alone!

June 06, 2013

A Little of this, A Little of That

Well, we are nearing the end of our first TV free week.  I have to say, it hasn’t been too bad.  Of course, the fact that we’ve already been without internet for 2 ½ weeks (which means no Netflix or Amazon Prime) helped us get used to not having a lot of the shows we would normally watch.  And having VBS every night (which is when most of the TV watching happens) has also helped.  God really blessed us with a busy, so therefore fairly easy, first no TV week.  One of the hardest times (and yes, I am admitting my poor parenting skills for the whole world to know) is when the kids eat lunch.  See, I let the kids eat lunch while they watch one of their shows, and then I eat upstairs and read a book.  That, most times, is the only time I have to just sit and read and not feel guilty about not doing the laundry or the dishes, etc.  I have missed that time (because, well, I really like to read), but we’ve been using that time this week to finish up the read aloud portions of our history book, so it hasn’t been a total loss!  One of the things we learned today I was even able to put into the VBS lesson this evening!  Kevin and I usually will watch a show or two after we have put the kids to bed, which I thought would be hard to give up, but I have been so exhausted every night when I got home from VBS that I just fell right into bed and fell asleep.  Again, I am pretty sure that was all by God’s design just to help me make it through this first week!  He is such a loving God who knows just what we need…even when it’s to be totally exhausted by 3 hours singing praises with children!

We still have no internet and I am trying really hard to see the blessing here (other than the one I stated in the previous paragraph…so far that’s really the only one I am seeing!)  I am sure there is a lesson I am to be learning here, and I am pretty sure I am not learning it seeing as how I still can’t see the good in this.  Oh, hey, I just thought of another blessing from this…just another week and a half without internet and I will have saved myself one whole month’s payment!  That’s money that can be used in so many other ways to serve others instead of myself.  Lord, thanks for making the ugly beautiful (especially since this ugly is really nothing in comparison to what others are facing.)

I’ve had a great time at VBS this week.  The songs are fun and catchy (some might even make me a little teary).  The kids are so full of energy!  Man, I will sleep hard come Friday night, for sure!  It has also made me really thankful this week that the Lord has allowed me to see how He has been growing me as a “teacher” (and yes, I use that term VERY LOOSELY in reference to myself!) since I started homeschooling.  A year or two ago, you wouldn’t catch me doing a lick of teaching in any way, shape or form.  This year I had a blast working up a very small, short lesson for Kidz Choir each week for each song we were learning and I had a really fun time reminding the kids of their stories each night as they came to music at VBS.  Now, don’t get me wrong, none of these were stellar lessons and no awards will be given (so thankful that in both cases kindergarten teacher extraordinaire, Megan Craig, was with me to help break down anything that was still a little over the kids’ heads), but even a year ago I couldn’t have done that.  There’s even been once or twice I was able to throw something together kind of at the last minute, which does not happen for this girl!  I don’t improv well on stage and I do an even worse job improving (Is that even a word?  How is it spelled?).  This girl needs a script, yet God has grown me so much in the last two years that I was able to spend an entire week at VBS helping lead opening and closing without one and helping to lead pre-school music without one.  I know this probably seems so small to many of you, but this is huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge to me!  One, I know that I couldn’t do this at all if we hadn’t stepped out in obedience and started homeschooling where I was forced to do this on a daily basis, and two, so often I just feel like I am getting nowhere when it comes to God.  I feel like I desire to be better and desire to serve more and give more and love more, but yet, nothing ever changes.  This has been such an encouragement that I have changed, but sometimes, those changes take time.  I am still not so great at the whole lesson plan thing, but God has blessed me with being part of the Family Quest team and with the help of those wonderful ladies and the sweet Jess Corkern, I am slowly learning that, too!

Lord, thank You for opening my eyes to Your work in me and around me.  Lord, thank You that You never fail.  Thank You that You never change.  Thank You for being patient and loving, yet You discipline when you need to, all to bring me back to You.  Lord, help me to be more like You as I serve my family as wife and mother, and as I serve others as an ambassador for You.