Monday, June 24, 2013

What Is It, Really?

Oh man, this is a total rambler of a post...close the window if you wish!

After my last post, I made a decision to take a Facebook hiatus for a bit, as I try to re-center myself and gain some perspective on a lot of different things in my life.  I was going to set a fixed time frame, but decided against it because I just want it to be what it needs to be.  I might pop on for a quick post or two, but I am not going to read anyone else's posts for now.  I am also making a concerted effort to limit my emails, though I know I can't just walk away from that form of communication.  However, I am going to view it more like I do my phone, which I know drives everyone nuts.  I have long refused to be a slave to my phone, but I haven't quite done that with my email.  Just because someone wants me right now, doesn't always mean I have the time, or am even in the frame of mind, to be able to respond immediately.  I Un-21st Century of me.  So what?  I will no longer offer excuses for it.  With the advent of current technology, we all lost our ability to control the when and how of when we interact with others.  I love people, I love socializing, and I dearly love my friends, but I don't want to feel tethered 24/7.  I know some love it, I have come to recognize that I don't, and letting technology dictate its influence in my life rather than the reverse is totally wrong.

Somehow, life got away from me.  Somewhere along the way, it became about the constant doing and busyness that I never wanted, and that needs to stop. It became about being so concerned that everyone else was happy, that I was no longer happy.  With five kids, it will never be anyone's idea of "slow", I am not naive enough to believe that, but it has to be better than this.

I went for a walk this evening, something I haven't squeezed into my schedule for quite a while, and I realized I haven't made any room for God to speak to me, and that is a good chunk of what has been missing in my life the past year or more.  Gradually, my life became too much about "being church" or "doing school" rather than being with God, or being Mom.  It happened a little at a time, without me even realizing it.  I could care less, in the long run, about "being church", and though it is important, teaching school should always take a back seat to being a mom. But I am, and always will be, passionate about being engaged with the Spirit and my family in ways that are meaningful.

I read a quote that spoke to me today in the recent issue of Guideposts.  "Spirituality doesn't look like sitting down and meditating.  Spirituality looks like folding the towels in a sweet way and talking kindly to the people in the family even though you've had a long day."

My spirituality, and I think I can safely say the spirituality of our entire family, is not the "sit and meditate"  type, though I'd never knock that for those for whom that works.  My spirituality isn't as pretty, artful, or even "churchy".   It is practical, practiced daily (and often failed at), and witnessed in things most people would never regard as "spiritual", probably because it is too "blue collar".  Funny though, Jesus was a blue collar kind of guy, so I guess my spirituality doesn't have to look like anything different than what it is.

I need my simple,  unsophisticated faith.  I need to lean on it, I need to experience the sacred daily, and I need it to help lift me out of the gutter when things feel so icky...even if others don't realize it feels icky.

Things are growing harder right now.  Teaching the kids is much harder, making ends meet is harder, church life is harder, thinking about the future is harder.  I need to simplify it all.  I need to re-learn a few things, things I think I have forgotten.  It's never going to feel easy, but there have been times in my life when it hasn't felt so burdensome.  I am realizing as well that I have been quite unsuccessful in the ongoing daily dialogue I need to have with myself to pick myself up.

You see, homeschooling is one thing.  You'll have those up and down days, that is natural.  Homeschooling our five is the richest reward I could ever want, but if I am truthful it is also an activity in which I have failure thrown in my face every. single. day.  There is no blame to be laid, but our kids struggle in daily tasks in ways others don't.  Yes, I know they succeed in other ways, so totally true.  But I have to be my own cheerleader when yet again I read something Matt has written and after 4 years of hard work it shows relatively little improvement.  I have to encourage myself to not see failure every single time I sit and listen to Kenny read or watch him try to spell ANYTHING, or things don't stick with Olesya with math when I ask her a simple multiplication question.  I feel like a failure that Josh continues to be filled with anxiety off and on and has to carry his blankie EVERYWHERE, or when things don't click with Angela as they should, or when Olesya hasn't made the progress in closeness of relationships that I dearly want for her to have.  I have to ensure I have the stamina to read every single word on every single page with every single a new synonym they to make sure they have "it"...then go on to...the next sentence.  Add in failure in other areas of my life right now, and it is...well...icky.  It's been a year and a half or so of failure over and over again in many things I have attempted, and throw that in with my everyday life, and I think I am just too pooped to get up and try anew right now.

When we ask, though, God lifts us up.  As I asked God this past week about my online life and gave it deep thought, I wanted some clear guidance about what activities I should or shouldn't be taking part in.  There have been several times in the past when I have seriously considered closing the blog down for public view, and keeping it up privately solely for scrapbook replacement.  Today I received a totally unexpected email from someone I have never spoken to or written.  She discovered the blog through a homeschool forum I participate in...the one that at times is so overwhelming when I read the posts from other very high achieving homeschoolers.

It was in this place...a place that has caused me many hours of self-flagellation.... where someone discovered our blog and then read it.  Yea, read almost all of it she said (Whew!  I've never even gone back and done that!).  This mom emailed me to share how much she appreciated what I had written, and   that so much of it resonated with her even though I assume from her wording that she hasn't adopted nor homeschools special needs kids.   In a post she made on the forum separately, she highly complimented my teaching style, which just may have been exactly what I needed to hear as we have tried...and failed...and tried...and might make it with a new Biology curriculum. I needed that virtual hug today.  I also needed the kind question or two from a dear friend earlier today, trying to tune in, not sure what the station is for me right now.  I wish I could explain it.  I was so grateful for the experiences today, as I needed to know that even though life itself can be very, very hard, someone other than those under this roof tonight cares about me, appreciates me for whatever meager offerings I have to give, and understands there may be things they might  not quite understand about how challenging it can be to do what is mostly unseen work.

Unseen work and unseen God.  Isn't it funny how the things that can be the most important can also be invisible at times? Wouldn't it be terrific if we could just know somehow that our life had impacted someone in a way we never would have guessed?  It might help keep us motivated to continue doing whatever it is that we do, which is often seemingly insignificant.  If we only knew what it really is that we do that touches a heart, we might be less likely to give up on ourselves.  Alas, most often, we never discover that and it makes me wonder what activities have been abandoned that had far more of an impact than we ever might have suspected.

What is it, really, that makes us uniquely who we are...and how do we get so far off course?


Anonymous said...

When I was at church Sunday I heard something - now I completely can't remember what it was, whether it was the gospel reading or something the priest said in his homily - but I suddenly realized that being a parent forces you to walk more closely the line that Jesus wants us to walk to get to him. Because you really do have to give up yourself to parent. And when you do that its like a vacuum is left behind in you - I find myself struggling constantly because so much of me has to take care of all of the kids' needs, there is just no me left. But I think that is what we are called on by God to do - give up ourselves, and being a parent (especially an adoptive parent) really forces you to walk that path.

Elizabeth J

Anonymous said...

I'm going to offer my definition of failure: failure is never beginning, never making the effort, failing to try. You and the kids and the family as a whole are not and never have been failures!

One of my dearest memories was having the kids gathered in my kitchen making cookies for the church's Christmas cookie walk, but Kenny was MIA. Kenny, whom no one but his mother and father, ever thought would learn to read was reading, and he had discovered my treasure trove of children's books. He was settled deep in a chair, nose buried in a book, and only with prodding could he be brought back to his batch of cookies. He was just engrossed and enchanted with his new skills. If he never went further then the most elementary children's story, both he and you were successes, and yet he has gone further.

Who can define "meager"? Who ever knows how far our actions ripple? That must be left to God, and God is a God of love who must be delighted in watching our ripples spread and intertwine.

Love you,

Anonymous said...

Your blog has been an inspiration to me and I hope somewhat selfishly that you never feel led to close it down. I find your blog to be real and uplifting even when you are sharing something you are struggling with because we all struggle and its helpful to know that in the face of facebook glory and such that real people are out there progressing at whatever rate, trusting God, enjoying life. So thank you from another real person that truly appreciates the things you write down.

Dawn said...

Thank-you for your blog. I mean that.

Writer200 said...

I am thankful for your blog too, though I may be a single woman with no current prospects of marriage or children.
I believe God has given me a heart for foster kids & orphans. A darling friend whom God used in my life at a critical stage was a foster child. (She was adopted by those wonderful people when she turned 18.)

Trusting God is like being a broom against a wall. If you tried to stand it up on its own, it will fall over, but when you lean it against the strong wall - it is supported! *paraphrase of Corrie tenBoom's words*

I fail all too often, but His mercies are truly NEW each morning.

Thank you for blogging so openly about your life with the LaJoy 7, it is appreciated.
In Christ,

Anonymous said...

NOOOOOOOOO, don't stop blogging! You give me strength. You give me perspective. You are a GREAT mom . . . a role model I desperately need on days when I've let my kids drive me over the edge . . . which usually has more to do with me than them. Parenting is very hard work, and you provide a safe haven.