Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I'm done for a while...

The end. Thank you all very much.

It's been a busy year for us around here, and we've made some significant progress with our youngest two children. Strides are being made all over the place. And..this Momma is T-I-R-E-D.

Elly has frequently come to the breakfast table lately quoting the one line from Duck Dynasty that she remembers: "My un-dees is wet and I'm TIRED!" I feel the same way...except not the wet underwear.

I need a break from the electronic world, and my kids need my undivided attention. We have arranged our schedule so that JT is only gone for 4 1/2 weeks this summer, and I am eternally grateful. What a blessing.

So, I will be signing off the blog for the summer unless something just outstanding happens...and there MAY be big news around that time anyway...we shall see. I'll update Facebook occasionally as I remember something funny or entertaining. But, I think I shall spend time cherishing these moments in my heart.

More one on one conversations and less Mommy on the computer. More questions and listening, less "uh-huh" and "go play outside until I'm finished." More snuggles and less housework. More time in God's Word and less mindless meetings and emails. More swimming in the pool with friends and less sitting at my desk. More dancing, less washing dishes. Just more, more, more. And, less of the stuff that doesn't matter.

More of this:

And this:

And yes, more of this too:

I love you all. My main ministry is right here, right now. And I will give it all I have.

Monday, May 20, 2013

I Cried on Vacation

School is out and we decided to take the whole family to Atlanta for a homeschool convention...I can get our new curriculum, learn from some veterans and meet up with many friends. Plus a little mini vacation for us before the hectic summer begins. Win/win for everyone. Now some of you, okay, many of you do not homeschool..this is STILL for you. It involves my HUGE mistake as a parent in teaching my kids. I hope I am the only one who is in this boat, but I have a funny feeling that I am not.

One session caught my eye, “How to teach the highly distractible child.” Yes, please. After girls who sat so politely in their desks and did their work quickly and efficiently and correctly, it was a little surprise to see the difference in boys. And, I am not one who handled it well or with grace or mercy or kindness.....

In fact, I’ve struggled daily with teaching boys who seem to fall out of their chairs every five minutes, constantly move around, and can’t seem to be still for more than two minutes at a time (unless they are doing something they truly enjoy). So, this session opened with this statement, “If you have ever said to your kid, ‘Son, get down off the refrigerator and get back to work,’ then you are in the right place.” I knew I was going to learn something. And, I did.

More than anything else, I was convicted through the teaching that I have made one of my children feel stupid (please note that we don’t use that word in our house because children have a tendency not to use the word in the correct context and use it liberally to describe people). I have failed my child, my children. And I am the teacher. If one of my students doesn’t understand the lesson, the responsibility lies with me. So I need to change my approach.

I sat in the session and laughed and cried and came under conviction. Which was good. I needed to hear the wisdom of someone who has walked this road before. I was desperate to hear from the Lord in this area where I have failed time and time again. God’s discipline of my heart and mind was needed, and it was good.

I am thankful that He has set my heart in a new direction in this area of school. Please pray that God would continue to teach me and mold me into the teacher He desires!

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Day After Mother's Day

It's the day after Mother's Day, and I have to admit that I didn't want to write this post. I wanted to describe this glorious weekend that my family planned...they literally kidnapped me and spoiled me rotten. It was amazing. They conspired, planned and implemented so many surprises...AND they kept it a secret from me for weeks. Five kids KEPT a secret? That alone is worthy of an Oscar. And, I am so proud.

But, if I was in your shoes, I might be a little mad at my husband or children...but there's no need. I've had 15 other Mother's Days that didn't always make me feel special or loved or appreciated. And, keep this part to yourselves..it was mainly MY fault...unrealistic expectations, a sense of entitlement, etc. But, is THAT the point of Mother's Day?

Mother's Day is one day out of 365 that is set aside to make us feel like we are doing a good job. Our kids are fed (albeit cereal or crackers sometimes), bathed (occasionally), dressed (most days) and alive (for now). Shouldn't we be elevated for at least 24 hours?

I don't know about you, but I often feel like a failure as a mom. If I read many blogs or look at Pinterest or Facebook for very long, I can pretty much confirm that I don't measure up. And, here's a little look into the real world at my house...

-There is NO glitter inside these walls. And, there will not be.
-Recently (at a kindergarten graduation practice), one of the moms announced, "And now it's time to do our craft!" Zeke looked me square in they eyes and said, "What's a craft?" I'm just not crafty people, and I cannot connect creativity to anything worthwhile around here.
-I do NOT do most of the cooking here. In fact, I usually only cook when JT is out of town. And, I am not a good cook at all. My girls outcook me any day. As does Jett.
-I get easily frustrated...E-A-S-I-L-Y! I find myself expecting way too much from others and little from myself.
-I get disappointed QUICKLY! And I great dislike that about myself.
-I am always looking for the NEXT thing instead of enjoying this moment. I wish I was like my friend Greta who truly lives in each second. She appreciates and loves life in a glorious way.
-I am jealous of others. I envy my friends...Angel's wisdom, Angelia's creativeness, Susie's sense of style, Carol's encouragement, Karen's compassion, Lora's easy going-ness, Susan's sweetness, Greta's patience, Becca's sacrificial heart, and so many more.
-I am self-centered.
-I yell at my kids.
-I dishonor my husband.
-I am lazy.

Uuuggh, there are just so many things that I can list that clearly show me as a less-than-stellar mom. BUT GOD...those are my favorite two words in the Bible (cf Genesis 15:20, Psalm 73:26, Acts 2:24, Romans 5:8)...BUT GOD

-has given me sufficient grace for each day
-provides new mercies every morning
-shows me my depravity and forgives my sins
-loves me and my children unconditionally
-gifts me days to start over and try again

And, I am one thankful momma. I mess up EVERY day. I fail the Lord, my husband, my children and my friends...often. But, He is faithful even when I am faithless. And, my heart overflows with love for the Father.

Happy Day after Mother's Day my friends...it's a new day to live in a way that brings Him great glory. Let's get started.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Journey to Holiness

Our final night in the Craving Him More study was bittersweet. I have grown to love these women as I have witnessed their struggles and victories first hand. I have seen myself in them over and over again. And, God has been faithful to teach us all along the way.

We began by talking about sacrifice. Sacrificing for a season is do-able but not fun. But, to sacrifice until we no longer desire what has been given up? Unheard of. Here's the deal...sacrifice is NECESSARY to make room for what God has in store for me in this journey. I must begin with what is CRUCIAL - seeing the connection between my daily disciplines with food and my desire to pursue holiness. Holiness doesn’t just deal with my spiritual life...but my physical life as well.

It is good for God’s people to be put in a place of longing so they feel a slight desperation. As adults, we are rarely in a situation where we feel desperate for God. When we are stuffed full of other things and never allow ourselves to be in a place of longing, we don’t recognize the deeper spiritual battle going on. Additionally, the more dependent we become on God’s strength, the less enamored we are with other choices.

To even get started we need to recognize that God alone can change our situation. We must be desperate for Him to act, and we must be willing to obey. From Made to Crave, we read Lysa Terkeurst's prayer which can be found here

Step two is making choices along the way. The very next choice I make is a crucial one because one wise choice leads to two and that can lead to a thousand and that can lead to the sweet place of utter dependence on God and lasting discipline. Those choices are about gaining certain things and losing so much (pant sizes, waist inches, pounds, etc). What if this whole journey of getting healthy could be more about what we’re in the process of gaining that what we’re losing. Think of the discipline, the joy, the intimacy, the courage and the confidence you will find along the road to getting healthy! Of all the things lost and gained along this journey, the courage to repent might be the most significant to me.

To finish our study, we looked at the following verses which have become very meaningful in this process:

2 Corinthians 7:1 - we must cleanse ourselves from defilement...perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Thus, we must remove certain things to gain holiness! Remove those things that stand in the way of your body being honoring to God (for me, that's laziness, easy temptations and lack of planning)

Ephesians 4:22-24 - lay aside the old self (the one that makes food an idol and fills every need with food) and put on the new self which has been created in righteousness and holiness of THE TRUTH!!!

Romans 6:19 - the very next choice we make isn’t about food - it’s about whether or not we’re positioning ourselves to live the kind of God honoring lives in which, by God’s strength, sustained discipline is possible.

1 Corinthians 6:12 - some actions are not sinful in themselves, but they are not appropriate because they can control our lives and lead us away from God.

Revelation 2:7 - God will give us the right to eat in heaven. We started with Eve’s sin in the garden eating the forbidden fruit and end with victory in being able to partake of food in heaven!

What a journey this has been. And, this is just the beginning for many of you. It's an ongoing process for me...one that I will live in until God calls me home. It is my lot in life, and it is designed to create an intimacy with God Almighty. Instead of offering excuses and looking at the life others lead, I will stay centered on my God appointed journey. And, I will make it count for Him!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

An Open Letter to My Teacher

There are so many...I can’t fathom where to start and my heart has so much to say. From Mrs. Smith who taught me how to write my letters in kindergarten to Mrs. Parten who allowed our class to belt out “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain” every other week. Then, there was Mrs. Overstreet who taught me what it meant to recycle and how to write a paper. Mrs. Sims and Mrs. Adams who pushed me to excel when I thought I didn’t measure up.

But, when I think of teachers who impacted my formative years, one woman had an impact on me that I shall never forget. And this is an open letter to her:

Dear Mrs. Kimbrough,

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week and if I had high school to live all over again, I would do it because of you. I would endure those awkward years of school and painful times in my family just to be back in your class.

Literature was never my greatest love, but it quickly rose to the first class status because of your love for the subject. You made books come alive for me for the first time in my life. I got lost in them because you expected me to...you wanted me to...you encouraged me to....you passed your love along to me and my classmates.

More importantly, you saw me as a person and not just a teenager. I have no idea if you knew what my home life was like...with a mother who was in and out of mental institutions...but you always seemed to care. You showed me daily that I was important and I could do more...be more. And, I believed you.

You made us write...a lot, as I recall. Book reviews, fictional pieces, essays, and even research papers. I never enjoyed writing until you gave me a reason to. It was the little notes on top of each paper that prodded me on...encouragement for what I did well and correction for what I could do better. I even recall my favorite, “You want to be a doctor? What a waste! The world will NEVER know how well you write. Please reconsider!” I read that note and floated on cloud nine for weeks. You believed in me. And I needed that.

Sure, it took you extra time to write on my papers, but you did it. Every time. You drew smiley faces and told me “Great Job” or “Well done” or “I can’t wait to read what you write next!” I remember EVERY SINGLE WORD. Because, you wrote them...TO ME. And, that made a difference in my life.

God used you in ways you may never know to rescue this young girl from a world of uncertainty and chaos. You gave me a safe place to express myself while teaching me how to harness that passion.

Mrs. Kimbrough, I salute you and thank you from the bottom of my heart. You taught me well, and I am forever grateful. Job well done, Mrs. Kimbrough. Well done indeed.

Sheryl Graves Turner, Class of 1988

Monday, May 6, 2013

Learning always

We are all teachers from the time we take our first breath. You teach your parents that they are selfish and need to think of others, mainly you. You cry, they come. You are hungry, they feed you. Then, growth comes and you just seem to know it all...already. You are an expert...until you reach your mid to late 30’s. That’s when it happened to me. I had the realization that I was simply an idiot. It’s not easy to admit but it’s true.

I had lived my life going to high school..making good grades and excelling in academics. I went to college and loved studying. Then, grad school and another degree. I love to read and to gain academic knowledge...it thrills me, in fact. How did I go from being smart to dumb overnight? Well, having children was the beginning of that...in my 20’s.

Most people do not tell you this, but your memory simply disappears from existence for approximately 1-2 years. And, here’s another bit of wisdom...it happens with adoption too...1-2 years, down the drain. It’s God’s way of protecting you so that you can focus on your child. No need to remember other things like appointments, meetings, etc. And insignificant things like where your keys are, why the milk is in the linen closet and where’s the matching shoe....lessons learned about not sweating the small stuff.

Somewhere along the way I became the teacher of my kids...what to eat, when to eat, how to add, how to flush a toilet, etc. Then, “real” school with math, Bible, history, science and all that academic stuff. It’s tiring, and it takes its toll on me daily. There are days I want to quit, throw in the towel and submit my resignation letter to God. Totally give up!

But, God has designed our lives in such a way that we are always learning and always teaching. That learner position is actually much harder...it requires humbleness and teachability...two qualities that I admire more than almost anything else! I can ALWAYS LEARN SOMETHING FROM EACH PERSON I MEET. Sometimes I might be learning how to cherish life from a child, ways to schedule multiple children from another mom, how to teach driving from an older dad, or even how NOT to do something from certain people. Always learning.

And, that’s where I am right now. Learning how to life live with temptation after temptation, party foods and junk....how to avoid those things with planning...how to say no...proper portions...exercise...pushing myself beyond the physical limits I have established for myself....learning, learning, learning.

What else do I need to learn? I want to hear it...comments welcomed and encouraged and wanted!!!