Saturday, October 17, 2015

31 Days of Yoga-ish Behavior

It's October, so there's all kinds of 31 Day blog series popping up. It's a fun writing challenge, and you can read more about it here if you are so inclined.  I've done it once in the past, 31 Days of  Yes,where I wrote about saying yes to things I normally wouldn't.  Like running without something chasing me.

However, I haven't even written 31 posts yet this year, so this didn't seem a realistic goal for right now.  Apparently I felt left out though, because I decided to write one post about 31 days of a certain activity.  That's kind of the same, right?

sort of like this.  via

All this started because one of my cherubs asked me what I wanted for my birthday, which is next month.  Immediately I thought, "I want this stupid knot in my shoulders to ease."  As I stopped to think about it, I made a little list for myself.  For my birthday, I want more relax, less grasping at control; more peace, less worry; more joy; less over-analyzing; perhaps most importantly, more strong, less "baby" belly.

And then I thought some more, because that's what I do.  (I can't tell you how many times my mother has told me I think toooooo much.)  Anyway.  These things I want?  They are all things I have the power to give myself - especially in light of the recent changes in our home.

So I started doing either yoga or pilates every day.  (Not the "you are a beautiful flower bending to the goddess" type of yoga, justsoyouknow.)  Stretch, strengthen, breathe.  I told the kids about my gift to myself because they get excited about goals like this and are quite adept at being relentless little reminders.  So multiple times a day I hear, "Mom!  Did you do your yoga yet??"  Excellent!  I'm not strong right now, so I just do what I can.  There's one 30 minute sequence that I just get up and walk away in the middle of.  I can't do all of it, so I take a little coffee break and come back after five minutes.  Drives the kids nuts to skip exercises commanded by the authoritative lady in striped spandex, but I tell them, I'll get there, there's time.  The point is consistency, which is a kind of anchor itself.

Here's the fabulous part.  I've managed to hit every day, even if only for 5 minutes.  Ok, that's not the fabulous part - this is: I went to the chiropractor yesterday and he was making all these approving noises as he checked my spine.  He made a small adjustment and then said I was in good shape.  I told him about my yoga, and he said, "yes, you seemed a lot less tense."  We both agreed this could be due to . . .er . . .the recent decrease in environmental stress factors, but the exercise certainly helped as well.

Stephanie Spence, via

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

standing in the gap

Jesus, who, for the joy set before him, endured the cross and disregarded its shame.
(Hebrews 12:2-4)

I've been thinking about this verse so much lately in light of our current struggle to persevere in caring for our foster daughter.  Of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, knowing that following God and offering his life to brutal death would blast through the chains that bind us to our sin, yet still beseeching God for another way.  Yet for the joy set before him, Jesus complied: "not my will, but yours, be done."  (Luke 24:42)

Of course there is joy, but there is also pain whenever you bring a child into your home and your heart, and this is especially true when the child comes in with their own wounds.  In the case of an abused or neglected child, the caregiver takes on those wounds, to some extent, in order lead the child as far as they can down the path to healing.


The caregiver knows there will be pain because she stands in the gap for this child, and, at least for a time, takes upon herself the sins and sorrows of another, in order to offer the child safety, healing, and freedom. She takes on the sins of a mother who was abused herself and lost her battle against drug addiction, of a father who walked away from his family, and the sorrows of a child caught in their wake.  These sins that she did not commit fall on her and her family and their support network almost daily as they all fight for the heart of the wounded child.  Such upheaval and anguish.  It is impossible to know the outcome.  This standing in the gap, it requires so much and it is sometimes poignantly unfair.

And yet Grant and I have been laying down our lives.  Our whole family has.  It isn't always pretty.  It isn't especially rewarding at this point; in fact, it feels an awful lot like defeat.  All we really have is the transient satisfaction of knowing we are responding to a clear and definite calling, that this child who has suffered so much will have a better chance in life because we are holding back some of that suffering right now.  We do not "fix" or heal her (although I confess to hoping for this at times).  We just keep showing up, teaching skills, offering love and acceptance, and refusing to be dragged down by our flaws and failures and the seemingly insurmountable nature of the task. . .and we continue trusting in the One who led us to this child in the first place.
Jesus’ struggle on our behalf was not the result of His weakness, but the outcome of His faithfulness. It was Him willingly choosing the cost of our joy over the price of His pain. His suffering brings meaning to ours. His struggle brings purpose to ours. They remind us that the gospel is nothing if not the ability of Jesus to bring great beauty out of broken things. This gospel frees us from the burden to carry the weight of redemption. It reminds us that only Jesus can save and restore. Our job is simply to be faithful...expectantly, hopefully, anxiously faithful. 
And in your Garden of Gethsemane moments, when the weight of brokenness brings you to your knees before God and your heart cries out for a different path to redemption, you can trust that Jesus has been there before you and that Jesus is there with you now - sympathizing, holding, understanding and encouraging you to drink from the cup again, and again, and again.

Jason Johnson, Reframing Your Season of Struggle 

We have fought hard to be steady and faithful for Allie, but standing in the gap for her right now?  It means letting her go.  Allie has reached a point where she knows in her head, and even in her heart, that we are all a family, but her past won't let her truly understand what that means and her wounds will not let her fully relax into the love we are showing her.  Just being in our home is such a stressful, triggering experience for her right now that she can barely stand it most days, and so she has chosen to be moved to a group home back in her home county about six hours away.  Our mutual desire is to remain connected, to stay as much a family as we can over the distance, but there is . . .distress. . . on all sides of this separation.


And as I write that, I realize that this pain is a deep answer to prayer, for the pain comes because we have succeeded in opening our hearts to each other.  I prayed when Allie first came that I would be able to love her without holding anything back, without trying to protect myself, and I prayed that she would be able to receive that love.  Though the future is muddled, I can clearly see a thousand answered prayers in the time that we have had Allie in our home.  

So I'm leaning into the realization that we were as faithful as we possibly could be to this calling of loving a hurting child, and that we will continue to do so, whatever it might look like, but always full of hope and trust.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Anchor - Morning Time

See the first post in the anchor series here.

If I've done anything right this year, it's securing the anchor of Morning Time in our homeschool day.  This practice has drawn our family together and made it possible for actual learning to happen even when the rest of the day is spent helping everyone learn not to be selfish little heathens.

(See Cindy Rollins's blog Morning Time Moms for more details than you could ever want about Morning Time.)

Morning Time.  In short: we all pile onto the couches and read, practice poetry, pray, write in our gratitude journals, and whatever else I have planned or am inspired to do at the last minute.  This year, we will add in our Latin memory work since all four kids will be in Classical Conversations, each at their own level.  One thing I do not do is our fiction read aloud; I save that for later in the day.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

On being a mother who writes

I tell myself, it's just a free write. Set the timer, just write. No pressure, just write. I even scroll up and type "fureeeee wruhiiiite" in the title. A free write is a writing that's free of purpose and confining structure, right? So then why it is it so difficult? Forcing the cursor across the screen for 10 minutes just to combat the freeze that's been going on in my writing life these many months; trying to keep the keys clicking softly so I don't analyze my ridiculous sentences, and so that creeping inertia doesn't get me. What are the semi-colon rules again? Whatever you do, self, don't stop to reread or do editing of any kind in a free write. Or would that be free-write?

"Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere."
Anne Lamott, Bird By Bird

I've often blamed my lack of writing on my children.  It feels like there are so many of them and their needs are even more numerous than their toys, and how could a homeschooling mother find any time to write anyway, now that she has four children filling up her heart and mind and time?  

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Summer Survival at Our House

I usually take June completely off from scheduled school work. We all neeeeed the break by that point. We also have multiple birthdays, our anniversary, and an annual camping trip in the Oregon high desert mid-month. June ends up being plenty busy even without school work.  However, for my sanity and theirs, I still require a few things and I heavily limit media time.  For those of you who like details about other people's schedules (I sure do!), this post is for you!

Apparently the kids were so moved by their poetry recitation that they had to do back-bends.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Sort-of End of Another Homeschool Year

As you know, we are officially on our summer break. This year we have been trying out a Sabbath-type schedule where we go roughly six weeks on, one week off, with longer breaks around Christmas and summer. The last week of May would have been our sixth week before a longer break. However. When I found myself hiding in my room by ten on a Monday morning - after breaking up approximately twenty major emotional dramas  - I realized the second to last week of May would work just as well. And so we were done. I am strongly reminded of this post from a few years ago about ending the school year without any fanfare, particularly this quote:

I like to remind myself that a commitment to lifelong learning frees us from the need to start and end at certain times.
Dropping It All, Rene Tougas

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

We just might make it. . .

We are officially on our summer break, so I'm hoping to get above my posting average of zero posts per month.

This year has peeled away another layer of selfishness, perfectionism, and pride that definitely needed to go, but oh my has it been painful. And it's difficult to figure out how to write about it in such a public space. How can I be both authentic and encouraging about this year full of trial, struggle, beauty and strength, depression, anxiety, blow ups and melt downs, and even laughter and triumph? How can I write with honesty about the hard spaces, knowing that all of the children will likely find this blog sooner or later?


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